QUEEN VICTORIA'S daughters, and her ladies, sometimes dared to express anxiety over the dangers of continuous grief. Princess Alice wrote to her mother, "Try and gather in the few bright things you have remaining. ... You have the privilege ... in your exalted position of doing good and living for others. ... Forgive me, darling Mama, if I speak so openly." Lady Augusta Bruce felt that "the very good qualities of the Queen" might "cause evil results" and that the "honesty, the straightforwardness, the frankness, the impulsiveness," all "held in check" by the Prince Consort when he was alive, might lead to her being "misunderstood." 1 The Queen willingly confessed her grief; she admitted to Lady Augusta that the last night on the yacht coming home from the continent, she could not sleep, and that if only she "could have pierced her hands through with her nails," the agony "might have relieved the anguish of mind." She might talk of her obsession but it was not likely that she would take advice, from a woman.
The Queen summoned her will to cope with the problems as they came, and the immediate task was to prepare Princess Alexandra's mind for marriage.
Princess Alexandra was the daughter of a poor Danish Prince and although she was the King's niece, she had never enjoyed the splendours of Court life, mostly because the Court was "unsuitable" for a girl of her years and innocence. She was used to making her own clothes, and was unselfconscious enough to turn cartwheels on the drawing room carpet. Hans Andersen had read his stories to her and her sister, when they were children. Princess Alexandra had invented a game of "wishing," in her world of childish make-believe. One day, her sister, Princess Dagmar, said she wished for "power and influence." She became Empress of Russia. Princess Alexandra asked nothing more than that she should "be loved." Fortunately, it was not Princess Dagmar who arrived at Osborne to be told how the wife of the heir to the British throne should think and behave. A Princess who wished for "power and influence" might have increased the burdens of the Prince of Wales in his battle of wills with the Queen.
There were complications enough, for the betrothal was unpopular in Berlin where all kinds of political designs were imagined into this