Princess Alexandra

Low Key Wedding

THE marriage of Princess Alice to the Prince of Hesse at Osborne, on a July afternoon in 1862, was a very quiet affair. The bridesmaids were the sisters of the bride and bridegroom ; the Queen, in deep mourning, was present at the service only. In three hours the wedding was completed and the guests had all departed.

There was a visit to Balmoral and another to Coburg this summer, both reviving many mournful memories. The Queen was much touched by a present that arrived before the close of the year. It was a richly-bound Bible, presented through the Duchess of Sutherland—an offering from " many widows of England." In acknowledging this gift, the Queen expressed her heartfelt thanks to her " kind sister-widows," and after speaking of her consolations in sorrow, added, " That our Heavenly Father may impart to 'many widows' those sources of consolation and support, is their broken-hearted Queen's earnest prayer."

Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark

The month of March in the following year (1863) will be long remembered by all who witnessed the coming of the fair Alexandra, the " Sea-King's daughter from over the sea," to be the bride of the Prince of Wales.
I must not stay to tell how the London streets and bridges were glorious with flags, garlands, arches, banners, streamers, floral devices, national emblems, medallions, and other decorations too numerous to mention. Thousands upon thousands of spectators filled the air with acclamations as the gay procession came on, escorting the open carriage in which sat the Prince of Wales and his beautiful bride. One of the most thrilling spectacles along the route occurred when the thousands of ladies ranged on tiers of scarlet-covered seats beside St. Paul's Cathedral stood up amongst that forest of flags and wreaths and orange-blossoms, whilst deafening cheers resounded from St. Paul's School and all the adjacent footways and windows and house-tops. The Princess gave one glance upward at the mighty dome, and then, visibly affected by the enthusiasm of the myriad of spectators, bowed repeatedly with much feeling, winning all hearts by her graceful and modest beauty.

Alexandra and Queen Victoria

Meanwhile, at a window of Windsor Castle, Queen Victoria and her two youngest daughters waited till dusk for the coming' of the expected ones. They came at last, reaching the grand entrance at half-past six, and in a few minutes the Princess Alexandra was in the loving arms of the Queen, who met her on the grand staircase. All who were about the Queen soon declared that the Queen's affections had never before been so suddenly and so warmly called out by any one. The charming Danish Princess fell at once into her place as one of the Queen's children, and became the favourite of the Royal Family and of the English nation.

Prince Edward and Princess Alexandra Wedding

The wedding took place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, three days after the arrival. There was a grand display of rank and beauty, and the solemn rites were duly performed amidst, all the stately pageantry of a royal marriage. But the widowed Queen sat apart in the royal pew, from which she could look down on the ceremony ; she was attired in the simplest and plainest of widow's caps, a black silk dress, with white collar and cuffs, and black gloves. The star and blue riband of the Order of the Garter formed the only relief to her sombre garb.

I need not linger over the wedding ceremonies. That night London and many other towns were brilliantly illuminated ; everywhere there was festivity and rejoicing, and everybody felt with the poet:--
" Sea-King's daughter, as happy as fair,
Blissful bride of a blissful heir,
Bride of the heir of the Kings of the Sea, 0, joy to the people and joy to the throne, Come to us, love us, and make us your own ! For Saxon, or Dane, or Norman we,
Teuton, or Celt, or whatever we be,
We are each all Dane in our welcome of thee,
Alexandra!"

Cairn To Prince Albert

After a short visit to Germany, the Queen was at her Highland home in September. On a previous visit Her Majesty and the elder Princes and Princesses had each placed a stone on the summit of Craig Lowrigan, as part of the foundation for a cairn in memory of Prince Albert. That cairn had now been completed—a pyramid of granite, thirty feet high, plainly to be seen for many miles round. It bore the inscription, " To the beloved memory of Albert the Great and Good, Prince Consort, raised by his broken-hearted widow, Victoria R."

Queen Victoria Thrown From Carriage

An alarming accident befel the Queen in October. She was returning with two of her daughters from Altnagiuthasac one dark evening, when suddenly in the midst of the wild moorland the carriage was upset. The Queen was thrown out with her face on the ground, but escaped with some bruises and a hurt to one of her thumbs. The rest of the party escaped uninjured. After the traces had been cut, the ladies sat down, sheltered by, the overturned carriage, and waited whilst the coachman went off for assistance.

