There are a number of pairs of Queen Victoria’s slippers in museums. It is said that she wore each pair only once, and they were then passed on to her attendants. Some of them were kept and passed down to their descendants, which is how this pair ended up in the museum collection.
Shoes like these were used for dancing and indoor wear. We often think of Queen Victoria as a rather sour old woman, but of course she was a young girl once. She was only 18 when she came to the throne in 1837 and 21 when she married Prince Albert. We know that she enjoyed dancing and she and Albert hosted lavish costume balls at Buckingham Palace.
Like the present Queen, Victoria had her shoes custom made. Gundry and Son of Soho Square made shoes for her from 1824 to 1898, including embroidered white slippers for her wedding and coronation. This pair is made of silk satin with small leather soles. We can tell from the people named on the label that they were made in the 1850s, when Victoria was in her thirties.
Victoria had nine-inch feet, approximately a size 3–3.5 in today’s sizes, but women squeezed into shoes a few sizes smaller so that their feet appeared more dainty. This may have led to painful foot conditions including calluses, bunions and, in extreme circumstances, malformation of the feet. In her later years Queen Victoria quite probably had the same foot problems as many present-day women!