Prince Albert

If the Princess Charlotte was the prototype of her cousin Victoria,

Prince Leopold was in some respects the prototype of his beloved nephew

Albert, who was born in August, 1819, at Rosenau, a charming summer

residence of his father, the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield. The

little Prince's grandmother, the Dowager-Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, in

writing to her daughter, the Duchess of Kent, to announce the happy

says: "The little boy is to be christened to-morrow, and to have

the name of Albert."

When the christening came off it appeared that "Albert" was only one and

the simplest of several names, but he was always known and always will be

known by that name. It has been immortalized by his upright character,

his rare intellectual gifts, his goodness and grace; by the affection of

his countrymen and his noble life-work in England; by the genius of

England's greatest living poet, and by the love and sorrow of England's


While the Prince was yet a baby, his mother wrote of him: "Albert is

superb,--remarkably beautiful, with large blue eyes, a delicate mouth, a

fine nose, and dimpled cheeks. He is lively and always gay."

Albert was the second son of the Duke and Duchess. Ernest, a year or two

older, is thus described by his mother: "Ernest is very strong and

robust, but not half so pretty as his brother. He is handsome, though;

with black eyes."

Prince Leopold spent some time with his brother at Coburg when Albert was

about two years old, and then began the tender, life-long mutual

affection which led to such happy and important results. The young mother

wrote: "Albert adores his uncle Leopold; never quits him for a moment;

looks sweetly at him; is constantly embracing him; and is never happy

except when near him."

The grandmother also wrote: "Leopold is very kind to the little boys.

Bold Albertinchen drags him constantly about by the hand. The little

fellow is the pendant to the pretty cousin (Princess Victoria); very

handsome, but too slight for a boy; lively, very funny, all good nature,

and full of mischief. The other day he did not know how to make enough of

me, because I took him with me in the carriage. He kept saying, 'Albert

is going with grandmamma!' and gave me his little hand to kiss. 'There,

grandmamma, kiss!'"

The little Princes were not long to enjoy the care and society of their

loving and lovely mother. An unhappy estrangement between their parents,

followed by a separation and a divorce, left them at seven and five years

old half-orphaned; for they never saw their mother again. She died at St.

Wendel, in Switzerland, while still young and beautiful; but doubtless

weary enough of life, which had brought her such happiness, only to take

it away. Two words as holy as her prayers, were on her dying lips--

"Ernest!" "Albert!"

But the boys were rich in grandmothers--having two of the very tenderest

and dearest of Dowager-Duchesses to watch over them (watching each other,

perhaps, the while) and to minister to them for many a year. According to

these venerable ladies, Albert, who was certainly a delicate, nervous

child, was one of those "little angels" who are destined not to survive

the dimpled, golden-curled, lisping, and croupy period; being too good

and sweet and exquisite for this wicked and rough world. But, according

to certain entries in the Prince's own diary--his first, begun in his

sixth year--he at that age happily revealed some hopeful signs of saving

naughtiness and healthful "original sin."

"11th February, 1825.

"I was told to recite something, but did not wish to do so. That was not


"20th February.

"I had left all my lesson books lying about in the room, and I had to put

them away; then I cried."

"28th February.

"I cried at my lesson to-day because I could not find a verb, and the

Rath (tutor) pinched me, to show me what a verb was. I cried about it."

"9th April.

"I got up well and happy; afterward I had a fight with my brother."

"10th April.

"I had another fight with my brother; that was not right."

This almost baby-prince seems to have been a valorous little fellow. When

his blood was up he seems to have given little thought to the superior

age or strength of his opponents, but to have been always ready to "pitch

in"; or, to use the more refined and courtly language of his tutor, M.

Florschütz, "he was not, at times, indisposed to resort to force, if his

wishes were not at once complied with."

