‘One of the most wonderful times in the history of England’ continued …

Here is more from Charles Booth’s evocative letter describing Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee celebrations in June 1897. Unpredictable weather seems to be a theme of diamond jubilee pageants …

In the evening we all, except Mary & little Charles (who seemed safer in bed) went out to see the illuminations […] every young man had charge of one of the girls, a very necessary precaution as sometimes the crush was great […] We saw a large part of the show at this side & crossed the river & returned by a second bridge. A beautiful sight with the electric search lights playing about & the dome of St Paul’s gleaming through the darkness […] The quantity of illuminated buildings was astonishing. It was not at all only on the line of procession but everywhere in streets & squares people had shown loyalty in this way […]

The naval review made a grand finish to the whole […] We were invited to be on board the ‘Theseus’, one of the cruisers […] very nearly the centre of the fleet, giving us a glorious view. The day was perfect, & the sun & wind so cleared the air that we could see the whole […] Returning we saw nothing being buried under our umbrellas while everything was obscured also by the most tremendous thunder storm & the heaviest rain […] that I ever was out in. The scene just before we left the ship was most striking as the storm was coming up & the lightening flashing […] we all got very wet & had to discard outer garments & walk about to dry ourselves in the railway station till our train started […]

So ends the jubilee week & this long letter […] I hope what I have written may serve to help to give you some idea of one of the most wonderful times in the history of England […]

I am yours affectionately,
Charles Booth


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