Title: His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII
Author: Marie Belloc Lowndes
Release date: June 4, 2016 [eBook #52237]
Credits: Produced by Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)
From the Painting by Archibald Stuart Wortley, published by Henry Graves and Co.
HIS MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY
KING EDWARD VII.
‘THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE MARQUISE’
9 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
This book, originally published as a Life of the Prince of Wales, has now been much enlarged and brought up to the latest date, including His Majesty’s Accession and the events which followed. Fresh illustrations have also been added. It is believed that no previous attempt has been made to present a connected account of the Kings life, although isolated portions of His Majesty’s manifold activities have been treated of by various writers. Thus the author of the present work acknowledges considerable indebtedness to the Honble. Mrs. Grey’s “Journal of a Visit to Egypt, Constantinople, the Crimea, Greece, etc., in the Suite of the Prince and Princess of Wales”; to Sir W. H. Russell’s delightful volumes on their Majesties’ tour in the East and the King’s tour in India (from which two illustrations are reproduced); and to Sir H. C. Burdett’s “Prince, Princess, and People,” which deals mainly with the philanthropic work of the King and Queen. A large number of memoirs have also been consulted, including those of the Prince Consort, the Duchess of Teck, Baron Stockmar, Archbishop Magee, Archbishop Benson, Dean Stanley, and Canon Kingsley.
|Birth and Early Years||5|
|The King’s Boyhood||22|
|Oxford, Cambridge, and the Curragh||34|
|The King’s Visit to Canada and the United States||43|
|Death of the Prince Consort—Tour in the East||55|
|[x]The Wedding of King Edward and Queen Alexandra||63|
|Early Married Life||83|
|Their Majesties’ Tour in Egypt and the Mediterranean||103|
|The Franco-Prussian War—The King’s Illness||125|
|The King’s Tour in India||143|
|Quiet Years of Public Work, 1876-1887—Visit to Ireland—Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee||159|
|Silver Wedding of King Edward and Queen Alexandra—Engagement and Marriage of Princess Louise||171|
|The Baccarat Case—Birth of Lady Alexandra Duff—The King’s Fiftieth Birthday—Illness of Prince George||179|
|[xi]The Duke of Clarence and Avondale||184|
|The Housing of the Working Classes—Marriage of Prince George—The Diamond Jubilee—Death of the Duchess of Teck||200|
|Later Years—A Serious Accident to the King—Gradual Recovery—The Attempt on the King’s Life||220|
|The King as a Country Squire||235|
|The King in London||251|
|The King and State Policy||262|
|The King and the Services||268|
|The King and Freemasonry||279|
|The King as a Philanthropist||287|
|The King as a Sportsman||296|
|The Death of Queen Victoria—The King’s Accession||310|
|The King. From the Painting by Mr. A. Stuart Wortley||Frontispiece|
|The King at Homburg||xvi|
|The Christening of King Edward VII.||9|
|Queen Victoria, the Empress Frederick, and King Edward VII.||11|
|King Edward VII.||13|
|King Edward VII. at the Age of Three||15|
|The King in 1847||17|
|The Landing of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their Children at Aberdeen||19|
|The King and the Empress Frederick as Children||21|
|The Rev. Henry Mildred Birch, the King’s First Tutor||25|
|Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their Children||27|
|The King at the Age of Eight, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at the Age of Five||29|
|Sketching at Loch Laggan—Queen Victoria with King Edward and the Empress Frederick||31|
|Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.||32|
|The King in 1859||35|
|Christ Church, Oxford||38|
|Trinity College, Cambridge||39|
|The King in 1861||41|
|The Tour in Canada and the United States, 1860||43|
|The Fifth Duke of Newcastle, K.G.||44|
|The King’s Landing at Montreal||46|
|The King laying the Last Stone of the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence||47|
|The Grand Ball given at the Academy of Music, New York||52|
|The King’s Reception by Said Pacha, Viceroy of Egypt, at Cairo||59|
|[xiv]The King about the Time of his Marriage||62|
|The King on Coming of Age||67|
|Queen Alexandra in 1863||69|
|The Marriage of the King and Queen||75|
|A Contemporary Design for the Royal Wedding||78|
|On the Wedding Day||81|
|Queen Alexandra at the Time of her Marriage||82|
|Queen Alexandra in 1863||86|
|Queen Alexandra in 1864||89|
|Queen Alexandra with the Baby Prince Albert Victor||91|
|King Edward, Queen Alexandra, and Prince Albert Victor||93|
|Queen Victoria with Prince Albert Victor||95|
|King Edward at the Age of Twenty-Three||99|
|Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, and Princess Christian||101|
|Queen Alexandra about the Year 1865||102|
|Thanksgiving Day, 1872: The Scene at Temple Bar||132|
|Thanksgiving Day, 1872: The Procession up Ludgate Hill||134|
|Queen Alexandra and her Sister, the Empress Alexander of Russia, in 1873||137|
|Queen Victoria, with the Princes Albert Victor and George, and their sister, Princess Victoria||139|
|The King’s Indian Tour, 1875||143|
|Embarkation on Board the Serapis at Brindisi||147|
|The King’s Visit to the Cawnpore Memorial||153|
|The King in 1876||157|
|The King in 1879||161|
|The King in 1882||164|
|Queen Alexandra in her Robes as Doctor of Music||169|
|The Duchess of Fife, Princess Victoria, and Princess Charles of Denmark||175|
|The Duke of Fife||177|
|The Duke of Clarence and Avondale||185|
|King Edward and Queen Alexandra, with the Duchess of Fife and Lady Alexandra Duff||201|
|Queen Victoria and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York||205|
|The King in the Undress Uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet||210|
|The King as Grand Master of the Knights-Hospitallers of Malta, at the Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball||213|
|[xv]The Duke of Cornwall and York in his Robes as a Knight of St. Patrick||215|
|The Duchess of Cornwall and York||217|
|The Duke of Connaught, the late Duke of Saxe-Coburg, the German Emperor, King Edward VII., Queen Victoria, and the Empress Frederick||223|
|The King with the Ladies Duff||229|
|Sandringham from the Grounds||235|
|The Norwich Gate at Sandringham||238|
|The East Front, Sandringham||239|
|Queen Alexandra’s Dairy at Sandringham||241|
|Queen Alexandra at Sandringham||245|
|The Kennels, Sandringham||248|
|Queen Alexandra with her Favourite Dogs||250|
|Marlborough House from the South-West||252|
|Marlborough House: the Drawing-Room||254|
|Garden Party at Marlborough House, July 1881||257|
|Marlborough House: the Salon||259|
|The King as Admiral of the Fleet||269|
|The King as Colonel of the 10th Hussars||273|
|The King and the Duke of Connaught||277|
|Sir Francis Knollys||292|
|Mr. John Porter and Mr. Richard Marsh, the King’s Past and Present Trainers, and John Watts, his Jockey||296|
|The Egerton House Training Stables, Newmarket||297|
|The King’s Derby, 1896||299|
|The King as a Sportsman in 1876||305|
|The King as a Yachtsman||308|
From a Photograph by T. H. Voigt, Hamburg v.d.H.
On the Sunday following that eventful 9th of November on which His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII. first saw the light, the Rev. Sydney Smith preached at St. Paul’s, and made the following interesting addition to the Bidding Prayer:—
“We pray also for that infant of the Royal race whom in Thy good providence Thou hast given us for our future King. We beseech Thee so to mould his heart and fashion his spirit that he may be a blessing and not an evil to the land of his birth. May he grow in favour with man by leaving to its own force and direction the energy of a free people. May he grow in favour with God by holding the faith in Christ fervently and feelingly, without feebleness, without fanaticism, without folly. As he will be the first man in these realms, so may he be the best, disdaining to hide bad actions by high station, and endeavouring always by the example of a strict and moral life to repay those gifts which a loyal people are so willing to spare from their own necessities to a good King.”
It must be remembered that this prayer was uttered in 1841, and some of the phrases which the great wit used reflect rather the Holland House view of the monarchy entertained at that time. Nevertheless, the prayer is noteworthy because in spirit, if not in the letter, it has been so completely answered. The manner of King Edward’s accession exhibits to a contemplative mind the eternal contrast between East and West. In an Oriental State a new Sovereign is as a rule unknown even in his outward appearance to his subjects, and is generally tossed up on to the throne by the angry waves of some palace intrigue of which he himself knows nothing. But it is the peculiar happiness of the British people that, in the midst of their bitter grief at the loss of Queen Victoria, there came to them the swift thought that one whom they had known and approved from his youth up was her successor, and would assuredly walk in her footsteps.
The accession of a Prince so universally beloved to the throne of his ancestors amid the deeply-felt joy of a great and free people is an inspiring spectacle. Perhaps, however, it is not fully realised how much King Edward, in the years of his public life as Prince of Wales, shared in the duties of the British Crown. The following pages will, it is hoped, show how completely His Majesty and his lamented mother agreed in their conception of the position of ruler of the British Empire. It is known that the death of the Prince Consort drew even closer the ties of affection which subsisted between the late Sovereign and her eldest son, and it would seem as if King Edward from that day forward had set both his parents before himself as exemplars, and had endeavoured to approve himself to his future subjects as a worthy son, not only of Victoria the Wise but also of Albert the Good. It is certainly significant how many of the qualities of both his parents His Majesty possesses.
In those admirable messages to his people, and to India and the Colonies, as well as to his Navy and Army, the King wrote absolutely as his mother would have wished him to write. There is in these documents the same keen personal sympathy, the same human touch, so notable in all Her late Majesty’s letters to her people, the same unerring perception, the same insight which demonstrated how completely the heart of the monarch was beating in unison with that of his people.
Although the British people realised and appreciated the Prince Consort’s great qualities some time before his death, it is, nevertheless, true to say that they never came to regard him with quite the same feeling of affection as that in which other members of the Royal Family were held. This was in no sense the fault of Prince Albert, but is rather attributable to that national prejudice against everything and everybody not originally and completely British which was especially strong in the middle years of the nineteenth century. Certainly we have become more cosmopolitan since those days; we have come to see that the manners and customs of foreign nations are not perhaps always so absurd as our forefathers, at any rate, supposed, and may even in some few respects be worthy of adoption and imitation.
In this salutary process of national illumination King Edward VII. undoubtedly played a considerable part. From the beginning of his public career he endeared himself to his future subjects by his natural bonhomie, his tact, and a certain indefinable touch of human sympathy which characterised all his actions and speeches. He was therefore able to carry on and to develop with extraordinary success his father’s work in promoting, not only the higher pursuits of science and art, but also the more immediately practical application of scientific principles to industries and manufactures. Few people realise how much England’s industrial prosperity was advanced both by the father and the son, and how much greater that prosperity would have been if Prince Albert’s foresight had been better understood and appreciated by his contemporaries.
Prince Albert will also ever be remembered with gratitude by the British people for the unremitting care which he devoted to the education of all his children, and especially to that of his eldest son. Of course the seed must be sown in good ground, and we know that the ground was good; the effect of that early education is seen in the admirable tact with which King Edward filled a most difficult and delicate position for many years. This position was rendered additionally onerous by the sometimes ridiculous, sometimes malevolent, stories which used to be circulated about his private affairs. It is one of the great penalties of Royalty that practically no reply can be made to the voice of calumny and detraction. The increase of the means of communication, and the growth of the newspaper press, have tended to heighten the glare of publicity in which Royalty is compelled to live. But this bright light of publicity does not at all resemble that dry light of reason which Bacon regarded as so essential to the investigations of science; its rays are refracted and distorted by ignorance and clumsiness, if not by actual malevolence. Mr. Balfour’s quiet announcement in the House of Commons soon after the King’s Accession, that on the resettlement of the Civil List no question of debts will arise for consideration—as was the case, for instance, on the Accession of George IV.—is an impressive reply to rumours regrettably current of late years.
It must have required no common discipline and self-control to bear such penalties as those, inflicted by the tongue of scandal, and at the same time to exercise that invariable discretion in reference to the great interests of State which we all admired so much in His Majesty when he was Prince of Wales. We should all regard as extraordinary, were it not that we have become so used to it, the way in which His Majesty contrived over so many years to be in politics and yet not of them; to educate himself in State affairs, while preserving that rigorous impartiality which our constitutional monarchy demands from the Heir to the throne. The sentiments with which he takes up his great task as King, not only of the United Kingdom but also of our vast Colonial Empire beyond the seas, added to the great dependency of India, is significantly shown in a sentence which His Majesty uttered in a speech long ago—that his great wish was that every man born in the Colonies should feel himself as English as if he had been born in Kent or Sussex.
King Edward VII. was born on 9th November 1841, at Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Wellington, who was in the Palace at the time, is said to have asked the nurse, Mrs. Lily, “Is it a boy?” “It’s a Prince, your Grace,” answered the justly offended woman.
The news was received with great enthusiasm throughout the country, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had thousands of letters and telegrams of congratulation not only through official sources at home and abroad but from many of Her Majesty’s humblest subjects all over the world. Punch celebrated the event in some verses beginning—
At the moment of his birth the eldest son of the Sovereign became Duke of Cornwall. This dukedom was the first created in England. It was created by King Edward III. by charter, wherein his son, Edward the Black Prince, was declared Duke of Cornwall, to hold to himself and his heirs, Kings of England, and to their first-born sons; and it is in virtue of that charter that the eldest son of the Sovereign is by law acknowledged Duke of Cornwall the instant he is born.
At the same time King Edward III. granted by patent certain provision for the support of the dukedom, including the Stannaries, in Cornwall, together with the coinage of tin, and various lands, manors, and tenements, some of which lay outside the county of Cornwall, but were nevertheless deemed to be part of the duchy. From these rents and royalties King Edward VII. derived, when he was Duke of Cornwall, a revenue of about £60,000 a year.
The little prince also became at his birth Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Great Steward of Scotland (by act of the Scottish Parliament in 1469), but he was not born Prince of Wales. King George IV. was only a week old when he was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester by letters patent, but King Edward VII. had to wait nearly a month—till 4th December 1841—for these dignities.
The picturesque origin of the title of Prince of Wales is well known—how King Edward I. promised the turbulent Welsh barons to appoint them a prince of their own, one who was born in Wales and could not speak a word of English, and on whose life and conversation there was no stain at all. Having engaged the consent of the barons beforehand, he showed them his infant son, Prince Edward, who had been born in Carnarvon Castle but a few days before, and who was thereupon acclaimed as the first Prince of Wales. The dignity thus became established as personal, not hereditary, which could be granted or withheld at the pleasure of the Sovereign.
The Earldom of Chester was an early creation which was annexed to the Crown for ever by letters patent in the thirty-first year of King Henry III., when Prince Edward, his eldest son, was immediately granted the dignity. Edward the Black Prince received the Earldom of Chester when he was only three years old, before he was created Duke of Cornwall.
Queen Victoria’s recovery was rapid, as will be seen from the following entry in Her Majesty’s Journal on 21st November, the birthday of the Empress Frederick (Princess Royal of England):—
“Albert brought in dearest little Pussy [the Princess Royal] in such a smart white merino dress trimmed with blue, which Mama [the Duchess of Kent] had given her, and a pretty cap, and placed her on my bed, seating himself next to her, and she was very dear and good. And as my precious, invaluable Albert sat there, and our little Love between us, I felt quite moved with happiness and gratitude to God.”
A little less than a month after the birth of her eldest son, Queen Victoria wrote to her uncle, Leopold I., King of the Belgians:—
“I wonder very much who my little boy will be like. You will understand how fervent are my prayers, and I am sure everybody’s must be, to see him resemble his Father in every, every respect, both in body and mind.”
Christmas with its Christmas tree brought a new fund of delight to the Royal parents. “To think,” wrote the Queen in her Journal, “that we have two children now, and one who enjoys the sight already, is like a dream!” Prince Albert also wrote to his father:—“To-day I have two children of my own to give presents to, who, they know not why, are full of happy wonder at the German Christmas tree and its radiant candles.”
The christening of the Prince of Wales took place on 25th January 1842, in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, for although Royal baptisms had hitherto been celebrated within the Palace, both the Queen and Prince Albert felt it to be more in harmony with the religious sentiments of the country that the future King should be christened within a consecrated building.
As can be easily understood, the choice of sponsors for the Prince of Wales was a matter of considerable delicacy. Finally the King of Prussia was asked to undertake the office, and Baron Stockmar gives the following interesting account of how His Majesty brushed aside the intrigues which were immediately set on foot:—
“Politicians, as their habit is, attached an exaggerated political importance to the affair. The King, who foresaw this, wrote to Metternich, and in a manner asked for his advice. The answer was evasive; and on this the King determined not to give himself any concern about the political intrigues which were set on foot against the journey. Certain it is, that the Russians, Austrians, and even the French, in the person of Bresson (their Ambassador at Berlin) manœuvred against it. They were backed up by a Court party, who were persuaded that the King would avail himself of the opportunity to promote, along with Bunsen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, his pet idea of Anglicanizing the Prussian Church. When the King’s decision to go became known, Bresson begged that he would at least go through France, and give the Royal Family a meeting; but this was declined.”
The King of Prussia arrived on the 22nd, and was met by Prince Albert at Greenwich and conducted to Windsor.
King Edward’s other sponsors were his step-grandmother, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, represented by the Duchess of Kent; the Duke of Cambridge; the young Duchess of Saxe-Coburg (Queen Victoria’s sister-in-law), represented by the Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Sophia, represented by the Princess Augusta of Cambridge; and Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg.
Nothing was omitted to make the Prince of Wales’s christening a magnificent and impressive ceremony. There was a full choral service, and a special anthem had been composed by Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Elvey for the occasion. When Prince Albert was told of this, and asked when it should be sung, he answered, “Not at all. No anthem. If the service ends by an anthem, we shall all go out criticising the music. We will have something we all know—something in which we can all join—something devotional. The Hallelujah Chorus; we shall all join in that, with our hearts.” The Hallelujah Chorus ended the ceremony accordingly.
The Christening of King Edward VII.
From the Painting by Sir George Hayter
“It is impossible,” wrote Queen Victoria in her Journal, “to describe how beautiful and imposing the effect of the whole scene was in the fine old chapel, with the banners, the music, and the light shining on the altar.” It was significant of the young Queen’s native simplicity that the Prince was only christened Albert, after his father, and Edward, after his grandfather, the Duke of Kent.
Both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert soon showed that they were determined to allow nothing like publicity to come near their nurseries, and the public obtained but few glimpses of the Prince of Wales as a child. Prince Albert’s intimate friend and adviser, Baron Stockmar, wrote a year after his birth to one of his friends:—
“The Prince, although a little plagued with his teeth, is strong upon his legs, with a calm, clear, bright expression of face.” Before he was eighteen months old His Royal Highness had already sat for his portrait several times.
King Edward VII. was barely four months old when Baron Stockmar drew up a very long memorandum on the education of the Royal children. In this document he laid down that the beginning of education must be directed to the regulation of the child’s natural instincts, to give them the right direction, and above all to keep the mind pure. “This,” he went on, “is only to be effected by placing about children only those who are good and pure, who will teach not only by precept but by living example, for children are close observers, and prone to imitate whatever they see or hear, whether good or evil.” In the frankest manner the shrewd old German physician proceeded to point out that the irregularities of three of George III.’s sons—George IV., the Duke of York, and William IV.—had weakened the respect and influence of Royalty in this country, although the nation ultimately forgave them, because, “whatever the faults of those Princes were, they were considered by the public as true English faults”; whereas the faults of some of their brothers, who had been brought up on the Continent, though not at all worse, were not condoned, owing to the power of national prejudice.
Queen Victoria, the Empress Frederick, and King Edward VII.
From the Painting by S. Cousins, A.R.A.
The conclusion at which Baron Stockmar consequently arrived was, “that the education of the Royal infants ought to be from its earliest beginning a truly moral and a truly English one.” It ought therefore to be entrusted from the beginning only to persons who were themselves morally good, intelligent, well informed, and experienced, who should enjoy the full and implicit confidence of the Royal parents. The Baron did not mince matters with regard to “the malignant insinuations, cavillings, and calumnies of ignorant or intriguing people, who are more or less to be found at every Court, and who invariably try to destroy the parents’ confidence in the tutor.”
These principles commended themselves to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and Her Majesty wrote the following interesting letter to Lord Melbourne on the subject:—
“Windsor Castle, 24th March 1842.
“We are much occupied in considering the future management of our nursery establishment, and naturally find considerable difficulties in it. As one of the Queen’s kindest and most impartial friends, the Queen wishes to have Lord Melbourne’s opinion upon it. The present system will not do, and must be changed; and now how it is to be arranged is the great question and difficulty.… Stockmar says, and very justly, that our occupations prevent us from managing these affairs as much our own selves as other parents can, and therefore that we must have some one in whom to place implicit confidence. He says, a lady of rank and title with a sub-governess would be the best. But where to find a person so situated, fit for the place, and, if fit, one who will consent to shut herself up in the nursery, and entirely from society, as she must, if she is really to superintend the whole, and not accept the office, as in my case, Princess Charlotte’s, and my aunts’, merely for title, which would be only a source of annoyance and dispute?
“My fear is, that even if such a woman were to be found, she would consider herself not as only responsible to the Prince and Queen, but more to the country, and nation, and public, and I feel she ought to be responsible only to us, and we to the country and nation. A person of less high rank, the Queen thinks, would be less likely to do that, but would wish to be responsible only to the parents. Naturally, too, we are anxious to have the education as simple and domestic as possible. Then again, a person of lower rank is less likely to be looked up to and obeyed, than one of some name and rank. What does Lord Melbourne think?”
King Edward VII.
From an old Print published in 1843
In his reply Lord Melbourne fully concurred in Baron Stockmar’s suggestion that a lady of rank should be appointed, and the choice of the Royal parents fell upon Lady Lyttelton, who had been a lady-in-waiting from 1838, and who appeared to possess the precise qualifications which the post demanded. The daughter of George John, second Earl Spencer, and his wife Lavinia, daughter of the first Earl of Lucan, she was born in 1787, married, in 1813, William Henry, afterwards third Lord Lyttelton, and died in 1870. Lady Lyttelton was installed as governess to the Royal children in April 1842, and discharged her duties with equal ability and devotion. Early in 1851 she laid down her office. Her young charges parted from her with sad hearts and tearful eyes, as Sir Theodore Martin records in the Life of the Prince Consort, while from the Queen and Prince Albert she received marked proofs of the deep gratitude which they felt for all that she had done.
In 1846 King Edward accompanied his parents on two yachting excursions, in August and September, on board the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert. Writing in her Journal on 2nd September, Queen Victoria says, with a pretty touch of maternal pride:—
“After passing the Alderney Race it became quite smooth; and then Bertie put on his sailor’s dress, which was beautifully made by the man on board who makes for our sailors. When he appeared, the officers and sailors, who were all assembled on deck to see him, cheered, and seemed delighted with him.”
Then, when the yacht arrived at Mounts Bay, Cornwall, Her Majesty records on 5th September that “when Bertie showed himself the people shouted ‘Three cheers for the Duke of Cornwall.’”
Again, at Falmouth, on 7th September, the Queen says:—
“The Corporation of Penryn were on board, and very anxious to see ‘The Duke of Cornwall,’ so I stepped out of the pavilion on deck with Bertie, and Lord Palmerston told them that that was ‘The Duke of Cornwall’; and the old Mayor of Penryn said that ‘he hoped he would grow up a blessing to his parents and to his country.’”
At Sunny Corner, just below Truro, the whole population “cheered, and were enchanted when Bertie was held up for them to see. It was a very pretty, gratifying sight.”
Princess Mary of Cambridge, afterwards the much-loved and lamented Duchess of Teck, gives a delightful picture of the Royal children in a letter written in 1847 to Miss Draper, her governess. Princess Mary was then about fourteen, and King Edward was rather more than five years old:—
“We paid a visit to the Queen at Windsor on New Year’s Eve, and left there on the 2nd. The Queen gave me a bracelet with her hair, and was very kind to me. The little Royal children are sweet darlings; the Princess Royal is my pet, because she is remarkably clever. The Prince of Wales is a very pretty boy, but he does not talk as much as his sister. Little Alfred, the fourth child, is a beautiful fatty, with lovely hair. Alice is rather older than him; she is very modest and quiet, but very good-natured. Helena, the baby, is a very fine child, and very healthy, which, however, they all are.”
King Edward VII. at the Age of Three
From the Painting by W. Hensel, in the possession of the German Emperor
In August 1847, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with the Queen’s half-brother, the Prince of Leiningen, went for a tour round the west coast of Scotland, taking with them their two eldest children, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal. This is notable as King Edward’s first visit to Scotland, for he was too young to accompany his parents on their first tour in Scotland in 1842; while when the Queen and Prince Albert visited Blair-Atholl in 1844 they only took with them the little Princess Royal.
Of this tour round the west coast of Scotland we obtain some delightful details in the late Queen’s Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands. The Royal party started from Osborne in the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert, and they took the opportunity, after leaving Dartmouth, of visiting the Scilly Islands. The Queen writes:—
“Albert (who, as well as Charles, has not been unwell, while I suffered very much) went with Charles and Bertie to see one of the islands. The children recover from their sea-sickness directly.” By “Charles,” it should be explained, is meant the Prince of Leiningen. Naturally, when the Royal yacht arrived in Welsh waters, there was the greatest enthusiasm among the inhabitants at the sight of their little Prince. It must be remembered that at that time practically nothing was known by the general public about the Royal children, for their parents had very wisely resolved that they should as far as possible enjoy a natural, happy childhood, that being the best possible preparation for the public life that awaited them. However, evidently no harm was done by the notice which was taken of the Royal children on this tour. At Milford Haven their loving mother writes:—
“Numbers of boats came out, with Welshwomen in their curious high-crowned men’s hats, and Bertie was much cheered, for the people seemed greatly pleased to see the ‘Prince of Wales.’” Then again at Rothesay, when the yacht had passed up the Clyde:—
“The children enjoy everything extremely, and bear the novelty and excitement wonderfully. The people cheered the ‘Duke of Rothesay’ very much, and also called for a cheer for the ‘Princess of Great Britain.’ Everywhere the good Highlanders are very enthusiastic.”
With regard to her son’s title of Duke of Rothesay, Queen Victoria appends the following interesting note:—
“A title belonging to the eldest son of the Sovereign of Scotland, and therefore held by the Prince of Wales as eldest son of the Queen, the representative of the ancient Kings of Scotland.”
The King in 1847
From the Painting by Winterhalter
At Inveraray, which was next visited, the little Prince first met his future brother-in-law, the Marquis of Lorne, whom the Queen describes, in words which have often been quoted but will bear repetition, as “just two years old, a dear, white, fat, fair little fellow with reddish hair, but very delicate features, like both his father and mother: he is such a merry, independent little child. He had a black velvet dress and jacket, with a ‘sporran,’ scarf, and Highland bonnet.”
Naturally a good deal of interest was taken in the little Prince of Wales by those who had an opportunity of seeing him. When the great geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, went to Balmoral, the Queen’s eldest son, “a pleasing, lively boy,” gave him an account of the conjuring of Anderson, the “Wizard of the North,” who had just then shown the Court some marvellous tricks. Said the Prince in an awestruck tone:—
“He cut to pieces Mamma’s pocket-handkerchief, then darned it and ironed it so that it was as entire as ever; he then fired a pistol, and caused five or six watches to go through Gibbs’s head; but Papa knows how all these things are done, and had the watches really gone through Gibbs’s head he could hardly have looked so well, though he was confounded.”
Gibbs, it should be mentioned, was a footman.
The late Archbishop Benson, before he went up to Cambridge, was tutor to the sons of Mr. Wicksted, then tenant of Abergeldie Castle. Writing to his mother on 15th September 1848, young Mr. Benson gives the following interesting description of a glimpse which he had of the King as a little boy:—
“The Prince of Wales is a fair little lad, rather of slender make, with a good head and a remarkably quiet and thinking face, above his years in intelligence I should think. The sailor portrait of him is a good one, but does not express the thought that there is on his little brow. Prince Alfred is a fair, chubby little lad, with a quiet look, but quite the Guelph face, which does not appear in the Prince of Wales.”
The Landing of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their Children at Aberdeen
From a Painting by Cleland
In September 1848 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert established themselves with their six children at Balmoral, and Her Majesty records her first impressions of the place which was to be for so many years her much-loved Northern home. After describing her own and Prince Albert’s rooms, she says, “Opposite, down a few steps, are the children’s and Miss Hildyard’s three rooms.” Only a few days later we hear of the little Prince of Wales going out with his parents for a “drive” in the Balloch Buie. “We then mounted our ponies, Bertie riding Grant’s pony on the deer-saddle, and being led by a gillie, Grant walking by his side.” Grant, it should be explained, was head keeper, and much trusted by the Queen and Prince Albert, and for him was built a pretty lodge called Croft, a mile from Balmoral. “We scrambled up an almost perpendicular place to where there was a little box, made of hurdles and interwoven with branches of fir and heather, about five feet in height. There we seated ourselves with Bertie.” It can readily be imagined with what excitement the little Prince waited for nearly an hour till his father obtained a shot. The Queen records how her son helped her over the rough ground until they all gathered round the magnificent “Royal” which had fallen to Prince Albert’s gun.
The life at Balmoral was as far as possible shorn of Royal state, and was much the same, no doubt, as that which was led under many another hospitable roof-tree in the country round about. Queen Victoria devoted herself to her husband and children. Thus she records, on 11th September 1849, “The morning was very fine. I heard the children repeat some poetry in German.”
The life at Windsor Castle was scarcely less simple. Writing to an intimate friend, the late Duchess of Teck thus describes a dramatic performance at the Castle in January 1849, in which King Edward appeared, in spite of an accident which he had had a few days before:—
“Last Wednesday we went to Windsor Castle to remain till Friday. The visit went off very well indeed. The Queen and the children are looking very well, and the latter much grown. The poor little Prince of Wales has disfigured his face by falling on an iron-barred gate, and the bridge of his nose and both his eyes are quite black and bruised, but fortunately no bones were broken. The first evening we danced till twelve o’clock. Next day, … dinner was very early, and at eight o’clock the Play began. ‘Used Up’ and ‘Box and Cox’ were chosen for that night, and I was much pleased at seeing two very amusing pieces. They were very well acted, and we all laughed a great deal. The Theatre was well arranged, and the decorations and lamps quite wonderfully managed. It was put up in the Rubens-room, which is separated from the Garter-room by one small room where the Private Band stood. In the Garter-room was the Buffet, and in the centre hung one of the beautiful chandeliers from the pavilion at Brighton. The four elder children appeared at the Play, and the two boys wore their ‘kilts.’ The two little girls had on white lace gowns, over white satin, with pink bows and sashes. Princess Royal wears her hair in a very becoming manner, all twisted up into a large curl, which is tucked into a dark blue or black silk net, which keeps it all very tidy and neat.”
The King and the Empress Frederick as Children
From the Painting by Sir W. C. Ross, A.R.A.
In view of all that has been said in the last chapter to show how anxiously Queen Victoria and Prince Albert considered the education of the future King of England, it is amusing to record that the latter was quite five years old before it occurred to the public to take an interest in the question. It was then that a pamphlet was published, entitled Who should educate the Prince of Wales? This contribution to the subject was carefully read by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and Baron Stockmar drew up another long memorandum, dealing this time with the question of the Prince’s education alone. He was fully sensible of the importance of the subject.
“On the choice of the principles on which the Prince of Wales shall be educated,” he wrote, “will in all probability depend whether the future Sovereign of England shall reign in harmony with, or in opposition to, the prevailing opinions of his people. The importance of the selection of principles is increased by the consideration that opinion in Europe is at this moment obviously in a state of transition, and that by the time the Prince shall ascend the throne many of the maxims of government and institutions of society now in the ascendancy will, according to present probabilities, have either entirely passed away, or be on the very verge of change.”
After enlarging on this topic, the Baron lays down that the great and leading question is—whether the education of the Prince should be one which will prepare him for approaching events, or one which will stamp, perhaps indelibly, an impression of the sacred character of all existing institutions on his youthful mind, and teach him that to resist change is to serve at once the cause of God and of his country. Baron Stockmar recommends the former course, but he utters the warning that:—
“The education of the Prince should, however, nowise tend to make him a demagogue or a moral enthusiast, but a man of calm, profound, comprehensive understanding, imbued with a deep conviction of the indispensable necessity of practical morality to the welfare of both Sovereign and people. The proper duty of the Sovereign in this country is not to take the lead in change, but to act as a balance-wheel on the movements of the social body. When the whole nation, or a large majority of it, advances, the King should not stand still; but when the movement is too partial, irregular, or over-rapid, the royal power may with advantage be interposed to restore the equilibrium. Above all attainments, the Prince should be trained to freedom of thought and a firm reliance on the inherent power of sound principles, political, moral, and religious, to sustain themselves and produce practical good when left in possession of a fair field of development.”
As regards the religious faith in which the future King was to be brought up, the law prescribed that of the Church of England, and Baron Stockmar therefore does not discuss that point, but he does put a question arising out of it, which naturally seemed in that year—1846—more difficult than it would seem nowadays. The Baron asks in effect whether the Prince should be made acquainted with the changes then going on in public opinion in regard to matters of faith, and the important influence on the minds of educated men which the discoveries of science were likely to exert in the future? Without suggesting a definite answer to his own question, the Baron goes on to say:—
“The Prince should early be taught that thrones and social order have a stable foundation in the moral and intellectual faculties of man; that by addressing his public exertions to the cultivation of these powers in his people, and by taking their dictates as the constant guides of his own conduct, he will promote the solidity of his empire and the prosperity of his subjects. In one word, he should be taught that God, in the constitution of the mind and in the arrangement of creation, has already legislated for men, both as individuals and as nations; that the laws of morality, which he has written in their nature, are the foundations on which, and on which alone, their prosperity can be reared; and that the human legislator and sovereign have no higher duty than to discover and carry into execution these enactments of Divine legislation.”
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also consulted the Bishop of Oxford (Dr. Wilberforce) and Sir James Clark, both of whom recorded their views in long and carefully considered papers, in which they came to conclusions substantially the same as those of Baron Stockmar. On these principles, therefore, King Edward VII. was educated, namely, that the best way to build up a noble and princely character was to bring it into intelligent sympathy with the best movements of the age.
After some further discussion Prince Albert opened negotiations with Mr. Henry Birch, afterwards rector of Prestwich, near Manchester, the gentleman who was ultimately entrusted with the responsible position of tutor to the future ruler of the British Empire. This young man had been educated at Eton, where he had been captain of the school and obtained the Newcastle medal. He had taken high honours at Cambridge, and had then gone back to Eton as an assistant master.
The Prince Consort had an interview with Mr. Birch in August 1848, and says in a letter to Lord Morpeth, “The impression he has left upon me is a very favourable one, and I can imagine that children will easily attach themselves to him.” Writing to his stepmother, the Dowager Duchess of Gotha, in April 1849, Prince Albert observed:—
“Bertie will be given over in a few weeks into the hands of a tutor, whom we have found in a Mr. Birch, a young, good-looking, amiable man, who was a tutor at Eton, and who not only himself took the highest honours at Cambridge, but whose pupils have also won especial distinction. It is an important step, and God’s blessing be upon it, for upon the good education of Princes, and especially of those who are destined to govern, the welfare of the world in these days very greatly depends.”
The Rev. Henry Mildred Birch, the King’s First Tutor
Photograph by Eastham, Manchester
During the years 1848 to 1850 a Mr. George Bartley, well known at that time as an actor, was engaged to read at Buckingham Palace translations of the Antigone and the trilogy of Œdipus. Queen Victoria was so much pleased with the ability which Mr. Bartley showed that she engaged him to give lessons in elocution to her eldest son, who certainly profited by them, to judge by the ability which His Majesty afterwards showed as a public speaker.
In the summer of 1849 King Edward VII. visited Ireland for the first time. He landed with his parents at Queenstown, and received a splendid welcome, which probably laid the foundation of his hearty sympathy with and liking for the Irish character. Queen Victoria, after vividly describing the enthusiasm with which the Royal visitors were greeted at Dublin, Cork, and elsewhere, writes in her Journal on 12th August:—
“I intend to create Bertie ‘Earl of Dublin,’ as a compliment to the town and country; he has no Irish title, though he is born with several Scotch ones (belonging to the heirs to the Scotch throne, and which we have inherited from James VI. of Scotland and I. of England); and this was one of my father’s titles.”
Accordingly the Prince of Wales was soon afterwards gazetted Earl of Dublin, but in the peerage of the United Kingdom, not, as had been done in the case of the Duke of Kent, in the peerage of Ireland.
It is a curious fact that King Edward visited Ireland, and, as we have seen, Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland, and made an excellent impression upon the “Celtic fringe” before he was brought before the public notice of his future English subjects.
He made his first official appearance in London on 30th October 1849. It had been arranged that Queen Victoria was to be present at the opening of the Coal Exchange, but she was not able to go as she was suffering from chicken-pox. Accordingly it was arranged that the Princess Royal and the Prince of Wales should represent their Royal mother.
“Puss and the boy,” as the Queen called them, went with their father in State from Westminster to the city in the Royal barge rowed by twenty-six watermen. All London turned out to meet the gallant little Prince and his pretty sister. Lady Lyttelton, in a letter to Mrs. Gladstone, gives a charming account of the event, and tells how the Prince Consort was careful to put the future King forward. Some city dignitary addressed the young Prince as “the pledge and promise of a long race of Kings,” and, says Lady Lyttelton, “poor Princey did not seem to guess at all what he meant.” In honour of the Royal children a great many quaint old city customs were revived, including a swan barge, and both the King and the Empress Frederick seem to have retained a very delightful recollection of their first sight of the City.
Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their Children
From the Painting by Winterhalter
It must have been about this time that Miss Alcott, the author of Little Women, paid a visit to London, and sent home to her family the following description of the Prince:—
“A yellow-haired laddie, very like his mother. Fanny, W., and I nodded and waved as he passed, and he openly winked his boyish eye at us, for Fanny with her yellow curls and wild waving looked rather rowdy, and the poor little Prince wanted some fun.”
Two years later the King was present at the opening of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and in the following year Mr. Birch retired from his responsible post, greatly to the sorrow of his young pupil, who was a most affectionate and open-hearted little boy.
In June 1852 Viscountess Canning wrote from Windsor Castle:—
“Mr. Birch left yesterday. It has been a terrible sorrow to the Prince of Wales, who has done no end of touching things since he heard that he was to lose him three weeks ago. He is such an affectionate, dear little boy; his little notes and presents, which Mr. Birch used to find on his pillow, were really too moving.”
As was natural, there were many discussions as to who should become the Prince’s next tutor. On the recommendation of Sir James Stephen, Mr. Frederick W. Gibbs was appointed. He remained in his responsible position till 1858, and was rarely separated from his Royal pupil during those seven years.
But although so much attention was devoted to the education and mental training of the King, he spent a very happy and unclouded childhood; and, like all his brothers and sisters, he retained the happiest memories of the youthful days spent by him at Balmoral, Osborne, and Windsor.
The Baroness Bunsen in her Memoirs gives a charming account of a Masque devised by the Royal children in honour of the anniversary of the Queen and the Prince Consort’s marriage. King Edward, then twelve years old, represented Winter. He wore a cloak covered with imitation icicles, and recited some passages from Thomson’s Seasons. Princess Alice was Spring, scattering flowers; the Princess Royal, Summer; Prince Alfred, Autumn; while Princess Helena, in the rôle of St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, who was, according to tradition, a native of Britain, called down Heaven’s benedictions on her much-loved parents.
Shortly before this pretty scene took place, King Edward had made his first appearance in the House of Lords, sitting beside his Royal mother upon the Throne. It was on this occasion that the addresses of the two Houses in answer to the Queen’s Message announcing the beginning of hostilities in the Crimean War were presented, and there is no doubt that the sad and terrible months that followed made a deep and lasting impression on the King’s mind. He took the most vivid interest in the fortune of the war, and in March 1855 went with his parents to the Military Hospital at Chatham, where a large number of the wounded had recently arrived from the East.
The King at the Age of Eight, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at the Age of Five
From the Painting by F. Winterhalter
The popular concern was exhibited in many ingenious and touching ways. An exhibition was held at Burlington House in aid of the Patriotic Fund, and all the Royal children who were old enough sent drawings and paintings, the King’s exhibit obtaining the very considerable sum of 55 guineas.
The worst of the terrible struggle was over by the time King Edward and the Empress Frederick accompanied their parents to Paris in August of the same year. The visit was in many ways historically eventful. Queen Victoria was the first British Sovereign to enter Paris since the days of Henry VI., and the Royal Party received a truly splendid welcome. The young Prince and his sister, however, were not allowed to be idle, and, though they shared to a great extent in the entertainments organised in honour of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, their headquarters remained the whole time in the charming country palace of St. Cloud, and after sightseeing in Paris all day, they were always driven back there each evening. It is undoubtedly to the impression left by this visit that the King owes his strong affection and liking for France and the French people. When present at a splendid review, held in honour of Queen Victoria, he attracted quite as much attention as any of his elders, for he was dressed in full Highland costume, and remained in the carriage with his mother and the Empress, while the Emperor and Prince Consort were on horseback.
The British Royal party remained in France eight days. The last gala given in their honour was a splendid ball at Versailles, and on this occasion both the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal were allowed to be present, and sat down to supper with the Emperor and Empress. A dance had not been given at Versailles since the days of Louis XVI.
One of the most pleasing traits in Napoleon III.’s character was his great liking for children. As was natural, he paid considerable attention to his youthful guests, who both became much attached to him; and later, when he was living at Chislehurst a broken-hearted exile, King Edward never lost an opportunity of paying him respectful and kindly attentions. Indeed, the King enjoyed his first Continental holiday so heartily that he begged the Empress to get leave for his sister and himself to stay a little longer after his parents were gone home. When with some embarrassment she replied that Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort would not be able to do without their two children, he exclaimed, “Not do without us! don’t fancy that, for there are six more of us at home, and they don’t want us”; but it need hardly be added that this naïve exclamation did not have the desired effect, and the young people duly returned home with their parents.
Sketching at Loch Laggan—Queen Victoria with King Edward and the Empress Frederick
From the Painting by Landseer, published in 1858
A few days later, the Prince Consort, writing to Baron Stockmar, observed: “You will be pleased to hear how well both the children behaved. They made themselves general favourites, especially the Prince of Wales, qui est si gentil.” And on the same topic Prince Albert wrote to the Duchess of Kent: “I am bound to praise the children greatly. They behaved extremely well and pleased everybody. The task was no easy one for them, but they discharged it without embarrassment and with natural simplicity.”
Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.
After the Painting by Thorburn
When the King was fourteen he started on an incognito walking tour in the West of England with Mr. Gibbs and Colonel Cavendish. His father wrote to Baron Stockmar: “Bertie’s tour has hitherto gone off well and seems to interest him greatly.” Then followed a short time spent in Germany, as to which Prince Albert wrote to Baron Stockmar on 26th July, 1857: “Bertie set out to-day at noon for Königswinter—he will take a week to get there. Of the young people only Lord Derby’s son will go with him in the first instance; Wood, Cadogan, and Gladstone will follow.”
This visit of the Prince of Wales to Königswinter was for purposes of study, and he had with him General Grey, Colonel (afterwards General) H. Ponsonby his domestic tutor, Mr. Gibbs his classical tutor, the Rev. Charles Tarver (afterwards Canon of Chester), and Dr. Armstrong. During the Prince’s stay at Königswinter Mr. W. Gladstone, Mr. Charles Wood (now Lord Halifax), the present Lord Cadogan, and the present Lord Derby, then Mr. Frederick Stanley, were with him as companions. It may be conveniently recorded here that in 1858, when Mr. F. W. Gibbs retired, Mr. Tarver was appointed the Prince’s Director of Studies and Chaplain, in which capacity he accompanied him to Rome, Spain, and Portugal, and then went with him to Edinburgh, remaining with the Prince till the autumn of 1859, when his education ceased to be conducted at home.
The King was confirmed in 1858, and the Prince Consort, writing to Baron Stockmar on 2nd April, gives an interesting account of the ceremony:—
“They were all three [Lords Palmerston, John Russell, and Derby] yesterday at the confirmation of the Prince of Wales, which went off with great solemnity, and, I hope, with an abiding impression on his mind. The previous day, his examination took place before the Archbishop and ourselves. Wellesley prolonged it to a full hour, and Bertie acquitted himself extremely well.”
The day following his confirmation the King received the sacrament with his father and mother, and here may be fittingly ended the story of His Majesty’s boyhood.
King Edward had now emerged from boyhood, and his loving parents set themselves to make the arrangements suitable for his growing years. What these arrangements were will be clear from the following passages in the Prince Consort’s letter to Baron Stockmar of 2nd April 1858:—
“Next week he [the Prince of Wales] is to make a run for fourteen days to the South of Ireland with Mr. Gibbs, Captain de Ros, and Dr. Minter, by way of recreation. When he returns to London he is to take up his residence at the White Lodge in Richmond Park, so as to be away from the world and devote himself exclusively to study and prepare for a military examination. As companions for him we have appointed three very distinguished young men of from twenty-three to twenty-six years of age, who are to occupy in monthly rotation a kind of equerry’s place about him, and from whose more intimate intercourse I anticipate no small benefit to Bertie. They are Lord Valletort, the eldest son of Lord Mount Edgcumbe, who has been much on the Continent, is a thoroughly good, moral, and accomplished man, draws well and plays, and never was at a public school, but passed his youth in attendance on his invalid father; Major Teesdale, of the Artillery, who distinguished himself greatly at Kars, where he was aide-de-camp and factotum of Sir Fenwick Williams; Major Lindsay, of the Scots Fusilier Guards, who received the Victoria Cross for Alma and Inkermann (as Teesdale did for Kars), where he carried the colours of the regiment, and by his courage drew upon himself the attention of the whole Army. He is studious in his habits, lives little with the other young officers, is fond of study, familiar with French, and especially so with Italian, spent a portion of his youth in Italy, won the first prize last week under the regimental adjutant for the new rifle drill, and resigned his excellent post as aide-de-camp of Sir James Simpson, that he might be able to work as lieutenant in the trenches.
The King in 1859
From a Painting by G. Richmond
“Besides these three, only Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Tarver will go with him to Richmond. As future governor, when Gibbs retires at the beginning of next year, I have as yet been able to think of no one as likely to suit, except Colonel Bruce, Lord Elgin’s brother, and his military secretary in Canada, who now commands one of the battalions of Grenadier Guards, and lives much with his mother in Paris. He has all the amiability of his sister, with great mildness of expression, and is full of ability.”
Of these early companions of the King, Lord Valletort succeeded to the Earldom of Mount Edgcumbe in 1861, Major Teesdale was afterwards well known as Sir Christopher Teesdale, while Major Lindsay was appointed extra equerry to the Prince of Wales in 1874, and was created Lord Wantage of Lockinge in 1885.
While the Prince of Wales was at White Lodge, where the suite of rooms which he occupied still bears his name, he saw much of his relations at Cambridge Cottage; he often rowed up from Richmond or Mortlake, and mooring his boat alongside the landing-stage at Brentford Ferry, would get out and take a stroll in the gardens with his aunt and cousin. The first dinner-party the Prince attended was at the Cottage on Kew Green.
By Queen Victoria’s special desire, Charles Kingsley about this time delivered a series of lectures on history to her eldest son, and the Prince remained fondly attached to the famous author of Westward Ho, who, till his death, was an honoured guest at Sandringham and at Marlborough House.
On 9th November of the same year the King attained his eighteenth year, and became legally heir to the Crown. Queen Victoria wrote him a letter announcing his emancipation from parental control, and he was so deeply touched by its perusal that he brought it to General Wellesley with tears in his eyes, and we have the impartial testimony of Charles Greville as to the character of the epistle, which was, says the famous diarist, “one of the most admirable letters that ever was penned.” On the same day he became a Colonel in the Army (unattached), and received the Garter, while Colonel Bruce became his governor.
Exactly a month after his birthday, the King started on a Continental tour, travelling more or less incognito as Lord Renfrew. He was accompanied by Mr. Tarver, who had just been appointed his chaplain and director of studies. The King stayed some time in Rome and visited the Pope, but on 29th April 1859 the Prince Consort wrote to Baron Stockmar: “We have sent orders to the Prince of Wales to leave Rome and to repair to Gibraltar.” For it was very properly considered, that owing to the Franco-Italian and Austrian imbroglio, it was far better that the heir to the British throne should be well out of the way of international dissensions.
