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Her Majesty's State Box at the Royal Italian Opera Hose, Covent Garden

From 'The Illustrated London News' July 29th 1848

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ON the occasion of her majesty's state visit to the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, on the 20th instant, the arrangements for the Royal accommodation were of a novel kind. The ordinary Box occupied by the Queen is in the grand tier, being the third double box from the stage. The Box is of considerable dimensions, and behind is a richly-furnished suite of rooms; but, although this locality would have enabled the Directors to have received the Queen in a manner worthy of the distinguished honour conferred on the establishment by her gracious command, it was resolved to construct a Royal Box of unprecedented size and elegance, and to follow the example of the Continental theatres, in setting apart the centre of the house for the reception of Royalty. For this purpose four boxes on the grand tier and two boxes on the first (the tier above) were removed, and thrown into one large Box of an oval form. The original curve of the facade of the four grand tier boxes was changed into convex, and the new facade thus extended some feet over the passage of the pit, as far as the back row of seats. The Royal Box took in the portion of the corridor on the grand tier to the extent of eight boxes, and was then separated from the passages on each side of the grand tier by partitions. Thus the State Box was isolated from the remainder of the house, and the grand foyer or saloon, and other rooms on the grand tier floor, wore exclusively appropriated to her Majesty's use, the public being admitted to the boxes by side doors on the Piazza side and at the Grand Stalrcase in Bow-street. Her Majesty's approach to the State Box was thus contrived. The usual private entrance in Prince's-place was reserved for the Royal carriages, and her Majesty entered by her own private staircase. Passing through her own rooms, a door was cut through into the passage on the Piazza side, and thus the Grand Saloon was reached, the entire distance being a Perfect level. All the corridors, passages, and ante-rooms were lined with white satin, and hung with flowers and filagree gold ornaments. The foyer, or drawingroom for the Queen, was furnished with costly meublei from Willow Bank, Fulham with a rich service of plate. The room was lighted with splendid chandeliers and candelabra, and before the two grand looking glasses were colossal pyramids of geraniums. The boudoir and toilette-room for her Majesty were lined also with white satin, and from the ceiling to the flooring were massive mirrors. The interior of the Box was lined with while satin on a figured ground, upon which at intervals were placed pilasters of the same material. Two breadths of Brussels lace forming a cornice vallance were suspended from the ceiling. The two columns in the interior of the Box were entwined with artificial flowers and, interlaced with Brussels dentelle, and from these columns candelabra were suspended. Miniature bouquets of artificial flowers, and filagree bands studded the satin linings. The Chairs of State, for the Queen and Prince Albert, were immediately in front of the Box; and below the facade, on the back row Of the pit, stood four Yeomen of the Guard. The officers and ladies of the Royal household stood behind the Queen during the whole of the performance. The exterior of the Box was very splendid. From the facade of the box stalls was suspended a canopy or massive burnished gold band, surmounted by a crown elaborately worked, and supported by draped flags of the finest gold and silver tissue. From this gorgeous canopy were hung draperies of rich India crimson. and gold damask, trimmed with exquisite Brussels lace, and these draperies, in graceful folds, hung over the sides of the Royal Box.

The ensemble was remarkably elegant, and reflected great credit on the taste of Mr. F. Gye, under whose superintendence and after whose designs the decorations and fittings for the Royal Box were accomplished. Her Majesty expressed to Messrs. Delaffield and Webster, who were in attendance in full Court suits, her gratification at the performance of "Les Huguenots" and the arrangements of the Royal Box in the centre of the house, the effect of which is displayed by our artist In the accompanying Illustration.

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