Queen Victoria wrote in her journal about her feelings on the day she opened the Great Exhibition:
1 May 1851
'This day is one of the greatest and most glorious of our lives... It is a day which makes my heart swell with thankfulness... The Park presented a wonderful spectacle, crowds streaming through it, - carriages and troops passing... The Green Park and Hyde Park were one mass of densely crowded human beings, in the highest good humour... before we neared the Crystal Palace, the sun shone and gleamed upon the gigantic edifice, upon which the flags of every nation were flying... The sight as we came to the centre where the steps and chair (on which I did not sit) was placed, facing the beautiful crystal fountain was magic and impressive. The tremendous cheering, the joy expressed in every face, the vastness of the building, with all its decoration and exhibits, the sound of the organ... all this was indeed moving.'
'22 May 1851
Went with our guests to the Exhibition. This time we went to the Indian Courts, visiting those on both sides and the beautiful things in the nave. The jewels and ornaments are quite magnificent.'
29 May 1851
'... to the Exhibition. We went up to the Gallery on the south side and stood at the end of the Transept, to watch people coming in, in streams... there must have been 120,000 - all so civil and well behaved, that it was a pleasure to see them.'
Extracts from Queen Victoria's Journal, 1851.
Quoted in Gibbs-Smith, C. The Great Exhibition 1851, HMSO, 1981, ISBN 0-11-290344-4.