This hunting rifle was gifted by Queen Victoria to her loyal servant, John Brown.
John Brown, Queen Victoria's Highland Servant
You can see the rifle in the exhibition Wild and Majestic, which opens on 26 June 2019.
Did you know?
This is the first time this rifle has been on public display.
Sporting double rifle presented to John Brown by Queen Victoria.
“Perhaps never in history was there so strong and true an attachment, so warm and loving a friendship between the sovereign and servant.- Queen Victoria, in a letter to Viscount Cranbrook, 1883
John Brown was born on 8 December 1826 at Crathienaird, Crathie and Braemar in Aberdeenshire. He had worked on the Balmoral estate since 1842, and rose in the Queen’s favour to special status as Her Majesty’s Highland Servant. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, Brown supported Queen Victoria in her grief. Gossip soon spread regarding the Queen’s closeness to Brown and his influence over the royal household.
This rifle shows the connection and the affection between Queen Victoria and John Brown. The high-quality design and obvious expense of the gift highlights the position of trust and esteem in which the Queen held her loyal servant.
A gold plaque fitted into the butt of this .450 double-barrelled hammer rifle records that Queen Victoria presented it to John Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873. It was made that year in Edinburgh by noted Edinburgh gun maker Alexander Henry.
Brown died unexpectedly in 1883. Devastated by his loss, the Queen wrote to Brown’s brother Hugh, ‘we all have lost the best, the truest heart that ever beat!’
Shortly after his death, Queen Victoria commissioned this statue of Brown from sculptor Edgar Boehm. The inscription read: Friend more than Servant. Loyal. Truthful. Brave. Self less than Duty, even to the Grave.