Queen Victoria's Later Life
VERY briefly must I now touch upon the principal events of Queen Victoria's reign during the period that has not
yet been touched upon. In November, 1869, the loyal people of London rejoiced to see their Queen engaged in a
public ceremony after so long an absence. She came on occasion to open Black-friar's Bridge and the Holborn
Viaduct. It was a this cold but bright day, and the Queen, accompanied by Prince Leopold and her younger daughters,
drove through the crowded streets in an open carriage. The Queen was still in mourning robes, and the band of crape
was on one arm of each of her servants.
The Queen came to London again in May, 1870, and opened the new buildings of the University of London. During
this year the terrible Franco-German War was raging—the Queen's sons-in-law were fighting against her intimate
friends, Napoleon and Eugenie. At one period of the war her daughter, Princess Alice, was visiting the four
hospitals in Darmstadt daily. There were no less than twelve hundred wounded Frenchmen being nursed in that little
Next year the Queen opened Parliament ; whilst the Chancellor read her speech, she sat " quite still, her eyes
cast down, only a slight movement of the face." In March, Princess Louise was married at Windsor to the Marquis of
Lorne. The Queen herself gave away the bride, who " was very pale, but handsome, as she always is " (so writes Lord
Ronald Gower, who was " best man " at the wedding). Rice and white satin slippers were showered after the happy
pair when they drove away to spend the honeymoon at Claremont, and John Brown threw a new broom after them,
Prince Of Wales Contracts Typhoid
Towards the close of the following year, the Queen and her people were united in a common anxiety on account of
the alarming illness of the Prince of Wales. It was on her return in November, from Balmoral, that the Queen was
informed that her son was lying ill with typhoid fever at Sandringham. The Queen went and stayed with him for a few
days, but returned to Windsor early in December as all seemed to be going on favourably. The patient was devotedly
nursed by his wife, the Princess of Wales, Princess Alice (who happened fortunately to be on a visit at Sandringham
when the fever showed itself), and the Duke of Edinburgh. I here was a relapse on December the 8th, and the Queen
and all the Royal Family were sent for to Sandringham. The Prince seemed for many days hovering between life and
death. Deep and universal was the intense sympathy of the nation, nod those who saw it will never forget the
reading ef the bulletins posted up at the Mansion House. In all the churches and chapels, prayers were offered for
the Prince on the bed of sickness and for his distressed wife and mother. On the night of Wednesday, the 14th, a
date which some had dreaded as the anniversary of Prince Albert's death ten years previously, there was a slight
improvement, the patient was able to sleep, and from this time the gradual recovery went forward.
The period of convalescence lasted, however, into February, and the 27th was fixed upon as a day of Thanksgiving
for the Prince's complete recovery. It was at first intended to be a private service for the Queen and her
household, but it became a national festival. The Queen and Prince came from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's along
streets thronged with people—footways, shops, windows, doorsteps, porticos, balconies, and in many cases the. very
roofs were occupied by enthusiastic spectators. Lofty stands and galleries rose in tiers wherever practicable, and
overhead banners and streamers and strings of flowers hung from side to side of the decorated streets. All along
the route countless pennants floated from Venetian masts, and mottoes and floral devices, and wreaths and trophies
The multitude cheered heartily and the school children sang hymns as the pale Prince passed by and continuously
bowed his acknowledgments. The Queen had white flowers in her bonnet, and looked happier than her people had seen
her for ten years past. In the great Cathedral, specially adorned for the occasion, and arranged to seat 13,000
persons representing all that was eminent or distinguished in the State—the solemn service of thanksgiving took
place. In the evening London was brilliantly illuminated, and the very dome of St. Paul's was marked out by three
girdles of coloured lights.
On the following day, as already mentioned, the Queen was shot at by a half-crazy Irish lad. This intensified
the loyal feeling that had already been so universally excited. In a letter to her people on February the 29th, the
Queen says : " Words are too weak for the Queen to say how very deeply touched and gratified she has been by the
immense enthusiasm and affection exhibited towards her dear son and herself, from the highest down to the lowest,
on the long progress through the capital. . . . The remembrance of this day will for ever be affectionately
treasured by the Queen and her family."
Queen's Grandson Dies
In May of the following year the Queen received very trying news from Hesse. Her little grandson, Prince
Frederick, died through an accident. Princess Alice was in bed and the nurse had brought the two little children to
see their mother, and had left them playing beside her. The windows both in the bedroom and in the adjoining
dressing room were wide open. The elder of the two, Prince Ernest, wandered into the dressing room, and Princess
Alice at once rose and hurried after him. Her absence was but momentary, but in that time, little Prince Frederick,
then rather more than two years of age, leaned out of one of the windows of the bedroom, over-balanced himself, and
fell on to the stone pavement beneath. He was terribly injured and in a few hours he died.
Second Son Marries
In January, 1874, the Queen had to welcome another daughter-in-law, for her second son, the Duke of Edinburgh,
was married at St. Petersburg to the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia. On March 12th, the young couple entered London
; the Queen and the Duchess, with the bridegroom and his sister, Princess Beatrice, drove slowly through the
crowded streets in a carriage and six, In spite of a heavy snowstorm. Perhaps to the Russian Princess the snow only
made it look more homelike.
