Most ViewedThe First Christening The Season Of 1841
The Royal Young People
Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood
The Queen's First Visit To Scotland
The Queen's First Visit To Scotland
The Proroguing Of Parliament The Visit To Guildhall And The Coronation
Least ViewedPrince Albert
The Condemnation Of The English Duel
Second Attempt On The Queen's Life
Sketch Of The Princess Charlotte
The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor
The Last Day Of Victoria's Real Girlhood
Fresh Attempts Against The Queen's Life And The Death Of The Duc D'orleans
Last Years Of The Prince Consort
Stress And Strain
Victoria The Great
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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