LONDONERS responded to the sight of a genial Prince and his pretty wife driving through the streets. Two years of gloom emanating from Buckingham Palace had robbed daily life of royal pageantry. The Victorian wave of middle-class, precise behaviour, and evangelical interference with the habits of the next door neighbour, had not engulfed the land; there were some who liked to hear that carriages left Marlborough House in the small hours of the morning and that the Prince and Princess of Wales had a talent for pleasure; that guests had been seen tobogganing down the stairs on tea trays.
Pleasure was not all, for the Prince tried also to do his duty, but he was still curbed. He asked the Queen to make the Lord Mayor a baronet, as a tribute to Londoners for the welcome they had given him on his wedding day. His mother said,
"No!"Only the reception of a sovereign merited such an honour. When he showed his interest in affairs by going to the House of Lords, his mother demurred again. It must not be too often.
The unseen, grieving figure at Windsor became less real to the people in London. It wasn't an age for embracing mystery, and the prosperous, increasing population comprehended a Prince who was visible; especially when he drove through London in January, 1864, a few days after the birth of his first son. London felt that the good old days had returned, and the family at Marlborough House became part of the pattern of life: the money-conscious, enterprising, new England, intent on progress. The Queen continued to see all life in relation to the past. When her first English grandchild was born, she wrote,1
"This dream is one which I like to dwell on, though it did not, could not bring back my Angel, and I am ever, ever lonely. ... I wish now to say a few words again about the names, sponsors, and christening. ... I think I shall be able to be present, and hold the dear baby myself, D.V., which, trying though it will be, I wish to do. ... Respecting your own names, and the conversation we had, I wish to repeat, that it was beloved Papa's wish, as well as mine, that you should be called by both, when you became King, and it would be impossible to drop your Father's. It would be monstrous, and Albert alone, as you truly and amiably say, would not do, as there can be only one ALBERT. "