he beauty of the royal Dane was then in all its freshness, and I was struck with the stately presence, the speaking eye, the winning smile, the appearance of intelligence, as well as by the aifability of manner, which at that time was marked, but has not always been so conspicuous since. The long succession of salutations and ceremonies, the ever-recurring necessity for graciousness probably becomes irksome at times. I once heard a court lady say that there is always something of the pump-handle in royal civilities. But, if wearisome to dispense, they are often refreshing to the recipient.
The Princess is more like a princess in appearance and bearing than any other I have seen; far transcending her higher-born sisters-in-law, the daughters of the Queen and the Duchess of Edinburgh; and quite equal to any princess of the stage or the story-books. Yet she was born the daughter of an obscure half-German duke, without a probability of ever becoming royal. Ten years after she came into the world it was agreed by the great powers of Europe that her father should be King in Denmark, on the death of the sovereign then reigning; and he still had not arrived at this dignity when Alexandra was sought and won by the heir to the English throne. Denmark itself is no great things in the way of a kingdom, but Sleswig-Holstein-Sonderbourg-Gliicksbourg, the paternal duchy of the future Queen consort of England, was still more inconsiderable. Her mother and grandmother were both petty princesses of Hesse-Cassel, the same insignificant little State whose soldiers were sold to England, to fight us in our Revolutionary war, so that blood can hardly be said to tell in her case. It is not inherited grandeur that gives the princely air. After the heavy German procreators had done their part, the fairies must have brought their gifts to the cradle.
This world is very much given to malice, and high-bred English dames are not always exempt from the failing. The Princess is invariably well dressed; and when I once said so, a great lady replied: "She learned how to dress when she made her own bonnets and gowns, on a hundred a year, before her father was King of Denmark." It was, indeed, a strange fortune that raised the daughters of Christian IX to two of the proudest positions in Christendom. One is already Empress of All the Russias, and the other is mated to the man who may, one day, be sovereign of England. Such matches have not often been made by portionless maidens. But the heirs apparent to these great monarchies both wanted consorts who were not Catholic; and marriageable princesses answering the demand were scarce when the Czarevitch and the Prince of Wales arrived at their majorities. The sons of sovereigns, however, may not wait long to be wived, for the succession must be settled; so the two ladies stepped from their obscurity in Copenhagen up to the pinnacle of human grandeur, outranking and overtopping the daughters of the very potentates who had made their father royal. They would, doubtless, at one time have thought themselves honored to bear the trains of some who are now, or may yet be, their subjects.
The family affection of these fortunate sisters is strong. They cherish the recollection of their early home life, and like to go back to little Denmark with their children and spouses and throw aside for a while the trappings and restraints of their more recent splendor; for in Copenhagen the King and Queen live in great simplicity. I was once oifered the post of Minister to the Danish court, and informed myself as to its ways. The diplomatic corps, I was told, and the high nobility call and take tea with the royal family of an afternoon. The revenues are so small, that the life at the palace is necessarily plain.
The Czarevna visited the Princess of Wales, while her husband was still Czarevitch, and they made a sightly picture as they drove about London together in a low, open carriage. They look alike, though the Princess is the prettier and by far the more elegant. The English common people like to see the family feeling respected by the highest, and the belief that their future Queen is a good sister and daughter, as well as wife and mother, adds to her hold on them.
That hold is certainly strong. No member of the royal family is more popular with the country at large; perhaps none is so popular. The people, of course, never see her, except in public; but daily, in the "season," they assemble at the gate of Marlborough House, when it is known that she is to drive; and I doubt if among all who penetrate those portals the Princess has warmer admirers than in the congregation that waits on the outside. They like to see the royal children in her company, and the Princess often takes her daughters with her; sometimes, doubtless, to gratify the commonalty as well as herself and her family. She dresses them plainly; their hats and frocks are not so smart by half as those of many of the children of wealthy Londoners who may never go to court.
At one time there were stories of infidelity on the part of the Prince of Wales, and a sort of sympathy was aroused for the wife who, it was fancied, was neglected; but the Princess always behaved with dignity. If she thought she had wrongs, she betrayed neither resentment nor jealousy to the world, and at last it became a question whether any dissatisfaction had ever existed on her part a triumph of discretion and decorum not often surpassed.
When the Prince was ill she watched over him with every demonstration of devotion, and was as delighted as the happiest of wives when at last he began to mend. But, alas for poor human nature! her anxiety can hardly be regarded as evidence of affection, for she would never have been Queen of England had her husband died. Had he been the most unfaithful of mankind she would doubtless have prayed just as hard for his recovery.
At this crisis she received the greatest possible proof of her popularity. She was universally admitted to be the proper person to be named for Regent in case the Prince should die. The next heir to the throne must then have had a long minority, and it was indispensable to consider the contingency of the death of the Queen. The question was not long in doubt. A few words were said here and there for the Duke of Edinburgh, but in every circle and class, not only among the people of rank and political power who were to decide, but in the press and with the country at large, one wish and one opinion prevailed: in the event of the need of a Regency, the Regent must be the Princess of Wales.
Perhaps in part this was because the Princess has never been credited with ability. She does not lack a certain intelligence, I am told, and shows sufficient interest in the topics that come up at court; but she has never displayed political insight or ambition. She has neither taste nor genius for the political intrigues in which so many princesses take delight, and no anxiety, apparently, to influence political affairs. Had she been placed at the head of the State she would doubtless have done whatever her ministers dictated or desired. The Duke of Edinburgh, on the contrary, is believed to have a will of his own, and a sulky disposition besides, and he might have given trouble. He has never been popular, either in society or with the people at large. So the Princess was easily successful, though she made no effort to secure the prize.
