Life of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, (Victoria) Vol II
Part 5 out of 6
shooter scored three points.
At the close of the season the Prince of Wales sailed for Canada,
after he had accepted the President of the United States' invitation
to visit him at Washington. At the same time another distant colony
was to be graced by the presence of royalty; it was settled that
Prince Alfred was to land at the Cape of Good Hope. The Queen's sons
were to serve her by representing her race and rule in her far distant
In July the Princess Royal became the medium, in a letter home, of the
overtures of the Hesse family for a marriage between Prince Louis and
Princess Alice--overtures favourably received by the Queen and the
Prince, who were much attracted by the young suitor. Immediately
afterwards came the intelligence of the birth of the Princess Royal's
second child--a daughter.
The eyes of all Europe began to be directed to Garibaldi as the
champion of freedom in Naples and Sicily.
In August the Court went North, staying longer than usual in Edinburgh
for the purpose of holding a volunteer review in the Queen's Park,
which was even a greater success than that in Hyde Park. The summer
day was cloudless; the broken nature of the ground heightened the
picturesqueness of the spectacle. There was much greater variety in
the dress and accoutrements of the Highland and Lowland regiments,
numbering rather more than their English neighbours. The martial
bearing of many of the men was remarkable, and the spectators crowding
Arthur's Seat from the base to the summit were enthusiastic in their
loyalty. The Queen rejoiced to have the Duchess of Kent by her side in
the open carriage. The old Duchess had not appeared at any public
sight for years, and her presence on this occasion recalled former
days. She was not venturing so far as Abergeldie, but was staying at
Cramond House, near Edinburgh. Soon after the Queen and the Prince's
arrival at Balmoral the news reached them of the death of their aunt,
the Duchess of Kent's only surviving sister, the widow of the Grand-
Duke Constantine of Russia.
This year the Queen and the Prince, with the Princesses Alice and
Helena, made, in fine weather, a second ascent of Ben Macdhui.
The success of such an excursion led to a longer expedition, which
meant a night spent on the way at what was little better than a
village inn. Such a step was only possible when entire secrecy, and
even a certain amount of disguise, were maintained. Indeed, the little
innocent mystery, with all the amusement it brought, was part of the
pleasure. The company consisted of the Queen and the Prince, Lady
Churchill and General Grey, with two keepers for attendants. Their
destination, reached by driving, riding, and walking through the shiel
of the Geldie, Glen Geldie, Glen Fishie, &c, was Grantown, where the
party spent the night, and were waited on, in all unconsciousness, by
a woman in ringlets in the evening and in curl-papers in the morning.
But before Grantown was left, when the truth was known, the same
benighted chambermaid was seen waving a flag from the window of the
dining and drawing-room in one, which had been lately so honoured,
while the landlady on the threshold made a vigorous use of her pocket-
handkerchief, to the edification and delight of an excited crowd in
The Court returned to Osborne, and on the 22nd of September the Queen,
the Prince, and Princess Alice, with the suite, sailed from Gravesend
for Antwerp _en route_ for Coburg, where the Princess Royal was
to meet them with her husband and the child-prince, whom his
grandparents had not yet seen.
The King of the Belgians, his sons and daughter-in-law met the
travellers with the melancholy intelligence that the Prince's
stepmother, the Duchess-Dowager of Coburg, who had been ill for some
time, but was looking forward to this visit, lay in extremity. At
Verviers a telegram announced that she had died at five o'clock that
morning--a great shock to those who were hastening to see her and
receive her welcome once more. Royal kindred met and greeted the party
at each halting-place, as by Aix-la-Chapelle, Frankfort, where they
slept, the valley of the Maine and the Thuringen railway, the
travellers approached Coburg. Naturally the Queen grew agitated at the
thought of the arrival, so different from what she had expected and
experienced on her last visit, fifteen years before. At the station
were the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Prince Frederick William of Prussia,
in deep mourning. Everything was quiet and private. At the door of the
palace, in painful contrast to the gala faces and dresses of her
earlier reception, stood the Grand Duchess and the Princess Royal in
the deepest German mourning, with long black veils, the point hanging
over the forehead. Around were the ladies and gentlemen of the suites.
"A tender embrace, and then we walked up the staircase," wrote the
Queen; "I could hardly speak, I felt so moved, and quite trembled."
Her room was that which had formerly belonged to the Duchess of Kent
when she was a young Coburg princess. One of its windows looked up a
picturesque narrow street with red roofs and high gables, leading to
the market-place. His English nurse led in the Queen's first
grandchild, aged two years, "in a little white dress with black bows."
He was charming to his royal grandmother. She particularised his
youthful attractions--"A beautiful white soft skin, very fine
shoulders and limbs, and a very dear face, ... very fair curly hair."
The funeral of the Dowager-Duchess took place at seven o'clock on the
morning of the 27th September, at Gotha, and was attended by the
gentlemen of the party, while the ladies in deep mourning, wearing the
pointed veils, were present at a commemorative service in the Schloss
Kirche at Coburg.
Then followed a quiet happy time, among the pleasures of which were
the daily visits from the little grandchild, the renewal of
intercourse with Baron Stockmar, whom Germans called the familiar
spirit of the house of Coburg; the acquaintance of the great novelist,
Auerbach; a visit to Florrschutz, the Prince's old tutor, in the
pretty house which his two pupils had built for him.
The holiday was alarmingly interrupted by what might have been a grave
accident to the Prince Consort. He was driving alone in an open
carriage with four horses, which took fright and dashed along at full
gallop in the direction of the railway line, where a waggon stood in
front of a bar, put up to guard a level crossing. Seeing that a crash
was inevitable, the Prince leapt out, escaping with several bruises
and cuts, while the driver, who had remained with the carriage, was
thrown out when it came in contact with the railway-bar, and seriously
hurt. One of the horses was killed, the others rushed along the road
to Coburg. They were met by the Prince's equerry, Colonel Ponsonby,
who in great anxiety procured a carriage and drove with two doctors to
the spot, where he found the Prince lending aid to the injured man.
Colonel Ponsonby was sent to intercept the Queen as she was walking
and sketching with her daughter and sister-in-law, to tell her of the
accident and of the Prince's escape, before she could hear a garbled
version of the affair from other quarters.
In deep gratitude for the Prince's preservation, her Majesty
afterwards set aside the sum deemed necessary--rather more than a
thousand pounds--to found a charity called the "Victoria Stift," which
helps a certain number of young men and women of good character in
their apprenticeship, in setting them up in trade, and marriage.
The royal party returned at the end of a fortnight by Frankfort and
Mayence. At Coblentz, where they spent the night, her Majesty was
attacked by cold and sore throat, though she walked and drove out next
day, inspecting every object she was asked to see in suffering and
discomfort. It was her last day with the Princess Royal and "the
darling little boy," whom his grandmother was so pleased to have with
her, running about and playing in her room. The following day was cold
and wet, and the Queen felt still worse, continuing her journey so
worn out and unwell that she could only rouse herself before reaching
Brussels, where King Leopold was at the station awaiting her. By the
order of her doctor, who found her labouring under a feverish cold
with severe sore throat, she was confined to her room, where she had
to lie down and keep quiet. Never in the whole course of her Majesty's
healthful life, save in one girlish illness at Ramsgate, of which the
world knew nothing, had she felt so ailing. Happily a night's rest
restored her to a great extent; but while a State dinner which had
been invited in her honour was going on, she had still to stay in her
room, with Lady Churchill reading to her "The Mill on the Floss," and
the door open that the Queen might hear the band of the Guides.
On the 17th of October the travellers left Brussels, and on the 17th
arrived at Windsor, where they were met by the younger members of the
On the 30th of October the great sea captain, Lord Dundonald, closed
his chequered life in his eighty-fifth year.
In December two gallant wooers were at the English Court, as a few
years before King Pedro, the Arch-Duke Maximilian, and Prince
Frederick William were all young bridegrooms in company. On this
occasion Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt came to win Princess Alice,
and the hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern Seigmaringen was on his way
to ask the hand of Donna Antoine, sister of King Pedro. Lord Campbell
paid a visit to Windsor at this time, and made his comment on the
royal lovers. "My stay at Windsor was rather dull, but was a little
enhanced by the loves of Prince Louis of Hesse and the Princess Alice.
He had arrived the night before, almost a stranger to her" (a
mistake), "but as her suitor. At first they were very shy, but they
soon reminded me of Ferdinand and Miranda in the _Tempest_, and I
looked on like old Prospero."
The betrothal of Princess Alice occurred within the week. Her Majesty
has given an account in the pages of her journal, transferred to the
"Life of the Prince Consort," how simply and naturally it happened.
"After dinner, whilst talking to the gentlemen, I perceived Alice and
Louis talking before the fireplace more earnestly than usual, and when
I passed to go to the other room both came up to me, and Alice in much
agitation said he had proposed to her, and he begged for my blessing.
I could only squeeze his hand and say 'Certainly,' and that we would
see him in our room, later. Got through the evening work as well as we
could. Alice came to our room ... agitated but quiet.... Albert sent
for Louis to his room, went first to him, and then called Alice and me
in...." The bride was only seventeen, the bridegroom twenty-three
years of age--but nearly two years were to elapse, with, alas! sad
changes in their course, before the marriage thus happily settled was
This winter her Majesty's old servant and friend, Lord Aberdeen, died.
In December the Empress of the French, who had recently lost her
sister, the Duchess of Alba, in order to recover health and
cheerfulness, paid a flying visit in private to England and Scotland.
From Claridge's Hotel she went for a day to Windsor to see the Queen
and the Prince. Towards the close of the year the Prince had a brief
but painful attack of one of the gastric affections becoming so common
In January, 1861, the Queen received the news of the death of the
invalid King of Prussia at Sans Souci. His brother, the Crown Prince,
who had been regent for years, succeeded to the throne, of which the
husband of the Princess Royal was now the next heir.
In the beginning of the year the Prince of Wales matriculated at
In February the Queen opened Parliament. The twenty-first anniversary
of the royal wedding-day falling on a Sunday, it was celebrated
quietly but with much happiness. The Queen wrote to her uncle, King
Leopold, "Very few can say with me that their husband, at the end of
twenty-one years, is not only full of the friendship, kindness, and
affection which a truly happy marriage brings with it, but of the same
tender love as in the very first days of our marriage."
DEATH OF THE DUCHESS OF KENT.
The Duchess of Kent was now seventy-five years of age. For the last
few years she had been in failing health, tenderly cared for by her
children. When she had been last in town she had not gone to her own
house, Clarence House, but had stayed with her daughter in the
cheerful family circle at Buckingham Palace.
A loss in her household fell heavily on the aged Duchess. Sir George
Cooper, her secretary, to whose services she had been used for many
years, a man three years her junior, died in February, 1860.
In March the Duchess underwent a surgical operation for a complaint
affecting her right arm and rendering it useless, so that the habits
of many years had to be laid aside, and she could no longer without
difficulty work, or write, or play on the piano, of which her musical
talent and taste had made her particularly fond. The Queen and the
Prince visited the Duchess at Frogmore on the 12th of March, and found
her in a suffering but apparently not a dangerous condition.
On the 15th good news, including the medical men's report and a letter
from Lady Augusta Bruce, the Duchess of Kent's attached lady-in-
waiting, came from Frogmore to Buckingham Palace, and the Queen and
the Prince went without any apprehension on a visit to the gardens of
the Horticultural Society at Kensington. Her Majesty returned alone,
leaving the Prince to transact some business. She was "resting quite
happily" in her arm-chair, when the Prince arrived with a message from
Sir James Clark that the Duchess had been seized with a shivering fit--
a bad symptom, from which serious consequences were apprehended.
