The Queen’s Visit to the Exhibition

’Twas in the year of 1886, and in August the 18th day,
Her Majesty came to Edinburgh, with spirits light and gay,
To view the International Exhibition, most wonderful to behold,
Which will be remembered for many a day by the young and the old.

And though the hour was early, when she arrived in Edinboro,
The people’s hearts seemed glad and free from sorrow,
Because a very large number of the people were astir,
All anxious to see, and to welcome her.

The Dragoon escort was early in their places.
With their gorgeous Uniform, and their smiling faces,
All ready to guard Her Majesty, to the south arrival platform,
And among the rest was Mr Skinner, in scarlet uniform.

When the Pilot engine steamed into the station,
And the people’s hearts were filled with admiration
When they saw a stalwart ghillie, in the highland costume,
Jump out of a compartment, at the end of the Royal Saloon.

Then, with cap in hand, he approached the Royal Saloon,
And got out some wraps, and rugs, very soon,
And he prepared Her Majesty’s carriage in grand array;
Then returned and assisted Her Majesty, from the Saloon, without dismay.

Sir Henry Ponsonby, had in the meantime appeared
A gentleman, that by Her Majesty is highly revered,
Because, as purser to Her Majesty he has been true and kind,
And a more loyal subject, than he, would be hard to find.

Then the Lord Provost Clark, stepped forward, and said
Your Gracious Majesty need not be afraid,
And on behalf of the citizens, I have to welcome you here,
To your Capital of Scotland, which we love most dear.

Then the greeting, by a stately bow, was acknowledged by the Queen,
Who wore a black dress, with bonnet, most lovely to be seen;
Especially the Lord Provost’s daughter who was prettily dressed in white,
And led by her father before Her Majesty, a very imposing sight.

Then she presented a large and beautiful bouquet of flowers to the Queen,
Which certainly was lovely to be seen,
And which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept,
Then with a bow, Miss Lilian Clark, from Her Majesty crept.

The the Queen was conducted to her carriage without delay,
And by her side sat the Princess Beatrice, lovely and gay;
Also Prince Henry of Battenberg, of good repute,
And when known at the Castle the big guns fired a Royal Salute.

Then at eight o’clock the Royal Party started for Holyrood,
While thousands of people in silence stood;
And the Bells of the City rang out loud and clear,
While behind the royal carriage rode several mounted policemen without fear.

But very few persons waited the arrival of Her Majesty at Holyrood,
And about twenty police officers patiently stood,
And their countenances beaming with joy during the while;
Also a military guard of Seaforth Highlanders numbering forty rank and file.

Then at quarter-past eight the Queen and party drove into the palace yard,
And in front of the Palace gates was placed a double guard;
And the band of the Seaforth Highlanders played God save the Queen,
Then the spectators dispersed from Holyrood Palace, most beautiful to be seen.

The processions of the Corporations were magnificent to see,
Especially the Bailies of Bonnie Dundee,
Who were dressed in new ermine robes and new cocked hats,
In honour of Her Majesty, which proves they were no flats.

The Dundee Magistrates had a fine appearance in their new dress,
Also those that came from Portobello, Leith, Hawick, and Inverness,
Likewise from Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Perth, Greenock, Stirling and Aberdeen,
Also Galashiels, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, and Linlithgow, very imposing scene.

Her Majesty left Holyrood Palace at half-past three,
Which certainly was a most gorgeous sight to see;
The a Royal Salute was fired from the Castle at the time,
Which enhanced the beauty of the scene, and made it sublime.

At twenty minutes to four, the Royal Party left the Palace yard,
While the spectators, for her Majesty felt deep regard,
By cheering her loud and hearty, as she passed along,
Their chorus of hurrahs, were unceasing, like unto a hearty Song.

The prolonged cheering was something really grand,
Especially from the people on the Grand Stand,
That cheered most lustily, one and all,
When her Most Gracious Majesty entered the hall.

Then the Queen took her seat on the Throne,
And the Choral Union sung the National Anthem, in a sweet tone,
And at the end of the Anthem, the Marquis of Lothian read an Address,
Which he presented to her, in a Silver Casket, highly burnished no less.

Then the Queen her heart-felt thanks did express,
And most graciously accepted the address,
Then she afterwards read a brief reply,
And then rose from the throne, and bade them good-bye.

