The particular aim of the world exhibitions in the 19th century was to promote peaceful competition between nations, so that this took the place of belligerent confrontations. However, given the nations’ appetite for power such an idealistic concept was bound to fail. After the Crimean War in the mid-fifties and the battles fought by the British to suppress insurgents in South Africa, it was the secession of the southern states in America in 1861 that most jeopardised the idea of the World Exhibition. In addition, the American Civil War posed a direct threat to the exhibition to be held in London. The war raging in the USA had caused a shortage of cotton, and the British textiles sector was suffering badly due to this. Many companies in the sector therefore had to cancel their participation at the World Exhibition due to financial problems. Unemployment and lower wages were the result of this state of affairs, and this threatened to reduce the number of visitors. Due to the Civil War, it was also doubtful whether the USA, which had made a considerable showing in London in 1851, would participate at all. In the event, there were only a few American exhibits in 1862.
The death of Prince Albert on 14 December 1861 placed a great burden on the plan. Albert had been the spiritual father of the world exhibition concept, and now his support and his symbolic presence were absent. The Queen, who was in mourning, did not attend the opening ceremony of the World Exhibition held on 1 May 1862. An empty throne, and busts of the Queen and her deceased consort at its side, meant that the loss, both for the World Exhibition and for the country, was felt by everyone. In every address, reference was made first of all to the death of Prince Albert, and his great contributions were praised. The Choral Ode composed by the Poet Laureate, Alfred Tennyson, also acknowledged the prince consort as having been the creator of the world-embracing exhibition idea.
|Year: 1862||City: London||Country: Great Britain|
|Duration: 1st May - 1st November 1862|