The Wild West comes to Windsor

On 25 June 1892 ‘Buffalo Bill’ and his Wild West show gave a command performance at Windsor Castle in front of Queen Victoria.  She recorded in her journal the entertaining events of the day [Royal Archives VIC/MAIN/QVJ/1892: 25 June]:

‘At 5…we went on to the East Terrace, & watched from a tent, open in front, a sort of “Buffalo Bill” performance, on the Lawn below.  It was extremely well arranged, & an excellent representation of what we had also seen 5 years ago at Earl’s Court.  There were Cow Boys, Red Indians, Mexicans, Argentinos taking part, & then a wonderful riding display by Cossacks, accompanied by curious singing, & a war dance by the Indians.  There were extraordinary buck jumping horses, shooting at glass balls by Col: Cody (Buffalo Bill), & [a] display of cracking huge long whips.  The whole, was a very pretty, wild sight, which lasted an hour.  At the conclusion of the performance, all advanced in line at a gallop & stopped suddenly.  Col: Cody was brought up for me to speak to him.  He is still a very handsome man, but has now got a grey beard.’

The Times records that on 25 June 1892 the Queen witnessed from the East Terrace of Windsor Castle a performance of ‘a party of the Wild West Company, consisting of American Cowboys, Mexicans, Cossacks of the Caucasus, Gauchos, and Sioux Indians, under the direction of Colonel Cody [Buffalo Bill].’

Philip Frank Eliot, Dean of Windsor (1891-1917), was invited by the Queen to attend.  He described the event in a letter to his mother dated the following day:

‘It was really a very pretty sight.  The performance took place on the lawn in front of the East Terrace … and the Queen and all the guests etc. sat on the Terrace itself.  Unfortunately it was a dull evening, with no sun.  Certainly they performed some wonderful feats of horsemanship.  The Queen suggested that her equerries might try to ride the ‘bucking’ horses! but they were not willing.’

Eleanor Cracknell (Assistant Archivist)

The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.