In two hours the Queen, the Prince, and Princess Alice were at
Frogmore. "Just the same," was the sorrowful answer given by the
ladies and gentlemen awaiting them.
The Prince Consort went up to the Duchess's room and came back with
tears in his eyes; then the Queen knew what to expect. With a
trembling heart she followed her husband and entered the bedroom.
There "on a sofa, supported by cushions, the room much darkened," sat
the Duchess, "leaning back, breathing heavily in her silk dressing-
gown, with her cap on, looking quite herself"
For a second the sight of the dear familiar figure, so little changed,
must have afforded a brief reprieve, and lent a sense of almost glad
incredulity to the distress which had gone before. But the well-meant
whisper of one of the attendants of "_Ein sanftes ende_"
destroyed the passing illusion. "Seeing that my presence did not
disturb her," the Queen wrote afterwards, "I knelt before her, kissed
her dear hand and placed it next my cheek; but though she opened her
eyes, she did not, I think, know me. She brushed my hand off, and the
dreadful reality was before me that for the first time she did not
know the child she had ever received with such tender smiles. I went
out to sob.... I asked the doctors if there was no hope; they said
they feared none whatever, for consciousness had left her.... It was
suffusion of water on the chest which had come on."
The long night passed in sad watching by the unconscious sufferer, and
in vain attempts at rest in preparation for the greater sorrow that
was in store.
A few months earlier, on the death of the King of Prussia, the Prince
Consort had written to his daughter that her experience exceeded his,
for he had never seen any person die. The Queen had been equally
unacquainted with the mournful knowledge which comes to most even
before they have attained mature manhood and womanhood. Now the loving
daughter knelt or stood by the mother who was leaving her without a
sign, or lay painfully listening to the homely trivial sounds which
broke the stillness of the night--the crowing of a cock, the dogs
barking in the distance; the striking of the old repeater which had
belonged to the Queen's father, that she had heard every night in her
childhood, but to which she had not listened for twenty-three years--
the whole of her full happy married life. She wondered with the vague
piteous wonder--natural in such a case--what her mother, would have
thought of her passing a night under her roof again, and she not to
In the March morning the Prince took the Queen from the room in which
she could not rest, yet from which she could not remain absent. When
she returned windows and doors were thrown open. The Queen sat down on
a footstool and held the Duchess's hand, while the paleness of death
stole over the face, and the features grew longer and sharper. "I fell
on my knees," her Majesty wrote afterwards, "holding the beloved hand
which was still warm and soft, though heavier, in both of mine. I felt
the end was fast approaching, as Clark went out to call Albert and
Alice, I only left gazing on that beloved face, and feeling as if my
heart would break.... It was a solemn, sacred, never-to-be-forgotten
scene. Fainter and fainter grew the breathing; at last it ceased, but
there was no change of countenance, nothing; the eyes closed as they
had been for the last half-hour.... The clock struck half-past nine at
the very moment. Convulsed with sobs I fell on the hand and covered it
with kisses. Albert lifted me up and took me into the next room,
himself entirely melted into tears, which is unusual for him, deep as
his feelings are, and clasped me in his arms. I asked if all was over;
he said, "Yes." I went into the room again after a few minutes and
gave one look. My darling mother was sitting as she had done before,
but was already white. Oh, God! how awful, how mysterious! But what a
blessed end. Her gentle spirit at rest, her sufferings over."
By the Prince's advice the Queen went at once to the late Duchess's
sitting-room, where it was hard to bear the unchanged look of
everything, "Chairs, cushions ... all on the tables, her very work-
basket with her work; the little canary bird which she was so fond of,
In one of the recently published letters of Princess Alice to the
Queen, the former recalled after an interval of eight years the words
which her father had spoken to her on the death of her grandmother,
when he brought the daughter to the mother and said, "Comfort mamma,"
a simple injunction which sounded like a solemn charge in the sad
months to come.
The melancholy tidings of the loss were conveyed by the Queen's hand
to the Duchess's elder daughter, the Princess of Hohenlohe; to the
Duchess's brother, the King of the Belgians--the last survivor of his
family--and to her eldest grand-daughter, the Crown Princess of
The moment the Princess Royal heard of the death she started for
England, and arrived there two days afterwards.
The unaffected tribute of respect paid by the whole country, led by
the Houses of Parliament, to the virtues of the late Duchess, was very
welcome to the mourners. The Duchess of Kent by her will bequeathed
her property to the Queen, and appointed the Prince Consort her sole
executor. "He was so tender and kind," wrote the Queen, "so pained to
have to ask me distressing questions, but spared me so much.
Everything done so quickly and feelingly."
The funeral took place on the 25th of March, in the vault beneath St.
George's Chapel, Windsor. The Prince Consort acted as chief mourner,
and was supported by two of the grandchildren of the late Duchess, the
Prince of Wales and the Prince of Leiningen. The pallbearers were six
ladies; among whom was Lady Augusta Bruce. Neither the Queen nor her
daughters were present. They remained, in the Queen's words, "to pray
at home together, and to dwell on the happiness and peace of her who
was gone." On the evening of the funeral the Queen and the Prince
dined alone; afterwards he read aloud to her letters written by her
mother to a German friend, giving an account of the illness and death
of the Duke of Kent more than forty years before. The Queen continued
the allowances which the Duchess of Kent had made to her elder
daughter, the Princess Hohenlohe, and to two of the duchess's
grandsons, Prince Victor Hohenlohe and Prince Edward Leiningen. Her
Majesty pensioned the Duchess's servants, and appointed Lady Augusta
Bruce, who had been like a daughter to the dead Princess, resident
bedchamber woman to the Queen.
Frogmore had been much frequented by Queen Charlotte and her
daughters, and was the place where they held many of their family
festivals. It had been the country house of Princess Augusta for more
than twenty years. On her death it was given to the Duchess of Kent.
It is an unpretending white country house, spacious enough, and with
all the taste of the day when it was built expended on the grounds,
which does not prevent them from lying very low, with the inevitable
sheet of water almost beneath the windows. Yet it is a lovely, bowery,
dwelling when spring buds are bursting and the birds are filling the
air with music; such a sheltered, peaceful, home-like house as an
ageing woman well might crave. On it still lingers, in spite of a
period when it passed into younger hands, the stamp of the old
Duchess, with her simple state, her unaffected dignity, her
affectionate interest in her numerous kindred. The place is but a
bowshot from the old grey castle of Windsor. It was a chosen resort of
the royal children, to whom the noble, kind, grandame was all that
gracious age can be. Here the Queen brought the most distinguished of
her guests to present them to her mother, who had known so many of the
great men of her time. Here the royal daughter herself came often,
leaving behind her the toils of government and the ceremonies of rank,
where she could always be at ease, was always more than welcome. Here
she comes still, after twenty years, to view old scenes--the chair by
which she sat when the Duchess of Kent occupied it, the piano she knew
so well, the familiar portraits, the old-fashioned furniture, suiting
the house admirably, the drooping trees on the lawn, under which the
Queen would breakfast in fine weather, according to an old Kensington
--an old German--custom.
The long verandah was wont to contain vases of flowers and statues of
the Duchess's grandchildren, and formed a pleasant promenade for an
old lady. Within the smaller, cosier rooms, with the softly tinted
pink walls covered with portraits, was led the daily life which as it
advanced in infirmity necessarily narrowed in compass, while the State
rooms remained for family and Court gatherings. The last use made of
the great drawing-room by its venerable mistress was after her death,
when she lay in state there.
Half-length portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Kent are in the place
usually occupied by the likenesses of the master and mistress of the
house. Among the other pictures are full-length portraits of the Queen
and Prince Albert in their youth, taken soon after their marriage--
like the natural good end to the various pictures of her Majesty in
her fair English childhood and maidenhood, with the blonde hair
clustering about the open innocent forehead, the fearless blue eyes,
the frank mouth. The child, long a widow in her turn, a mother,
grandmother, great-grandmother, must look with strange mingled
feelings on these shadows of her early, unconscious self.
There are innumerable likenesses of the Queen's children such as a
loving grandmother would delight to accumulate, from the baby Princess
Royal with the good dog Eos curled round by her side, the child's tiny
foot on the hound's nose, to the same Princess a blooming girl-bride
by the side of her bridegroom, Prince Frederick William of Prussia.
The Duchess's other children and grandchildren are here on canvas,
with many portraits of her brothers and sisters and their children. A
full-length likeness of the former owner of Frogmore, Princess
Augusta, Fanny Burney's beloved princess, hangs above a chimneypiece;
while on the walls of another room quaintly painted floral festoons,
the joint work of the painter, Mary Moser, and the artistic Princess
Elizabeth, are still preserved.
Frogmore was for some years the residence of Princess Christian of
Schleswig-Holstein. When she removed to Cumberland House, the
furniture which had belonged to the Duchess of Kent was brought back,
and the place restored as much as possible to the condition in which
she had left it, which implies the presence of many cherished relics--
such as the timepiece which was the last gift of the Queen and the
Prince, and a picture said to have been painted by both representing
Italian peasants praying beside a roadside calvary. There are numerous
tokens of womanly tastes in the gay, bright fashion of the Duchess's
time, among them a gorgeously tinted inlaid table from the first
Exhibition, and elaborate specimens of Berlin woolwork, offerings from
friends of the mistress of the house and from the ladies of her suite.
In one of the simply furnished bedrooms of quiet little Frogmore, as
it chanced, the heir of the Prince of Wales first saw the light. For
here was born unexpectedly, making a great stir in the little
household, Prince Victor Albert of Wales.
LAST VISIT TO IRELAND--HIGHLAND EXCURSIONS--MEETING OF THE PRINCE OF
WALES AND THE PRINCESS ALEXANDRA OF DENMARK--DEATH OF THE KINO OF
PORTUGAL AND HIS BROTHERS
In the retirement of Osborne the Queen mourned her mother with the
tender fidelity which her people have learnt to know and reverence.
In April the Court returned to Buckingham Palace, when the Queen
announced the marriage of the Princess Alice to the Privy Council It
was communicated to Parliament, and was very favourably received. The
Princess had a dowry of thirty thousand, and an annuity of six
thousand pounds from the country.
The Queen's birthday was celebrated at Osborne without the usual
festivities. During the Whitsun holidays Prince Louis, who was with
the family, had the misfortune to be attacked by measles, which he
communicated to Prince Leopold. The little boy had the disease
severely, and it left bad results.
In June King Leopold and one of his sons paid the Queen a lengthened
visit of five weeks. The Princess Royal, with her husband and
children, arrived afterwards, and there was a happy family meeting,
tinged with sorrow.
In July the most exalted Order of the Star of India was instituted,
and conferred first on the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh, Lord Clyde, Sir
John Lawrence, &c., &c. That summer saw the death of two statesmen who
had been men of mark in the Crimean war--Count Cavour, the Sardinian
Prime Minister, and Lord Herbert of Lea. The royal visitors in London
and at Osborne included the Archduke Maximilian and his young wife,
and the King of Sweden and his son.
Towards the close of August the Queen went to Frogmore with the Prince
and Princess Alice, in order to keep the birthday of the late Duchess
of Kent, whose remains had been already removed from St. George's
chapel to the mausoleum prepared for them in the grounds of her former
home. The Queen wrote of the first evening at Frogmore as "terribly
trying;" but it comforted her in the beautiful morning to visit the
grand simple mausoleum, and to help to place on the granite
sarcophagus the wreaths which had been brought for the purpose.
