Royal Visits to Scotland and France

Queen Victoria's First Visit To Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, ScotlandIN the Autumn of 1842, the  Queen paid her first visit to Scotland. The royal yacht carried her to Leith Roads, and at eight the following morning she landed and proceeded to Edinburgh. The good people of the city, who had been very busy all the day before over their preparations, and had been waiting in thousands for her arrival, did not now expect her till the middle of the day. The watchers who should have signalled her approach blundered over it, and so the Lord Provost and Corporation, who meant to have received her at the gates with all due ancient ceremonies, were suddenly astonished to hear that the Queen was passing through the city. She went to the Duke of Buccleugh's Palace at Dalkeith, and rested there till Saturday, and then visited Edinburgh in State.

The disappointed Provost and his Baillies gave her the town keys, and she very graciously handed them back again. On through the densely crowded and gaily decorated streets the Queen came, wearing the Royal Stuart tartan and greeted with loud acclamations. Through old historic streets, and past old historic buildings, famous in song and story, she drove on to the lordly castle whose ramparts were scaled by Black Douglas. They showed her all that was noteworthy in that celebrated fortress, but most of all the Queen admired the splendid view from the ramparts—the old town at her feet, the rich Lothians, the gleaming Frith, and blue mountains far away.

From Edinburgh the Queen travelled to the Highlands, and everywhere realised a true " Highland Welcome." Triumphal arches sprang up at her approach. . There were gatherings of clans, balls, deerstalking, processions of boats, and all sorts of attractions and entertainments. At Tay-mouth, the seat of the Marquis of Breadalbane, there was a grand reception, which is thus described by Her Majesty : " The coup d'ceil was indescribable. There were a number of Lord Breadalbane's highlanders, all in the Campbell tartan, drawn up in front of the house, with Lord Breadalbane, himself in a Highland dress, at their head ; a few of Sir Niel Menzies' men (in the Menzies' red and white tartan), a number of pipers playing, and a company of the 92nd Highlanders, also in kilts. The firing of the guns, the cheering of the great crowd, the picturesqueness of the dresses, the beauty of the surrounding country, with its rich background of wooded hills, altogether formed one of the finest scenes imaginable. It seemed as if a great chieftain in olden feudal times was receiving his Sovereign. It was princely and romantic."

The tour only lasted a fortnight—in the course of it no less than 656 post-horses were employed—and then the Queen and Prince returned to London.

Southampton

In August, 1843, the Queen and Prince Albert made a yachting excursion about the South Coast, in the course of which a curious little incident occurred. The Queen landed at Southampton when it was raining heavily, and the landing stage was not properly covered. But everyone who has heard of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh knows what is proper to be done on such an occasion, and the members of the Corporation at once pulled off their red gowns and spread them on the pier to make a dry footway for their Queen. The Cambridge students enacted a similar performance a few months afterwards.

Royal Visit To France

Louis PhilippeThe next cruise of the Queen and Prince was to France—the first visit of an English Sovereign to that country since Henry VIII and Francis I met on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Louis Philippe, the Citizen King, " stout, florid, and bluff-looking, with thick, grizzled hair, brushed up into a point," and Queen Amelie, " with her snowy curls and benevolent face," met the Queen at Treport and escorted her to the Royal Chateau. One account says that Louis Philippe came on board the yacht, caught up the little Queen of England, kissed her on both cheeks, and carried her bodily on to his barge. The visit altogether seems to have been a very pleasurable time.

Brussels

The Queen's next visit was to see her uncle and aunt at Brussels. " Little Charlotte," three years old, is spoken of in a letter as " quite the prettiest child you ever saw." That little Charlotte is now the widowed ex-Empress of Mexico, pining in melancholy madness in her sad retreat.

Czar Nicholas, of Russia, who came to the Palace in 1844, impressed everyone by his manly dignity and polished courtesy. He gave magnificent presents of jewels to the Court ladies, and was altogether very popular.

Second Visit to the highlands

In September, about a month after the birth of Prince Alfred, the Queen paid her second visit to the Highlands and took her little four year old daughter with her. The royal party went to Lord Glenlyon's seat at Blair Athol. Here State and ceremony were as much as possible dispensed with, and the royal pair and their little one thoroughly enjoyed a simple and retired life. The Queen was roused at dawn by a Highland piper beneath her window, and was speedily about the grounds with the Prince. One morning a plainly-dressed lady left the castle alone. Presently it seemed to have struck one of the Highland guard on duty that it must have been the Queen. A party of Highlanders forthwith hurried after the lady as a body-guard, but she sent them home again. The Queen, wishing to arrange about a projected excursion to the Falls of Bruar, wandered through the grounds to the lodge where Lord and Lady Glenlyon were temporarily residing. His lordship was, however, not up, and the servant, when told to say that the Queen had called, was astounded. Her Majesty tried to return by a different route and lost her way. She had to ask some reapers in an oatfield, who pointed out her route across a field and over some palings beyond. The Queen followed their instructions and climbed the palings, and found herself in. the Castle grounds once more.

During this enjoyable excursion the Princess Royal often rode on a little Shetland pony beside her parents. Her father wrote, " Pussy's cheeks are on the point of bursting, they have grown so red and plump. She is learning Gaelic, but makes wild work of the names of the mountains."

On one occasion the Queen and Prince went on ponies, accompanied by one attendant, Sandy McAra, to the top of the hill of Tulloch, and enjoyed the grand mountain panorama from the summit "It was quite romantic," writes the Queen. " Here we were, with only the Highlander behind us holding the ponies—for we got off twice and walked about ; not a house, not a creature near us, but the pretty Highland sheep, with their horns and black faces, up at the top of Tulloch, surrounded by beautiful mountains . . . the most delightful, the most romantic ride I ever had." Upon her Highland pony the Queen took many a ride amongst the forests and mountains, joyfully exploring the scenery of romantic glens seldom seen by visitors. But sightseers did find their way even to this secluded region, and would throng the little church at Blair Athol for the chance of watching royalty worshipping.