Prince and Princess Carl of Denmark,
later King Haakon VII (1872-1957) and
Queen Maud of Norway (1869-1938),
Princess Victoria of Wales (1868-1935),
a 16th century Danish courtier, and
Ladies-in-Waiting at to Marguerite de Valois

The Ball took place just under a year after Princess Maud of Wales (centre), daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales, married her first cousin, the second son of the future King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

The choice of role at the ball, as ladies-in-waiting to Marguerite de Valois, by Maud and her unmarried younger sister Victoria may well have been dictated, or at least, swayed by their mother Princess Alexandra.

According to Frances Dimond, Princess Victoria (right), “although sensitive and reserved, ...had a great sense of fun and was good company, lacking any affectation or grandeur. She enjoyed bicycling and horse-riding, designed her own bookbindings, loved reading, music, and dancing, and was a very enthusiastic amateur photographer, who compiled many albums and took part in Kodak exhibitions.”

The princess never married, but remained a companion to her mother and passed away just ten years after her mother’s death.

At the time of the Ball in 1897, the couple (known as Prince and Princess Charles of Denmark) had no inkling that they would be chosen as the king and queen of Norway in 1905.

Maud had grown up in what has been described as “a loving, cheerful environment and [she] was noted for mischief and high spirits.” Both Maud and her husband had many interests and talents and it was written of them, just a few years after they ascended the throne of the newly reconstituted kingdom of Norway, that “King Haakon and Queen Maud are gathering about them the literary, artistic, and musical people of the realm, for they are devoted to the companionship of gifted folk.”

Maud’s dress was of pink satin with an appliqué of sheer silk fabric with silver thread in a lattice pattern edged with silver sequins and silver and glass beads. The fan-like collar wired to the side and back edges of the bodice and the cuffs, also of lace, are decorated with diamonté rosettes. The gown was made by the French firm of Victoire Morin and Marie Blossier, who opened for business in 1878, and whose greatest success was in the years 1885 to 1905.

In order to achieve a faithful renaissance look, both Princesses are wearing costume, rather than their own, real, jewellery in their hair and about their costumes.
Queen Maud’s exquisite taste in clothing was celebrated in the Style & Splendour exhibition, held at the V&A in London in 2005 when the dress seen in this photograph was exhibited.

Click on image to enlarge
copyright V&A. Lady Ashburton 1897From Munsey's magazine

The procession of guests bowing to the Prince and Princess of Wales, as drawn by W. Hatherell and J. Gulich for The Graphic, 10 July 1897

Maud's still vividly pink dress is one of the very few perfectly preserved costumes from the Ball. It was seen at the V&A in 2005 as part of the Style & Splendour exhibition.

Princesses Victoria (left) and her sister the future Queen Maud of Norway (right) photographed in walking dress in 1893. In an article entitled "HRH Princess Maud at Home", The Queen illustrated newspaper pointed out that "No girls in England have been brought up more quietly and simply than the daughters of the Prince and Princess of Wales."

This detail shows clearly the retoucher's work around both princesses' waists. This was to allow light to appear in the rhomboid shape between the elbows thereby enhancing the wasp-like waist deemed so vital for a fashionable figure at the time.



List of Sitters
All text copyright © Russell Harris 2011