The day after the return of Prince Alfred from the West Indies, the
Queen and the Prince, their second son and the Princesses Alice and
Helena, sailed from Holyhead in the _Victoria and Albert_ for
Kingstown. This visit to Ireland meant also the royal presence on a
field-day in the Curragh camp, where the Prince of Wales was serving,
and a run down to Killarney in very hot weather. At the lakes the
Queen was the guest of Lord Castleross and Mr. Herbert. The wild
luxuriant scenery, the size and beauty of the arbutus-trees, and the
enthusiastic shriek of the blue-cloaked women, made their due
impression. In a row on one of the lakes her Majesty christened a
point. The Prince's birthday came round during the stay in Ireland,
and was marked by the usual loving tokens, though the Queen noted
sadly the difference between this and other anniversaries: the lack of
festivities, the absence from home, the separation from the younger
children, and the missing the old invariable gift from the Duchess of
Balmoral was reached in the beginning of September. Prince Louis came
speedily, and another welcome guest, Princess Hohenlohe, who travelled
north with Lady Augusta Bruce. Dr. Norman Macleod gives a glimpse of
the circumstances and the circle. He preached to the Queen, and she
thanked him for the comfort he gave her. Lady Augusta Bruce talked to
him of "that noble, loving woman, the Duchess of Kent, and of the
Queen's grief." He found the Queen's half-sister "an admirable woman"
and Prince Alfred "a fine gentlemanly sailor."
The Queen's greatest solace this year was in long days spent on the
purple mountains and by the sides of the brown lochs, and in a second
private expedition, like that of the previous year to Grantown, when
she slept a night at the Ramsay Arms in the village of Fettercairn,
and Prince Louis and General Grey were consigned to the Temperance
Hotel opposite. The whole party walked out in the moonlight and were
startled by a village band. The return was by Blair, where the Queen
was welcomed by her former host and hostess, the Duke and Duchess of
Athole. Her Majesty had a look at her earlier quarters, at the room in
which the little Princess Royal had been put to bed in two chairs, and
saw Sandy Macara, grown old and grey.
After an excursion to Cairn Glaishie, her Majesty recorded in her
journal, "Alas! I fear our last great one." Six years afterwards the
sorrowful confirmation was given to words which had been written with
a very different meaning, "It was our last one."
The Prince of Wales was on a visit to Germany, ostensibly to witness
the manoeuvres of the Prussian army, but with a more delicate mission
behind. He was bound, while not yet twenty, to make the acquaintance
of the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, not quite seventeen, with the
probability of their future marriage--a prospect which, to the great
regret of the Prince Consort, got almost immediately into the
newspapers. The first meetings of the young couple took place at
Speyer and Heidelberg, and were altogether promising of the mutual
attachment which was the desired result.
On the 18th of October the King of Prussia was crowned at Könisburg--a
splendid ceremonial, in which the Princess Royal naturally, as the
Crown Princess, bore a prominent part.
On the return of the Court to Windsor, Prince Leopold, then between
eight and nine years of age, was sent, with a temporary household, to
spend the winter in the south of France for the sake of his health.
Suddenly a great and painful shock was given to the Queen and the
Prince by the news of the disastrous outbreak of typhoid fever in
Portugal among their royal cousins and intimate friends, the sons of
Maria de Gloria. When the tidings arrived King Pedro's brother, Prince
Ferdinand, was already dead, and the King ill. Two more brothers, the
Duke of Oporto and the Duke of Beja, were in England, on their way
home from the King of Prussia's coronation. The following day still
sadder news arrived--the recovery of the young king, not more than
twenty-five, was despaired of. His two brothers started immediately
for Lisbon, but were too late to see him in life. The younger, the
Duke of Beja, was also seized with the fatal fever and died in the
course of the following month. The Queen and the Prince lamented the
King deeply, finding the only consolation in the fact that he had
rejoined the gentle girl-wife for whose loss he had been inconsolable.
THE DEATH OF THE PRINCE CONSORT.
The news of the terrible mortality in the Portuguese royal family,
especially the death of the King, to whom the Prince was warmly
attached, had seriously affected his health, never strong, and for the
last few years gradually declining, with gastric attacks becoming more
frequent and fits of sleeplessness more confirmed. At the same time
the Prince's spirit was so unbroken, his power of work and even of
enjoyment so unshaken, while the patience and unselfishness which
treated his own bodily discomfort as a matter of little moment had
grown so much the habit of his mind, that naturally those nearest to
him failed in their very love to see the extent of the physical
mischief which was at work. Nevertheless there is abundant evidence
that the Queen was never without anxiety on her husband's account, and
Baron Stockmar expressed his apprehensions more than once.
Various causes of care troubled the Prince, among them the
indisposition contracted by the Princess Royal at the coronation of
her father-in-law, the King of Prussia, and the alarming illness at
Cannes of Sir Edward Bowater, who had been sent to the south of France
in charge of Prince Leopold. After a fortnight of sleeplessness,
rheumatic pains, loss, of appetite, and increasing weakness, the
Prince drove in close wet weather to inspect the building of the new
Military Academy at Sandhurst, and it is believed that he there
contracted the germs of fever. But he shot with the guests at the
Castle, walked with the Queen to Frogmore and inspected the mausoleum
there, and visited the Prince of Wales at Cambridge afterwards.
Then the affair of the _Trent_ suddenly demanded the Prince's
close attention and earnest efforts to prevent a threatened war
between England and America. In the course of the civil war raging
between the Northern and Southern states the English steamer
_Trent_ sailed with the English mails from Savannah to England,
having on board among the other passengers several American gentlemen,
notably Messrs. Mason and Slidell, who had run the blockade from
Charlestown to Cuba, and were proceeding to Europe as envoys sent by
the Confederates to the Courts of England and France. A federal vessel
fired on the English steamer, compelling her to stop, when the
American Captain Wilkes, at the head of a large body of marines,
demanded the surrender of Mason and Slidell, with their companions. In
the middle of the remonstrances of the English Government agent at the
insult to his flag and to the neutral port from which the ship had
sailed, the objects of the officer's search came forward and
surrendered themselves, thus delivering the English commander from his
But the feeling in England was very strong against the outrage which
had been committed, and it was only the most moderate of any political
party who were willing to believe--either that the American Government
might not be cognisant of the act done in its name, or that it might
be willing to atone by honourable means for a violation of
international law--enough to provoke the withdrawal of the English
ambassador from Washington, and a declaration of war between the two
Cabinet councils were summoned and a dispatch prepared. A draft of the
dispatch was forwarded to Windsor to be read by the Queen, when it
struck both her and, the Prince that it was less temperate and
conciliatory than it might have been, while still consistent with
perfect dignity. The Prince Consort's last public work for his Queen
and country was to amend this draft. He rose as usual at seven
o'clock, and faint and ill as he was, scarcely able to hold a pen,
drew out an improved version of the dispatch, which was highly
approved of by the Ministers and favourably received by the American
Government. As the world knows, the President, in the name of his
countrymen, declared that Captain Wilkes had acted without official
instructions, and ordered the release of the gentlemen who had been
In the meantime the shadows were darkening round the royal home which
had been so supremely blest. The Prince was worse. Still he walked out
on one of the terraces, and wrapped in a coat lined with fur he
witnessed a review of the Eton College volunteers, from which his
absence would have been remarked. The ill-omened chilly feeling
continued, but there were guests at the Castle and he appeared at
dinner. On Sunday, the 1st of December, the Prince walked out again on
the terrace and attended service in the chapel, insisting "on going
through all the kneeling," though very unwell.
Next morning something was said by the doctors of low fever. No wonder
the Queen was distressed after the recent calamity at Lisbon, but
concealing her feelings as such watchers must, she strove to soothe
and amuse her sick husband. The members of the household who had been
at Lisbon arrived with the particulars of the young King of Portugal's
death. After listening to them the Prince said "that it was well his
illness was not fever, as that, he felt sure, would be fatal to him."
One of the guests at the Castle was Lord Palmerston. In spite of his
natural buoyancy of temperament he became so much alarmed by what he
heard that he suggested another physician should be called in. Her
Majesty had not been prepared for this step, and when she appealed to
the two medical men in attendance, Sir James Clark and Dr. Jenner,
they comforted her by their opinion that there was nothing to alarm
her, and that the low fever which had been feared might pass off.
The next few days were spent in alternations of hope and fear. Which
of us is so happy as not to have known that desperate faith when to
doubt would be to despair? The Prince liked to be read to, but "no
book suited him." The readers were the Queen and Princess Alice, who
sought to cheat themselves by substituting Trollope for George Eliot,
and Lever for Trollop, and by speaking confidently of trying Sir
Walter Scott "to-morrow." To-morrow brought no improvement. Sir James
Clark, though still sanguine, began to drop words which were not
without their significance. He _hoped_ there would be no fever,
which all dreaded, with too sure a presentiment of what would follow.
The Prince _must_ eat, and he was to be told so; his illness was
likely to be tedious, and completely starving himself would not do.
As if the whole atmosphere was heavy with sorrow, and all the tidings
which came from the world without in these days only reflected the
ache of the hearts within, the news came from Calcutta of the death of
the wife of the Governor-General, beautiful, gifted Lady Canning, so
long the Queen's lady-in-waiting and close companion.
The doctors began to sit up with the patient, another stage of the
terrible illness. When her Majesty came to the Prince at eight in the
morning she found him sitting up in his dressing-room, and was struck
with "a strange wild look" which he had, while he talked in a baffled
way, unlike him, of what his illness could be, and how long it might
last. But that day there was a rally; he ate and slept a little,
rested, and liked to be read to by Princess Alice. He was quite
himself again when the Queen came in with his little pet child,
Princess Beatrice, in whom he had taken such delight. He kissed her,
held her hand, laughed at her new French verses, and "dozed off," as
if he only wanted sleep to restore him.
The doctor in attendance was anxious that the Prince should undress
and go to bed, but this he would not do. Throughout the attack, with
his old habit of not giving way and of mastering his bodily feelings
by sheer force of will, he had resisted yielding to his weakness and
submitting to the ordinary routine of a sick-room. After it was too
late the doctor's compliance with the Prince's wishes in this respect
was viewed by the public as rash and unwise. On this particular
occasion he walked to his dressing-room and lay down there, saying he
would have a good night--an expectation doomed to disappointment. His
restlessness not only kept him from sleeping, it caused him to change
his room more than once during the night.
The morning found him up and seated in his sitting-room as before. But
he was worse, and talked with a certain incoherence when he told the
Queen that he had been listening to the little birds, and they had
reminded him of those he had heard at the Rosenau in his childhood.
She felt a quick recoil, and when the doctors showed that their
favourable opinion of the day before had undergone a change, she went
to her room and it seemed to her as if her heart would break.
Fever had now declared itself unmistakably. The fact was gently broken
to the Queen, and she was warned that the illness must run its course,
while the knowledge of its nature was to be kept from the Prince. She
called to mind every thought that could give her courage; and Princess
Alice, her father's true daughter, capable of rising to heights of
duty and tenderness the moment she was put to the test, grew brave in
her loving demotion, and already afforded the support which the
husband and father was no longer fit to give.