The King reached Gibraltar on 7th May, and visited the south of Spain and Lisbon, returning home in the middle of the next month; and then, after having seen something of the world, he again took up a very serious course of study, this time at Edinburgh. Meanwhile the education and training of the Heir-Apparent was being watched very carefully by the British public, and a good many people began to consider that their future King was being over-educated; indeed Punch, in some lines entitled “A Prince at High Pressure,” undoubtedly summed up the popular feeling, not only describing the past, but prophesying, with a great deal of shrewd insight, the future course of the Prince of Wales’s studies:—
But the Prince seems to have borne his course of study very well, and after his son had been in Edinburgh some three months the Prince Consort wrote to Baron Stockmar:—
“In Edinburgh I had an Educational Conference with all the persons who were taking part in the education of the Prince of Wales. They all speak highly of him, and he seems to have shown zeal and goodwill. Dr. Lyon Playfair is giving him lectures on chemistry in relation to manufactures, and at the close of each special course he visits the appropriate manufactory with him, so as to explain its practical application. Dr. Schmitz (the Director of the High School of Edinburgh, a German) gives him lectures on Roman history. Italian, German, and French are advanced at the same time; and three times a week the Prince exercises with the 16th Hussars, who are stationed in the city. Mr. Fisher, who is to be the tutor for Oxford, was also in Holyrood. Law and history are to be the subjects on which he is to prepare the Prince.”
Christ Church, Oxford
The young Prince spent a delightful holiday in the Highlands, and made an expedition up Ben Muichdhui, one of the highest mountains in Scotland. Then, on 9th November, his nineteenth birthday was celebrated with the whole of his family, for the Princess Royal had arrived from Berlin in order to spend the day with her brother.
The King was at that time very fond of the writings of Sir Walter Scott. He has always been a reader of fiction, French, English, and German, and as a youth he was studious and eager to learn.
On leaving Scotland he went up to Oxford, being admitted a member of Christ Church. The Prince seems to have thoroughly enjoyed his life as an undergraduate. He joined freely in the social life of the University, and took part in all the sports, frequently hunting with the South Oxfordshire Hounds. Nor did he neglect his books, for we find the Prince Consort writing to Baron Stockmar on 8th December 1859 to say that, “The Prince of Wales is working hard at Oxford.”
Trinity College, Cambridge
It seems more convenient here to abandon the strictly chronological arrangement, and to leave the Prince’s visit to Canada and the United States, which followed immediately, to be described in a separate chapter, passing on at once to his life at Cambridge.
Early in 1861 the King became an undergraduate member of Trinity College, Cambridge. Curiously enough, Dr. Whewell, at that time Master of Trinity, did not think it necessary to make a formal entry of the Royal undergraduate, but in 1883, when visiting Cambridge in order to enter his son, the late Duke of Clarence, as a student of Trinity, the King expressed the opinion that it was a pity that his own entry had not been properly filled up, and he offered to fill in the blank spaces if the book was brought to him. Accordingly the record may now be found at its proper place in the King’s own handwriting. His entry is as follows:—
|Date of Entry.
January 18th, 1861.
Albert Edward Prince of Wales.
|Father’s Christian Name.
November 9th, 1841.
Admitted by order of the Seniority, Mr. Mathison being his tutor.
The entry immediately preceding the King’s name is that of the Hon. J. W. Strutt (now Lord Rayleigh), in connection with which the following amusing story is told. A visitor to the library (where the book is kept) having expressed her doubts as to the King’s intellectual abilities, the librarian showed her the entry, and said: “You may be right in what you say, madam, but allow me to inform you that the Prince comes next to a former Senior Wrangler.” The lady’s astonishment may be imagined, she being of course ignorant that mere coincidence was the cause of the juxtaposition of the two names.
The position of the Prince of Wales in the University was very much that of an ordinary undergraduate, except in one point—that he was, by special favour, allowed to live with his governor, Colonel the Hon. Robert Bruce, about three miles away from Cambridge, in a little village called Madingley.
Charles Kingsley at the Prince Consort’s request gave some private lectures to the Prince of Wales. The class was formed of eleven undergraduates, and after the Prince settled at Madingley, he rode three times a week to Mr. Kingsley’s house, twice attending with the class, and once to go through a résumé of the week’s work alone; and, according to the great writer’s biographer, the tutor much appreciated the attention, courtesy, and intelligence of his Royal pupil, whose kindness to him then and in after-life made him not only the Prince’s loyal but his most attached servant.
The King in 1861
Photograph by Silvy
The King certainly enjoyed his life at Cambridge. All sorts of stories, perhaps more or less apocryphal, used to be told as to his University career. He was not allowed quite as much freedom as the ordinary undergraduate, and Colonel Bruce had strict orders never to allow him to make any long journeys unaccompanied. On one occasion the King made up his mind that he would like to pay an incognito visit to London, and he succeeded in evading the vigilance of those whose duty it was to attend him. His absence, however, was discovered before he could reach town, and to his surprise and mortification he was met at the terminus by the stationmaster and by two of the royal servants who had been sent from Buckingham Palace for that purpose.
Shortly after his marriage the King took his bride to visit Cambridge, and after the usual reception, the Royal pair drove to Madingley, to view the King’s former residence. On reaching one of the streets on the borders of the town it was found to be barricaded, it being thought that the carriage would proceed by another route. “This is the way I always came,” said the King, “and this is the way I wish to go now.” Forthwith the sightseers were removed and the barricade broken down, but the King signified his intention of returning by the other road so that the spectators might not be disappointed.
The King remained more or less constantly at Cambridge all the winter of 1861, and it was arranged that during the long vacation he was to go on military duty at the Curragh.
While the King was quartered there, Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, and the young Princesses paid a short visit to Ireland in order to see him in his new character of soldier. On 26th August Her Majesty wrote in her diary:—
“At a little before 3 we went to Bertie’s hut, which is in fact Sir George Brown’s. It is very comfortable—a nice little bedroom, sitting-room, drawing-room, and good-sized dining-room, where we lunched with our whole party. Colonel Percy commands the Guards, and Bertie is placed specially under him. I spoke to him, and thanked him for treating Bertie as he did, just like any other officer, for I know that he keeps him up to his work in a way, as General Bruce told me, that no one else has done; and yet Bertie likes him very much.”
On the following day, which was a Sunday, the Prince Consort, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and Prince Alfred, went with Lord Carlisle to inspect the Dublin prisons.
Prince Albert spent his last birthday, 26th August 1861, with his son in Ireland, and the Prince of Wales accompanied his parents and sisters to Killarney, where they had a very enthusiastic welcome. They travelled on the Prince Consort’s birthday. On the 29th Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with their younger children, left Ireland, and writing to Baron Stockmar on 6th September the Prince Consort said: “The Prince of Wales has acquitted himself extremely well in the Camp, and looks forward with pleasure to his visit to the manœuvres on the Rhine.”
The Tour in Canada and the United States, 1860
During the Crimean war, Canada, stirred, as were all the British colonies, by the direful stress of the mother country, levied and equipped a regiment of infantry for service in the field with the regular British troops—an interesting precedent for what was to happen in the Boer war nearly half a century later. In return for their demonstration of loyalty, the Canadians dispatched a cordial invitation to Queen Victoria to visit her American possessions; but it was considered undesirable that Her Majesty should be exposed to the fatigues and the risks of so long a journey.
Queen Victoria was then asked to appoint one of her sons Governor-General of the Dominion, but the extreme youth of all the Princes made that quite out of the question. Her Majesty, nevertheless, formally promised that when the Prince of Wales was old enough he should visit Canada in her stead. When the Prince was well on in his eighteenth year his parents decided that it was time for this promise to be fulfilled, the more so that it would enable the great railway bridge across the St. Lawrence at Montreal to be opened, and the foundation-stone of the Parliament buildings at Ottawa to be laid, by a Prince of the Blood.
The Fifth Duke of Newcastle, K.G.
The Prince Consort, with the care and forethought which always distinguished him in such matters, made a most careful choice of those who were to accompany his young son. Both Queen Victoria and he felt the greatest confidence in the Duke of Newcastle, the grandfather of the present peer, and with him Prince Albert arranged all the details of the Prince’s Canadian visit. The careful and kindly father forgot nothing that might be needed. Not only did he take special pains to secure that the young Prince should learn something of the history, customs, and prejudices of the Canadian people, but he supplied the Duke with memoranda which might be found useful in drawing up the answers to be made to the addresses which were certain to be presented to the Prince of Wales during his progress through the Dominion. The best proof of the Prince Consort’s wisdom is to be found in the fact that every one of these notes afterwards turned out to be simply invaluable, owing to the peculiar aptness with which they had been framed to suit the circumstances of each locality where an address was likely to be received.
When it became known on the American Continent that the Prince of Wales was really coming to Canada, the President of the United States, Mr. Buchanan, wrote to Queen Victoria explaining how cordial a welcome the Prince of Wales would receive at Washington should he extend his visit to the United States.
Her Majesty returned a cordial answer, informing Mr. Buchanan, and through him the American people, that the Prince would return home through America, and that it would give him great pleasure to have an opportunity of testifying to the President in person the kindly feelings which animated the British nation towards America. At the same time the American people were told that the future British Sovereign would, from the moment of his leaving British soil, drop all Royal state, and that he would simply travel as “Lord Renfrew.” In this again Her Majesty showed her great wisdom, for it would have been extremely awkward for the Prince of Wales, the descendant of King George III., to have visited the American Republic in his quality as Heir-Apparent to the British Throne.
After a pleasant but uneventful voyage on board the frigate Hero, escorted by H.M.S. Ariadne, the Prince of Wales first stepped on Transatlantic soil at St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, the oldest British colony, on 24th July 1860. The morning was rainy, but the moment His Royal Highness landed the sun shone out, bursting through the clouds, and this was considered by those present to be a very happy omen.
On that day the Prince may be said to have really had his first glimpse of that round of official duties to which he seemed to take naturally, and in which he was destined to become so expert.
After the Governor of Newfoundland had been formally presented to the Prince, the Royal party, which comprised, in addition to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Newcastle, General Bruce, and Major Teesdale, went straight to Government House, where the Prince held a reception, and listened to a considerable number of addresses. The day did not end till the next morning, for in the evening a grand ball was given by Sir Alexander Bannerman, and King Edward won all hearts by mixing freely with the company, and dancing, not only with the ladies belonging to the Government and official circles, but with the wives and daughters of the fishermen. It was noticed that the Prince was quite remarkably like the portraits of his Royal mother on the British coins, and he displayed, not only in Newfoundland but also during the many fatiguing days that followed, the extraordinary tact and admirable breeding which have continually year after year increased the affection with which he is regarded by the British people.
The King’s Landing at Montreal
From a contemporary picture in the “Illustrated London News”
The wife of the then Archdeacon of St. John’s, in an interesting letter home, puts on record the impression produced by the King in Newfoundland:—
“His appearance is very much in his favour, and his youth and royal dignified manners and bearing seem to have touched all hearts, for there is scarcely a man or woman who can speak of him without tears. The rough fishermen and their wives are quite wild about him, and we hear of nothing but their admiration. Their most frequent exclamation is, ‘God bless his pretty face and send him a good wife.’”
The King laying the Last Stone of the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence
From the “Illustrated London News”
At Halifax, the news that his sister, the Princess Frederick of Prussia, had given birth to a little daughter met him, and he hastened to write home his affectionate congratulations on the event.
The Prince’s tour through Canada may be said to have been one long triumphal procession. It was marred by no unpleasant incident, in spite of the fact that at Kingston and Toronto the Orangemen tried to induce the Prince to pass under arches decorated with their party symbols and mottoes. Thanks, however, to the Duke of Newcastle’s tact and firmness, the attempt failed, and the incident merely served to illustrate the young Prince’s freedom from party bias. Everywhere the Royal visitor produced the happiest impressions, and, thanks to his youth, he was able to endure considerable fatigue without apparently being any the worse for it.
In America “Lord Renfrew’s” arrival was awaited with the utmost impatience, and while travelling over the Dominion His Royal Highness was surrounded by American reporters. Indeed, it is said that the Prince of Wales’s visit to Canada formed the first occasion on which press telegrams were used to any lavish extent. One enterprising journalist used to transmit to his paper long chapters from the Gospel according to St. Matthew and from the Book of Revelation in order to monopolise the wires while he was gathering material for his daily report of the Royal journey. At a great ball given in Quebec the Prince tripped and fell with his partner—the article recording this event was headed Honi soit qui mal y pense.
The Royal visit to Montreal is still remembered in Canada. The Prince and his suite arrived there on 25th August, and the Prince, after opening a local exhibition, inaugurating a bridge, holding a review, and attending some native games, danced all night with the greatest spirit, even singing with the band when it struck up his favourite air.
Many little stories were told of the King’s good-nature and affability. Hearing by accident that an old sailor who had served with Nelson on board the Trafalgar had been court-martialled, the Prince begged him off, and asked that he might be restored to his rank in the service.
The Canadian Government provided a number of riding-horses in order that the King might see Niagara Falls from several points of view, and he has since often declared that this was one of the finest sights he ever saw in his life. Next day, in the presence of the Royal party and of thousands of spectators, Canadian and American, the famous rope-walker, Blondin, crossed Niagara river upon a rope, walking upon stilts, and carrying a man on his back. After the ordeal was over, Blondin had the honour of being presented to the Prince. The latter, with much emotion, exclaimed, “Thank God, it is all over!” and begged him earnestly not to attempt the feat again, but the famous rope-walker assured His Royal Highness that there was no danger whatever, and offered to carry him across on his back if he would go, but the Prince briefly declined! The Prince seems to have been quite fascinated by the marvellous Falls. On 17th September he insisted on riding over on American ground for a farewell view of Niagara.
The Prince of Wales formally crossed from Canadian territory to the States on the night of 20th September, making his appearance on Republican soil, as had been arranged, as Lord Renfrew. At Hamilton, the last place in Canada where he halted, the Prince made a speech, in the course of which he observed:
“My duties as Representative of the Queen cease this day, but in a private capacity I am about to visit before I return home that remarkable land which claims with us a common ancestry, and in whose extraordinary progress every Englishman feels a common interest.”
Great as had been the enthusiasm in Canada, it may be said to have been nothing to the furore of excitement produced in America by the Prince of Wales’s visit. At Detroit the crowds were so dense that the Royal party could not get to their hotel through the main streets, and had to be smuggled in at a side entrance. The whole city was illuminated; every craft on the river had hung out lamps; and, as one individual aptly put it, “there could not have been greater curiosity to see him if the distinguished visitor had been George Washington come to life again.”
Over 50,000 people came out to meet His Royal Highness at Chicago, then a village of unfinished streets, but there, for the first time, the Prince broke down from sheer fatigue, and the Duke of Newcastle decided that it would be better to break the trip from Chicago to St. Louis by stopping at a quiet village, famed even then for the good sport to be obtained in its neighbourhood. It was therefore arranged that His Royal Highness should have a day’s shooting at Dwight’s Station, and fourteen brace of quails and four rabbits fell to the Prince’s gun.
A rather absurd incident marred the complete pleasure of the day. As the Royal party approached a farm-house an unmistakably British settler appeared at the door and invited every one excepting the Duke of Newcastle to enter. “Not you, Newcastle,” he shouted; “I have been a tenant of yours, and have sworn that you shall never set a foot on my land.” Accordingly the party passed on, and the farmer, though revenged on his old landlord, had to forego the honour of entertaining Royalty under his roof.
But, notwithstanding this awkward incident, the King seems to have thoroughly enjoyed his little respite from official functions. At one moment, when he was out on the prairie, he and his companions desired to smoke, but nobody had a light. At last a single match was found, but no one volunteered to strike it. Lots were drawn with blades of the prairie grass, and the King drew the shortest blade. The others held their coats and hats round him whilst he lighted the match, and he once said that he never felt so nervous before or since.
On 30th October “Lord Renfrew” reached Washington, and Lord Lyons, the British Minister, introduced him to President James Buchanan, and Miss Harriet Lane, the latter’s niece and housekeeper. The Prince stayed at the White House, and President Buchanan, though he could not spare his Royal guest a certain number of levées and receptions, did his best to make his visit to the official centre of the American Republic pleasant. During these five days there occurred a most interesting event—the visit of His Royal Highness to Mount Vernon and the tomb of Washington. A representative of the Times gave the following eloquent account of the scene:—
“Before this humble tomb the Prince, the President, and all the party stood uncovered. It is easy moralising on this visit, for there is something grandly suggestive of historical retribution in the reverential awe of the Prince of Wales, the great-grandson of George III., standing bareheaded at the foot of the coffin of Washington. For a few moments the party stood mute and motionless, and the Prince then proceeded to plant a chestnut by the side of the tomb. It seemed, when the Royal youth closed in the earth around the little germ, that he was burying the last faint trace of discord between us and our great brethren in the West.”
Doubtless the Prince enjoyed these new experiences a good deal more than did his guides, philosophers, and friends. Political feeling ran high, and the pro-slavery leaders were very anxious to influence public sentiment in Great Britain. They formed the project of taking the Prince of Wales through the South to see slavery under its pleasantest aspect as a paternal institution. After a good deal of discussion between the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Lyons, it was felt better to accept the invitation of some representative Southerners, and accordingly the Prince went a short tour to Richmond; but it may be added that a great slave sale which had been widely advertised was postponed so as not to offend British susceptibilities. The Prince does not seem to have been at all impressed by the slave cities, and he flatly refused to leave his carriage to visit the negro quarters at Haxhall’s plantation, and so he returned to Washington, having shown a good deal more common sense than had those about him.
The day that the Prince left Washington for Richmond, President Buchanan wrote a charming letter to the Queen, in which he said, speaking of his guest: “In our domestic circle he has won all hearts. His free and ingenuous intercourse with myself evinced both a kind heart and a good understanding.”
From Washington the Prince proceeded to Philadelphia, and there, for the first time, His Royal Highness heard Adelina Patti. He was so greatly charmed with her marvellous voice and winning personality, that he begged that she might be presented to him.
The Prince’s feelings must have been strangely mixed when he stood in Independence Hall, but he does not appear to have revealed them by making any remark, and after staying a few days in Philadelphia he started for New York, where he received a splendid welcome from Father Knickerbocker, being met at the station by the Mayor, and driven through Broadway to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. Half a million spectators saw him arrive, and so great was the anxiety to see Queen Victoria’s eldest son at close quarters, that there was no structure in New York large enough to contain those who thought that they had—and who no doubt had—a right to meet the Prince of Wales at a social function.
The Grand Ball given at the Academy of Music, New York
From the “Illustrated London News”
At last a building was found capable of containing 6000 people; but, looking to the question of “crinolines and comfort,” it was reluctantly decided that not more than 3000 cards of invitation, admitting to the ball and to the supper to follow, should be sent out. Fortunately most of the 3000 guests were important people, and therefore too old to dance. They represented, in both senses of the word, the solid element in New York society, for, as they crowded round the Prince, the floor gave way, and it is a wonder that no serious accident took place. This splendid entertainment, which took place in the old Academy of Music, is still remembered by many elderly Americans. The Prince showed his tact and good taste by frequently changing his partner. For the supper, a special service of china and glass had been manufactured, the Prince’s motto, Ich Dien, being emblazoned on every piece.
During the five days that the Prince remained in New York, he was the guest of the Mayor and of the Corporation. He seems to have most enjoyed a parade of the Volunteer Fire Department in his honour. There were 6000 firemen in uniform, and all, save those in charge of the ropes and tillers, bore torches. It was a magnificent spectacle, and the Prince, as he looked at the brilliant display in Madison Square, cried repeatedly, “This is for me, this is all for me!” with unaffected glee.
From New York the Prince went on to Albany and Boston, and at the latter place Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emerson, and a number of other notable Americans were presented to him. He visited Harvard College, spent an hour at Mount Auburn, where he planted two trees, and drove out to Bunker’s Hill.
Portland was the last place visited by the Prince in the United States, and on 20th October the Royal party set sail for home on board the Hero, which was escorted by the Ariadne, the Nile, and the Styx. The voyage home was not as uneventful as had been the voyage out. So anxious were they at Court about the fate of the Hero, that two ships of war were sent in search of the frigate and her escort. At last, to every one’s great relief, the Hero was sighted, and it was ascertained that a sudden storm had driven the boat back from the British coast, and the Royal party had been reduced to salt fare, with only a week’s provisions in store.
On 9th November the Prince Consort put in his diary: “Bertie’s birthday. Unfortunately he is still absent, neither do we hear anything from him.” Great, therefore, was the joy of the Queen and Prince Albert when, on 15th November, they received a telegram from Plymouth announcing the safe arrival of their son. That same evening the Prince of Wales arrived at Windsor Castle, being greeted with the warmest affection by his family and friends.
Queen Victoria showed the most vivid interest in all her eldest son’s many and varied adventures. Both Her Majesty and the Prince Consort were very much gratified by the way in which the Duke of Newcastle had performed his arduous and delicate task, and, after some consultation, it was decided that the Queen should publicly mark her satisfaction by conferring upon the Duke the Order of the Garter.
King Edward’s visit to Germany in the autumn of 1861 is explained by Sir Theodore Martin, in his Life of the Prince Consort, to have been made with another object in view besides that of seeing the military manœuvres in the Rhenish Provinces. It had been arranged that he was to make the acquaintance of the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who was then on a visit to Germany, with a view to a marriage, should the meeting result in a mutual attachment.
In spite, however, of every precaution to ensure secrecy, until at least the inclinations of the principal parties should have been ascertained, the project leaked out, and even before they met, it was actually canvassed, much to the Prince Consort’s annoyance, in the Continental papers. From these it soon found its way into the English journals, where it met with general approval; but as the meeting, which took place at Speier and Heidelberg on the 24th and 25th of September, ended with the happiest results, no harm was done, though in other circumstances it might have been extremely painful.
“We hear nothing but excellent accounts of the Princess Alexandra,” Prince Albert notes in his diary on the 30th of September, and he adds, with evident satisfaction, that “the young people seem to have taken a warm liking for each other.” On 6th October the Prince Consort, writing to the King of Prussia, says: “Bertie has come back in raptures with his excursion to the manœuvres, and cannot speak sufficiently highly of your kindness to himself, and to all the English officers.” About a week later the Prince Consort was able to write to Baron Stockmar: “The Prince of Wales leaves to-morrow for Cambridge. He came back greatly pleased with his interview with the Princess of Holstein at Speier.… His present wish, after his time at the University is up, which it will be at Christmas, is to travel; and we have gladly assented to his proposal to visit the Holy Land. This, under existing circumstances, is the most useful tour he can make, and will occupy him till early in June.”
The Prince Consort that same autumn went specially to London in order to inspect the alterations that were being made at Marlborough House, which was then being actively prepared as a residence for the Prince of Wales; and on the 9th Queen Victoria wrote in her diary: “This is our dear Bertie’s twentieth birthday. I pray God to assist our efforts to make him turn out well.… All our people in and out of the house came in to dinner. Bertie led me in by Albert’s wish, and I sat between him and Albert.”
Prince Albert paid a hurried visit on 28th November to Cambridge in order to visit the Prince of Wales. The weather was cold and stormy, and he returned to Windsor with a heavy cold.
The next few days were spent by both the Prince Consort and Queen Victoria in considerable anxiety. The seizure of the Trent aroused a great deal of bitter public feeling, and the fact that America was convulsed by civil war did not make the position of Great Britain more easy. The Government adopted a very resolute attitude, and the Prince Consort, instead of allowing himself to be nursed through his feverish attack, spent some hours in composing and writing a draft, on the burning question of the day, to Lord Russell.
The story of those sad days is well known. As time went on, Prince Albert grew slightly worse rather than better, but no real danger was apprehended by those nearest and dearest to him, and Queen Victoria would not hear of having the Prince of Wales summoned, until at last Princess Alice, who behaved with extraordinary fortitude and marvellous self-possession, felt that she must send for her eldest brother on her own responsibility. She accordingly did so, and King Edward was always, up to the day of her death, very grateful to her for her prompt action, because it enabled him to arrive in time to be present at his much-loved father’s death-bed. Although she was herself overwhelmed with bitter grief, it was to the Princess Alice that all turned, for Queen Victoria was so completely overcome that nothing could be referred to her, and it was finally arranged that the Prince of Wales and the Princesses Alice and Helena should accompany their mother to Osborne, where she had consented very reluctantly to go.
The Prince of Wales returned immediately, in order to complete the arrangements for the funeral, and to receive his uncle the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, his brother-in-law the Crown Prince of Prussia (afterwards the Emperor Frederick), and the other foreign mourners who were to take part in the last sad ceremony.
The funeral took place on 23rd December, the service being held in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. The chief mourner was, of course, the Prince of Wales, who was supported, in the absence of Prince Alfred (Duke of Edinburgh), by Prince Arthur. All those present were deeply moved by the grief of the two young princes. They both hid their faces, and after the coffin had been lowered into the vault the Prince of Wales advanced to take a last look and stood for one moment looking down; then, his fortitude deserting him, he burst into a flood of tears, and was led away by the Lord Chamberlain.
Sad indeed were the days that followed. The effect of the Prince Consort’s death on King Edward’s affectionate and sensitive nature was terrible, and those about the Court felt that something must be done to rouse him from his grief.
From a Photograph by the Stereoscopic Co.
As we have already seen, the Prince Consort, not long before his death, had assented to his eldest son’s proposal of making a tour in the Holy Land, and it had also been his earnest wish that His Royal Highness should on that occasion be accompanied by the Rev. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, who had himself already taken a journey to Jerusalem. And so, when the tour was decided upon as a means of rousing the Prince of Wales from his stupor of grief, Queen Victoria made up her mind that she would be guided by her late Consort’s wishes, and General Bruce was commanded to write to Dr. Stanley, but not till he reached Osborne was he actually asked whether he would consent to undertake the responsibility.
The King’s Reception by Said Pacha, Viceroy of Egypt, at Cairo
From the “Illustrated London News”
Dr. Stanley, though he regarded the proposal with reluctance and misgiving, for he could not bear to leave his aged mother, to whom he was most tenderly devoted, consented to do as Her Majesty wished. It was ultimately arranged that he should meet the Prince at Alexandria, ascend the Nile with him, and accompany him, not only through the Holy Land, but on the Egyptian portion of the expedition.
On 28th February King Edward, accompanied by General Bruce, Major Teesdale, Captain Keppel, and a small suite, was joined by Dr. Stanley, the party at once proceeding to Cairo. “The Prince,” wrote General Bruce to his sister, “takes great delight in the new world on which he has entered, and Dr. Stanley is a great acquisition.” They visited the Pyramids together, and then resumed their voyage, the Prince characteristically persuading Dr. Stanley to read East Lynne, a book which had greatly struck his imagination. When recording the circumstance, Dr. Stanley adds:—
“It is impossible not to like him, and to be constantly with him brings out his astonishing memory of names and persons.… I am more and more struck by the amiable and endearing qualities of the Prince.… His Royal Highness had himself laid down a rule that there was to be no shooting to-day (Sunday), and though he was sorely tempted, as we passed flocks of cranes and geese seated on the bank in the most inviting crowds, he rigidly conformed to it; a crocodile was allowed to be a legitimate exception, but none appeared. He sat alone on the deck with me, talking in the frankest manner, for an hour in the afternoon, and made the most reasonable and proper remarks on the due observance of Sunday in England.”
A sad event which occurred in March was destined to draw closer together the ties which were now binding His Royal Highness and his chaplain, for on 23rd March the news was broken to Dr. Stanley that his mother was dead. The Prince of Wales showed the kindest and most tender consideration for his bereaved travelling companion, and was much gratified that Dr. Stanley very wisely made up his mind to continue the journey instead of hurrying home at once.
A few days later the Royal party reached Palestine, and it is interesting to note that this was the first time that the heir to the English throne, since the days of Edward I. and Eleanor, had visited the Holy City. King Edward landed at Jaffa on 31st March, and both on his entrance into the Holy Land and during his approach to Jerusalem he followed in the footsteps of Richard Cœur de Lion and Edward I. The cavalcade, escorted by a troop of Turkish cavalry, climbed the Pass of Bethhoron, catching their first glimpse of Jerusalem from the spot where Richard is recorded to have hidden his face in his shield, with the words, “Ah, Lord God, if I am not thought worthy to win back the Holy Sepulchre, I am not worthy to see it!”
The King, accompanied by Dr. Stanley, carefully explored Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, riding over the hills of Judæa to Bethlehem, walking through the famous groves of Jericho, and staying some time at Bethany.
“Late in the afternoon,” writes Dr. Stanley, “we reached Bethany. I then took my place close beside the Prince. Every one else fell back by design or accident, and at the head of the cavalcade we moved on towards the famous view. This was the one half-hour which, throughout the journey, I had determined to have alone with the Prince, and I succeeded.”
During Dr. Stanley’s previous journey to the Holy Land he had not been permitted to visit the closely-guarded cave of Machpelah, but on this occasion, thanks to the diplomacy of General Bruce, not only the King, but also his chaplain, were allowed to set foot within the sacred precincts. Even to Royal personages the Mosque of Hebron had remained absolutely barred for nearly seven hundred years, and on the present occasion the Turkish official in charge declared that “for no one but for the eldest son of the Queen of England would he have allowed the gate to be opened; indeed, the Princes of any other nation should have passed over his body before doing so.”
King Edward, with his usual thoughtfulness, had made Dr. Stanley’s entrance with himself a condition of his going in at all, and when the latter went up to the King to thank him and to say that but for him he would never have had this great opportunity, the young man answered with touching and almost reproachful simplicity, “High station, you see, sir, has, after all, some merits, some advantages.” “Yes, sir,” replied Dr. Stanley, “and I hope that you will always make as good a use of it.”
On the party’s return to Jerusalem, they witnessed the Samaritan Passover, and Easter Sunday, 20th April, was spent by the shores of Lake Tiberias.
During the journey from Tiberias to Damascus King Edward and his escort lived in tents, an experience which he seems to have thoroughly enjoyed. From Damascus the party turned westward, reaching Beyrout on 6th May, and after visiting Tyre and Sidon they proceeded to Tripoli. On 13th May the King left the shores of Syria, visiting on his homeward journey Patmos, Ephesus, Smyrna, Constantinople, Athens, and Malta.
The King about the Time of his Marriage
From Photographs by Hughes and Mullins, Ryde
It was very characteristic of King Edward’s readiness to take any trouble to please those dear to him that wherever he went he collected a number of flowers or leaves from every famous spot. These, after having been carefully dried by him, were sent to his sister, the Princess Royal, afterwards the Empress Frederick, who had a particular taste for such memorials.
It was very soon after his return from the East that the King played for the first time an important part in a family gathering—the wedding of his favourite sister, Princess Alice, to Prince Louis of Hesse. The bride was given away by her uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but the young Prince of Wales acted as master of the house during the quiet week which preceded the ceremony.
As is very generally known, the marriage of King Edward to Princess Alexandra of Denmark was brought about in quite a romantic fashion. It is said that long before His Majesty saw his future wife he was very much attracted by a glimpse of her photograph, shown him by one of his friends.
A more authoritative story of a photograph is told in the memoir of the late Duchess of Teck. The meeting at Heidelberg in September 1861, already referred to, took place when the Danish Princess and her father were on their way to join one of those famous family gatherings at Rumpenheim, and the Duchess of Teck’s biographer writes:—
“As soon as the Princess arrived at the Hessian Palace, her cousins were most anxious to hear all about the meeting, and much excitement followed when Princess Alexandra, producing a photograph from her pocket, laughingly exclaimed, ‘I have got him here!’”
It is certain that though many Princesses had been spoken of in connection with the Prince, and at one time negotiations were actually impending with a view to his engagement to the daughter of a German Royal House, all such schemes were instantly abandoned after he had seen the beautiful Danish Princess.
Another meeting is said to have taken place in the Cathedral of Worms during this eventful tour in 1861. The Prince, accompanied by his tutor and equerry, had gone to examine the frescoes, and when wandering through the beautiful old Cathedral they met Prince Christian of Denmark and his daughter intent on the same object.
Later, after the Prince Consort’s death, during a short visit which he paid to his cousin, the King of the Belgians, the Heir-Apparent again met Princess Alexandra, and it is said that King Leopold had a considerable share in arranging the preliminaries of the marriage, for it was while the Prince and Princess were both staying at Laeken that Queen Victoria’s formal consent to her son’s making a Danish alliance was granted.
The formal betrothal took place on 9th September 1862, but even then what had occurred was only known to a comparatively small circle of friends and relations, for it was not till the eve of His Royal Highness’s coming of age that his engagement was formally announced in the London Gazette, and so made known to the whole British Empire.
The announcement roused the greatest enthusiasm, for deep as had been the public sympathy with Her Majesty, a widowed Court could not but cast a very real gloom, not only over society, but over all those directly and indirectly interested in the sumptuary trades and the wide distribution of wealth. It was universally felt that the marriage of the Heir-Apparent would inaugurate a new era of prosperity, and scarce a dissenting voice was raised to oppose the Grant voted by the House of Commons for the Royal couple.
On the proposal of Lord Palmerston, it was decided that the Prince of Wales should receive from the country an income of £40,000 a year, with an added £10,000 a year to be specially set apart for the Princess. And so it came to pass that the Heir-Apparent and his bride began housekeeping with an income of somewhat over £100,000 a year, for, owing to the Prince Consort’s foresight and good sense, out of the savings made during his son’s long minority, Sandringham, of which the initial cost was £220,000, had been purchased.
Unlike most Royal engagements, that of the Prince and Princess of Wales lasted nearly six months, but active preparations for the wedding did not begin till the official announcement had been made.
From a Photograph in the possession of the King of Denmark, taken on 1st December 1862
Although Princess Alexandra had visited England as a child in order to make the acquaintance of her great-aunt, the Duchess of Cambridge, it was at Laeken that she was presented to her future mother-in-law, Queen Victoria, who was then paying a visit incognito to King Leopold. Later on, the young Princess, accompanied by her father, paid Queen Victoria an informal visit at Osborne. She did not on this occasion come to London or take part in any public function, but rumours of her beauty and of her charm of manner had become rife, and as the wedding day, which had been fixed for 10th March, approached, the public interest and excitement were strung to the highest pitch. It was felt that Denmark’s loss was Britain’s gain, and Alfred Tennyson, the Poet Laureate, voiced most happily the universal feeling in his fine lines:
With what feelings the event was regarded among King Edward’s near relatives may be estimated from the following characteristically warm-hearted references in the diary of the late Duchess of Teck, whose mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, was the bride’s great-aunt:—
“Brighton, November 9.—The Prince of Wales—God bless him!—attains his majority (21) to-day. After luncheon we watched anxiously for the expected and longed-for arrival of dear Christian, who was on his way back to Copenhagen, having established Alix at Osborne. At half-past three we had the happiness of welcoming him, and for upwards of three hours sat talking over the Verlobung [betrothal] of Alix and Bertie. We had much to hear and discuss, and while fully sharing his happiness at the marriage we could enter into his feelings at leaving Alix thus for the first time. We dined at eight o’clock, a party of five, and toasted our dear Prince in champagne.
“Cambridge Cottage, November 21.—… We reached Windsor Castle about twelve, and were shown into our old Lancaster Tower rooms, where we were presently joined by darling Alix,—too overjoyed at the meeting to speak!—dear Alice and Louis; after a while Alix took me to her room.… I then returned to the others, and we went with Alice to see her rooms in the Devil’s Tower, where Louis was being sketched; here the poor dear Queen joined us and remained with us for some time. We lunched without Her Majesty, and Beatrice came in afterwards.… Went into Alix’s room again and played to her en souvenir de Rumpenheim, afterwards accompanying her into all the state-rooms, Mama, Alice, Louis, and Helena being also of the party. On our return Mama and I were summoned to the Queen’s Closet, and had a nice little talk with her, ending with tea. We were hurried off shortly before five, Alix, Alice, and the others rushing after us to bid us good-bye.”
The King on Coming of Age
From an Engraving published by Henry Graves and Co.
Even the humblest of His Majesty’s subjects usually finds a good deal to do in the weeks that precede his marriage, and it will be easily understood that the high station of the future King rather augmented than diminished these engrossing occupations. He had to receive and suitably acknowledge countless addresses of congratulation from individuals, corporations, and other public bodies; he had to superintend the extensive alterations which were still being carried out at Marlborough House; he had to pass in review the innumerable details of the various elaborate functions which were to mark the occasion of his marriage; and last but not least it was considered desirable that he should now go through the somewhat trying ceremony of taking his seat in the House of Lords.
Nearly three-quarters of a century had elapsed since the Heir-Apparent to the British Crown had taken the oath and his seat as a Peer of the Realm. It was on 5th February 1863, within a few weeks of his marriage, that King Edward went through this historic ceremony, and it is a curious fact that the business before the House of Lords on that occasion was an Address from the Crown to the British Parliament announcing the Prince’s approaching marriage. It is also noteworthy that soon after the ceremony the two chief dignitaries of the English Church, the new Archbishops of Canterbury and York, also took the oaths and their seats upon the Episcopal benches of the House.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary and a brilliant array of Peeresses and ladies from the various foreign Embassies and Legations were present at the ceremony, which was invested with a great deal of pomp and solemnity. After prayers had been read by the Bishop of Worcester, a procession emerged from the Prince’s Chamber, and advanced slowly up the floor of the House. First came the Usher of the Black Rod, followed immediately by the Garter King of Arms, attired in his robes. Then came the Prince of Wales, preceded by an equerry, bearing his coronet on an embroidered crimson cushion. His Royal Highness was also accompanied by the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Argyll, the Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain, and Lord Edward Howard, who represented the infant Duke of Norfolk, Hereditary Earl Marshal.
Queen Alexandra in 1863
From the Painting by Madame Jerichau, published by Henry Graves and Co.
The Prince wore the scarlet and ermine robes of a Duke over the uniform of a General. He also wore the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the Order of the Star of India. As he entered the House, the Peers rose in a body, the Lord Chancellor alone remaining seated and covered with his official hat. His Royal Highness then advanced to the Woolsack, and placed his patent of peerage and writ of summons in the hands of the Chancellor. The oaths were administered to him at the table by the Clerk of Parliament, the titles under which the Prince was sworn being those of Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Duke of Rothesay, and Lord of the Isles.
After the roll had been signed the procession moved on, and His Royal Highness, on reaching the right-hand side of the Throne, took his seat upon the Chair of State specially appropriated on State occasions to the Prince of Wales. While thus seated he placed on his head the cocked hat worn by general officers in full dress. The Prince and the other Peers finally left the House, retiring by the entrance at the right of the Throne in the same order as they had entered.
About an hour later His Royal Highness re-entered the House dressed in ordinary afternoon costume, and took his seat on one of the cross-benches, thereby formally dissociating himself from either political party. The Prince remained almost throughout the entire debate. When leaving he shook hands with the Earl of Derby and a number of other Peers whom he recognised.
As is well known, the only votes which King Edward has ever given in the House of Lords have been in favour of the Bill for legalising marriage with a deceased wife’s sister, but he is a constant visitor at the Houses of Parliament when anything of special interest is going on, and there is no doubt that he takes the keenest interest in the political questions of the day.
As regards the Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill, it is well known that the King and the Bench of Bishops hold opposite opinions, and there is a curious allusion to this in the Life of the late Archbishop Benson. The Archbishop went to a great garden party given by Queen Victoria in July 1896, and thus describes it in his diary:—
“The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace was of 4000 persons.… The Prince, after glancing my way several times, came up, holding out his hand as if diffidently, and saying, ‘Will you shake hands with me?’ I said, ‘Vicisti, sir.’ He said, ‘What?’ But on my saying again, ‘Vicisti,’ he laughed very heartily in his own way.” It should be explained that the Prince and the Duke of York had just voted in the House of Lords in favour of the Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill, the third reading of which was passed.
From a Photograph by Mayall in 1863
The Danish people were extremely pleased at the marriage their Princess was making, and so determined were they that she should not go dowerless, that 100,000 kroner, known as “the People’s Dowry,” were presented to her, and countless presents, many of them of the humblest description, poured in upon her from all over the sea-girt kingdom. By the Princess’s own wish, 3000 thalers were distributed among six Danish brides belonging to the poorer classes during the year of Her Royal Highness’s marriage. The fact became known, and naturally greatly added to Her Royal Highness’s popularity, and from the day she left Copenhagen to that on which she landed on British soil, the journey of Prince Christian and his family, for Princess Alexandra was accompanied by her father and mother, and brothers and sisters, was nothing short of a triumphal progress.
The Royal cortège left Denmark on 26th February, reaching Cologne on 2nd March. There the Prince of Wales’s fiancée received the first greetings of her future husband’s people, the British residents. The whole party were also royally entertained at Brussels by the Count of Flanders; and at Flushing they found a squadron of British men-of-war to escort the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert.
On the morning of 7th March the Danish Royal Family first saw the white cliffs of Old England, and at twenty minutes past eleven, the Royal yacht, which had steamed slowly up the river amid craft splendidly decorated with flags and flowers, anchored opposite the pier at Gravesend. A moment later the Prince of Wales, accompanied by a numerous suite, and attired in a blue frock-coat and gray trousers, stepped on board. As His Royal Highness reached the deck Princess Alexandra advanced to the door of the State cabin to meet him, and, to the great delight of the assembled crowds ashore and afloat, the Prince, walking quickly towards his bride, took her by the hand and kissed her most affectionately.
Then followed the procession through London; every street, from the humblest portions of the East End to the great West End thoroughfares, was lavishly decorated, and the Prince and Princess accepted addresses presented by the Corporation and many other London public bodies.
The Princess of Wales gave some special sittings for a medal which was struck to commemorate her public entry into the City of London, and it remains one of the finest examples of Wyon’s art. The reverse represents the Princess Alexandra, led by the Prince of Wales, and attended by Hymen, being welcomed by the City of London, who is accompanied by Peace and Plenty, the latter carrying the diamond necklace and earrings which the City offered to the Princess as a wedding present. In the background is the triumphal arch erected by the Corporation at London Bridge, where Her Royal Highness first entered the City precincts. The medals were struck only in bronze, and were presented to Queen Victoria, King Edward, and Queen Alexandra, all the members of the Royal family, the Royal and distinguished guests who were asked to the wedding, and the members of the Corporation of the City of London.
The poor young Princess must have been glad when that long day came to an end, for the Royal train from Paddington to Windsor did not start till a quarter past five, and thus from early morning till late in the afternoon the future Queen had been compelled to remain the cynosure of all eyes. It is an interesting fact that the engine which took the Princess to Windsor was driven by the Earl of Caithness, then the best known amateur locomotive engineer of the day.
As may easily be imagined, the Royal borough was determined not to be outdone by London in the matter of a bridal welcome. The Eton boys presented an address signed by the whole 800; and then came the arrival at the Castle, where Queen Victoria, surrounded by all her children and a large number of Royal visitors, received her future daughter-in-law. Then followed two days of almost complete rest for the Princess.
King Edward, in addition to the multifarious duties which beset even humble individuals when they are about to enter the holy estate, was also compelled to hold his first levée within a few days of his wedding. Over a thousand gentlemen had the honour of being presented to him, the presentations, by Queen Victoria’s pleasure, being considered as equal to presentations to Her Majesty. The levée, which was held in St. James’s Palace, was also attended by about seventeen hundred of the nobility and gentry, all anxious to do honour to the Heir-Apparent, who was, it need hardly be added, attended by a brilliant Court.
The Prince and the British Royal Family had not been idle during the period of the engagement. His Royal Highness himself ordered and examined the designs for all the gifts about to be presented by him to his bride, and to her family whom he specially wished to honour. His first present to her, the engagement ring, has since served as keeper for the Princess’s wedding ring. It is a very beautiful example of the jeweller’s art, being set with six precious stones—a beryl, an emerald, a ruby, a turquoise, a jacinth, and a second emerald, the initials of the six gems spelling the Prince’s family name, “Bertie.” His Royal Highness’s gifts also included a complete set of diamonds and pearls, comprising diadem, necklace, stomacher, and bracelet; also a very beautiful waist-clasp, formed of two large turquoises inlaid with Arabic characters, and mounted in gold.
Queen Victoria presented her daughter-in-law with a set of opals and diamonds exactly similar in form to that designed for Princess Alice by the Prince Consort. Her Majesty also gave the Prince a centre-piece, which was presented to him in the name of the Prince Consort and of herself. This fine piece of work had been designed by the Prince Consort as a gift to his son. It has a group at the base showing Edward I. presenting his heir to the Welsh chieftains, and round the base are portraits of six Princes of Wales. Queen Victoria, whose thoughtful care was shown in this as in many other matters, gave the Prince and his bride a great deal of valuable plate as well.
The London jewellers had certainly cause for rejoicing over the Royal marriage, for the Prince, not content with presenting his bride-elect with a number of other very costly gifts, also showered gems on all his own and her relations. Neither were his friends forgotten. He ordered twenty breast-pins, heart-shaped, encircled by brilliants, with the initials of himself and the Princess traced in rubies, diamonds, and emeralds occupying the centre of each heart. These were distributed to his brothers and to a number of his intimates. To his future mother-in-law, Princess Christian of Denmark, the Prince gave a beautiful bracelet, containing a miniature of himself; also a diamond, ruby, and emerald brooch, inscribed with the date of the marriage, and containing miniature portraits of himself and the Princess. An exactly similar jewel was presented by Princess Alexandra to the Queen.
The Marriage of the King and Queen
From a Painting by W. P. Frith, R.A. published by Henry Graves and Co.
In order efficiently to conduct the Royal wedding in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor, it became necessary to build proper apartments for the accommodation of the bride and bridegroom on their arrival, and for the Lord Chamberlain to marshal the processions without any danger of a hitch. With this object the Board of Works built an immense Gothic hall, opening out of the west door of the Chapel, and surrounded by apartments appropriated to the use of the Royal Family. Facing the Chapel, the two rooms upon the right were assigned to the bridegroom, and those on the left to the bride.
The marriage of King Edward and Queen Alexandra was the first Royal marriage which had been celebrated in St. George’s Chapel since that of Henry I. in 1122. The day was kept as a public holiday throughout the country, and the attention of the whole kingdom was concentrated on Windsor. The ceremony took place on 10th March 1863, at 12 o’clock. The total number of persons admitted to the Chapel did not exceed 900 ladies and gentlemen, exclusive of the Guards and of the attendants on duty.
The scene will never be forgotten by those who had the privilege of being present. It was an extraordinarily magnificent pageant, heralds and trumpeters in coats of cloth of gold adding greatly to the brilliancy and pomp.
Queen Victoria surveyed the scene from the Royal closet, which, placed on the north side of the Communion Table, is really a small room in the body of the Castle with a window opening into the Chapel. Her Majesty was clad in deep black, even to her gloves, and she wore a close-fitting widow’s cap, but in deference to the occasion she had consented to put on the broad blue riband of the Order of the Garter with the glittering star, and this was specially noticed by the few persons who, from the body of the Chapel, caught a glimpse of their beloved Sovereign.
The bridegroom, as in duty bound, arrived some time before the bride. He was supported by his uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his brother-in-law, the Crown Prince of Prussia, and wore the uniform of a British General, the Collar of the Garter, the Order of the Star of India, and the rich flowing purple velvet mantle of a Knight of the Garter. His supporters also wore the robes of the Garter, and the three were naturally the centre of interest till the arrival of the bride, who came in upon the stroke of half-past twelve.
A Contemporary Design for the Royal Wedding
Princess Alexandra, who was given away by her father, wore, according to the notions of that day, a very beautiful and splendid wedding dress. It consisted of a white satin skirt, trimmed with garlands of orange blossom and puffings of tulle and Honiton lace, the bodice being draped with the same lace, while the train of silver moire antique was covered with nosegays of orange blossom and puffings of tulle. In addition to the necklace, earrings, and brooch presented to Her Royal Highness by the bridegroom, she wore the rivière of diamonds given by the Corporation of London, and three bracelets, presented to her respectively by Queen Victoria, the ladies of Leeds, and the ladies of Manchester. On her beautiful hair, which was very simply dressed, lay a wreath of orange blossoms covered by a veil of Honiton lace.
The bridal bouquet was composed of orange blossoms, white rosebuds, orchids, and sprigs of myrtle, the latter being taken from the same bush as that from which the myrtle used in the Princess Royal’s bridal bouquet was cut.
As the Princess moved slowly up the Chapel her train was carried by eight bridesmaids, Lady Victoria Scott, Lady Victoria Howard, Lady Agneta Yorke, Lady Feodora Wellesley, Lady Diana Beauclerk, Lady Georgina Hamilton, Lady Alma Bruce, and Lady Helena Hare. They each wore dresses of white tulle over white glacé silk, trimmed with blush roses, shamrocks, and white heather, with wreaths to correspond, and each also wore a locket presented to her by the Prince of Wales, composed of coral and diamonds, signifying the red and white which are the colours of Denmark, while in the centre of each was a crystal cipher forming the letters “A. E. A.” twined together in a monogram designed by Princess Alice.
It is an interesting fact that all these ladies are still living, or were until quite lately, and many of them became Queen Alexandra’s personal friends. Even now Her Majesty occasionally wears the splendid diamond and enamelled bracelet, made in eight compartments, each containing a miniature of one of the Royal bridesmaids, which was their gift to her on the occasion of the marriage.
The ceremony itself did not last very long. The Prince is recorded to have answered his “I will” right manfully, but the Princess’s answers were almost inaudible. As soon as the Prince of Wales and the Princess Alexandra were man and wife, they turned to the congregation hand in hand, bowing low to the Queen, who, in returning the salutation, made a gesture of blessing rather than of ceremonious acknowledgment.
