Extract from Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge’s London Travel Diary

We have been to-day at Leslie’s house in Pine Apple Row. Being admitted to his painting room we saw the Coronation picture in a very unfinished state but promising well. The moment chosen is the taking of the Sacrament. The Queen, divested of her crown and ornaments, her dress concealed by an outer garment of pure white cambric over which is the Dalmatic robe of heavy embroidered satin almost an orange colour, is on her knees before the Primate, Archbishop of Canterbury, who holds in his hand, the consecrated elements. Eight young ladies of noble families, trainbearers, dressed alike, in white, form a group behind the Queen who is seen in profile, her young head bowed low & meekly down and her countenance noble and full of solemn thought, in fine contrast with the fair, girlish faces of her young attendants, who look pleased in their office & their conspicuous station and, devoid of all anxiety except the small care of performing a part in the pageant. The Mistress of the Robes, the Duchess of Sutherland, stands proud in velvet and ermine, Lord Palmerstone with the Sword of State has in Leslie’s picture, a finer face than nature gave him—The Duke of Wellington is, as yet, merely sketched, the Duchess of Kent seated in the royal box, leans forward with an air of gratified pride tinged with care.

Leslie told us some anecdotes of the Coronation. The Ring made by the Court Jeweller was intended for the little finger; when it was to be put on the Archbishop insisted on pressing it upon the third finger for which it was manifestly too small. The consequence was pain and inconvenience to the Queen and difficulty in taking the ring off. It seems doubtful whether the Jeweller or the Primate were in the wrong. The expression in the Rubric is “the fourth finger,”—The Archbishop counting from & including the thumb, & the Jeweller beginning with the fore finger, caused a diversity of opinion & it’s unpleasant result. As the same artist had executed the coronation rings of George 4th & William 4th, he probably was in the right. In any case it was manifestly wrong to inflict a torture like the thumb screw on the sacred person of her little Majesty the very day of her coronation.—

I have been suffering all day with feverish headache & shall go to bed early. Mr Coolidge dines at the Traveller’s Club.

MS (MHi: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Diary, Ms N-1027); in Coolidge’s hand. Published in Thomas Jefferson’s Granddaughter in Queen Victoria’s England: The Travel Diary of Ellen Wayles Coolidge, 1838–1839, Ann Lucas Birle and Lisa A. Francavilla, eds. (2011), 93–5.

The sword of state was carried by William Lamb, Lord Melborne (1779–1848), Prime Minister, and not Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston (1784–1865).