Happily for her Majesty, the daily duties of her position as a
sovereign, which she could not lay aside though they were no longer
shared by the friend of more than twenty years, still occupied a
considerable portion of her time. But she wrote in her diary that in
fulfilling her task she seemed to live "in a dreadful dream." Do we
not also know, many of us, this cruel double life in which the
obligations which belong to our circumstances and to old habits
contend for mastery with new misery? When she was not thus engaged the
Queen sat by her husband, weeping when she could do so unseen.
On the 8th of December the Prince appeared to be going on well, though
the desire for change continued strong in him, and he was removed at
his earnest request to larger and brighter rooms, adjoining those he
had hitherto occupied. According to Lady Bloomfield one of the rooms--
certainly called "the Kings' rooms"--into which the Prince was
carried, was that in which both William IV. and George IV. had died;
and the fact was remembered and referred to by the new tenant, when he
was placed where he too was destined to die. The Queen had only once
slept there, when her own rooms were being painted, and as it
happened, that single occasion was on the night before the day when
the Duchess of Kent had her last fatal seizure.
The Prince was pleased with the greater space and light and with the
winter sunshine. For the first time since his illness he asked for
music, "a fine chorale." A piano was brought into the room, and his
daughter played two hymns--one of them "_Ein fester burg ist unser
Gott_" to which he listened with tears in his eyes.
It was Sunday, and Charles Kingsley preached at the Castle. The Queen
was present, but she noted sadly that she did not hear a word.
The serious illness of the Prince Consort had become known and excited
much alarm, especially among the Cabinet Ministers. They united in
urging that fresh medical aid should be procured. Dr. Watson and Sir
Henry Holland were called in. These gentlemen concurred with the other
doctors in their opinion of the case as grave, but not presenting any
very bad symptoms. The increased tendency of the Prince to wander in
his mind was only what was to be expected. The listlessness and
irritability characteristic of the disease gave way to pleasure at
seeing the Queen and having her with him, to tender caresses, such as
stroking her cheek, and simple loving words, fondly cherished,
"_Liebes frauchen, gutes weibchen_." [Footnote: "Dear little
wife, good little wife."] The changes rung on the relationship which
had been so perfect and so satisfying.
On the 10th and the 11th the Prince was considered better. He was
wheeled into the next room, when he called attention to a picture of
the Madonna of which he was fond; he said that the sight of it helped
him through half the day.
On the evening of the 11th a slight change in the Prince's breathing
was perceptible and occasioned uneasiness. On the 12th it was too
evident the fever and shortness of breathing had increased, and on the
13th Dr. Jenner had to tell the Queen the symptom was serious, and
that there was a probability of congestion of the lungs. When the sick
man was wheeled into the next room as before, he failed to notice his
favourite picture, and in place of asking to be placed with his back
to the light as he had hitherto done, sat with his hands clasped,
gazing abstractedly out of the window. That night the Prince of Wales
was summoned from Cambridge, it was said by his sister, Princess
Alice, who took upon her the responsibility of bringing him to
All through the night at hourly intervals reports were brought to the
Queen that the Prince was doing well. At six in the morning Mr. Brown,
the Windsor medical attendant of the family for upwards of twenty
years, who was believed to be well acquainted with the Prince's
constitution, came to the Queen with the glad tidings "that he had no
hesitation in saying he thought the Prince was much better, and that
there was ground to hope the crisis was over." There are few
experiences more piteous than that last flash of life in the socket
which throws a parting gleam of hope on the approaching darkness of
When the Queen entered the sick-room at seven o'clock on a fine winter
morning, she was struck with the unearthly beauty--another not
unfamiliar sign--of the face on which the rising sun shone. The eyes
unusually bright, gazing as it were on an unseen object, took no
notice of her entrance.
The doctors allowed they were "very, very anxious," but still they
would not give up hope. The Queen asked if she might go out for a
breath of air, and received an answer with a reservation--"Yes, just
close by, for a quarter of an hour." She walked on one of the terraces
with Princess Alice, but they heard a military band playing in the
distance, and at that sound, recalling such different scenes, the poor
Queen burst into tears, and returned to the Castle.
Sir James Clark said he had seen much worse cases from which there had
been recovery. But both the Queen and the doctors remarked the dusky
hue stealing over the hands and face, and there were acts which looked
like strange involuntary preparations for departure--folding of the
arms, arranging of the hair, &c.
The Queen was in great distress, and remained constantly either in the
sick-room or in the apartment next to it, where the doctors tried
still to speak words of hope to her, but could no longer conceal that
the life which was as her life was ebbing away. In the course of the
afternoon, when the Queen went up to the Prince, after he had been
wheeled into the middle of the room, he said the last loving words,
"_Gutes frauchen_," [Footnote: "Good little wife."] kissed her,
and with a little moaning sigh laid his head on her shoulder. He dozed
and wandered, speaking French sometimes. All his children who were in
the country came into the room, and one after the other took his hand,
Prince Arthur kissing it as he did so, but the Prince made no sign of
knowing them. He roused himself and asked for his private secretary,
but again slept. Three of the gentlemen of the household, who had been
much about the Prince's person, came up to him and kissed his hand
without attracting his attention. All of them were overcome; only she
who sat in her place by his side was quiet and still.
So long as enough air passed through the labouring lungs, the doctors
would not relinquish the last grain of hope. Even when the Queen found
the Prince bathed in the death-sweat, so near do life and death still
run, that the attendant medical men ventured to say it might be an
effort of nature to throw off the fever.
The Queen bent over the Prince and whispered "_Es ist kleins
Frauchen_." He recognised the voice and answered by bowing his head
and kissing her. He was quite calm, only drowsy, and not caring to be
disturbed, as he had been wont to be when weary and ill.
The Queen had gone into the next room to weep there when Sir James
Clark sent Princess Alice to bring her back. The end had come. With
his wife kneeling by his side and holding his hand, his children
kneeling around, the Queen's nephew, Prince Ernest Leiningen, the
gentlemen of the Prince's suite, General Bruce, General Grey, and Sir
Charles Phipps, the Dean of Windsor, and the Prince's favourite German
valet, Lohlein, reverently watching the scene, the true husband and
tender father, the wise prince and liberal-hearted statesman, the
noble Christian man, gently breathed his last. It was a quarter to
eleven o'clock on the 14th of December, 1861. He was aged forty-two
THE WITHDRAWAL TO OSBORNE--THE PRINCE CONSORT'S FUNERAL.
The tolling of the great bell of St. Paul's, borne on the wintry
midnight air, thrilled many a heart with grief and dismay, as London
was roused to the melancholy fact of the terrible bereavement which
had befallen the Queen and the country.
To the Prince indeed death had come without terror, even without
recoil. Some time before he had told the Queen that he had not her
clinging to life, that if he knew it was well with those he cared for,
he would be quite ready to die to-morrow. He was perfectly convinced
of the future reunion of those who had loved each other on earth,
though he did not know under what circumstances it would take place.
During one of the happy Highland excursions in 1861, the Prince had
remarked to one of the keepers when talking over with him the choice
and planting of a deer-forest for the Prince of Wales, "You and I may
be dead and gone before that." "He was ever cheerful, but ever ready
and prepared," was the Queen's comment on this remark.
But for the Queen, "a widow at forty-two!" was the lamenting cry of
the nation which had been so proud of its young Queen, of her love-
match, of her happiness as a wife. Now a subtler touch than any which
had gone before won all hearts to her, and bowed them before her feet
in a very passion of love and loyalty. It was her share in the common
birthright of sorrow, with the knowledge that she in whose joy so many
had rejoiced was now qualified by piteous human experience to weep
with those who wept--that thenceforth throughout her wide dominions
every mourner might feel that their Queen mourned with them as only a
fellow-sufferer can mourn. [Footnote: "The Queen wrote my mother, Lady
Normanby, such a beautiful letter after Normanby's death, saying that
having drunk the dregs of her cup of grief herself, she knew how to
sympathise with others."--LADY BLOOMFIELD.] All hearts went out to her
in the day of her bitter sorrow. Prayers innumerable were put up for
her, and she believed they sustained her when she would otherwise have
sunk under the heavy burden.
On the Sunday which dawned on the first day of her Majesty's
widowhood, when the news of her bereavement--announced in a similar
fashion in many a city cathedral and country church, was conveyed to
the people in a great northern city by Dr. Norman MacLeod's praying
for the Queen as a widow, a pang of awe and pity smote every hearer;
the minister and the congregation wept together.
The disastrous tidings had to travel far and wide: to the Princess
Royal, the daughter in whom her father had taken such pride, who had
so grieved to part from him when she left England a happy young bride,
who had been so glad to greet him in his own old home only a few
months before; to the sailor son on the other side of the globe; to
the delicate little boy so lately sent in search of health, whose
natural cry on the sorrowful tale being told to him was, "Take me to
Deprived in one year of both mother and husband, alone where family
relations were concerned, save for her children; with her eldest son,
the Prince of Wales, a lad of not more than twenty years, the devoted
servants of the Queen rallied round her and strove to support and
In the absence of the Princess Royal and the Princess of Hohenlohe,
the Duchess of Sutherland, one of the Queen's oldest friends, herself
a widow, was sent for to be with her royal mistress. Lady Augusta
Bruce watched day and night by the daughter as she had watched by the
mother. The Queen's people did not know how sore was the struggle, how
near they were to losing her. Princess Alice wrote years afterwards of
that first dreadful night, of the next three terrible days, with a
species of horror, and wondered again and again how she and her mother
survived that time. The Queen's weakness was so great that her pulse
could hardly be felt. "She spoke constantly about God's knowing best,
but showed herself broken-hearted," Lady Bloomfield tells us. It was a
sensible relief to the country when it was made public that the Queen
had slept for some hours.
The doctors urgently advised that her Majesty should leave Windsor and
go to Osborne, but she shrank unconquerably from thus quitting all
that was mortal of the Prince till he had been laid to rest. The old
King of the Belgians, her second father, afflicted in her affliction
as he had gloried in her happiness, added his earnest entreaty to, the
medical men's opinion, in vain, till the plea was brought forward that
for her children's sake--that they might be removed from the fever-
tainted atmosphere, the painful step ought to be taken. Even then it
was mainly by the influence of the Princess Alice that the Queen, who
had proved just and reasonable in all her acts, who had been confirmed
by him who was gone in habits of self-control and self-denial, who was
the best of mothers, gave up the last sad boon which the poorest might
claim, and consented to go immediately with her daughters to Osborne.
But first her Majesty visited Frogmore, where the Duchess of Kent's
mausoleum had been built, that she might choose the spot for another
and larger mausoleum where the husband and wife would yet lie side by
side. It was on the 18th of December that the Queen, accompanied by
Princess Alice, drove from the Castle on her melancholy errand. They
were received at Frogmore by the Prince of Wales, Prince Louis of
Hesse, who had arrived in England, Sir Charles Phipps, and Sir James
Clark. Her Majesty walked round the gardens leaning on her daughter's
arm, and selected the place where the coffin of the Prince would be
finally deposited. Shortly afterwards the sad party left for Osborne,
where a veil must be drawn over the sorrow which, like the love that
gave it birth, has had few parallels.
The funeral was at Windsor on the 23rd of December. Shortly before
twelve o'clock the cortège assembled which was to conduct the remains
of the late Prince Consort the short distance from the state entrance
of Windsor Castle, through the Norman Tower Gate to St. George's
Chapel. Nine mourning-coaches, each drawn by four horses, conveyed the
valets, foresters, riders, librarian, and doctors; the equerries,
ushers, grooms, gentlemen, and lords in waiting of his late Royal
Highness; and the great officers of the Household. One of the Queen's
carriages drawn by six horses contained the Prince's coronet borne by
Earl Spencer, and his baton, sword, and hat by Lord George Lennox. The
hearse, drawn by six horses, was escorted by a detachment of Life
The carriages of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of
Cambridge, and the Duchess of Cambridge followed. The company which
had received commands to be present at the ceremony, including the
foreign ambassadors, the Cabinet Ministers, the officers of the
household, and many of the nobility and higher clergy, entered St.
