We underestimate the significance to our cultural life of Prince Albert, whose legacy continues to flourish more than 150 years after his death in 1861. The Great Exhibition, held in Hyde Park in 1851, was Albert's initiative - and it was his idea that the profits should be used to develop a centre for the arts and sciences in South Kensington. The land on which now stand the Natural History and Science museums, as well as the Albert Hall, was bought with that money. The area, known today as Albertopolis, also houses such formidable educational institutions as Imperial College and, of the highest cultural importance, the Royal College of Music.
Albert had been dead for more than 20 years when his son, the future Edward VII, presided over the opening of the RCM in 1882. Britain was at the time what Germans, with some justification, called "the land without music". In London's West End, the...
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