these sat Queen Victoria and the Shah. The Queen was shy at first, but her sense of humour prevailed. "Very absurd it must have looked," she wrote afterwards. She gave the Shah the Order of the Garter, with Prince Arthur and Prince Leopold to help her put the ribbon over his head. Then the Shah gave her an order, much to the danger of her cap. The Grand Vizier helped this time. The Shah then retired and when he came back, he had taken off his aigrette and put on his spectacles. The Queen was so delighted 5 with him that she took him all over the castle herself, showing him the memorials to her magnificent inheritance.


{102}

1866-1874

WHEN the Prince of Wales's efforts to help in home affairs were curbed, he looked abroad for the interests which his maturing mind required. His life was not all pleasure. Queen Victoria's unwillingness to receive royal visitors for more than daily visits threw the onus of hospitality upon her son. In 1880, Disraeli said the Prince was one "who really has seen everything and knows everybody." This was already becoming true in 1874. The Prince's taste for talk with cosmopolitan people, his gift for languages, and his flair for international politics found their opportunity among the royalties who visited Britain, and during his many journeys abroad.

From 1866 to 1874, the Prince built up a world of his own, beyond the forbidding confines of Whitehall, which were closed to him. In 1866 he had been to Russia, for the first time. On this journey he had also stayed with the new King of the Belgians and with his sister in Potsdam. In 1867 he had entertained the Sultan of Turkey, in London. Next year the Prince and Princess Alexandra made a great journey, beginning with Copenhagen, where the Prince was able to relax with his wife's relatives, who loved him. Then to Berlin, where Bismarck was most cordial, although the Prince felt sometimes that he was being treated as "a French spy." From Berlin they went to Vienna, where the Emperor entertained them magnificently. They learned how princes lived, away from the solid domestic order of Windsor.

The Prince may have been denied the Spartan joys of winter in Ireland and the secrets of the red leather dispatch boxes, but he was

-262-

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