Birth Of The Prince Imperial Of France





At Balmoral, where they took possession of the new Castle, the Queen and

Prince received the news of the approaching fall of Sebastopol, for it

was not down yet. It finally fell amid a scene of awful conflagration and

explosions--the work of the desperate Russians themselves.



The peace-rejoicings did not come till later, but in the new house at

Balmoral there was a new joy, though one not quite unmixed with sadness,

in the love and happy betrothal of the Princess Victoria. In her journal

the Queen tells the old, old story very quietly: "Our dear Victoria was

this day engaged to Prince Frederick William of Prussia. He had already

spoken to us of his wishes, but were uncertain, on account of her extreme

youth, whether he should speak to her or wait till he should come back

again. However, we felt it was better he should do so, and, during our

ride up Craig-na-Ban this afternoon; he picked a piece of white heather

(the emblem of good luck), which he gave to her." This it seems broke the

ice, and so the poetic Prince (all German Princes, except perhaps

Bismarck, are poetic and romantic) told his love and offered his hand,

which was not rejected. Then came a few weeks of courtship, doubtless as

bright and sweet to the royal pair of lovers as was a similar season to

Robert Burns and "Highland Mary"--for love levels up and levels down--

and then young Fritz returned to Germany, leaving behind him a fond heart

and a tearful little face round and fair.



From this time till the marriage of the Princess Royal, which was not

till after her seventeenth birthday in 1858, the Prince-Consort devoted

himself more and more to the education of this beloved daughter--in

history, art, literature, and religion. He conversed much and most

seriously with her in preparation for her confirmation. He found that

this work of mental and moral development was "its own exceeding great

reward."



The character of the Princess Royal seems to have been in some respects

like that of the Princess Charlotte of Wales. She was as high-spirited,

strong-willed, gay, free, and fearless; but with infinitely better and

purer domestic and social influences, she grew up into a nobler and more

gracious young womanhood. Intellectually and morally, she was her

father's creation; intellectually and morally, poor Princess Charlotte

was worse than fatherless.



But I must hurry on with the hurrying years. The Prince, writing to Baron

Stockmar in March, 1856, says: "The telegraph has just brought the news

of the Empress having been safely delivered of a son. Great will be the

rejoicing in the Tuileries."



This baby born in the purple was the Prince Imperial, whose fate beggars

tragedy; who went to gather laurels on an African desert and fell a

victim to a savage ambuscade--his beautiful body stuck almost as full of

cruel darts as that of the martyred young St. Sebastian.



On March 21st the long-delayed treaty of peace was signed. After all the

waste, the agony, the bloodshed, the Prince wrote: "It is not such as we

could have wished." But he had learned to bear these little

disappointments.



Prince Alfred began his studies for the navy. Fritz of Prussia came over

on a visit to his betrothed, and his father and mother soon followed--

coming to get better acquainted with their daughter-in-law to be. Then

into the royal circle there came another royal guest, all unbidden--the

king whose name is Death. The Prince of Leiningen--the Queen's half-

brother in blood, but whole brother in heart--died, to her great grief;

and soon after there passed away her beloved aunt, the Duchess of

Gloucester, a good and amiable woman, and the last of the fifteen

children of George the Third and Queen Charlotte. But here life balanced

death, for on April 14th another daughter was born in Buckingham Palace.

The Prince in a letter to his step-mother speaks of the baby as "thriving

famously, and prettier than babies usually are." He adds, "Mama--Aunt,

Vicky and her bridegroom are to be the little one's sponsors, and she is

to receive the historical, romantic, euphonious, and melodious names of

Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodora."



That summer there came two very interesting royal visitors to Windsor--

the young Princess Charlotte of Belgium and her betrothed husband, the

Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Prince Albert wrote of the young girl:

"Charlotte's whole being seems to me to have been warmed and unfolded by

the love which is kindled in her heart." To his uncle Leopold he wrote:"

I wish you joy at having got such a husband for dear Charlotte, as I am

sure he is quite worthy of her and will make her happy."



Just ten years from that time the Emperor Maximilian, standing before a

file of Mexican soldiers at Queretaro, took out his watch, which he would

never more need, and, pressing a spring, revealed in its case a miniature

of the lovely Empress Charlotte, which he kissed tenderly. Then, handing

the watch to the priest at his side, he said: "Carry this souvenir to my

dear wife in Europe, and if she ever be able to understand you, say that

my eyes closed with the impression of her image, which I shall carry with

me above."



She never did understand. She lives in a phantom Court, believing herself

still Empress of Mexico, and that the Emperor will soon come home from

the wars to her and the throne.



There was this summer a memorable show in Hyde Park, when Queen Victoria

on horseback, in her becoming military dress, pinned with her own hands

on to the coats of a large number of heroes of the great war the coveted

Victoria Cross. Ah! they were proud and she was prouder. She is a true

soldier's daughter; her heart always thrills at deeds of valor and warms

at sight of a hero, however humble.



