Courtship and Wedding of Queen Victoria

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria OnlinePRINCE ALBERT of Saxe-Coburg had written a nice cousinly letter to Queen Victoria congratulating her on becoming " Queen of the mightiest land in Europe," and hoping that she would still sometimes think of her cousins at Bonn.

Matchmaker

In October, 1839, King Leopold thought it was time to push forward the match that he had set his heart upon, and so he sent the brothers, Albert and Ernest, on a visit to Windsor. Their royal cousin received them, with all honour, but their luggage had unfortunately gone astray,and so they could not come into dinner with her the first day. But they joined the evening circle in their travelling clothes, and now began a very happy week.

Every day the Princes rode with the Queen and a large cavalcade, and afterwards there was a grand dinner and three times a week a dance. It speedily became evident that the names of Victoria and Albert were to be linked together. The Prince was never willingly absent from her society, and strove to anticipate all her wishes. The Queen's mind was soon made up, and in her exalted position it was her place to "pop the question."

Deal Sealed

One evening at a ball, after a dance with the young Prince, the Queen gave him her bouquet. The Prince was in uniform close buttoned to the throat, but he at once took out his penknife, cut a slit in the coat just over his heart, and safely placed the flowers there.

On the following day the Queen sent for Prince Albert and made the offer, which he was only too glad to accept, and they were both very happy. Leopold was delighted at the news, and wrote, " May Albert be able to strew roses without thorns on the pathway of life of our good Victoria ! "

Official Announcement

The young Princes went back to Germany for a time, and the Queen had now to tell her Ministers and her Council what she intended to do. When the coming event was announced in the newspapers the people were very glad, and unmistakably showed their approbation when the Queen went to open Parliament in January, 1840, and to ask the Commons to vote an income for her husband.

The Royal Wedding

On February 4th, Albert was brought in State to Buckingham Palace, where his intended bride and her mother met him at the door. The wedding took place on February 10th in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace. Out in the cold and rain stood thousands of spectators, who with " tremendous shouts " greeted the Queen as she drove through the crowded streets. " She was extremely pale," says Mrs. Oliphant, " as she passed along under the gaze of multitudes, her mother by her side, crowned with nothing but those pure flowers which are dedicated to the day of bridal, and not even permitted the luxury of a veil over her drooping face. The lace fell about her, but left her royal countenance unveiled. Even at that moment she belonged to her kingdom."

We need not linger over the wedding ceremony. We will just note that the royal bride was attired in white satin and orange-blossoms and a magnificent veil of Honiton lace. There were twelve noble maidens as bridesmaids, all in white satin and white roses. The chapel, sumptuously adorned for the occasion, was, of course, crowded with English nobility, foreign ambassadors, and so forth.

The Queen returned to the Palace no longer pale, but "with a joyous and open countenance, flushed, perhaps, in the slightest degree," and smiled to her applauding subjects. The sun shone out and there was real Queen's weather the rest of the day. After the wedding—breakfast was over, the young couple drove down to Windsor in a carriage and four, through twenty-two miles of spectators and innumerable "V.'s " and " A.'s " and other decorations. The Queen was now in a white satin pelisse profusely trimmed with swansdown, and there were white plumes over her white bonnet. The Prince was in a fur-trimmed coat with a high collar, and he had a high hat, which was in his hand nearly all the journey in response to the continuous salutations of the multitude. " Our reception," the Queen writes, " was most enthusiastic, hearty, and gratifying in every way, the people quite deafening us with their cheers—horsemen, etc., going along with us." All Windsor was sparkling with lights when they reached the town; and the Eton boys, the Queen tells us, " accompanied the carriage to the Castle, cheering and shouting as only schoolboys can. They swarmed up the mound as the carriage entered the Quadrangle ; they made the old Castle ring again with their acclamations."

Celebrations

Not only in London, but all over England, people of all ranks held high festival on the occasion of the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. Everybody seemed to approve the choice that had been made, and to be eager to join in the universal chorus of good wishes for the welfare of the young couple. In the grand banquetting room of St. James a very august company assembled. The Ministers of State gave grand dinners at their official residences. At the theatres all who chose to come were that evening admitted free, and when the orchestras played the National Anthem the crowded audiences stood up and showed their loyalty by deafening applause. At Drury Lane there was a special entertainment in honour of the occasion. It was something like a revival of one of those old masques that were so popular in England in the olden time. At the conclusion of the performance a representation of the Queen and Prince was seen surrounded by a grand display of fireworks, whereat all the liege subjects present were no doubt intensely gratified.
A few days after the wedding, in writing to her friend, Stockmar, the Queen says : "There -cannot exist a purer, dearer, nobler being in the world than the Prince." The royal pair were soon back in London, and a very gay season of feasting and dancing and so on set Then there were Courts to be held and addresses almost numberless to be received. In one day Prince Albert received and answered twenty-seven addresses.

Wedding Cake

There is one important thing I have forgotten to mention—the Queen's wedding cake. It was three hundred pounds in weight, three yards in circumference, and fourteen inches in depth. On the top was Britannia blessing the royal couple, and amongst the other ornaments there was a Cupid writing in a volume spread open on his knees, " 10th of February, 1840;" there were, of course, plenty of flowers and lovers' knots and the usual decorations.

Prince Albert Makes Britain Home

Prince Albert's father returned to Coburg a fortnight after the wedding. Notwithstanding the son's bright and happy prospects, the final parting 'was a time of deep feeling. " He told me, " writes the Queen, of Prince Albert, " that I had never known a father and could not therefore feel what he did. His childhood had been very happy. Ernest, he said, was now the only one remaining here of all his earliest ties and recollections ; but if I continued to love him as I did now I could make up for all. . . . Oh, how I did feel for my dear precious husband at that moment. Father, brother, friends, country, all has he left and all for me. God grant that I may be the happy person, the most happy person, to make this dearest blessed being happy and contented. What is in my power to make him happy I will do."