George's Chapel by the Wolsey door and were conducted to seats in the
choir. The Knights of the Garter occupied their stalls. The royal
family, with their guests, came privately from the Castle and
assembled in the chapter-room. The members of the procession moved up
the nave in the same order in which they had been driven to the South
porch. Among them were the representatives of all the foreign states
connected by blood or marriage with the late Prince, the choir,
canons, and Dean of Windsor. After the baton, sword, and crown,
carried on black velvet cushions, came the comptroller in the
Chamberlain's department, Vice-Chamberlain, and Lord Chamberlain, then
the crimson velvet coffin, the pall borne by the members of the late
Prince's suite. Garter-King-at-Arms followed, walking before the chief
mourner, the Prince of Wales, who was supported by Prince Arthur, a
little lad of eleven, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and attended by
General Bruce. Behind came the son-in-law, the Crown Prince of
Prussia, the cousins--the sons of the King of the Belgians--with the
Duc de Nemours, Prince Louis of Hesse, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar,
the Queen's nephew, Count Gleichen, and the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh.
The gentlemen in waiting on the foreign princes wound up the
When the coffin arrived within the choir, the crown, baton, sword, and
hat were placed on it. That morning a messenger had come from Osborne
with three wreaths and a bouquet. The wreaths were simple garlands of
moss and violets woven by the three elder princesses; the bouquet of
violets, with a white camellia in the centre, was from the Queen.
These were laid between the heraldic insignia. The Prince of Wales
with his brother and uncle stood at the head, the Lord Chamberlain at
the foot, the other mourners and the pallbearers around. Minute-guns
were fired at intervals by Horse Artillery in the Long Walk. A guard
of honour of the Grenadier Guards, of which the Prince Consort had
been colonel, presented arms on the coming of the body and when it was
lowered into the grave. During the service the thirty-ninth Psalm,
Luther's Hymn, and two chorales were sung.
The Prince of Wales bore up with a brave effort, now and then seeking
to soothe his young brother, who, with swollen eyes and tear-stained
face, when the long wail of the dirge smote upon his ear, sobbed as if
his heart were breaking. At the words--
"To fall asleep in slumber deep,
Slumber that knows no waking,"
part of a favourite chant of the Prince Consort's, both his sons hid
their faces and wept. The Duke of Coburg wept incessantly for the
comrade of his youth, the friend of his mature years.
Garter-King-at-Arms proclaimed the style and title of the deceased.
When he referred to her Majesty with the usual prayer, "Whom God bless
and preserve with long life, health, and happiness," for the first
time in her reign the word "happiness" was omitted and that of
"honour" substituted, and the full significance of the change went to
the hearts of the listeners with a woeful reminder of what had come
and gone. The Prince of Wales advanced first to take his last look
into the vault, stood for a moment with clasped hands and burst into
tears. In the end Prince Arthur was the more composed of the two
As the company retired, the "Dead March in Saul" was pealed forth.
The whole ceremony was modelled on the precedent of other royal
funerals, but surely rarely was mourning so keen or sorrow so deep.
THE FIRST MONTHS OF WIDOWHOOD--MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCE OF WALES, ETC.,
The Princess of Hohenlohe arrived in England on the 20th of December,
and immediately joined the Queen at Osborne before the funeral of the
Prince. The old King of the Belgians came to Osborne on the 29th of
December--one can imagine his meeting with the widowed Queen.
On the 10th of January, 1862, occurred the terrible Hartley Colliery
accident, by which upwards of two hundred miners perished. The Queen's
grief for the Prince was not a month old when she telegraphed from
Osborne her "tenderest sympathy for the poor widows and mothers."
The Prince of Wales left Osborne on the 6th of February in strict
privacy to accomplish the tour in the East projected for him by his
father. The Prince was accompanied by Dean Stanley, General Bruce, &c.
In the Queen's solitude at Osborne Princess Alice continued to be the
great medium of communication between her Majesty and her Ministers.
The opening of the second great Exhibition in the month of May must
have been full of painful associations. At the State ceremony on the
first day the royal carriages with mourning liveries were empty, but
for the Crown Prince of Prussia, Prince Oscar of Sweden, and the
Duchess of Cambridge with her daughters. Tennyson's ode was sung. It
contained the pathetic lines--
"O silent father of our kings to be,
Mourned in this golden hour of jubilee,
For this, for all we weep our thanks to thee."
It was decided that the Queen's birthday should be spent at Balmoral,
a practice which became habitual. Dr. Norman Macleod was summoned
north to give what consolation he could to his sorrowing Queen. He has
left an account of one of their interviews. "May 14th. After dinner I
was summoned unexpectedly to the Queen's room; she was alone. She met
me, and, with an unutterable expression which filled my eyes with
tears, at once began to speak about the Prince.... She spoke of his
excellences, his love, his cheerfulness, how he was everything to her;
how all now on earth seemed dead to her...."
On the 4th of June the Prince of Wales arrived in England from his
eastern tour. A melancholy incident occurred on his return--General
Bruce, who had been labouring under fever, died soon after reaching
England on the 24th of June. Another sad death happened four days
later--that of Lord Canning, Governor-General of India. He had also
just come back to England. He survived his wife only six months.
Princess Alice's marriage, which had been delayed by her father's
death, took place at Osborne at one o'clock on the afternoon of the
1st of July, in strict privacy. The ceremony was performed by the
Archbishop of York in room of the sick Archbishop of Canterbury. The
Queen in deep mourning appeared only for the service. Near her was the
Crown Princess of Prussia--already the mother of three children--and
her Majesty's four sons.
The father and mother, brothers and sister of the bridegroom, and
other relatives, were present. The Duke of Saxe-Coburg in the Prince
Consort's place led in the bride. Her unmarried sisters, Princesses
Helena, Louise, and Beatrice, and the bridegroom's only sister,
Princess Anna of Hesse, were the bridesmaids. Prince Louis was
supported by his brother, Prince Henry.
The guests were all gone by four o'clock. No contrast could be greater
than that of the brilliant and glad festivities at the Princess
Royal's wedding and the hush of sorrow in which her sister was
married. The young couple went for three days to St. Clare, near Ryde,
and left England in another week. The English people never forgot what
Princess Alice had proved in the hour of need, and her departure was
followed by prayers and blessings.
In August the Queen was at Balmoral with all her children who were in
this country. On the 21st she drove in a pony carriage, accompanied by
the elder Princes and Princesses on foot and on ponies, to the top of
Craig Lowrigan, and each laid a stone on the foundation of the Prince
Consort's cairn. On the late Prince's birthday another sad tender
pilgrimage was made to the top of Craig Gowan to the earlier cairn
celebrating the taking of the Malakoff.
Her Majesty, whose health was still shaken and weakened, sailed on the
1st of September for Germany. She was accompanied by the Prince of
Wales, Prince Arthur, and Prince Leopold, Princesses Helena, Louise,
and Beatrice, and the Princess Hohenlohe. During the Queen's stay with
her uncle, King Leopold, at Laeken, in passing through Belgium, she
had her first interview with her future daughter-in-law, Princess
Alexandra of Denmark. The Princess with her father and mother drove
from Brussels to pay a private visit to her Majesty.
The Queen's destination in Germany was Reinhardtsbrunn, the lovely
little hunting-seat among the Thuringian woods and mountains, which
had so taken her fancy on her first happy visit to Germany. There she
was joined by the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia and their
children, Prince Louis and Princess Alice, and Prince Alfred.
Her Majesty could not quit Germany without revisiting Coburg, hard as
the visit must have been to her. One of the chief inducements was to
go to one who could no longer come to her, the aged Baron Stockmar,
whose talk was still of "the dear good Prince," and of how soon the
old man would rejoin the noble pupil cut off in the prime of his gifts
and his usefulness.
Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse spent the winter with the Queen in
England, and in the month of November Princess Alexandra of Denmark
paid a short visit to her Majesty, when the Princess's youthful beauty
and sweetness won all hearts.
Early in the morning on the 18th of December the Prince Consort's
remains were removed from the entrance of the vault beneath St.
George's Chapel to the mausoleum already prepared for them at
Frogmore. The ceremony, which was attended by the Prince of Wales,
Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, and Prince Louis of Hesse, was quite
private. Prince Alfred had a severe attack of fever in the
The Duchess of Sutherland presented the Queen with a Bible from "many
widows of England," and to "all those kind sister widows" her Majesty
expressed the deep and heartfelt gratitude of "their widowed Queen."
As a consequence of the failure of the cotton crop in America, caused
by the civil war rending the country asunder, the Lancashire
operatives were in a state of enforced idleness and famine, calling
for the most strenuous efforts to relieve them.
When Parliament was opened by commission on the 5th of February, 1863,
the Queen's speech announced the approaching marriage of the Prince of
Wales. On the 7th of March Princess Alexandra, accompanied by her
father and mother, brother and sister, arrived at Gravesend, where the
Prince of Wales met her. Bride and bridegroom drove, on the chill
spring day which ended in rain, through decorated and festive London,
where great crowds congregated to do the couple honour.
In the afternoon at Windsor the Queen was seen seated with her two
younger daughters at a window of the castle which commanded the
entrance drive. The little party waited there in patient expectation
till it grew dark.
On Tuesday, the 10th of March, the marriage took place in St. George's
Chapel. The Queen in her widow's weeds occupied the royal closet, from
which she could look down on the actors in the ceremony. She was
attended by the widow of General Bruce. Among the English royal family
were Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse, and the Crown Princess of
Prussia leading her little son, Prince William.
The Prince of Wales, who wore a general's uniform with the star of the
Garter, was supported by the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and the Crown Prince
Princess Alexandra came in the last carriage with her father, Prince
Christian of Denmark, and the Duke of Cambridge. The bride's dress was
of white satin, and Honiton lace, with a silver moiré train. She had a
wreath of orange-blossoms and myrtle. She wore a necklace, earrings,
and brooch of pearls and diamonds, the gift of the Prince of Wales,
rivières of diamonds, the City of London's gift, an opal and diamond
bracelet, presented by the Queen, &c., &c. The bride's train was borne
by eight unmarried daughters of English dukes, marquises, and earls.
Princess Alexandra was in her nineteenth, the Prince of Wales in his
On reaching the _haut pas_, the bride made a deep reverence to
the Queen. During the service her Majesty was visibly affected. Indeed
an interested spectator, Dr. Norman Macleod, remarked as a
characteristic feature of the marriage that all the English princesses
wept behind their bouquets to see--not the Prince of Wales, not the
future king, but their brother, their father's son, standing alone
before the altar waiting for his bride.
The bride and bridegroom on leaving the chapel occupied the second of
the twelve carriages, and were preceded by the Lord Chamberlain, &c.,
&c. Her Majesty received her son and new daughter at the grand
entrance. The wedding breakfast for the royal guests was in the
dining-room, for the others in St. George's Hall. At four the Prince
and Princess of Wales left in an open carriage drawn by four cream-
coloured horses for the station, where the Crown Princess of Prussia
had already gone to bid her brother and his bride good-bye, as they
started for Osborne to spend their honeymoon.