Half-an-hour passed, and then the anxious listeners heard the sound of approaching hoofs and of voices. They soon found it was their own ponies, which had been sent away before the accident. But the servant who was in charge of them had become anxious on account of the Queen not appearing, and had ridden back to see what was the matter. So the Queen and Princesses were glad to mount the ponies, which were led home to Balmoral, where Her Majesty found her two sons-in-law waiting at the door, wondering at the delay, but as yet knowing nothing of its cause.

Statues of Prine Albert

In the following week the Queen made her first public appearance since her husband's death. It was to unveil a statue of him at Aberdeen. His splendid mausoleum at Frogmore was now approaching completion. Her Majesty spent altogether more than two hundred thousand pounds from her own private purse on this splendid tomb and on the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor. The latter edifice, originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, has been adapted by the Queen to its present purpose. A pedestal of beautiful Pyrennean marble supports a magnificent white marble cenotaph, with kneeling angels and allegorical figures. The recumbent statue of Prince Albert represents him as a knight in armour, with the favourite hound, Eos, at his feet.

The, armour is symbolical, for the epitaph is, " I have fought the good fight, etc." All around, the Chapel is lavishly adorned with rich mosaics, stained glass, fretted marble, medallions and other decorations. The Frogmore Mausoleum contains the famous statue of the Prince by Baron Ida rochetti.

In the summer of 1865, we find the Queen and her children present at the unveiling of a statue of - Prince Albert at Coburg. More than one royal personage in Europe wanted to be present ; but the Queen replied that the occasion was one of strictly domestic interest, and the presence of strangers would be unacceptable. In the square of the little town stood the gilt bronze statue, ten feet in height, the right hand resting on a plan of t he Great Exhibition. Luther's hymn, "Ein feste Burg," was sung, and then the Queen, approaching the statue, handed her bouquet to be laid on the pedestal ; the Princesses and other ladies followed her example, till the fragrant offerings rose high about the feet of the statue.

Duchess of Athole

During the autumn visit to the Highlands in this year, Her Majesty visited the Duchess of Athole. The journey was at first through heavy mists, and then through pouring rain. In the twilight the coachman lost his way, and the whole party were in the midst of a thick wood. The two attendants had to go before with a coach lamp to find a way out. At nine o'clock they reached the cottage of the Duchess, at Dunkeld, and at dinner the Queen tried the famous Scotch dish, " haggis," and says she liked it very much.

Queen Opens Parliament

Early in 1866 the Queen opened Parliament for the first time since Prince Albert's death. But as she entered there was silence instead of the customary flourish of trumpets, and the robes of State, instead of being worn, were laid upon the throne. The Prince of Wales sat on her right hand, and on her left stood the Princesses Helena and Louise. The Speech was read by the Lord Chancellor. During the same year, Her Majesty instituted the " Albert Medal,' for the saving of life at sea ; reviewed the troops at Aldershot ; created Prince Alfred Duke of Edinburgh ; and attended the weddings of Princess Mary of Cambridge to the Duke of Teck, at Kew, and of Princess Helena to Prince Christian, at Windsor.

War in Germany

War broke out in Germany, and the Queen had the pain of seeing her married daughters on different sides. Princess Alice at her home in Darmstadt heard the Prussian cannon, and dreaded every hour to hear the news of her husband being among the slain. At length the quiet little town was taken ; pestilence broke out in the hospitals crowded with wounded, but Princess Alice worked as long as her strength held out, with other Hessian ladies, to help and comfort the sufferers. At length, in the very room in which its father's banner lay hidden, the third daughter of Princess Alice was born. But peace was proclaimed, and in token that the plague of war was stayed, the babe was named Irene.

Queen Victoria Publishes Book

The Queen again opened Parliament in person in 1867, and laid the foundation stone of the Albert Hall. Her Majesty published her book, Leaves, etc., (to which I have referred in connection with the circumstances described in it), early in i868. She sent a copy to Charles Dickens, and wrote in it that it was a gift " from one of the humblest of writers to one of the greatest." In May she laid the foundation stone of St. Thomas's Hospital, and reviewed 27,000 volunteers in Windsor Park ; and in. July visited Switzerland. On her return she proceeded to Balmoral : and here let me mention that the Leaves from our Life in the Highlands refer to the visits to Scotland during I 'rince Albert's lifetime. Her Majesty has recently published a book entitled More Leaves, etc., giving an account of her Highland experiences (luring her widowhood. It contains very many interesting passages, one or two of which may be now referred to.

