mingled with the Derby day crowds. They visited country houses where the English aristocracy thought the Prince a little too German and punctilious in his manner. Some years later Queen Victoria and the Prince went to stay with Lord Leigh. His daughter, afterwards Lady Jersey, recalled,
"The Queen was more than gracious and at once won the hearts of the children, but we did not equally appreciate the Prince Consort. Assuredly he was excellent, but he was very stiff and reserved."1
ON JUNE 12, Prince Albert wrote to Prince Ernst, in Coburg,
"You will not yet know that you very nearly lost your brother and sister. I will hurry to tell you what happened. The day before yesterday, Wednesday, we drove as usual at six o'clock in our small carriage, with four horses and two postilions. I sat to the right, Victoria to the left. We had hardly got a hundred and fifty paces from Buckingham Palace . . . when I saw a small, disagreeable looking man, leaning against the railings of Green Park, only six paces from us, holding something towards us. Before I could see what it was, a shot cracked and so dreadfully loud that we were both quite stunned. Victoria, who had been looking to the left, towards the rider, did not know the cause of the noise. My first thought was that in her present state the fright might harm her. I put both arms around her and asked her how she felt, but she only laughed. Then I turned around to look at the man (the horses were frightened and the carriage stopped). The man stood there in a theatrical position, a pistol in each hand. It seemed ridiculous. Suddenly he stopped, put a pistol on his arm, aimed at us, and fired; the bullet must have gone over our heads, judging by the hole where it hit the garden wall. Now the many onlookers came forward. They had been almost petrified before, and cried 'Kill him, kill him!' I called out to the postilion to drive on. We went to see our aunt and then we drove through the parks, where we were most enthusiastically greeted by the people."
The incident brought both Queen and Prince nearer to the heart of London. For days after, they were cheered whenever they left the palace, and when they went to the opera "the whole house rose and cheered, waved hats and handkerchiefs." Queen Victoria wrote in her