Lady of the Bedchamber

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Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle, Lady of the Bedchamber to queen Henrietta Maria.

The Lady of the Bedchamber is the title of a lady-in-waiting holding the official position of personal attendant on a British queen or princess. The position is traditionally held by a female member of a noble family. The are ranked between the First Lady of the Bedchamber and the Women of the Bedchamber.

The equivalent title and office has historically been used in most European royal courts (Dutch: Dames du Palais; French: dames or Dame de Palais; German: hofstaatsdame or palatsdame; Italian: Dame di Corte; Russian: Hofdame or Statsdame; Spanish: dueñas de honor; Swedish: statsfru).

History[edit]

In the Middle Ages, Margaret of France, Queen of England is noted to have had seven ladies of the bedchamber: the three married one were called Domina and the four unmarried maid of honour.[1] Their task was simply to act as the companions (see lady's companion) and personal attendants to the royal woman.

In a description from 1728, the task of the Ladies of the Bedchamber was to act as the go-between for the queen and the Women of the Bedchamber, who had the task to wait upon the queen by helping her wash, dress and undress, and so forth.[2] A Woman of the Bedchamber worked independently from the a Lady of the Bedchamber and did not take orders from her. However, if a Lady of the Bedchamber was present, a Woman of the Bedchamber would always defer to her.[3] If a Lady of the Bedchamber was present when a Woman of the Bedchamber arrived to dress the queen, for example, she would not dress the queen herself, but instead give the garments to the Lady of the Bedchamber, who in turn helped the queen put it on. The procedure was the same in other issues.[4]

The post of a Lady of the Bedchamber was considered prestigious, and the appointments have therefore been subjected to controversies. In 1839, concerns that Queen Victoria was determined to surround herself with wives of Whig politicians led to the Bedchamber crisis, preventing the installation of a Tory government under Robert Peel. Earlier, Queen Anne appointed Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough to this position; the Duchess was widely considered a royal favourite.

List of Ladies of the Bedchamber to the Queens of England[edit]

This is an incomplete list of those who have served as Lady of the Bedchamber (also styled Gentlewoman of Her Majesty's Bedchamber) in the British Royal Household.

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth I, 1558–1603[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Henrietta Maria of France, 1625–1649[5][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Catherine of Braganza, 1662–1688[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Mary II of England, 1689–1694[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Anne, 1704–1714[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Caroline of Ansbach, 1714–1737[6][7][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, 1736–1763[8][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 1761–1818[9][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, 1830–1837[10][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Victoria, 1837–1901[11][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Alexandra of Denmark, 1901–1925[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Mary of Teck, 1901–1953[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 1937–2002[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth II, 1953–present[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ William J. Thoms: The Book of the Court: Exhibiting the History, Duties, and Privileges of the English Nobility and Gentry. Particularly of the Great Officers of State and Members of the Royal Household, 1844
  2. ^ 'The bedchamber: Women of the Bedchamber 1702-1714', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837, ed. R O Bucholz (London, 2006), pp. 24-25. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/office-holders/vol11/pp24-25 [accessed 17 August 2016].
  3. ^ 'The bedchamber: Women of the Bedchamber 1702-1714', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837, ed. R O Bucholz (London, 2006), pp. 24-25. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/office-holders/vol11/pp24-25 [accessed 17 August 2016].
  4. ^ 'The bedchamber: Women of the Bedchamber 1702-1714', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837, ed. R O Bucholz (London, 2006), pp. 24-25. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/office-holders/vol11/pp24-25 [accessed 17 August 2016].
  5. ^ John Preston Neale, The Mansions Of England V1: Or Picturesque Delineations Of The Seats Of Noblemen And Gentlemen (1847)
  6. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  7. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  8. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  9. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  10. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  11. ^ Institute of Historical Research
  12. ^ a b c d e f The London Gazette: no. 27292. p. 1648. 8 March 1901.

External links[edit]