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Q: Queen Victoria and mangosteen, the "queen of fruit" ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: Queen Victoria and mangosteen, the "queen of fruit"
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: garcinia-ga
List Price: $99.00
Posted: 15 Sep 2005 05:23 PDT
Expires: 15 Oct 2005 05:23 PDT
Question ID: 568298
There are numerous references to the connection between Queen Victoria
of the United Kingdom and the mangosteen. Some people, such as David
Fairchild and William Jennings Bryan and others citing them, refer to
the rewards that were offered by Queen Victoria to anyone who could
bring her a fresh mangosteen. These rewards ran the gamut from 100
pounds to a knighthood and so on. Unfortunately, David Fairchild does
not list any citations or attributions for these alleged claims of the
connection between Queen Victoria and the mangosteen. In addition, the
British libraries, museums, Kew and the Royal Archives state that
their records show no connection between the Queen and the mangosteen
whatsoever. A reference in the 1850's to the Duke of Northumberland
successfully growing the mangosteen to fruiting in a stove house at
Syon Park also fails to show there was any connection as the Queen did
not attend. My question is as follows; is there any 19th century print
medium (book, article, newspaper, letter, written record of any type,
etc.) that convincingly establishes a connection between Queen
Victoria and any rewards of any sort for the person who brought her a
fresh mangosteen? I would need to be able to independently verify the
printed 19th century source as proof; anecdotal evidence is not good

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 15 Sep 2005 07:41 PDT
It's pretty-near impossible to say that there ISN'T any such document,
or that a reward was never offered.  But even though the reward story
has been handed down through the decades, I find no convincing
evidence that it's true.

The major omission is that a comprehensive search of the London Times
-- although carrying a number of stories on the mangosteen -- makes no
mention of Queen Victoria's desire for the fruit, nor of any reward
for bringing it to England.

A 1925 article on the mangosteen's potential introduction in the US is
perhaps as close as you may come to the 'source' of the story:

Queen Victoria on her throne, surrounded by retainers eager to obey
her every wish, with the luxuries of the world at her beck, longed for
something that even the resources of the British Empire could not
procure for her.  She longed for a taste of mangosteen, the wondrous
fruit of the East.  Requests and offers of reward proved unavailing. 
No one, even the most enterprising, could bring it to London...the
Queen of England never tasted mangosteen.

Shortly after this story appears, many other references to the reward
begin popping up in a variety of newspapers.

Wish I could offer something more definitive, but this -- and a few
other articles repeating the reward story -- seem to be about all that
is available.

Let me know what you think.


Clarification of Question by garcinia-ga on 15 Sep 2005 08:56 PDT
I suspect that the connection is apocryphal, never actually happened.
I posted this to try and find out if anyone ever came across a
citation to substantiate the alleged connection and offers of reward.
It seems possible that someone may have conjectured during the reign
of Queen Victoria that even with all the resources of a Queen, it
would still be impossibly difficult to obtain a fresh mangosteen from
so far away from Britain for any amount of money or any reward. This
could have evolved into a more elaborate story as these things do over
the following years. I will pay someone for that 19th century
documentable citation... if it exists.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 15 Sep 2005 22:28 PDT
Still looking!

In the mean time, have you seen this intriguing link:

It finally gets to mangosteens near the end, but it's an interesting tidbit.


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 16 Sep 2005 18:59 PDT
<<sigh!>> Still looking.

Came across this tidbit in the meantime from The Sunday Telegraph,
08-29-2004.  The article was titled:

The independent princesses 
Kate Chisholm considers the links between the British Raj and the
changing fortunes of three generations of an Indian princely family

and was a review of a book, "Maharanis: The Lives and Times of Three
Generations of Indian Princesses"  by Lucy Moore

I haven't seen the book itself, but it may be worth a look to see if
there's anything relevant to your quest.

Anyway, the article includes this:

"...The maharanis sent their children to be educated at Eton and
Harrow, and themselves visited England to shop in Bond Street and stay
at the Dorchester. Meanwhile Queen Victoria was taking lessons in
Hindi from her live-in Munshi (teacher), and enjoying the taste of
exotic fruits such as rambutans and mangosteens shipped over specially
for her delectation..."

It's something, no!


Clarification of Question by garcinia-ga on 16 Sep 2005 20:34 PDT
There are several possible ways that Queen Victoria could have had a
mangosteen but the logistics of the time would have precluded most
shipping methods from accomplishing the delivery in a timely fashion.
The reference to rambutan makes this suspect. I grow them and they
could not have been placed on a ship and transported to England
rapidly enough for anyone to enjoy what emerged from the cargo hold.
They would have been black and shriveled, to put it mildly.

