Queen Victoria Absence From The Coronation Of William Iv

Queen-making is not a light task. It is no fancywork for idle hours. It

is the first difficult draft of a chapter, perhaps a whole volume, of

national history.

No woman ever undertook a more important labor than did the widowed

Duchess of Kent, or carried it out with more faithfulness, if we may

judge by results.

The lack of fortune in the family was not an unmixed evil; perhaps it was

even one of those disagreeable "blessings in disguise," which nobody

welcomes, but which the wise profit by, as it caused the Duchess to

impress upon her children, especially the child Victoria, the necessity

of economy, and the safety and dignity which one always finds in living

within one's income. Frugality, exactitude in business, faithfulness to

all engagements, great or small, punctuality, that economy of time, are

usually set down among the minor moralities of life, more humdrum than

heroic; but under how many circumstances and conditions do they reveal

themselves as cardinal virtues, as things on which depend the comfort and

dignity of life! It seems that these things were so impressed on the mind

and heart of the young Victoria by her careful, methodical German mother,

that they became a part of her conscience, entered so deeply into the

rule of her life that no after-condition of wealth, or luxury, or

sovereign independence; no natural desire for ease or pleasure; no

passion of love or grief; no possible exigencies of imperial state have

been able to overcome or set them aside. The danger is that such rigid

principles, such systematic habits, adopted in youth, may in age become,

from being the ministers of one's will, the tyrants of one's life.

It seems to be somewhat so in the case of the Queen, for I hear it said

that the sun, the moon, and the tides are scarcely more punctual and

regular in their rounds and mighty offices, in their coming and going,

than she in the daily routine of her domestic and state duties and

frequent journeyings; and that the laws of the Medes and Persians are as

naught in inexorableness and inflexibility to the rules and regulations

of Windsor and Balmoral.

But the English people, even those directly inconvenienced at times by

those unbending habits and irrevocable rules, have no right to find

fault, for these be the right royal results of the admirable but somewhat

unyouthful qualities they adored in the young Queen. They have no right

to sneer because a place of honor is given in Her Majesty's household to

that meddlesome, old-fashioned German country cousin, Economy; for did

not they all rejoice in the early years of the reign to hear of this same

dame being introduced by those clever managers, Prince Albert and Baron

Stockmar, into the royal palaces, wherein she had not been seen for many

a year?

But to return to the little Princess. The Duchess, her mother, seems to

have given her all needful change of air and scene, though always

maintaining; habits of study, and an admirable system of mental and moral

training; for the child's constitution seems to have strengthened year by

year, and in spite of one or two serious attacks of illness, the

foundation was laid of the robust health which, accompanied by rare

courage and nerve, has since so marked and blessed her life. A writer of

the time speaks of a visit paid by her and her mother to Windsor in 1829,

when the child was about seven years old, and states that George IV., her

"Uncle King," was delighted with her "charming manners."

It was about this visit that her maternal grandmamma at Coburg wrote to

her mamma: "I see by the English papers that Her Royal Highness the

Duchess of Kent went on Virginia water with His Majesty. The little

monkey must have pleased and amused him, she is such a pretty, clever


To think of the great Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and

Empress of India, being called "a little monkey"! Grandmammas will take

such liberties. Three or four years later, according to that spicy and

irreverent chronicler, Charles Greville, the little Princess was not

pretty. But she was just entering on that ungracious period in which few

little girls are comely to look upon, or comfortable to themselves.

Greville saw her at a children's ball, given by the King in honor of his

little guest, the child-Queen of Portugal, Donna Maria II., da Gloria,

whom the King seated at his right hand, and was very attentive to.

Greville says she was fine-looking and very finely dressed, "with a

ribbon and order over her shoulder," and she must have seemed very grand

to the other children while she sat by the King, but when she came to

dance she "fell down and hurt her face, was frightened and bruised, and

went away." Then he adds: "Our little Princess is a short, plain child,

not so good-looking as the Portuguese. However, if Nature has not done so

much, Fortune is likely to do a great deal more for her."

Victoria did not know that, but like any other little girl she may,

perhaps, have comforted herself by thinking, "Well, if I'm not so

handsome and grand and smartly dressed as that Maria, I'm less awkward. I

was able to keep my head and not lose my feet."

As for her small Majesty of Portugal, she was at that time a Queen

without a crown and without a kingdom. She had come all the way from

Brazil to take her grandfather's throne, a little present from her

father, Dom Pedro I., the rightful heir, but only to find the place

filled by a wicked uncle, Don Miguel. She had a long fight with the

usurper, her father coming over to help her, and finally ousted Miguel

and got into that big, uneasy arm-chair, called a throne, where she

continued to sit, though much shaken and heaved up and about by political

convulsions, for some dozen years, when she found it best to step down

and out.

It is said she did not gain, but lost in beauty as she grew to womanhood;

so finally the English Princess had the advantage of her in the matter of

good looks even.

King George IV., though he was fond of his amusing little niece, did not

like to think of her as destined to rule in his place. He is said to have

been much offended when, as he was proposing to give that ball, his chief

favorite, a gay, Court lady, exclaimed: "Oh, do! it will be so nice to

see the two little Queens dancing together." Yet he disliked the

Duchess of Kent for keeping the child as much as possible away from his

disreputable Court, and educating her after her own ideas, and often

threatened to use his power as King to deprive her of the little girl.

The country would not have stood this, yet the Duchess must have suffered

cruelly from fear of having her darling child taken from her by this

crowned ogre, and shut up in the gloomy keep of his Castle at Windsor.

But it was the Ogre-King who was taken, a little more than a year after

the children's ball--and not a day too soon for his country's good--and

his brother, the Duke of Clarence, reigned in his stead.

William IV. had some heart, some frankness and honesty, but he was a

bluff, rough sailor, and when excited, oaths of the hottest sort flew

from his lips, like sparks from an anvil. Because of his roughness and

profanity, and because, perhaps, of the fact of his surrounding himself

with a lot of natural children, the Duchess was determined to persevere

in her retirement from the Court circle, and in keeping her innocent

little daughter out of its unwholesome atmosphere, as much as possible.

She was, however, most friendly with Queen Adelaide, who, when her last

child died, had written to her: "My children are dead, but yours lives,

and she is mine too." The good woman meant this, and her fondness was

returned by Victoria, who manifested for her to the last, filial

affection and consideration.

The first Drawing-room which the Princess attended was one given in honor

of Her Majesty's birthday. She went with her mother and a suite of ladies

and gentlemen in State carriages, escorted by a party of Life Guards. The

Princess was on that occasion dressed entirely in materials of British

manufacture, her frock being of English blonde, very simple and becoming.

She stood at the left of her aunt, the Queen, and watched the splendid

ceremony with great interest, while everybody watched her with greater

interest. But if the presence of the "heir-presumptive to the throne"

created a sensation at the Queen's Drawing-room, her absence from the

King's coronation created more. Some said it was because a proper place

in the procession--one next to the King and Queen--had not been assigned

to her; others, that the Duchess had kept her away on account of her

delicate health, and nobody knew exactly the truth of the matter. Perhaps

the great state secret will be revealed some day with the identity of

"Junius" and the "Man in the Iron Mask."

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