Recollections of Three Reigns

By Colin Welch; Frederick Ponsonby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
The Coronation and the King's illness -- Life on the royal yacht-- The naval review -- The Shah and the Garter -- The Isle of Man -- Martino, Soveral and Austen Chamberlain -- Drinking at Balmoral -- Christmas at Sandringham

HAD returned from South Africa just in time for the Coronation, which was fixed for June 2.6th. 1 As this date came during my period of 'off duty', I was not wanted at Buckingham Palace and I was attached to Prince and Princess Henry of Prussia2 who were at Wimborne House. Lord Clanwilliam3 and Admiral Sir John Fullerton were the other two attached and were naturally quite at sea about all the ceremonies. I liked both Prince and Princess Henry very much and they were both charming, but as they went about with their own suite there was practically nothing for Clanwilliam, Fullerton, or me to do but to hang about.

At the first function that took place there was a row which promised to be interesting. Field-Marshal Count von Waldersee4 came to represent the German Army, but as far as I could gather had nothing to do with Prince Henry's suite. There was to be a reception at Buckingham Palace and it had been arranged by Prince Henry that he would take the first three carriages from Wimborne House and that the fourth carriage should be left to Waldersee. Then the fun began. Waldersee flatly refused to go after the suite, while they maintained they must keep up close to Prince Henry. A fierce discussion followed and soon the hall was filled with irate officers all talking at the same time. Clanwilliam and Fullerton asked me what the row was about, and when I told them, they were quite unable to understand why anyone should want to go before anyone else. It seemed, however, that the two staffs were working up for a fight and I therefore intervened and told them that I would submit the problem to Prince Henry. I found Prince Henry in a sitting-room and explained all the trouble to him. He seemed to grasp the importance of the quarrel and the difficulty of giving an answer that would not hurt someone's feelings. I suggested to him that as Waldersee was not attached to him in any way he should go separately, and that as I was sure that Prince Henry himself did not mind where he went, he should let Waldersee in the fourth carriage go first and then wait five minutes

____________________
1
1902, eighteen months after the King's accession. The delay was largely caused by the protraction of the Boer War.
2
Prince Henry of Prussia was younger brother of the German Emperor, William II.
3
Richard James Meade, 4th Earl of Clanwilliam; Admiral of the Fleet.
4
German Chargé d'Affaires in Paris, 1871; later Chief of the Prussian General Staff; commanded International Forces in China, 1901. Died 1904.

-141-

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