Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

43
'THE ROYALTY QUESTION'

'It is impossible to deny that H. M. is drawing too
heavily on the credit of her former popularity.'

DESPITE THE OCCASIONAL CHEERS that greeted the Queen when she did appear in public, both her Household and the Government grew increasingly concerned by the resentment occasioned by the infrequency of those occasions on which she agreed to emerge from her purdah.

In the summer of 1869 General Grey decided that the time had come to make a forceful effort to persuade the Queen to appear in public more often. He was not convinced that she was as ill as William Jenner said she was when there was some unwelcome duty to perform. She must be reminded by the Prime Minister in a peremptory manner of her duty. She was, with difficulty, persuaded by Gladstone to leave Osborne a few days before she had intended to do so in order to be in London to deal with important matters of state, though she insisted that this must on no account be considered a precedent. Also -- performing both ceremonies on the same day that year -- she opened Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars Bridge; but these occasions were not a success: as she drove down the Strand her carriage was hissed.

A few months later, in February 1870, she flatly refused to open Parliament. It was an unfortunate beginning to a most troublesome year. That same month the Prince of Wales was required to appear in court to give evidence in an unsavoury divorce case involving a pretty, unbalanced woman, Harriet Mordaunt, who had confessed to her husband that she had committed adultery 'often and in open day' with several men, including His Royal Highness. The Prince strongly protested his innocence; but

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