Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview
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10
THE HASTINGS AFFAIR

'I at length expressed to her my uneasiness respecting her size,
and requested that at my next visit, I might be permitted
to lay my hand upon her abdomen with her stays removed.'

ONE DAY IN THE WEEK after the coronation the Queen recorded in her diary that she was 'quite cross . . . annoyed and put out'. Irritated as she often was by other people's illnesses, she was particularly exasperated by Lord Melbourne who had taken to his bed. He had obviously been exhausted by the service in the Abbey where he had appeared quite worn out by the weight of the Sword of State which it had been his duty to carry. 'It was most provoking and vexatious', the Queen complained, that she should be deprived of the 'agreeable daily visit' of her Prime Minister, who would talk to her so amusingly, sitting beside her so comfortingly and protectively, letting Dash, or another of her dogs, a Scotch terrier called Islay, lick his hand. 'All dogs like me,' he said complacently.

The Queen was also put out whenever he did not come to dinner. ' Lord Melbourne dines with Lady Holland,' she wrote after one of these Melbourneless evenings. 'I wish he dined with me.' She was jealous and admitted it. She was also jealous of the beautiful Duchess of Sutherland, who often sat next to Lord Melbourne at dinner and made it almost impossible for him to talk to anyone else.

His absence was particularly tiresome at this time, as she had a meeting of the Privy Council to attend on 4 July; and there she must be without the person who made her 'feel safe and comfortable'.

She was not feeling very well herself. A rash had broken out on her hands; and, as the summer turned into autumn, she grew increasingly

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