The Prince went over to his cousin Charlotte's wedding, and the Queen,

compelled to stay behind, wrote to King Leopold that her letting her

husband, go without her was a great proof of her love for her uncle. "You

cannot think," she said, "how completely forlorn I feel when he is away,

or how I count the hours till he returns. All the children are as nothing

when he is away. It seems as if the whole life of the house and home were

gone."



Again, how like a loving Scotch peasant wife:



"There's na luck about the house,

There's na luck at a'--



There's little pleasure in the house,

When my guid mon's awa'."



In August the Emperor and Empress made a flying visit in their yacht to

Osborne and talked over the latest political events, the new phases of

affairs, and, doubtless, the new babies; and, a little later, the Queen

and Prince ran over to Cherbourg in their yacht, taking six of the

children. There was a perfect nursery of the little ones, "rocked in the

cradle of the deep." This was such a complete "surprise party," that the

Emperor and Empress away in Paris, knew nothing about it. They all took a

pleasant little excursion into the lovely country of Normandy in

chars-à-bancs, with bells on the post-horses, doubtless, and everything

gay and delightful and novel to the children,--especially French

sunshine.



This year the Balmoral stay was greatly saddened by the news of the Sepoy

rebellion, of the tragedies of Cawnpore, and the unspeakable atrocities

of Nana Sahib. Young people nowadays know little about that ghastly war,

except as connected with the pretty poetical story of the relief of

Lucknow, and Jessie Brown; but, at the time, it was an awfully real

thing, and not in the least poetical or romantic.



The marriage of the Princess Royal was fixed for January 25, 1858. Her

father wrote from Balmoral hi the autumn; "Vicky suffers under the

feeling that every spot she visits she has to greet for the last time as

home... The departure from here will, be a great trial to us all,

especially to Vicky, who leaves it for good and all; and the good, simple

Highlanders, who are very fond of us, are constantly saying to her, and

often with tears, 'I suppose we shall never see you again?' which

naturally makes her feel more keenly."



At last the wedding day approached and the royal guests began to arrive

at Buckingham Palace, and they poured in till on fair days a King or

Queen, a Prince or Princess looked out of nearly every window; and when

there was a fog, collisions of crowned heads occurred in the corridors.

On the day the Court left Windsor the Queen wrote: "Went to look at the

rooms prepared for Vicky's honeymoon; very pretty... We took a short walk

with Vicky, who was dreadfully upset at this real break in her life; the

real separation from her childhood."



These be little things perhaps, but beautiful little human things,

showing the warm love and tender sympathy which united this family,

supposed to be lifted high and dry above ordinary humanity, among the

arid and icy grandeurs of royalty.



There was a gay little ball one evening with Highnesses and Serenities

dancing and whirling and chasséing, and a "grande chaine" of half

of the sovereigns of Europe--all looking very much like other people. The

Queen wrote: "Ernest (Duke of Coburg) said it seemed like a dream to see

Vicky dance as a bride, just as I did eighteen years ago, and I still (so

he said) looking very young. In 1840, poor dear papa (late Duke of

Coburg) danced with me as Ernest danced with Vicky."



Afterwards there was a grand ball, attended by over a thousand of the

elect, and for the multitude there were dramatic and musical

entertainments. At Her Majesty's Theatre one night the famous tragedian,

Mr. Phelps, and the great actress, Miss Helen Faucit, in the tragedy of

Macbeth, froze the blue blood of a whole tier of royal personages

and made them realize what crowns were worth, and how little they had

earned theirs, by showing what men and women will go through with to

secure one. The Emperor and Empress of France were not among the guests.

They had been a little upset by an event more tragic than are most

marriages--the attempt of Orsini to blow up their carriage, by the

explosion of hand-grenades near the entrance of the Italian Opera. They

had been only slightly hurt, but some eighty innocent people in the crowd

had been either killed or wounded. The white dress of the Empress was

sprinkled with blood, yet she went to her box and sat out the

performance. What nerve these imperial people have!



The Queen's account of this glad, sad time of the marriage is very

natural, moving and maternal. First, there was the domestic and Court

sensation of the arrival of the bridegroom, Prince "Fritz," whom the

Prince-Consort had gone to meet, and all the Court awaited. "I met him,"

says the Queen, "at the bottom of the staircase, very warmly; he was pale

and nervous. At the top of the staircase Vicky received him, with Alice."

That afternoon all the royal people witnessed a grand dramatic

performance of "Taming the Horse," with Mr. Rarey as "leading man." In

the evening they went to the opera. The next day, Sunday, the presents

were shown--a marvelous collection of jewels, plate, lace and India

shawls, and they had service and listened to a sermon. It is wonderful

what these great people can get through with! Coming in from a walk they

found a lot of new presents added to the great pile. The Queen writes:

"Dear Vicky gave me a brooch, a very pretty one, containing her hair, and

clasping me in her arms, said,' I hope to be worthy to be your child.'"



