'Our Gracious is very much out of Temper.'
IN HIS PICTURE of her first Privy Council meeting, painted at the young Queen Victoria's instigation by Sir David Wilkie, the members of Lord Melbourne's Cabinet stare with fixed gaze upon her Majesty. At the other end of the table stands the Duke of Wellington, eyes cast down, a figure apart, sui generis.
He had already had much to do with the Queen who came to the throne on the death of her uncle, King William IV, in 1837. The Duke had been present at her birth and had subsequently watched her progress with interest; and, as was to be expected, had been much taken with her. At this first Council meeting she performed her part perfectly, he said: if she had been his own daughter he could not have been better pleased with her, concerned though he was that, even were she to be an angel from Heaven, she could not, at her age, be expected to have the knowledge to oppose the mischief the Whig Government was likely to propose to her. At her coronation he himself was warmly acclaimed with a burst of applause upon his appearance in Westminster Abbey -- as was France's representative, Marshal Soult* -- and there was 'a great shout and a clapping of hands' when he knelt to do homage to her. 1 He was applauded again when he left the Abbey and he looked back down the aisle 'with an air of vexation', Lady Salisbury thought, as if to say 'this should be for her'. He noted that she carried herself with charm, dignity and grace. 2
He could not, however, forbear from voicing his later disapproval of her appearance on horseback at a review of her troops at Windsor. She would have been well advised to come in a carriage; it was a____________________