Royal Yacht Accident
In August, 1875, as the Royal yacht was crossing from the Isle of Wight to Gosport, the yacht " Mistletoe" ran
across its bows. A collision took place, and the unfortunate " Mistletoe" turned over and sank. The sister-in-law
of the gentleman who owned the yacht was drowned. The crew were rescued, but the master, an old man, died soon
afterwards from the effect of a blow received from a falling spar. The Queen was sitting on deck at the time of the
accident ; she was of course greatly distressed at the occurrence, and personally aided in the efforts that were
made to restore one of the sufferers.
Lady Augusta Stanley Dies
Lady Augusta Stanley (who formerly, as Lady Augusta Bruce, had been in personal attendance on the Queen from
1846 to 1863), died, after a lingering illness, in March, 1876. The Queen had long been warmly attached to her, and
like all who knew her admired her noble and beautiful life. Dean Stanley (the now widowed husband), was also
numbered amongst the Queen's personal friends. Her Majesty attended the funeral and afterwards led the widowed
mourner into his now desolate home in the Abbey precincts. She after-wards caused a memorial cross in memory of
Lady Augusta Stanley to be placed in the grounds of Frogmore.
The magnificent Albert Memorial, beside Kensington Gardens, was completed in the Spring of 1876. This year also
the Queen unveiled a statue of the Prince Consort, at Edinburgh, on which occasion the old city was very gay and
lively. I n the evening there was a grand banquet at Holyrood Palace, where the Queen met a great gathering of the
Scotch nobility—Bruces, Murrays, and Primroses, Scots and Kerrs, etc. Soon afterwards, at Ballater, she gave new
colours to the " Royal Scots," a regiment of which when she was born her father was the colonel.
Queen Becomes Empress of India
On New Year's Day, 1877, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India with great pomp and ceremony at Delhi
and other Indian cities. In February, she received a very remarkable present from the Empress of Brazil. This was a
dress woven entirely of spiders' webs, and for fineness and beauty no silk dress could be at all compared with
Just before the close of this year, the Queen and Princess Beatrice visited Lord Beaconsfield, at Hughenden, and
had lunch there; before they left, the Royal visitors each planted a tree on the lawn. On this occasion the little
town of High Wycombe seized the opportunity to almost smother itself in flags and festoons and triumphal arches.
There was hardly room for another flag or motto any-where. The people shouted and the children sang, and the bells
rang incessantly, and the whole of the two miles' drive from Wycombe station to Hughenden Manor was a scene of
intense enthusiasm. The good folks hereabouts are very clever at making chairs of beechwood, which grows
luxuriantly in the neighbourhood. So one of the triumphal arches was made entirely of chairs of all sorts very
artistically piled up. It was so curious that the Royal carriage was stopped for the Queen and Princess to have a
good look at it.
Princess Alice Dies
Passing over State affairs, and military and naval reviews and so forth, we find the Queen's life during 1878,
again shadowed by a great sorrow, and one in which the nation fully sympathised with her. On the 14th of December,
the anniversary of her father's death, Princess Alice breathed her last at the early age of thirty-five. Diphtheria
had broken out among the Royal Family of Hesse Darmstadt, and had attacked all its members one after another. The
Princess Marie, aged four, died in November. Four weeks afterwards, the mother who had devotedly tended her husband
and children passed away. The funeral was attended by two of her brothers, the Prince of Wales and Prince Leopold,
but nobody was pleased at hearing that for fear of infection, her elder sister, the Crown Princess of Germany, was
forbidden to join the circle of mourners. The torchlight funeral was a very imposing solemnity ; the townsfolk of
Darmstadt stood in mournful silence as their beloved Grand Duchess was carried to the tomb. In England very
wide-spread signs of mourning save evidence of the place in the national heart which had been won by the Princess,
whose life had been so marked by self-sacrifice and anxious care for the well-being of others.
I might fill many pages with stories of the Princess Alice, and 'I must just find room for one. The Princess
liked to get rid of all fuss and ceremony whenever it was possible to do so. An English lady of high position
residing at Darmstadt, one day receiv ed a note from the Princess saying that she would call and take tea with
her the following afternoon. Scarlet cloth, as etiquette seemed to demand, was laid down, and a man was sent to the
top of the house to watch for the Royal carriage and give due notice of its approach, so that the Princess might be
received at the entrance with all due honours. But up to the time named by the Princess, no carriage of any kind
had come in sight. Suddenly a ring at the street door was heard, and a lady attired in a waterproof and wearing
goloshes made her appearance. " I have made a point," she said, " of not treading on your beautiful scarlet cloth ;
" and she intimated that in future she should be glad to be received, note as a Royal Princess making a State
visit, but as a private lady " dropping in " upon a friend.