For several years the young Princes, devoted to each other, passed

studious, yet active and merry lives at the Coburg Palace, and in the

dear country home of Rosenau. They seem to have corresponded with their

cousin Victoria, whom, it seems, the lad Albert was led by his grandmamma

Coburg to regard with an especially romantic and tender interest. That

grandmamma, the mother of Prince Leopold and the Duchess of Kent, and who

seems to have been a very able and noble woman, died when her darling

Albert was about twelve years old; but the hope of her heart did not die

with her, and without doubt Prince Albert was educated with special and

constant reference to a far more important and brilliant destiny than

often falls to the lot of the young sons of even Grand Ducal houses. He

was well instructed in many branches of science, in languages, in music

and literature, in politics, and what seems a contradiction, in ethics,--

his moral development being most carefully watched over, while his

physical training was a pendant to that which made his cousin Victoria

one of the healthiest and hardiest of modern Englishwomen. With a

delicate constitution and a sensitive, nervous temperament, Prince Albert

would scarcely have lived to manhood, except for that admirable physical

training. As a child, he was braced up by much life in the open air,

simple diet, a good deal of rough play--while as to sleep, he was allowed

to help himself, which he did plentifully, being much given to

somnolency. As a lad and youth, he hardened himself by all healthful

manly sports and exercises; in short, made a boy of mamma's "angel," a

man of grandmamma's golden-haired darling. Nor was that great element of

a liberal education, travel, wanting. The brothers paid visits to their

uncle Leopold, now King of Belgium, and after tours in Germany, Austria,

and Holland, visited England, and their aunt Kent and their cousin

Victoria, to whom they were most warmly commended by their uncle.

According to the Queen's books, with this visit of three weeks began the

personal acquaintance of the cousins; yet old Kensingtonians have a

legend which they obstinately cling to, that Prince Albert, when much

younger, spent three years in the old brick palace with his aunt and

cousin, in pursuance of the matrimonial plans of the Duchess of Kent and

Prince Leopold; and I have seen in a quaint old juvenile book a wood-cut

representing the little Victoria in a big hat, riding on a pony in the

park, and little Albert in a visored cap and short jacket running along

at her side. But, of course, it was all a mistake; there was no such

period of childish courtship, and the boy in the queer Dutch cap was an

optical illusion, or a "double," in German a doppel-gänger. During

the real visit, occurred the seventeenth birthday of the Princess, and

there were public rejoicings and Court-festivities, preceded and followed

for the cousins by days of pleasant companionship, in walking and riding,

and evenings of music and dancing. But if the lad Albert, remembering the

promise of his garrulous nurse, and the prophecy of his fond grandmamma,

and the wish of his father and uncle Leopold, sought to read his destiny

in the baffling blue eyes of the gay young girl, he seems to have failed,

for he could only write home: "Our cousin is most amiable." Perhaps

Victoria's own wonderful destiny, now drawing near, left little room in

her heart or thought for lesser romances; perhaps the crown of England

suspended over her head as by a single hair, the frail life of an old

man, outdazzled even the graces and merits of her handsome but rather

immature kinsman. Besides, "Prince Charming" at that time was short and

stout, and he spoke our language too imperfectly to make love (which he

would have pronounced luf) in the future Queen's English; and so

he went away without any exchange of vows, or rings, or locks of fair

hair or miniatures, and returned to his studies, principally at the

University of Bonn. It is true that the Princess wrote to her "dearest

uncle Leopold" soon after this visit, begging him to take special care of

one now so dear to her, adding: "I hope and trust that all will go on

prosperously and well on this subject now of so much importance to me."

Yet King Leopold was a wise man, and did not build too securely on the

fancy of a girl of seventeen, though he kept to work, he and the Baron,

on their Prince-Consort making, in spite of the opposition of old King

William, and all his brothers, and the candidates favored by them.

It was from quaint, quiet old Bonn that Prince Albert wrote, on his

cousin's accession to the throne, his famous letter of congratulation, in

which there appeared not one word of courtier-like adulation--not a

thought calculated to stir the heart of the young girl suddenly raised to

that giddy height overlooking the world, with a thrill of exultation or

vain-gloriousness. Thus wrote this boy-man of eighteen: "Now you are

Queen of the mightiest land of Europe; in your hand lies the happiness of

millions. May Heaven assist you, and strengthen you with its strength in

the high, but difficult task."

After leaving the University Prince Albert traveled in Switzerland and

Italy with Baron Stockmar--everywhere winning the admiration and respect

of the best sort of people by the rare princeliness of his appearance,

his refined taste, his thoughtful and singularly receptive mind. And so

three years went by. They were three years of uncertainty in regard to

the great projects formed for him, of happiness, and a noble and useful,

if subordinate career. King Leopold, the good genius of the two families,

had not suffered his cousin to forget him, but though she declared she

cared for no one else, she was not disposed to enter into any positive

engagement, even with Albert. She enjoyed intensely her proud,

independent position as Queen Regnant. She was having such a glorious

swing at life, and very naturally feared the possible restraints, and the

inevitable subordination of marriage. She was "too young to marry," and

Albert was still younger--full three months. She would remain as she was,

the gay, untrammeled maiden-Queen of England, for at least three or four

years longer, and then think about it. The Prince was made, aware by his

uncle Leopold of his royal cousin's state of feeling, or unfeeling, and

was in a very doubtful and despondent state of mind when, polished by

study and travel, grown tall and graceful, and "ideally beautiful," a

veritable "Prince Charming," he came over the sea, out of fairyland, via

Rotterdam, to seek his fortune--to attempt, at least, to wake the

grandeur-enchanted Princess from her passionless dream of lonely,

loveless sovereignty. He came, was seen, and conquered! But not at once;