The late Bishop Wilberforce thus describes the scene in the Chapel:—
“The wedding was certainly the most moving sight I ever saw. The Queen, above all, looking down, added such a wonderful chord of feeling to all the lighter notes of joyfulness and show. Every one behaved quite at their best. The Princess of Wales, calm, feeling, self-possessed; the Prince with more depth of manner than ever before.”
Dr. Norman Macleod wrote:—
“I returned home and went back to the marriage on the 10th of March.… I got behind Kingsley, Stanley, Birch, and in a famous place, being in front of the Royal pair. We saw better than any except the clergy. It was a gorgeous sight, yet somehow did not excite me. I suppose I am past this.
“Two things struck me much. One was the whole of the Royal Princesses weeping, though concealing their tears with their bouquets, as they saw their brother, who was to them but their ‘Bertie,’ and their dead father’s son, standing alone waiting for his bride. The other was the Queen’s expression as she raised her eyes to Heaven, while her husband’s Chorale was sung. She seemed to be with him alone before the throne of God.”
Mr. W. P. Frith, who had been commissioned to execute a painting of the Royal marriage for Queen Victoria, was accommodated with a special corner for himself and his sketch-book, and later, all those who had taken part in the historic pageant sat to him for portraits with the most excellent result.
On their return to the Castle a few moments later the bride and bridegroom were met by Queen Victoria and conducted to the Green Drawing-Room, where the formal attestation of the marriage took place.
On the Wedding Day
From a Photograph by Mayall
It may be added that among those present at the marriage and afterwards at the wedding breakfast were the Rev. H. M. Birch and the Rev. C. F. Tarver, the Prince’s tutors, and when lunch was over these gentlemen were informed that their old pupil sent them a souvenir of himself, of which he desired their acceptance. This souvenir proved to be in each case a copy of the Holy Scriptures, handsomely bound, and containing an inscription in His Royal Highness’s own handwriting.
Queen Alexandra at the time of her Marriage
From a Photograph by Hughes and Mullins
The wedding breakfast, which was served in St. George’s Hall, was very sumptuous, but out of respect to the Queen’s recent bereavement there were not many speeches—a circumstance which probably did not greatly disappoint either the bride or the bridegroom. While the marriage was actually in progress the King of Denmark was entertaining both the rich and poor in his kingdom right royally, and it must have been a pleasant thought for the Princess to know that her marriage was filling with gladness innumerable multitudes both of her own people and of her husband’s future subjects.
At four o’clock the Prince and Princess took their departure for Osborne, where a very short honeymoon was spent. On their return home, which in this case meant Windsor, it was noticed that the lovely bride looked the very picture of happiness. The streets of Windsor were decorated with flags, and the Royal borough looked as gay as it did on the wedding day.
After the marriage the Liturgy of the Church of England was officially altered by the introduction of the name of the Princess of Wales into the Prayer for the Royal Family. The Scottish Church was also officially instructed to pray for “Her Most Sacred Majesty Queen Victoria, Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family.”
At the outset of their married life King Edward and Queen Alexandra were called upon to perform the public duties of the Sovereign, which, since the Prince Consort’s death, had in some measure necessarily developed upon the Duke of Cambridge and his family. The late Duchess of Teck’s biographer records that Society did its utmost to give the beautiful young bride a right royal welcome. A memorable event of the London season was the Guards’ ball in honour of the Prince and Princess of Wales, held in the picture galleries of the International Exhibition. The decorations were unusually magnificent, and Queen Victoria graciously lent some splendid plate from Buckingham Palace. Many members of the aristocracy, too, placed at the disposal of the Duke of Cambridge, as head of the Committee, their collections of gold and silver plate, the contributions being valued at £2,000,000. The guests, limited in number to 1400, began to arrive at nine o’clock, and soon after ten the ball was opened by a royal quadrille, in which eight couples took part, the Duke of Cambridge dancing with the Princess of Wales, and the Prince of Wales with Princess Mary (afterwards Duchess of Teck). The Prince and Princess of Wales showed their appreciation of the entertainment which their soldier hosts had provided by remaining almost till dawn.
One of the first public appearances made by King Edward after his marriage was at the Royal Academy dinner, where he made an excellent short speech, greatly impressing those who were present by his modesty and good sense. Sir Charles Eastlake was then President of the Royal Academy, and Lady Eastlake gives this amusing account of the affair in her reminiscences:—
“All went perfectly well at the Royal Academy dinner. My husband was quite enchanted with the Prince of Wales, and with his natural manners and simplicity. The Prince hesitated in the middle of his speech, so that everybody thought it was all up with him; but he persisted in thinking till he recovered the thread, and then went on well. The very manner in which he did this was natural and graceful. He was so moved when mentioning his father that it was feared he would break down. After the speech the Prince turned to my husband and told him he was quite provoked with himself. ‘I knew it quite by heart in the morning’; but he evidently had no vanity, for he laughed at his own ‘stupidity,’ and immediately recovered his spirits. ‘Hesse’ was next the Prince, who chaffed him from time to time, and told him he would have to sing a song.”
William Makepeace Thackeray was among the other speakers at the Academy dinner, which was very shortly before the famous novelist’s lamented death. At the anniversary of the Royal Literary Fund some months later King Edward made some graceful and appropriate allusions to the great writer whom the Empire had lost. He spoke with evident feeling of the fact that Thackeray had been the life of the Fund, always ready to open his purse for the relief of literary men struggling with pecuniary difficulties.
This spring was a very busy time for both King Edward and Queen Alexandra. On 8th June they were sumptuously entertained by the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall, when the Prince took up the freedom of the City, to which he was entitled by patrimony. The entertainments included a great ball, which the Princess opened, dancing a quadrille with the Lord Mayor, while the Prince had the Lady Mayoress for his partner.
A week later the Royal couple attended “Commem.” at Oxford. They received a splendid welcome both from the University authorities and the undergraduates. The honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law was conferred on King Edward in the Sheldonian Theatre, where the wildest uproar prevailed, till amid a sudden lull of perfect silence Queen Alexandra entered with Dr. Liddell, the then Dean of Christ Church. Scarcely had she traversed half the distance to her seat when a cheer loud and deep arose, and seemed to shake the theatre to its foundation, to the evident gratification of her Royal husband.
After the ceremony was over their Royal Highnesses escaped from all their friends and entertainers and took the opportunity of going over what had been the Prince’s rooms as an undergraduate. That same evening a ball was given in the Prince’s honour in the Corn Exchange by the Apollo Lodge of Freemasons.
Shortly after their visit to Oxford the Prince and Princess celebrated their house-warming at Marlborough House by an evening party and a ball. During the summer months they spent some time at Sandringham in the original house, which at that time stood in an isolated park, and which was afterwards pulled down and superseded by the present very much larger and more comfortable mansion. There can be no doubt that Queen Alexandra’s strong affection for her country home is based on the tender recollections of her early married life. It is a significant fact that when the new Sandringham House was built, she begged that her boudoir in the new mansion might be arranged so as to be an exact reproduction of her boudoir in the old house.
Among the very first visitors entertained at Sandringham by the Royal bride and bridegroom was Dr. Stanley, who spent Easter Sunday with them there.
Queen Alexandra in 1863
From the Painting by Lauchert, published by Colnaghi
“On the evening of Easter Eve,” he writes, “the Princess came to me in a corner of the drawing-room with her Prayer Book, and I went through the Communion Service with her, explaining the peculiarities and the likenesses and differences to and from the Danish Service. She was most simple and fascinating.… My visit to Sandringham gave me intense pleasure. I was there for three days. I read the whole Service, preached, then gave the first English Sacrament to this ‘angel in the Palace.’ I saw a great deal of her, and can truly say that she is as charming and beautiful a creature as ever passed through a fairy tale.”
Much satisfaction was felt by the nation when the interesting fact became known that Queen Victoria hoped to welcome the first of her British grandchildren in the month of March. One Friday evening, early in January, shortly after Queen Alexandra, who was staying, had been skating on Virginia Water, near Windsor, her eldest child appeared so unexpectedly that for a while the Royal baby had to be wrapped in cotton wool, for all the beautiful layette which was in course of preparation was at Marlborough House.
The rejoicings over the event, both in this country and in Denmark, were naturally very great, more especially when it became known that the Royal infant was none the worse for his early arrival. Among the two Royal families most immediately concerned the interest and excitement were intense. Princess Alice wrote to Queen Victoria on 9th January 1864, “I was aghast on receiving Bertie’s telegram this morning announcing the birth of their little son.” But this feeling of trepidation quickly gave place to one of relief when the bulletins announced the steady progress of both mother and babe, and soon the British public saw many charming photographs and portraits of Queen Alexandra in her new rôle of mother. At the time of the birth of the Duke of Clarence Queen Alexandra was not yet twenty, but, like Queen Victoria, she seems to have been wholly absorbed in her maternal duties, and at any moment she would joyfully give up attending a State function or ball in order to spend an hour in her nursery.
It need hardly be said that the first portion of the Prince and Princess’s married life was overshadowed by the war between Denmark and Prussia. The young Princess was naturally strongly patriotic in her sympathies. At breakfast one morning a foolish equerry read out a telegram which announced a success of the Austro-Prussian forces, whereupon Her Royal Highness burst into tears, and the Prince, it is said, thoroughly lost his temper for once, and rated his equerry as soundly as his ancestor, King Henry VIII., might have done. An amusing story went the round of the clubs about this time. It was said that a Royal visitor at Windsor asked Princess Beatrice what she would like for a present. The child stood in doubt, and begged the Princess of Wales to advise her. The result of a whispered conversation between the two was that the little Princess declared aloud that she would like to have Bismarck’s head on a charger!
In July 1864 the Prince laid the foundation-stone of the new West Wing of the London Hospital. He was accompanied by the Princess. This was one of the first occasions on which King Edward showed his great interest in hospital management. The fact that there was a separate ward for the Jews aroused his keen interest. In the same month King Edward and his Consort went to the Fourth of June at Eton, and also stayed at Goodwood for the races. In the middle of August they went to the Highlands, visiting Stirling Castle on the way. They spent some weeks at Abergeldie, entertaining a great deal. Dr. Norman Macleod stayed with them there. It was during this stay in Scotland that the Prince and Princess first became intimate with the family of their future son-in-law, and the Countess of Fife, his mother, gave a great picnic in their honour.
That autumn they went from Dundee to Denmark, being accompanied by their baby, now nearly a year old. This was King Edward’s first visit to his wife’s home. They received a most enthusiastic welcome, and were splendidly entertained. At Bernsdorf, where the Royal party spent several days, a number of shooting parties were organised in honour of the Prince, who, certainly for the first time in his life, was invited to shoot foxes. He bagged two, and some of the teeth of the animals were set as breast-pins for him.
From Elsinore the Prince and Princess went in their yacht to Stockholm in order to pay a visit to the King and Queen of Sweden. In Sweden also the Prince was invited to take part in several hunting expeditions. One odd bag resulted in ten foxes, six hares, and seventeen stags.
Queen Alexandra in 1864
From the Painting by Lauchert, published by Henry Graves and Co.
Queen Alexandra with the Baby Prince Albert Victor
Photograph in 1864 by Vernon Heath, published by McQueen
After sending Prince Albert Victor home with Countess de Grey, the Royal couple travelled back via Germany and Belgium, visiting on the way Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse at Darmstadt, and making a short stay at Brussels. Then they came home for the rest of the autumn to Sandringham, where Queen Alexandra spent her twentieth birthday.
The year 1865 proved an eventful one to both King Edward and his wife. King Edward paid his first State visit to Ireland, opening the International Exhibition of Dublin on 9th May, and a little less than a month later Prince George of Wales was born at Marlborough House.
Although there have at various times been more or less serious fires in Royal residences, Sandringham, for instance, having been almost destroyed by a conflagration within the last few years, the King has only once been really in a fire, and this was just a month after his second son’s birth. The fire began in the floor then styled the nursery floor, and after Queen Alexandra had been moved to another part of the house with her two children, King Edward set to work with the utmost energy to check the flames. It need hardly be said that very soon the whole of London seemed to be congregated in Pall Mall and St. James’s Park. At first it could not be made out where the fire was coming from, and the King helped to rip up the whole of the nursery floor before the mischief could be traced, and while doing so he nearly had a bad accident, for he fell some distance through the rafters.
At last, however, the fire was got under, and it was found that comparatively little harm had been done. Then for the first time it occurred to some one to ask if Marlborough House was insured. Strangely enough this very important precaution had not been taken. Now, however, both Marlborough House and Sandringham are insured to their full value.
King Edward from childhood has always shown the keenest interest in firemen and fires. During many years of his life he used to be informed whenever a really big blaze was signalled, and he has attended incognito most of the great London fires during the last thirty years.
King Edward, Queen Alexandra, and Prince Albert Victor
Photograph in 1864 by Vernon Heath, published by McQueen
About this time the King visited the gigantic steamship Great Eastern, off Sheerness, in order to see the Atlantic telegraph cable, which had just been completed. He was received by a number of prominent engineers, and while he was present the last section of the cable was being wound into the tanks on board the Great Eastern from the vessel alongside which had brought it from the works at Greenwich. A message was sent through one of the coils, the length of which was equivalent to the distance from Sheerness to Valentia. The signals transmitted, “God Save the Queen,” were received at the other end of the coil in the course of a few seconds, a fact which, commonplace as it may now seem, struck the onlookers in the year 1865 with amazement. The King visited every portion of the huge ship, and accepted specimen pieces of portions of the cable in various stages of manufacture.
In that same year, that is two years after her marriage, Queen Alexandra performed her first public act by opening the Cambridge School of Art. It was in 1865 also that the King attended his first public dinner as President of the Royal Literary Fund, and on this occasion he toasted the ladies in the following graceful words:—“In the presence of a society accustomed to cultivating with such success the flowers of literature, it would be unpardonable to forget the flowers of society.”
During that summer the Prince and Princess visited Cornwall, and went down the Botallack tin mine, near St. Just, the depth of which is about 200 fathoms. The bottom level of the mine extends horizontally about half a mile beneath the sea. A part of this mine then belonged to the Prince as Duke of Cornwall. During the same tour he visited Land’s End. The day was exceptionally clear and fine, and the Prince lingered for some time among the grim rocks which form the western-most point of England.
All this time Queen Victoria was living in the strictest retirement, and the great shadow of the Prince Consort’s death had thrown scarcely less gloom over the life of his eldest son. King Edward mourned deeply for his father, and it is significant that he never lost an opportunity of testifying in his public speeches to the high purpose and noble aims which had distinguished Prince Albert’s life. To the cost of the mausoleum at Frogmore the King contributed from his private purse no less a sum than £10,000. At the end of 1865 he sustained another severe blow in the death of Lord Palmerston, whom he had honoured with his special friendship, and whom he had been accustomed to consult in his private affairs.
Not till February 1866 did Queen Victoria consent to open Parliament again in person. She was accompanied by the Prince of Wales and two of her daughters, the Princess of Wales being accommodated with a seat on the Woolsack facing the Throne.
Queen Victoria with Prince Albert Victor
Photograph by Hughes and Mullins, Ryde
It was in this year, when the Austro-German war was going on, that King Edward established special telegraphic communication between Marlborough House and the seat of war. Like his lamented mother, he is a shrewd observer of foreign politics, and now that he is called upon to reign, he will be, as she was, the greatest help to the Foreign Minister of the day. He has since kept up in every important war the practice of securing the earliest possible telegraphic information, notably in the Franco-Prussian, the Russo-Turkish, and the Greco-Turkish wars, but most of all in the Boer war.
In the summer of 1866 the King laid the foundation-stone of the new building of the British and Foreign Bible Society, when he was received by the venerable Earl of Shaftesbury, President of the Society, the Lord Mayor, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Winchester.
In his speech the King recalled the fact that only sixty-three years previously Mr. Wilberforce had met with a few friends in a small room in a dingy counting-house and had established the Bible Society, while in the interval the Society had already spent six millions of money in the furtherance of its objects, and that it had contributed to the translation of the Bible into two hundred and eighty different languages and dialects. The King further said:—
“I have an hereditary claim to be here on this occasion. My grandfather, the Duke of Kent, warmly advocated the claims of the Society, and it is gratifying to me to reflect that the two modern versions of the Scriptures more widely circulated than any others—the German and English—were both in their origin connected with my family. The translation of Martin Luther was executed under the protection of the Elector of Saxony, the collateral ancestor of my lamented father; whilst that of William Tyndale—the foundation of the present Authorised English Version—was introduced with the sanction of the Royal predecessor of my mother, the Queen who first desired that ‘the Bible shall have free course through all Christendom, but especially in my own realm.’ It is my hope and trust that, under the Divine guidance, the wider diffusion and a deeper study of the Scriptures will, in this as in every age, be at once the surest guarantee of the progress and liberty of mind, and the means of multiplying in the present form the consolations of our holy religion.”
In the autumn following, King Edward and Queen Alexandra, accompanied by their two sons, visited the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Dunrobin. At that time the most northern point of railway communication was at Ardgay, and thence the King and Queen had to drive a distance of twenty-five miles before they could reach Dunrobin Castle. All along the route they received a most enthusiastic welcome. They arrived at night at the Castle, and were received in Royal Highland style. Among those asked to meet them were the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Saxe-Weimar, and many members of the leading Scotch nobility. The King reviewed the Sutherland Volunteers in the grounds of the Castle, and later, on the same day, the Duke of Sutherland announced that it was the wish of the King that the whole of the corps should adopt the kilt as their uniform, His Majesty having a preference for the national costume.
Shortly after their return from Scotland the King and Queen had the pleasure of entertaining the Queen of Denmark and her two younger children, and they spent some time at Sandringham with Queen Alexandra, while the King went to Russia in order to be present at the marriage of his sister-in-law, Princess Dagmar, to the then Cesarewitch. It was quite late in the year, and it was considered that the cold in St. Petersburg would be too severe for Queen Alexandra to accompany her husband. The King, who attended the Imperial marriage in his official capacity, was accompanied by a considerable suite, including Lord Frederick Paulet, Viscount Hamilton, the Marquis of Blandford, and Major Teesdale. On his arrival at St. Petersburg he was met at the railway terminus by the Emperor of Russia, the Cesarewitch, and the Grand Dukes; and he was given splendid quarters at the Hermitage Palace.
King Edward has always been known to have a great liking for Russia and the Russian people, and he is himself very popular in St. Petersburg. After the Imperial marriage he visited Moscow, being accompanied by the Crown Prince of Denmark. The Princes went over the Kremlin, and the King paid a call on the Metropolitan Archbishop, the highest dignitary of the Russian Church. The aged ecclesiastic received him in a perfectly plain cell. They conversed for a quarter of an hour, and as the King took his leave, the Metropolitan gave him his blessing, and with the assistance of his monks accompanied his Royal visitor to the door.
The year 1867 was, if not very eventful, an anxious one, for both before and after the birth of Princess Louise, now the Duchess of Fife, on 20th February, Queen Alexandra suffered from acute rheumatism and inflammation of a knee-joint. Her illness caused so much anxiety at the Danish Court that her father and mother came over and spent some time in London. King Edward was most devoted in his attentions to the invalid, and actually had his bureau moved into her sick-room in order that he might not be separated from her in her convalescence even by the imperious demands of his enormous correspondence. Happily Queen Alexandra grew quite strong again, but the serious nature of her illness may be judged from the fact that she was not able to drive out until 9th July. Naturally for the rest of that year the King and Queen lived very quietly and went about as little as possible.
Five years after their marriage the King and Queen paid a visit to Ireland, and their reception was marked by a very genuine demonstration of cordiality and even of enthusiasm. On arriving in Kingstown Harbour Queen Alexandra was presented, as Queen Victoria had been in 1849, with a white dove, emblematic of the affection and goodwill which she was supposed to be bringing to the distressful country. King Edward, with his usual tact, declared it to be his wish that no troops should be present in the streets of Dublin. Entire reliance was accordingly placed on the loyalty and hospitable spirit of the people, and, in spite of many doleful prognostications to the contrary, the Royal visit was successful from every point of view.
It has often been asserted that King Edward is fonder of the Emerald Isle than is any other member of his family; he certainly numbers several Irishmen among his closest friends. Although he thoroughly enjoyed his visit, this one week in 1868 was one of the most tiring ever spent by the King. Like his younger son, twenty-nine years later, the King was installed with great pomp as a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick, on which occasion he used the sword worn by King George IV. The King also unveiled with much ceremony a statue of Edmund Burke. The Times described the exertions entailed by the Royal visit in the following vivid passage:—
King Edward at the Age of Twenty-Three
From a Painting by Weigall, published by Henry Graves and Co.
“There were presentations and receptions, and receiving and answering addresses, processions, walking, riding and driving, in morning and evening, military, academic, and medieval attire. The Prince had to breakfast, lunch, dine, and sup, with more or less publicity, every twenty-four hours. He had to go twice to races, with fifty or a hundred thousand people about him; to review a small army and make a tour in the Wicklow mountains, of course everywhere receiving addresses under canopies and dining in State under galleries full of spectators. He visited and inspected institutions, colleges, universities, academies, libraries, and cattle shows. He had to take a very active part in assemblies of from several hundred to several thousand dancers, and always to select for his partners the most important personages.… He had to listen to many speeches sufficiently to know when and what to answer. He had to examine with respectful interest, pictures, books, antiquities, relics, manuscripts, specimens, bones, fossils, prize beasts, and works of Irish art. He had never to be unequal to the occasion, however different from the last, or however like the last, and whatever his disadvantage as to the novelty or dulness of the matter and the scene.”
Some amusing incidents happened. A loyal Irish girl, determined to have a good look at her future King and Queen, defied all rails and barriers, and, mounted on horseback, dashed through the crowd of sightseers and galloped past the Royal visitors, exclaiming, “Oh, thank you all, I have seen them and shall go home happy now.” King Edward, with a smile, raised his hat, which was certainly the most sensible thing he could have done in the circumstances.
The King has always shown great interest in Ireland and Irish matters, so much so that it has been more than once whispered that he is a Home Ruler. He gave his warm support and help to a fund for the relief of distress in Ireland, and more recently, during the annual Show of the Royal Agricultural Society, he took the opportunity to receive and entertain at Sandringham no fewer than three hundred and fifty Irish tenant-farmers.
On their way back from Dublin the Prince and Princess of Wales visited North Wales, and on landing at Holyhead they passed along the pier through a double line of aged Welshwomen, who were all wearing the tall hat and national dress of the Principality. At Carnarvon the Prince inaugurated some new waterworks, and after this ceremony the Royal party proceeded to the famous castle, where they were presented with an address from the Council of the National Eisteddfod. The Prince replied in a neat little speech, in which he observed that he and the Princess received the address with peculiar satisfaction on the anniversary of the birth, on 25th April 1284, and in the very birthplace, of the first Prince of Wales, “Edward of Carnarvon,” the son of Edward I.
King Edward’s fourth child, the Princess Victoria, was born on 6th July, and after a quiet summer spent at Sandringham the King and Queen, attended by a small suite, left Marlborough House in November for a long Continental tour, which extended over some months and enabled them to renew old ties and make new friendships. They spent a few days in Paris, and paid a visit to the Emperor and Empress of the French at Compiègne, where, during a stag hunt organised in honour of King Edward, an accident happened which might easily have cost him his life. As he was galloping along one of the grassy drives of the forest, a stag rushed from one of the cross-paths and knocked him and his horse completely over. Fortunately he was not hurt, though much bruised and shaken. Without alarming those about him, he again mounted and went on hunting to the end of the day. At this house-party the King and Queen had as fellow-guests Marshal Bazaine, Count von Moltke, and a number of other notable people destined to make history.
Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, and Princess Christian
Photograph by Hughes and Mullins, Ryde
Queen Alexandra about the Year 1865
From a Photograph by Hughes and Mullins
Queen Alexandra’s birthday, 1st December, was spent in Denmark. After a short stay there the travellers went to Berlin, where a large family party was assembled to meet them, and on 18th January, which is, curiously enough, one of the only two days of the year in which it can be held, a Chapter of the Order of the Black Eagle was convened, and King Edward was formally invested with the insignia of this, the highest Order in Germany, by the King of Prussia, to whom he was introduced by his brother-in-law, the Crown Prince, and by Prince Albert of Prussia.
Then followed an interesting sojourn in Vienna, where the Royal party were splendidly entertained by the Emperor and Empress of Austria, a suite of apartments in the Burg having been specially prepared for them.
These Continental visits, however, were all preliminary to a prolonged tour in Egypt and the Mediterranean, which must be described in a separate chapter.
Of this tour Queen Alexandra’s Bedchamber Woman, the Hon. Mrs. Grey, wrote a charming record, which her brother-in-law, General Grey, persuaded her to give to the world. It should be mentioned that Mrs. Grey was a Swedish lady, the daughter of Count Stedingk. Her first husband, the Hon. William George Grey, eighth son of the famous Earl Grey who was Prime Minister in the reign of William IV., had been dead some years before this tour began. She afterwards married en secondes noces the Duke of Otranto, but it will be more convenient to speak of her here as Mrs. Grey.
Mrs. Grey begins by giving an outline of her plans for the summer of 1868, and then goes on:—
“These plans were, however, all upset by a letter from the Princess, in which she told me that she wished me to accompany her on the tour she projected with the Prince of Wales to the East, and to join her at Copenhagen in the beginning of January; and that in the meantime I might remain quietly—which she knew would be a pleasure to me—with my father and mother in Sweden. This was too tempting an offer not to be eagerly embraced.”
Mrs. Grey went to Copenhagen, and there writes in her journal at the beginning of 1869 the following sketch of the tour:—
“January 12.—Soon after breakfast I went to see my dear Princess, and to hear something of the proposed plans. I found her, as usual, most kind and affectionate, but very sorry that the few weeks she had been able to spend with her father and mother had come to an end. Her visit seemed to have been a great happiness to her. It is now arranged that we shall set out for our long journey on the 15th, and that while I accompany Her Royal Highness as her lady-in-waiting, Lady Carmarthen and Colonel Keppel, who accompanied the Prince and Princess from England in November, shall part from us at Hamburg, and, with Sir W. Knollys, take the Royal children home. The plan is for us to pass by Berlin and Vienna, and embark on board the Ariadne frigate, fitted as a yacht, at Trieste; sail from thence to Alexandria; and, after going up the Nile as far as the Second Cataract, to visit Constantinople, the Crimea, and Greece, before returning home somewhere about the beginning of May. Such is the plan made out for us, but it is, of course, open to many changes, as the political state of things between Greece and Turkey at the present moment may, after all, very possibly upset the latter part of the journey; and in that case we shall return home through Italy.”
King Edward and Queen Alexandra were joined at Trieste by Prince Louis of Battenberg, the Duke of Sutherland, Dr. (afterwards Sir) W. H. Russell, and other friends, together with their suite. There the Royal party embarked on board H.M.S. Ariadne, which had been specially fitted up for their reception. Of the accommodation in this vessel Mrs. Grey gives an attractive account:—
“The Ariadne, in reality a man-of-war, but for this occasion fitted up as a yacht, is most comfortable. The Prince and Princess have two large sleeping cabins, besides a large cabin for a sitting-room, and another for a dining-room. I have a charming cabin also, with a bath-room outside, and my maid next door to me. In short, I think we were all much pleased with the accommodation and arrangement of what is to be our home, while at sea, for the next four months.”
The travellers reached Alexandria on 3rd February 1869, and were met by the usual loyal greetings, addresses, and bouquets presented by the British residents. The party then went on to Cairo, where they were received by the Viceroy of Egypt and his ministers. Here the King and Queen were assigned a palace, which Mrs. Grey thus describes:—
“The Palace of Esbekieh is beautiful, full of French luxury, but without the real comfort of an English house. The Prince and Princess have an immense bedroom, full of rich French furniture. The beds are very beautiful, made of massive silver, and cost, I believe, £3000 each! My room is so large that even when the candles are lit, there might be somebody sitting at the other end of it without your knowing it. You could not even hear people speaking from one end to the other! It is as high as it is long, with nine large windows. There is a beautiful silver bed, a large divan (rather high and hard for comfort) round half of the room, a common writing-table and washhand-stand (put in all the rooms at the request of Sir S. Baker), a large sofa, and quantities of very smart chairs round the walls. The curtains and covers of the furniture are all made of the richest silk. Add to all this, one immense looking-glass, and you have the whole furniture of my room, which is more like a State drawing-room at Windsor than a bedroom. All the other rooms are furnished in the same way.”
Queen Alexandra and Mrs. Grey had an absolutely novel experience on 5th February, namely an invitation to dinner at the Harem of “La Grande Princesse,” the Viceroy’s mother.
The Queen, her lady-in-waiting, and two English ladies were received at the door of the Palace by la Grande Princesse, the second and third wife of the Viceroy (the first and fourth were not well), his eldest son, and two eldest daughters. La Grande Princesse took Queen Alexandra by the hand, while one of the wives handed Mrs. Grey, another Mrs. Stanton (wife of the British Consul), and one of the daughters Miss M’Lean; and so the party went in procession to an immense drawing-room, the whole way thither being lined with slaves. No stay, however, was made in the drawing-room, and what followed reads like a page out of the Arabian Nights.
The visitors were conducted straight to the dining-room, after having a cherry given them to eat, handed to them on a beautiful gold tray, with goblets and plates of gold and precious stones. A slave then offered each visitor a silver basin to wash their hands in before sitting down to dinner. In the middle of the room there was a kind of round silver table, about one foot high from the floor, looking more like a big tray than anything else; large square cushions were placed all round it, and the company sat down à la Turque round the table, la Grande Princesse having Queen Alexandra on her right, next whom was Mehemet Taafik Pasha, then the third Princess and Mrs. Grey, with the second Princess next, on the left side of the Viceroy’s mother. Mrs. Stanton and Miss M’Lean, with the two daughters of the Viceroy, dined in another room.
A slave then entered very smartly dressed, half her skirt being of black satin and embroidered in gold, and the other half of yellow satin, also trimmed with gold, and with a sort of turban on her head. She had a beautifully embroidered napkin, with gold fringe, hanging on her arm, as a sort of badge of her office, which corresponded with that of a European maître-d’hôtel. She placed each dish in the middle of the table, beginning with soup—a sort of chicken broth with rice. Each visitor was given a sort of tortoiseshell spoon, with a large coral branch as a handle, but neither knife nor fork; and then, at a sign from the old Princess, everybody dipped their spoons into the tureen together. Next came an enormous piece of mutton, of which the company had to tear off bits with their fingers and put them straight into their mouths. About twenty dishes followed in rapid succession, alternately savoury and sweet, and the dinner ended with compôte of cherries. No wine or water was served during the meal, and Mrs. Grey confesses that she felt thoroughly disgusted.
Some very necessary washing of hands followed, and then there was an entertainment in the great drawing-room, given by musicians and dancing-girls, in the course of which a slave brought in a tray covered with black velvet cloth embroidered with pearls and uncut emeralds, and decorated with an enormous diamond star in the centre. This was lifted off, and then were revealed a number of cups encrusted with diamonds, and full of coffee. These were handed round, and a slave brought pipes and cigarette-holders, all lavishly ornamented with precious stones, each mouthpiece being formed of one large ruby or emerald.
After an interval the visitors were taken all through the upper rooms, a young prince who acted as interpreter being most anxious that Queen Alexandra should see everything. “La Princesse doit tout voir,” he kept saying. More music and dancing followed, and more coffee, until at four o’clock it seemed to be time to go, so Queen Alexandra rose, and the party were handed out to the door of the garden at which they had entered amid enthusiastic demonstrations of affection on the part of their hospitable entertainers.
There can be no doubt of the impression which the Queen’s graciousness and charm created. Mrs. Grey says:—
“They were all perfectly enchanted with the Princess, and about every ten or fifteen minutes une phrase de cérémonie was exchanged through the Prince [that is, the young Egyptian prince who acted as interpreter]. ‘La Grande Princesse est si contente de vous voir,’ or ‘La Grande Princesse regrette tant que cela soit contre l’usage du pays, de vous rendre cette visite’; and so on.… At last they all expressed a hope that the Princess would come and dine again on her return to Cairo.”
The same evening Queen Alexandra had the pleasure of visiting some beautiful Arab horses in the stables of Ali Sherif Pasha.
Before starting on their journey up the Nile the King and Queen took the opportunity of witnessing the curious and interesting Procession of the Holy Carpet starting from Cairo on its way to Mecca, which, strangely enough, few of the Europeans who at that time visited Cairo cared to see. Every year two carpets are sent, one of which goes to Medina to serve as a covering for the tomb of the Prophet, and the other to Mecca to be a covering for Kaabah or the central point of the Mahomedan religion. The King and Queen also witnessed the departure of the pilgrims for Mecca, or rather of that portion of the pilgrimage consisting of sheikhs and holy men, escorted by irregular cavalry and artillery, which left the city to join the other pilgrims encamped on the plain outside.
On 6th February the voyage up the Nile began. The party was a large one, and the number of vessels provided for them formed quite a little fleet, of which the following was the order of sailing:—
A large and very smartly fitted-up steamer, the Federabanee, Captain Achmet Bey, headed the squadron, and was occupied by Prince Louis of Battenberg (then a midshipman on board the Ariadne), Major Teesdale, Captain Ellis, equerries in waiting, Lord Carrington, Mr. O. Montagu, Dr. Minter, Sir Samuel Baker, and Mr. Brierley. On deck there was a large saloon, all fitted up with silk and looking-glasses and every description of luxury, and there meals were served. Outside this there was a small open saloon with a large looking-glass at the back, in which the scenery could be viewed in comfort.
The Federabanee towed a most beautiful dahabeah, or Nile boat, which was named the Alexandra, and in which the King and Queen and Mrs. Grey lived. It was all fitted up in blue and gold, with a great deal of taste, and the cabins were all large and most comfortable. Mrs. Grey mentions that the King and Queen had “a very nice sleeping cabin, with a bath-room and dressing-room apiece.” The Alexandra also contained a large sitting-room with a piano, and outside there was a place for sitting and reading, as well as the upper deck. The only inconvenience of this arrangement was that the travellers in the dahabeah had to go on board the Federabanee for every meal. This necessity was especially hard on Queen Alexandra, who resolved, however, to return to the dahabeah after breakfast as often as she could in order to have time for painting and reading; this, with the active co-operation of Mrs. Grey, she contrived to do on a good many days.
After the dahabeah came a kitchen steamer, carrying four French cooks and one Arab cook, and towing a barge full of provisions and live stock, such as turkeys, sheep, and chickens. Following this came another steamer, having on board Colonel Stanton, British Consul-General at Cairo, with two Egyptian gentlemen, Mourad Pasha and Abd El Kader Bey, and towing a barge containing horses, donkeys, and a French washerwoman. Nor was this all. In his anxiety to do everything possible for the comfort of the Royal party, the Viceroy had actually provided another steamer of lighter draft than the Federabanee, simply in case the latter vessel should get stuck in the mud.
The whole flotilla was completed by a steamer belonging to the Duke of Sutherland, the father of the present Duke, who brought with him a distinguished party, composed of his son, Lord Stafford, Colonel Marshall, Dr. Russell, Mr. Sumner, Professor Owen, Mr. Fowler, the distinguished engineer, Major Alison, the Duke’s brother Lord A. Gower, and Sir Henry Pelly.
The King looked forward to having plenty of sport during the voyage. Accordingly he had taken a large variety of guns of almost every calibre in use, as well as a wherry to be used for approaching land game. For the purpose of capturing crocodiles, nets were brought which had been specially made under the superintendence of Sir Samuel Baker. The King also specially arranged for the inclusion in his party of a clever naturalist and taxidermist.
Both the King and Queen greatly enjoyed this novel form of yachting, although, unfortunately, bad weather soon set in, and the Alexandra was frequently enveloped in clouds of dust and sand. Notwithstanding this, however, the King had fairly good sport and bagged some very large birds, though the crocodiles were, on the whole, conspicuous by their absence. Soon the Royal taxidermist could show some very fine specimens of spoonbills, flamingoes, herons, cranes, cormorants, and doves.
Mrs. Grey thus records an amusing adventure which happened on 9th February:—
“The fog was so thick this morning that we could not start till nine o’clock, the hour at which we are in future usually to begin our day’s voyage being between five and six in the morning; and then to go on, with occasional stoppages, till six in the evening. We now only went on for about an hour, as the Prince wanted to try and shoot some ducks from a small punt with a large gun, which had been lent to him for the trip. At eleven, the Princess and myself, with Prince Battenberg, Sir S. Baker, Mr. Brierley, and Dr. Minter, followed in another boat to look at the shooting. We saw perfect swarms of wild ducks, and hundreds of flamingoes and a few pelicans. However, the ducks took fright, and only a few flamingoes were shot. We determined to land, as soon as we saw that we could no longer spoil the sport; but the water being low, we stuck fast in the sand about thirty or forty yards from the shore. The four boatmen at once took off their jackets, shoes, and trousers; but luckily some undergarments (waistcoats and trousers in one) remained; and in they jumped, and dragged the boat a few yards, beyond which their utmost efforts were unable to move it. The alternative was now either to remain in the boat or to allow ourselves to be carried through the water. Of course we chose the latter. Sir S. Baker and Mr. Brierley carried the Princess, crossing their arms, on which she sat.”
Ultimately the whole party got off and reached Minieh. There the King joined a shooting party on the following day, while the Queen, Prince Louis of Battenberg, and some of the others visited the Viceroy’s palace, and afterwards saw the process of making sugar out of the sugar-canes. Queen Alexandra and Mrs. Grey were allowed to visit the wife of one of the directors of the sugar factory, whom Mrs. Grey describes as a very ugly woman, painted and bedizened. The room was full of her women friends, all as ugly and as lavishly dressed as she was. Queen Alexandra, however, was much pleased with the novelty of such a visit, for, though the hostess and her friends were very cheerful and talked and laughed, yet naturally everything that was said was quite unintelligible to their English visitors. The Queen afterwards sent some presents to the ladies in memory of the visit.
On the 11th the Queen and Mrs. Grey succeeded in staying for the whole day in the dahabeah, where they played and wrote and painted. The same thing happened on the afternoon of the 13th, the morning being occupied by an interesting lecture from Mr. Fowler on the Suez Canal.
During the voyage Queen Alexandra had one very serious adventure. One night the King, who was on board the steamer, observed a light reflected on the side of the Alexandra. He at once gave an alarm, the Queen and Mrs. Grey, who were in the dahabeah, were hurried off to the shore, and the fire, which had been caused by a lighted candle in Prince Louis of Battenberg’s cabin, was put out by the King and his suite. Had not the quick eye of the King discovered the danger a terrible disaster might have happened, for the boats were wooden and scorched by an Egyptian sun, while there were, of course, a considerable number of cartridges on board.
The 14th was Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, and Mrs. Grey records that King Edward read the service to the party and the servants very impressively. The party frequently landed to visit the temples and the other splendid ruins of ancient Egyptian civilisation. On one occasion the King caught a bat in the large tomb of Rameses IV.
The party started to see the Temple of Karnak by moonlight on the evening of the 18th. The King rode a milk-white ass caparisoned in crimson velvet and gold, while the Queen was mounted on a gray mule. When they approached the temple an electric light was lit between each enormous column, and in the background there was a display of rockets and fireworks, forming stars of different colours. This had been arranged by the King as a surprise for the Queen, though Mrs. Grey confesses that the secret had been accidentally revealed. However, she describes the whole scene as one of surprising beauty. She walked alone with the Queen amid the gigantic columns, until they were recalled to the prosaic luxury of the nineteenth century by being offered glasses of iced champagne.
The 20th was rendered memorable by a mishap; all the steamers stuck fast in the ground, with the result that everybody had to turn out, and all the luggage had to be removed in order to lighten the boats. The King and Queen and Mrs. Grey were entertained on board the Duke of Sutherland’s steamer at dinner, and by the next day the difficulty of the sand-banks had been surmounted, thanks to the smaller steamer which the Viceroy’s foresight had provided.
On the 21st the King again read Divine Service, and the party arrived at Assouan. Here they found a large number of camels ready to carry the baggage across from the First Cataract to Philæ, whither the party rode to see the boats in which they were to go on to the Second Cataract. On the 22nd the King started first in order to pay a visit to Lady Duff Gordon, who was living in her dahabeah a little above Assouan; while the Queen, the Duke of Sutherland, and Mrs. Grey followed in a boat to the foot of the First Cataract, where they were to meet the King. There seems to have been some hitch in the arrangements, but Queen Alexandra was not at all disconcerted, and was highly amused at having to ride a wretched donkey without a bridle, and with a cushion for a saddle, though Mrs. Grey, who was no better mounted, regarded the incident with less philosophy. After a time, however, they met their own donkeys, and ultimately joined the King’s party, who had been getting very anxious.
The Duke of Sutherland and his party left on the 23rd, while the Royal party continued their voyage in two new dahabeahs tied together, and towed by a small steamer. The accommodation was not nearly so good as it had been below Philæ. The Queen and Mrs. Grey landed frequently, and the latter notes that her Royal mistress found great pleasure in distributing the baksheesh for which the natives were continually asking, especially the little children. On one occasion the Queen and her lady-in-waiting found a donkey running about; they caught it, and the Queen mounted it and rode through the fields in the cleverest way without saddle or bridle.
Meanwhile the King was very anxious for crocodile, but he had very poor luck, though he had better sport with fishing. It was not, indeed, until the 28th that he had a fair shot at a crocodile, which he killed at fifty yards with his first barrel. The excitement was tremendous among the party, for, as is well known, the shyness of these beasts is so great that they are among the most difficult game to stalk in the world. This specimen was 9 feet long and 4 feet round the body; and it was at once skinned with a view to being stuffed. Inside the creature was found a quantity of pebbles, two bottles full of which were brought away as mementoes.
The King and Queen throughout the voyage took the greatest interest in the antiquities along the route, visiting all that were accessible. Mrs. Grey mentions how much Queen Alexandra enjoyed the extreme peacefulness of the life led by the party, for there was no post nor any papers, and, after the first inconvenience had worn off, the feeling that no means existed of either sending or receiving letters soon became perfectly delightful.
A touching incident occurred at Wady Halfa on 3rd March. The party were at dinner, when the King and Queen took a fancy to a little boy whom they saw watching the torches, which were always fixed in the ground on shore wherever the Royal dahabeah stopped for the night. On being questioned, the child said that his father was dead, his mother had married again, and he had not a friend in the world. He was delighted with the idea of going with the party, and so he was engaged as a pipe cleaner. The only property he had was a white linen shirt and a white cap. Mrs. Grey describes him as an intelligent ugly little boy, not very black, but rather bronzed, and wearing a large silver ring in one ear.
Whenever the dahabeah stopped, numbers of natives came down to the bank, mostly children; and at first the Queen used to throw them bread and oranges, but it was discovered that they regarded empty bottles as much more valuable, and for these there was the greatest competition, although in the end they generally agreed to divide the spoil equally in the most good-humoured manner. At one place a little Nubian monkey was presented to Queen Alexandra, and the fortunate donor was presented in return with a double-barrelled English fowling-piece and some money.
There were the usual groundings on sand-banks, but nothing else of interest occurred, and the party returned to their old dahabeah on 8th March, having thoroughly enjoyed their expedition to the Second Cataract. After lunch the King and Queen, with Mrs. Grey and Sir Samuel Baker, paid a visit to Lady Duff Gordon in the dahabeah, which she had made entirely her home on account of her health.
The return voyage down the Nile began on the following day, and immediately the big steamer stuck fast on the old sand-bank which gave so much trouble on the way up, although the Viceroy had had six hundred people working away in the interval to deepen the channel. No amount of exertion could get the steamer off, and consequently the little steamer was used, and Prince Louis of Battenberg, Sir Samuel Baker, and Lord Carrington had to sleep on deck.
On 10th March, the anniversary of the King and Queen’s wedding day, some members of the Duke of Sutherland’s party, which had broken up, met the Royal party at Thebes, namely, Colonel Stanton, Sir Henry Pelly, Major Alison, and Abd El Kader Bey. Colonel Stanton entertained the party, and Mourad Pasha proposed the health of the Royal pair. After dinner the party went to the house of Mustapha Aga, the English Consul, where they saw some famous Egyptian dancing-girls, including the Taglioni of the country, and some remarkable mummy cases, which had been excavated on purpose for the King. The following day they visited the spot where the digging was going on. Mrs. Grey describes it as like a coal pit, at the bottom of which was a magnificent stone sarcophagus, said to be that of the beautiful Queen Nicotris, which the King intended to take to England, together with a selection of mummies.
This was the last day’s picnic on the Nile, and the party were due at Minieh in two days, going thence by rail to Cairo. On the 15th, however, the Queen, Mrs. Grey, and some of the gentlemen of the party paid a visit to the little town of Minieh, where an old woman was engaged to tell fortunes. This she did with the aid of a heap of shells and bits of coloured glass; and she told the Queen that she had many friends and much money, with the usual “patter” traditional among fortune-tellers. Thence the party went on to the house of the Governor of the town, where a kind of lemonade was offered to the visitors, and the Queen was presented with a beautiful white parrot and two live flamingoes. The menagerie already consisted of the Nubian monkey, a snapping turtle, and two goats. As for the little Nubian boy, who was added to the party at Wady Halfa, he turned out much too sharp and difficult to manage, so, instead of bringing him to England, the King decided to start him in life with a donkey, as one of the numerous donkey boys so common in Egypt.
On 16th March the party went by train from Minieh to Ghizeh, where they were met by the Viceroy’s eldest son and a number of officials. After some conversation the King and Queen took their leave, and the Royal party, entering some carriages, drove to the Pyramids. At the foot of the big Pyramid they found a small pavilion which had been built on purpose for the Royal visit. The King and Queen, in spite of the slippery, difficult, and suffocating ascent, visited the King’s and Queen’s chambers, and the King actually went up to the top of the Pyramid. Dinner was served in the pavilion by order of the Viceroy, consisting of nineteen dishes, eight entrées, ice, and other luxuries—quite a small dinner for Egypt.
On the night drive to Cairo which followed, there was very nearly a bad accident, the carriage being driven up against a high white flag-post, which it fortunately only just touched.
During the voyage down the Nile the King received letters to say that as the differences between Turkey and Greece had been happily settled, their Majesties were free to pay their proposed visit to Constantinople and Athens.
The King and Queen spent a week in Cairo, and saw all the sights of that wonderful city, which were then, it must be remembered, much more novel than they are nowadays when Egypt has become a regular winter resort. Mrs. Grey gives an amusing description of a shopping expedition on which she attended Queen Alexandra in the Turkish bazaar. Abd El Kader Bey, their old friend of the Nile expedition, did the bargaining in the Oriental method. The Queen wished to buy a burnous, but the price was too high, and so Abd El Kader Bey sent for a shopman from another shop where they had seen a similar burnous, and employed him to help in bargaining with the other shopman. This extraordinary device was most successful, and the Queen ultimately obtained her burnous for £9.
On the 19th Mrs. Grey attended the Queen in the ordeal of being photographed on a dromedary, and then the party, having been joined by the King, went to see the museum of Egyptian antiquities, where the distinguished French Egyptologist, M. Mariette, explained everything. In the evening of the same day there was a great dinner at the Viceroy’s palace on the other side of the river, where the scene was one of truly Oriental magnificence and luxury, finishing up with a display of fireworks so arranged that their reflection was seen in a large ornamental piece of water.
The Royal party had intended to leave Cairo on the 21st March, but the King was persuaded by the Viceroy to remain over the Feast of Bairam, which corresponds with the Christian Easter. Consequently, instead of starting immediately, the Queen, to her great delight, was able to pay a visit to the wife of Mourad Pasha, who had attended so ably to the comfort of the Royal travellers during their voyage on the Nile. Queen Alexandra was delighted with this lady, who was most kind and good-natured, and spoke French very well, her father, indeed, having been half a Frenchman.
On the 22nd the Queen started after breakfast for the bazaars, and met the King there and shopped until lunch-time. In the afternoon the Queen and Mrs. Grey visited the wife of Abd El Kader Bey, and then went on to see Achmet Bey, the captain of their dahabeah. His wife received the English visitors with much enthusiasm, kissing both the Queen and Mrs. Grey violently. Mrs. Achmet was a very pretty woman with pleasant manners, but although she could only speak Arabic, which was not understood by her visitors, yet she never stopped talking for a minute.
The following day, the 23rd, was the first day of Bairam, and the Queen again visited la Grande Princesse, the Viceroy’s mother, who held a sort of Drawing-room in the Harem. In the evening the Queen went to the Viceroy’s palace across the river to dine with His Highness’s four wives. The Princesses were much charmed with some photographs which the Queen gave them of herself. Shortly before leaving she expressed a wish to see how the Egyptian ladies’ outdoor veils were fastened on. Some were accordingly sent for, and Queen Alexandra was dressed up in a veil, much to her amusement; her eyebrows, and those of Mrs. Grey, were painted, and the thin veil and the burnous were put over them. These Her Majesty and her lady-in-waiting were entreated to keep as a souvenir of their visit. They were still wearing their Egyptian dresses when they returned to their palace, but to their great disappointment found everybody gone to bed except their courier, whom they succeeded in surprising, though he very frankly said that he thought the ladies were looking far better than usual. That was the last night in Cairo.
