‘Freedom’ tree on display at Osborne

Visitors from Coburg, Germany, the Bavarian Embassy of London and representatives of the IW Council, visited Osborne House to see a magnificent Christmas tree unveiled on Saturday.

The ‘Freedom’ tree, which is on loan to English Heritage from the City of Coburg, has previously been shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and is now on display in the Durbar Room at Osborne House. It was originally made to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and as a symbol of friendship and peace at Christmas. Prince Albert is credited with popularising, in Britain, the tradition of bringing a Christmas tree into the home, adorned with sugar candies, decorations and candles.

Cllr Karl Love said: “From this seed at Osborne House in East Cowes, a tradition has grown reaching into the lives and homes of people across the world spreading joy and happiness. It is also a beacon of hope and peace as people reflect on the conflicts of war raging overseas.”

The tree is made from a series of metal poles which suspend 200 ornately folded white paper origami birds, each engraved in silver with the initials ‘V&A’. It was designed by Anna Hünnerkopf in 2019, as part of a competition at the University of Applied Sciences in Coburg to reimagine the Christmas tree for modern times.

Coburg, the birthplace of Prince Albert, and the Isle of Wight celebrated the 40th anniversary of their twinning earlier this year.

The city of Coburg also gifted a tree to Windsor Castle every year during Prince Albert’s lifetime, and a few years ago reinstated the tradition.

Visitors to Osborne House can see the tree, which is on display until January 7, as part of a guided tour around the house, which was the much-loved private home of Victoria and Albert.