History250: The Princess of Wales’ Jubilee Feast For The Outcast Poor

In our quest to bring the epic Centennial celebration back to Philadelphia by 2026, we’ve been digging into the world’s history a little bit!

Centennials, world expos, and world fairs are by no means a new phenomenon, and should be celebrated for playing a vital part in their country’s economic, social, architectural, and cultural development.

Today’s featured event is the 1897 Jubilee Feast For The Outcast Poor held by the Princess of Wales during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Princess Alexandra of Denmark, better known to most as the ‘Princess of Wales’, has more or less faded from history’s memory. She had the good luck, and some would say misfortune, to have reigned alongside the famous Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. She was a young ruler, and not as daring or political as her friend by nature. Nonetheless, in her own simplistic way she impacted the people.

On June 22nd, 1897, Queen Victoria’s magnanimous Diamond Jubilee and accession were well underway. People from all walks of life, caste, and background flooded the streets in an effort to honor the highly regarded Queen and the British empire. Although never thought of as overtly philanthropic, the Princess was always said to be a kind soul, and greatly enjoyed the idea of a huge feast for the outcast poor as part of the Jubilee spirit.

The Victorian period isn’t exceptionally known for its hospitality towards the poverty stricken and lower class families across Great Britain at a time when social standing was everything. So naturally her proposed idea was met with a lot of opposition at first. Event planners of the Jubilee, like Sir Faudel Phillips, went so far as to suggest that a large gathering of ‘beggars and criminals’ could only end horribly, not to mention the waste of money in funding such an event.

Queen_Alexandra,_the_Princess_of_WalesIn the end, on June 24th, regardless of naysayers, hundreds of charities and churches all over London, Manchester, and the rest of the country opened their doors to share in a nationwide feast for anyone who couldn’t afford to eat. In some cases dinner tables were lavishly spread out and waited on by staff; and in others, rations composed of bread, meat, fruit, vegetables,and cheeses were simply handed out to be taken home. After it was all said and done, a record 700 tons of food were served to the poorest men, women, and children in the kingdom.

Princess Alexandra’s feasts launched the Diamond Jubilee into altruistic territory, and, spawned a tradition that united the country through more than just patriotism.

The great thing was this was just one day and one aspect of the Queen’s Jubilee. There’s so much more to report from all over the globe, so keep reading for interesting history tidbits and cool ideas for America’s 250th!

 


History250 is a look back at major anniversary events in America and around the world. We’re looking to the past for ideas in order to inspire others in 2026.

Ariama Long: I’m a recent graduate of Chestnut Hill College and contributor to Ideas250. If you’d like to contact me, leave a comment, or find out more about USA250, check out our website or email me at ariama@usa250inc.org.