On the following day the Royal party had a very hot and dusty journey, and arrived at Suez at seven o’clock in the evening. There they were joined by Dr. Russell and Major Alison, and were met by the great de Lesseps. Dinner was served in the large dining-room of the hotel, and among the waiters the King observed a small black boy about fourteen years old, who seemed intelligent above the average. After dinner His Majesty asked the landlord of the hotel about him, and, finding that he was an Abyssinian boy and had an excellent character, he decided to take him home instead of the little mauvais sujet whom the party had picked up at Wady Haifa.
Then came one of the most interesting episodes of the tour, namely, their visit to the Suez Canal, where their Majesties were received and escorted by M. de Lesseps. The works of the Canal Company were by no means completed, but they were being actively carried forward, a large dock, 450 feet long, having been already finished. At Tussum the King performed the important ceremony of opening the sluices of the dam across the finished portion of the canal, thus letting the waters of the Mediterranean into the empty basin of the Bitter Lakes.
The Royal party then drove about three miles beyond the town through the desert to the Viceroy’s châlet, a pretty little place built on high ground overlooking Lake Timsah. The King and Queen were lodged here, the rest of the party having to rough it in out-houses and tents. Dinner was served in a large tent, and, thanks to the Viceroy’s forethought, it was a most excellent French dinner, for His Highness was determined that his guests should not have to rough it unless it was absolutely necessary.
The next day the Royal party went up the Canal towards the Mediterranean, and after driving through Port Said, they embarked on board the Viceroy’s yacht Mahroussa for passage to Alexandria. M. de Lesseps and his party also came on board the yacht. When the vessel passed outside the breakwater she began to roll so much that dinner became more exciting than comfortable. One swell threw everything off the table, and the Royal party were rolled out of their chairs, and then in an instant, before they had time to pick themselves up, another roll threw the ship over on the other side. Fortunately, however, the rolling did not last very long, and the resources of the yacht were so great that dinner was not long interrupted.
The following morning the yacht arrived at Alexandria, where the Royal party visited the various sights, including Cleopatra’s Needle and Pompey’s Pillar. Then they were rowed off in a barge to the Ariadne, their old home, which looked quite small and poor after the gorgeous Mahroussa, with its silk hangings, Italian marbles, mosaic mother-of-pearl, and so on, though in reality it was much more comfortable in a practical way. Here they said good-bye, much to their regret, to Mourad Pasha, Abd El Kader Bey, and old Captain Achmet, as well as to Colonel Stanton, the British Consul.
The next day, 28th March, the Ariadne left for Constantinople, but nothing much of importance occurred during the voyage, and the vessel anchored on 1st April some three miles from Constantinople. There the Royal party were transferred to the Sultan’s yacht Pertif Piati, in which they went past the entrance to the Golden Horn, as far as the Saleh-Bazar Palace, which had been assigned as a residence by the Sultan to the King and Queen during their visit. The Sultan himself received the Royal party on landing, and took Queen Alexandra up to her rooms, every one following.
Mrs. Grey describes the rooms in the Saleh-Bazar Palace as not quite so gorgeous as those which they had had at Cairo, but, on the other hand, fitted up with the most perfect taste in the French style. Every European luxury had been provided. The lattice work, which is always put up across the windows in Turkish houses in order to screen the fair inmates from the rude gaze of outsiders, had been removed and replaced with magnificent silk hangings. All the servants appointed to wait on the King and Queen were Greek and European, except the coachmen, who were French. The meals at the Palace were all served on gold and silver plate studded with gems; a band of eighty-four musicians played during dinner; every morning arrived gorgeous presents from the Sultan, including exquisite flowers and trays laden with fruits and sweets; while, at a clap of the hand, black-coated chibouquejees brought in pipes with amber mouth-pieces of fabulous value, encrusted in diamonds and rubies. There was a complete Turkish bath establishment in the Palace, and the slightest wish expressed by the Royal guests was considered an order.
Almost immediately after the arrival the labour of official functions began, King Edward going to pay a visit to the Sultan at the Palace of Dolma-Baghtche. The next day the Royal party saw the Sultan going to the Selamlik, the brilliant uniforms and the native ladies in their white yashmaks and brilliantly-coloured dresses producing to Mrs. Grey’s eyes the effect of a bright flower-garden. While the pageant was passing, little Prince Izzedin, the Heir-Apparent, visited their Majesties. Nothing could exceed the anxiety of the Sultan to entertain his distinguished visitors in a splendid manner, and he certainly seems to have succeeded.
On 4th April the Royal party dined with the Sultan at the Palace of Dolma-Baghtche. The dinner was good, and well served in the European fashion, but it was remarkable for being the first time that the Sultan had ever sat down to dinner with ladies; and, indeed, it was the first time that any of his own Ministers, except the Grand Vizier, had ever been known to sit down in his presence. Half the party were Turks, and they looked so frightened and astonished that they acted as wet blankets to the rest of the company, which included Mr. Elliot, the British Ambassador, and Mrs. Elliot, and General Ignatieff, the Russian Ambassador, and his wife. The Sultan was in high good-humour, but spoke very little.
After dinner Queen Alexandra, attended by Mrs. Grey and accompanied by Mrs. Elliot and Madame Ignatieff, went to visit the Sultan’s mother and wife. The visit very much resembled that which had been paid in Cairo to La Grande Princesse; and the most amusing part of the evening was the sudden appearance of the Sultan’s son, aged ten, and daughter, aged nine, who both came marching in followed by slaves. Both were enormously over-dressed, the little girl, indeed, being hardly able to move under all her lace and finery. They sat themselves down in large arm-chairs, and the little Princess kept slipping down off hers, but a slave always helped her up again.
The King and Queen, who adopted for the nonce the name of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, spent the whole morning of 5th April in the bazaars, attended by Mrs. Grey, and entirely escaped being recognised. Another Oriental precedent was broken on the 7th, when the Royal party went to the opera, and the Sultan joined the King and Queen and Mrs. Grey in the Royal box. This was the first time that the Sultan had been seen with ladies in his box. On the following day Queen Alexandra was delighted to have an opportunity of seeing the Sultan’s stables, containing about 200 horses of extraordinary beauty.
It would be tedious to describe in detail the ceremonies and visits to places of interest which the Royal party paid. In this way the days were filled up until the 10th, when it was decided that the Queen should accompany the King in his proposed visit to the Crimea.
After lunching with the Sultan, the Royal party again went on board the Ariadne with the usual ceremonies, and started for the Crimea. They had a beautiful passage across the Black Sea, and arrived in the harbour of Sevastopol on 12th April. The great struggle with Russia was still fresh in every one’s memories, and they found not a single ship in the harbour, and all the forts and fortifications abandoned—indeed, the whole town on one side almost one mass of ruins. The débris remained just as they were left in 1856, and the populace, which before the war amounted to 60,000, had been reduced to 5500.
As soon as the Ariadne had cast anchor a boat came off containing General Kotzebue, Governor-General of New Russia, and General Jukoffsky, Governor of Crim Tartary, who had come from Simferopol to meet King Edward. They were accompanied by Admiral Kisalinsky, the Commandant of Sevastopol, and other officials, together with the British Consul at Odessa. The Russian authorities offered every possible assistance to the King and Queen in order that they might see everything that could be seen.
On that first day of their arrival they visited the Russian cemetery, and then drove to the battlefield of the Alma, where Mrs. Grey records the shaking which the Queen and she experienced in driving over the rough ground still full of great holes made by the shells used in the battle; indeed, the pony carriage broke down, and they had to get into a larger one with four horses. They saw the broken-down bridge over the Alma, just as it was left after the battle; the party drove through the water, and Dr. Russell pointed out where the Duke of Cambridge had passed with his Staff—in fact, the King and Queen examined the battlefield most thoroughly, studying the various positions occupied by the forces on both sides.
The Russian authorities entertained the party at luncheon in a Tartar farm-house, which had been used during the war as a field-hospital. Dr. Russell, Major Alison, and Captain Ellis, who had all been there during the war, were perpetually pointing out fresh places of interest, and in the evening the Russian officials were entertained at dinner on board the Ariadne. Nothing could exceed the tact and courtesy of the Russians, who affected to regard the war as if it had been some long distant historical campaign, and had no hesitation even in pointing out to their visitors the different places where the Russian forces had been beaten.
It is needless to mention the names of all the places visited by the Royal party. Wherever they went the beautiful old Russian custom of offering bread and salt was never omitted, the inhabitants of the villages always rushing out and presenting these signs of hospitality to Queen Alexandra.
On the 14th the Royal party found the Psyche in the harbour of Balaklava, in which they embarked and steamed out of the harbour to see the rocks at the entrance where the ship Prince was lost in 1845, and where the Duke of Cambridge had such a narrow escape in the Retribution. On re-landing they visited the field of Balaklava, and listened to many amusing stories told by Dr. Russell.
That night the party slept at Livadia, and were most agreeably entertained by Count Stenboch, who had been sent all the way from St. Petersburg on purpose to receive the King and Queen. The Ariadne and Psyche had been sent round from Sevastopol to meet the party, and after visiting some villas in the neighbourhood, they all embarked in the Ariadne and bade farewell to their Russian friends with much regret.
On the 16th they anchored again opposite the Sultan’s palace, and His Majesty and King Edward exchanged farewell visits. On the 17th the Ariadne left Constantinople for Athens; she was lighted up with red and blue lights held by sailors at the end of the yard-arm. The Turkish ships were all illuminated, and rockets, music, and cheering sped the parting guests.
Bad weather detained the Ariadne until the 20th, when they entered the Piræus, where the King of the Hellenes and Prince Frederick of Glucksburg came on board. The King had arrived, on purpose to receive the Royal visitors, from Corfu, where the Court was established, and after two days’ sightseeing His Majesty was to conduct the Royal party there, where he had left the Queen. King Edward and Queen Alexandra duly arrived at Corfu on the 24th, and on the following day, which was the Festival of St. Spiridion—the patron saint of Corfu—they had an opportunity of seeing the town en fête. The body of the saint was carried in procession amid much picturesque rejoicing of the populace. On the 27th the King left for the Albanian coast for some wild boar shooting, and returned on the following evening, having bagged two boars and other game.
The visit to Corfu came to an end on 1st May. There was a great display of fireworks, and the Ariadne and the Royal Oak were dressed with red and blue lights. Unfortunately there was a sad accident which occurred just as the illuminations were over. One of the sailors fell overboard, and though a most careful search was made, nothing was ever seen or heard of him again except just the splash as he fell into the water.
On the following day the Royal party arrived at Brindisi, and returned to London over-land, stopping a little while in Paris, where they were treated with the most marked attention by the Emperor and Empress of the French.
As may be easily imagined, the King is very popular all over France, and he has had many curious and interesting adventures when going out in the semi-incognito which he affects when travelling for pleasure. On one occasion, shortly after the end of the war, he visited the battlefield of Sedan attended by General Teesdale. He was naturally anxious that his identity should not become known, for French susceptibilities were very keen at that time, and he had no desire to appear to glory over his brother-in-law’s brilliant victories. When the time came to pay the hotel bill General Teesdale found with great dismay that he had no ready cash; the King was in an equally penniless condition; while any telegram sent would have disclosed the identity of the Royal visitor. At length, after much discussion, the equerry made his way to the local Mont de Piété and placed both his own and King Edward’s repeater in pawn.
Among the formal acts of ceremony which King Edward performed during this year was the unveiling of a statue of the late Mr. George Peabody. In the speech which he delivered on this occasion he alluded in the warmest terms to his feeling of personal friendship towards the United States, and his enduring recollection of the reception which had been accorded to him there.
The outbreak and progress of the Franco-Prussian war were naturally watched with the keenest interest at Marlborough House. Two of the King’s own brothers-in-law were serving with the German forces, while, on the other hand, he not only had many close ties with France, but from childhood had always regarded the Emperor and Empress of the French with special affection. When public subscription lists were opened in aid of the ambulances, which distributed medical aid impartially to the sick and wounded on both sides, King Edward gave a liberal donation; and when the Empress Eugénie fled to England, one of the first visits which she received at Chislehurst was from the King and Queen Alexandra.
Exactly ten years after the first dread news of the Prince Consort’s fatal illness had gone forth, it became known that the Heir-Apparent was lying seriously ill at Sandringham. Not very long before, Princess Alice, who was then staying at Sandringham, wrote the following note to Queen Victoria:—
“It is the first time since eleven years that I have spent Bertie’s birthday with him, and though we have only three of our own family together, still that is better than nothing, and makes it seem more like a birthday. Bertie and Alix are so kind, and give us so warm a welcome, showing how they like having us, that it feels quite home. Indeed, I pray earnestly that God’s blessing may rest on him, and that he may be guided to do what is wise and right, so that he may tide safely through the anxious times that are before him, and in which we now live.”
Princess Alice little knew the days and nights of anxious misery that were coming so swiftly upon her brother’s peaceful household, and indeed upon the whole nation. The King sickened in London, but as soon as he felt himself to be seriously attacked he insisted on going home to Norfolk, where the disease was pronounced to be typhoid fever.
The King, his groom Blegge, and Lord Chesterfield, who had all been at Scarborough with Lord Londesborough, were stricken simultaneously, and public attention was soon wholly concentrated on the three cases. Curiously enough, the groom and the peer both died, though in neither case were any pains or expense spared. Doubtless King Edward’s youth and excellent constitution stood him in good stead, but for many days the issue was considered exceedingly doubtful.
The patient was nursed entirely by his wife and his sister, Princess Alice, his medical attendants being Doctors Jenner, Gull, Clayton, and Lowe. On the last day of November came an official notification:—
“The Princess of Wales has borne her great trial in the most admirable manner and with singular equanimity. While fully aware of the gravity of the Prince’s serious illness, Her Royal Highness has throughout been calm and collected.”
But the patient’s state was known to be critical, and soon it was announced that Queen Victoria was going to Sandringham, which she did on 29th November.
The anxiety, succeeded by the most heart-breaking suspense, which prevailed in the Royal family is well reflected in the following extracts from the diary of the late Duchess of Teck, who was then at Strelitz:—
“November 25.—Read Gussy Alix’s letter to Mama about our poor, dear Wales, who was attacked with the fever about the 19th or so, and is under Dr. Gull’s charge, who says it must have its twenty-four days’ course, and that so far all is going on as well as can be expected.
“December 1.—… When I finished my packet for the messenger, I telegraphed to darling Alix, and flew up to Mama to consult her about it.… From Alix somewhat better news reached us, after a bad telegram at three from dear Alice.
“December 2.—A rather better account of Wales.
“December 3.—Wales improving.…
“December 5.—… Better accounts from Sandringham, but poor Lord Chesterfield dead.
“December 6.—… Reassuring message from Alice.
“December 8.—… Opened a telegram with anxious and distressing news from Sandringham; poor dear Wales has had a relapse; his state evidently very critical. Gott helfe weiter. We were much upset, and with a heavy heart I closed my packet for the messenger and wrote till dressing-time, though I had much difficulty in settling down to anything.… Mama was very silent all dinner-time, but we never for a moment suspected, what we afterwards learnt had been the case, that she had received a worse telegram at five o’clock, and had in kindness kept it from us.… I wrote chez moi till a most alarming telegram from Alice to Mama was brought me, with which I hastened to Gussy.… We cried over the almost hopeless accounts together, which spoke of the end as not far distant, provided dear Wales did not at once rally, and with despairing hearts we joined the others in the blue drawing-room. Fritz came in presently, and I read him the three telegrams received that day, and a letter from Lady Macclesfield. Later Mama sent for Gussy and me to wish us a sorrowful good night. I then went to my room and wrote till nearly four, feeling sleep out of the question.
“December 9.—Gussy rushed in with a rather more hopeful telegram: ‘Night quiet, exhaustion not increased, breathing clearer.’ God grant he may yet rally and pull through! It was a relief after all we had undergone, and thank God for it; the agony of suspense was hard to bear.…
“December 10.—On our return from church we found a telegram from Sandringham, which Gussy tremblingly opened. Es lautete, ‘a shade better.’ Thank God! I ran with it to Tante.…
“December 11.—About noon Geraldo rushed in with two telegrams, one sent off last night, the other this morning; both heartrendingly sad, and giving next to no hope, but for the words, ‘Yet we hope.’ They were a cruel check to our faint hopes. We could think and talk of nothing else.…
“December 12.—Dolphus brought us a very hopeless telegram from Alice: ‘Night restless, very delirious, no signs of improvement.’ After a while I went to my room and read the papers with accounts from Sandringham and Windsor.…
“December 13.—… To Mama’s entrée, where I found her, Gussy, and Tante much upset over a very disquieting message from Alice, which said, ‘Night without rest. No important change in the general state. Breathing is weak. Anxiety increased.’ One can only look to God’s great mercy for further hope!
“December 14.—… Bülow congratulated me on the better accounts which had just been received from Sandringham! It was the first I had heard of it; just at that moment Wenckstern appeared with the telegram: ‘Quiet sleep at intervals, gravity of symptoms diminished, state more hopeful.—Alice.’ God be thanked for this blessed change!… I read aloud in Mama’s room, amid tears and sobs, the touching account in the Daily Telegraph of our dear Wales’s illness, of all that goes on at Sandringham, of the prayers for him and the sermons preached about him.
“December 15.—A much more hopeful telegram from Alice, as follows: ‘Bertie has passed a quiet night. The debility is great, but the conditions are much more favourable.’ Thank God for this great mercy.”
The feeling aroused through the United Kingdom was far greater than any public expression of emotion since the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817. In every town, crowds waited anxiously for the issue of newspapers containing the latest news of the Royal patient’s condition, and the Government found it expedient to forward the medical bulletins to every telegraph office in the United Kingdom. In the churches of every religious communion, prayers were offered, though almost without hope, for the recovery of King Edward.
At length, on 1st December, the King recovered consciousness, and his first remark to those about him was, “This is the Princess’s birthday.” The next coherent utterance came when he heard that Queen Victoria had been at Sandringham. “Has the Queen come from Scotland? Does she know I am ill?” he asked; but this slight rally did not continue, and soon all the Royal family were summoned to Sandringham. On 9th December the fever had spent itself, but the patient’s strength was considered to be exhausted. Special prayers were offered up in all churches; and shortly before the service in St. Mary Magdalene’s, Sandringham, the Vicar received the following note from Queen Alexandra:—
“My husband being, thank God, somewhat better, I am coming to church. I must leave, I fear, before the service is concluded, that I may watch by his bedside. Can you not say a few words in prayer in the early part of the service, that I may join with you in prayer for my husband before I return to him?”
The Vicar, before reading the Collect, in a voice trembling with emotion, which he vainly strove to suppress, said: “The prayers of the congregation are earnestly sought for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who is now most seriously ill.”
The day following, an article in the Times began: “The Prince still lives, and we may still therefore hope”; and so the weary days dragged on. On the 16th it was recorded that the patient had enjoyed a quiet and refreshing sleep, and on the 17th, a Sunday, those of the Royal family who were then at Sandringham were present at church, when, by special request, the Prince and Blegge were recommended to the mercy of God in the same prayer. That same day Queen Alexandra visited the poor dying groom, and after his death, which occurred within the next few hours, both she and Queen Victoria found time, in the midst of their terrible anxiety, to visit and comfort his relations.
By Christmas Day the danger may be said to have been over, and on 26th December Queen Victoria wrote the following letter to the nation:—
“The Queen is very anxious to express her deep sense of the touching sympathy of the whole nation on the occasion of the alarming illness of her dear son, the Prince of Wales. The universal feeling shown by her people during those painful, terrible days, and the sympathy evinced by them with herself and her beloved daughter, the Princess of Wales, as well as the general joy at the improvement of the Prince of Wales’s state, have made a deep and lasting impression on her heart, which can never be effaced.…”
Queen Alexandra and Princess Alice now felt that their patient was well enough for them to leave him for an hour or two in order to assist at the distribution of Christmas gifts to the labourers on the estate. In the ceiling of the room afterwards occupied by Queen Alexandra as a bed-chamber, the mark of an orifice might be seen from which projected a hook supporting a trapeze, by the aid of which the patient, when on the slow and weary road to convalescence, could change his position and pull himself up into a sitting posture.
Another memento of the King’s terrible illness is the brass lectern in the parish church. On it runs an inscription:—
To the glory of God.
A thank-offering for His mercy.
14th December 1871.
“When I was in trouble I called upon the Lord, and He heard me.”
The last bulletin was issued on 14th January, and nine days later Sir William Jenner was gazetted a K.C.B. and Dr. W. Gull was created a Baronet—rewards which gave particular satisfaction to the nation.
It was whispered at the time that King Edward, under Providence, really owed his recovery to one of those sudden inspirations of genius of which the history of medicine is full. He seemed to be actually in extremis, when one of his medical attendants sent in haste for two bottles of old champagne brandy and rubbed the patient with it vigorously all over till returning animation rewarded the doctor’s efforts.
King Edward’s recovery was hailed with feelings of deep thankfulness by the whole nation, and it was universally deemed appropriate that public thanks should be returned to Almighty God for His great mercy. The utmost interest was taken by all classes of society in the preparations for the proposed National Thanksgiving. Mr. William Longman wrote to the Times urging that, as in 1664 and 1678, subscriptions should be invited for the completion of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in London as a perpetual memorial of the event.
During the interval before the day fixed for the National Thanksgiving, King Edward and Queen Alexandra paid visits to Windsor and Osborne. When they returned to London one of the first visitors they received was Dr. Stanley, who had now become Dean of Westminster. It was resolved that they should attend a private service of thanksgiving in the Abbey, which the Dean thus describes in a letter to an intimate correspondent:—
“I went to Marlborough House to suggest, through Fisher and Keppel, that the Prince of Wales should come. He consented at once, and it was agreed that he, the Princess, and the Crown Prince of Denmark, and if in town, Prince Alfred, should come. I kept it a secret except from the Canons. We met them at the great Western door; the nave (as usual) was quite clear. They walked in with me, and took their places on my right. I preached on Psalm cxxii. 1. The Prince of Wales heard every word, and has decided that it shall be published, which it will be, and you shall have a copy. It was one of those rare occasions on which I was able to say all that I wished to say. They were conducted again to the West door, and departed.”
The day fixed for the public National Thanksgiving in St. Paul’s was 27th February, and never, save perhaps on 22nd June 1897, did Queen Victoria and her eldest son and daughter-in-law receive a more splendid and heartfelt welcome. Thirteen thousand people were admitted to the Cathedral, among them being most of the notable personages of the day, including all the great officers of State.
Thanksgiving Day, 1872: The Scene at Temple Bar
From the “Illustrated London News”
The procession set out from Buckingham Palace at twelve o’clock. First came the Speaker, the Lord Chancellor, and the Commander-in-Chief, in their carriages, followed by nine Royal equipages, in the last of which sat Queen Victoria, dressed in black velvet trimmed with broad bands of white ermine, Queen Alexandra in blue silk covered with black lace, King Edward in the uniform of a British general and wearing the Collars of the Orders of the Garter and the Bath, Prince Albert Victor then a boy of eight, and Princess Beatrice. The late Duchess of Teck, to her great grief, could not be present, as her eldest son had sickened with scarlet fever.
In the Green Park the procession was greeted by an army of 30,000 children, who sang the National Anthem as the Royal carriages drove by.
St. Paul’s was reached at one o’clock, and the Royal party were received at the great West door by the Dean and Chapter. Queen Victoria passed up the nave leaning on the arm of her son, who conducted Her Majesty to a pew which had been specially prepared for the occasion.
The service began with the “Te Deum,” and after some prayers a special form of thanksgiving which had been officially drawn up was said. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury preached a short sermon from the text, Romans xii. 5, “Members one of another.” The service concluded with a thanksgiving hymn which had been specially written for the occasion. The proceedings were over by two o’clock, and the procession returned by a different route, along Holborn and Oxford Street, in the presence of an enthusiastic crowd said to be the largest ever collected in London. As the poet sings:—
Two days later Queen Victoria wrote from Buckingham Palace to Mr. Gladstone, who was then Prime Minister, one of those touching letters which on many occasions drew still more closely together the ties of loyalty and affection between Her Majesty and her people. The Queen wrote that she was anxious “to express publicly her own personal very deep sense of the reception she and her dear children met with on Tuesday, the 27th of February, from millions of her subjects on her way to and from St. Paul’s. Words are too weak for the Queen to say how very deeply touched and gratified she has been by the immense enthusiasm and affection exhibited towards her dear son and herself, from the highest down to the lowest, in the long progress through the capital, and she would earnestly wish to convey her warmest and most heartfelt thanks to the whole nation for this great demonstration of loyalty. The Queen, as well as her son and dear daughter-in-law, felt that the whole nation joined with them in thanking God for sparing the beloved Prince of Wales’s life.…”
Thanksgiving Day, 1872: The Procession up Ludgate Hill
From the “Illustrated London News”
Although the Duchess of Teck had not been able to attend the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s, she returned to England in time to take part in a great ceremony which took place on the 1st of May at the Crystal Palace. Referring to this occasion, she writes:—“We drove down to Sydenham with Louise as Alfred’s guests to attend the fête in celebration of Wales’s recovery. Concert: Sullivan’s Te Deum, Miscellanies with Titiens.”
The impression made by King Edward’s illness and marvellous recovery upon the Royal family in general is well illustrated by the following passage from a letter written by Princess Alice to her mother in December 1872:—
“That our good, sweet Alix should have been spared this terrible grief, when this time last year it seemed so imminent, fills my heart with gratitude for her dear sake, as for yours, his children and ours.… The 14th will now be a day of mixed recollections and feelings to us, a day hallowed in our family, when one great spirit ended his work on earth … and when another was left to fulfil his duty and mission, God grant, for the welfare of his own family and of thousands.”
The year 1873 was spent on the whole very quietly by the King and Queen. His Majesty took up once more the thread of his public life which had been interrupted for a considerable time by his illness and convalescence.
A pleasant glimpse of the home life at Sandringham about this time is given in the following letters from the witty and eloquent Archbishop Magee (then Bishop of Peterborough), written to his wife:—
“Sandringham, 6th December 1873.
“… I arrived just as they were all at tea in the entrance hall, and had to walk in, all seedy and dishevelled from my day’s journey, and sit down beside the Princess of Wales, with Disraeli on the other side of me, and sundry lords and ladies round the table. The Prince received me very kindly, and certainly has most winning and gracious manners. The Princess seems smaller and thinner than I remember her at Dublin. They seem to be pleasant and domesticated, with little state and very simple ways.”
“7th December 1873.
“Just returned from church, where I preached for twenty-six minutes (Romans viii. 28). The church is a very small country one close to the grounds. The house, as I saw it by daylight, is a handsome country house of red stone with white facings, standing well and looking quietly comfortable and suitable. I find the company pleasant and civil, but we are a curious mixture. Two Jews, Sir A. Rothschild and his daughter; an ex-Jew, Disraeli; a Roman Catholic, Colonel Higgins; an Italian duchess who is an Englishwoman, and her daughter brought up as a Roman Catholic and now turning Protestant; a set of young lords, and a bishop. The Jewess came to church; so did the half-Protestant young lady. Dizzy did the same, and was profuse in his praises of my sermon. We are all to lunch together in a few minutes, the children dining with us. They seem, the two I saw in church, nice, clever-looking little bodies, and very like their mother.”
Queen Alexandra and her Sister the Empress Alexander of Russia, in 1873
From a Photograph by Maull and Fox
King Edward and Queen Alexandra represented Queen Victoria at the marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia in January 1874. The English marriage service was performed by Dean Stanley, who wrote to Queen Victoria an interesting letter describing the Imperial wedding, in which he mentioned how much he had been struck, both in the chapel and at the subsequent banquet, by the singular difference in character and expression of the four future kings, the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince of Prussia, the Cesarewitch, and the Crown Prince of Denmark, who were all present.
On the Sunday following the wedding King Edward and Queen Alexandra attended the service at the English Church in St. Petersburg, and the Dean preached on the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee, much the same sermon which he had preached in the Chapel-Royal at Whitehall on the Sunday following the marriage of their Majesties. All through this visit to Russia their Majesties were received with unusual distinction, and a grand parade of troops was held in honour of King Edward.
King Edward dined in the Middle Temple Hall on Grand Night of Trinity term in 1874. On this occasion His Majesty humorously expressed the opinion that it was a good thing for the profession at large, and for the public in general, that he had never practised at the Bar, for he could never have been an ornament to it. In saying this his modesty probably led him astray, for he is a thoughtful and lucid speaker, and his habits of method and order would certainly have stood him in good stead if he had been compelled to apply his mind to any profession. His Majesty was elected a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 1861, and served the office of Treasurer in the Jubilee year of 1887.
Queen Victoria, with the Princes Albert Victor and George, and their sister, Princess Victoria
From the Painting by James Sant, R.A.
When King Edward and Queen Alexandra were first married they always gave two great balls at Marlborough House each year—one on the anniversary of their wedding day, and one at the close of the London season. But the most splendid entertainment ever given by their Majesties was the great fancy dress ball in July 1874. Over fourteen hundred invitations were sent out, and the Royal host and hostess made no stipulations as to the choice of costume, leaving it to individual taste. The Queen wore a Venetian dress, and was attended by her two young sons as pages. The King appeared as Charles I., wearing a costume exactly copied from the famous Vandyke picture, that is, a maroon satin and velvet suit, partly covered with a short black velvet cloak, while the black hat, trimmed with one long white feather, was looped up with an aigrette of brilliants. He also wore high buff boots, long spurs and sword, while round his neck hung the Collar of the Garter.
Many of the costumes worn were very interesting and curious. In the Fairy Tale Quadrille, the Earl of Rosebery, then quite a youth, was Blue Beard; Mr. Albert (now Earl) Grey, Puss in Boots; and the Duke of Connaught, the Beast. Lord Charles and Lord Marcus Beresford were a couple of Court jesters. The only person present who was not in fancy dress was Benjamin Disraeli, then Prime Minister. He wore the official dress of a Privy Councillor.
That same year the King and Queen visited Birmingham for the first time, being received by the then mayor, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who was at the time credited with being so advanced a Republican that many fears were expressed that he might behave with scant courtesy to his Royal guests, and bets were even taken as to whether he would consent to shake hands with them! However, these prognostications proved groundless, and it is particularly interesting to recall the comment which the Times made on the following day:—
“Whatever Mr. Chamberlain’s views may be, his speeches of yesterday appear to us to have been admirably worthy of the occasion, and to have done the highest credit to himself. We have heard and chronicled a great many mayors’ speeches, but we do not know that we ever heard or chronicled speeches made before Royal personages by mayors, whether they were Tories or Whigs, or Liberals or Radicals, which were couched in such a tone at once of courteous homage, manly independence, and gentlemanly feeling, which were so perfectly becoming and so much the right thing in every way as those of Mr. Chamberlain.”
On the same day that this appeared in the leading journal, Sir Francis Knollys wrote to Mr. Chamberlain a most cordial letter, in which he said:—
“I have received the commands of the Prince and Princess of Wales to make known through you to the inhabitants of the borough of Birmingham the satisfaction they derived from their visit to that town yesterday. They can never forget the reception they met with, nor the welcome given to them by all classes of the community.… I may further congratulate you and the other members of the reception committee on the happy result of their labours. Nothing could have been more successful, and their Royal Highnesses will ever entertain most agreeable recollections of their visit to Birmingham.”
In conclusion, Mr. Chamberlain was informed that the King wished to give £100 to a Birmingham charity, and was asked to state which he considered to be the most deserving, and at the same time the most in need of support.
The festivities of the following Christmas were overshadowed by the death at Sandringham from inflammation of the lungs of Colonel Grey, who had been for some time a valued member of the Household. It was with reference to this sad loss that Princess Alice wrote to Queen Victoria:—“Dear Bertie’s true and constant heart suffers on such occasions, for he can be constant in friendship, and all who serve him, serve him with warm attachment.”
In 1875 the death of Canon Kingsley came as a great blow to their Majesties, who were both fondly attached to the famous writer.
The King’s Indian Tour, 1875
Lord Canning, the great Viceroy of India, once told the Prince Consort how desirable he thought it that the Prince of Wales should, when grown up, visit Queen Victoria’s Eastern Empire, and later on, those who had the privilege of the young Prince’s friendship were well aware that an Indian tour had become one of his most ardent wishes.
But the project of the Heir-Apparent’s visit to India only really took shape early in 1875, and on 20th March it was publicly announced that the Prince contemplated this journey, the Marquis of Salisbury, who was then Secretary of State for India, making an official announcement to the Council of India of the intended event. The Council passed a resolution that the expenditure actually incurred in India should be charged on the revenues of that country.
Curiously enough, a great deal of hostile feeling was aroused by the announcement of this Royal tour. On 17th July a great meeting was held in Hyde Park to protest against the grant of money which was then being sanctioned by Parliament to defray the expenses of the journey. Many people went so far as to declare that they would have acquiesced in the passing of the vote had the Heir-Apparent’s visit to his mother’s Eastern dominions been a “State visit” instead of a mere “pleasure trip.” And yet it need hardly be pointed out that, greatly as King Edward looked forward to his tour, the journey was likely to prove anything but a mere “pleasure trip” to India’s Royal visitor. He and those about him well knew that from the moment he landed at Bombay till the day he left India he would not only constantly remain en évidence, but he also expected to conciliate the many different races with which he was going to be brought in contact when passing through the various Indian States.
There were many points to be considered about the tour. The rules and regulations which had sufficed for the Prince in Canada and the Colonies were inapplicable to India. One notable feature of Oriental manners is the exchange of presents between visitors and hosts, and it was early arranged that King Edward’s luggage should contain £40,000 worth of presents to be distributed among the great feudatory and other potentates who would have the honour of entertaining or at any rate of meeting him.
It was also arranged that he was to be the guest of the Viceroy, Lord Northbrook, from the moment he landed on Indian soil; and, roughly speaking, it was estimated that the expenses of the reception alone would probably come to about £30,000. The estimate made by the Admiralty for the expenses of the voyage to and from India, and the movements of the fleet in connection with the Royal visit, came to £52,000; while for the personal expenses of the visit a vote of £60,000 was included in the estimate submitted to the House of Commons when in Committee of Supply. However, here again this suggestion did not meet with universal approval when the necessary resolution was brought forward in the House. Mr. Fawcett, afterwards Postmaster-General, raised a discussion, basing his objections to the vote partly on sentimental and partly on economic grounds. However, he only found thirty-three members to agree with him, and the vote was passed. During the debate, Mr. Disraeli, who was then Prime Minister, drew a very remarkable picture of the extraordinary pomp and circumstance with which King Edward was about to be surrounded.
It was felt better that he should go as Heir-Apparent of the Crown, and not as the representative of Her Majesty, but, as might have been expected, these fine distinctions were not understood in India, and he was expected to do just as much as he would have done in a more directly official capacity.
Before starting on his tour he thoroughly studied the subject of India and her peoples, and he even made himself acquainted with the peculiarities of every one of the large Indian cities where he would be expected to receive and answer addresses.
The question of the suite was, as may be imagined, very important. It was early decided that Sir Bartle Frere, whose name was familiar to millions of the inhabitants of India, should accompany King Edward, and the Duke of Sutherland was also asked to join the party. Of his private friends, the Earl of Aylesford, Lord (now Earl) Carrington, Colonel (now General) Owen Williams, and Lieutenant (now Admiral) Lord Charles Beresford, also accepted an invitation to be of the party. Then came the official Household, consisting of Lord Suffield; Colonel Ellis, the Prince’s equerry, to whom was confided the delicate question of the giving and receiving of presents; General (now Sir Dighton) Probyn, to whom were left the arrangements for horses, travelling, and shooting parties; and Mr. (now Sir Francis) Knollys, the Prince’s private secretary. Canon Duckworth went as chaplain, and Dr. (now Sir Joseph) Fayrer as medical man. Mr. Albert Grey (now Earl Grey) went as private secretary to Sir Bartle Frere, Mr. S. P. Hall accompanied the party in order to sketch the incidents of the tour, while Lord Alfred Paget was specially commissioned by Queen Victoria to join the suite. Dr. W. H. (now Sir William) Russell, the famous war correspondent, who was temporarily attached to the suite as honorary private secretary, wrote on his return a very interesting account of the tour, entitled “The Prince of Wales’s Tour in India,” which has remained the standard authority on the subject.
On the day that King Edward left Sandringham, amid many demonstrations of goodwill and wishings of God-speed from his country neighbours, he presented his Consort with a team of Corsican ponies and a miniature drag. He spent the last few days of his stay in England with Queen Alexandra and their children at Marlborough House. On the Sunday before his departure they were all present at divine service in Westminster Abbey, and the next day the King went to say good-bye to his old friend Dean Stanley, who, in a letter to an intimate correspondent, gave the following vivid description of the visit:—
“On the Sunday night we had a message to say that the Prince and Princess of Wales would come to take leave of us at 3.30 P.M. the next day. They came about 4 P.M., having been detained by the members of the family coming to Marlborough House.
“They brought all the five children, wishing, the Prince said, to have them all with him as long as possible.
“They all came up, and remained about twenty minutes. Fanny was in the back library, and the children, after being for a few minutes with Augusta, who was delighted to see them, went to her.
“The Prince and Princess remained with Augusta and me. A. talked with all her usual animation. They were both extremely kind. The Princess looked inexpressibly sad. There was nothing much said of interest, chiefly talking of the voyage, etc. As I took him downstairs, he spoke of the dangers—but calmly and rationally, saying that, of course the precautions must be left to those about him. I said to him, ‘I gave you my parting benediction in the Abbey yesterday.’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I saw it. Thank you.’
“Later on in the evening Augusta wished me to telegraph our renewed thanks and renewed good wishes to the Castalia at Dover. I did so, and at 11 P.M. there came back a telegram from him: ‘Many thanks for your kind message. God bless both of you! Just off for Calais!’”
King Edward started from London on 11th October, immense popular interest being taken in the event. Huge crowds assembled long before the departure of the special train from Charing Cross, and the King and Queen Alexandra were wildly cheered. The Queen accompanied her husband as far as Calais, and then the King travelled across the Continent incognito, meeting his suite, who had started a few days previously, at Brindisi.
Embarkation on Board the “Serapis” at Brindisi
The eventful journey was made in the Serapis, one of the old large Indian troopships, and the voyage was very successful from every point of view. The Royal party spent a few days at Athens, where the King was entertained by his brother-in-law, the King of Greece, to whom he had brought a number of gifts from Sandringham, including an Alderney bull and cow, a ram and sheep, several British pigs, and a number of horses.
From the Piræus the Serapis proceeded to Egypt, and King Edward invested Prince Tewfik, the Khedive’s eldest son, with the Order of the Star of India.
As the Serapis steamed onwards the various programmes of the Royal progress through India were submitted to the King, and even the addresses which were to be presented to him were shown and his answers were carefully prepared; in fact, before he left Aden, His Majesty knew with what words the Corporation of Bombay, for instance, would receive him.
As may be easily imagined, all India was by now in a ferment of excitement, and the official world were very much concerned at the immense responsibility placed upon them by the mother-country. Four officers, of whom two had obtained the Victoria Cross, were carefully selected and commissioned to look after the comfort and the safety of the King and of his suite, Major Bradford (afterwards Sir E. R. C. Bradford, Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police) being entrusted with the responsible task of attending to the safety of the Royal visitor’s own person.
The question as to how King Edward was to make his first appearance in Bombay was keenly discussed, and at one time it was thought that splendidly caparisoned elephants would form the most fitting mode of transport from the landing-stage to Government House, but finally the party went in carriages. Among the cargo of the Serapis were three valuable horses, specially chosen from the Marlborough House stables, which had been regularly taken to the Zoo, in order to be accustomed to the sight of the wild beasts and reptiles which they were likely to meet with in India.
At last it was noised abroad that the Serapis had been sighted, and the Viceroy, Lord Northbrook (afterwards Earl of Northbrook), went out to meet King Edward, returning to Bombay in order to receive him on landing. There was a good deal of discreet curiosity as to which of them would give precedence to the other, for of course the Viceroy represents Her Majesty, and so was entitled to take precedence, but Lord Northbrook, with considerable tact, unobtrusively gave his Royal guest the first place.
The moment the King emerged from the dockyard a salute was fired, and at every station in India, whether important or obscure, the signal was given by telegraph for a Royal salute wherever there were guns to fire it.
While actually in Bombay King Edward and his suite became the guests of the Governor, Sir Philip Woodhouse, and it was there that two days after his arrival in India the King celebrated his thirty-fourth birthday, the first object which met his eyes in the morning being a charming portrait of Queen Alexandra, who had specially entrusted it to Sir Bartle Frere. On this eventful day the glories and the fatigues of the King’s Indian tour may be said to have begun.
The Royal birthday was duly honoured all over Hindustan at noon, and although the heat, even at 8 A.M., had been very considerable, the King was compelled to hold a great reception in full dress, that is to say, in a uniform of English cloth loaded with lace and buttoned up to the throat. The scene was very impressive. The King during the reception was seated on a silver throne, and everything was done to invest the affair with the greatest pomp and circumstance. His suite all stood round him in full uniform; behind the throne was a portrait of Queen Victoria; and although the King was not supposed to hold durbars, the ceremony being simply styled a private visit or reception, it was in every way as impressive and remarkable as if it had carried full official significance.
An immense number of native Princes and Rajahs paid their respects in person to their future Sovereign. The first potentate to be presented was the Rajah of Kholapur, a child of twelve years old, the ruler of nearly a million people. The little Rajah was attired in purple velvet and white muslin encrusted with gems, his turban containing a King’s ransom of pearls and rubies. In spite of his extreme youth the Indian Prince remained perfectly serious, and went through the somewhat complicated ceremonies with absolute self-possession.
After the last Rajah had departed, King Edward had a long talk with the Viceroy, and then made his way to the Serapis, where he had the pleasure of seeing the crew enjoying the birthday dinner provided by himself. He also cut a birthday cake, and looked over the telegrams just received from Sandringham. That same evening was held a great reception, to which naturally the British officials and residents came in great force.
The next few days were also equally well filled. King Edward had to pay elaborate return visits to the chiefs and Rajahs who had attended his reception, and it was then that he was enabled to show his tact and the extraordinary knowledge he had acquired of their complicated ranks and genealogies; indeed, he greatly pleased several important Rajahs by showing that he had heard of the antiquity of their families, and by graciously alluding to the gallant deeds of their ancestors. The British people of Bombay had organised a great dinner for the sailors of the fleet, and, much to their gratification, the King consented to attend the banquet. Not content with a mere formal glance at the proceedings, he mounted a plank, and with a glass in his hand, exclaimed to the delighted men, of whom there were over two thousand present, “My lads, I am glad to meet you all. I drink your good health, and a happy voyage home.”
King Edward took the opportunity of laying the foundation-stone of the Elphinstone Docks, the ceremony being carried out with Masonic honours, and it was considered very interesting and significant that among members of the craft present were Parsees, Mahomedans, and Hindus.
During the month of November the King visited Poona, where he held a review, and visited the Court of the Gaikwar of Baroda. There a fine elephant was prepared for his use. The animal was of extraordinary size, and the howdah on which the King rode was said to have cost four lakhs of rupees. He held a reception at the Residency, and had his first sight of Indian sport, for he attended a cheetah hunt, himself killing a fine buck, and much enjoying his day’s sport. About the same time he also joined a pig-sticking expedition, a very popular Indian sport, and at last, to his great satisfaction, had the opportunity of “getting his spear,” in other words, of killing a wild boar.
Then, returning to Bombay, the Royal party once more took up their quarters on the Serapis, where the King spent Queen Alexandra’s birthday. From Bombay he found time to visit the Portuguese settlement of Goa, and thence went on to Ceylon, where he inspected a tea plantation, and where the peepul planted by him in commemoration of his visit is still proudly shown to the ubiquitous globe-trotter.
At Madras the King had a splendid reception, spending, however, 14th December, the anniversary of his father’s death, in retirement at Guindy Park, the country seat of the Governor, eight miles from the city.
Christmas Day was spent in Calcutta, where an immense programme was gone through, including a considerable number of public ceremonies, the holding of audiences, and last, but not least, a levée, at which both natives and Europeans were present. After the King and the Viceroy had attended divine service in the Cathedral, His Majesty entertained a large party at lunch in the Serapis. His health was drunk with Highland honours, and many messages were exchanged between himself and “home.” On the afternoon of the same day the Royal party drove out to the Viceregal Lodge at Barrackpur.
The most important ceremony attended by King Edward in India, namely, a Chapter of the Order of the Star of India, at which he acted as High Commissioner for his Royal mother, was held on New Year’s Day 1876. His Majesty wore a field-marshal’s uniform, almost concealed beneath the folds of his sky-blue satin mantle, the train of which was carried by two naval cadets, who wore cocked hats over their powdered wigs, blue satin cloaks, trunk hose, and shoes with rosettes. The Chapter tent was carpeted with cloth of gold with the Royal Arms emblazoned in the centre. An immense number of the Companions of the Order attended, forming a most impressive procession, walking two and two, one half native and the other European. The Begum of Bhopal, the first Knight Grand Commander, had a procession all to herself. She was veiled and swathed in brocades and silks, over which was folded the light blue satin robe of the Order.
The King took his seat on the daïs, and after the roll of the Order had been read, each member standing up as his name was called, the Chapter was declared open, and His Majesty directed the investiture to proceed. Never had such a gathering been seen in India. Among those present were Lord Napier of Magdala, “Political” Maitland, the Maharajah of Kashmir, and the Rajah of Patiala, who wore the great Sancy diamond in his turban.
As each investiture took place, seventeen guns were fired, and the secretary proclaimed aloud the titles of the newly-made Knight Grand Commander or Companion as the case might be. The pageant was incomparably splendid, the close of the ceremony being quite as fine as the beginning, for the Knights Grand Cross, the Knights Grand Commanders, and the Companions all formed once more in a procession in the reverse order of their entry.
At the close of the King’s visit to Calcutta he began his journeys by rail. At Benares he visited the famous Temples, and the Golden Pool, going from thence by steamer to the old port of Rammagar, where he and his suite were splendidly received by the Maharajah, who presented him with some very costly shawls and brocades, together with what is to an Indian the very highest proof of regard, namely his own walking-stick, a thick staff mounted with gold.
At Lucknow the King laid the foundation-stone of a memorial to the natives who fell in the defence of the Residency. On this occasion he took the opportunity of paying a well-deserved tribute to the faithful soldiers of the native army. Some of the veterans were presented to him, and they were not allowed to be hurried by, ragged, squalid, or unclean; indeed, His Majesty insisted on exchanging a few words with several of them.
While at Lucknow he took part in a pig-sticking expedition, at which Lord Carrington’s left collar-bone was broken, and curiously enough, Lord Napier of Magdala met with a precisely similar accident on the same day.
The King’s Visit to the Cawnpore Memorial
From Delhi the King proceeded to Cawnpore, a spot he had been extremely anxious to visit, in common with many less illustrious tourists. His Majesty, after a drive to the site of the old cantonments, where the heroic defence took place, made his way to the Memorial Church, where he stopped close to the gateway which no native may pass through. There he alighted, and, with signs of deep emotion, walked to the spot which marks the place of the fatal well. There was deep silence as he read aloud in a low voice the touching words, “To the memory of a great company of Christian people, principally women and children, who were cruelly slaughtered here.”
On returning to Delhi the King held a levée, attended by hundreds of British officers, at the close of which several notabilities of the native army were presented. The next day a great review was held, Lord Napier of Magdala entertaining His Majesty at his own camp. Delhi was illuminated, and no trouble was spared in showing what was once the capital city of India to the Royal visitor.
Some interesting hours were spent at Agra, where the King went to see the Taj illuminated, the beautiful marble “Queen of Sorrow” erected by the Shah Jehan in memory of his much-loved wife, Moomtaz i Mahul, who died at the birth of her eighth child. The King was so greatly charmed with the beauty of the Taj, lit up by myriad lights, that he would not return to the city till nearly midnight. All through the journeys and expeditions which immediately followed, His Majesty could not forget what he had seen, and before finally leaving the district he paid one more visit to the famous tomb, seeing it this time not illuminated, but by the beautiful full Indian moonlight.
The King shot his first tiger on 5th February in the neighbourhood of Jeypur, but it was by no means the last, for it is recorded that he shot six tigers in one day when hunting in Nepaul with Sir Jung Bahadur. Then he returned through Lucknow, Cawnpore, and Allahabad. At Jubbulpur His Majesty went through the prison, and had some talk with seven Thugs who had been thirty-five years in confinement, and whose life in the first instance had only been spared because they had turned Queen’s evidence. The King questioned them as to their hideous trade, and one man, a villainous-looking individual, answered proudly, in reply to the question as to how many people he had murdered, “Sixty-seven.”
King Edward and his suite left Bombay for home on 13th March, just seventeen weeks after the Serapis had first dropped anchor in Bombay harbour. During those four months he had travelled close on 8000 miles by land and 2500 miles by sea, and during that time he had become acquainted with more Rajahs than had all the Viceroys who had ever reigned over India, and he had seen more of the country than had any living Englishman.
