FOR King Leopold the moment of fulfillment was almost at hand, but there was still need for caution. King William IV had different plans for Princess Victoria and the idea of a Coburg marriage was repugnant to him. He had already named one of the sons of the Prince of Orange as a possible husband. But there were no fewer than six Princes seeking her as a bride. Creevey had watched her dancing with the young King of Portugal and the busy gossip had noted that the King was never so happy as when talking to his cousin. He wrote,

" What would I give to hear of their elopement in a cab!"

King Leopold had nursed his plan for a marriage between Princess Victoria and Prince Albert so carefully that he did not believe it could fail. So he suggested the next move: that Albert should travel to England and meet his cousin. Stockmar was more cautious. He knew that Princess Victoria was capricious and stubborn; so he suggested that the object of the visit should be kept secret from the young couple, "so as to leave them completely at their ease."

There was one dramatic hindrance to the plan. While King Leopold, the Duchess of Kent, and Stockmar were completing their arrangements for the visit, King William IV invited the Prince of Orange and his sons to Windsor and even threatened to forbid the arrival of the Coburg Princes in the country. King Leopold captured his niece's support with a cunning letter.

"I hope it will a little rouse your spirit,"
he wrote.
"Now that slavery is abolished even in the British colonies, I do not comprehend why your lot should be, to be kept a little white slavey in England for the pleasure of the Court."
William IV abandoned his threat and Prince Albert and his brother steamed down the Rhine, Prince Albert carrying his English grammar book with him. He wrote to his stepmother,
"I tried to practice my English in conversation with some Englishmen whom we met."
The two Princes, with their father, landed in England in June.

Prince Albert was seventeen and perhaps the fairest prince * in

The author recalls talking to General Sir George Higginson on his hundredth birthday when the General said,
" I can remember riding in Windsor Park with the Prince Consort just after his marriage. He was the handsomest young man I have ever seen."


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Reign of Queen Victoria
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