The Queen's eldest son was beside her, thinking more of the hazards of war than of the mustiness of school books. He had spent many weeks building miniature fortifications at Osborne, learning about campaigns and memorizing the uniforms and badges of his mother's armies: a department of knowledge in which he was to become embarrassingly pedantic when he was older.
THE Prince of Wales was fifteen, still slow at his lessons, still looking sadly over the shoulder of his tutor to the playing fields outside. The years of forced education and correction were having an unfortunate effect on his habits and there were complaints that he was secretive and untruthful.1 Strangers who met him discovered charms that escaped his parents. One lady of the Court talked of his "youthful simplicity " and an Englishman who met him in Europe some time later wrote of him as a "slender, fair boy, with a frank, open countenance."2 PrinceAlbert did not share these engaging pictures of his son. He was delighted when the American Minister sat next to the Princess Royal at dinner and commented on her "excellent head," but he was full of gloom when he read his son's essays, "bald, ungrammatical, and badly penned." He allowed the Prince to go on a walking tour in Dorset, with adult guardians and nobody of his own age, but the boy had to do three weeks of concentrated study first. The party began their ramble at Wimborne, the Prince hoping to escape notice by using the title, Baron of Renfrew. When they reached Honiton, a week later, the incognito had collapsed and demonstrations of loyalty from the Dorset villagers forced the ramblers to abandon the tour. Next time, some young men were added to the party and they went as far as the Lake district where the Prince enjoyed the sudden spurt of freedom so much that he chased a flock of sheep into a lake. This time the incognito was such a success that one of his future subjects, the female owner of the sheep, threatened to chastise him. He was so delighted that he recorded the prank in a water-colour sketch.
Then the Prince made his first journey to Europe, without his parents. The party, still including some carefully chosen young men of his