ah, no; for this charming royal idyll had its changing strophes, marking

deepening degrees of sentiment--admiration, interest, hope, assurance,

joyous certainty.

The Queen had resolved to receive both the Princes with cousinly

affection and royal honors, but as though they had come on an ordinary

visit. As for Albert, she meant probably to reason with him frankly, till

he should be convinced that they were "ower young to marry yet"--till he

should realize his own exceeding youthfulness. Then, as he must go away,

and "wait a little longer," she would see as much of him as possible--he

was such a good, constant fellow. But she must give due attention to her

other guests; and then the State had some claim on her time. But when the

Coburg Princes arrived at Windsor, and the Queen, with her mother, met

them at the head of the grand staircase, somehow she had only eyes for

the younger brother; he had grown so manly, so tall, quite out of the old

objectionable stoutness; he had so improved in his English; he was so

handsome--so every way presentable! So, in spite of the gaieties and

forms, and the comings and goings of Windsor, so very much did the royal

maiden, hitherto so gay and "fancy-free" see of her cousin Albert

preparatory to bidding him an indefinite adieu, that on the second day

even, cause for jealousy was given to aspiring courtiers by smiles and

words, especially sweet and gracious, bestowed on the fair Saxon Knight.

On that second day the Queen wrote to her uncle Leopold: "Albert's beauty

is most striking, and he is most amiable and unaffected; in short, very

fascinating." She then added, with an exquisite touch of maiden coyness:

"The young men are both amiable, delightful companions, and I am

glad to have them here."

When a few more days had passed in familiar intercourse, in singing and

walking, in dancing and driving, and best of all, in riding together

(for there is no cradle to rock young Love in like the saddle), the poor

little Queen forsworn, found she had no longer the courage to propose to

that proud young Prince to wait indefinitely on her will--to tarry at

Coburg for more wisdom and beard. At the thought of it she seemed to see

something of noble scorn about his lips, and such grave remonstrance in

his gentle, pensive, forget-me-not eyes, that--the words of parting were

never spoken, or not till after many happy years.

Alas for this fairy-Prince in an unfairylike kingdom! He could only

declare his love, and sound the heart of his beloved, with his eyes.

Etiquette put a leaden seal on his lips till from hers should come the

sweet avowal and the momentous proffer to rule the ruler--to assume

love's sovereignty over the Sovereign. After five days of troubled yet

joyous waiting, it came--the happy "climax," as the Prince called it in a

letter to Baron Stockmar--and then that perfectest flower of human life,

whether in palace or cottage, a pure and noble love, burst into full and

glorious bloom in each young heart. One cannot, even now, read without a

genuine heart-thrill, and a mistiness about the eyes, the simple touching

story of that royal romance of royal old Windsor. More than two-score

years have passed, and yet how fresh it seems! It has the dew and the

bloom of Paradise upon it.

What in all this story seems to me most beautiful and touching, because

so exquisitely womanly, is the meekness of the young Queen. Though as

Queen she offered the Prince her coveted hand--that hand that had held

the sceptre of sceptres, and which Princes and Peers and the

representatives of the highest powers on earth, had kissed in homage, it

was only as a poor little woman's weak hand, which needed to be upheld

and guided in good works, by a stronger, firmer hand; and her head, when

she laid it on her chosen husband's shoulder, had not the feel of the

crown on it. Indeed, she seems to have felt that his love was her real

coronation, his faith her consecration.

To the beloved Stockmar, to whom but a little while before she had

communicated her unalterable determination not to marry any one for ever

so long the newly betrothed wrote: "I do feel so guilty I know not how to

begin my letter; but I think the news it will contain will be sufficient

to ensure your forgiveness. Albert has completely won my heart, and all

was settled between us this morning. I feel certain he will make me

happy. I wish I could feel as certain of my making him happy, but I will

do my best."

