Minuet Before a Wedding
'OH, MADAM,' THE doctor in attendance said, 'it is a Princess.''Never mind,' Queen Victoria replied, 'the next will be a Prince.'1
She had been in labour for twelve long hours before giving birth to the Princess Royal on 21 November 1840. Her husband, Prince Albert, had been as gentle as a woman during the time of trial. He had hardly left the bedroom in Buckingham Palace, only retiring behind a screen with the Queen's mother, the Duchess of Kent, during the actual birth. When the infant was brought to him, he was secretly delighted, but, in the way of royal husbands, he had to complain to his elder brother, Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, ' Albert, father of a daughter, you will laugh at me.'
Because of the baby's sex and birth, her marriage and the waste of her qualities were, in a way, already on the cards. She was born a Princess who, unlike her mother, would have brothers. Her father was a product of the great industry of the thirty-eight small German courts, which hoped to finance themselves by marrying their many offspring into the reigning houses of Europe. To be born a German Prince or Princess was the surest way of marrying a throne or of being offered one by a new nation needing a king.
Prince Albert, himself, had been groomed by the chief adviser to the Coburgs, the wise and stealthy Baron Stockmar. There were too many candidates for too few thrones, but Prince Albert was successful. He was presented twice to his young cousin Victoria; once when he was fat and awkward at the age of sixteen, and again when he was handsome and blooming at nineteen, an angel with a glossy moustache and piercing