The Other Victoria: The Princess Royal and the Great Game of Europe

By Andrew Sinclair | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Old Scores, New Places

'I MUST HAVE a nook of my own, something to arrange and care for - and look after, as all other occupation is gone. For thirty years what an interest I have taken in public affairs and politics . . . now that is all over!!!'1 The widowed Empress Frederick knew that her influence, however small, was now at an end. Her circle of friends and advisers would be broken and scattered. Even the memory of her husband's short reign of ninety-nine days would be denied and wiped out. She could only retire and try to record what she thought was the truth.

Her first concern was for the safety of the evidence she needed to collect material for a life of her husband; she had little save her correspondence with her mother and with him. Her letters to the Stockmars and to her confidante, Countess Blücher, had all been burned. So had most of the other documents which, because of their dealing with the German Liberal opposition, might have proved compromising. In a letter written on 20 June 1888, she implored her mother never to surrender the boxes of papers in the strong-room at Windsor Castle. ' FRITZ wished you to take care of them and keep them,' his widow declared. No matter how much pressure was applied by the new Kaiser and the Bismarcks for their return, Queen Victoria must resist. 'They cannot and do not KNOW what is there or where it is now! Fritz tore up and burned heaps, both at Charlottenburg, here, Baveno, San Remo - and before we left for England last year, so I can give quite satisfactory explanations.'2

The Empress Frederick's explanations were quite' satisfactory. She wanted to preserve those documents necessary to ensure her husband's place in history. She also wanted to protect her liberal advisers. Bismarck wanted only one version of recent German history to survive, the one he

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