{97}

1867

QUEEN VICTORIA willingly drove up to London on June 21, 1867, to call on Princess Mary of Teck and her new baby. She was warmed by many memories as she came to Kensington Palace, the house of her birth and childhood. She crossed the old courtyard, where her pony used to wait for her, and saw the Round Pond by which she had walked in the shadow of a tall footman. She went through the door, "the very knockers of which were old friends," and walked through the room where Baroness Lehzen first told her, in 1827, that she would be Queen; then to the bedroom in which she had slept for so many years, with her mother beside her. Now there was a cradle in the room and in it lay the new baby, Princess May, "with pretty little features and a quantity of hair," too young to dream that she would grow up and also be Queen of England.

Family celebrations or troubles would always bring the Queen out of hiding, but she was still unwilling to meet strangers and was angry in July when the Prime Minister wished her to postpone her " intended journey to Osborne for three days" so that she might receive the Sultan of Turkey. The Prime Minister reminded her of the "honours lavished on him" by the French and said that if the Queen did not greet the Sultan it "might tend to alienate him from this country, and throw him into the arms of France." The Queen thought that if the Sultan knew "how inconvenient it was" for her, he "might be induced to arrive a day sooner." She relented ungraciously and wrote1 to Lord Derby, "Often has she wished that the time might come when she could go to that world 'where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest'" and added, "Still, whatever the poor Queen can do she will; but she will not be dictated to, or teased by public clamour into doing what she physically CANNOT, and she expects her Ministers to protect her from such attempts."

This argument was becoming untrue, for the "poor Queen" was beginning to enjoy great occasions, once she made up her mind to patronize them, and her reception of the Sultan was a success, with a touch of comedy. She first met him at Windsor whither he had been guided by the Prince of Wales. The Queen received him again, 2 to show him the splendours of her fleet. She filled several pages of her

-243-

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