Among the entries in the Queen's journal are many like this: "How I will

strive to make Albert feel as little as possible the great sacrifice he

has made. I told him it was a great sacrifice on his part, but he

would not allow it."

Of course the Prince had too much manly feeling and practical good sense

to "allow it." He knew he was the most envied, not only of all poor

German Princes about that time, but of all young scions of royalty the

world over; and besides, he loved his cousin. There is no record or

legend or hint of his having ever loved any other woman, except his good

grandmothers. To her of Gotha he wrote: "The Queen sent for me alone to

her room the other day, and declared to me in a genuine outburst of

affection that I had gained her whole heart, and would make her intensely

happy if I would make her the sacrifice of sharing her life with her, for

she said she looked on it as a sacrifice; the only thing which troubled

her was that she did not think she was worthy of me. The joyous openness

with which she told me this enchanted me, and I was quite carried away by


Still, and always the thought of "sacrifice!" This sentiment of tender

humility, of deference and reverence the Queen never lost. Indeed, it

seems to have grown with years, and as the character of the Prince-

Consort unfolded more and more in beauty, strength, dignity, and


A month was passed by the lovers, in such happiness as comes but once in

life to the most fortunate human beings--to some, alas! never. Then the

Prince returned to Coburg, to settle his affairs and to take leave of his

old home and his kindred. Those partings seem to have pulled hard on his

heart-strings, and are distressing to read about. One would think he was

bound for the "under-world," to wed the Queen of Madagascar. These

Germans are such passionate lovers of the fatherland, that one wonders

how they can ever bring themselves to leave it, to make grand marriages

in England, or fortunes in America, to start a royal house, or a

kindergarten--to become a Field Marshal or a United States Senator.

But all that grief at Coburg and Gotha showed how dearly Prince Albert

was loved, and how he loved.

It seems that the fair cousin at Windsor was scarcely gay, for the

Prince, writing to her mother, says: "What you say of my poor little

bride, sitting all alone in her room, silent and sad, has touched my

heart. Oh, that I might fly to her side to cheer her!"

But she could not have much indulged in this solitary, idle brooding, for

she had work to do, and must be up and doing. First, she had to summon a

Privy Council, which met at Buckingham Palace;--more than eighty Peers,

mostly solemn old fellows, who had outlived their days of romantic

sentiment, if they ever had any, yet to whom the Queen had to declare her

love for her cousin Albert, and her intention to marry him, being

convinced, she said, that this union would "secure her domestic felicity,

and serve the interests of her country." It was a little hard, yet a

certain bracelet, containing a certain miniature, which she wore on her

arm, gave her "courage," she said. Then came a yet more trying ordeal,

for a modest young lady--the announcement of her intended marriage, in a

speech from the throne, in the House of Lords. With the utmost dignity

and calmness, and with a happiness which sparkled in her eyes and glowed

in her blushes, and made strangely beautiful her young face, she read the

announcement in the clear, musical tones so peculiar to her, and with an,

almost religious solemnity. The glory of pure maidenly trust and devotion

resting on her head, outshone the jewels of her tiara; Love was enthroned

at her side.

All was not sunshine, rose-bloom and soft airs before the young German

husband of the Queen. Much doubt and jealousy and some unfriendliness

were waiting for him in high places. The disappointed Tory party, and

some Radicals, opposed hotly the proposed grant for the Prince of

£50,000, and at last cut it down to £30,000.

Then came a discussion over a clause in the Bill for the Naturalization

of the Prince, empowering the husband of the Queen to take precedence

over even the Royal Princes, and to be ever at her side, where he

belonged, which, though finally assented to by these most interested in

England--the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge--was stoutly opposed by their

elder brother, the Duke of Cumberland, for Heaven and Hanover had not

relieved the English Government of "the bogie." In support of his rights,

Wellington and Brougham stood out, and the clause was dropped. But the

Queen, by the exercise of her prerogative, gave the Prince the title of

Royal Highness, and made him a Field Marshal in the British army; and

about a month later, she settled the precedence question, as far as

concerned England, by proclaiming that by her royal will and pleasure her

husband should "enjoy place, pre-eminence and precedence, next to Her


The amiable Prince is said never to have cherished resentment towards Sir

Robert Peel and others who had voted to cut down his allowance, or the

Duke of Wellington, and Lord Brougham, who had argued that those tiresome

old gentlemen, the Royal Dukes, should have the right to walk and sit

next to his wife on State occasions; but Victoria confesses that

she long felt "most indignant." She was hurt not only in her wifely love,

but in her queenly pride.