The intelligence that Queen Victoria was about to assume the title of Empress of India had become known before the Serapis left Bombay, and caused her son great gratification. Curiously enough, the King met Lord Lytton, who was on his way out to Hindustan to succeed Lord Northbrook as Viceroy, when the Serapis was going through the Suez Canal.
The Royal party spent five days in Egypt. By 6th April Malta was in sight, and the King was received there with great enthusiasm, as was also the case at Gibraltar, where he had the pleasure of meeting his brother, the Duke of Connaught. From there the Serapis proceeded by easy stages round Spain, the King taking the opportunity of visiting Seville, Cordova, Madrid, the Escurial, Lisbon, and Cintra. At Madrid King Alfonso came to meet the King at the station, and they drove together to the Palace, going from there to Toledo in order that the Royal visitor might inspect the famous manufactory of Toledo blades.
As the Serapis anchored near Yarmouth the King was informed that Queen Alexandra and the Royal children had come to meet him on board the Enchantress. He immediately went on board their ship, bringing Her Majesty and their children back with him a little later on board the Serapis.
It need hardly be pointed out that King Edward received a very remarkable number of gifts during his tour in India. The cost of a gift made to him by a native Prince was supposed to be strictly limited to £2000 in value, but in many cases this restriction was evaded by the present being priced at a nominal sum, the real value being anything from £5000 to £30,000. As an actual fact the splendid collection brought home by His Majesty, which is his own personal property, is said to be worth half a million sterling.
Some time after his return home the King kindly allowed his Indian gifts to be exhibited to the public. They were afterwards distributed between Marlborough House and Sandringham, a considerable portion of them finding a resting-place in the Indian room of Marlborough House. There also were carefully stored away in solid silver cylinders all the addresses received by the King during his eventful Indian tour.
King Edward, who takes the very keenest interest in live animals, brought back quite a menagerie with him from India, and the quarters in the Serapis assigned to his pets was for the time being a veritable Zoo, for there were tigers, elephants, ostriches, leopards, birds, ponies, cattle, monkeys, dogs and horses, some of which spent a peaceful old age at Sandringham.
There can be no doubt that from a political point of view the tour was a great success, doing much indirectly to consolidate the British power in India. It is also a curious commentary on the objections raised by the economy party to the visit that no less a sum than £250,000 was spent in London alone by native Princes in buying presents for His Majesty.
The principal incident of the voyage home had been a farewell dinner given by the officers of the Serapis to the King and his suite when the vessel was nearing harbour.
The table was laid for forty on the main deck (called the Windsor Long Walk), which was decorated with flags, trophies of arms, and ornaments. After Queen Victoria had been duly honoured, Captain Glyn proposed King Edward’s health, and begged him to accept an album as a keepsake from himself and his officers. It contained, besides a large photograph of every officer, photographed groups of the men and the Guard of Honour, views of different parts of the ship, and photographs of a few favourite animals.
The real popularity of the King’s visit to India was significantly proved by the popular demonstrations which awaited him on his return. Enthusiastic greetings of welcome hailed him in the evening both at Victoria Station and in his drive round by Grosvenor Place, Piccadilly, and St. James’s Street to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The appearance of the King and Queen at the Royal Italian Opera in the evening, within two hours of their reaching home, was a particularly graceful act of consideration. Nothing could surpass the enthusiasm with which they were greeted when they were seen in the Royal box.
The King in 1876
From a Drawing by Sargent
During the days that followed, their Majesties received congratulatory visits from all the members of the Royal Family then in England, and from many distinguished personages. On the Sunday after his return, King Edward, accompanied by his Consort, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Duke of Connaught, attended divine service at Westminster Abbey in the afternoon, when special thanksgivings were offered up for His Majesty’s safe return from India.
Soon afterwards the King was entertained at a banquet and ball given by the Corporation of the City of London at the Guildhall. The temporary building erected for this brilliant assembly, to which over five thousand were invited, occupied the whole of Guildhall Yard. The reception hall was on the basement floor, the ballroom being built above it, and was beautifully decorated and draped with Oriental hangings. A daïs had been erected for their Majesties; and the scene is described as a combination of quaintly mediæval magnificence with modern luxury and elegance. The reception ceremony took place in the new library of the Guildhall, where an address of welcome, in a golden casket of Indian design, was presented to the King by the Lord Mayor. His Majesty, in a brief reply, said that it was his highest reward and his greatest pride to have received from the citizens of London and his countrymen such a welcome at the termination of a visit which had been undertaken with the view to strengthening the ties that bound India to our common country. The invitation tickets for this brilliant function were both beautiful and appropriate, the Star of India and the Taj Mahal at Agra figuring prominently in the design.
Among the other entertainments given in honour of the King’s return may be mentioned a concert at the Albert Hall. King Edward and Queen Alexandra on their arrival were received by a Guard of Honour of 120 bluejackets from the Serapis, the Raleigh, and the Osborne, under the command of Captain Carr Glyn, and in the vestibule were all the Council of the Albert Hall, wearing the Windsor uniform. At their head was the Duke of Edinburgh in naval uniform. The vast hall was crowded with a distinguished audience.
The year 1876 was marked, in addition to King Edward’s return from India, by a curious example of His Majesty’s tact and courage. He consented to preside at the special Jubilee Festival of the Licensed Victuallers’ Asylum, and this action aroused an extraordinary amount of feeling in temperance circles. Before the day of the festival he had received more than 200 petitions from all over the kingdom begging him to withdraw his consent. His Majesty, however, attended the festival, and in his speech pointedly referred to his critics, observing that he was there, not to encourage the consumption of alcoholic liquors, but to support an excellent charity, which had enjoyed the patronage of his honoured father.
It is interesting to note the manner in which King Edward always refers to his father, with whom he undoubtedly has far more in common than is generally supposed. Perhaps the most conspicuous taste shared by the father and the son is a really keen and personal interest in exhibitions of all kinds. This was probably first realised by those about him twenty years ago, when the King accepted the onerous duties of Executive President of the British Commission of the Paris Exhibition of 1878. He threw himself with ardour into this work almost immediately after his return from India, and during a short visit which he paid to France in that spring he received a considerable number of official personages connected with the approaching exhibition.
The King, accompanied by Queen Alexandra, unveiled in the following July a statue of Alfred the Great at Wantage, the birthplace of the famous King. The statue was the gift of Colonel Lloyd-Lindsay (afterwards Lord Wantage), the sculptor being Count Gleichen (Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg). King Edward is a lineal descendant of King Alfred by the intermarriage of the Saxon with the Norman reigning houses in the eleventh century, and it was most appropriate that he should have been invited to perform the ceremony.
In January 1878 King Edward, accompanied by Prince Louis Napoleon, visited the late Duke of Hamilton at Hamilton Palace, in Lanarkshire. The Crown Prince of Austria was also a guest of the Duke at the time. The King greatly enjoyed this visit to the premier Peer of Scotland, who is of the ancient lineage of Scottish Royalty. The Royal visitors enjoyed some excellent sport in the historic Cadzow Forest—Cadyow having been granted by King Robert the Bruce after the battle of Bannockburn to Sir Gilbert Hamilton, the ancestor of the present Duke. Here still remain the few old oaks of the once great Caledonian Forest, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his ballad of “Cadyow Castle”; and here are also the wild white bulls of the same breed as preserved at Chillingham, and the famous Cadzow herd of wild cattle.
This year of 1878, so brilliant in Paris, brought to the British Royal family a bereavement which can only be compared for its suddenness and bitterness with the death of the Prince Consort. The Grand Duchess of Hesse (Princess Alice), after nursing her children through a malignant diphtheria, herself fell a victim to the same dread disease on the very anniversary of her father’s death. The blow fell with peculiar severity on the King and Queen Alexandra, with whom Princess Alice had been united in the bonds of the closest affection, especially since the King’s illness, in which she had proved herself so devoted a nurse. The link between the Royal brother and sister is significantly shown by the fact that Princess Alice never visited England without paying long visits at Sandringham or at Marlborough House. The King was one of the chief mourners at the funeral in Darmstadt.
The King in 1879
From a Portrait by Angeli, published by Henry Graves and Co.
After this blow the King and Queen naturally remained for some months in the deepest retirement. A new grief was, however, in store for them—the tragic death in the following June of the young Prince Imperial, in whose career the King had always taken a warm and almost paternal interest. His Majesty was among the very first in this country to be informed of the terrible news, and he was of the greatest assistance to the stricken Empress Eugénie in making the complicated arrangements for the funeral. His active sympathy, and the announcement that the heir to the British Crown intended to be the principal pall-bearer of Napoleon III.’s ill-fated son, aroused much comment on the Continent, and gave great satisfaction to Frenchmen of all shades of political opinion. On a beautiful wreath of violets which was sent from Marlborough House for the funeral at Chislehurst were the words, written in Queen Alexandra’s own hand:—
“A token of affection and regard for him who lived the most spotless of lives and died a soldier’s death fighting for our cause in Zululand.
“From Albert Edward and Alexandra,
July 12, 1879.”
The King strongly supported the movement for erecting a memorial to the Prince Imperial in Westminster Abbey, and subscribed £130 to the fund which was raised for that object. The opposition to the scheme was, however, so strong that it fell to the ground. That the King’s feelings were not modified in any way is shown by the fact that early in January 1883, His Majesty, accompanied by his two sons, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George, with the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Cambridge, unveiled a monument to the Prince Imperial at Woolwich. This “United Service Memorial” was erected by a subscription raised throughout all ranks of the Army, Navy, Royal Marines, Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, and Count Gleichen was the sculptor. The King, in a speech at the unveiling, commended the virtues, the blameless life, the courage, and obedience to orders manifested by the young Prince, as a bright example to the young men entering the Military Academy, and remarked that it was only a natural impulse which prompted his desire to join his English comrades in the war in South Africa, in which he fell fighting for the Queen of England.
In view of Princess Louise’s subsequent marriage it is interesting to record that in the autumn of 1880 the King, accompanied by Prince Leopold and Prince John of Glucksburg, visited the Earl of Fife at Mar Lodge. On the evening of their arrival Lord Fife gave a grand ball, at which his distinguished visitors were present. The entertainment included a torchlight procession and dance by the Duff Highlanders. The party also enjoyed some deer-stalking in the Forest of Mar.
An incident worth recording occurred in January 1881, during a visit of the King and Queen to Normanton Park. Queen Alexandra drove with Lady Aveland to Oakham, and paid a visit to the ancient castle, on the inner walls of which are nailed numerous horse-shoes, the gift, or rather the toll, of various Royal and noble personages. A large horse-shoe of steel, perfect in shape and of elegant workmanship, had been made for the Queen to offer. Her Majesty examined the other horse-shoes in the Castle hall, and chose the position in which she desired her toll to be affixed, namely, over a large one supposed to have been the gift of Queen Elizabeth. The Queen greatly enjoyed following this ancient custom, a mark of territorial power possessed for many centuries by the Ferrers family, a shoe from the horse of every princely traveller who passed that way being a tax due to the Ferrers or Farriers. Among the horse-shoes specially noticed by Queen Alexandra were one contributed by Queen Victoria before her accession, on 2nd September 1833; another by the Duchess of Kent on the same date; also one offered by the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., on 7th January 1814.
It was in this year that the King had an opportunity of exhibiting in a public manner his strong interest in the British Colonies, the welfare of which was not then so much a matter of concern in the eyes of our statesmen as it is now. The occasion was a dinner given to the members of the Colonial Institute by the then Lord Mayor, Sir George MacArthur, himself an old colonist. An extraordinary number of distinguished men connected in various ways, official and other, with our colonies were present. In his speech the King pointed out that no function of the kind had ever taken place before—a statement which seems hardly credible nowadays, thanks in a great measure to His Majesty’s own unwearied exertions in the interests of our colonial empire. The King also alluded to his Canadian tour, and took the opportunity of paying a graceful compliment to his friend Sir John Macdonald, the Canadian statesman, who was present.
The King in 1882
From the Painting by H. J. Brooks, published by Henry Graves and Co.
Very shortly after this dinner the King attended as patron the first meeting ever held in this country of the International Medical Congress.
King Edward was deeply grieved at the death of Dean Stanley, with whom, as we have seen, he had been on terms of close intimacy. At a meeting held in the Chapter-House of Westminster Abbey, His Majesty paid a touching and eloquent tribute to his dead friend’s rare qualities, both of heart and intellect.
Generally speaking, this period of the King’s life was not very eventful. His children were still quite young, and his public appearances, though tolerably frequent, did not usually possess more than a local importance. There were, however, some conspicuous exceptions, which broke the even current of his life. For example, it would be difficult to overestimate the value of the work which His Majesty did in promoting the International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883, which was visited by nearly three million people, and may be said to have been the first introduction into London of open-air entertainment on a large scale. Moreover, it resulted in a clear profit of £15,000, of which two-thirds was devoted to the relief of the orphan families of fishermen.
The success of the Fisheries suggested to the King the idea of another exhibition concerned with health and hygiene, which was held in 1884, and was nicknamed the “Healtheries.” Not long before it was opened the King and Queen Alexandra suffered a great bereavement in the death of the Duke of Albany, to whom their Majesties had always been very much attached. He died quite suddenly in the south of France on 28th March, and the King instantly started for the Riviera and brought his brother’s remains back to Windsor. In the following July His Majesty, presiding at the festival of the Railway Guards’ Friendly Society, took the opportunity of his first appearance at a public dinner to express in the name of Queen Victoria and the Royal Family their thanks for the public sympathy shown on the death of the Duke of Albany.
In August of this year was celebrated the jubilee of the abolition of slavery throughout the British dominions. The King attended a meeting at the Mansion-House and delivered a long and elaborate speech, evidently the result of much painstaking study, in which he reviewed the whole history of the anti-slavery movement.
The news of the fall of Khartoum came as a terrible shock to the King, who had long watched with increasing interest the career of General Gordon. Indeed, General Gordon had always been one of His Majesty’s great heroes, and it was chiefly owing to His Majesty’s initiative that a fund was established for providing a national memorial to the hero of Khartoum. At the first meeting of the committee the King made a touching speech, in which he said of Gordon—
“His career as a soldier, as a philanthropist, and as a Christian is a matter of history.… Many would wish for some fine statue, some fine monument, but we who know what Gordon was feel convinced that were he living nothing would be more distasteful personally than that any memorial should be erected in the shape of a statue or of any great monument. His tastes were so simple and we all know he was anxious that his name should not be brought prominently before the public, though in every act of his life that name was brought, I am inclined to think, as prominently before the nation as that of any soldier or any great Englishman whom we know of at the present time.”
It is well known that it was His Majesty’s suggestion that a hospital and sanatorium should be founded in Egypt open to persons of all nationalities. Queen Alexandra was present at the special service held in St. Paul’s on 13th March, the day of public mourning for the loss of General Gordon.
Three days later the King, accompanied by his eldest son, presided at a meeting of the Royal Colonial Institute, and spoke of the personal as well as of the political interest he took in everything that concerned the colonies. On the next day Prince Albert Victor was initiated as a Freemason in the presence of a large and most distinguished company, his father receiving the Royal apprentice in his quality of Worshipful Master of the Royal Alpha Lodge. On the following day the King, Prince Albert Victor, and the Duke of Edinburgh went to Berlin to congratulate the aged Emperor William on his eighty-eighth birthday.
It had been decided, not without the most anxious consideration, that the King and Queen, accompanied by their elder son, should pay a visit to Ireland. The announcement was received with the greatest excitement both in Ireland and in America.
United Ireland, the chief organ of the Nationalist party, then edited by Mr. William O’Brien, and said to be largely written by Mr. T. M. Healy, brought out a special number devoted entirely to expressions of opinion from eminent Irishmen of all kinds on the Royal visit. Every Nationalist Member of Parliament, every prominent ecclesiastic, in a word, every Irishman of conspicuous Nationalist views, was invited to say what he thought of the forthcoming visit. The answers filled a copious supplement, and their tenour was one of unanimous disapproval, expressed in some cases strongly, and in others in terms of studied moderation. Almost all the letters agreed in counselling an attitude of absolute indifference to the visit, but abstention from any kind of display of hostility to the King himself was insisted on; and it was openly said that the part which he was playing in this pageant was a more or less passive one. This, perhaps, showed more than anything else that has occurred during His Majesty’s life the personal liking and respect in which he is held.
It may be added that when the King and Queen arrived early in April 1885, the Nationalist party made no sign, but, as there was naturally a great display of rejoicing on the part of the Anti-nationalist citizens, the Press, perhaps unfortunately, chose to regard this reception as a proof that the Home Rulers were wholly discredited. The Nationalist leaders therefore made up their minds that it was necessary to make some protest against the Royal progress as an answer to these taunts, and accordingly, from Mallow till the Royal party left Ireland, they were the victims of some very unpleasing demonstrations, and at Cork collisions occurred between the police and the mob, though no serious injuries were reported on either side.
Perhaps the most interesting event of the tour was when, after laying the foundation-stone of the New Science and Art Museum and National Library of Ireland in Dublin on 10th April, their Majesties attended the Royal University of Ireland, and the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on the King, and that of Doctor of Music on Queen Alexandra. Her Majesty has always been passionately fond of music, and the distinction gave her special gratification.
The Colonial and Indian Exhibition, called for short the “Colinderies,” may be said to have been the most successful of all those with which the King was intimately associated. It was opened by Queen Victoria on 4th May 1886, and Her Majesty was received by the King, and Queen Alexandra, His Majesty conducting his mother to the daïs. In the Royal Albert Hall, where the opening ceremony took place, everything was done to make the scene as impressive and interesting as possible; and at the special desire of the King, Lord Tennyson wrote an Ode for the occasion, which was set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan and sung by Madame Albani in the choir. This exhibition resulted in a net surplus of £35,000.
In September some correspondence between King Edward and the Lord Mayor, suggesting the establishment of a Colonial and Indian Institute to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee, was published, and excited a great deal of interest both at home and in the Colonies. A public subscription was opened at the Mansion-House; and later in the same month His Majesty, having been informed that a movement was on foot to present him with a testimonial in recognition of his services in connection with the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, wrote to request that any fund subscribed might be devoted to the furtherance of the Imperial Institute, and a great deal of his time that autumn was dedicated to this scheme.
Queen Alexandra in her Robes as Doctor of Music
From a Photograph by Chancellor, Dublin
The King in 1886 also gave his patronage to two great engineering achievements, by opening the Mersey Tunnel and by laying the first stone of the Tower Bridge. It is interesting to note in this connection that His Majesty has long been an honorary member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and when he attended their annual dinner in the same year, he made an amusing speech, in which he attempted to picture what sort of a world ours would be without engineers.
One of the busiest years ever spent by the King and Queen Alexandra was 1887, when Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated. To His Majesty was left the responsibility of a great number of the arrangements, and on him fell almost entirely the reception and entertainment of the foreign Royal personages who attended the splendid ceremony in the Abbey as Queen Victoria’s guests. In many cases the King was obliged to welcome in person the Royal visitor to London, and he was indefatigable in his efforts to make everything go off as smoothly and successfully as possible, while it need hardly be said that he took a very prominent part next to Queen Victoria in all the Jubilee functions.
It was in this year that His Majesty was appointed Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, a distinction which gave him much gratification, for it was his first definite official link with the sea service which he had selected as the profession of his younger son, and in which his elder son had received an early training—a link which was destined to be still further strengthened after His Majesty’s accession, as will be related hereafter.
Considerable preparations were made early in 1888 for the Silver Wedding of King Edward and Queen Alexandra, but it was well known that the Royal family were expecting daily to hear of the death of the old German Emperor, William I., which actually occurred just before the Silver Wedding Day, and everything in the way of public rejoicing was countermanded. Still, the 10th of March was not allowed to pass entirely unobserved. The whole of the Royal family then in England, preceded by Queen Victoria, called at Marlborough House to offer their congratulations in person, and for that one day the Court mourning was abandoned. The King and Queen Alexandra with their family lunched at Buckingham Palace with Queen Victoria, while in the evening the Sovereign attended a family dinner-party at Marlborough House, this being the first time she had ever been to dinner with her son and daughter-in-law in London. Queen Victoria, after leaving Marlborough House, drove through some of the principal West End streets in order to see the illuminations. Her Majesty also gave a State ball at Buckingham Palace in honour of the event, and the King and Queen of Denmark gave a grand ball at the Amalienborg Palace at Copenhagen.
Archbishop Magee (then Bishop of Peterborough) writes in a letter to his intimate friend and biographer, Canon MacDonnell, the following amusing account of his share in the rejoicings:—
“Athenæum Club, 11th March 1888.
“Did you ever in your eminently respectable life dance on the tight rope? And did you ever do so in the presence of Royalty? No? Then I have beaten you.
“For I have this day performed that exceedingly difficult feat, and dead beat do I feel after it. I suppose you saw (for it was announced in all the papers) that H.R.H. was to worship at Whitehall with all his family, to keep his silver wedding, and that the Bishop of Peterborough was to preach. Not an easy thing to do, under any circumstances, to preach to Royalty in a pew opposite you, and also to a large middle-class congregation on a special occasion. But only think of having to add to this a special allusion to the late Emperor of Germany’s death, and the present Emperor’s condition, and all this within the space of forty minutes, the utmost length that it is considered good taste to inflict on H.R.H. Add to this that he specially requested an offertory for the Gordon Boys’ Home, and of course implied some reference in the sermon to this. So that I had, within forty minutes, to preach a charity sermon, a wedding sermon, and a funeral one. Match me that if you can for difficulty.…”
In the unavoidable absence of the Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapels-Royal, the Archbishop of Canterbury was present, His Grace finally receiving the alms and giving the benediction. On the desk in the Royal Closet, in front of Queen Alexandra, was placed a beautiful bouquet of lilies of the valley, the emblem of the See and Province of Canterbury. Her Majesty quitted the chapel carrying the bouquet.
An enormous number of presents testified to the wide affection and respect in which the Royal couple were held. King Edward gave his wife a cross of diamonds and rubies, her favourite jewels; and from St. Petersburg, as a joint gift of the Emperor and Empress of Russia, came a superb necklace of the same gems composed of carefully selected stones. The five children of Queen Alexandra gave her a silver model of “Viva,” her favourite mare. Her Majesty’s eight bridesmaids, who were all alive and all married, gave the Royal bride of 1863 their autographs bound up in a silver book enshrined in a silver casket of Danish work.
The Freemasons of Great Britain presented Queen Alexandra with a very splendid diamond butterfly. The members of the Body-Guard were represented by a silver statue of a member of the corps, arrayed in the uniform originally designed by the Prince Consort. The Comte de Paris sent a large agate punch-bowl, studded with precious stones. Among the public gifts which afforded the King and Queen most pleasure was the Colonial Silver Wedding gift—a silver candelabrum adapted for electric light, and a fine twenty-one day movement clock to match. The Colonies became very enthusiastic over this gift, and more than £2000 was subscribed in small sums.
The King and Queen of Denmark gave a silver-gilt tea and coffee service; the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark, a valuable vase of Danish china; the Empress Eugénie, a silver model of a two-masted ship of the time of Henry VIII.; and the King of the Belgians, a large silver tankard and a collection of the choicest exotics from the gardens at Laeken. The Austrian Ambassador presented an autograph letter from the Emperor Francis Joseph announcing that King Edward had been appointed to the Honorary Colonelcy of the 12th Hussar Regiment in the Austro-Hungarian Army. The French Ambassador was also received in audience, and offered an expression of good wishes on the part of the President of the French Republic and the French Government.
The presents received by the King and Queen were arranged in the Indian Room at Marlborough House. A prominent position was accorded to the gift from Queen Victoria—a massive silver flagon of goodly height and proportions, the counterpart of one in the Kremlin. One corner of the Indian Room was filled with floral gifts, bouquets, wreaths, pyramids of lilies of the valley, and rich and rare exotics, sent by all classes of the community from all parts of the country and from the Continent.
In strong contrast to these rejoicings was the deep shadow thrown over King Edward and his family by the serious illness of the Emperor Frederick. All the arrangements of their Majesties were naturally dependent on the news received almost hourly from the sick-chamber at Potsdam, but even in the midst of his terrible anxieties the King did not disappoint the loyal citizens of Glasgow, whose Exhibition he had promised to open, and who gave him a right Royal welcome. At length the long-dreaded blow fell. On 14th June the Emperor Frederick breathed his last after a reign of ninety-nine days.
The following year was notable for the first break in the King’s own family circle caused by marriage. But before the engagement of Princess Louise to the Earl of Fife was publicly announced, Queen Victoria paid one of her necessarily rare visits to Sandringham, spending altogether four days there. While there Her Majesty witnessed a performance of The Bells and of The Merchant of Venice, given by Sir Henry Irving and the members of the Lyceum Company. The King’s tenants presented an address of welcome to his Royal mother, to which Queen Victoria gave the following gracious reply:—
“It has given me great pleasure to receive your loyal address, and I thank you sincerely for the terms in which you welcome me to Sandringham, and for the kind expressions which you have used towards the Prince and Princess of Wales. After the anxious time I spent here seventeen years ago, when, by the blessing of God, my dear son was spared to me and to the nation, it is indeed a pleasure to find myself here again, among cheerful homes and cheerful faces, and to see the kind feeling which exists between a good landlord and a good tenant; and I trust that this mutual attachment and esteem may long continue to make you happy and prosperous, and to strengthen, if possible, the affection of the Prince and Princess of Wales for the tenants of Sandringham.”
Although Great Britain was not officially represented at the Paris Centennial Exhibition of this year, the King once more showed his friendship with France by going over with his Consort in semi-incognito. Their Majesties carefully inspected the whole Exhibition, paying special attention to the British section, and finished by ascending the Eiffel Tower.
The Duchess of Fife, Princess Victoria, and Princess Charles of Denmark
From a Photograph by Lafayette
Princess Louise’s engagement was made public in the spring, and though it aroused almost as much surprise as satisfaction among the general public, yet those who were really in a position to know regarded it as the most natural thing in the world. Lord Fife had for years been admitted to the close intimacy of the King’s family circle. His was the only bachelor’s house at which Queen Alexandra had ever been entertained, he had long been a frequent and welcome guest at Sandringham, and when he took the oath and his seat in the House of Lords, the King had paid him the rare honour of appearing as one of his introducers. Although rumours of the betrothal of the King’s eldest daughter to various foreign Princes had for some time been rife, His Majesty had made no secret of the special importance which he attached to her marriage, for at that time it appeared by no means impossible that the Princess herself or her children might one day sit on the British throne. In these circumstances a foreign marriage of the particular kind which then seemed intrinsically probable would have been frankly unpopular with the British people, who would have pictured themselves as being perhaps one day reduced to bringing back their Queen, now wholly Germanised, from some obscure Grand Duchy.
King Edward on this occasion showed once more his intuitive sympathy with the feelings of his future subjects, for the news of the Royal engagement was received with an absolutely unforced outburst of popular enthusiasm, the more so when it became known that it was entirely a love match.
The King and Queen Alexandra with their three daughters went to Windsor on 27th June and visited Queen Victoria, who formally gave her consent to the engagement. On the receipt of the news at Marlborough House the fact was at once communicated to the Household, and the Marquis of Salisbury, the Prime Minister, was also officially informed. The Earl of Fife was received by Queen Victoria the same evening at Windsor Castle. In the House of Commons a Message from the Queen formally announced the intended marriage, and the First Lord of the Treasury gave notice of a motion to grant a suitable provision for the Royal bride, though owing to the great wealth of the bridegroom this was perhaps less necessary than it had been on the occasion of other Royal marriages.
The Earl of Fife (Alexander William George Duff), Baron Skene of Skene, Viscount Macduff, and Baron Braco of Kilbryde, County Cavan, was the only son of James, fifth Earl of Fife, and of the Countess of Fife, who was Lady Agnes Georgiana Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the Earl of Erroll. He was born on 10th November 1849, and was educated at Eton. He succeeded his father in the Scotch and Irish honours on 7th August 1879, and was created an Earl of the United Kingdom in 1885. He sat as Viscount Macduff in the House of Commons from 1874 to 1879 as Liberal member for Elgin and Nairn. Lord Fife, who is one of the largest landed proprietors in Scotland, owning extensive estates in Elgin, Banff, and Aberdeen, was created Duke of Fife and Marquis of Macduff in the peerage of the United Kingdom, on his wedding day, 27th July, having declined to take the title of Duke of Inverness.
The Duke of Fife
From a Photograph by the London Stereoscopic Co.
The wedding was celebrated in the Chapel at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of Queen Victoria, King Edward, and Queen Alexandra, with their sons and two younger daughters, the King of the Hellenes, the Crown Prince of Denmark, and the Grand Duke of Hesse.
The King of the Hellenes has always been one of the favourite brothers-in-law of the King, who, with Queen Alexandra, went to Athens in the autumn to attend the wedding of the Duke of Sparta and Princess Sophie of Germany.
The following year was not very eventful. In March the King performed the ceremonies of finishing and opening the Forth Bridge in the presence of an illustrious assembly, including his son Prince George, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had travelled from Russia on purpose, the Duke of Fife, and the Earl of Rosebery, who entertained the Royal party at Dalmeny. The last rivet, which the King fixed, is on the outside of the railway, and holds together three plates. Around its gilded top there runs a commemorative inscription. At the hour appointed for the formal declaration of the opening of the bridge, the wind was blowing so violently that it was impossible for His Majesty to make a speech. He simply said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare the Forth Bridge open.”
It was in March, also, that the King and Prince George attended a Chapter of the Order of the Black Eagle in Berlin, at which Prince George was invested with the insignia of the Order. Subsequently the Royal visitors took part in the Ordensfest.
During the winter of 1890 various rumours had been rife as to a cause célèbre in which King Edward was to be called as a witness. These reports proved to have had substantial foundation in the following spring, when Sir William Gordon-Cumming, a cavalry officer of good family, who had distinguished himself in the Egyptian campaign, and was understood to enjoy the personal friendship of the King, brought an action for slander against five defendants—Mrs. Arthur Wilson, Mrs. A. S. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Lycett Green, and Mr. Berkeley Levett—who had accused him of cheating at baccarat at Tranby Croft, the Wilsons’ place near Hull.
The trial opened early in June before Lord Chief-Justice Coleridge, and the King was accommodated with a seat on the bench. The Court throughout wore the air of a theatre rather than of a Court of Justice, the bench and both the galleries being filled with ladies, who used their opera-glasses with freedom to discover the notable personages in Court, and to watch Sir William Gordon-Cumming under examination. The great counsel of the day were engaged. Sir Edward Clarke (Solicitor-General), with Mr. C. F. Gill as his junior, conducted the case for Sir William Gordon-Cumming; and Sir Charles Russell (afterwards Lord Chief-Justice), with Mr. Asquith, appeared for the defendants, the Attorney-General having withdrawn from the case.
The Solicitor-General made a speech of singular power and skill on behalf of his client. The point of the defence was that Sir William Gordon-Cumming—who was accused of the trick known as la poussette, by which a player at baccarat increases his stake after he sees that the cards are in his favour or the coup has been declared—had simply been playing on a system. This theory Sir William supported in the witness-box with great steadiness, and though his cross-examination was most severe, he maintained that on no occasion had he wrongfully increased the stake. When the cross-examiner came to a document which the plaintiff had signed, practically admitting his guilt, and which had been witnessed by the King, Sir William’s explanation was, in effect, that he was hopeless of convincing those round him of his innocence, and that he desired for his own sake and that of others to avoid a scandal.
King Edward entered the witness-box and was sworn in the ordinary way on the second day. Sir Edward Clarke addressed him as “Sir” and “Your Royal Highness,” and Sir Charles Russell did the same. His Majesty gave his evidence with much frankness, but it was largely of a formal character. He did, however, say that at the time when, as banker, he questioned Sir William Gordon-Cumming on the largeness of his winnings, he did not think he had been cheating; but he added, in cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, that in advising Sir William Gordon-Cumming to sign the document, he considered he had been acting most leniently.
As the King was leaving the witness-box an amusing incident occurred. A juryman rose from the back of the jury-box, and with naïf frankness put two important questions—whether the King had ever seen Sir William Gordon-Cumming cheating, and whether he believed him to be guilty. In reply to the first question the King answered that the banker would not be in a position to see foul play, and that among friends it would not be expected; and to the second he replied that, Sir William’s accusers being so numerous, he could not but believe them. Having elicited these very important facts, the little juryman sat down, and the King left the box with a smile and a bow.
The King’s evidence was followed by that of General Owen Williams, who, with Lord Coventry, drew up the document signed by the plaintiff. General Williams made two important statements—that he believed Sir William guilty, and that the King had objected to his placing his hands on the table in such a way that the counters could not properly be seen. In the course of the evidence it came out that the stakes played for on the two evenings were not large, but that Sir William won in all £225, which was paid him by cheque and which he retained.
The trial lasted seven days, and on 9th June the jury, after ten minutes’ deliberation, returned a verdict for the defendants.
The most extraordinary interest was taken in the case, both in this country and on the Continent and in America, no doubt chiefly owing to the Heir-Apparent’s connection with it. A Prince of Wales has rarely been called as a witness in a case, although, of course, in the theory of English law, all men are equal, and the privileges, if any, which would attach to him would not attach to him in his capacity as Prince of Wales or Heir-Apparent to the Throne, but simply in his capacity as a peer of the United Kingdom.
It was pointed out by many that the conduct attributed to Sir William Gordon-Cumming was obviously not that of an officer and a gentleman, and in the House of Commons a week after the trial the Secretary of State for War expressed the regret of the King that he had not required Sir William to submit his case to the Commander-in-Chief.
The criticism which was directed against the King’s connection with this lamentable business was largely based on ignorance of all the circumstances. His Majesty’s own view is clearly stated in a private letter which he wrote about two months afterwards to his old friend Dr. Benson, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury, and which was first published in that prelate’s life, some years later. King Edward wrote:—
“R. Yacht ‘Osborne,’ Cowes,
13th August 1891.
“My dear Archbishop—Your kind letter of the 10th instant has touched me very much, as I know the kind feelings which prompted you to write to me on a subject which we have discussed together, and which you are aware has caused me deep pain and annoyance.
“A recent trial, which no one deplores more than I do, and which I was powerless to prevent, gave occasion for the Press to make most bitter and unjust attacks on me, knowing that I was defenceless, and I am not sure that politics were not mixed up in it! The whole matter has now died out, and I think therefore it would be inopportune for me in any public manner to allude again to the painful subject which brought such a torrent of abuse upon me not only by the Press but by the Low Church, and especially the Nonconformists.
“They have a perfect right, I am well aware, in a free country like our own, to express their opinions, but I do not consider that they have a just right to jump at conclusions regarding myself without knowing the facts.
“I have a horror of gambling, and should always do my utmost to discourage others who have an inclination for it, as I consider that gambling, like intemperance, is one of the greatest curses which a country could be afflicted with.
“Horse-racing may produce gambling or it may not, but I have always looked upon it as a manly sport which is popular with Englishmen of all classes, and there is no reason why it should be looked upon as a gambling transaction. Alas! those who gamble will gamble at anything. I have written quite openly to you, my dear Archbishop, whom I have had the advantage of knowing for so many years.
“Thanking you again for your kind letter, and trusting that you will benefit by your holiday, believe me, sincerely yours,
The King became a grandfather for the first time this spring, for on 17th May the Duchess of Fife gave birth to a daughter at East Sheen Lodge. The question was immediately raised whether the infant should take Royal rank as a Princess of the Blood. When Sir William Beechey painted his portrait of Princess Victoria, the distance between the Duke of Kent’s little daughter and the throne was as great as, or even greater than, that of the little daughter of Princess Louise at her birth. It was ultimately settled, in accordance with the wishes, it was understood, of both King Edward and the Duke of Fife, that the infant should simply take the rank and precedence of a Duke’s daughter, and be called Lady Alexandra Duff.
The child was christened on 29th June in the Chapel-Royal, St. James’s. Queen Victoria came to London to act as sponsor to her great-granddaughter, and King Edward and Queen Alexandra were joint sponsors for their grandchild. The Archbishop of Canterbury administered the rite of baptism. Queen Alexandra took the child from the nurse and placed her in the arms of Queen Victoria, who gave the names of Alexandra Victoria Alberta Edwina Louise.
This autumn the King celebrated his fiftieth birthday, and it was computed that in his half-century of existence His Majesty must have been prayed for aloud in Anglican churches alone at least a hundred million times. On this occasion the theatrical managers of London presented a magnificent gold cigar-box, weighing 100 ounces, to His Majesty.
The month of December has been one of peculiar ill-omen to the Royal Family, and it seemed as if December 1891 was to prove no exception. For Queen Alexandra and her daughters, who had been to Livadia on a visit to the Tsar, were recalled by the illness of Prince George, and the King and Queen went through some days of terrible anxiety. As soon as Prince George was declared to be suffering from enteric fever he was removed from Sandringham to London, and it was there that he was nursed. The illness evoked a remarkable degree of public sympathy, though perhaps the serious nature of the Prince’s condition was hardly realised till all danger was practically over.
The year 1892 opened auspiciously both for the Royal family and the nation, inasmuch as, immediately on the convalescence of Prince George, the engagement of his elder brother, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck was announced. The projected alliance was received with every possible expression of popular approval. The public career of the Duke of Clarence, short as it had been, had already confirmed him in the public estimation as a worthy son of his father, who was known to have actively superintended the whole course of his education. A significant proof of the young Prince’s amiability and unpretending modesty was to be found in the large number of personal friends whom he attached to himself, both at Cambridge and among his comrades of the 10th Hussars, by ties of sincere esteem. Moreover, it was generally known that between the Duke of Clarence and his mother there existed the strongest possible link of filial and maternal love, and so the Prince came to share in a measure the high place which Queen Alexandra has always held in the hearts of the British people.
The circumstances of the mournful event which threw a gloom over the whole winter of 1892 are still fresh in the memory of the nation. On 9th January the Duke of Clarence, who was spending the Christmas holidays with his parents at Sandringham, was attacked with influenza, having caught cold at the funeral of Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Two days later the late Duchess of Teck wrote to Lady Salisbury a letter which pathetically reflects the anxiety prevailing at Sandringham:—
“Sandringham, January 11, 1892.
“… After Sir Francis Knollys’s letter and the anxious tidings in this morning’s papers you will not be surprised to hear from me that we feel we must ask you and dear Lord Salisbury to let us postpone the so-looked-forward-to visit until we can really enjoy it; for although I hope and believe dear Eddy is doing as well as can be expected at this stage of this fearful illness, I cannot conceal from you that we are very anxious, and must continue so until the crisis is over and the inflammation has begun to subside. His strength is very fairly maintained; the night was a tolerable one; he has two admirable nurses, and both Doctors Broadbent and Laking [now Sir William Broadbent and Sir Francis Laking] are attending him; so that Eddy has every care, and with youth on his side and God’s blessing, I trust we may soon see him on the road to recovery, and who knows?—perhaps even our visit to Hatfield may yet come off before you move to London. As at present arranged we stay on here until Wednesday or so; but, of course, everything depends on the progress the dear patient (a most exemplary one, the Doctors say) makes. May is wonderfully good and calm, but it is terribly trying for her.…”
Notwithstanding the most devoted care and the most skilful nursing, the Prince passed away on the 14th, within a week of the day on which the tidings of his illness had first gone forth. Then, if ever, King Edward and Queen Alexandra must have realised the respect and affection with which they are regarded by the British people. Their Majesties received the most touching letters from all over the world. One of those they most valued was from the Zulu chiefs at St. Helena. This was conveyed to the Prince through Miss Colenso, and ran as follows:—
“We have heard of the death of Prince Edward, the son of the Prince of Wales. We lament sincerely. Pray you present our lamentation to them all—to his grandmother, to his father and his mother, and his brother.”
Their Majesties showed how deeply they appreciated the sympathy so spontaneously offered to them on every side by publishing the following Message:—
“Windsor Castle, 20th January 1892.
“The Prince and Princess of Wales are anxious to express to Her Majesty’s subjects, whether in the United Kingdom, in the Colonies, or in India, the sense of their deep gratitude for the universal feeling of sympathy manifested towards them at a time when they are overwhelmed by the terrible calamity which they have sustained in the loss of their beloved eldest son. If sympathy at such a moment is of any avail, the remembrance that their grief has been shared by all classes will be a lasting consolation to their sorrowing hearts, and if possible will make them more than ever attached to their dear country.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Benson) was at Biskra when he heard of the lamentable death of the Duke of Clarence. The Archbishop wished to return home at once, and in sending a telegram of condolence to the bereaved father he stated his intention of so doing, but King Edward, with his usual kindly consideration, telegraphed to him that he was on no account to curtail his holiday. The telegram was followed by this letter, which is given in the Archbishop’s Life:—
“Sandringham, Norfolk, 27th January 1892.
“My dear Archbishop—Only a short time ago I received such a kind letter from you, in which you agreed to perform the marriage ceremony at St. George’s for our eldest son. Since then I have received another letter from you containing such kind and sympathetic words, in which you expressed a desire to return home to take part in his Funeral Service.
“It was like yourself, kind and thoughtful as you always are, but I could not allow you to undertake that long journey and return to our cold climate and to an atmosphere still impregnated with that dire disease when your absence abroad in a warmer climate is so essential for your health and strength.
“It has pleased God to inflict a heavy, crushing blow upon us—that we can hardly realise the terrible loss we have sustained. We have had the good fortune of receiving you here in our country home on more than one occasion, and you know what a happy family party we have always been, so that the wrenching away of our first-born son under such peculiarly sad circumstances is a sorrow, the shadow of which can never leave us during the rest of our lives.
“He was just twenty-eight; on this day month he was to have married a charming and gifted young lady, so that the prospect of a life of happiness and usefulness lay before him. Alas! that is all over. His bride has become his widow without ever having been his wife.
“The ways of the Almighty are inscrutable, and it is not for us to murmur, as He does all for the best, and our beloved son is happier now than if he were exposed to the miseries and temptations of this world. We have also a consolation in the sympathy not only of our kind friends but of all classes.
“God’s will be done!
“Again thanking you, my dear and kind Archbishop, for your soothing letter, which has been such a solace to us in our grief, I remain, yours very sincerely,
On the Sunday following the death of the Duke a private service was held in Sandringham Church, attended by King Edward and Queen Alexandra, their daughters, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, and Prince George. By the King’s special wish his elder son was given the simplest of military funerals, and the coffin was removed from Sandringham to Windsor on a gun-carriage, escorted by a number of the Prince’s old comrades in arms. On the coffin lay the Prince’s busby and a silken Union Jack, and even at Windsor, where among the impressive mass of mourners every Royal House was represented, everything was severely simple, and the pall-bearers were officers of the 10th Hussars.
The career of the Prince, so suddenly cut off ere he had well reached his prime, in addition to its historical interest, throws an instructive light on the pains which King Edward has always expended on the education and training of his children. On none of his children did the King bestow more loving thought and care than on his eldest son, who was destined, as it then seemed, one day to bear all the anxieties and responsibilities of the British Crown.
Prince Albert Victor was popularly, but quite erroneously, supposed to be a weakly, delicate child. The two nurses who successively had the principal charge of him—Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Blackburn—agreed in repudiating this idea, and their testimony is certainly supported by the photographs which were taken of the Prince in babyhood. His early death is to be attributed, not to any original delicacy of constitution, but to the weakness following a severe attack of typhoid, which delayed by two months his joining the Britannia.
Once out of the nursery, the brothers were committed to the charge of a tutor selected for them by Queen Victoria—the Rev. John Neale Dalton—an admirable choice as events proved. From childhood Prince Albert Victor was devotedly attached to his younger brother, Prince George, who warmly reciprocated his affection, and their father wisely determined that the two boys should not be separated, but should enter the Royal Navy together as cadets. This was done in June 1877, Prince Albert Victor being then thirteen and a half and Prince George being some seventeen months younger. From the very first King Edward caused it to be understood that his sons were to enjoy no privileges on account of their rank, but were to be treated exactly like their fellow-cadets on board the Britannia, and made to learn their profession just as if they had been the sons of an ordinary private gentleman. The only exceptions were that Mr. Dalton attended the Princes as governor, and that, by special request of the Admiralty, their hammocks were slung behind a separate bulkhead in a space about 12 feet square. The young Princes spent two years in the Britannia, and both obtained a first-class in seamanship, entitling them to three months’ sea-time, and for general good conduct they obtained another three months.
The King thoroughly realised the benefit he had himself derived from the travels which he had undertaken as a youth, and therefore he arranged that his sons should spend three years in making a tour round the world, that their minds might be equipped by experience of men and cities, and that they might acquire an abiding impression of the extent and resources of the British Empire. Accordingly, the young Princes started in the Bacchante cruiser, Captain Lord Charles Scott, being again entrusted to the care of Mr. Dalton, who was afterwards made a Canon of Windsor. Canon Dalton, it is interesting to note, attended Prince George when, as Duke of Cornwall and York, and accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall and York, he visited Australia to inaugurate the Federal Parliament, coming home by New Zealand and Canada.
The Princes kept careful diaries, and on their return they published a detailed account of their experiences. In the Bacchante, just as in the Britannia, they were treated exactly like other officers of their age and standing, except that they had a private cabin under the poop. They joined the gun-room mess, the members of which were granted a special allowance—an arrangement which had before been made when the Duke of Edinburgh began his naval career.
The Bacchante cruised to Gibraltar, Messina, Gibraltar again, Madeira, the West Indies, and home to Spithead on 3rd May. Then, on 19th July, the Princes rejoined the Bacchante for another cruise, first with the combined Channel and Reserve Squadrons to Bantry Bay and Vigo, and afterwards to Monte Video. The ship arrived off the Falkland Islands, but the Princes never landed, as had been arranged, for the troubles in South Africa had come to a head and the squadron was suddenly ordered to the Cape. The Bacchante reached Simons Bay on 16th February, and not many days later came the news of Majuba Hill and Laing’s Nek.
Early in April the Princes left for Australia, a voyage which was destined to be not without danger, for the Bacchante broke a portion of her steering-gear in a heavy gale. Temporary repairs were effected, and the vessel’s course was altered for Albany, in Western Australia. While the Bacchante was refitting, their Royal Highnesses visited the chief Australian ports in a passenger steamer called the Cathay, being everywhere received with enthusiastic loyalty. At last, rejoining the Bacchante, they said good-bye with regret to Australia, and on the voyage home they visited Fiji, Japan (where they were received with great ceremony by the Mikado), Shanghai, Hong-Kong, Singapore, and Colombo. Thence they proceeded to Suez, where they had the pleasure of meeting the great de Lesseps, and went in the Khedive’s yacht on a trip up to the First Cataract, as their parents had done in 1869.
A somewhat prolonged tour in the Holy Land followed, their Royal Highnesses visiting those sacred scenes which their father had visited before they were born. The Princes left Beirut for Athens on 7th May, and there they had the pleasure of meeting their uncle, the King of the Hellenes, and thence they went to Suda Bay to take part in a naval regatta, in which the Bacchante’s boats covered themselves with glory. By way of Sicily and Sardinia, the Princes passed on to Gibraltar, there renewing their old acquaintance with the famous Lord Napier of Magdala. It is a pathetic circumstance that both Lord Napier and, but two years afterwards, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, were borne to the grave on the same gun-carriage.
At length the long voyage came to an end. Off Swanage the Osborne, with King Edward, Queen Alexandra, and the three young Princesses, met the Bacchante early in August. A visit to Queen Victoria at Osborne followed, and the two Princes were shortly afterwards confirmed in Whippingham Church by Archbishop Tait, who said to them in his address:—
“From this time forward your course of life, which has been hitherto unusually alike, must, in many respects, diverge. You will have different occupations and different training for an expected difference of position.”
The Archbishop was a true prophet. It was indeed necessary now to separate the brothers. Prince George, as the younger son, might be left to continue his career in the noble service to which he had become devoted, but his elder brother, being in the immediate succession to the Throne, must, it was felt, be associated, as his father had been before him, with other walks of national life as well. First of all, it was decided, must come some terms at Cambridge University, and to prepare Prince Albert Victor in the particular kind of knowledge required Mr. J. K. Stephen was associated with Mr. Dalton in the summer of 1883. Mr. Stephen, the son of one of the greatest Judges who ever adorned the English Bench—Sir James Fitz-James Stephen—was not merely a most lovable man, possessed of extraordinary intellectual powers, but his total personality was of so rare a kind as to be indescribable to those who never came under its conquering influence. Probably from no human being were all things mean and paltry so utterly alien. Large in heart and mind as he was large in bodily frame, he left, when an untimely death snatched him away, not only a bitter personal grief among his friends, but a conviction that the nation’s loss was even greater than theirs.
Prince Albert Victor became warmly attached to Mr. Stephen, who gives in some private letters, quoted in Mr. J. E. Vincent’s memoir of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, a characteristic picture of the life led by the Royal pupil and his tutors in a little house in the park at Sandringham.
