Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview
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37
THE GRIEVING WIDOW

'There is no one left to hold me in their arms and press me to their heart.'

THE PRINCE CONSORT had once said of the Queen that she 'lived much in the past and in the future, perhaps more than in the present'. After his death she certainly abandoned herself to the past and to her memories of him with a passionate intensity. She could never forget him; no one else should. Even her youngest son, then only eight years old and staying in Cannes for the sake of his precarious health, was told: 'You will therefore sorrow when you know & think that poor Mama is more wretched, more miserable than any being in this World can be! I pine and long for your dearly precious Papa so dreadfully . . . You will, my poor little Darling, find Mama old -- & thin -- & grown weak -- & you must try & be a comfort (tho that none can be -- for none can replace the All in All I have lost).' 1 She sent the boy two photographs of his father which he was to have framed, 'but not in black', and 'a Locket with beloved Papa's hair' which he was to wear 'attached to a string or chain round [his] neck & a dear pocket handkerchief of beloved Papa's' which he must keep 'constantly with hirn'. 2

Everyone at court had to wear mourning on all social occasions until the end of 1862; and, after 1864, although her maids-of-honour were allowed to wear grey, white, purple and mauve -- the last of these colours later being forbidden in its 'fashionable pink tints' -- the lady-in-waiting who was in personal attendance upon the Queen was required to wear mourning as deep as Her Majesty's own. All the ladies were, of course, in the words of one of them, 'plunged back into the deepest mourning

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