The question remains. What awareness of this fruit by Queen Victoria
can be documented and what if any rewards did the Queen offer if She
did have it and enjoy it? Mangosteens don't travel all that well
either but definitely would have made the journey in better shape than
the rambutan. And India was not a big grower of the rambutan in the
19th century, either. Great work, though, Paf. Intriguing.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 19 Sep 2005 15:00 PDT
Man, this one is tough!

I came across the William Jennings Bryan story, and a few other brief mentions.  

But the only thing of any additional substance comes from the 1889
London Globe (as reprinted in an American magazine).  Here's the
relevant excerpt:
A New and Delicious Fruit

"Taken just as it comes from the ice box the mangosteen is an
epicure's dream realized, and the more's the pity that it only grows
in far away places and deadly climates, and does not bear
transportation.  Large sums have been offered, and P. and O.
steamships have made hundreds of ineffectual efforts to get a basket
of mangosteens to England for the queen.  The hard rind looks
unchanged for weeks, but the delicate pulp melts away...

In all the 19th century materials I've seen, it's never stated that
the queen herself offered a reward, but simply that rewards have been
offered by some unnamed entity.

Hope that helps a bit.


Clarification of Question by garcinia-ga on 28 Sep 2005 05:23 PDT
It is quite gratifying to see that others are willing to entertain
this madness of trying to track down these alleged rewards that David
Fairchild refers to. Maybe we will all end up in the same nuthouse

The letter that was written by Eleanor, the Duchess of Northumberland,
refers to a gathering where she is conversing with Queen Victoria.
Eleanor talks of the botanical wonders at the Syon House (not Sion...)
across the river from the Kew Gardens. Mention must have been made of
the mangosteen, thus the request to have one delivered to the Queen.
Syon is the Duke of Northumberland's estate near London and his
'stove' house is where the mangosteen was first recorded to have
fruited within England, albeit in the comfortable confines of a
greenhouse. The event was celebrated at a party that Queen Victoria
did not attend. In a later conversation, permission is requested to
send the Queen a fruit. There is no written record in the Royal
Archives that would ackowledge receipt of said fruit. Queen Victoria
might have eaten it or might have been too distracted by the business
of running a country to leave any written record of this event. Or it
might never have been sent or was sent too late to be worthy of
consumption. Either way, no mention of rewards for anyone who could
bring Queen Victoria a fresh mangosteen.

There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Queen Victoria and mangosteen, the "queen of fruit"
From: scriptor-ga on 15 Sep 2005 06:06 PDT
It seems to be a legend. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia
Britannica, for example, does not mention any connection between Queen
Victoria and the mangosteen fruit:

It is interesting to note that the connection between Queen Victoria
and this fruit seems to be mentioned mainly on websites that advertise
the mangosteen or products made from it.

Subject: Re: Queen Victoria and mangosteen, the "queen of fruit"
From: hellhole-ga on 27 Sep 2005 09:57 PDT
The 4th Duchess of Northumberland, Eleanor, wrote to Victoria on May
7th 1855, enclosing a mangosteen which had been grown in the gardens
at Syon, her husband's place on the Thames, and begging formally to be
allowed to present the fruit to the Queen. the full text is:

" May 7. 1855

From the Duchess
of Northumberland
with a choice fruit
grown at Sion, for 
Her Majesty ? A present

Northumberland House
May 7th 1855

As your Majesty was pleased,
in a conversation about the curious
Fruits grown at Syon, to give me 
permission to offer for your Majesty?s
acceptance, any which were very 
rare, I now venture to ask to be

allowed to send to your Majesty, 
a Fruit of the Mangosteen, which
has never been known to fruit
 out of its own country; and this
is therefore an object of very great
curiosity and interest among

I have the honour to be,
with the greatest respect, 
Your Majesty?s
Most humble and devoted Servant,

E Northumberland"

The spelling error in the address in  a sense confirms this as a
private letter for all the excesses of the language.

The letter is in the Royal Archives. I am not aware of any response,
but there may well be none. The Queen would hardly be expected to
record the event unless she did so in her private diaries.
Subject: Re: Queen Victoria and mangosteen, the "queen of fruit"
From: pafalafa-ga on 27 Sep 2005 11:06 PDT

That's quite a find!...nice work.

Where/how did you come across this?


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