From all I hear I should say that fond hope has been realized in a noble

and beneficent life. The Crown Princess of Germany is a woman greatly

loved and honored.



On the wedding day the Queen wrote: "The second most eventful day of my

life, as regards feelings; I felt as if I were being married over again

myself... While dressing, dearest Vicky came in to see me, looking well

and composed."



The Princess Royal, like her mother, was married in the Chapel of St.

James' Palace, and things went on very much as on that memorable wedding

day--always spoken of by the Queen as "blessed." She now could describe

more as a spectator the shouting, the bell-ringing, the cheering and

trumpetings, and the brave sight of the procession. Prince Albert and

King Leopold and "the two eldest boys went first. Then the three girls

(Alice, Helena and Louise), in pink satin, lace and flowers." There were

eight bridesmaids in "white tulle, with wreaths and bouquets of roses and

white heather." That was a pretty idea, using the simple betrothal flower

of the Prince and Princess-for "luck."



The Queen speaks of "Mama looking so handsome in violet velvet; trimmed

with ermine." Ah, the young Victoria was the only daughter of her

Victoria, who as a bride was to receive on her brow that grandmother's

kiss--dearer and holier than any priestly benediction. I like to read

that immediately after the ceremony the bride "kissed her grandmama."



After the wedding breakfast at the Palace the bridal pair, Victoria and

Frederick William, drove away just as eighteen years before Victoria and

Albert had driven away--the same state, the same popular excitement, in

kind if not in degree, and, let us trust, a like amount of love and joy.

But this happy pair did not drive all the way to Windsor. The waiting

train, the iron horse snorting with impatience, showed how the world had

moved on since that other wedding; but the perennial Eton boys were on

hand for these lovers also, wearing the same tall hats and short jackets,

cheering in the same mad way, so that the Queen herself would hardly have

suspected them to be the other boys' sons, or younger brothers. They

"scored one" above their honored predecessors by dragging the carriage

from the Windsor station to the Castle.



The Court soon followed to Windsor with thirty-five of the royal guests,

and there were banquets and more investings, till it would seem that the

Queen's stock of jeweled garters must be running low. Then back to town

for more presents and operas and plays, and addresses of congratulation,

and at last came the dismal morning of separation. The day before, the

Queen had written: "The last day of our dear child being with us, which

is incredible, and makes me feel at times quite sick at heart." She

records that that poor child exclaimed, "I think it will kill me to take

leave of dear papa!"



The next morning, she writes," Vicky came with a very sad face to my

room. Here we embraced each other tenderly, and our tears flowed fast."



Then there were leave-takings from the loving grandmama and the younger

brothers and sisters ("Bertie" and Alfred going with their father to

Gravesend, to see the bridal party embarked), and hardest of all, the

parting of the child from the mother.



To quote again: "A dreadful moment and a dreadful day! Such sickness came

over me--real heart-ache,--when I thought of our dearest child being

gone, and for so long... It began to snow before Vicky went, and

continued to do so without intermission all day."



In spite of the dreary weather, I am told that thousands of London people

were assembled in the streets to catch a last glimpse of the popular

Princess Royal. They could hardly recognize her pleasant, rosy, child-

like face--it was so sad, so swollen with weeping. They did not then look

with much favor on the handsome Prussian Prince at her side--and one

loyal Briton shouted out, "If he doesn't treat you well, come back to

us!" That made her laugh. I believe he did treat her well, and that she

has been always happy as a wife, though for a time she is said to have

fretted against the restraints of German Court etiquette, which bristled

all round her. She found that the straight and narrow ways of that

princely paradise were not hedged with roses, as at home, but with

briars. Some she respected, and some she bravely broke through.



The little bride was most warmly received in her new home, and about the

anniversary of her own marriage-day, the Queen had the happiness of

receiving from her new son this laconic telegram: "The whole royal family

is enchanted with my wife. F. W."



Afterwards, in writing to her uncle, of her daughter's success at the

Prussian Court, and of her happiness, the Queen says: "But her heart

often yearns for home and those she loves dearly--above all, her dear

papa, for whom she has un culte (a worship) which is touching and

delightful to see."



Her father returned this "worship" by tenderness and devotion unfailing

and unwearying. His letters to the Crown Princess are perhaps the

sweetest and noblest, most thoughtful and finished of his writings. They

show that he respected as well as loved his correspondent, of whom,

indeed, he had spoken to her husband as one having "a man's head and a

child's heart." His letters to his uncle and the Baron are full of his

joy, intellectual and affectional, in this his first-born daughter; but

the last-born was not forgotten. In one letter he writes: "Little

Beatrice is an extremely attractive, pretty, intelligent child; indeed,

the most amusing baby we have had." Again--"Beatrice on her first

birthday looks charming, with a new light-blue cap. Her table of birthday

gifts has given her the greatest pleasure; especially a lamb."



I know these are little, common domestic bits--that is just why I cull

them out of grave letters, full of great affairs of State.





Birth Of The Duke Of Connaught Birth Of The Prince Of Wales facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback