LONDON – A set of roomy bloomers that once belonged to Queen Victoria are back in royal drawers.
The underwear – which has a 56-inch (142-centimetre) waist – has been added to Britain’s Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Kensington Palace. The undergarments have a matching chemise, are embroidered with a “VR” and are believed to date from the 1890s.
Queen Victoria had a 20-inch (51-centimetre) waist as a young woman. But curator Alexandra Kim said Tuesday that “over the years, particularly having given birth to nine children, that changed entirely.”
The collection purchased the bloomers for 600 pounds ($993) earlier this summer. Kim said it’s likely they were handed down to a servant after the monarch’s death.
There are about 12,000 items in the collection, housed at Kensington Palace in London. It includes photographs, prints, sketches, diaries – and famous outfits.
Among the sartorial treasures are the tweed suit made for the 1981 honeymoon of Princess Diana, a safari suit sported by Edward VIII – later the Duke of Windsor – and a silk waistcoat worn by King George III before his death in 1821.
The collection has been recognized as being of national and international importance by Britain’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Historic Royal Palaces said in a news release.
Some of the 12,000 items – though not Victoria’s bloomers – are on display. A 12 million pound ($19.8 million) project, to be completed by 2012, is intended to allow more of the collection, including the underwear, to be displayed at Kensington Palace.
Queen Victoria lived from 1819 to 1901. She became queen at age 18 and was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.