An item that Queen Victoria may have preferred kept a secret has been added to Britain's Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Kensington Palace.

The item in question is a set of bloomers with a 56 inch (142 cm) waist, a matching chemise and the letters "VR" - Victoria Regina - embroidered on them. They are believed to date from the 1890s.

The bloomers were purchased by the collection for £600, earlier this summer.

It was likely that they were passed on to a servant after the monarch's death, according to curator Alexandra Kim.

Overall, 12,000 items feature in the collection at Kensington Palace, in London. It includes photographs, prints, sketches, diaries and famous outfits.

Britain's Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is a £12m project scheduled for completion in 2012.

It is recognised as being of national and international importance by Britain's Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Sartorial treasures including a tweed suit made for the 1981 honeymoon of Princess Diana, a safari suit worn by Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, and a silk waistcoat worn by King George III before his death in 1821.

Queen Victoria (1819 to 1901) became queen at age 18 and was Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

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