noticed that the windows in the wards were so high the men could not see the English spring. She remonstrated because the men at Chatham had to eat and sleep in the same room and because the soldiers were brought home in hulks. "A hulk is a very gloomy place, and these poor men require their spirits to be cheered." She talked of her "dear, brave, noble heroes." She wrote, " Will the medals be now soon ready," and wished to present them herself, for the pleasure it would give, but also because it would "no doubt have a very beneficial effect . . . on recruiting. " 3

The medals arrived and the Queen presented them. She was pleased when the soldiers refused to give them up to have their names engraved on them "for fear that they should not receive the identical ones put into their hands by me." She wrote to King Leopold that the "rough hand of the brave and honest private soldier came for the first time in contact with that of their Sovereign and their Queen." There was a hint of the old vein of iron, together with the emotion, as she wrote of the wounded soldiers. "A most interesting and touching sight. ... So ready to go back and 'be at them again.' A great many of them, I am glad to say, will be able to remain in the service. Those who have lost their limbs cannot, of course."


{55}

1855

IN AUGUST, Queen Victoria and the Prince went to stay with the Emperor in France. News of the Russian defeat on the Tschernaja arrived with them; so the Parisians were startled into exceptional fervour as they watched the carriages flash by. They enjoyed all, except the Queen's bonnets which they did not consider very smart. The procession passed through the florescent streets and the people cried, " Vive la Reine d'Angleterre" so loudly that the Queen bowed and smiled. But a spectator noted that she smiled most when she heard them cry "Vive le Prince Albert." "We are all well," Prince Albert wrote to Stockmar from St. Cloud. "The Emperor in high spirits ... the nation flattered and friendly."

The relationship between the Queen, the Prince, and the Emperor was now comparatively frank and very cordial. Queen Victoria had wondered, a few months before, whether the Emperor had "strong

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