The Queen had a cottage built for occasional residence at Glassalt Shiel. She thus tells of the house-warming in October, 1867: "At twenty minutes to ten we went into the little dining room, which had been cleared, and where all the servants were assembled. We made nineteen altogether. Five animated reels were danced, in which all but myself joined. . . . Then Grant made a little speech, with an allusion to the wild place we were in, and concluding with a wish 'that our Royal Mistress, our good Queen,' should ' live long.' This was followed by cheers given out by Ross, in regular Highland style, and then all drank my health. This merry, pretty little ball ended at a quarter past eleven ; the rest, however, went on singing in the steward's room for some time, and all were very happy, but I heard nothing, as the little passage near my bedroom shuts everything off."

On another occasion Her Majesty describes watching the process of "juicing the sheep," that is, dipping them in a trough full of a mixture of soap and tobacco juice, " a curious and picturesque sight." Visits to the poor, the christening of foresters' children, death-bed scenes in lowly cottages, sheep-shearing, and numerous other scenes and incidents are simply and graphically spoken of in More Leaves, and there are many descriptions of romantic Highland scenery. At Fergusson's Inn, the Queen says, " Here lives Mrs. Fergusson, an immensely fat woman, and a well-known character, who is quite rich and well dressed, but will not leave the place where she has lived all her life selling whisky. She was brought out, and seemed pleased to see me, shaking hands with me and patting me."

Queen Hounded By Papparazzi

The Queen's solitude was generally respected, but there were some exceptions. During an excursion to the scene of the Glencoe massacre, she says, " We sat down on the grass, we three "---(the Queen, Princess Beatrice and Lady Jane Churchill)—" on our plaids, and had our luncheon, served by Brown and Frankie, and then sketched. The day was most beautiful and calm. Here, however—here in this complete solitude—we were spied upon by impudently inquisitive reporters, who followed us everywhere ; but one in particular ( who writes for some of the Scotch papers) lay down and watched with a telescope, and dodged me and Beatrice and Jane Churchill, and was most Impertinent when Brown went to tell him to move, which Jane herself had thought of doing. However, he did go away at last, and Brown came back saying he thought there would have been a fight, for when Brown said quite civilly that the Queen wished him to move away, he said he had quite as good a right to remain there as the Queen. To this Brown answered very strongly, upon which the impertinent individual asked, 'Did he know who he was ?' and Brown answered he did, and that the highest gentleman in England would not dare to do what he did, much less a reporter,' and he must move on, or he would give him something more. And the man said, 'Would he dare say that before those other men (all reporters) who were coming up ?' and Brown said, 'Yes, before anybody who did not behave as he ought.' More strong words were used, but the others came up and advised the man to come away quietly, which he finally did." Of course, this man must have been a specimen of the lowest class of reporters ; no respectable journalist would have behaved so.

Noble The Collie

The Queen has always been partial to dogs. She writes one day, " My favourite collie, Noble, is always downstairs when we take our meals, and was so good, Brown making him lie on a chair or couch, and he never attempted to come down without permission, and even held a piece of cake in his mouth without eating it till told he might. He is the most ' biddable ' dog I ever saw, and so affectionate and kind ; if he thinks you are not pleased with him, he puts out his paws and begs in such an affectionate way."

Dr Norman McLeod

The Queen had a sincere friend and highly valued counsellor in Dr. Norman McLeod. In many passages of her journal she speaks very warmly of his friendship, and of the way in which he taught her resignation, and " cheered and comforted and encouraged " her in the early years of her great sorrow. Dr. McLeod writes of one of his frequent visits to Balmoral : " After dinner, the Queen invited me to her room, where I found the Princess Helena and the Marchioness of Ely. The Queen sat down to spin on a fine Scotch wheel, while I read Burns to Tam O'Shanter and A Man's a Man for a' that'—her favourites." When this good man died and the Queen remembered all his friendship and sympathy and Christian teaching, she deeply felt how " this too, like so many other comforts and helps, was for ever gone."