On 27 February 1872 a thanksgiving service was held in St Paul's Cathedral where Queen Victoria and members of the Royal Family gave thanks for the recovery of His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales from typhoid.
The Prince had fallen seriously ill in October 1871, having caught the disease from foul drains at Londesborough Lodge in Yorkshire where he'd been staying. Two other members of the party, including the Prince's groom, died from the disease and Queen Victoria, after having been warned to expect his demise at any moment, offered up a prayer to save her child. Her plea for help was answered, and on 14 December, the anniversary of his father's death, the Prince's fever broke, reputedly emerging from his delirium to ask for a Bass ale. After two months of recuperation at Sandringham, it was decided to hold a thanksgiving service for the Prince's miraculous recovery. 13,000 people filled St Paul's Cathedral and thousands more lined the streets to celebrate the event and welcome the Prince back to London.
The procession was widely covered in the contemporary press, and programmes of the Royal Procession were printed as an aid to the crowds that thronged the streets, enabling them to identify the various dignatories passing by. William Collingwood-Smith was one of several artists who commemmorated the event, and the occasion remained of sufficient import over 20 years later for the picture to be displayed at exhibitions celebrating the Victorian Era, including that held at Earl's Court as part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.