Princess Charlotte of Prussia
During this year, 1878, the Queen's cousin, the blind King of Hanover, died in exile at Paris. Another family
event was the marriage of her grand-daughter, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, (daughter of the Princess Royal). In
May next year, the Princess Charlotte was the mother of a little Princess, so Queen Victoria was now a great
grandmamma. A little before this occurred, Princess Marguerite of Prussia had come to England to be married, on
March 13th, to the Duke of Connaught, the Queen's third son. There was a very grand wedding indeed at Windsor, the
grandest that had taken place since the marriage of the Princess Royal, and the Queen took her full part in the
proceedings. The bride was given away by her father, in his Hussar uniform of brilliant scarlet ; this was " the
Red Prince," who had been so conspicuous at Konigratz and Sedan.
The Queen was much distressed when at Balmoral this summer, by hearing that the young Prince Imperial had been
killed in the Zulu War. His father, driven from the throne of France, had found in England an asylum and a grave.
The sorrow-stricken mother soon came northward to meet her sympathising friend, Victoria of England, whose own near
relations had been among the Emperor's deadliest foes. The fugitive Empress, weeping over her great and irreparable
loss in the retirement of Abergeldie, confessed, " I have been too favourable to war."
Duke of Connaught's wedding
From the diary of the Queen's sojourn in the Highlands this autumn of 1879, we learn how a cairn was built to
commemorate the Duke of Connaught's wedding. The Queen writes under date of September 8th : "A fine morning.
Breakfasted with Beatrice, Arthur and Louischen, in the garden cottage, and at eleven we started for Arthur's
Cairn, I on my pony, Jessie,' Beatrice walking to the top. We were met by Arthur and Louischen, and went on to near
the Cairn. I got off when we were near it ; and here were assembled all the ladies and gentlemen, also Dr. Profeit,
the keepers and servants belonging to the place, with their families, and almost all our servants from the house."
Then follow particulars of the drinking of " healths," which appears to have been the general accompaniment of
these ceremonies. The Queen continues : " Fern (who, with the other dogs, was there) resented the cheering, and
barked very much. We all placed a stone on the cairn, on which was inscribed, ' Arthur, Duke of Connaught and
Strathearne, Married to Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, March 13th, 1879: After a few minutes we left, I
walking down the whole way. We stopped at Dr. Profeit's on my way down, and here I got on my pony again."
I must pass on over 1880 and 1881, except just to say that when President Garfield was shot at, the Queen
united in the anxious solicitude that was felt all over the world for the noble soul that was struggling so long
between life and death When all was over, she telegraphed at once to Mrs. Garfield, " Words cannot express the deep
sympathy I feel with you in this terrible moment. May God support and comfort you as He alone can." She also wrote,
not through a secretary, but in her own handwriting, a sympathising letter to Mrs. Garfield, as she had done twenty
years before to the widow of Abraham Lincoln, when that great man was assassinated.
Prince Leopold was married to Helen of Waldeck at Windsor, in April, 1882. In the following month the Queen and
Princess Beatrice went in State to Epping Forest, and it was formally dedicated to the people's use for ever. The
Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, who had spent a great deal of money to get large tracts of forest land away
from the persons who were trying to steal it from the public, were all there in State.
Of course Prince Leopold had to take his bride to Balmoral that autumn. The young couple were met at Ballater
Station, and escorted home. " The pipes preceded " (says the Queen) " playing the ' Highland Laddie,' Brown and all
our other kilted men walking alongside, and before and behind the carriage, everybody else close following ; and a
goodly number they were. We got out at the door and went just beyond the arch, all our people standing in a line,
headed by our Highlanders Dr. Profeit gave Leopold and Helen's healths, and after these had been drunk, Brown
stepped forward and said nearly as follows : Ladies and Gentlemen,—Let us join in a good Highland cheer for the
Duke and Duehess of Albany ; may they live long and die happy ! which pleased every one, and there were hearty
To Prince Leopold, a little daughter was born in 1883, but in April, 1884, that child was fatherless. The
refined and scholarly Duke of Albany was never strong, and was at Cannes on account of his health when he died. The
Queen, who had herself experienced bereavement in its most trying forms, kept down her natural grief as a mother,
to go and minister to the young widow at Claremont.
Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodora Marries
In 1885 the youngest of the Queen's daughters, Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodora, was married to Prince Henry of
Battenberg, in Whippingham Church, near Osborne.
The General Election of 1885 being completed, the Queen came to London in the early days of 1886 to open the first
Parliament in which all classes of Her Majesty's subjects were actually represented.
The Queen's life has been of late a very retired one, and her people were glad to see her once more the centre
of a public pageant. An immense concourse of people hailed her with acclamations as the bright procession, with its
splendid escort of the Royal Horse Guards, swept on its way from Buckingham Palace through St. James's Park, and
then past historic Whitehall and the venerable Abbey to the Peers' entrance of the House of Lords. As usual, eight
cream-coloured horses drew the State Chariot of the Queen. The House of Lords, with its painted windows and
frescoes and golden ornaments, presented an imposing aspect when Peers in scarlet and ermine, and Peeresses aglow
with jewels, filled its area. Then, attended by high officers of State, Queen Victoria passed to her throne ; a few
of the Commons scrambled into the small space which is (for the present) assigned to them, and the Lord Chancellor
read Her Majesty's speech.