Royal Retreats:

The Holiday Homes of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert held court at their official residences, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. However, during the early years of their marriage they yearned for private retreats where they could enjoy family life. The royal couple would go on to acquire estates at Osborne, East Cowes on the Isle of Wight and at Balmoral, Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

Prince Albert would take a hand in developing suitable houses for the time they would spend in each of these special places—Osborne built between 1845-1851 and designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo, and Balmoral completed in 1856 in the Scots Baronial style. Both properties became central to their lives and much loved holiday homes, each providing, in different ways, much needed relief from the intense pressures of court life in and near the capital.

Osborne became a monument to their marriage and Balmoral a remote and very Scottish seasonal home. The latter is still much enjoyed by the royal family today. Ian Cox’s lecture will explore the history, development and significance of both of these fascinating royal residences.

Henry Pierce, after Sir George Hayter, Enamel on Copper, 1843 purchased by Prince Albert, HM Royal Collection

Henry Pierce Bone, Queen Victoria in her coronation robes, enamel on copper, 1843. Royal Collection Trust, Given to Prince Albert by Queen Victoria for his birthday, 26th August 1843.

Ian Cox

Ian Cox studied at the Universities of Keele, London and Glasgow. He developed his career as a decorative arts historian in the 1980s and was the Director of the Christie’s Decorative Arts Programme at the University of Glasgow and then Director of Studies for Christie’s Education in London. Ian also ran a prestigious Decorative Arts Summer School for Christie’s in New York and was Co-Director of the Victorian Society of America London Summer School. Ian has published widely in the history of the decorative arts, particularly on furniture and ceramics. In more recent times he has directed cultural holiday programmes for the ACE foundation in Cambridge and is a regular round the world lecturer for the Seabourn and Silverseas cruise lines. He has been a lecturer for The Royal Oak Foundation since 2006.


Tuesday, June 30th 3:00 pm (eastern)

Online via Zoom Webinar

$15 members*; $20 non-members

Free to Heritage Circle members


Between Wednesday, July 1st and Sunday, July 5

“Rent” the recorded lecture to watch at your leisure

$15 members*, $20 non-members

Free to Heritage Circle members

The video will expire on Sunday, July 5th at 11:59pm and will not be available after that date and time.