had also come, from Hanover, to see the Queen, but the meeting with her old friend occupied no more than a line or two in the journal. The castle at Rosenau had been prepared for them. The summer landscape had not changed since the Prince was born there, twenty-six years before. The harvesters wore their blue blouses, the petunias hung over the edges of the garden walls, the chicory flowers shone in the dry grass.
"My Albert's birthplace,"the Queen wrote in her journal,
"the place he most loves."He was "so, so happy, to be there" with her. It was "like a beautiful dream."
The depths of her heart were touched at last. The vast, agitating pattern of her responsibilities did not intrude as far as this. She walked with the Prince in the rooms where his mother had written her letters to her friend in Gotha, in the room with holes in the wallpaper, stabbed by Albert's rapier when he was a twelve-year-old Saxon knight. The memories of his childhood were now part of her. She rested her hands on the table to which he had been lifted to be dressed. On his birthday he took her to the room where he was born. He opened the window and looked down upon the fountain and the roses. In the afternoon they walked alone by stream and forest and came to a pool about which the Princes had played. Prince Albert made a drinking cup for the Queen with his hands, because the water was cool and she was thirsty.
A peasant woman came along the path and said,
"Guten Abend."The Queen gave her some money and shook her hand. She wrote in her journal,
"I don't think she the least knew who I was."
THE year had begun well, and trade had been stimulated by the many new railways that opened up the countryside. But the confidence of the early part of 1845 was fading when the Queen and the Prince returned from their summer holiday. There was a Sikh rising in India and conflict with the Maoris in New Zealand to concern the War Office and, still more alarming, threat of famine in Britain and Ireland during the coming winter.
In November, Prince Albert wrote to his brother,
"The potato crops have turned out very badly and will lead to the greatest political complications — it is impossible to argue with famished people. "1