Although part of the archival collection of Victoria College for 80 years, this glass-enclosed flag and silver mug still remain two of the most touching and remarkable gifts ever received by the University of Toronto.
These artifacts were personally selected by King George V, a grandson of Queen Victoria, in 1921 to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the founding of Victoria College – the first college in the British Empire to be named after Victoria the Good – and the 37th anniversary of its institution as Victoria University. The flag, the Queen’s royal standard, is from Osbourne Castle on the Isle of Wight (one of her favourite homes) and was draped over her coffin on Jan. 22, 1901, for her final trip back to London. The mug is a memento from her childhood. An old flag and a cup used by a little girl almost two centuries ago: Even after all this time, they connect us to the Empire’s most enduring icon, and one of U of T’s great ancestral symbols, so much more than any stern-faced official portrait ever could.