The Intrigue behind Lithographs of the Royal Family

Located in the Sitting Room, framed lithograph prints of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert watch over space with regal authority. The lithographs were made by J.A. Vinter (engraver) and Day & Son (lithographer) and signed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Grouped together with lithographs of the Royal children, they sailed across the ocean with the Prince of Wales.  The gifts were intended for Harriet Lane, the First Lady of the United States and friend to the Queen.

But the lithographs would create a big stir in the media.

Setting the Stage

In 1860, the Prince of Wales toured Canada and America for four months. The end of his tour included a stop at the White House. President James Buchanan and First Lady Harriet Lane hosted him at the White House and took him to the tomb of George Washington. The Prince visited for three days before returning home.

Before he left, the Prince gave Lord Lyons, Great Britain’s Minister to the United States, unframed lithographs of his family as a personal gift to Harriet Lane. Upon receiving the gifts, Harriet framed the lithographs and displayed them in the White House for the duration of her Uncle’s Presidency.

When she returned to Wheatland, however, Harriet took the lithographs with her.

Drama takes Center Stage

In 1862, a journalist from the New York Herald accused Buchanan of stealing the framed lithographs from the people of the United States. The accusations persisted in the media until Lord Lyons himself spoke with the newspaper’s editor. He explained that the lithographs were personal gifts to Harriet from the Royal family.

Once Lord Lyons spoke to the New York Herald, the accusations ceased. James Buchanan demanded a public apology from the New York Herald, but never got an apology.

Peace Restored

With the accusations subsided, Harriet could enjoy the gifts given to her by the Royal family. Today, visitors to Wheatland can enjoy the lithographs of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the Sitting Room, too.

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Framed lithograph prints of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Framed Lithograph Prints of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Gaining perspective from the history left behind at Wheatland, Museum Associate Stephanie Celiberti explores the world that James Buchanan inhabited, digging up the intricacies of daily life in the 19th century to better understand the ins-and-outs of those who came before us. By walking in the shoes—quite literally—of the Victorians, she challenges a new understanding of history—one that is tactile and present with our world today. 

From History From The House