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Musical Bustles

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63751.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:16 am Reply with quote

Molly's question, which we thought needed checking:

Q: Why did Queen Victoria have a musical bottom?

It seems to be OK:

This is from a carefully-researched history of corsets from the V&A
'The New Phantom' bustle, dating from about 1884, had a special feature. The steel wires are attached to a pivot so that they folded in on themselves on sitting down and sprang back when the wearer rose. A novelty bustle made to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations contained a less useful device. It was fitted with a musical box that played 'God Save the Queen' each time the wearer sat down!

Molly, I guess this is the source you were referring to?
While, for the plain quirky, Queen Victoria was given a musical bustle in 1887 - her Golden Jubilee year - which played the anthem when the wearer sat down.

It seems to have been featured in some way in a recent (2002) V&A exhibition called 'Curvaceous'. This from a feminist review of the exhibition:
All in all, a very interesting exhibition - and the rest of the dress gallery room is definitely worth a look too. I was surprised to learn the the Victorians had a sense of humour: they created a novelty bustle for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee which contained a musical box and played God Save the Queen when the wearer sat down! Makes the whoopie cushion look pathetic.

Mat - an interesting implication there; this writer (Catherine Redfern) assumes the Victorians to have been not only prudish but also humourless.

Anyway, all in all it looks fairly safe.

63770.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:00 am Reply with quote

Ah, so it wasn't made for her (I can't imagine her wearing such a fun item), but in her honour. Wouldn't this affect the form of the question?

63793.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:16 am Reply with quote

I don't think so - as long as the notes are clear I think the joke is fair enough.

Speaking of which, do we know whether she ever said "We are not amused?"

63795.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:19 am Reply with quote

Because maybe the question is something like:

Was Queen Victoria amused by her musical bottom?


How amused was Queen Victoria by her musical bottom?

F: not at all
A: very

Not quite that, maybe, but you see where I'm headed.

63797.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:23 am Reply with quote

Mat - an interesting implication there; this writer (Catherine Redfern) assumes the Victorians to have been not only prudish but also humourless.

I almost fell off my chair when I read that line! Perhaps she was being ironic ... or is that too much to hope for?

63800.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:26 am Reply with quote

Way too much, I'm afraid - this is a reviewer for a feminist journal we're talking about.

63827.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:01 am Reply with quote

Apparently the "we are not amused" line is probably for real. It was recorded in 1919 in "Notebooks of a Spinster Lady" (rather an unpromising title on the face of it), by Caroline Holland:

There is a tale of the unfortunate equerry who ventured during dinner at Windsor to tell a story with a spice of scandal or impropriety in it. 'We are not amused,' said the Queen when he had finished.

Although Princess Alice, during an interview in 1978, said she had asked her grandmother about the expression, "but she never said it," and declared that Queen Victoria was "a very cheerful person", according to this source:


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