All I can say is “That sure is a Nice Gift from the Old Girl!”
For sale, gun Queen Victoria gave her servant rumoured to be her lover: A Double-barrelled rifle given to John Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873 set to fetch £40,000
- The monarch gave the deer-stalking rifle to Brown at Christmas 1873
- Queen turned to the attendant for counsel after husband’s death in 1861
- Gun was kept in late American industrialist Clay Bedford’s collection
- Rifle will be sold in London and auctioneers call the item ‘very desirable’
An antique rifle that was a gift from Queen Victoria to a manservant who was rumoured to have been her lover is to be sold at auction
The relationship infuriated the Queen’s eldest son, Edward VII, who was said to have once arranged for a boxer to give him a thrashing.
The affair was also the subject of the 1997 Judi Dench film Mrs Brown, which focused on their controversial relationship.
According to experts the weapon was the best that money could buy at the time and was engraved with his name at her behest.
The gift came 18 months after Brown had saved the Queen from a potential assassination attempt when the nephew of an Irish MP rushed her open carriage with an unloaded pistol prompting Brown to grab hold of him.Share
After Brown’s death in 1883 the gun was acquired by the late American industrialist Clay Bedford and it has been in his collection ever since.
The deer-stalking rifle was displayed at the London Metropolitan Museum of Art for a firearms exhibition in 1971. It is now being sold at auction in London.
Patrick Hawes, a rifle specialist at auctioneers Bonhams, said: ‘The rifle is unique in many ways and has a direct association with Queen Victoria which makes it a very desirable item.
‘There is no doubt that it was the best quality and the best rifle that money could buy at the time.
‘We believe this is the first time it is being sold at auction. It is in a very good condition and is usable. It doesn’t appear to have had a lot of use.’
The monarch (right) had turned to trusted attendant Brown (left) for counsel after the death of her husband, Prince Albert in 1861, and it was suggested they were romantically involved
Brown, from Aberdeenshire, worked as an outdoor servant at Balmoral Castle in the mid 18th century.
He became the pastoral aide to Victoria and Albert, and in 1854 Victoria wrote that Brown ‘takes the most wonderful care of me… and it is quite a sorrow to leave him behind’.
The rifle, made by royal gunmaker Alexander Henry of Edinburgh, comes in its original pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories.
The exterior of the lid is stamped in gilt letters ‘J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral’. It is being sold on May 12.
Auctioneers at Bonhams say that it is the best quality and the best rifle that money could buy at the time
The exterior of the lid is stamped in gilt letters ‘J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral’. It is being sold on May 12