That night there were great illuminations in London and in all the
towns large and small in the kingdom. Thousands of hearts echoed the
poet-laureate's eloquent words--
Sea kings daughter from over the sea,
Saxon and Norman and Dane are we,
But all of us Danes in our welcome to thee,
Among the Princess of Wales's wedding presents was a parure of
splendid opals and brilliants from a design by the late Prince
Consort, given in his name as well as in the Queen's.
The town and country houses selected for the Prince and Princess of
Wales were Marlborough House and Sandringham.
On the 4th of April Princess Alice's first child, a daughter, was born
On the 8th of May the Queen paid a visit to the military hospital at
Netley, in which the Prince Consort had been much interested.
Her Majesty left England on the 11th of August for Belgium and
Germany. She was accompanied by the Princes Alfred and Leopold and the
Princesses Helena and Beatrice. Their destination was Rosenau, near
Coburg, where the Queen was again joined by the Crown Prince and
Princess of Prussia and Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse. In the
house which was so dear and so sad, the late Prince's birthplace, his
widow and children spent his birthday. During the Queen's stay in
Coburg she went to see the widow of Baron Stockmar, and Mr.
Florschütz, the late Prince's tutor. The venerable superintendent
Meyer was still alive and able to preach to her. Her Majesty's health
continued feeble, but she was able to receive visits at Rosenau from
the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria. She quitted Coburg on
the 7th of September, spending the 8th at Kranichstein, near
Darmstadt, the country house of Princess Alice and her husband.
Later on in autumn the Queen with nearly the whole of her family was
at Balmoral and Abergeldie. The cairn on Craig Lowrigan was finished.
It formed a pyramid of granite thirty feet high, seen for many a mile.
The inscription was as follows:--
"TO THE BELOVED MEMORY
ALBERT, THE GREAT AND GOOD,
RAISED BY HIS BROKEN-HEARTED WIDOW,
AUGUST 21, 1862.
He being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a
long time, for his soul pleased the Lord,
therefore hastened He to take him away
from among the wicked.
_Wisdom of Solomon, iv. 13, 14._
The appropriate verse is said to have been suggested by the Princess
Immediately after her Majesty's arrival at Balmoral she went to Blair
to see the Duke of Athole, who was hopelessly ill with cancer in the
throat. The poor Duke bore up bravely. He had to receive the Queen in
his own room, "full of his rifles and other implements and attributes
of sport now for ever useless to him." But he was able to present the
white rose, the old tribute from the Lords of Athole to their
sovereign, and he was gratified by the gracious and kindly mark of
attention shown in her Majesty's visit. He insisted on accompanying
her to the station, where she gave him her hand, saying, "Dear Duke,
God bless you." He had asked permission that the same men who had gone
with the Queen and the Prince Consort through the glen two years
before might give her a cheer. "Oh! it was so dreadfully sad," was the
Queen's comment in her journal.
About three weeks afterwards, on the 7th of October, the Queen had an
alarming accident. She was returning from Altnagiuthasach with two of
her daughters in the darkness of an autumn evening, when the carriage
was upset in the middle of the moorland. Her Majesty was thrown with
her face on the ground, but escaped with some bruises and a hurt to
one of her thumbs. No one else was injured. The ladies sat down in the
overturned carriage after the traces had been cut and the coachman
despatched for assistance. There was no water to be had, nothing but
claret to bathe the Queen's hand and face. In about half an hour
voices and horses' hoofs were heard. It was the ponies which had been
sent away before the accident, but the servant who accompanied them,
alarmed by the non-appearance of the Queen and by the sight of lights
moving about, rode back to reconnoitre. Her Majesty and the Princesses
mounted the ponies, which were led home. At Balmoral no one knew what
had happened; the Queen herself told the accident to her two sons-in-
law who were at the door awaiting her.
Six days afterwards the Queen made her first appearance in public
since the Prince's death a year and nine months before, at the
unveiling of his statue in Aberdeen. She was accompanied by the Crown
Prince and Princess of Prussia, Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse,
Princesses Helena and Louise, and Princes Arthur and Leopold. The day
was one of pouring rain, and the long silent procession was sad and
strange. The Queen was trembling; she had no one as on former
occasions to direct and support her. She received the Provost's
address, and returned a written reply. She conferred the honour of
knighthood on the magistrate, the first time she had performed the
ceremony "since all was ended."
On the 14th of December the Queen and her family visited the
mausoleum, [Footnote: Dr. Norman Macleod describes an earlier visit in
March, 1863 "I walked with Lady Augusta to the mausoleum to meet the
Queen. She was accompanied by Princess Alice. She had the key, and
opened it herself, undoing the bolts, and alone we entered and stood
in silence beside Marochetti's beautiful statue of the Prince. I was
very much overcome. She was calm and quiet."] to which she went
constantly on every return to Windsor. Princess Alice in her published
letters calls the sarcophagus--with the exquisite decorations which
were in progress, and cost more than two hundred thousand pounds paid
from her Majesty's private purse--"that wonderfully beautiful tomb" by
which her mother prayed. It became the practice to have a religious
service celebrated there in the presence of the Queen and the royal
family on the anniversary of the Prince's death.
In December Lady Augusta Bruce left the Queen's service on her
marriage with Dean Stanley. On the night of the 23rd of December
Prince Albert Victor of Wales was born unexpectedly at Frogmore, where
the Prince and Princess of Wales then resided occasionally, on the 8th
of January, 1864. The child was baptised in the chapel at Buckingham
Palace on the first anniversary of his parents' marriage, as the
Princess Royal had been baptised there on the first anniversary of the
Queen and Prince Albert's marriage. The Queen and the old King of the
Belgians were present among the sponsors.
When the Queen went north this year she was accompanied by the Duke
and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg.
On the 14th of March, 1865, her Majesty visited the Hospital for
Consumption at Brompton, walking over the different wards and speaking
to the patients.
The news of the assassination of President Lincoln reached England in
April, when the Queen became, as she has so often been, the mouthpiece
of her subjects, writing an autograph letter expressing her horror,
pity, and sympathy to Mrs. Lincoln.
Prince Alfred on the 6th of August, his twenty-first birthday, was
formally acknowledged heir to his childless uncle, the Duke of Saxe-
Two days later the Queen embarked with Prince Leopold, the three
younger Princesses, the Duchess of Roxburgh, Lady Churchill, &c., &c.,
at Woolwich for Germany. She arrived at Coburg on the 11th and went to
Rosenau. On the 26th, the birthday of the Prince Consort, perhaps the
most interesting of all the inaugurations of monuments to his memory
took place at Coburg. A gilt-bronze statue ten feet high was unveiled
with solemn ceremony in the square of the little town which Prince
Albert had so often traversed in his boyhood. After the unveiling, the
Queen walked across the square at the head of her children and handed
to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg flowers which he laid on the pedestal. Each
of her sons and daughters followed her example, till "the fragrant
mass" rose to the feet of the statue. Princess Alice writes of "the
terrible sufferings" of the first three years of the Queen's
widowhood, but adds that after the long storm came rest, so that the
daughter could tenderly remind the mother, without reopening the
wound, of the happy silver wedding which might have been this year
when the royal parents would have been surrounded by so many
grandchildren in fresh young households.
While the Queen was in the Highlands during the autumn, her journal,
in its published portions, records a few days spent with the widowed
Duchess of Athole at her cottage at Dunkeld. This visit was something
very different from the old royal progresses. It was a private token
of friendship from the Queen to an old friend bereaved like herself.
There was neither show, nor gaiety, nor publicity. The life was even
quieter than at Balmoral. Her Majesty breakfasted with the daughter
who accompanied her, lunched and dined with the Princess, the Duchess,
and one or more ladies. There were long drives, rides, and rows on the
lochs--sometimes in mist and rain, among beautiful scenery, like that
which had been a solace in the days of deepest sorrow, tea among the
bracken or the heather or in some wayside house, friendly chats,
This year Princess Helena was betrothed to Prince Christian of
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg, a brother of the husband of her cousin,
Princess Adelaide of Hohenlohe. The family connection and the personal
character of the bridegroom were high recommendations, while the
marriage would permit the Princess to remain in England near her
DEATHS OF LORD PALMERSTON AND THE KING OF THE BELGIANS--THE QUEEN
AGAIN OPENS PARLIAMENT IN PERSON, &C., &C.
The Prime Minister so long connected with the Queen, Lord Palmerston,
energetic to the last, died at Brockett Hall on the 18th of October.
A still greater loss befell her Majesty in the month of December--a
marked month in her history. King Leopold died on the 9th at Laeken,
within a few days of attaining his seventy-sixth year, the last of a
family of nine sons and daughters. He had been cured of a deadly
disease by a painful and dangerous operation two years before. He had
suffered afterwards from a slight shock of paralysis, which had not
prevented him from coming to England to be present at the baptism of
Prince Victor of Wales, the fifth generation, counting that of George
III., which King Leopold had known in connection with the English
throne. In addition to his fine mental qualities, he was singularly
active in his habits to the end. He walked thirty miles, and shot for
six hours in winter snow, after he had entered his seventy-fifth year.
Though the Queen must have been prepared for the event, and his death
was peaceful, it was a blow to her--much of her early past perished
with her life-long friend and counsellor.
In 1866 the Queen opened Parliament in person for the first time since
the death of the Prince Consort, and there was a great assemblage to
hail her reappearance when she entered, not by the State, but by the
Peers' entrance. There were none of the flourishes of trumpets which
had formerly announced her arrival--solemn silence prevailed. She did
not wear the robes of state, they were merely laid upon the throne.
Her Majesty was accompanied by the Princesses Helena and Louise. When
the Queen was seated on the throne the Prince of Wales took his seat
on her right, while the Princesses stood on her left. Behind the Queen
was the Duchess of Wellington, as mistress of the robes, and a lady in
waiting. Her Majesty's dress was dark purple velvet bordered with
ermine; she wore a tiara of diamonds with a white gauze veil falling
down behind. The speech, which in one passage announced the coming
marriage of Princess Helena and Prince Christian (who sat near the end
of one of the ambassadors' benches) was read by the Lord Chancellor.
The Parliament granted to Prince Alfred an annuity of fifteen thousand
pounds--voted in turn to each of his younger brothers on their coming
of age--and to Princess Helena a dowry of thirty thousand and an
annuity of six thousand pounds, similar to what had been granted to
Princess Alice and was to be voted to Princess Louise.
In March the Queen instituted the "Albert Medal," as a decoration for
those who had saved life from shipwreck and from peril at sea, and for
the first time during five-years revisited the camp at Aldershot and
reviewed the troops. She was accompanied by Princess Helena and the
Princess Hohenlohe, who was on a visit to England.
Queen Amélie died at Claremont on the 24th of March, aged eighty-three
On the 25th of May Prince Alfred was created Earl of Ulster, Earl of
Kent, and Duke of Edinburgh.
The Princess Mary of Cambridge was married to the Prince of Teck on
the 12th of June, in the presence of the Queen, in the parish church
of Kew, where the bride had been confirmed, "among her own people."
Parliament granted her an annuity of five thousand pounds.
Another marriage, that of Princess Helena, was celebrated in St.
George's Chapel, Windsor, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
Bishop of London, on the 7th of July. The bridegroom was supported by
Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Edward of Saxe-
Weimar. The bride entered between her Majesty and the Prince of Wales.