At this juncture both the Queen and the Princess exhibited a pathetic and beautiful bit of womanly feeling that became them better than crown or coronet. One of the young grooms at Sandringham fell ill of the same fever of which the Prince of Wales was believed to be dying, and these royal ladies visited the hid in his room at the stables, sat by his bedside, and displayed, and doubtless felt, a very touching interest in the youth whose pains and peril were the same as those of the heir to mightiest monarchies. The groom, however, died before the Prince was out of danger, and the anxious Queen and her sad daughter-in-law sent their gentlemen to the funeral, while the Princess stood at the window to watch the procession as it bore the body to that dread home which prince and peasant must inhabit at last. Touches of genuine feeling like this endear the Queen to her subjects, and it is the same womanliness in the Princess that makes her popular with those who know her only from afar. She does not, however, seem to attach very closely those who are about her intimately. I have never heard these speak of her with enthusiasm. The people at court all call her amiable, but nothing more. She is doubtless a woman negative in character as well as in ability. She likes the company of her favorites, but these are never of the very brilliant sort. She enjoys the opera and the theatre, for there she is free from the necessity of dispensing incessant courtesies; but she has no pleasures more intellectual than these. She is not accomplished, beyond speaking several languages, an art in which princes are always supposed to be proficient. She has heard the greatest music and seen the greatest paintings, and knows and to a degree appreciates both music and the pictorial art; but this is all.
Her temper is never unfavorably discussed, and her fame is as unspotted as the Queen's. Her tact is on most occasions sufficient, but never supreme; it never rises into that genius for society and affairs which makes a great woman of the world. On the whole, I should call her wooden; a beautiful, graceful doll, framed to perform her public functions well; but she has hardly any others: her private life is a matter of public knowledge. She makes no enemies and no ardent friends; has no enthusiasms herself, and evokes none in others, except in those who are not close enough to perceive that the automaton is wound up and that the figure has comparatively little heart; perhaps after all the very best sort of person for the place she fills. She is deaf and lame, but the mass of those who are in her presence discover neither defect. The grandeur that royalty throws around her conceals the comparative coldness that lies beneath a graceful extertor, while her intellectual dullness is disguised under the dignified decorums of a court.
The Princess has apparently no personal influence with the Queen. Indeed, although no shadow of a difference has even been apparent or suggested, there is certainly no conspicuous intimacy between these august kinswomen. The Princess rarely visits the Queen at Osborne or Balmoral; the Queen still more rarely goes to Sandringham or Abergeldie, the seats of the Prince of Wales. The name of the Princess does not appear in the last "Leaves from Our Journal in the Highlands," where Her Majesty catalogues all her favorites, from royal relatives down to gillies and collies. The sovereign's own daughters arrange her robes when she opens Parliament, but this graceful duty is never performed by the future Queen.
The Princess, however, often holds drawing-rooms in the absence of Her Majesty. She represents the Queen always at court concerts and balls, and sometimes on still more public occasions. There can, of course, be no question of her rank, and the Queen is too rigid in her regard for etiquette to ignore or neglect what is due to the wife of her heir apparent. The relations between the ladies are all that are required, but in this, as in her other excellencies, the Princess never oversteps the limits of moderation. She possesses, indeed, all the moderate virtues, all the negative qualities desirable in her station but she has not one tithe of the heart of the Queen, or of the faulty Prince of Wales.
She lives in forms, and naturally thinks much of them. Her personal attendants are required to observe every punctilio. She goes through her own part, and expects them to do the same. The royal yacht was once arriving at Cowes with the Prince and Princess abroad, and an immense concourse awaited them at the landing. But the Princess had been seasick all day, and was not recovered when the Prince himself came to fetch her to meet the multitude. Her ladies assured His Royal Highness that their mistress was unable to stand. But the excuse could not be accepted; the people must not be disappointed; and the Princess was decked in her jewels between the paroxysms of sickness, and, pale and faint, was led out to courtesy and smile to her future subjects.
If etiquette is thus inexorable for the mistress, it is, of course, never relaxed for the maid. A countess whose name is well known in America was in attendance on the Princess at Osborne, when a friend of mine went to call on her. The guest was received in a bedroom, for there was no other place reserved for the ladies-in-waiting, and they could not, of course, entertain their acquaintances in the apartments of royalty. While the two ladies were talking a summons came for the countess. "The Princess was going to bathe." "But, my dear, you do not bathe because the Princess does?" "Certainly I do." "But you are not well; you may be injured." "Ah! my dear, I am in waiting." And, as there was but one room, the visitor was obliged to leave, while the countess dressed to attend the Princess in her bath.Source: Aristocracy In England by Adam Badeau - Franklin Square 1886, Copyright, 1885, 1886. [As Written] Original text, may contain OCR errors.
RANK AND TITLE
THE PRINCE OF WALES
AMERICANS AT COURT
THE CROWN IN POLITICS
QUEENS' PERSONAL CHARACTER
SERVANTS' HALL PRECEDENCE
THE HOUSE OF LORDS
THE PRINCESS OF WALES
A NOBLEMAN INDEED
POMPS & VANITIES OF CHURCH
CHURCH & STATE
HOUSE OF COMMONS
LITERATURE & THE LORDS
THE LONDON SEASON
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