Prince Albert


In Prince Albert’s speech at the banquet hosted by the Right Honorable The Lord Mayor, Thomas Farncombe about The Great Exhibition of 1851, he identified three sources of order and peace to those assembled; those addressed by principles of commonweal, globalization, and the victory of man over nature as exemplified in science and industry.

As explained by Professor Kim, “Victorian England embraced a progressive political tradition” (Kim, Course Notes, Week 6). The two political parties both agreed on the need for social reforms and public improvements and sought to enact measures that would serve the common good. This principle, called commonweal, lead to a series of Reform Laws whereby the franchise was expanded for men and greater participation in government was encouraged (Kim, Course Notes, Week 6). Prince Albert articulated this principle in his speech when he stated that it is, “the duty of every educated person…to further the accomplishment of what he believes Providence to have ordained” (Prince Albert). Implied in this sentiment, is the prevailing notion that God had destined the English, to expand civilization to those parts of the world where it was lacking. This expansion of the commonweal throughout the realm was certainly seen as a duty and obligation and served as a way to bring order and peace to foreign nations.

Prince Albert expressed pride in what we would now call globalization. Distances between nations had vanished resulting in a more rapid exchange of ideas and free thought, languages previously unknown are known, and communication occurred more rapidly than ever. He points to an amalgamation of science, industry and art saying, “the great principle of the division of labour, which may be called the moving power of civilization” had been expanded into each field. So that no longer were scientists only scientists and artists only artists, but that the practitioners of those fields collaborated to propel England to modernize and enter the Industrial Revolution which was exported to the colonies, to a degree (Prince Albert). These developments precipitated a competitive spirit whereby England could now, “choose which is the best and cheapest for our purposes, and the powers or production are entrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital” (Prince Albert).

The third, related point is that man had come closer to realizing his Providentially ordained dominion over nature. What God had given to man to use, was being used to modernize and industrialize England, and the world, with the British at the helm. Prince Albert described the process; science discovered the “laws of power, motion and transformation; industry applies them to the raw matter, which the earth yields in abundance” and art guides the production of items, machinery, and those articles of progress (Prince Albert).

Prince Albert explains to those assembled that the sources of peace and order were principles of progress. Educated man’s duty to accomplish what God has ordained, for him to act with a sense of commonweal and for the public good, helped to keep order and peace in the world. Globalization, the expansion of the Empire, into foreign territories helped to expand a sense of unity whereby previously unknown languages were known, and communication and free movement of thought happened more rapidly. And lastly, man’s dominion over nature through scientific advancements provide the mechanisms for progress which brought peace and order to the Empire.