“He is a good-natured, unaffected youth,” writes Mr. Stephen, “and disposed to exert himself to learn some history.… We are six in this little house, a sort of adjunct to the big one in whose grounds it stands, and we lead a quiet and happy reading-party sort of life with all the ordinary rustic pursuits.” The other four members of the party were Mr. Dalton, “a lively little Frenchman,” “a young aristocrat, whose father is the Earl of Strathmore, and a naval lieutenant, kept on shore by a bad knee, both of whom are very pleasant, and have more brains than they take credit for.”
In October 1883 the King accompanied Prince Albert Victor to Cambridge, and saw him matriculated as an undergraduate member of Trinity College, that ancient and splendid foundation to which he himself belonged. Two sets of rooms, one for the Prince and one for Mr. Dalton, were prepared on the top floor of a staircase in Nevile’s Court, the quietest court in Trinity.
It was at Cambridge that certain sterling qualities possessed by Prince Albert Victor first became manifest to any considerable circle, and through them to the public at large. His life at the University was simple and well ordered. He had not—nor was it desirable that he should have—the specialised intellect which wins University prizes and scholarships, but he displayed in a marked degree that peculiarly Royal quality of recognising intellect in others. Of those whom he admitted to his friendship while at Cambridge nearly all have become, or are becoming, distinguished in various walks of life. He was not distinguished from his undergraduate contemporaries except by the silk gown of the fellow-commoner—the Prince never wore the gold tassel to which he was entitled—and by immunity from University examinations.
It must not, however, be supposed that the Prince was idle at the University. On the contrary, he read for six or seven hours a day regularly—a good deal more than the average undergraduate can be persuaded to do; and he was in another respect intellectually ahead of most of his contemporaries, namely, in his familiar knowledge of modern languages. He had read German at Heidelberg with Professor Ihne, and he kept it up while at Cambridge with a German tutor. He spoke French easily and well, and he had also a literary knowledge of that language, having spent some time in Switzerland with a French tutor. His college tutor was Mr. Joseph Prior. Mr. Stephen exercised a general supervision over his reading, and he attended the late Professor Seeley’s History Lectures and Mr. Gosse’s Lectures on English Literature.
Prince Albert Victor strongly resembled his father in many respects, notably in his habits of order and method, and in his complete freedom from affectation or assumption. He was, indeed, if anything, almost too modest and retiring, but those who knew him bore witness to his real geniality and thoughtful consideration for others. At Cambridge he attended his College chapel twice on Sundays, and once or twice during the week. He generally dined in the College hall, when he would be assigned a place at the Fellows’ table. He was fond, however, of giving little dinner-parties of six or eight in his own rooms in College, usually on Thursdays, his guests on these occasions often including some of the senior members of the University.
After dinner, the Royal host would generally arrange a rubber or two of whist. He did not play cricket or football, but was fond of polo and hockey, and he occasionally hunted. He might often have been met in the neighbourhood of Cambridge riding in the company of a few of his undergraduate friends, to whom he liked to offer a mount, especially in cases where he knew it was needed. The Prince had an inherited love of music, and he attended pretty regularly some weekly concerts of chamber music given at the Cambridge Town Hall. He was also a member of the Cambridge A.D.C., and patronised its performances, and he occasionally attended the debates at the Union, though he did not speak himself. He joined the University Volunteer Corps, and was photographed in his uniform.
One traditionally Royal quality the Prince possessed in an extraordinary degree, namely, a perfectly marvellous memory for names and faces. Indeed, his memory in general was singularly tenacious, and in his historical studies he exhibited a wonderful power of quickly mastering the most intricate genealogical tables.
The Prince went for the Long Vacation on a reading party to Heidelberg, and while there he received an amusing poem from Mr. H. F. Wilson, one of his Cambridge friends, which is printed in Mr. Vincent’s memoir. The following may be quoted as perhaps the most characteristic lines:—
The Prince came of age in 1885, and the house-party at Sandringham given to celebrate the occasion was one of the largest gatherings ever held there. The company included a considerable number of Prince Albert Victor’s Cambridge friends.
On the conclusion of Prince Albert Victor’s residence at Cambridge, the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him, and then his father decided that it was time for him to enter the army. He was gazetted a lieutenant in the 10th Hussars, of which the King is now colonel-in-chief, and while he was quartered at Aldershot the father and son saw a great deal of each other. In the army, as in the navy, Prince Albert Victor was treated as far as possible exactly like his brother officers; and indeed it is highly probable that, had he been offered any exceptional privileges, he would have steadily refused to take advantage of them. The Prince became a captain in the 9th Lancers and in the 3rd King’s Royal Rifles and aide-de-camp to the Queen in 1887, and two years later attained the rank of major, returning to his old regiment, the 10th Hussars.
Prince Albert Victor’s training as a soldier was real and thorough. He was not spared the drudgery of drill and the riding school through which the ordinary subaltern has to pass, and yet at the same time his work was frequently interrupted by the duty of attending various ceremonial functions. This life was but sparingly varied with days with the hounds and shooting, to which the Prince eagerly looked forward. It is generally agreed by his contemporaries that he became an excellent officer, and his private letters to his friends prove how absorbed he was in his military career.
King Edward had retained such pleasant recollections of his own visit to India, that he determined that his elder son should at an early date make a tour in the great Eastern dependency. The tour was arranged, and proved extremely successful from every point of view, the Prince particularly enjoying the excellent and varied sport shown him by his keen Indian hosts. His Royal Highness was gazetted honorary colonel of the 4th Bengal Infantry, the 1st Punjab Cavalry (Prince Albert Victor’s Own), and the 4th Bombay Cavalry.
Soon after his return from India, Prince Albert Victor was created Duke of Clarence and Avondale, and Earl of Athlone, in the peerage of the United Kingdom. He was formally introduced to the House of Lords by his father on 23rd January 1890, the ceremony being watched by Queen Alexandra from a gallery. This was an event unique in English history. The Duke of Clarence was the only eldest son of a Prince of Wales who attained his majority, to say nothing of taking his seat in the House of Lords, while his father was still Heir-Apparent to the Crown.
During the year which followed, the King gave up regularly a certain portion of his time to initiating his elder son in all the varied, if monotonous, duties which were likely to fall to his lot, a task which was really in no wise irksome, for those who knew the Duke of Clarence best were well aware that his father had ever been his best friend, and that he himself was never so happy as when he was allowed to share in any sense his father’s life and interests.
After the death of the Duke of Clarence, the King and his family naturally retired into the deepest privacy, and it was many months before His Majesty had sufficiently recovered from the blow to be able to take up again the thread of his public duties.
The year 1893 brought to the King a very fortunate distraction, which prevented his mind from dwelling too much on his still recent bereavement in a way that could not have been accomplished by the customary round of ceremonial visits and functions. This distraction was his appointment as a member of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Poor. The King was genuinely delighted with this opportunity. He threw himself with the greatest zeal into the work, and not only attended all the sittings, which took place in one of the House of Lords’ Committee Rooms, but visited, incognito, some of the very poorest quarters of London. It is well known that he was exceedingly anxious to serve on the Labour Commission, but Ministers have always been unwilling that the Heir-Apparent should take an active part in matters connected, even indirectly, with politics, and he has had, therefore, constantly to play the part of the Sovereign’s deputy without the responsibilities and interests naturally attaching to the position.
It is no exaggeration to say that there are few men now living who possess better general qualifications for the difficult work of serving on Royal Commissions than the King. He is familiar with an almost bewildering variety of subjects, and possesses a wonderful faculty for almost instinctively grasping the important features and the really essential points of any matter under discussion. He is a model chairman of a committee, and, though he cannot ever display the slightest trace of personal or party feeling, it is well known that he follows with intense interest all the political and social movements of the day, and it is no secret that he is thoroughly an Imperialist.
King Edward and Queen Alexandra, with the Duchess of Fife and Lady Alexandra Duff
From a Photograph by Gunn and Stuart
The King’s work on the Housing of the Poor Commission was particularly congenial to him, for he has always shown an unaffected interest in the working classes. He has long been an annual subscriber to the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union, and is a generous donor to the Working Men’s College. Still more recently, in his reply to the loyal address of condolence presented to him by the London County Council on the death of Queen Victoria, His Majesty made a significant allusion to his interest in the problem of the housing of the working classes. In 1889, some years before the King joined the Housing of the Poor Commission, he took the trouble to go to Lambeth on business seemingly of nothing but local interest—namely, to receive a deputation of working men on the subject of providing a park for the district. His host was the late Primate, Dr. Benson, who thus describes the scene in his diary:—
“Went up to receive Prince of Wales and twelve Representative Working Men at Lambeth. The latter to read him an address on the purchase of ‘The Lawn,’ South Lambeth, for a Public Park, and its great importance to them and their children. Their chairman read a natural, honest speech; nothing could be better than the tone and line of the Prince’s answer. They were delighted by his strong shake of the hand. ‘Not the tips of his fingers,’ they said; ‘working men have feelings, and they would not like that.’ And, ‘It isn’t everybody that education refines as it has him,’ said a blacksmith. ‘When he’s king I shall be able to say that I’ve shook hands with the Crown,’ said an engine-driver. Octavia Hill, and James Knowles, and my wife were the only people admitted besides his Equerry, and Donaldson, and Phillips. It will do good, and he spoke so well.”
This incident is only mentioned as one out of many that could be cited in proof, if proof were needed, of His Majesty’s keen interest in everything that concerns the welfare of the working classes. On another occasion the King was accidentally informed that an exhibition, promoted by the working men in South London, was somewhat languishing for lack of sufficient notice, and unofficially His Majesty arranged to visit the exhibition. He went through it carefully, buying and paying for such articles as took his fancy, and the moment the fact became known, the promoters had no reason to complain of neglect on the part of the general public, who were eager to see what had interested so good a judge of exhibitions as King Edward.
Throughout the year 1893 the King was busily employed in other ways also. In March he paid a formal visit to the Public Record Office to inspect some of the priceless national manuscripts deposited there, and in May he had the satisfaction of seeing that great enterprise which he had himself originated, the Imperial Institute, inaugurated in State by his Royal Mother. It was at the Institute that Mr. Gladstone was hissed by some unmannerly persons, to the great annoyance of the King, who never concealed the strong respect and esteem in which he held both Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone.
It is interesting also to record that in March of this year the Queen, who was accompanied by her son, was received by the Pope in private audience. The interview lasted about an hour.
The official announcement was made, appropriately enough in May, of the betrothal of the King’s son, then Duke of York, to Princess May of Teck. It is recorded in the late Duchess of Teck’s Life that Prince George proposed to Princess May on 3rd May 1893, at Sheen Lodge, which for some time had been occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Fife. Both the bride and her mother agreed that the trousseau should be entirely of home workmanship. “I am determined,” said the Duchess of Teck, “that all the silk shall come from England, all the flannel from Wales, all the tweeds from Scotland, and every yard of lace and poplin from Ireland.” The wedding gown was woven at Spitalfields, and was of silver and white brocade, the design being of roses, shamrock, and thistles. The bridal veil—the same which had been worn by the bride’s mother on her wedding day in 1866—was of the finest Honiton lace, designed in a sequence of cornucopiæ filled with roses, thistles, and shamrock.
Queen Victoria and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York
From a Photograph by Hughes and Mullins, Ryde
The time of the short engagement was filled with preparations of all kinds, and from a letter written by Mrs. Dalrymple, and quoted in the Duchess of Teck’s Life, we obtain a good idea of how the days passed by at White Lodge:—
“I remember the happy afternoon I spent at White Lodge a few days before the marriage. We were a large and merry party, including the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and some time was spent in looking at the numerous presents. Tea was served on the lawn under the copper beech, and the dear Princess sat at the head of the table making tea for all; on one side of her was a pile of telegrams received, while on the other, scattered about amongst the cups, were packets of telegraph forms. Messages were constantly being delivered, and the Princess and the Duke as quickly wrote out the replies; no word of complaint was uttered at these incessant interruptions. Her Royal Highness’s amiable readiness to accede to the many appeals for a place from which to see the bridal procession was wonderful. Princess Mary begged me to visit her the day after the marriage, and her eyes filled with tears as she spoke of parting from ‘her precious child.’ Much, however, as I wished to accept the suggestion, I did not do so, but implored the Princess to take the rest that I knew she so urgently needed.”
The qualities both of head and of heart possessed by Prince George’s bride were, at any rate partially, realised by the nation. An incident that occurred at St. Moritz in 1894 is not so well known. The Duchess of Teck and her daughter were on a visit there when a fire broke out which entirely destroyed several shops and houses, and threatened destruction to the lower village. Both the Princess and her mother took active steps to rescue the goods from burning, carrying out the things in their arms. They were the first to go among the sufferers by the fire offering words of consolation, and started a subscription in their aid.
After a very short engagement, the marriage took place in the Chapel-Royal, St. James’s, on 6th July, in the presence of all the Royal family, as well as the present Emperor of Russia and the King and Queen of Denmark. King Edward naturally took a prominent part in supervising all the arrangements, and was much gratified by the outburst of popular enthusiasm which greeted his son’s union with the daughter of the universally-beloved Duchess of Teck.
It is interesting to note how frequently, ever since the marriage, the King has associated his heir with himself in the performance of his public duties, while the constant companionship of father and son is a striking testimony to their complete sympathy with one another.
The following year was notable for two Royal marriages in the King’s immediate circle, and for a bereavement which touched both His Majesty and the Queen in their closest family affections. The King went to Coburg in April to be present at the wedding of his niece, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his nephew, the Grand Duke of Hesse, the only son of the lamented Princess Alice. The occasion brought together a remarkable number of prominent members of Royal Houses, including Queen Victoria and the German Emperor, and was rendered additionally memorable by the fact that the engagement of the present Tsar of Russia to the bridegroom’s sister was then publicly announced.
The King, who was on this occasion accompanied by Queen Alexandra, went to St. Petersburg in August for the wedding of the Grand Duchess Xenia, which was celebrated with all the lavish magnificence of Russian Court ceremonies.
Although the Tsar was not then in his usual robust health, there was nothing to indicate how soon the King and Queen were to be recalled to Russia on a far different mission. To their lasting sorrow, the summons to the Tsar’s death-bed at Livadia arrived too late for them to be present at the last. Their Majesties left London on 31st October, immediately on receipt of an urgent message from the Tsaritsa, and had proceeded as far as Vienna when the news was broken to them that all was over. They, however, continued their melancholy journey, which was much delayed by bad weather, in order that they might be with the widowed Empress and her son through the terrible strain of the return to St. Petersburg, and the ordeal of the funeral ceremonies.
The King’s fifty-third birthday was spent at Livadia, and for the first time since his birth the anniversary celebrations in London and at Sandringham did not take place.
When the funeral cortège reached St. Petersburg, Prince George joined his parents, and together they attended the elaborate obsequies of the Emperor, and the very quiet wedding of the young Tsar and Princess Alix of Hesse, which followed a few days later. The King remained in Russia for the Queen’s birthday, and left with his son the following day, while Her Majesty stayed behind to support her sister, the Empress Alexander.
The relations between England and Russia after the King’s return became noticeably more cordial, and there is no doubt that this was owing in a large measure to His Majesty’s personal exertions, and the sympathy which he and his son displayed with the Russian people in their great sorrow.
During this year of 1894 the King exhibited his usual complaisance in attending various local ceremonies. Among these may be mentioned the opening of the Tower Bridge by the King and Queen, on behalf of Queen Victoria, in June; while in July their Majesties attended the Welsh Eisteddfod at Carnarvon, where they were received with great enthusiasm. A special session was held, at which the King was initiated as “Iorweth Dywysog” (Edward the Prince), Queen Alexandra as “Hoffder Prydain” (Britain’s Delight), and the Princess Victoria as “Buddug” (the modern Welsh form of Boadicea).
The King was always willing to emphasise his connection with the Principality from which he then took his title, and when the long-desired University of Wales became an accomplished fact, he readily consented to be its first Chancellor. His Majesty was installed in this office at Aberystwyth in June 1896, and his first act as Chancellor was to confer an honorary degree on Queen Alexandra. At the luncheon which followed, the King’s health was proposed by Mr. Gladstone.
In the following month, the marriage of Princess Maud to Prince Charles of Denmark took place in the chapel of Buckingham Palace in the presence of Queen Victoria and the Royal families of the two countries.
Archbishop Benson officiated at the wedding, and he gives the following charming description of the ceremony in his diary:—
“Married the Princess Maud to Prince Charles of Denmark. The brightest of the Princesses, and almost as young as when I confirmed her. He is a tall, gallant-looking sailor. Hope he will make her happy. The Chapel and old conservatory ineffectually disguised by church furniture—all well arranged, and the banquet also. The whole very royally done. The group of great peers of the Queen’s Household afterwards was striking, as were the greater peers also in Chapel, and Mr. Gladstone decidedly ageing and paling, though they say he is well. The Queen was the wonderful sight—so vigorous. In the Bow Room afterwards, where fifty Royalties signed the book, she called me to her, and I knelt and kissed her hand, and she talked very spiritedly a few minutes. As soon as it was over an Indian servant wheeled in her chair to take her out; she instantly waved it back. ‘Behind the door,’ she said, and walked all across the room with her stick most gallantly.”
The month of May was naturally a very busy one for the King and Queen. On the 22nd their Majesties, representing Queen Victoria, opened the new Blackwall tunnel in State, the East End of London giving them a right Royal reception. On this occasion His Majesty was presented with one of the heaviest gold medals ever struck in England, weighing 12 ounces, and bearing on the reverse a representation of the tunnel in perspective. On the 26th His Majesty opened the new Medical School of Guy’s Hospital; on the 27th the King and Queen, with their son and two of their daughters, opened the Royal Military Tournament; on the 28th, at the request of Queen Victoria, the King and Queen, accompanied by Princess Victoria, laid the first stone of the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital in the City Road; on the 29th the King and Queen, with their son and two of their daughters, went down to Canterbury to open the restored Chapter-house of the Cathedral, and in the evening the King dined with the past and present officers of the Norfolk Artillery Militia, of which he is honorary colonel. On the 31st the King held a levée at St. James’s Palace, and in the evening dined with the 1st Guards Club.
The King in the Undress Uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet
From a Photograph taken in 1897 by Mullins, Ryde
This is a short summary, which does not pretend to be by any means exhaustive of His Majesty’s engagements for a very few days, but it brings out perhaps more vividly than a detailed list could possibly do the whole-hearted manner in which the King threw himself into the great tide of national rejoicing which reached its flood in that memorable June of 1897.
King Edward, for a variety of reasons, took a much greater part in the Diamond Jubilee festivities of 1897 than he did in those of ten years before. All the arrangements were submitted for his approval as well as Queen Victoria’s, and it was largely owing to his conspicuous organising ability that everything went off with such triumphant success. Both the King and Queen Alexandra associated themselves in a special manner with the occasion, the former by his Hospital Fund for London, and the latter by her thoughtful scheme of providing one good dinner for the very poorest. The Hospital Fund greatly benefited by the sale of a special stamp, the design of which was selected by the King himself.
King Edward, who had been made an honorary Admiral of the Fleet at the Golden Jubilee of 1887, represented his mother at the magnificent naval review at Spithead, which was generally agreed to be, in its way, the finest spectacle of all that the Jubilee festivities afforded. Many foreign warships were sent by other countries as tokens of international courtesy. Towards the officers of these vessels the King displayed all his wonted cordiality; and in the arrangements for their entertainment his efforts were heartily seconded by Viscount Goschen, then First Lord of the Admiralty, and the other naval authorities. The spectacle of so vast a concourse of British vessels was rendered doubly impressive by the knowledge that it had been assembled without weakening in the slightest degree the squadrons on the numerous British naval stations all over the world. There was much point in the remark said to have been made by the United States Special Ambassador to the First Lord: “I guess, sir, this makes for peace!”
On the eventful morning of the 22nd June, when the Jubilee honours were announced, it was found that Queen Victoria, while conferring some mark of her favour on each of her sons, had created a new and special dignity for the Heir-Apparent. The announcement was made in the following terms:—
“The Queen has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, to appoint Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, K.G., G.C.B., to be Great Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.”
That this distinction was very gratifying to the King was significantly shown in the following month, when he gave a great banquet at St. James’s Palace to the Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in celebration of his appointment. It was an absolutely unique gathering of men who had rendered distinguished service to the State, in statesmanship, in diplomacy, in the profession of arms, in the navy, and in the departments of civil administration.
Since his accession, His Majesty has appointed his brother, the Duke of Connaught, to succeed him as Great Master of the Order of the Bath.
By command of Queen Victoria, the King held a State reception and investiture at St. James’s Palace on 21st July, when he received on behalf of Her Majesty a large number of Diamond Jubilee addresses and invested the newly-created Companions of the Orders of the Bath, the Star of India, St. Michael and St. George, and the Indian Empire, and on the same day His Majesty also opened the new Tate Gallery at Millbank.
It was in this month that His Majesty was elected to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London at a comitia of the College—an honour which he valued highly. As a non-medical fellow the King had had only three predecessors, the Marquis of Dorchester in 1658, the Duke of Manchester in 1717, and the Duke of Richmond in 1729. The Royal diploma was, it is understood, specially composed for the occasion, and did not give the new fellow complete freedom to practise in his new profession! Later on, His Majesty was destined to experience in his own person the marvellous benefits which modern surgery has placed at the service of suffering humanity.
The King as Grand Master of the Knights-Hospitallers of Malta, at the Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball
From a Photograph by Lafayette
The rest of the Diamond Jubilee year was spent in comparative quietude by the King and Queen Alexandra, although His Majesty took an active part in the exceptionally brilliant season. He attended, among other great functions, the Fancy Dress Ball given by the Duchess of Devonshire, wearing on this occasion the splendid costume of the Grand Master of the Knights-Hospitallers of Malta.
King Edward and Queen Alexandra left Marlborough House on 10th August for Bayreuth, and His Majesty arrived at Marienbad on the 18th, travelling incognito as Lord Renfrew. Her Majesty went to Bernstorff to visit her parents, and was joined there early in September by the King. His Majesty afterwards visited the Empress Frederick at Cronberg, and returned to Marlborough House on 25th September, while Her Majesty prolonged her stay in Denmark till October.
On 16th October the King stood as sponsor at the christening of the infant son and heir of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough—an interesting occasion, for His Majesty had been godfather to the Duke himself some twenty-five years before.
This summer was also rendered memorable for the visit paid by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to Ireland. Their Royal Highnesses spent a fortnight there, stopping with the Lord-Lieutenant, Earl Cadogan, in Dublin; afterwards visiting some of the great houses of the Irish nobility, and seeing a great deal of the lovely scenery for which Ireland is famous, including Killarney, from which the Duke takes the title of Baron.
In Dublin the Duke of Cornwall and York and the ever-popular Lord Roberts were installed with great pomp and ceremony as Knights of the Order of St. Patrick. The Duke wore the same sword which his father had used when he was installed some three-and-twenty years before.
The Duke of Cornwall and York in his Robes as a Knight of St. Patrick
From a Photograph by Lafayette
His Royal Highness on the termination of the visit wrote the following letter to Lord Cadogan, the Lord-Lieutenant:—
“Mount Stewart, Newtownards, Co. Down,
8th September 1897.
“Dear Lord Cadogan—I cannot leave Ireland without expressing to you, on behalf of the Duchess of York and myself, our very sincere appreciation of the warm and enthusiastic welcome which has been accorded to us during our visit by all classes and in all parts of the country.
“Nothing could have exceeded the kindness and hospitality which have been shown to us, and the agreeable impressions which we have derived from our visit can never be effaced from our memory. I regret that the limited time at our disposal rendered it impossible for us to see many districts in a country which contains so much that is beautiful and interesting. I hope, however, that we may have further opportunities of improving our acquaintance with the people of Ireland and with the country of which they are so justly proud.—Believe me, very sincerely yours,
Their Royal Highnesses came home by way of Scotland, visiting Glasgow, where they performed several ceremonial functions, and staying with Lord Rosebery at Dalmeny for two nights. They then went to Ness Castle and on to Guisachan for fishing and deer-stalking as the guests of Lord and Lady Tweedmouth, and ultimately visited Queen Victoria at Balmoral.
This Royal visit to Ireland exhibited in a striking manner the extent to which party passions had been allayed in the distressful country. The Duke and Duchess had everywhere a respectful and frequently an enthusiastic reception; and in almost every address received by their Royal Highnesses the desirability of establishing a Royal residence in Ireland was pointedly referred to. The profound effect of the visit was seen a month or two later, when, on the death of the lamented Duchess of Teck, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Dublin telegraphed their condolences, both officially and privately, not to the Duke of Teck, as might have been expected, but to the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. On this mournful occasion, also, the Corporation of “rebel” Cork passed a resolution of sympathy.
The Duchess of Cornwall and York
From a Photograph by Chancellor, Dublin
The death of the Duchess of Teck on 27th October was a terrible blow to the King and Queen Alexandra. In the previous April the Duchess had undergone a severe operation with the magnificent courage characteristic of her, and as soon as she was able to receive visitors the very first who came was King Edward. Her Royal Highness seemed quite to have conquered her malady. She went up to London from White Lodge in June, and bore her part in many of the Diamond Jubilee rejoicings. No one who saw the Jubilee procession will ever forget the people’s welcome to the Duchess of Teck—great in the West End, but greatest of all in the poorer parts of London, and second only to the reception accorded to Queen Victoria herself. The Duchess attended the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, and at the Duchess of Devonshire’s ball she appeared as the Electress Sophia. Visits to Northumberland and Westmoreland followed, but towards the end of October, when Her Royal Highness had returned to White Lodge, the illness returned. The surgeons again operated successfully, but the patient could not rally from the shock.
There had been practically no warning, so that the news came with equal suddenness both to the Royal Family and the nation. King Edward and Queen Alexandra immediately hurried up from Sandringham, and afterwards, at the deeply impressive funeral in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, His Majesty represented his Royal mother.
This bereavement was the more terrible from its utter unexpectedness, and, as has been so singularly often the case in our Royal Family, it happened in the autumn. Princess Mary, who stood in the relation of second cousin to King Edward, was, although belonging technically to the same generation as Queen Victoria, but a few years older than His Majesty, and the most affectionate and close relations had always existed between them, a fact shown on many occasions throughout their joint lives, and nowhere more strikingly than in the great satisfaction expressed by both the King and Queen Alexandra at the marriage of their only surviving son to the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck.
Earlier in the autumn an attempt was made to use the King’s great personal prestige and popularity in order to bring to a close the struggle between masters and men in the engineering trade. The writer received the following reply:—
“Marlborough House, Pall Mall, S.W.,
8th October 1897.
“Dear Sir—I am directed by the Prince of Wales to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th inst., and to inform you, in reply, that, while he deeply deplores the disastrous state of affairs in the engineering industry, he feels that it would not be right or proper for him to attempt in any way to interfere or to mix himself up in them. His Royal Highness regrets that he is unable to act on your suggestion.—I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Towards the end of November the King visited Durham, and in his reply to the inevitable address gave some interesting reminiscences of the late Bishop of the diocese. He said:—
“Dr. Lightfoot, who was transferred from his theological studies in the University of Cambridge to undertake the administration of a large and important diocese, evinced a powerful personality of character through the brilliancy of his intellect, his profound learning, his earnest piety, and a capacity for organisation so remarkable as almost to appear intuitive.… I may mention that I myself was personally acquainted with Bishop Lightfoot when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and I wish to add my own testimony to the admiration and regard with which he inspired all who, like myself, had the advantage of knowing him.”
On 21st December Queen Alexandra received a grateful address from the chairmen of the sixty local committees who were entrusted with the management of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee dinner fund for the poor of London, and so ended this eventful year.
The year 1898, destined to bring His Majesty a serious accident and a tedious convalescence, opened uneventfully. On New Year’s Day the King accepted the post of Patron of the Fourth International Congress of Zoology, which had arranged to meet at Cambridge in August. In January, too, the Brixton branch of the Social Democratic Federation sent to the King a proposal that the Government should organise a system of State maintenance of the underfed London school children. In reply, Sir F. Knollys wrote:—
“His Royal Highness directs me to assure you that he feels the greatest sympathy for the large number of underfed and half-starved children living in London, and although he is afraid he does not feel himself at liberty to support your particular proposal, it will give him much pleasure to send a donation to the London Schools Dinner Association, which he understands is doing very good work in the required direction.”
In March the King went to Cannes, and saw President Faure in Paris on his way thither. On 10th March His Majesty laid the first stone of a new jetty at Cannes in the midst of a brilliant assemblage. He said, speaking to the Mayor:—
“You know what pleasure it gives me to spend a few weeks in your beautiful country, where I always meet with a hospitable reception.… In laying the first stone of the new jetty, in accordance with your kind wish, I desire to tell you especially how touched I was at your having thought of giving it my name. I trust that the very wise and unanimous impulse given by you to yachting at Cannes will not fail of its effect. You can safely rely upon my support, for I am sincerely glad to see this friendly competition between our two countries developed, and, as you have so well said, I hope with you that this ceremony may be a fresh pledge of cordial relations between France and Great Britain.”
To M. Leroux, Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, His Majesty said:—
“I am touched by the sentiments which, in the name of the Government of the Republic, you have just expressed. I sincerely hope that France may long enjoy the benefits of the Government which you represent, and that the cordial relations between France and Great Britain may continue for the good of humanity. I am, indeed, happy to be able to lend my co-operation to this hospitable country, for which I wish the greatest prosperity.”
On 25th April His Majesty opened the Royal Photographic Society’s International Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. The Society was founded in 1853 under the auspices of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. The King naturally took special interest in the exhibit of his Hospital Fund for London, which included photographs of the “Roll of Ministering Children.” This roll comprised so many portraits of the King’s descendants that His Majesty drily observed that he seemed to be surrounded by grandchildren.
This spring His Majesty was much occupied with the preparations for the Paris Exhibition of 1900. He was Chairman of both the executive and the finance committee of the Royal Commission which was appointed to see that Great Britain was adequately represented.
On 18th May the King reviewed the Lancashire Hussars at Birkdale, it being the jubilee of this yeomanry regiment, and also visited Southport and Wigan. On 20th May he reviewed the Royal Bucks Hussars in Howe Park.
The death of Mr. Gladstone caused much sorrow both to His Majesty and to Queen Alexandra, who had frequently demonstrated the regard in which they held the veteran statesman and his devoted wife. At the funeral of Mr. Gladstone in the Abbey on 28th May 1898 the King was the chief pall-bearer with his son, the Duke of Cornwall and York, and at the close of the service, with the other pall-bearers, they kissed the hand of Mrs. Gladstone. Queen Alexandra and the Duchess of Cornwall and York were present at the service.
Soon afterwards their Majesties lost another old friend, and curiously enough a devoted follower of Mr. Gladstone, namely, the first Lord Playfair, so long known as Sir Lyon Playfair, who had taught the King science in His Majesty’s student days at Edinburgh.
On 31st May the London Gazette published the following, which was naturally of much interest to the King:—
“The Queen has been pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, to declare that the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales shall have, and at all times hold and enjoy, the style, title, and attribute of ‘Royal Highness.’”
On 8th June Queen Alexandra presented prizes in the Albert Hall to the boys of the Royal Masonic Institution at Woodgreen. His Majesty, in acknowledging a vote of thanks to her, said:—
“Though the Princess has set a good example, as the wife of a Freemason, in not attempting to discover the secrets of our craft, I think she has taken a philanthropic interest in all that concerns our works.”
Three days later the King opened the Reading University Extension Hospital and inspected the Royal Berkshire Hospital, afterwards going on a visit to his old friends Lord and Lady Wantage at Lockinge. On 18th June the King distributed the prizes at Wellington College, and on 21st June, accompanied by the Queen, he laid the foundation stone of the new buildings of the North London or University College Hospital.
A week later the King paid a visit to Lord and Lady Warwick, and much enjoyed driving in motor cars, then a comparatively novel form of conveyance. During the visit Lady Warwick drove the King to Barford to call upon Mr. Joseph Arch, M.P., in his cottage. His Majesty had a high opinion of Mr. Arch, who had risen by his own exertions from a very humble origin, and at that time represented the electoral division of Norfolk in which Sandringham is situated.
The Duke of Connaught
The Late Duke of Saxe-Coburg
The German Emperor
The Empress Frederick
King Edward VII.
From a Photograph by J. Russell and Sons
On 7th July the King, with the Duke of Sparta, who was on a visit to this country, attended the presentation of colours by Queen Victoria to the 3rd Coldstream Guards at Aldershot.
The King met with a serious accident on 18th July while at Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, on a visit to Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. His Majesty slipped in descending a staircase and sustained a fracture of the knee-cap, but was able to travel to Marlborough House the same afternoon. Not much progress was made, however, and on the 19th Sir William MacCormac and Sir Francis Laking decided to call in the famous surgeon, Sir Thomas Smith, who had undoubtedly prolonged the Duchess of Teck’s life. It is interesting to note that the Röntgen rays were employed to ascertain the extent of the injury, probably the first occasion of their being used for a Royal patient. Rest was compulsory, and though it must have been irksome in the extreme to one of the King’s active habits, yet nothing could exceed the cheerfulness displayed by the patient.
On the 21st Lord Lister, the “father” of antiseptic surgery, was called in, and with characteristic consideration, in view of the anxiety exhibited by the whole Empire, the King authorised the publication of a detailed statement regarding the accident.
From this it appeared that he missed his footing while coming down the spiral staircase at Waddesdon Manor, and in the sudden severe effort made to save himself from falling sustained a fracture of the left patella. “About one-fifth of the bone, somewhat crescentic in shape, was torn away, along with the tendinous insertion of the quadriceps extensor, and the gap between the fragments amounted to a little more than two inches.” Sir W. MacCormac and Sir Francis Laking concluded their statement by the remark that the illustrious patient “is bearing the enforced restraint with exemplary patience and good temper.” Of course what every one feared was some permanent lameness or weakness of the limb, but this, as will be seen from what follows, was fortunately averted.
Queen Alexandra was unremitting in her attentions to the invalid, and was with difficulty prevailed upon to leave his room for necessary air and exercise. On the 23rd Mr. Alfred Fripp, Surgeon-in-ordinary, who was away on his honeymoon at the time the accident occurred, joined the other medical attendants, who in consultation decided that the patient might attend the Cowes Regatta on board the Royal yacht Osborne. It was hoped that the change of scene would facilitate recovery, and the decision was also naturally gratifying to Queen Victoria, who was then in residence at Osborne, and wished to be near her son.
On Sunday, the 24th, the patient was connected by electrophone with St. Michael’s, Chester Square, and heard his honorary chaplain, Canon Fleming, refer to the accident and the national anxiety it had caused. In the evening the invalid heard a sacred concert, also through the electrophone.
The Sultan was greatly concerned at the news of the accident, and even offered to send the well-known Turkish surgeon, Djemal Pasha, to attend on the patient.
It was characteristic of the King’s kindly consideration that before leaving London for Cowes he sent a gold scarf-pin, set with emeralds, and a letter of thanks to Dr. Shaw, the local practitioner who had attended him at Waddesdon immediately after the accident.
On 30th July the King, accompanied by the Queen, Princess Victoria, and Prince Nicholas and Princess Marie of Greece, left London for Cowes. Sir F. Laking and Mr. Fripp were in medical attendance, and the transport to Paddington, and thence by the Queen’s train to Portsmouth Jetty, was accomplished with complete comfort and safety. The patient was carried by bluejackets in his invalid’s chair on board the Osborne, and it is needless to say that the “handy men” did their work to perfection, with masculine strength allied to womanly tenderness. On the 31st Queen Victoria visited the patient and found him in excellent spirits and making good progress.
The Queen of Denmark fell seriously ill at this time, and as King Edward was going on so well, Queen Alexandra left on 3rd August for Copenhagen, attended by Miss Knollys and Sir Francis Laking. Princess Victoria remained with her father.
On the 6th it was announced that no further bulletins would be issued, as the King’s progress was so satisfactory. Queen Victoria paid him frequent visits, and on the 12th Lord Rosebery was his guest. The Osborne often went for short cruises, sometimes as far as the Needles, and the King was much gratified to have his son and daughter-in-law with him, as well as his grandchildren, the little Princes Edward and Albert.
At length on the 23rd the Osborne left for a longer cruise in the Channel, the programme including visits to Plymouth and Torquay. Mr. Fripp was in medical charge. This did the patient great good, and at some of the places at which the yacht touched he was able to obtain carriage exercise, four of the Osborne’s bluejackets having been drilled as a carrying party. His Majesty thoroughly realised that complete recovery must not only be a matter of time, but must also depend on strict obedience to the doctors’ orders, and, as the event proved, he showed himself a model patient in every way. Queen Victoria’s anxiety about her son abated, and she was able to leave for Balmoral on 31st August. The patient particularly enjoyed the opportunity of entertaining his friends on board the yacht, including the Portuguese Minister and Mr. Christopher Sykes. He paid a long visit to Mount Edgcumbe, landing and driving in the park.
On 2nd September the Osborne returned to Cowes, and on the following day the patient was allowed to stand up for the first time and to walk very carefully a distance of three feet.
The health of the Queen of Denmark continued to give great anxiety to His Majesty, and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, with little Prince Edward, left England for Copenhagen to be present at the celebration of the aged Queen’s birthday, which seemed only too likely to be the last that she would ever spend on earth.
On the 8th the King was able to visit Osborne—of course in an invalid chair. On the 12th it was announced that a considerable degree of mobility had been obtained in the knee joint, and on the 14th the patient, accompanied by Princess Victoria, left for Balmoral.
At this time, in spite of the tiresome restraints imposed on him by his accident, the King did another of those graceful little actions which have helped so much to strengthen his hold over the affections of his subjects all over the world. Some time before this His Majesty had assisted Sir James Woodhead, then Mayor of Cape Town, to procure a mace for the city, made of oak from the timbers of Nelson’s flagship, the Victory. Unfortunately, the piece of wood sent out proved to be so much decayed as to be practically useless. Another application was made to the King, who again interested himself in the kindest manner in the matter, with the result that a fairly sound piece of wood was despatched, and the grateful council of Cape Town passed a unanimous resolution of thanks to their Royal benefactor. It is not a very important incident, but it illustrates His Majesty’s willingness not only to take trouble, but to go on taking trouble.
The King derived the greatest benefit from the splendid air of Deeside, and about the middle of September Mr. Fripp, his Surgeon-in-ordinary, was able to return to London. While His Majesty was in Scotland Lord Crawford celebrated the quincentenary of his earldom, and the King sent him the following kindly telegram:—
“Allow me to offer you my sincerest congratulations on the 500th anniversary of the creating of your title.—Albert Edward.”
On 23rd September the King left Balmoral to stay with the Duke and Duchess of Fife at Mar Lodge, and on the 27th the recovery of His Majesty was, so to speak, officially marked by the announcement in the London Gazette that Queen Victoria had appointed Sir William MacCormac and Sir Francis Laking to be Knight-Commanders, and Mr. Fripp and Fleet-Surgeon Delmege to be Members of the Royal Victorian Order, “in recognition of their services in connection with the recent accident met with by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.”
All this time the condition of the venerable Queen of Denmark had been fluctuating, now an improvement and now a relapse being reported. At last the end came on 29th September, and the Balmoral Court Circular, in recording the mournful event, announced:—
“The Queen’s beloved daughter-in-law, the Princess of Wales, was in constant attendance on her mother, to whom she was devotedly attached.”
The utmost sympathy was shown by all classes with King Edward and Queen Alexandra in this terrible bereavement. The King was represented at the funeral by his son, and the Duke of Cambridge represented Queen Victoria. Queen Alexandra of course remained at Copenhagen for the last sad rites.
On 16th October the King returned to London, the only trace of his accident being a very slight limp, which was soon got rid of, and on the 28th His Majesty received Lord Kitchener, who had come home with all the laurels of Omdurman. On 1st November Queen Alexandra and her son returned from Copenhagen, and their Majesties soon afterwards paid a short visit to Sandringham. Before the end of November the Lancet was able to assure the public that the King’s recovery was complete, and His Majesty showed his gratitude to Sir William MacCormac by his presence when, in the following February, the eminent surgeon delivered the Hunterian Oration at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
On 6th February 1899 another sad bereavement befell the King in the death of Prince Alfred, the only son of his brother, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
The King soon returned to his active public life. On 2nd March His Majesty presided at a meeting held at Marlborough House to establish the League of Mercy, the purpose of which was to promote more systematic contributions to his Hospital Fund for London. On 8th July the King reviewed some 26,000 Metropolitan Volunteers on the Horse Guards Parade. Queen Alexandra watched the review, and her son and the Duke of Connaught marched past at the head of the corps of which they are honorary colonels. On 20th July the King and Queen opened the new buildings of the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease in Bloomsbury, and on the following day their Majesties entertained 1200 hospital nurses at Marlborough House at a garden party in connection with the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses. On 22nd July the King, who was accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law, was an interested spectator of the International University Sports, when the representatives of Oxford and Cambridge beat the champions of Harvard and Yale by five events to four. In September His Majesty presented new colours to the 1st Gordon Highlanders at Ballater.
The autumn of 1899 was signalised by the visit which was paid to this country by the German Emperor and Empress, who were accompanied by two of their sons, Prince Augustus William and Prince Oscar. Their Imperial Majesties were royally entertained at Windsor by Queen Victoria, to whom they had come to pay their respects, a great State banquet being the chief among the festivities. King Edward naturally took a prominent part in the reception of the German Emperor, who particularly enjoyed some capital shooting on his uncle’s estate at Sandringham. At the time of His Imperial Majesty’s visit, the British arms in South Africa were not meeting with conspicuous success, and various political motives were freely attributed to the Kaiser, but the mass of the British people were content to take the event for what it seemed to be—namely, a tribute of respect to the venerated British Sovereign on the part of her grandson. Queen Victoria took the opportunity to appoint the Kaiser an honorary G.C.V.O., and to confer various grades of the same decoration on the members of His Imperial Majesty’s suite, which included more than one eminent German statesman.
The year 1900 was perhaps the most eventful in King Edward’s life, for it saw the first attempt that had ever been made to kill him. Queen Victoria’s memorable visit to Ireland began on the very same day on which this dastardly attempt was perpetrated. Her Majesty landed at Kingstown on the morning of Wednesday, 4th April, and made her State entry into Dublin. Meanwhile King Edward and Queen Alexandra left England for Copenhagen. As the train by which they were travelling to Denmark was leaving the Nord Station at Brussels in the evening, a youth named Sipido jumped on the footboard of the Royal carriage and fired two shots from a revolver into the saloon. Fortunately they completely missed the King, who behaved with the utmost coolness, and as quickly as possible telegraphed a reassuring message to his Royal mother.
Sipido, who was of course instantly arrested, declared that he had intended “to kill the Prince because His Royal Highness had caused thousands of men to be slaughtered in South Africa.” There is no doubt that the youth’s mind had become infuriated, partly by Anarchist doctrines, partly by reading the abominable libels which for some time had been circulated in the disreputable Continental journals regarding the conduct of the war in South Africa. Unfortunately it has to be recorded that not disreputable journals alone were guilty. For instance, the issue of the Kladderadatsch, the German Punch, published just before the attack on the King, contained a paragraph of the grossest and most insulting character, completing a series of abominably scurrilous attacks on His Majesty.
Widespread indignation was aroused, not only in the British Empire, but also throughout the Continent, and the King and Queen were the recipients of many thousands of telegrams of sympathy and congratulation on His Majesty’s happy escape. The King expressed a wish to have the bullet, and after the trial it was sent to him. It is significant of His Majesty’s kindly thought that he sent to M. Crocius, the stationmaster who seized Sipido, a valuable scarf-pin as an acknowledgment. M. Crocius also received the Royal Victorian Order and a letter of thanks from Queen Victoria.
The King and Queen returned to London from Denmark on 20th April, and their arrival was made the occasion of a really remarkable popular demonstration. A few days later the Press was requested to publish the following graceful acknowledgment from His Majesty:—
“Marlborough House, Pall Mall, S.W.
“I have been deeply touched by the numerous expressions of sympathy and goodwill addressed to me on the occasion of the providential escape of the Princess of Wales and myself from the danger we have lately passed through.
“From every quarter of the globe, from the Queen’s subjects throughout the world, as well as from the representatives and inhabitants of foreign countries, have these manifestations of sympathy proceeded, and on my return to this country I received a welcome so spontaneous and hearty that I felt I was the recipient of a most gratifying tribute of genuine goodwill.
“Such proofs of kind and generous feeling are naturally most highly prized by me, and will for ever be cherished in my memory.
The subsequent history of Sipido throws a curious light on Belgian notions of justice. He was placed on trial before the Brabant Assize Court on 2nd July, and admitted his guilt, acknowledging that the attempt was not meant as a joke. Although the jury on the 5th brought in a verdict of “guilty,” the Court acquitted the prisoner on the ground that he was “irresponsible,” but ordered him to be placed at the disposal of the Government till he attained the age of twenty-one. The Belgian Government, however, did not prevent him from fleeing to Paris, where he had relatives. Mr. Balfour stated in the House of Commons that the British Government had informed the Belgian Government that they considered the result of the proceedings to be a grave and most unfortunate miscarriage of justice. In excuse for not detaining Sipido, the Belgian Government pleaded that the youth could not be arrested during the three days’ interval to which he was entitled for deciding whether he should lodge an appeal. But this deceived no one, for it was not an illegal arrest which was desired, but ordinary police surveillance.
Sipido did appeal against the sentence of the Assize Court, but the Brussels Court of Cassation rejected the appeal towards the end of September. The Belgian Government ultimately obtained the extradition of the youth from the French Government, and he arrived in Brussels in charge of the police on 27th October.
The death of his brother, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Duke of Edinburgh), in the summer of 1900, was a bitter grief to the King, who was present with the German Emperor at the funeral. The succession to the principality had been the subject of a family arrangement on the death of the heir, Prince Alfred, in 1899. The King himself had of course long ago renounced his rights, and the next heir, the Duke of Connaught, on behalf of himself and his son, Prince Arthur, did the same, with certain reservations. The duchy therefore passed to the young Duke of Albany, only son of the late Prince Leopold, who was then a boy in Mr. Benson’s house at Eton.
On New Year’s Day 1901 the King was much gratified by the promotion of his son and heir to be Rear-Admiral, the more so as the Duke had fairly earned this advancement as judged by the ordinary standards of promotion in the Navy. The position to which His Royal Highness was raised by the death of his elder brother of course rendered it impossible for him thenceforward to be so closely associated with the sea service as, for example, his uncle, the Duke of Edinburgh, had been, and the step in rank was no doubt conferred in anticipation of the Duke’s approaching visit to Australia to inaugurate the Federal Parliament. The promotion was followed, a day or two afterwards, by the appointment of the Duke to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Marine Forces.
Dr. Creighton, Bishop of London, died on 14th January, and the King, who was so soon to need the deepest sympathy himself, wrote a long and touching letter of sympathy to the bereaved widow.
Sandringham from the Grounds
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
Sandringham is so closely associated in the public mind with King Edward and Queen Alexandra, whose country home it was for so many years, and is still to be from time to time, that no apology is needed for devoting to it a special chapter.
When King Edward was about to set up a separate establishment, Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort instructed some of their most trusted friends to look out for a suitable country estate for the Heir-Apparent. At one moment it was proposed to buy Newstead Abbey, but its Byronic associations caused it to be purchased as soon as it came into the market. Eynsham, in Oxfordshire, an estate belonging to Lord Macclesfield, also came under consideration, as well as Elveden, in Suffolk, and Hatherop, in Gloucestershire. Lord Palmerston seems to have suggested Sandringham, which at that time belonged to his stepson, Mr. Spencer Cowper, and accordingly the Norfolk estate was bought for £220,000.
The estate consisted of eight thousand acres, the nominal rental being about £7000 a year, but everything about Sandringham was at that time in very bad order. The house was small and dilapidated, and the shooting and outlying portions of the estate had been utterly neglected. It is said that the whole rental has been expended on the property during the last thirty-five or forty years, and a very considerable sum has also been spent on the new house, the new gardens, the park, and the home farms. Every kind of improvement has been carried out, gradually but steadily, and now it may be considered a model estate from every point of view. One of the first institutions set up by the King was an admirable village club, entirely built at His Majesty’s own expense. The regulations enforced are based on what is called Dr. Arnold’s system, and give the maximum of freedom to the members.
The old mansion, which was small and inconvenient, was pulled down, and the present house was erected on a more suitable site, from the designs of Mr. Humbert. The work was not completed till 1871. The new mansion is a very pretty gabled building, and though commodious enough, it will not compare in point of size with many of the “stately homes of England.” On the inner wall of the vestibule, above the hall door, is set a tablet bearing, in Old English characters, the inscription: “This house was built by Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra, his wife, in the year of Our Lord, 1870.”