The usual eight noble bridesmaids followed. Prince Christian was in
his thirty-sixth, Princess Helena in her twenty-first year. Their home
has been first at Frogmore and afterwards at Cumberland Lodge.
While the German war which had Schleswig-Holstein for a bone of
contention was still only threatening, the Crown Princess of Prussia
lost a fine child, Prince Sigismund.
Afterwards the Queen had the pain of seeing her married children, with
their unfailing family affection, inevitably ranged on different sides
in the war. Princess Alice trembled before the fear of a widowhood
like her mother's as the sound of the firing of the Prussian army,
which lay between the wife at home and the husband in the field, was
heard in Darmstadt. The quiet little town fell into the hands of the
enemy, and was at once poverty and pestilence stricken, small-pox and
cholera having broken out in the hospitals, where the Princess was
labouring devotedly to succour the wounded. In such circumstances,
while the standard of her husband's regiment lay hidden in her room,
Princess Louis's third daughter was both. Happily peace was soon
proclaimed. In honour of it the baby, Princess Irene, whose godfathers
were the officers and men of her father's regiment, received her name.
This year Hanover ceased to be an independent state, and became
annexed to Prussia.
Dr. Norman Macleod has a bright little picture of an evening at
Balmoral in 1866. "The Queen sat down to spin at a nice Scotch wheel
while I read Robert Burns to her, 'Tam o' Shanter,' and 'A man's a man
for a' that'--her favourite."
Her Majesty sent her miniature with an autograph letter to the
American citizen, Mr. Peabody, in acknowledgment of his magnificent
gift of model lodging-houses to the Working people of London.
In 1867 the Queen again opened Parliament in person, her speech being
read by the Lord Chancellor.
The grievous accident of the breaking of the ice in Regent's Park,
when it was covered with skaters and spectators, took place on the
15th of January.
"The Early Tears of the Prince Consort," the first instalment of his
"Life," brought out under the direction of General Grey, with much of
the information supplied by the Queen, was published, and afforded a
nobler memorial to the Prince than any work in stone or metal.
On the 20th of May her Majesty laid the foundation of the Albert Hall.
She was accompanied by the Princesses Louise and Beatrice, Prince
Leopold, and Prince Christian, and received by the Lord Steward, the
Lord Chamberlain, and the Queen's elder sons. The latter presented her
with a bouquet, which she took, kissing her sons. In reply to the
Prince of Wales's speech her Majesty spoke in accents singularly
inaudible for her. She mentioned the struggle she had undergone before
she had brought herself to take part in that day's proceedings, but
said she had been sustained by the thought that she was thus promoting
her husband's designs.
In June and July the Queen of Prussia and the Sultan of Turkey came in
turn to England. The latter was with her Majesty in her yacht at a
great naval review held in most tempestuous weather off Spithead. In
the end of July the Empress of the French paid a short private visit
to her Majesty at Osborne.
On the 20th of August the Queen left for Balmoral. On her way north
she spent a few days with the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh at Fleurs,
when her Majesty visited Melrose and Abbotsford. After inspecting with
great interest the memorials of Sir Walter Scott, who had been
presented to her when she was a little girl at Kensington Palace, she
complied with a request that she should write her name in the great
author's journal, adding the modest comment in her own journal that
she felt it presumption in her to do so.
During the autumn the Queen paid an informal visit to the Duke of
Richmond's shooting lodge in Glen Fiddich. On the first evening of her
stay the break with the luggage failed to appear, and her Majesty had
to suffer some of the half-comical inconveniences of ordinary
travellers. She had to dine in her riding skirt, with a borrowed black
lace veil arranged as a head-dress, and she had to go to bed without
the necessary accompaniments to her toilette.
In 1867 the terrible news from Mexico that the Emperor Maximilian
(Archduke of Austria and husband of the Queen's cousin, Princess
Charlotte of Belgium) had been shot by his rebel subjects, while his
wife was hopelessly insane, rendered it a mercy to all interested in
the family that old King Leopold had not lived to see the wreck of so
In 1868 the Queen gave to her people the first "Leaves" from her
journal in the Highlands, which afforded most pleasant glimpses of the
wonderfully happy family life, the chief holidays of which had been
spent at Balmoral. Her Majesty sent a copy to Charles Dickens, with
the graceful inscription that it was the gift of "one of the humblest
of writers to one of the greatest."
On the 13th of May the Queen laid the foundation stone of St. Thomas's
Hospital, and on the 20th she held a great review of twenty-seven
thousand volunteers in Windsor Park. Instead of her mother or her
little children, her daughter-in-law and grown-up daughters, the
Princess of Wales, Princess Christian, and Princess Louise, were in
the carriage with her, while in room of her husband and her brother or
cousin, her two soldier sons rode one on each side of the carriage.
On the 5th of July her Majesty, whose health required change of air
and scene, left for Switzerland, which must have possessed a great
attraction to so ardent an admirer of mountain scenery. She went
incognito as Countess of Kent. She was accompanied by Prince Leopold
and the Princesses Louise and Beatrice. The Queen travelled in her
yacht to Cherbourg, and thence by railway to Paris, where she stayed
all day in seclusion in the house of the English Ambassador, receiving
only a private visit from the Empress Eugénie--a different experience
of Paris from the last. The Queen continued her journey in the evening
to Basle, and from Basle to Lucerne, where for nearly two months she
occupied the Pension Wallis, delightfully situated on the Hill
Gibraltar above the lake. She made numerous enjoyable excursions on
her pony "Sultan" to the top of the Rhigi, and in the little steamboat
_Winkelried_ on the lovely lake of the Four Cantons, under the
shadow of Pilatus, to William Tell's country--she even ventured as far
as the desolate, snow-crowned precipices of the Engelberg. Her Majesty
returned by Paris, driving out to St. Cloud, and being much affected
as she walked in the grounds, but not venturing to enter the house,
where she had lived with the Prince during her happy fortnight's visit
to her ally in the Crimean war.
Three days after her arrival in England the Queen proceeded as usual
to Balmoral, where she took a lively interest in all the rural and
domestic affairs which stood out prominently in the lives of her
humbler neighbours. The passages from her journal in this and in
subsequent years are full of graphic, appreciative descriptions of the
stirring incidents of "sheep-juicing," "sheep-shearing," the
torchlight procession on "Hallowe'en," a "house-warming;" of the grave
solemnity of a Scotch communion, and the kindliness and pathos of more
than one cottage "kirstenin," death-bed, and funeral, with the simple
piteous tragedy of "a spate" in which two little brothers were
Considerable excitement was caused in the House of Commons during the
debate on the disestablishment of the Irish Church, by the Premier,
Mr. Disraeli, mentioning the Queen's name in connection with an
interview he had with her on his resignation of office and on the
dissolution of Parliament. The conduct of Mr. Disraeli was stigmatised
as unconstitutional both in advising a dissolution of Parliament and
in apparently attempting to shift the responsibility of the situation
from the Government to the Crown.
The Queen lost by death this year her old Mistress of the Robes, one
of the earliest and most attached of her friends, Harriet, Duchess of
In September, 1869, her Majesty, with the Princesses Louise and
Beatrice, paid a ten days' visit to Invertrosachs, occupying Lady
Emily Macnaghten's house, and learning to know by heart Loch Katrine,
Loch Lomond, &c., &c.
In November the Queen was in the City after a long absence, for the
double purpose of opening Blackfriars Bridge and the Holborn Viaduct.
Happily for the cheering multitudes congregated on the occasion the
day was bright and fair though cold, so that she could drive in an
open carriage accompanied by her younger daughters and Prince Leopold.
The Queen still wore deep mourning after eight years of widowhood, and
her servants continued to have a band of crape on one arm. Her Majesty
was received by the Lord Mayor, &c., &c. After Blackfriars Bridge had
been declared open for traffic her carriage passed across it, followed
by his. The same ceremony was performed at the Holborn Viaduct.
This season the Prince of Wales revisited the East, accompanied by the
In 1870 the Queen signed the order in council resigning the royal
prerogative over the army.
On the 11th May her Majesty opened the University of London. She was
received by Earl Granville and Mr. Grote. Baboo Keshub Shunder Sen was
conspicuous among the company. The Queen received an address, said in
a clear voice "I declare this building open," and the silver trumpets
Charles Dickens died on the 9th of June.
The Franco-German war, in which the Crown Prince of Prussia and Prince
Louis of Hesse were both engaged with honour, happily this time on the
same side, was filling the eyes of Europe; and before many months had
passed since "_Die Wacht am Rhein_" had resounded through the
length and breadth of Germany, the Empress of the French arrived in
England as a fugitive, to be followed ere long by the Emperor.
In the autumn at Balmoral, Princess Louise, with the Queen's consent,
became engaged to the Marquis of Lorne, eldest son of the Duke of
Argyle. The proposal was made and accepted during a walk from the
Glassalt Shiel to the Dhu Loch.
In November the Queen visited the Empress at Chislehurst.
During the war, while the number of the French wounded alone in
Darmstadt amounted to twelve hundred, and Princess Alice was visiting
the four hospitals daily, her second son was born.
The death of Sir James Clark, at Bagshot, was the snapping to the
Queen of another of the links which connected the present with the
In 1871 the Queen again opened Parliament in person, with her speech
read by the Lord Chancellor. As described by an eye-witness, her
Majesty sat "quite still, her eyes cast down, only a slight movement
of the face." The approaching marriage of the Princess Louise was
announced, and reference was made to the fact that the King of Prussia
had become Emperor of Germany.
For the first time since the death of the Prince Consort, the Queen
spent the anniversary of their marriage-day at Windsor.
On the 21st of March Princess Louise was married in St George's
Chapel, Windsor, to the Marquis of Lorne. The bridegroom was supported
by Earl Percy and Lord Ronald Leveson-Gower. The bride walked between
the Queen and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. Her Majesty by a gesture gave
away her daughter. Princess Louise was twenty-three, Lord Lorne
twenty-six years of age. The Princess has rooms in Kensington Palace
for her London residence.
Eight days afterwards the Queen opened the Albert Hall.
On the 3rd of April her Majesty visited the Emperor of the French at
Chislehurst--a trying interview.
On the 21st of June the Queen opened St. Thomas's Hospital, knighting
This summer the Emperor and Empress of Brazil visited London, while
the Tichborne trial was running its long course.
On the Queen's return from Balmoral in November, she was met by the
alarming tidings that the Prince of Wales lay ill of typhoid fever at
Sandringham. The Queen went to her son on the 29th and remained for a
few days. The disease seemed progressing favourably, and she returned
to Windsor in the beginning of December, leaving the invalid devotedly
nursed by the Princess of Wales and Princess Alice--who had been
staying with her brother when the fever showed itself, and by the Duke
of Edinburgh. On the 8th there was a relapse, when the Queen and the
whole of the royal family were sent for to Sandringham. During many
days the Prince hovered between life and death. The sympathy was deep
and universal. The reading of the bulletins at the Mansion House was a
sight to be remembered. A prayer was appointed by the Archbishop of
Canterbury for "Albert Edward Prince of Wales, lying upon the bed of
sickness," and for "Victoria our Queen and the Princess of Wales in
this day of their great trouble." Supplications were sent up alike in
Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues. On the night of Wednesday the
14th, a date which had been dreaded as that of the Prince Consort's
death ten years before, a slight improvement took place, sleep at last
was won, and gradual recovery established. The Queen returned to
Windsor on the 19th, and wrote on the 26th of December to thank her
people for their sympathy.
On the 8th of February, 1872, the Governor-General of India, Lord
Mayo, was assassinated.
