©National Archives

Prince Albert and the Great Exhibition, 1849 In 1847 the Society of Arts arranged the first of a series of exhibitions of modern manufactures, with good design as a major consideration. The two chief movers in this project were Prince Albert and Henry Cole, at that time an Assistant Keeper at the Public Record Office.

These annual exhibitions proved such a success that in 1851 it was decided to embark upon a National Quinquennial Exhibition on the French pattern. This was held at Crystal Palace in 1851 and became known as the Great Exhibition.

This letter puts forward the proposal for the exhibition and was written by Prince Albert, President of the Royal Society of Arts, to the Home Secretary. It also suggests the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into and report on the practicability of the proposed scheme. The letter was written at Osborne House and dated 31 July 1849.

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