The 1st Forfarshire Volunteers were really grand to see,
And has gained an honour to themselves and the town of Dundee;
By being permitted to guard the Palace Gates at Holyrood,
And each man to his post firmly stood.

And in the Evening there was a grand illumination,
Which thousands of people witnessed with admiration,
And West Princes Street Gardens were illuminated with lights,
And betwixt the Exhibition and Illumination there was no end of sights.

At three o’clock, the magistrates of Edinburgh, presented Her Majesty with the keys,
Also with an address, which did her Majesty please,
The Her Majesty made a gracious reply,
Then the Lord Provost, and Bailies Roberts, and Turnbull, bade her good-bye.

Now since the Edinburgh International Exhibition has been visited by the Queen,
I hope the commodities there by millions of people may be seen;
And I trust Her Majesty will be spared for many a day,
And let all loyal subjects, say Amen, to simple lay.

The Queen in Edinburgh

Private Visit to the Exhibition

[From Our Own Reporter.]

This forenoon Her Majesty, accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and the Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg, paid a private visit to the Exhibition. The morning was dull and damp. Rain was expected every moment, and only a few hundreds of people were assembled round the Palace Square. The band of the Seaforih Highlanders was in the Square, and played during the morning. At a few minutes before eleven the carriages were brought to the palace entrance, and precisely at that hour the Queen appeared, and took her seat in an open carriage drawn by four horses, with out-riders and postilions. Another carriage made up the procession. There was no escort. A smart start was made towards the Queen’s Park, and the drive was followed towards the Dalkeith Road. When driving past Jeanie Deans’ cottage the mist was so thick that the Salisbury Crags were invisible. There were few people in the Park, but in Preston Street and along the Melville drive the windows and footpaths were crowded, and cheers were raised and handkerchiefs were waved as the Royal party drove past. The carriages were driven right into the main entrance, and the distinguished party was received at the steps by the Marquis of Lothian. The Queen was handed out of the carriage by two attendants in Highland costume, and the foreman of Exhibition workmen—Mr Everington—held an umbrella over Her Majesty. The Royal party first entered the Southern Reception Room, which is on the South side, accompanied by Dean of Guild Gowans, the Manager, and the Secretary of the Exhibition. This room is furnished Whytock, Reid, & Co. Her Majesty inquired whether the furniture was all made in Edinburgh, and on a reply in the affirmative observed that it was beautiful. The Queen was then shown into the Royal reception room on the North, where she and the other members of the Royal party placed their signatures on the first page of the visitors’ book. Her Majesty afterwards went through the picture galleries, and recognised some of the pictures, including one of Lockhart’s, and a portait of Professor Blackie. Mr Walter Brodie, Convener; Mr John Smart, R.S.A.; W. E. Lockhart, R.S.A.; Mr John Rhind; and Mr W. B. Rhind were presented. Leaving the Fine Art Galleries, Her Majesty inspected several of the Courts. Amongst the exhibits which she visited was the stand of the Blind Asylum, and that of the British Fisheries. Old Edinburgh and the machinery in motion received some attention. The party left by the East gate.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 19th August 1886

Notes

On 6th May 1886 the doors opened on the International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, a showcase for the latest scientific, cultural and social advances in the tradition of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The show occupied a grand pavilion–built on a 30-acre site in The Meadows, a park just south of the centre of Edinburgh–and was opened by Prince Albert Victor, the Queen’s grandson.

As well as “educational appliances; Italian furniture and marble; violins from Prague; Turkish embroidery; illustrations of mining, pottery, sugar-refining, sea industries, paper-making, printing, and railway, tram-way and other vehicular appliances;” visitors could marvel at a reconstruction of a 17th century Edinburgh street complete with various long-demolished buildings. They could also catch a glimpse of the future in a model dwelling furnished with every Victorian mod con.

The Exhibition attracted 2,770,000 visitors in its six months of existence, including the Queen who visited with all the pomp and circumstance that McGonagall describes, but little remains to be seen today. It had been intended to retain the Grand Pavilion, till it was discovered that an 1827 Act of Parliament forbade permanent buildings upon the Meadows so everything had to be demolished.

There’s no evidence that McGonagall visited the exhibition himself, but its environs would become familiar to him just a few years later. After moving to Edinburgh in 1895 he lived at various addresses in the University district just north of the Meadows, before dying at 5, South College Street, five minutes’ walk from the park.

Further Reading

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