The 27th was the Thanksgiving Day for the Prince of Wales's recovery.
No public sight throughout her Majesty's reign was more moving than
her progress with the Prince and Princess of Wales and Princess
Beatrice to and from St. Paul's. The departure from Buckingham Palace
was witnessed by the Emperor and Empress of the French, who stood on a
balcony. The decorated streets were packed with incredible masses of
people, the cheering was continuous. The Queen wore white flowers in
her bonnet and looked happy. The Prince insisted on lifting his hat in
return for the people's cheers. The royal party were met at Temple Bar
by the Lord Mayor and a deputation from the Common Council. The City
sword was presented and received back again, when the chief magistrate
of London remounted and rode before the Queen to St. Paul's. Thirteen
thousand persons were in the City cathedral. The pew for the Queen and
the Prince was enclosed by a brass railing. The _Te Deum_ was
sung by a picked choir. There was a special prayer, "We praise and
magnify Thy glorious name for that Thou hast raised Thy servant Albert
Edward Prince of Wales from the bed of sickness." The sermon was
preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The return was led by the
Lord Mayor and Aldermen to the bounds of the City. When Buckingham
Palace was reached the Queen showed herself with the Prince for a
moment on the central balcony. There was an illumination in the
On the 29th of February, as the Queen was returning from a drive in
the Park, having come down Constitution Hill and entered the
courtyard, when about to alight, a lad with a paper in one hand and a
pistol in the other rushed first to the left and then to the right
side of the carriage, with arms extended to the Queen, who sat quite
unmoved. Her Majesty's attendant, John Brown, seized the assailant. He
was a half-witted Irish lad, named Arthur O'Connor, about seventeen
years of age, who had been a clerk to an oil and colour merchant. He
had climbed over the railings. There was no ball in the pistol, which
was broken. The paper was a petition for the Fenians. The public
indignation was great against the miserable culprit, who was dealt
with as in former outrages of the kind, according to the nature of the
offence and with reference to the mental condition of the offender.
The Queen, who had been about to institute a medal as a reward for
long and faithful service among her domestics, gave a gold medal and
an annuity of twenty-five pounds to John Brown for his presence of
mind and devotion on this occasion.
Her Majesty had gone to Balmoral for her birthday, and was still there
on the 16th of June when she heard of the death of her valued friend,
Dr. Norman Macleod. He had preached to her and dined with her so
recently as the 26th of May. What his loss was to her she has
expressed simply and forcibly in a passage in her journal.... "When I
thought of my dear friend Dr. Macleod and all he had been to me--how
in 1862, '63, '64, he had cheered and comforted and encouraged me--how
he had ever sympathised with me ... and that this too like so many
other comforts and helps was for ever gone, I burst out crying."
On the 1st of July the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and
Prince Leopold and the two younger princesses, visited the Albert
Memorial, Hyde Park, which was complete save for the statue.
Three days afterwards, in very hot weather, her Majesty was present at
a great review at Aldershot.
STAY AT HOLYROOD--DEATHS OF PRINCESS HOHENLOHE AND OF PRINCE FREDERICK
OF DARMSTADT--MARRIAGE OF THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH.
The Queen arrived at Holyrood on the 14th of August, and made a stay
of a few days in Edinburgh for the first time during eleven years. A
suite of rooms called the "Argyle rooms" had been freshly arranged for
her occupation. She went over Queen Mary's rooms again for the
gratification of Princess Beatrice, and with the Princess and Prince
Leopold took the old drives to Dalkeith and Leith which her Majesty
had first taken thirty years before.
A favourite project in the past had been that her Majesty should go so
far north as to visit Dunrobin, and rooms had been prepared for her
reception. When the visit was paid the castle was in the hands of
another generation, and the Queen laid the foundation stone of a cross
erected to the memory of the late Duchess.
Soon after her Majesty's return to Balmoral, on the 23rd September,
she had the grief to receive a telegram announcing the death of her
sister, Princess Hohenlohe. Though not more than sixty-five years of
age the Princess had been for some time very infirm. She had received
a great shock in the previous spring from the unexpected death by
fever, at the age of thirty-three, of her younger surviving daughter,
Princess Feodore, the second wife of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.
The Emperor Napoleon III, who had long been labouring under sore
disease, laid down his wearied and vanquished life at Chislehurst on
the 9th of January, 1873.
The coming marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh to the Grand Duchess
Marie of Russia was announced to Parliament.
On the 2nd of April the Queen was present at the opening of the
Victoria Park. Prince Arthur was created Duke of Connaught.
A fatal accident to the younger son of Prince and Princess Louis of
Hesse happened at Darmstadt on the 29th of May. The nurse had brought
the children to see the Princess while she was in bed, and had left
the two little boys playing beside her. The windows of the bedroom and
of a dressing-room beyond were open. Princess Louis, hearing Prince
Ernest, the elder brother, go into the dressing-room, leapt out of bed
and hurried after him. In her momentary absence Prince Frederick,
between two and three years of age, leant out of one of the bedroom
windows, lost his balance, and fell on the pavement below, receiving
terrible injuries, from which he died in a few hours, to the great
sorrow of his parents.
In September the Queen and Princess Beatrice, with Lady Churchill and
General Ponsonby, spent a week at Inverlochy, occupying the house of
Lord Abinger at the foot of Ben Nevis, among the beautiful scenery
which borders the Caledonian Canal, and is specially associated with
Prince Charlie--in pity for whom her Majesty loved to recall the drops
of Stewart blood in her veins.
This year more than one figure, well-known in different ways to the
Queen in former years, passed out of mortal sight--Bishop Wilberforce,
In January, 1874, the Duke of Edinburgh was married at the Winter
Palace, St. Petersburg, to the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia. The Duke
was in his thirtieth, the Grand Duchess in her twenty-first year. The
royal couple arrived at Gravesend on March 7th, and entered London on
March 12th in a heavy snowstorm. In spite of the weather the Queen and
the Duchess, with the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Beatrice seated
opposite, drove slowly through the crowded streets in an open carriage
drawn by six horses. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess
Louise, &c., were at the windows of Buckingham Palace. The Queen went
out with the Duke and Duchess on the balcony. The Duke and Duchess's
town and country houses are Clarence House and Eastwell Park.
In March her Majesty, accompanied by all her family in England,
reviewed the troops returned from the Ashantee War in Windsor Great
Park, and gave the orders of St. Michael and St. George to Sir Garnet
Wolseley and the Victoria Cross to Lord Gifford.
The first volume of the "Life of the Prince Consort," by Sir Theodore
Martin, came out and made a deep impression on the general public.
Her Majesty had for many years honoured with her friendship M. and
Madame Van de Weyer, who were the Queen's near neighbours at Windsor,
the family living at the New Lodge. In addition they had come for
several seasons to Abergeldie, when the Court was at Balmoral. M. Van
de Weyer was not only the trusted representative of the King of the
Belgians, he was a man highly gifted morally and intellectually. This
year the friendship was broken by his death.
On the 15th of October the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh's son--was
The news of Livingstone's death reached England.
Early in 1875 Prince Leopold, then twenty-two years of age, suffered
from typhoid fever. So great were the fears entertained for his life
that the Queen was prevented from opening Parliament in person.
Already Princess Alice in her letters had referred to her youngest
brother as having been three times given back to his family from the
brink of the grave.
During the spring the Queen was deprived by death of her Clerk to the
Council and literary adviser in her first book, Sir Arthur Helps.
Charles Kingsley, whose work was much admired by the Prince Consort,
On the 18th of August, when the Queen was sitting on the deck of the
royal yacht as it crossed from Osborne to Gosport, the yacht
_Mistletoe_ ran across its bows and a collision took place, the
_Mistletoe_ turning over and sinking. The sister-in-law of the
owner of the yacht was drowned. The master, an old man, who was struck
by a spar, died after he had been picked up. The rest of the crew were
rescued. Her Majesty, who was greatly distressed, aided personally in
the vain efforts to restore one of the sufferers to consciousness.
In September the Queen, in paying a week's visit to the Duke and
Duchess of Argyle at Inverary, had the pleasure of seeing Princess
Louise in her future home. It was twenty-eight years since her Majesty
had been in the house of MacCallummore, and then her son-in-law of to-
day had been a little fellow of two years, in black velvet and fair
Towards the end of the year the Prince of Wales left for his
lengthened progress through her Majesty's dominions in India, which
was accomplished with much éclat and success.
In 1876 the Queen opened Parliament in person.
On the 25th of February her Majesty, accompanied by the Princess of
Wales, Princess Beatrice, and Prince Leopold, and received by the Duke
of Edinburgh, attended a state concert given in the morning at the
Albert Hall. Since 1866 the Queen had been able gradually to hear and
enjoy again the music in which she had formerly delighted, but she had
taken the gratification in her domestic life. Her royal duties had
been only intermitted for the briefest space. Every act of beneficence
and gracious queenliness had been long ago resumed. But no place of
public amusement had seen the face of the widowed Queen.
Lady Augusta Stanley died, after a lingering illness, on the 1st of
March. It was the close--much lamented from the highest to the lowest--
of a noble and beautiful life. The Queen afterwards erected a
memorial cross to Lady Augusta Stanley's memory in the grounds at
On the 7th of March her Majesty, accompanied by Princess Beatrice,
opened a new wing of the London Hospital.
Two days afterwards the statue of the Prince Consort in the Albert
Memorial was unveiled without any ceremony. The whole memorial thus
completed stood, as it stands to-day, one of the most splendid tokens
--apart from its artistic merit--of a nation's gratitude and a Queen's
love. Opinions may differ on the use of gilding and colours, as they
have been rarely employed in this Country, upon the towering facades
and pinnacles, and on the choice of the central gilt figure of the
Prince, colossal, in robes of state. But there can hardly be a doubt
as to the striking effect of the magnificent monument taken
altogether, especially when it has the advantage of a blue sky and
brilliant sunshine, and of the charm of the four white marble groups
which surround the pedestal, seen in glimpses through the lavish green
of Kensington Gardens. An engraving of the statue of the Prince is
given in Vol. I., p. 172.
In the end of the month the Queen, travelling incognito as Countess of
Kent, having crossed to Cherbourg, arrived at Baden-Baden accompanied
by Princess Beatrice. Her Majesty visited the Princess Hohenlohe's
grave. She continued her journey to Coburg. In passing through Paris
on her return to England towards the end of April, her Majesty had an
interview with the President of the French Republic.
On the 1st of May the Queen was proclaimed Empress of India.
In the season the Empress of Germany and the ex-royal family of
Hanover visited England. On the 17th of August the Queen, with the
Princes Arthur and Leopold and Princess Beatrice, stayed two nights at
Holyrood for the purpose of unveiling the equestrian statue to the
late Prince in Charlotte Square. Her Majesty recalled the coincidence
that the last public appearances of both her husband and mother were
in Edinburgh--the Prince Consort in laying the foundation stone of the
new post-office in October, 1861, only six weeks before his death, the
Duchess of Kent at the summer volunteer review in 1860. The town was
gay and bright and crowded with company. In Charlotte Square the Duke
of Buccleuch, chairman of the committee, read the address, to which
the Queen read a reply. On her return to the palace she knighted the
sculptor, Sir John Steel, and Professor Oakeley, the composer of the
chorale which was sung on the occasion. In the evening there was once
more a great dinner at Holyrood--Scotts, Kerrs, Bruces, Primroses,
Murrays, &c., &c, being gathered round their Queen.
Back to Full Books