Christmas passed at Windsor, all "German and gemütlich. " 9 With the new year the Court returned to London for the opening of Parliament and to the growing friendship with Sir Robert Peel. The bond between the Queen and her Prime Minister, and the Prince, was almost as secure, and gracious, as the early relationship with Lord Melbourne. The Prince described Peel as "a sagacious, honourable Statesman " 10 and the Queen asked to be godmother to his grandson.

Peel's path in Westminster was not as easy as it was in the palace, for there were many political storms. Because of these troubles the Queen wished to honour him. She asked him to accept the Order of the Garter, but he gently refused. She wrote,

"In these days, a minister does require some encouragement for the abuse and difficulties he has to contend with are dreadful. "
11 Her old prejudices against Tories had turned into admiration. And her old fear that Prince Albert would "thwart" and "oppose" her had changed into fear that he would not be exalted enough. She wished him to be created King Consort and wrote in her journal,
" He ought to be, and is above me in everything really, and therefore I wish that he should be equal in rank to me."
Her wish became gossip in Fleet Street and the Morning Chronicle suggested that if the title were granted, it would no doubt be "preliminary to a demand for an increased grant. " 12

The plan was dropped and neither the Queen nor the Prince openly mentioned it again.


{32}

1845

QUEEN VICTORIA and Prince Albert are often held responsible for the Nottingham lace curtains, the baubles beneath glass, the jardinières, the lambrequins, and even the horsehair-covered furniture which the twentieth century dismisses as " Victorian taste." It is true that the Prince did not improve all the rooms that he touched, but behind the fashion that he encouraged was real knowledge, of which there was continuous evidence. As a boy he had collected the fine early wood carvings which are still in the castle at Coburg. He also made a collection of old Coburg china and early ruby glass goblets, before he was twenty. In England he bought the noble collection of Italian primitives, without advice or encouragement, at a time when no other

-84-

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