The Royal host and hostess, as well as their family and their guests, are wont to spend much of their time in the great hall, a really beautiful apartment, with a lofty ceiling of open oak work. Many family souvenirs are gathered here, including a fine painting of Queen Alexandra’s birthplace, portraits of the King and Queen of Denmark, two miniature cannon, which were given by Napoleon III. to the King and to his sister, the Empress Frederick, and a number of family portraits and photographs. Facing the main entrance is the head of a wild bull, belonging to the famous Chillingham herd, which was shot by the King in 1872. Underneath are Sir Walter Scott’s lines:—
Though Sandringham can boast of no wild cattle, yet the King has been for many years a breeder of shorthorns and Southdown sheep on a large scale, and it is difficult to estimate the benefits which his example in this respect has conferred on the great agricultural industry. His Majesty has always been a very keen competitor at the various national and local shows, and he took his duties as President of the Royal Agricultural Society very seriously. All the Norfolk shows, from the flower show to the poultry show, are patronised by their Majesties; and in this, as in so many other matters, the Squire of Sandringham sets an excellent example to those round him. The Allotments Act was practically anticipated at Sandringham, and the tenants of His Majesty know that he interprets very generously any Act telling in their favour.
The Royal Agricultural Society held its annual meeting in Dublin in 1871, when the King, who was accompanied by the Duke of Connaught and Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll), and the Duke of Argyll, paid one of his visits to Ireland. At the annual banquet of the Society His Majesty spoke in terms which demonstrate in the clearest manner his interest in agriculture and his sense of its importance in promoting the prosperity of the nation at large. He said, in the course of an unusually long speech:—
“The theme before me—prosperity to Ireland—is one that might be enlarged upon greatly. No one wishes more sincerely than I do prosperity to this country. No one in the large assemblage which crowds this hall, and no one outside this hall, could more largely wish for the prosperity of Ireland which is so dear to them.… I may say that what will do more than anything else towards making a country prosperous is the extension of its agriculture. It was with great pleasure that I accepted the position of President of the Royal Agricultural Society, and it afforded me great pleasure to be present at the Show to-day. My brother has already alluded in his speech to the fine animals we saw, and I may add that I feel sure that in no other part of the United Kingdom could a more creditable Show be held than that which was opened near Dublin this morning. During the last four years there has been a great improvement in every respect in the shows of the Royal Agricultural Societies.…
The Norwich Gate at Sandringham
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
“I am assured that if the many gentlemen and landlords who very often find some difficulty in leaving England, but who have large interests and large estates in this country, could contrive to come over here more frequently, it would do more good than anything else I could imagine. I am certain that they are anxious to come over, and that their relations with their tenantry and those around them should be in every respect good. I may also here refer to the great improvement made in the erection of farm buildings and cottages. Beyond doubt there has been progress in the direction of improvement there; but still I believe much yet remains to be done. Everything depends upon the well-being of the people, and if they are properly lodged it tends to cleanliness, and very possibly to moral advantage.
The East Front, Sandringham
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
“Perhaps I may be allowed to speak of a slight personal experience in that matter. I have a small estate in Norfolk, and observed myself the great importance of providing suitable small cottages for those resident there, and, having done so, now reap immense advantage.”
In the following year (19th June 1872) the King and Queen visited King’s Lynn to see the Annual Exhibition of the Norfolk Agricultural Society. At the entrance to the Show His Majesty said, in reply to the usual address presented on these occasions:—
“It has been a source of the greatest gratification to have had it in my power to contribute in any degree to the success of your Association, and to promote the interests of agriculture in Norfolk. It is with these feelings that I have endeavoured to make myself acquainted with some of the operations of farming, and to acquire some knowledge of stock, and if I have not always been successful in the path of competition, I have at least obtained prizes sufficient to encourage me to persevere, and to indulge in the hope that I shall obtain more.”
This hope of His Majesty’s was certainly justified, for he not only carried off six prizes at this Norfolk show, but he has ever since been a pretty regular prize-winner at the shows of the Royal Agricultural Society, the Bath and West of England, and other important exhibitions.
In other speeches on the same occasion at King’s Lynn His Majesty said that during the ten years in which he had lived in Norfolk he had endeavoured not to lag behind those other county landlords who so ably fulfilled their duties. It would always be his earnest endeavour to promote the welfare of the county, in which he was much interested. He had to thank them for the kind reception which the Princess of Wales always experienced whenever she appeared in public. It was most desirable that ladies should associate themselves in their husbands’ pursuits, and when the Princess did not accompany him he always felt that there was something wanting. His Majesty went on to express his own great personal interest in the Society and in the cause of agriculture generally. His late father, the Prince Consort, always felt the greatest interest in agriculture, and used to take his children to inspect his prize animals.
The King also referred to the housing of the agricultural labourer, and said that a landlord ought to feel a pride in having the working classes properly housed on his estate. Those who worked from morning to night should find on their return a comfortable dwelling, which would promote their moral and social well-being. He had endeavoured to improve the cottages on his own estate, and he felt pride and satisfaction in having his workmen properly housed.
Only about a fortnight later the King again demonstrated his interest in the county in which he had become a squire by visiting Great Yarmouth to inspect the Norfolk Artillery Militia. On that occasion he said:—
“This is the first occasion since my return from abroad that I have met with an official reception, and my pleasure is increased from the fact that I regard myself as a Norfolk man. I have also to acknowledge the very high honour conferred upon me last year in my having been appointed Honorary Colonel of the Norfolk Militia Artillery.”
Queen Alexandra’s Dairy at Sandringham
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
Of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution the King has always been a generous friend and supporter, and the spread of agricultural depression has naturally made his Majesty’s support of exceptional value. The King spoke, for example, at the fifteenth anniversary festival of the Institution, held on 5th June 1875:—
“I sincerely say that I do take a great interest in all that is connected with agriculture. I may call myself a colleague of many of you present as a farmer on a small scale, and I only hope that I may never have occasion to be a pensioner of this institution. It is impossible, I think, for any British gentleman to live at his country place without taking an interest in agriculture, and in all those things which concern the farmers of this great country. The very backbone of the country, the best recruits of the Army and Navy, come from the agricultural districts. We know that our commercial and agricultural interests depend upon the valour and efficiency of our land and sea forces.”
On this occasion the King added a toast which had been most ungallantly omitted from the list—that of “The Ladies,” and in proposing it he said:—
“We have been honoured on this occasion by fair ladies, and I think it would be very wrong if we were to separate without cordially drinking their health. We see especially how much the comfort, well-being, prosperity, and happiness of farmers and agriculturists depend upon a kind wife to cheer them by the fireside at the end of their day’s work, and to lighten by female influence the load of difficulties.”
Though naturally His Majesty will now be unable to devote so much time to the interests of agriculture as he did when Prince of Wales, yet he has no intention of giving up the breeding of stock. It is understood that Her late Majesty bequeathed to him the magnificent herds of shorthorns, Jerseys, Devons, and Herefords established by the late Prince Consort at Windsor on the Shaw and Flemish farms which he started there. Prince Albert, indeed, revived the interest of the Royal Family in agriculture, which had lapsed since the death of “Farmer George.” Queen Victoria also had some very good stock on the home farm at Osborne, while at Abergeldie Mains Her Majesty kept a magnificent herd of pure-bred Aberdeen-Angus cattle. These, without doubt, her successor will keep up.
To those who study the King’s personal nature and character, no apartment at Sandringham can be more interesting than the library, or rather that section of the libraries, for there are three, which is specially appropriated to His Majesty. The fittings are those of the cabins used by the King on board the Serapis during his voyage to and from India. The blotting-books and the tables and chairs are all covered in dark blue or green leather, and on each the Prince of Wales’s feathers and monogram are stamped in gold. A glance at the shelves shows what are the King’s literary tastes and preferences. He is evidently intensely interested in the history of his own country, especially what may be called the history of our own time. Several shelves are entirely devoted to works dealing with the Indian Mutiny, including the official reports, memoirs, histories, and even novels. The King always buys every new work connected with the public or private administration of his Eastern Empire. Special attention has also evidently been paid to the Crimean War, and there is a rich collection of Colonial histories and documents. But most of the standard works of reference are to be found in the first library, a fine apartment, often used as a writing-room and reading-room by visitors.
The second library is really the Equerries’ room. It is there the Gentlemen of the Household are often to be found. Here are gathered together French and English works of reference and classics, and a splendid collection of county histories. Novels and memoirs are not neglected, and no week passes, when the King and Queen are in residence, without a large consignment of British and foreign books finding its way to Sandringham.
The King transacts much of the business connected with the Sandringham estate in a pleasant morning-room. There he receives at stated times the bailiffs and others concerned in the management of the estate, and, as he farms himself over 1000 acres, he has much to do in the way of supervision.
Sandringham can boast of one of the finest private billiard-rooms in England, and it is one of the very few country-houses where there are bowling alleys. The King and his children are very fond of the old-fashioned English game of bowls.
In 1891 the entire roofing of the main building of Sandringham House, together with all the rooms and their contents on the two upper floors, was destroyed by fire. The bells of the various churches in the district clashed out the alarm. Gangs of men and women speedily set to work to clear the principal lower rooms of their furniture and rare, valuable, and interesting contents. Queen Alexandra was staying with the Empress of Russia, and the King was also away at the time. The amount of damage done was about £15,000. That portion of the house which was destroyed has been rebuilt in a thoroughly fire-proof fashion, with iron and concrete floors and roofs; and the opportunity was taken of making many additions to various portions of the house, in fact about eighteen rooms were added. It is very characteristic of the King that, by his orders, the general works were all carried out by local tradesmen.
One of the most interesting departments of Sandringham Hall is the stables, which contain a great number of carriages. There are Russian sledges, only used in the coldest weather; a Hungarian snow-carriage, lined with rose colour; Norwegian carioles; a smart American buggy, painted bright yellow; a truly beautiful gold inlaid jinricksha, sent to the King from Japan, which is for show rather than for use; a char-à-banc, presented by the late Duke of Sutherland; and, it need hardly be said, every kind of ordinary two- and four-wheeled vehicle now in general use, from the modest Norfolk cart to the stately landau; while by the big coach is to be seen the charming miniature four-in-hand presented by His Majesty to Queen Alexandra just before his departure for India.
Both the King and Queen are passionately fond of horses, and Her Majesty pays a daily visit when at Sandringham to her pony-stable, which was built in 1874 for her four French ponies, who were afterwards succeeded by equally valuable animals of British extraction. Bina, Merry-Antics, Bow, and Bell were the fortunate occupants of this model pony-stable, which is considered the prettiest building of the kind in the world, the walls being lined with white tiles, picked out in green glazed bricks, finished at the top by a green-tiled frieze and an open wooden roof. Above each manger was recorded in gold letters the name of the pony occupying the stall. Queen Alexandra at one time was very fond of driving tandem, and she has one of the best tandem teams in Great Britain. She is very fond of bay horses, and possesses also a pair of the famous greys bred in the Imperial stables at Leipzig. For many years Her Majesty always rode Kinsky, a Hungarian horse; and she was said to be one of the best horsewomen in Norfolk.
The saddle-room is not the least fascinating portion of the stable-yard. Much of the harness is silver and gold-plated. Queen Alexandra has always preferred brown harness to black, and all that used by her is made in tan leather, with brass mounts.
There are a number of interesting photographs and paintings, including a picture in oils of a very beautiful chestnut mare, Victoria, long ridden by the Queen, and given to her when she was a bride by Queen Victoria. Below this portrait of a departed favourite is one of her hoofs mounted in silver, with the name of the owner written across. There are some valuable prints of celebrated trainers and jockeys, with some of the latter’s whips, spurs, and caps. A “Vanity Fair” cartoon of the King, surrounded by a number of his friends at Newmarket, is also given a prominent place in the Sandringham saddle-room; and not the least interesting memento now there is Mr. John Porter’s silver-wedding gift to his Royal patrons. In a silver frame, surmounted by the Prince of Wales’s feathers, is a white velvet tablet with the name “Ormonde” woven from the famous race-horse’s hair. The border contains pieces of the hair of thirty-three famous winners, the name of each being in silver letters beneath. Close by is to be seen the racing-saddle generally used by Fred Archer.
Parallel with the stables runs the building known as the kennels. At one time, in the paddock between the stables and the kennels, there was a bear-pit, but the occupant thereof was sent to the Zoo after the King’s valued head-keeper, Mr. Jackson, had been hunted by Bruin just when he was about to feed him with some peculiarly bearish delicacy. This corner of Sandringham is by no means confined to horses and dogs. Here also were kept some of Queen Alexandra’s pet cats; a number of doves descended from the single pair presented to Her Majesty during her first visit to Ireland; her Australian pigeons, quite unlike the more humble home variety; a Barbary dove belonging to the Duchess of Cornwall and York; and some very fine water-fowl, to say nothing of “Cockie,” the Princess of Wales’s cockatoo, who was said to be over a hundred years old.
The kennels are, in their way, quite as fine as the stables. They are very cleverly arranged, all fitted with hot-water pipes, and admirably ventilated. The dogs are exercised in the park, in three paddocks in front of the kennels, or in a large yard paved with red, blue, and brick tiles. All the food consumed in the kennels comes from special kitchens attached to the building. There is also a dog hospital and a nursery, always occupied by one or more litters.
The Kennels, Sandringham
Photograph by T. Fall, Baker Street, W.
The King and Queen are both keen dog-fanciers, and they possess some of the very finest animals in the world. They both exhibit at the leading shows, and Her Majesty is the Patron of the Ladies’ Kennel Association.
This chapter must not be concluded without reference to a curious little book, published some years ago by one who must be regarded as absolutely unique—namely, an aggrieved tenant at Sandringham. This lady had differences with the agent of the estate, and to revenge herself for her supposed grievances she wrote this obviously prejudiced account of her late landlord at his country home.
The following extracts from the book written by this hostile witness are therefore significant indeed of the tenour of our King’s life in Norfolk:—
“Whenever I went (to Sandringham) I never failed to spend a pleasant evening, and received more courtesy from my illustrious host and hostess than from any house I ever was in. The Prince is noted for his powers of entertainment and exertion to make every one enjoy themselves. When a ‘house-party’ is expected he superintends the arrangements and remembers their particular tastes and pursuits. A gouty squire who once grumbled at having to go, was completely mollified at finding a room prepared for him on the ground floor, the Prince thinking he would prefer it. The effect of a visit to Sandringham upon a certain order of Radicals, who are treated with the greatest deference, is perfectly astounding. It acts as a patent conjuring machine—a Republican stuffed in at one end, a Courtier squeezed out at the other.
“The Sandringham festivities were so arranged that all classes could share in them; and what with County, farmers’, and servants’ balls, labourers’ dinners, visits to country houses, meets of the hounds, and other sociabilities, everybody from far and near had the opportunity of making acquaintance with their Royal Highnesses.”
Of the servants’ parties at Sandringham she says:—
“The house party, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, and all invited from the neighbourhood, were ordered to join in, no shirking or sitting out allowed, and when the sides had been made up, the Prince and Princess set off with their partners, round and round, down the middle and up again, and so on to the end, the Prince the jolliest of the jolly and the life of the party, as he is wherever he goes. I never saw such amazing vitality. His own Master of the Ceremonies, signalling and sending messages to the band, arranging every dance, and when to begin and when to leave off, noticing the smallest mistake in the figures, and putting the people in their places. In the ‘Triumph,’ which is such an exhausting dance, he looked as if he could have gone on all night and into the middle of next week without stopping, and I really believe he could.… Almost before one dance was ended the Prince started another, and suddenly the Scotch Pipers would screech out and the Prince would fold his arms and fling himself into a Highland fling, and so on fast and furious until far into the small hours of the morning.”
Queen Alexandra with her Favourite Dogs
Photograph by T. Fall, Baker Street, W.
Not long after the King’s accession, extensive alterations were ordered to fit Buckingham Palace, which had been for a long time only occupied occasionally, to be the town house of His Majesty and Queen Alexandra. It is probable that their Majesties would have preferred to remain at Marlborough House, which is endeared to them by the most intimate associations, both of joy and of sorrow; but in this, as in so many other instances, the King divined by quick intuition that his loyal subjects would wish that their Sovereign and his Consort should reside in the palace which is not less closely linked in the popular imagination with the British monarchy than Windsor Castle itself.
It is evident that in all that concerns State ceremonial and the décor of a magnificent Court, King Edward is resolved to abate not a jot of his regal dignity. But so much of His Majesty’s life was passed at Marlborough House, and the beautiful old Georgian mansion was for so long the centre of his social, philanthropic, and official activities, that no biographical sketch of the King would be complete without some account of what went on there.
There is scarcely an object in the house which does not remind the King and Queen of some happy incident of their joint lives. The very carpet in the drawing-room was presented to them on the occasion of their wedding; and His Majesty’s great interest in everything that concerns the history of the country and of the Empire is strikingly shown in each of his homes, for the rooms of both Marlborough House and Sandringham are lined with fine paintings and engravings recalling great events of the Victorian era.
Although Marlborough House is the official residence of the Heir-Apparent, it is considered a private house for taxation purposes, and is rated at over £1000 a year.
Marlborough House from the South-West
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
The King’s study at Marlborough House, where none but his intimates are admitted, looks like the room of a hard-working man of business. He works at an old-fashioned pedestal desk-table, exactly resembling the one used by his father. The desk portion of the table shuts with a spring, and can only be opened with a golden key, which the King always wears on his watch chain.
When he was Prince of Wales the King only accomplished the immense amount of work he did by the most methodical organisation. Almost every hour of his day was mapped out for him. First came his private correspondence, which was very considerable. Then from ten to half-past ten was spent in talking over and dictating replies to the letters already sorted by Sir Francis Knollys. Immediately after, the Comptroller of the Household discussed with him the arrangements for the day. Often before lunch he had to receive a deputation, or to act as chairman of some committee, frequently held in Marlborough House. Luncheon was served at 2.30, and the King and Queen often entertained parties of their relations who were up in town for the day. Except when he was travelling, the King rarely had a free afternoon, for even on the rare occasions when he had not to visit some public institution, to lay a foundation-stone, or to declare a building open, and so on, there were endless social duties to which no one could attend but himself, such as weddings, race meetings, reviews, and receptions. Certain public functions were almost always attended by both the King and the Queen—for example, the Horse Show at Islington, the Royal Military Tournament, and the trooping of the colour.
No one can realise how much his merely social duties cost the King while he was Heir-Apparent. The invariable cheerfulness and courage with which he went through what must have soon become a terribly monotonous round, year after year, are the more admirable when it is remembered that it was actually made the basis for the assertion that he was excessively devoted to mere amusement. An American writer who had brought the charge but, having discovered his error, had had the honesty and manliness to admit it, was rewarded by receiving a letter from the Prince’s Secretary in which occurred the following:—
“The Prince cannot help feeling that you are a little hard and unjust upon him in your book; he says unjust because you evidently wrote about him without knowing his real character. There are many things which he is obliged to do which the outside world would call pleasures and amusements; they are, however, often anything but a source of amusement to him, though his position demands that he should every year go through a certain round of social duties which bore him to death. But, while duly regretting those social pleasures, you pass over very lightly all the more serious occupations of his life.”
Marlborough House: the Drawing-Room
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
As Heir-Apparent, the King gave each season a certain number of dinners which, though in no sense official functions, took the place of those which would in other circumstances be given at Court. Thus he very often entertained various members of the Opposition as well as of the Government. He also occasionally gave what might be called a diplomatic dinner, to which a number of the Foreign Ambassadors and Ministers were invited. On many occasions dinner-parties in honour of a foreign guest or Royal relation passing through town in semi-incognito have given members of London society an opportunity of making the acquaintance of a great foreign personage. When the Shahzada was in England the Prince and Princess of Wales gave a banquet in his honour, at which covers were laid for forty. On this occasion the principal guest was not able to take any dish in the menu save riz à l’Impératrice. Fortunately, however, he had brought with him his own provisions.
The dining-room in which these important dinners were served at Marlborough House is a very fine room containing a considerable number of their Majesties’ wedding presents. It is a curious fact that in no circumstances were two knives together given to any guest. A great many reasons have been assigned for this rule, but apparently no one ever adopted the simple plan of asking the Royal host or hostess. It has been asserted that the King has the old-fashioned dislike to seeing knives inadvertently crossed.
Here is a lively description of a dinner at Marlborough House on 6th May 1896, recorded by the late Archbishop Benson in his diary:—
“Dined with the Prince of Wales. The most splendid company. All the Ambassadors but Russia, who is gone to the Coronation of the Czar. Duke of Connaught, Lord Wolseley, near whom I sat, with the Lord Chancellor between, two delightful, interesting talkers, and on my other side one still better, de Courcel, French Ambassador. Lucklessly after dinner the Turkish Ambassador asked to be presented, and he held me talking innocently about the Greek Bishops whom I knew, but for his red-handed tyrant’s sake he was the last person I wished for, and Harcourt came up and said, ‘What a picture we have been enjoying—you and the Turk in close alliance!’ Then Harcourt went on about our old Cambridge days, and in heart he is the greatest Conservative. At the Prince of Wales’s instigation I did my best to make Duke of Connaught see it was good for Church and State that Bishop of Peterborough should go for us, and perhaps I succeeded a little; he promised to do his best to make him welcome there. Chamberlain, Morley, Balfour, two Directors of British Museum, Asquith, very pleasant after his dangerous but not damaging assault on the Education Bill, Rosebery, Herschell, Salisbury of course, looking a very great man, among the Ambassadors.”
The journey of the Bishop of Peterborough (Dr. Creighton, afterwards Bishop of London), to which the Archbishop refers, was to Russia to represent the Church of England at the Tsar’s Coronation.
The King has never concealed his dislike of the immensely long, fatiguing banquets which were in his youth the rule rather than the exception; indeed, he may be said to have revolutionised the British dinner-party. At Marlborough House dinner was never allowed to last much over an hour. Occasionally during dinner soft music was played. Every course served was prepared under the direct supervision of the chef (the famous Ménager).
Some years ago the King was rarely seen, even at dinner at a private house, without his favourite valet Macdonald, the son of the Prince Consort’s jager; and later, whenever the King dined out, one of his own servants invariably accompanied him and attended to him through the dinner, whether it was a public banquet or a private dinner-party. Indeed, the King very rarely enjoyed the luxury of being alone; even when walking up St. James’s Street, or turning into the Marlborough Club, he was almost invariably accompanied by one of his equerries; and it need hardly be said that the most trustworthy detectives in the London police force were charged with the task of watching over his personal safety, for the appearance of no public personage was better known to the man in the street than that of the Prince of Wales.
The King has always been an enthusiastic admirer of the stage, and his tastes are so catholic that they range from melodrama at the Adelphi to grand opera at Covent Garden. When His Majesty had made up his mind that he would like to go to the theatre, the Royal box was booked in the ordinary way of business, and charged to the Marlborough House account, the price not being increased from the ordinary library tariff. The only difference made in honour of the Royal family is that, if any other patron of the theatre has already engaged the Royal box, he is requested to waive his right. The King, however, is always reluctant that this should be done, and he generally requests his secretary to send a special note of thanks in his name.
Garden Party at Marlborough House, July 1881
From the “Illustrated London News”
Both the King and the Queen always desired to be treated exactly as if they belonged to the ordinary audience, and nothing annoyed them more than that attention should be drawn to them by the playing of the National Anthem or “God bless the Prince of Wales.” At one time the managers used to keep the curtain down till the Royal party arrived. The King heard of this, and was so greatly troubled at the thought of the inconvenience thus caused to the public that he gave strict orders that the curtain was never to be kept down beyond the advertised time on his account. On the other hand, he always makes a point of waiting till the final curtain has come down before rising to leave. The only occasions on which he ever breaks this courteous rule is when he goes to a theatre which has no private entrance. Then the King and Queen always anticipate the final curtain by two or three minutes, so that their departure may not disturb the carriage arrangements of the rest of the audience.
London managers have reason to be grateful to the King, for whenever he has visited a theatre the booking sensibly increases, the more so that when he likes a play he goes again and again, and recommends it to all his friends. Even when he finds it impossible himself to attend the benefit of some well-known actor or actress, he always puts his name down for stalls or boxes to a substantial amount.
At the opera the King occupied an “omnibus,” a double box on the ground tier, the Royal box itself being on the tier above; while Queen Alexandra had a box all to herself, where she was usually accompanied by one of her daughters. The King is a great music-lover, and, unlike many habitués, attends appreciatively throughout the performance. He was often attended at the opera by his old friend, the late Earl of Lathom, but he never had ladies in his box, although during the entr’actes he would often visit the Princess and his daughters in their box.
The King’s interest in the dramatic profession is unaffected and sincere. Some years ago a very interesting theatrical dinner took place at Marlborough House, Sir Henry Irving, Sir Squire Bancroft, Mr. Hare, Mr. Kendal, Mr. Toole, Mr. Wyndham, Mr. Beerbohm Tree, Mr. Alexander, Mr. David James, Mr. Arthur Cecil, and Mr. William Farren being asked to meet the Duke of Fife, Sir Christopher Teesdale, Mr. Sala, Mr. Burnand, and Mr. Pinero.
His Majesty has always patronised the French plays when performed in London, and he is as popular with the French theatrical world as he is with the dramatic profession in London.
Marlborough House: the Salon
Photograph by Ralph, Dersingham
A separate chapter might almost be written about the King as a smoker. At Sandringham he has a large number of cigar-cases and tobacco-boxes, presented to him at various times by relatives and friends, and at Marlborough House he has an immense collection of silver cigar-lighters. His Majesty is as generous in the matter of cigars as he is in the more important affairs of life, and in this connection a story is told which, if it is not true, certainly ought to be. It is said that on one occasion, before his accession, when attending a big fire, His Majesty asked a reporter for some details, which were instantly given. At the conclusion of the conversation, the King offered his informant a cigar, which the latter immediately wrapped up in a page of his note-book and placed in his pocket. “Don’t you smoke?” asked the King. “Oh yes,” said the reporter; “but I am not likely ever to get another cigar from the Prince of Wales.” His Majesty laughed, and once more producing his cigar-case said, “You had better have another one, this time to smoke.”
The King was at one time very fond of taking a hansom in the streets of London, just like an ordinary person, and it is said that he always paid the driver half a sovereign whether the distance was long or short. His Majesty is patron of the Cabdrivers’ Benevolent Association, and he takes a marked interest in these hard-worked and deserving servants of the public, seldom missing the annual meeting, at which, indeed, some of his best speeches have been delivered.
It is hardly necessary to say that the King need never take a hansom except for his own amusement. The stables of Marlborough House are, from every point of view, models of what town stables ought to be. In the coach-houses are some interesting carriages. The State Coach, which was practically never used, is almost exactly like that which is kept at Buckingham Palace. A Russian sociable, lined with dark-blue morocco, was a gift from the late Tsar of Russia to Queen Alexandra, but it was considered too showy for the London streets, and Her Majesty preferred a light victoria, which was generally drawn by her two greys, Chelsea and Brief.
The greatest care had to be taken both by the King and by the Queen in selecting the tradesmen upon whom to confer the undoubted advantage of their custom. Sir Dighton Probyn, who was Comptroller of the Prince of Wales’s Household, and has since been appointed Extra Equerry to His Majesty, was entrusted with the duty of seeing that the Warrants were only given to those who were worthy of them. A Royal Warrant is naturally considered a great honour by the recipient, and any firm aspiring to be a Warrant-Holder must supply the Household for one year in a satisfactory manner before becoming eligible; and should the firm become bankrupt, or even change its name, the Warrant must be returned to the Comptroller of the Household.
On the King’s birthday the Warrant-Holders were wont to dine together, and on the menu always figured some venison contributed both by Queen Victoria and by King Edward, who each sent a fine buck. On all Royal occasions of rejoicing the Warrant-Holders are considered to have a special right to present a gift accompanied by their congratulations.
Every monetary transaction was not only recorded, but indexed at Marlborough House, and any tradesman who sent in an account twice over was never again patronised.
The King does not confine his custom to any one London tailor; on the contrary, he is careful to distribute his patronage, and it is a mistake to fancy that His Majesty pays very much more for his clothes than do other people. His wardrobe is necessarily larger and more varied than that of a private individual. It need hardly be said that he dresses in perfect taste, and it is well known that he has no sympathy with the revolutionists who would abolish the frock-coat. He is, however, also understood to have a special fondness for the old-fashioned “bowler” hat. It would be difficult to overestimate the King’s influence as an arbiter of fashion, especially in America, where every trifling change in his costume is faithfully reported and imitated, and also on the Continent. On the whole, his influence in matters of dress is strongly conservative. He has none of the Continental love of displaying uniforms, and his dress is always the acme of good taste, because it is always absolutely suitable to the occasion on which it is worn.
The King has an ever-increasing number of uniforms, military and other, which are worth quite £15,000, and are, of course, fully insured. It need hardly be said that the King has almost every Order in existence. The mere enumeration of them fills up a large space in Debrett.
The King’s own favourite among his Orders used to be that of Malta, the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of which the badge is the well-known Maltese cross suspended from a black ribbon.
The King has on several occasions, notably in his Message to his People, published on his accession, expressed his resolve to follow in the footsteps of his late deeply-lamented mother in fulfilling the great and sacred responsibilities which at her death he was summoned to undertake. The chief of these responsibilities is that which relates to high State policy, and especially to the intricate and delicate problems arising out of our relations with foreign Powers.
Now, not the least service which Queen Victoria rendered to her people, as Lord Salisbury said in the eloquent tribute which he paid to her memory in the House of Lords, was her constant and rigorous supervision over public affairs. The people saw only the result, the finished policy, associated in their minds with the personality of some popular Minister. What they did not know was how far that policy had been modified, perhaps even completely recast, by the sagacious counsels of their Sovereign, or what pitfalls had been avoided by her warnings, frankly offered, yet never obstinately pressed upon the chosen representatives of her beloved subjects. “Let us have the Queen’s opinion,” said Lord Clarendon, one of the shrewdest of her Foreign Ministers. “It is always worth hearing, even if you do not agree with it.” And Lord Kimberley confessed that when he was at the Foreign Office he had a difference of opinion with Queen Victoria in regard to an important matter. After discussion Her Majesty, though unconvinced, yielded to her Minister; but the event proved that she was right and the Minister wrong.
Such glimpses of the inner working of the great machine of Government illustrate for us the path which King Edward has marked out for himself. Our polity has been called a crowned Republic—a phrase which, in spite of its exaggeration, expresses tersely the fact that the constitutional Sovereign of this realm has constantly to reconcile duties which seem far apart, and even sometimes inconsistent. King Edward succeeds to a Monarchy possessing great theoretical powers, which, however, have been by the slow growth of custom practically restricted to the exercise of an indirect, advisory influence on State affairs, though, as Mr. Balfour said in the House of Commons, this influence shows a tendency to increase rather than to diminish. Queen Victoria was once compared to a Permanent Under-Secretary of State, who sees Ministers come and go, succeed and fail, but himself remains. The comparison is not a bad one, except that the work of a permanent Under-Secretary is confined to one department, whereas the Sovereign is concerned, not only with every branch of the public service, but also with many matters of importance which cannot pass through the hands of any State department.
It is easy to see the great responsibilities, as well as the great opportunities, which are inseparable from the British Crown, and perhaps it is not impertinent to point out how well King Edward VII. is fitted to meet them. The extraordinary tact which characterises His Majesty is most clearly illustrated when we consider his relations towards the policy of the State. There was a time in the history of England when the Prince of Wales allied himself with one of the political parties in the country, and that not the one in which his father had confidence. The tradition of constitutional monarchy established by our late beloved Queen necessarily inaugurated a different régime. No political party was ever able honestly to claim the Prince of Wales as an adherent, or even as a platonic sympathiser. On the other hand, not his severest critics ever accused him of apathy to British interests. In that higher sphere of patriotism which rises superior to the din of party politics he thoroughly earned the title of the typical Englishman.
All through the years which succeeded the death of the Prince Consort the Prince of Wales discharged the duties of his position in such a way as to win the confidence of every section of the nation. He included among his friends the principal men of both the great political parties, and with such delicacy of feeling was this done that no one could justly say which he really preferred. Indeed, so nice was his feeling that he was accustomed to distinguish—if he made any distinction at all—those statesmen who happened to be in Opposition at the moment, rather than those who were enjoying the sweets of office.
The King did not escape the penalty of irresponsible gossip. He undoubtedly displayed a great liking for Ireland, and for the Irish people, but it would be absurd to call him on that account a Home Ruler. Similarly, it is an interesting fact that both His Majesty and Queen Alexandra distinguished Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone by some special tokens of friendship, but it is not justifiable on that account to assert that their Majesties are Liberals. The truth is that throughout his career His Majesty has succeeded, while deeply interesting himself in politics, in steering steadily clear of party politics.
It would be wearisome to enumerate all the statesmen and politicians on whom His Majesty has conferred various marks of his favour. Mention may, however, be made of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, for whom he entertains a strong admiration which he has never cared to conceal. Indeed, he removed his own name from the Travellers’ Club when Mr. Rhodes was blackballed—a course which he has never seen fit to take in any other instance.
The political emancipation of the Jews in England evidently had the King’s warm sympathy. It now seems a long time ago since his presence at the marriage of Mr. Leopold de Rothschild caused much satisfaction and some sensation in Jewish circles, for no British prince had visited a synagogue since 1809, when three of the Royal dukes were present at a Jewish service. The Rothschild family have long been among His Majesty’s personal friends, both in England and on the Continent, and among his intimates was the late Baron Hirsch, with whom he stayed in Austria, notwithstanding the intense anti-Semitic prejudices of the Austrian Court. The King has thoroughly studied the question of the Russian Jews, and has interested himself on their behalf in such a way as should earn for him the gratitude of every Jew in Europe and America. Nevertheless His Majesty’s liking for the Chosen People has been sometimes misinterpreted, and ascribed to not very creditable motives. People were at one time fond of saying that the King was up to the neck in debt, but, when the question was directly asked, Sir Francis Knollys replied that the King had no debts worth speaking of, and that he could pay any moment every farthing he owed; also, that there was not a word of truth in the oft-repeated tales of the mortgage on Sandringham, and that the whole story was a fabrication and was on a par with similar tales representing the King as being assisted by financiers of more or less doubtful honesty.
In the sphere of foreign relations His Majesty’s indirect influence has undoubtedly been considerable, though, of course, the time has gone by when dynastic considerations used to dictate the policy of empires. It is well known that his nephew, the Tsar, entertains for him a strong personal regard; while of the feelings which subsist between His Majesty and the Kaiser, the son of his favourite sister, the country has had the most significant illustrations. There can be no doubt, too, about the feelings of esteem which are entertained for His Majesty by the French nation as a whole. Furthermore, the King has always shown his desire to become personally acquainted with the principal statesmen of Europe; and it is probable that few of the men who now control international relations have not at one time or another fallen under the influence of His Majesty’s gracious and winning personality. The sum of all this must count for a good deal in facilitating the conduct of our foreign relations.
For Americans the King has shown a strong liking, but it is absurd to assert that his favour has been confined to those American men and women whose social position has been entirely purchased by their wealth. He has frequently gone out of his way to show special courtesy to distinguished American visitors, whether rich or poor; and the diplomatic representative of the United States in London has always found a specially cordial welcome at Marlborough House. This was particularly the case with James Russell Lowell and with T. F. Bayard. Indeed, it will be remembered that on Mr. Bayard’s giving up the post of American Ambassador, the King broke his rule and accepted Mr. Bayard’s invitation to dinner, thereby paying a signal compliment to the whole American people. The King’s telegram to the New York World, during the war-scare which followed President Cleveland’s Venezuelan Message, will be remembered as having done much to calm the public anxiety in both countries.
American women who have married Englishmen can rely on receiving from the King and Queen Alexandra the most tactful consideration and courtesy. This was conspicuously shown in the cases of Lady Harcourt, the daughter of Motley, the great American historian; of Mrs. Joseph Chamberlain; and of the young Duchess of Marlborough.
It is no slight testimony to His Majesty’s political insight that at a time when the Colonies were not fashionable, and when they were actually regarded as a source of weakness rather than of strength to the Mother Country, he did all that he could—so far as the traditional restrictions of his position would allow—to foster a different view of Britain’s relations with her daughter-States. Since those days he exerted himself to promote the success of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition; and his interest in the Empire was yet more strikingly demonstrated in the foundation of the Imperial Institute. His Majesty’s gracious Message to his People Beyond the Seas further illustrates his interest in his Colonial dominions, but assuredly the crowning testimony is his consent to part with his son and his daughter-in-law for many months that they might inaugurate the Australian Federal Parliament and visit the other important States of the Empire.
His Majesty’s interest in India, too, is strong, and his knowledge of Indian affairs is very wide. Every new book of any importance which is published on any Indian subject is added to His Majesty’s library, which is by this time extremely rich in works relating to the vast Eastern territories over which he is now Emperor. His Majesty’s visit to these great kingdoms and provinces, to which he made graceful allusion in his Message “to the Princes and Peoples of India,” was paid at the express wish of his mother, who saw with characteristic foresight how valuable it would be in promoting peace and conciliation among the various creeds and races of Hindustan.
Only three days after the irreparable loss of his much-loved mother, King Edward wrote Messages to the Navy and the Army, which demonstrated how great is his pride in both the services, and how deeply he has their interests at heart. The Message to the Navy, which was ordered by the Lords of the Admiralty to be read on the quarter-deck of every ship in commission, in the presence of the ship’s company, was as follows:—
“Osborne, 25th January 1901.
“I am desirous of expressing to the Navy my heartfelt thanks for its distinguished and renowned services during the long and glorious reign of my beloved mother the Queen, to whose Throne I now succeed.
“Her Majesty, ever proud of the great deeds of her Navy, the protector of our shores and commerce, watched with the keenest solicitude its vast progress during her reign, and made it the profession of my late lamented brother, as I also chose it for the early education of both my sons.
“Watching over your interests and well-being, I confidently rely upon that unfailing loyalty which is the proud inheritance of your noble service.
“Edward, R. et I.”
On the publication of the official March Navy List—there was no issue for February 1901—it was seen that the words “The King” appeared at the head of the Service. This had been done before in lists published by private enterprise, but never before in the list published “by authority.” The circumstance that, while in the Army List Queen Victoria appeared as the head of the land forces, a similar course was not taken in the Navy List had always been regarded as curious, especially considering that the sea service is designated the “Royal” Navy, while the Army is not so described. When an official Navy List was first issued in January 1814 there was no indication in it of the monarch’s existence. The Duke of Clarence appeared as the only Admiral of the Fleet with a commission dated 27th December 1811, and he continued to appear in each list as it was issued quarterly up to March 1830. In the next list, dated in June of the same year, by which time he had succeeded as William IV., his name had disappeared, and for all the lists tell us he might have entirely severed his connection from the Navy.
The introduction of the King’s name into the official Navy List did not of course mean any diminution of the power and authority conferred on the Lords Commissioners for executing the office of the Lord High Admiral, but merely that His Majesty desired to associate himself personally with the Navy, of which he had become the head. The change simply emphasised the fact that the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines are the loyal and devoted servants of the King, and it is another instance of that gracious tact for which Edward VII. is renowned.
Debarred by the tradition of his House from himself entering our first line of defence, the King nevertheless—as indeed he says in his gracious Message—chose the Navy for the early education of both his sons. In other ways he has never failed to demonstrate in every possible way his love of the sea, of which indeed he has had a pretty wide experience. We have seen how often he took passage in various warships on his travels, and it will be remembered that the Hero, in which he returned from visiting Canada and the United States, was driven by a storm out of her course and the Royal party were reduced to salt fare. His Majesty thus early made acquaintance with the hardships as well as with the pleasant side of a sailor’s life.
King William IV. once said: “There is no place in the world for making an English gentleman like the quarter-deck of an English man-of-war,” and his great-nephew, King Edward, evidently took the same view. It was in 1877 that an important step was taken in regard to the education of the King’s two sons, which had long been the subject of anxious thought and care to both their parents. It had not hitherto been the custom to send Princes in the direct line of succession into the Navy, that service being no doubt considered too hazardous. But the strong affection subsisting between Prince Albert Victor and Prince George made their father unwilling to separate them, and so in June 1877 they entered the Britannia together as naval cadets. The decision significantly showed how highly His Majesty appreciated the naval service as a mental and moral training school.
It will be remembered that in that eventful year, 1887, His Majesty was appointed an Honorary Admiral of the Fleet; and later on, the marriage of his daughter, Princess Maud, to Prince Charles of Denmark, who was a Lieutenant in the Danish Navy, gave His Majesty peculiar gratification.
The King’s Message to the Army, contained in a special Army order, was as follows:—
“Osborne, 25th January 1901.
“On my accession to the Throne of my ancestors I am desirous of thanking the Army for the splendid services which it has rendered to my beloved mother the Queen during her glorious reign of upwards of sixty-three years.
“Her Majesty invariably evinced the warmest interest in her troops, especially when on active service, both as a Sovereign and as the head of her Army, and she was proud of the fact of being a soldier’s daughter.
“To secure your best interests will be one of the dearest objects of my heart, and I know I can count upon that loyal devotion which you ever evinced towards your late Sovereign.
The King as Colonel of the 10th Hussars
From a Photograph by F.G.O.S., published by Gregory
A further honour was in store for the Army, for the London Gazette announced:—
“War Office, Pall Mall, 26th February 1901.
“The King has been pleased to confer upon the undermentioned Regiments the honour of becoming their Colonel-in-Chief on his accession to the Throne:—
“10th (Prince of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars, of which Regiment he has been the Regimental Colonel since the year 1863.
This was felt by the whole Army to be a special honour, for the four regiments of Foot Guards had previously had only Colonels commanding, not Colonels-in-Chief. It will be remembered that the 10th Hussars was the regiment in which the late Duke of Clarence and Avondale served.
The connection of His Majesty with the Army has, in accordance with precedent, been extremely close and long continued. Among the earliest recollections of his childhood is the Crimean War, which undoubtedly made a deep and lasting impression on his mind. On attaining the age of eighteen His Majesty was gazetted a Colonel in the Army. Four years later he was promoted to be a General; and in 1875 he was created a Field-Marshal. The mere catalogue of his Colonelcies and Honorary Colonelcies would be tedious; but it may be mentioned that he is Colonel-in-Chief of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards, and the Gordon Highlanders. His Majesty is also Colonel of a large number of distinguished foreign regiments. These latter, however, are naturally formal distinctions, which, in these days, are not of military so much as diplomatic significance. The interest which the King takes in military matters is undoubtedly chiefly centred in the British Army.
The King’s military service at the Curragh has been described in an earlier chapter. His mind was also undoubtedly influenced by the companions whom his parents selected to be with him when he set up a separate establishment. Of these, two were soldiers of conspicuous bravery—Major Teesdale, afterwards Sir Christopher Teesdale, who had greatly distinguished himself at Kars; and Major Lindsay, V.C., afterwards Lord Wantage. King Edward’s keen interest in all that concerns the art of war is well exemplified by his careful survey of the battlefields of the Crimea, and by his visiting, during his tour in India, the places rendered for ever memorable by the Mutiny.
The deep interest which His Majesty took in the Boer War will be fresh in the recollection of everybody. Accompanied by the Duke of Cambridge, he said good-bye, on 14th October 1899, to Sir Redvers Buller, departing to take up the command in South Africa. Later on, accompanied by his brother, the Duke of Connaught, he saw Lord Roberts off on that cold winter morning when the Commander-in-Chief, in the midst of his own bitter private grief, left for South Africa, sped by the deep sympathy and encouragement of His Majesty. It will be remembered, too, how frequently the King inspected battalions ordered to the front, encouraging them with his outspoken interest and admiration; and it will be remembered not less vividly how his gracious Consort cared for the wounded and invalided soldiers, whose sufferings are the inevitable price of victory. The Princess of Wales Hospital Ship will never be forgotten by a grateful nation.
The King and Queen Alexandra were among the earliest subscribers to the Mansion-House funds for the relief of the Transvaal refugees and of the sufferers from the war. The death of their nephew, Major Prince Christian Victor, who was stricken down by disease in October 1900 while on active service in South Africa, was a deep grief to their Majesties. The beginning of the year 1901 was signalised by the return of Lord Roberts and by Queen Alexandra’s special appeal on behalf of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association, which brought relief to many a stricken family whose head had fallen at the front.
The King and the Duke of Connaught
From a Photograph by F.G.O.S., published by Gregory
In the reception of Lord Roberts the King took a prominent part. Accompanied by Queen Alexandra, and their son and daughter-in-law and Princess Victoria, His Majesty, as representing his Royal Mother, presided at the State luncheon at Buckingham Palace in honour of the Commander-in-Chief, while only a few days before Queen Victoria’s death the King took the chair at the great banquet at which the United Service Club entertained Lord Roberts.
The services of the Colonial contingents in South Africa made a profound impression on the King’s mind. He showed this in the most significant manner when, brushing aside all antiquated War Office precedents, he not only inspected Strathcona’s Horse in the garden of Buckingham Palace and gave them the South African Medal in advance before its general issue, but actually presented the regiment with a colour. That such honour should be conferred on a corps of irregulars doubtless shocked military pedants, but it caused intense pride and gratification to the gallant Canadians, who in their modesty refused to believe that their services had been anything out of the common.
For the information contained in this chapter the author is indebted to an authority on the subject.
After the King’s accession His Majesty reluctantly decided that he could not hope to find time to fulfil the duties of the high offices in Masonry to which he had been called as Prince of Wales, namely Grand Master of English Freemasons and Grand Master of the Mark Degree. At the same time King Edward was unwilling to cut short his long official connection with Masonry. Accordingly, His Majesty graciously intimated, in a letter read at Grand Lodge on 15th February 1901, that, following the precedent of King George IV., he would, on his retirement from the office of Grand Master, take the title of “Protector of English Freemasons.” Similarly, at a Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons held four days later, it was announced that His Majesty would assume the title of “Patron of Freemasons of the Mark Degree.”
The King was succeeded in both his Grand Masterships by his brother, the Duke of Connaught, whose consent to serve gave great satisfaction to the brethren of the craft.
Undoubtedly Freemasonry has been one of the most absorbing interests of the King’s life. Yet very few foreign princes are Masons; and though the Duke of Kent was one, the Prince Consort always refused to associate himself with the craft. Of course it must be remembered that British Freemasonry is a very different thing from what the term is supposed to imply on the Continent, where it is associated in the public mind with atheism and even anarchism.
As far back as March 1870 the King presided at the anniversary festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys. This was not very long after his initiation, and in his speech he expressed his pride at being so heartily received by the company as a brother Mason, and his determination to follow in the footsteps of his grand-uncles, who were so long connected with the craft. The King continued:—
“Much has been said against Freemasonry by those who do not know what it is. People naturally say they do not approve of secret societies; but I maintain that the craft is free from the reproach of being either disloyal or irreligious.… I desire to remind you that when, about seventy years ago, it became necessary for the Government of that day to put down secret societies, my relative, the late Duke of Sussex, urged in his place in Parliament that Freemasons’ lodges ought to be exempt from such a law, and the force of his appeal was acknowledged. From that time Freemasonry has been devoid of politics, its only object being the pure and Christian one of charity.”
In May of the following year the King presided at the annual festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, and announced that Queen Alexandra had consented to become the Patroness of the institution. His Majesty also expressed his thanks to the brethren for their sympathy with him on the death of his infant son in the preceding month.
It is interesting to record, in view of the King’s present title of Patron of Freemasons of the Mark Degree, that His Majesty, who was already Patron of the Order in Scotland, was installed as Patron of Free and Accepted Masons in Ireland on the occasion of his visit to that country in August 1871. The installation was attended with great ceremony, and in the course of his reply to the address of welcome presented to him the King said:—
“It was a source of considerable satisfaction to me when I was elected a member of the craft, and I think I may, without presumption, point to the different Masonic meetings which, since my initiation, I have fraternally attended. As a proof of the interest I take in all that relates to Freemasonry, I can assure you that it has afforded me great gratification to become the Patron of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Ireland, and that an opportunity has been given to me by my visit to Ireland of being installed here to-day.”
The Grand Master then clothed the King with the collar, apron, and jewel as Patron. The brethren, according to ancient custom, saluted him as Patron of the Order in Ireland, the Grand Master himself giving the word, and His Majesty then said:—
“I have now to thank you heartily and cordially for your fraternal reception, and for the honour you have done me, and I beg to assure you of the pleasure I feel on having been invited to become the Patron of the Order of Freemasons in Ireland. It is a source of considerable satisfaction to me to know that my visit to this country has afforded this opportunity of meeting you, brethren, in Lodge, and so interchanging these frank and hearty greetings. It is true I have not been a Mason very long. I was initiated, as you perhaps know, in London, a few years ago, after which I visited the Grand Original Lodge of Denmark, and a short time afterwards I had the signal satisfaction of being elected a Past Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. Last year I had the honour of being elected Patron of the Order in Scotland; and, brethren, though last, not least, comes the special honour you have conferred on me. I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. I may, I think, refer with some pride to the number of Masonic meetings I have attended in England since my initiation as a proof of my deep attachment to your Order.
“I know—we all know—how good and holy a thing Freemasonry is, how excellent are its principles, and how perfect the doctrine it sets forth; but forgive me if I remind you that some of our friends outside are not as well acquainted with its merits as we are ourselves, and that a most mistaken idea prevails in some minds that, because we are a secret society, we meet for political purposes, or have a political bias in what we do. I am delighted, brethren, to have this opportunity of proclaiming what I am satisfied you will agree with me in—that we have, as Masons, no politics; that the great object of our Order is to strengthen the bonds of fraternal affection, and to make us live in pure and Christian love with all men; that though a secret, we are not a political body; and that our Masonic principles and hopes are essential parts of our attachment to the Constitution and loyalty to the Crown.”