Greville says of Kings: "The contrast between their apparent authority

and the contradictions which they practically meet with, must be

peculiarly galling--more especially to men whose minds are seldom

regulated by the beneficial discipline of education, and early collision

with their equals." It must be yet more "galling" for Queens, because

they always have been more flattered, and are imaginative enough to fancy

that in grasping the symbols they hold the power.

But I do not believe that the royal lovers took deeply to heart these

disagreeable matters at this time. I hope they didn't mourn much over the

£20,000 they didn't get. I hope that Love lifted them far above the murky

air of party strife and petty jealousy into a clear, serene atmosphere of

its own. They knew--and it was a great thing to know--that they had the

sympathy of all the true hearts of the realm, whether beating under the

"purple and fine linen" of the rich and noble, or the rough and simple

garments of the poor and humble.

On the 10th of February, 1840, Prince Albert, always tenderly thoughtful

of the dear old Dowager of Saxe-Gotha, his "liebe grosmama" who,

when he had parted from her last, had stood at her window, weeping,

stretching out her arms and so desolately calling after him, "Albert!

Albert!" sat down and wrote as no beautifulest Prince of poetry or

romance ever wrote to a feeble, old female relative on his wedding-day:

"DEAR GRANDMAMMA: In less than three hours, I shall stand at the altar,

with my dear bride. In these solemn moments, I must once more ask your

blessing, which I am well assured I shall receive, and which will be my

safeguard and future joy. I must end. God be my stay!

"Your faithful


This letter may seem a little too solemn and ill-assured, but it shows in

what a serious and devout spirit this young Prince, not yet of age,

entered on that auspicious and splendid union, whose wedding-bells rang

round the world. Moreover, the young man's position was a rather trying

one. As yet, he was little known in England, while it was well known that

the Royal Family had been from the first opposed to his marriage with

Victoria. Though the land of the Teutons had so long been the nursery of

English Kings and Queens, the English common people were jealous of

Teutonic Princes--regarding them for the most part as needy adventurers,

for whom England was only the great milch-cow of Germany. Prince Albert

had a host of prejudices to live down; and he did live down most of them,

but some have died hard over his grave.

The Queen's wedding was second only to the coronation, as a grand and

beautiful pageant for the privileged few who could witness it, for of

course the old Royal Chapel of St. James was a much narrower stage for

the great scene than the Abbey. Still, royalty and nobility turned out in

force, and all the greatest of the great were there. The sombre chapel

was made to look very gay and gorgeous with hangings and decorations;

even before the ladies in rich dresses and with all their costliest

jewels on, and the gentlemen in brilliant uniforms and Court-costumes

arrived. The bridegroom, when he walked up the aisle, between his father

and his brother, bowing affably right and left, drew forth murmurs of

admiration by his rare beauty and grace--princeliest of Princes.

The Queen is described as looking unusually pale, but very lovely, in a

magnificent robe of lace over white satin trimmed with orange blossoms,

and with a most exquisite Honiton veil. In the midst of her twelve

bridesmaids, her face radiant with happiness, she seemed like the whitest

of diamonds set in pearls--or so they say.

Her Majesty is also described as bearing herself with great dignity and

composure, and to have gone through the service very solemnly. And yet I

have heard a little story that runs thus: When Prince Albert, in this

last act of "Le Jeune Homme Pauvre" came to repeat, as he placed

the ring on her finger, the words, "With all my worldly goods I thee

endow," the merry girl-Queen was unable to suppress an arch smile.

The Duchess of Kent is described as looking "tearful and distressed." Ah,

why will mothers always cry at their daughters' weddings, even when they

have hoped and schemed for that very match; and why will brides, though

ever so much in love, weep, first or last, on the wedding morning? Lady

Lyttleton, in her correspondence, said of the Queen--"Her eyes were

swollen with tears; but," she adds, "there was great happiness in her

countenance, and her look of confidence and comfort at the Prince, when

they walked away, as man and wife, was very pleasant to see."

Ah, "when they walked away as man and wife"--now simply and for always to

each other, "Albert" and "Victoria," the separate life of our "Prince

Charming" closed. Thenceforth, the two bright life-streams seemed to flow

on together, completely merged, indistinguishable, indivisible, but only

seemed--for, alas, one has reached the great ocean before the