The Christmas Tree is a staple part of the Christmas celebrations in Britain. The idea of bringing a fir tree into our homes and decorating it is a strange one, but has become the norm. It has often been associated with Prince Albert, the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. However, accounts indicate an earlier royal consort introduced the idea of a festively decorated tree. Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, first instructed there to be a tree at Queen’s Lodge at Windsor Castle in 1800. The invention of the tree came from Martin Luther, the religious reformer, who was inspired one winters night, seeing the stars shining through the branches of the fir trees.
Decorated trees became more common place in southern Germany in the 1600s and in Mecklenburg-Strelitz where Queen Charlotte was from, it was custom to decorate a single yew branch at Christmas time. So this is what she had installed in Windsor and it became an annual event. By 1840, and Queen Victoria’s reign, the Christmas tree was not something novel for the aristocracy. Prince Albert had several firs imported from his native Coburg to not only royal residences but also sent them schools and army barracks. This helped to popularise them, however it became mainstream due to the Illustrated News depiction of the royal family decorating the tree in 1848.
This was used to promote the idea of family which was an important part of Victorian Culture. Through this, many middle class families followed suit and included all family members in the decorating.