Invitation to a ball on HMS Galatea, 1870

1870 in Calcutta
Invitation to a ball on HMS Galatea, 1870 (Invitation)

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Invitation card, inviting Mr and Mrs George Turnbull to a ball held by Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh on board HMS Galatea on 4 January 1870. Turnbull had been Chief Engineer of the East Indian Railway.

HMS Galatea was a steam-powered Royal Navy frigate launched in 1859. After a refit in 1866, Galatea went on a world cruise under the command of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Setting off from Plymouth on 24 January 1867, Alfred eventually reached India in December 1869. He was the first British prince to set foot in the country. The ball took place while the Galatea was moored on the Hooghly River, near Maidan Park in Calcutta (now Kolkata).

By Turnbull’s account, the ball was well-attended, grandly decorated, and late-ending: ‘There were above 1,000 guests. The finest sight of the kind I ever saw. … The ship was…kept up till three next morning.’

A watercolour painting of the Galatea ball is in the Royal Collection (RCIN 920379). The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia holds John O’Brien’s oil painting of the Galatea (accession number 1955.5).


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