No doubt the most impressive Masonic ceremony ever attended by the King was his installation as Grand Master of English Freemasons in the Royal Albert Hall on 28th April 1875, to which office he was elected on the resignation of the Marquis of Ripon. The scene was striking in the extreme. The platform usually occupied by the choir was transformed into a daïs, on which the throne was placed, the space around being large enough for four or five hundred Provincial Grand Masters, Past Grand Officers, and visitors of distinction. The throne was the one in which King George IV. was installed when he was Prince of Wales. It was covered with rich purple velvet, and the floor was laid with a magnificent Oriental carpet, a century old, lent for the occasion by a member of the Westminster and Keystone Lodge. Behind the throne the banner of Grand Lodge and other flags were placed; in front a wide aisle was formed right across the area to the Royal entrance. This was laid with a rich carpet of velvet pile, woven expressly for the occasion. The ground was blue, enriched alternately with the arms of Grand Lodge and Prince of Wales’s feathers.
It is recorded that when the King entered the hall the enthusiasm of the brethren was so great that the proper order of the ceremonial was forgotten, and the Grand Master Elect was greeted with extraordinarily vehement, but quite irregular plaudits.
In returning thanks after his installation, His Majesty delivered an appropriate speech, in the course of which he said:—
“It is difficult for me to find words adequate to express my deep thanks for the honour which has already been bestowed upon me—an honour which has, as history bears testimony, been bestowed upon several members of my family, my predecessors; and, brethren, it will always be my most sincere and ardent wish to walk in the footsteps of good men who have preceded me, and, with God’s help, to fulfil the duties which I have been called upon to occupy to-day. The various duties which I have to perform will frequently, I am afraid, not permit me to attend so much to the duties of the craft as I should desire; but you may be assured that when I have the time I shall do the utmost to maintain this high position, and do my duty by the craft and by you on every possible occasion. Every Englishman knows that the two great watchwords of the craft are Loyalty and Charity. These are their watchwords, and as long as Freemasons do not, as Freemasons, mix themselves up in politics, so long I am sure this high and noble Order will flourish, and will maintain the integrity of our great Empire. I thank you once more, brethren, for your cordial reception of me to-day, and I thank you for having come such immense distances to welcome me on this occasion. I assure you I shall never forget to-day—never!”
The last sentence, obviously an impromptu, was uttered with much emphasis and evidently deep feeling.
At the banquet which followed in the evening the King, in proposing the health of the King of Sweden and Norway, said:—
“It affords me especial pleasure to propose this toast, as seven years ago I became a member of this craft, initiated by the late King, the brother of the present one. Thereby I consider I have a more special interest in Sweden.”
As a matter of fact, in spite of his numerous other duties, the new Grand Master did find time to attend a considerable number of Masonic functions. Not the least interesting of these was his laying the foundation stone of Truro Cathedral on 20th May 1880, of which the late Archbishop Benson, then Bishop of Truro, wrote the following vivid description, quoted in that prelate’s Life:—
“The ceremonial of the Freemasons, which some regarded with suspicion and dislike, was satisfactory and refreshing from its simple exposition of symbolism as an element in life, quite apart from ecclesiasticism. I had, upon the first mooting of the question by the Prince, taken the opinion of the Rural Deans as representative of the clergy, and their unanimous opinion was that it was even desirable to use an old guild in this way, provided that the Church Service and order were in no way interfered with. And the Prince, both through Lord Mount Edgcumbe, and at Marlborough House himself, said that nothing should be done except in full accord with my own arrangements as Bishop and the usual forms.… The dignity and the simplicity and naturalness with which the Prince poured the corn and wine and oil over the stone added much to the ceremony, and the force and clearness with which he delivered the impressive little sermon, ending with an excellent passage of Ezra, chosen by Lord Mount Edgcumbe, rang out of a really serious spirit.… The colours of the Masons, which look quaint on the individual, looked very soft in the mass.
“The most striking moment was when the procession of military and naval authorities and deputy lieutenants came sweeping in with a great curve, leading the Princess and her boys. She was received by our tall Mayor in his stately new furred gown and me, and taken up to her throne. At the end she was led to the newly-laid stone and seated by it, while a long train of girls brought their purses and laid them before her, after the little Princes had each presented £250 in behalf of Miss Goldsworthy Gurney, who wished thus to memorialise her father’s invention of the steam jet. The Prince of Wales was timidly asked whether he would approve of this, and said, ‘Oh, why not? The boys would stand on their heads if she wished!’ The younger of the boys is a bright-coloured, cheery lad, but the elder, on whom so much may depend, is pale, long-faced, and I can’t help thinking, for a child, like Charles the First—it is a very feeling face. At night when they were sent to bed between 12 and 1, having been allowed to sit up as a special privilege to the ball, the Princess said to me as they pleaded for a little longer, ‘I do wish to keep them children as long as I can, and they do want so to be men all at once.’ May she prevail!”
The mallet which was used by His Majesty on this occasion was the one with which King Charles II. laid the foundation-stone of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was presented to the old lodge of St. Paul by Sir Christopher Wren, who was a member.
The King, who was of course then Duke of Cornwall, was also present at the consecration of Truro Cathedral on 3rd November 1887, and Archbishop Benson records an instance of His Majesty’s religious feeling:—
“There was a nice incident in the consecration. Just as the Bishop was signing the sentence of consecration, Bishop of Salisbury whispered to me, ‘Shouldn’t the Prince of Wales be asked to sign it?’ I sent him to Bishop of Truro to suggest it, who sent him on to the Prince’s daïs. The Prince assented, but instead of waiting for the parchment to be brought up, instantly came down from his place and went up the altar steps and signed it there on the little table set in front of the altar—a real little bit of reverence.”
Another interesting ceremony was His Majesty’s consecration, in his official capacity as Grand Master of England, of the Chancery Bar Lodge of Freemasons in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. The King sat in the Grand Master’s chair, wearing the full regalia of his office; at his left sat the Earl of Lathom, Pro-Grand Master, and at his right, the Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe, Deputy Grand Master.
Many curious incidents have occurred in connection with the King’s interest in Freemasonry. At one dinner at which the King of Sweden was present, the list of subscriptions announced amounted to the enormous sum of £51,000, probably the largest amount ever raised at a festival dinner in the history of the world.
On two occasions the King has presided as Grand Master of English Freemasons over remarkable assemblies in the Royal Albert Hall. The first was in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, when the tickets for admission produced £6000, a sum which was divided among the three great Masonic charities. Very similar was the Diamond Jubilee assembly of Freemasons, at which eight thousand members were present. The King spoke admirably, the Duke of Connaught moved the adoption of the address to Queen Victoria, while Earl Amherst aroused unbounded enthusiasm when he alluded to Her Majesty as “the daughter of a Freemason, the mother of Freemasons, and the patron and benefactress of our Order.”
One of the first occasions on which King Edward and Queen Alexandra appeared in support of a charitable institution was on 24th June 1863, when their Majesties opened the new buildings of the British Orphan Asylum at Slough. From that day forward both the King and Queen have unceasingly demonstrated their keen personal interest in every genuine form of charitable endeavour. It would be impossible to estimate the total sum of human misery and suffering which has been relieved as the direct result, not only of their Majesties’ own exertions, but also of the powerful example which they have consistently set before the wealthy and leisured classes. The mere catalogue of the charitable meetings and dinners at which the King has presided would occupy many pages of this book.
But His Majesty has never contented himself, as he might so easily have done, with allowing his own subscription and the fact of his patronage to open the purse-strings of the charitable public. The word “genuine” has been used above advisedly. The King has no sort of admiration for careless, slovenly charity, which often does more harm than good. Long ago he realised that to give money is not enough, but that it is a sacred duty to see that the money is expended to the best advantage and really reaches the persons for whom it is intended. Hence it is not surprising to find that His Majesty was from the first a strong supporter of the old Mendicity Society, and has continued to give his countenance to the Charity Organisation Society, which, in return, has been of the greatest service to him.
It will readily be understood that it is not so much the actual sums subscribed by His Majesty and his gracious Consort to a particular charity which are valued—though the aggregate amount which they have given away since their marriage represents a very large sum—but it is the guarantee afforded by the mere fact that their Majesties have subscribed at all. Great precautions are taken to prevent a Royal subscription from being given to a fraudulent or unworthy object, and that is no doubt why a comparatively small sum, perhaps only £50 or £100 from the King or Queen Alexandra, stimulates the generosity of the public to the extent of many thousands.
Charitable work, however, as those who have engaged in it know only too well, is only a palliative. By his active interest in the problem of the housing of the poor, which has been described in a previous chapter, the King has endeavoured to strike at one of the chief causes of vice and crime. We have seen that on various occasions His Majesty has made pointed observations regarding the provision of decent cottages for agricultural labourers, and there can be no doubt that the example he has set on his Sandringham estate has been of the greatest value. The King took the earliest opportunity after his accession, in his reply to the address presented by the London County Council, of emphasising his interest in the housing of urban populations also. It must not be forgotten that the question is, at any rate in some of its aspects, a political one, and the King has therefore been obliged to exercise all his well-known tact and discretion in dealing with it.
With regard to medical charities, the precise value of which is fortunately not a subject of political difference, the King has enjoyed practically a free hand. Twice in his life His Majesty has realised in his own person the incalculable benefits of skilled medical and surgical treatment and trained nursing, being indeed on the first occasion literally snatched from the jaws of death. Though the King’s active support of hospitals dates from an earlier time in his life, these experiences doubtless strengthened his keen desire to render the benefits which he had himself enjoyed available for the poorest classes of the community. Perhaps His Majesty’s interest in medical science dates from a visit which he paid when quite a boy to the great school, mainly for doctors’ sons, at Epsom. At any rate there can be no doubt about the steady development of that interest, which may be said to have culminated in “The Prince of Wales’s Hospital Fund for London,” established as a memorial of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
Probably only those who are concerned in the practical working of this fund have an adequate idea of the good which it has already done and will do in the future. It is not merely, as was erroneously supposed at first, a machine for collecting money which might as well be sent direct to individual hospitals. No one who appreciates the practical bent of the King’s mind could ever have believed that he would give his name to such a scheme as that.
The fundamental idea of the fund is the giving of personal service, the money collected being used as a means of raising the standard of work done in the various hospitals. Before the fund existed there was no regular systematic inspection of the London hospitals, which in consequence presented very varying degrees of efficiency, some institutions being admirably conducted, while in others the funds were to a greater or less extent frittered away owing to the lack of good business management. It never occurred to the great majority of business men to associate themselves in the practical work of hospital administration, though they subscribed most generously to the hospital funds. The King’s plan was to enlist the personal service of the most competent and representative business men, who should form, in conjunction with certain eminent physicians and surgeons, and a number of peers and members of Parliament of tried ability, a visiting committee to inspect thoroughly every London hospital. On the reports of this committee, grants from the fund were to be made immediately, or promised subject to conditions, or in extreme cases altogether withheld.
The moral effect of this ingenious scheme has been extraordinary. Not only have weak hospitals been brought into line, but the better-managed institutions have been improved, while as regards individuals the effect has been to encourage every competent hospital official and to minimise as far as possible the harm done by the incompetent. At first it was thought that the investigations of the visiting committee, which are necessarily extremely thorough, might be resented as inquisitorial and un-English, but the visiting committee found that the authorities of almost every institution were eager to afford all possible information. The income of the fund and the amount annually distributed show a steady increase, which has been greatly fostered by the Order of the League of Mercy instituted by the King in 1899. This decoration is bestowed only as a reward for special personal service in the cause of the hospitals. The hospital stamp, too, which brought in so much money to the fund, was, if not actually designed, at any rate suggested by His Majesty, the central figure being Sir Joshua Reynolds’s “Charity,” which is to be seen in the famous Reynolds window at New College, Oxford.
Perhaps the most often quoted observation ever uttered by the King is his famous saying about preventible diseases—“If preventible, why not prevented?” His Majesty is an eager supporter of every properly authorised medical discovery which promises to be of value to humanity in the alleviation of disease. For example, both the King and Queen Alexandra have taken the greatest interest in the “light treatment” for lupus introduced by Dr. Finsen, a Danish savant, which Her Majesty had installed at the London Hospital, and as we have seen His Majesty experienced in his own person the value of the Röntgen rays for purposes of diagnosis.
The King has long been deeply impressed with the ravages of consumption and other forms of tuberculosis, and when, comparatively recently, an association for the prevention of this terrible scourge was established, he not only became its president, but took an active part in its deliberations. Moreover, not long before the death of Queen Victoria he consented to preside at a great National Congress on Tuberculosis to be held in London in the course of 1901, and to be attended by delegates from all parts of the British Empire.
As far back as 1863 the King became a patron of the Brompton Hospital for Consumption, and in 1879 he laid the foundation-stone of the new wing by which its accommodation was largely increased. A few years afterwards he showed his continued interest in the same subject by presiding at a festival dinner in aid of the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, in the City Road, which brought in nearly £5000 to the funds of the hospital. Until comparatively lately, consumption was regarded as practically incurable, and it says much for the King’s clearheadedness and insight that he unhesitatingly placed himself at the head of the crusade against the disease. The historian of the future will reckon this as not the least of the services he has rendered to his people.
As may be imagined from the diversity of his interests, the King’s correspondence of late years rivalled that of Queen Victoria, and His Majesty is always eager to acknowledge the debt he owes to his private secretary, Sir Francis Knollys. The correspondence is reduced by the private secretary to three distinct sections—the private letters, the business letters, and the miscellaneous letters. Among the latter are those written by lunatics, begging-letter writers, and so on. The private letters are sent up to the King unopened, the others are all read through by Sir Francis and again subdivided, the larger section to be replied to in a formal and official way, the others to be submitted to the King before they are dealt with.
Some of His Majesty’s correspondents evidently have a touching belief in his power of righting wrong. They implore him to take up their cause when they are injured, and it may be stated that no bona fida epistle was ever sent to the King without being answered, often with marvellous celerity, and ever with the greatest courtesy and kindness.
At Sandringham there is a post office inside the house for the use of the Royal Household, but at Marlborough House the huge letter-bags are sent over to the St. James’s Street post office at regular intervals throughout the day.
The King has long been a subscriber to the National Telephone Company, and he is said to spend over £1000 a year in telegrams alone, for the popular idea that Royalty’s letters are franked, and that parcels sent by them are forwarded free of cost, is a delusion.
Sir Francis Knollys
From a Photograph by Russell
Sir Francis Knollys’s duties as secretary are not confined to what are generally called secretarial duties. He has to act as his Royal master’s supplementary memory. He keeps the list of all the King’s engagements, and, what is a more arduous task, arranges every item of the Royal journeys. Princess Charles of Denmark is said to have once observed that she felt sure that if Sir Francis were suddenly awakened in the middle of the night and asked what were the King’s engagements eight days forward, he would immediately begin to recite the entire list.
Be that as it may, the position of Sir Francis Knollys is a very responsible one, and even his most intimate friends marvel how he can get through the enormous amount of work he has to do. Occasionally his labours are enormously increased, especially at times of public calamity or Royal mourning. During the Tranby Croft case well-intentioned folk all over the British Empire sent books and pamphlets pointing out the evils of gambling, and in most cases these were courteously and kindly acknowledged.
Sir Francis writes every important letter with his own hand, for typewriters have, so far, never been used in Royal correspondence. He has two assistant secretaries, who attend to the routine work, but even then many of the letters written by them are signed by him, and in all cases he looks them over and sees that they are as he would wish them to be. There is also a staff of clerks.
In 1865 His Majesty attended his first public dinner in his capacity as president of the Royal Literary Fund, and ever since he has taken the greatest interest in the unobtrusive work done by this institution in relieving distressing cases among those men and women of letters who have fallen on evil days.
The King is a warm friend of the coffee palace movement; in this connection it is interesting to recall the Alexandra Trust, founded by Sir Thomas Lipton at the instance of Queen Alexandra, for the purpose of supplying well-cooked and nourishing food to the populace at an inclusive charge of 4½d. It will be remembered that the King and Queen paid a surprise visit to the Alexandra Trust Restaurant in St. Luke’s, in the East End of London, on which occasion the various London papers circulated the most amusingly inconsistent stories of what their Majesties really ate. As a matter of fact they were satisfied with the ordinary poor man’s dinner, and were not entertained—as was alleged—by Sir Thomas Lipton with “chicken and champagne.” It was their Majesties’ great desire to be treated exactly as ordinary diners. But the Queen did break one rule—that which ordains that the metal check, received on payment of the 4½d., should be given up on leaving. The Queen insisted on keeping the disc, as she said to Sir Thomas Lipton, “as a memento of a delightful visit and a most enjoyable lunch.” Their Majesties remained for nearly two hours; they spoke to large numbers of working men and girls, and carefully inspected all the cooking arrangements, and it is recorded that the King chatted with the men’s bootblack in the basement. Sir Thomas Lipton’s comment was: “It was deeply touching to see the men’s devotion to the Princess; they almost worshipped her.”
The public are aware that, like his father, the late Prince Consort, the King takes a keen personal interest in exhibitions of all kinds, but it is not generally known that he himself suggested the Fisheries Exhibition, which was visited by 2,750,000 people, and which brought in £10,000 for the families of drowned or disabled fishermen. Altogether 16,000,000 people visited the four exhibitions over which His Majesty presided—the Fisheries, the Healtheries, the Inventories, and the Colinderies.
His Majesty has always been a great ally of the London cabby. Although the stables at Marlborough House are magnificently appointed, he frequently takes a hansom for his own amusement, always over-paying the driver. For years he has been patron of the Cabdrivers’ Benevolent Association, the funds of which he has done much to increase.
The King’s exertions in the cause of public philanthropy are so great and widespread that it might be supposed that he would have no time for private acts of benevolence. But this is by no means the case, and an example which is not generally known may be given here. An officer of the Grenadier Guards, a regiment in which the King is particularly interested, fell into serious money troubles and had to leave the service, ultimately becoming almost destitute. The Prince, as he then was, heard of the case, and soon the poor ex-officer received a letter from a firm of solicitors asking him to call on them. He did so, and was given, to his amazement, a considerable sum of money, together with the offer of a good appointment abroad. The Prince’s name was not disclosed, by His Royal Highness’s express command, but a plausible story was told of an old comrade who wished thus anonymously to recompense former acts of kindness.
Better known, perhaps, is the story of a large silver inkstand which Queen Alexandra particularly values, though it does not belong to her, but to the King. It bears the inscription: “To the Prince of Wales. From one who saw him conduct a blind beggar across the street. In memory of a kind and Christian action.” The incident occurred in Pall Mall at a busy time of the day, and the beggar, with his dog, was vainly trying to cross in safety when the King, who chanced to be passing at the moment, took the poor fellow by the arm and guided him to the other side. A few days afterwards the inkstand arrived at Marlborough House, with no card or letter or other clue to the donor’s identity, which, indeed, has never been revealed to this day.
In conclusion it may be mentioned that His Majesty’s large-hearted philanthropy includes even those often unfortunate people who are expiating in prison the crimes they have committed against society. On one occasion His Majesty visited Portland, spent a long time in inspecting the infirmary, and tasted the food supplied to the convicts.
Mr. John Porter and Mr. Richard Marsh, the King’s Past and Present Trainers, and John Watts, his Jockey
From Photographs by Elliott and Fry, and Clarence Hailey
The author is indebted to an authority on sport for kindly revising this chapter.
An account of the King as a sportsman begins, appropriately enough, with the sport of kings, though this is by no means the only pastime with which His Majesty has identified himself. Still, at any rate during his later years as Prince of Wales, he was chiefly associated in the public mind with racing, and his colours—purple, gold band, scarlet sleeves, and black velvet cap with gold fringe—were familiar at all the principal meetings. After his accession His Majesty leased his horses to the Duke of Devonshire for the season of 1901, but it was understood that, following the example of several of his predecessors, the King intended to resume his active connection with the Turf later on. Although His Majesty has been a member of the Jockey Club for over thirty years, his personal interest in racing is a matter of later growth, for it was not till July 1877 that Queen Alexandra honoured Newmarket with her presence to see her husband’s colours carried for the first time. On that occasion the King had no luck, his horse Alep, a pure-bred Arab, which started favourite, being beaten by Lord Strathnairn’s Arab Avowal by twenty or thirty lengths. Five years later the King won the Household Brigade Cup at Sandown with Fairplay.
The Egerton House Training Stables, Newmarket
From a Photograph by Clarence Hailey
The King is generally agreed to be a very good judge of a horse. When at Newmarket he makes it a point to watch the early morning gallops, and at one time he was very fond of attending sales. His Majesty has also given a great impetus to horse-breeding in the United Kingdom. Many years ago he started a thorough-bred stud, a half-bred stud, and a shire-horse stud—works of real public utility, which can only be undertaken, be it remembered, by those who have wealth and leisure, combined with intelligence and a real desire to forward the interests of the British farmer.
The King’s great successes on the Turf during recent years, including two famous Derbys, have been due to the introduction to the Sandringham stables of Perdita II., bought by Mr. John Porter for £900. The union of this mare with St. Simon produced Florizel II., and from that time the King’s fame as an owner and breeder increased until it became second to none.
It was in 1890 that His Majesty put his racers under John Porter, but his total winnings were only £624. The next year, however, the King won £4148; in 1892, £190; in 1893, £372; in 1894, £3499; and in 1895, £8281; and in the last-named year His Majesty’s name stood tenth in the list of winning owners. This satisfactory result was undoubtedly greatly owing to Lord Marcus Beresford, who was entrusted with the management of the King’s racing stable in 1890. The King’s horses were removed from Kingsclere to Egerton House, Newmarket, in 1892, and since then they have been under Marsh’s care. Persimmon was sent there as a yearling from Sandringham in 1894.
The King’s most memorable triumph was his first Derby in 1896, when Persimmon won. This fine horse is a bay by St. Simon, and own brother to Florizel II., who was, by the way, the first really good horse that ever carried the Royal colours, and is the sire of several very promising animals. Persimmon was never beaten by any horse except his own half-brother, St. Frusquin, who twice defeated him, and Omladina, who finished in front of him in the Middle Park Plate. He was bred by the King and trained by Marsh at Newmarket. He made his first appearance in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot as a two-year-old, and, starting favourite, won the race. On the occasion of his next appearance, in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, he was again favourite, and again won by a length. In the Middle Park Plate, though favourite, he was beaten by St. Frusquin, but in the Derby of 1896 he beat his half-brother by a neck. At the Newmarket First July Meeting he gave 3 lb. to St. Frusquin, and was beaten in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes. He won the St. Leger by a length and a half; and in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on the 1st October he won by two lengths from Sir Visto, the Derby winner of 1897.
The King’s Derby, 1896
Reproduced by permission from the copyright Painting by G. D. Giles
Persimmon was ridden to victory in the Derby of 1896 by John Watts. The race was witnessed by an extraordinarily large concourse of all classes, including a considerable number of distinguished foreigners. Never was there a more popular victory, and the enthusiasm all over the country was almost as great as at Epsom. It was the fourth time in the history of the Turf that the race had been won by a Royal owner. In 1788, eight years after its foundation, the Prince Regent won with Sir Thomas; and the Duke of York won with Prince Leopold in 1816, and with Moses in 1822.
Altogether, in 1896, nearly £27,000 in stake money was won by horses from the Royal stables at Newmarket. Among the King’s notable successes in that year may be mentioned the One Thousand Guineas, won by Thais, by St. Serf out of Poetry, which also ran second to Canterbury Pilgrim in the Oaks.
The King won the Derby again in 1900 with Diamond Jubilee, which, like Persimmon, is by St. Simon—Perdita II. It is an extraordinary thing for a mare to produce two Derby winners, but that they should be by the same sire is believed to be a record in the annals of the Turf. Perdita II. died soon after her very promising filly Nadejda—also by St. Simon—was foaled.
The Derby-Day dinner is certainly one of the most important functions held at Marlborough House during the year, and it is now difficult to believe that it was only inaugurated comparatively few years ago. Something like fifty invitations are sent out, and the guests, who are all men, are expected to wear evening dress, not uniform. The great silver dinner-service ordered by the King on his marriage, which cost some £20,000, is always used on this occasion, and on the side buffet are to be seen His Majesty’s racing cups, hunting trophies, and gold and silver salvers, for everything in the strong rooms which is associated with sport is brought out.
In addition to the Derby, Diamond Jubilee also won in 1900 the Two Thousand Guineas, the Newmarket Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes, and the St. Leger, and was second in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes. Giving 12 lb. to Disguise II., Diamond Jubilee was unplaced in the Jockey Club Stakes. In his five great victories Diamond Jubilee won £27,985 in stakes, and so placed the King at the head of the list of winning owners.
In 1900 also the King won the Grand National with Ambush II., and so carried off the biggest flat-race and the biggest steeplechase—double honours which no other owner had ever before gained, much less in the same year.
From the sport of kings we pass by a natural transition to the Royal and ancient game of golf. It is well known that golf was the favourite pastime of some of the Stuart kings of Scotland, and Mary Queen of Scots, her son, James I. of England, Charles I., and James II. all played. But from the death of James II. to the accession of Edward VII. none of our sovereigns were themselves golfers, though William IV. and the lamented Queen Victoria gave their patronage to the game.
The King learnt to play on the Musselburgh Links years ago when he was pursuing his scientific studies at Edinburgh, and Tom Brown, who had the honour of being His Majesty’s caddie, still lives in hale old age. In 1863 the King became Patron and then Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and in 1882 he accepted the office of President of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club, to which the late Queen had granted the title “Royal.” His Majesty has played several times at Cannes and on the private links of the Grand Duke Michael, and his love of the game is notably shared by the Duke of Cornwall and York, the Duchess of Fife, and the Duke of Connaught.
The King has lived to see the extraordinary development of cricket, and its promotion to the rank of the typically national game which Englishmen take with them to the ends of the earth. We may be sure that the indirect political influence of the great contests between England and Australia, for example, and of the tours of Indian, South African, and West Indian teams, did not escape his quick intelligence. Certainly His Majesty has always supported cricket, though he never became so keen a player as the late Prince Christian Victor, for instance.
The King played at Oxford, and occasionally for I. Zingari. In 1866, at the Park House, Sandringham, His Majesty played against the Gentlemen of Norfolk for the Sandringham Household. He has frequently visited Lord’s to see the Eton and Harrow matches, and in 1899 he went there with the Duke of Cornwall and York when the M.C.C., of which club His Majesty is patron, played the Australians. He has also seen the Australians play at Sheffield Park. Kennington Oval being on the London estate of the Duchy of Cornwall, the King, when he was Prince of Wales, was ground landlord, and allowed the Surrey Club the use of the ground at a nominal rental. The Surrey Club has benefited greatly through the King’s generosity in this matter, and recently the Duchy of Cornwall granted the club a thirty years’ lease at a very low rent, considering the value of the property.
The King was for many years patron of both the Rugby Union and the Football Association, and after his Accession he was approached by both bodies with a view to his graciously continuing to grant them his patronage. The game under neither code was played much until the King had reached middle life, but he showed his interest in the popular winter pastime by visiting the Oval in March 1886 on the first occasion of a charity festival organised by the Rugby Union and Football Association.
There can be no doubt that the King owes his remarkable bodily vigour and healthy appearance to his love of all outdoor sports, for he was never so content as when enjoying a long day’s tramp over the stubble at Sandringham, or when deer-stalking in a soft Highland mist. His Majesty’s life as a sportsman began early. When he was quite a child he used to accompany Prince Albert on deer-stalking expeditions round Balmoral; somewhat later he hunted with the harriers, and when he was fifteen he could claim to be the best shot in his family.
Although the King has been a plucky and fearless rider from early childhood, he has not been so fond of hunting as of some other sports, and during the last few years he has seldom been seen following the hounds. When an undergraduate at Christ Church, he constantly hunted with Lord Macclesfield’s pack, and was then considered a very hard rider; and it need scarcely be said that the meets which take place at Sandringham are the most popular in Norfolk, and give both the King and Queen many opportunities of showing gracious and kindly hospitality, both to their wealthy and to their humble neighbours. The King is a firm friend to the hunting of the fox, and it is understood that a pack of fox-hounds is to be established in place of the Royal Buckhounds. In 1888 the members of the West Norfolk Hunt presented to the King and Queen Alexandra a beautiful silver model of a fox in full gallop as a memorial of their Majesties’ silver wedding, and in returning thanks the King said:—
“I can assure you that no present which has been offered for our acceptance has been received by us with more pleasure than the one which you have given us to-day—a model of the wily animal that we are all so fond of following. Norfolk has always been considered to be a shooting county; that may be so to a great extent, but I feel convinced that the hunting is quite as popular, and I sincerely hope that it will long remain so. There may be difficulties in preserving foxes, but I feel sure that where there’s a will there’s a way. For twenty-five years we have enjoyed hunting with the West Norfolk Hunt, both the Princess and myself; and our children have been brought up to follow that Hunt. I sincerely hope that for many long years we may be able to continue to do so.”
Before the King had been at Sandringham six months he made it quite clear that his country home should be in every sense a good sporting estate, and it has been one of his chief pleasures to entertain parties of keen sportsmen each autumn in Norfolk. Perhaps the best shooting season Sandringham has ever seen was that of 1885-86. The total bag was 16,131 head, including 7252 pheasants. The best day of that season was the last day of the year 1885, when ten guns killed 2835 head, including 1275 pheasants. The rabbit-shooting at Sandringham is also first-rate, and it need hardly be said that the foxes are watched over with the most tender anxiety.
The King as a Sportsman in 1876
From an Engraving published by Henry Graves and Co.
Over ten thousand pheasants are annually reared at Sandringham, partly by incubators and partly by the assistance of a thousand ordinary hens. The lake near Sandringham affords wild duck, teal, and widgeon shooting. The King has the largest game-room in the United Kingdom. It holds between six and seven thousand head, and was built not very long after the King bought the estate. After each day’s sport the game is spread for inspection, and a careful record is made of the numbers that have fallen to each gun. It is in the game-room that the game is packed after a big battue to be sent off in hampers to hospitals and to friends. It need hardly be said that none of the King’s game is ever sold. A good deal is kept for the use of the house, and a share is also given to the tenants, to the employés on the estate, and to London tradesmen connected with the Royal Household.
The King’s shooting-parties rarely number more than ten guns, each of whom is assigned his place in the shoot by his Royal host himself. All the beaters at Sandringham wear a very becoming uniform composed of a Royal blue blouse, low crowned hat, and long brown gaiters. Each bears on his left arm a number by which he may readily be identified, and after each day’s shooting every one of the beaters is allowed to take home a hare and a pheasant.
The King is not often seen going north for the opening weeks of the grouse-shooting season. Still, in the early years of his married life, he and Queen Alexandra often entertained shooting-parties at Birkhall. The King generally puts in a certain number of days pheasant-shooting in Windsor Great Park. The preserves swarm with ground game. His Majesty is also fond of shooting with the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, and at Wynyard, Lord Londonderry’s seat in Durham. The King has, however, shot more or less all over England. He was frequently the guest of Lord James of Hereford when the latter had Shoreham Place, where one valley on the farther side of the park is locally known as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” from the tremendous slaughter of game that annually takes place there.
Like his father, the late Prince Consort, the King has always been a keen deer-stalker, and when he is staying at Balmoral most of his time is entirely devoted to this sport—in fact, deer-stalking is what first brought him into close connection with his present son-in-law, then the Earl of Fife, who possesses Mar, which is one of the two largest forests in Great Britain, being over 80,000 acres of cleared ground. Balmoral is situated in the heart of the deer country, being within reach of a good number of forests adjoining each other, and extending without a break into five counties. The King is well known to prefer “stalking” to driving, but of late years he has taken an active part in the drives organised at Mar. His marksmanship is universally agreed to be excellent. At one time he was owner of Birkhall, in Glenmuick, but it was purchased for him by Prince Albert, and he had no voice in its selection. Still the King kept it till 1885, when he sold the property, which was very extensive, to Queen Victoria.
From a Photograph by Adamson, Rothesay
King Edward has been extremely fortunate as a yachtsman, and probably one of the events to which he most looks forward each year is the Regatta at Cowes. The King first won the Queen’s Cup, annually presented to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, in 1877, with his schooner Hildegarde of 198 tons. He won the Cup again in 1880 with the Formosa, cutter, of 103 tons, and again in 1895 and 1897 with the famous cutter Britannia of 151 tons.
The King as a Yachtsman
Photograph by Debenham, Cowes
The Royal Yacht Squadron, as is well known, was founded as “The Yacht Club” so far back as 1815. It early enjoyed the patronage of Royalty, among the past and present members being numbered the Prince Regent (afterwards George IV.), the Duke of Clarence (afterwards William IV.), Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, the Tsar Nicholas I., Napoleon III., the German Emperor, and Prince Henry of Prussia. The King became Commodore in 1882 on the death of Lord Wilton, and he is Commodore of nine other Royal yacht clubs, as well as President of the Yacht Racing Association.
The King generally takes the chair at the annual dinner of the Squadron held at the old castle at West Cowes, built as a fort by Henry VIII., which became the headquarters of the club in 1858. This festivity is the great event of the year for all well-known yachtsmen. There is an interesting display of plate, including the Queen’s Cup, the Nelson Vase, and the beautiful model of the Speranza, which once belonged to Lord Conyngham. His Majesty presented a few years ago twenty-one cannon to the club-house at Cowes. They were taken by him from the Royal Adelaide, the toy warship placed by William IV. to guard the artificial ocean of Virginia Water. Now they are used for firing salutes.
It need hardly be said that the King is the owner of many splendid prizes won at Cowes and elsewhere. Both His Majesty and Queen Alexandra are extremely fond of the sea, and he early made himself acquainted with the less technical side of navigation. The King is very fond of spending a certain number of days each year at Cannes, and when he is there in April he generally takes an active part in the Battle of Flowers, and he entertains large parties of his English and foreign friends on board the Britannia.
On 19th January 1901 it was officially announced that Queen Victoria had not been lately in her usual health, and on the same day King Edward and Queen Alexandra arrived at Osborne. His Majesty returned to London with his son to meet the German Emperor, whose instant departure in the midst of the bi-centenary celebrations of the Prussian monarchy to the sick-bed of his venerated grandmother deeply touched the feelings of the British people.
The mournful story of the days which followed is well known. Queen Victoria passed peacefully away, at half-past six in the evening of 22nd January, surrounded by her children and grandchildren.
Then every one turned in their grief to His Majesty King Edward VII. Hardly for a moment could he be simply the devoted son weeping by the death-bed of his beloved and venerated mother. He was now the ruler of a great Empire, and bravely did His Majesty meet what must have seemed the almost impertinent intrusion of State business and State ceremonial. Yet it had to be done, and it may even be that, as has been the experience of humbler mortals, the anguish of the King’s great personal bereavement was to some extent mitigated by the urgent necessities of action that were laid upon him. On the following day the King held his first Council at St. James’s Palace, when His Majesty made a declaration which is thus described in the quaint official language of the London Gazette:—
“At the Court at Saint James’s, the 23rd day of January 1901
“The King’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council.
“His Majesty being this day present in Council was pleased to make the following Declaration:—
“‘Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords, and Gentlemen, This is the most painful occasion on which I shall ever be called upon to address you.
“‘My first and melancholy duty is to announce to you the death of My beloved Mother the Queen, and I know how deeply you, the whole Nation, and I think I may say the whole world, sympathise with Me in the irreparable loss we have all sustained.
“‘I need hardly say that My constant endeavour will be always to walk in Her footsteps. In undertaking the heavy load which now devolves upon Me, I am fully determined to be a Constitutional Sovereign in the strictest sense of the word, and as long as there is breath in My body to work for the good and amelioration of My people.
“‘I have resolved to be known by the name of Edward, which has been borne by six of My ancestors. In doing so I do not undervalue the name of Albert, which I inherit from My ever to be lamented, great and wise Father, who by universal consent is I think deservedly known by the name of Albert the Good, and I desire that his name should stand alone.
“‘In conclusion, I trust to Parliament and the Nation to support Me in the arduous duties which now devolve upon Me by inheritance, and to which I am determined to devote My whole strength during the remainder of My life.’
“Whereupon the Lords of the Council made it their humble request to His Majesty that His Majesty’s Most Gracious Declaration to their Lordships might be made public, which His Majesty was pleased to Order accordingly.
“A. W. FitzRoy.”
His Majesty’s selection of King Edward VII. as his “style and title” proved extremely popular, for it is an essentially English name, and is bound up with so many historical associations, especially with the glorious memory of King Edward I. At the same time the King’s tribute of filial piety to his much-loved father deeply touched the hearts of his subjects. All over the British Empire King Edward was proclaimed amid rejoicings which were tempered only by a vivid sense of the common bereavement under which His Majesty and his subjects were alike suffering.
The marvellous and unprecedented outburst of sorrow for her late Majesty, which showed that not only the British Empire but the whole of the civilised world shared in King Edward’s grief, undoubtedly brought His Majesty some consolation, which was increased by the decision of the German Emperor, who had been joined by his eldest son, the Crown Prince, to remain for the funeral.
This magnificent ceremonial, in which was exemplified the lamentation of an Empire, lasted from Friday, 1st February, to Monday, 4th February. It was both naval and military in character, as befitted the funeral of the Sovereign who set so much store by her position as head of the services. The Royal Yacht Alberta, bearing her precious burden, passed from Cowes to Portsmouth along a line of warships which, reinforced as they were by foreign vessels sent by friendly Powers, seemed typical of the firm yet peaceful policy of the great ruler who was being borne to her last resting-place. The pageant through London, distinguished as it was by the presence of four reigning Sovereigns, the German Emperor, the King of the Belgians, the King of the Hellenes, and the King of Portugal, as well as numerous other representatives of foreign States, will never be forgotten by the vast crowds who saw it pass along its appointed way. It is perhaps worthy of mention that the Countess of Ranfurly represented New Zealand, her husband being Governor of that Colony, and thus the funeral of the great woman Sovereign is believed to have been the first public occasion on which a State of the Empire has been represented by a woman.
The stately and yet simple dignity of the whole ceremonial was marred by only one mishap, which is recorded here because a number of incorrect versions of what happened were current at the time. The funeral cortège did not arrive at the Great Western Railway Station at Windsor till some time after it was expected, the result being that the artillery horses, which were in waiting to draw the gun-carriage bearing the coffin to St. George’s Chapel, became chilled. Just as the procession was about to start one of the horses on the off-side—that is, one of those that had no rider—reared and plunged, and eventually stood up on its hind legs. This started the next pair, and they also began to kick, and the situation became both dangerous and painful. So restive, in fact, were the horses that an officer on the Staff approached the King and received permission to remove them from the gun-carriage. It was at this juncture that Prince Louis of Battenberg respectfully called the attention of His Majesty to the naval guard of honour drawn up close by, and suggested that the seamen should draw the coffin to the chapel. The King at once ordered that this should be done, and Prince Louis, sending for Lieutenant Boyle, who commanded the guard of honour, gave instructions to that effect. The traces, made of chain covered with leather with a hook at each end, were taken from the horses and were easily connected up by the seamen into two long drag ropes. There was a brake on the gun-carriage, but in descending the hill this was found to be insufficient for the weight—upwards of two tons—and a party of selected petty officers manned the wheels and eased the carriage down the declivity spoke by spoke.
His Majesty was afterwards pleased to express his gracious approbation of the conduct of the naval guard of honour and their promptitude in executing his orders. Later on the King conferred the Victorian Order on the officers, and the Victorian medal on the men. The incident seized the imagination of the British people, who were quick to recall other occasions on which the sea service had similarly risen to a great emergency.
Few besides the members of the Royal Family were present at the actual depositing of the remains of Queen Victoria in the sarcophagus at Frogmore, there to sleep by the side of her tenderly-loved husband, to whom she had addressed the infinitely touching inscription, “Vale desideratissime! Hic tecum requiescam, tecum demum in Christo resurgam!”
It was on that most solemn day that King Edward wrote those admirable Messages to his People, to the Colonies, and to India, which revealed to all his subjects how completely he possesses his lamented mother’s marvellous gift of human sympathy, combined with a full realisation of his kingly dignity. The Messages, which are all dated from Windsor Castle, 4th February 1901, are as follows:—
“To My People
“Now that the last Scene has closed in the noble and ever glorious life of My beloved Mother, The Queen, I am anxious to endeavour to convey to the whole Empire the extent of the deep gratitude I feel for the heart-stirring and affectionate tributes which are everywhere borne to Her Memory. I wish also to express My warm recognition of those universal expressions of what I know to be genuine and loyal sympathy with Me and with the Royal Family in our overwhelming sorrow. Such expressions have reached Me from all parts of My vast Empire, while at home the sorrowful, reverent, and sincere enthusiasm manifested in the magnificent display by sea and land has deeply touched Me.
“The consciousness of this generous spirit of devotion and loyalty among the millions of My Subjects, and of the feeling that we are all sharing a common sorrow, has inspired Me with courage and hope during the past most trying and momentous days.
“Encouraged by the confidence of that love and trust which the nation ever reposed in its late and fondly mourned Sovereign, I shall earnestly strive to walk in Her Footsteps, devoting Myself to the utmost of My powers to maintaining and promoting the highest interests of My People, and to the diligent and zealous fulfilment of the great and sacred responsibilities which, through the Will of God, I am now called to undertake.
“To My People Beyond the Seas
“The countless messages of loyal sympathy which I have received from every part of My Dominions over the Seas testify to the universal grief in which the whole Empire now mourns the loss of My Beloved Mother.
“In the welfare and prosperity of Her subjects throughout Greater Britain the Queen ever evinced a heartfelt interest.
“She saw with thankfulness the steady progress which, under a wide extension of Self-Government, they had made during Her Reign. She warmly appreciated their unfailing loyalty to Her Throne and Person, and was proud to think of those who had so nobly fought and died for the Empire’s cause in South Africa.
“I have already declared that it will be My constant endeavour to follow the great example which has been bequeathed to Me.
“In these endeavours I shall have a confident trust in the devotion and sympathy of the People and of their several Representative Assemblies throughout My vast Colonial Dominions.
“With such loyal support I will, with God’s blessing, solemnly work for the promotion of the common welfare and security of the great Empire over which I have now been called to reign.
“To the Princes and People of India
“Through the lamented death of My beloved and dearly mourned Mother, I have inherited the Throne, which has descended to Me through a long and ancient lineage.
“I now desire to send My greeting to the Ruling Chiefs of the Native States, and to the Inhabitants of My Indian Dominions, to assure them of My sincere goodwill and affection, and of My heartfelt wishes for their welfare.
“My illustrious and lamented Predecessor was the first Sovereign of this Country who took upon Herself the direct Administration of the Affairs of India, and assumed the title of Empress in token of Her closer association with the Government of that vast country.
“In all matters connected with India, the Queen Empress displayed an unvarying deep personal interest, and I am well aware of the feeling of loyalty and affection evinced by the millions of its people towards Her Throne and Person. This feeling was conspicuously shown during the last year of Her long and glorious reign by the noble and patriotic assistance offered by the Ruling Princes in the South African War, and by the gallant services rendered by the Native Army beyond the limits of their own Country.
“It was by Her wish and with Her sanction that I visited India and made Myself personally acquainted with the Ruling Chiefs, the people, and the cities of that ancient and famous Empire.
“I shall never forget the deep impressions which I then received, and I shall endeavour to follow the great example of the first Queen Empress to work for the general well-being of my Indian subjects of all ranks, and to merit, as She did, their unfailing loyalty and affection.
“Edward, R. et I.”
The King’s anxieties during the trying period which followed the death of his beloved mother were much increased by the state of health of his only surviving son. The Duke of Cornwall and York fell ill with German measles, and, to his lasting regret, it was absolutely impossible for him to attend the funeral of his venerated grandmother. His Royal Highness, however, thanks to the devoted nursing of his wife, made steady progress towards convalescence.
In the midst of his own bitter grief the King displayed all his customary consideration and desire to gratify others. Even before the funeral His Majesty found time to bestow the Victorian Order on some officers of the late Queen’s Guard at Osborne. To the Imperial and Royal personages who attended the late Queen’s funeral His Majesty showed significant marks of his gratitude. Queen Victoria had intended some time before her death to invest the German Crown Prince with the Order of the Garter with her own hands, and King Edward hastened to carry out his beloved mother’s design. The ceremony took place at Osborne, and after the investiture the King addressed his great-nephew in the following terms:—
“Sir—In conferring on your Imperial and Royal Highness the ancient and Most Noble Order of the Garter, which was founded by my ancestor many centuries ago, I invest you with the order of knighthood, not only as the heir to the Throne of a mighty empire, but also as a near relation. It was the wish of my beloved mother the Queen to bestow it upon you as a mark of her favour, and I am only carrying out her wishes, and am glad to do so to the son of my illustrious relation, the German Emperor, to whom I wish to express my sincere thanks for having come at a moment’s notice to this country and assisted in tending and watching over the Queen, and remaining with her until her last moments. I desire to express a hope that my action in conferring upon you this ancient Order may yet further cement and strengthen the good feeling which exists between the two great countries, and that we may go forward hand in hand with the high object of ensuring peace and promoting the advance of the civilisation of the world.”
The King also paid a high compliment to his nephew, Prince Henry of Prussia, which was thus announced in the London Gazette:—
“Admiralty, 5th February 1901.
“His Royal Highness Prince Albert William Henry of Prussia, K.G., G.C.B., Vice-Admiral in the Imperial German Navy, has been appointed Honorary Vice-Admiral in His Majesty’s Fleet.”
For the German Emperor himself, who was already a Knight of the Garter, the King had reserved a special sign of his affection, which the London Gazette announced in the following terms:—
“War Office, Pall Mall, 27th January 1901.
“The King has been pleased to appoint His Majesty William II., German Emperor, King of Prussia, K.G., G.C.V.O., Colonel-in-Chief 1st (Royal) Dragoons, Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, to be a Field-Marshal in the Army, on the occasion of the Anniversary of His Majesty’s Birthday.
“The Commission dated 27th January 1901.”
In telegrams to Lord Salisbury and Lord Roberts, announcing that this honour had been conferred on him, His Imperial Majesty demonstrated the great gratification which it afforded him. Not long afterwards the German Emperor conferred on Lord Roberts the Order of the Black Eagle, the highest decoration in his power to bestow.
The honour bestowed on the King of Portugal is particularly interesting, as it is believed to be the first instance in which a foreign Royal personage has been appointed Colonel-in-Chief of a line regiment. It was thus officially announced:—
“War Office, Pall Mall, 19th February 1901.
“The Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
“His Majesty Charles I., King of Portugal and Algarves, K.G., to be Colonel-in-Chief. Dated 20th February 1901.”
Of the other Royal personages who attended the funeral of Queen Victoria, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch of Russia, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and the Crown Prince of Sweden and Norway were appointed Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, and Prince Charles of Denmark was made an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and an Honorary Lieutenant in the British Navy. Prince Christian, the Duke of Teck, Prince Louis of Battenberg, the Duke of Argyll, and the Duke of Fife became Knights Grand Cross, and the youthful Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, better known as the Duke of Albany, became an Honorary Knight Grand Cross, of the Royal Victorian Order.
On his accession the King became ipso facto head and Sovereign of all the great orders of Knighthood, and the position of Great Master of the Order of the Bath, to which His Majesty had been appointed in 1897, was therefore vacated. The King was unwilling that this interesting office, which had been specially created by his lamented mother, should lapse, and so he appointed his brother, the Duke of Connaught, to succeed him in it. His Majesty also appointed Rear-Admiral the Duke of Cornwall and York and Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg to be his personal Naval Aides-de-Camp.
But unquestionably the most interesting of all the appointments made by the King was his creation of Queen Alexandra a Lady of the Garter. The announcement was made by the London Gazette in the following form:—
12th February 1901.
“The King, as Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, has been graciously pleased to command that a Special Statute under the Seal of the Order shall be issued for conferring upon Her Majesty The Queen the title and dignity of a Lady of that Most Noble Order, and fully authorising Her Majesty to wear the Insignia thereof.”
The wording of this intimation shows how exceptional was the honour conferred on the gracious Queen who has long possessed the hearts of the British people. As a matter of fact, the distinction was without precedent for 400 years. Queen Victoria, even, was never a Lady of the Garter; she was Sovereign of the Order in her capacity as Queen regnant.
The State opening of Parliament by their Majesties followed on 14th February, the national mourning being partially laid aside for that day. The reception of the King and Queen by the loyal crowds which lined the route to St. Stephen’s was enthusiastic in the extreme. In the House of Lords His Majesty delivered the Speech from the Throne in a firm, clear voice, which only faltered a little when he came to the passage referring to the Duke of Cornwall and York’s Colonial tour. It was undoubtedly hard for the King to part from his much-loved son, the only son now left to him, for so many months, but it is not by any means the first occasion in which His Majesty has put aside his private feelings in order to gratify and benefit his loyal subjects.