A pair of bloomers that once belonged to Queen Victoria are for sale. She was obviously a big woman - the knickers are 50 inches at the waist.

Queen Victoria (who was also the Empress of India) is still Britain's longest-reigning monarch, on the Throne from 1837 to 1901.

Queen Victoria's great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II will overtake Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch if she is still on the Throne in 2016.

I doubt the great Monarch would be happy if she knew we were talking about her undergarments - the Victorian British were a notoriously shy and prudent people.

Blooming enormous: Queen Victoria's 50-inch waist knickers are uncovered

By David Wilkes
11th July 2008
Daily Mail

Big girl: Queen Victoria, ruler of a vast Empire, was also big physically

They are knickers fit for a queen or - given their size - maybe two.

Able to accommodate a 50in -plus waist, they belonged to Queen Victoria.

Doubtless she would not be amused to have her undergarments - or her vital statistics - discussed in public.

Quite apart from the primness of the age in which she lived, Britain's longest- reigning monarch could be a little sensitive about her appearance.

At less than 5ft tall, the tendency towards plumpness she inherited from her German forebears was pronounced.

But the forthcoming sale of the royal bloomers at an auction has refocused attention on Victoria's proportions.

Experts say their size supports long-held theories that in later life her waistline had reached monumental proportions.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said yesterday: 'Some accounts claim Victoria had a waist measurement of up to 60 inches by the 1890s, and these items certainly suggest a fair girth.'

The knickers appear very plain, save for a tiny embroidered crown and the initials 'VR'.

Vanessa Savage, a textiles expert at Hanson's Auctioneers, said: 'They may not look too regal at first glance, but their provenance is concrete.

'They are made of a soft, fine cotton and sewn by hand, with fine attention to stitchwork, and the minute sewing would have taken days.'

Fit for a... giant: Auctioneers' assistant Sam Rhodes models a Queen Victoria's giant 50-inch waist bloomers

Examples of Her Majesty's underwear are considered the crowning curiosities for Victoriana collectors worldwide.

The items being sold by Mr Hanson, a regular on BBC1's Bargain Hunt antiques show, once belonged to the family of one of Victoria's servants and also include a chemise and a nightdress.

While the waistline of the knickers is an impressive 50in-plus inches at full stretch, the chemise is even bigger - 66 inches across the royal bust.

The knickers are expected to fetch 500 and the chemise and nightdress 300 each at a sale in Mackworth, Derby, on July 30.

Defenders of Victoria traditionally claim the extent of her waistline has been exaggerated. They featured separate legs pulled together with a drawstring. This made the size vary widely.

But Mr Hanson said: 'It's generally accepted she was considerably overweight in later life, exactly how much we'll only ever be able to guess.'

Earlier this week pop icon Madonna's legendary fashion sense was called into question after she was pictured wearing red silk bloomers. The star wore them as shorts while walking in New York.

Mr Hanson added: 'If she thinks they're the future of fashion then perhaps she would like a pair of true originals.

'We're already expecting plenty of international interest for such personal Royal possessions, and we would certainly welcome her bid.

'I would have to admit, though, that Victoria, being a pillar of British decency, would probably not be amused by such worldwide exposure.'