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  • Date:

    1861-1901 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fine linen cambric, embroidered with black silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 1

This mourning handkerchief was owned by Queen Victoria. It is made of the finest cambric linen and the embroidery shows her own cipher.

Victorian etiquette ruled that widows went into deep mourning (called First Mourning) for a year and a day after the death of their husband. Some sources advised that during this time only black handkerchiefs should be used. This advice varied, and a complete list of clothes needed for respectable First Mourning, published in the 1881 issue of Sylvia's Home Journal included 'Twelve handkerchiefs with black borders, for ordinary use, cambric' and 'Twelve of finer cambric for better occasions'. Decoration, in the form of black edging, took a number of forms from plain printed or woven borders to black embroidery, as in this example, and narrowed as mourning diminished.

It is not possible to date this handkerchief accurately. The depth of Queen Victoria's anguish on the death of Prince Albert meant that her mourning extended the usual periods acceptable and, as royalty, she set or flouted trends to suit herself. The handkerchief was given to the Museum along with other royal accessories by the Duke of Gloucester, a great grandson of Queen Victoria.


1861-1901 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fine linen cambric, embroidered with black silk

Marks and inscriptions

owner's mark; Embroidered with Queen Victoria's cipher; embroidery


Height: 46 cm, Width: 46 cm

Descriptive line

Queen Victoria's Mourning Handkerchief

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Queen Victoria popularised the use of special mourning handkerchiefs. This is one of many that were made for her during her long period of mourning for Prince Albert, who died in 1861. Widows usually used either black handkerchiefs or white handkerchiefs edged with black. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted



Death; Accessories; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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