Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

34
DEATH OF THE DUCHESS

'I kissed her dear hand and placed it next my cheek.'

ON 15 MARCH 1861 the Queen went to see her 75-year-old mother at Frogmore where she had been suffering from intermittent attacks of erysipelas for several months. Her close friend and secretary, Sir George Couper, who had brought order to the chaos in which Sir John Conroy had left her affairs, had died a fortnight before and the Duchess was not expected to survive him for long.

She and her daughter had long since overcome the antagonism of earlier years. 'Poor woman,' Lord Holland had written at the beginning of the Queen's reign. 'The importance of her actions and opinions are gone by. She will count for little or nothing in the new court.' This was true and she had much resented it. She had often been told that her daughter was too busy to see her. 'This was neither a happy nor a merry day for me,' she had written on Victoria's birthday in 1837. 'Everything is so changed.' Her apartment at Windsor was 'very far from the room' to which her daughter had moved. There had been constant grumbles, unhappy scenes', 'extraordinary letters'. Lord Liverpool had told Stockmar, 'It is a hard and unfair trial for the Queen, whose mind and health should not be exposed to such absurd vexation and torment . . . Although I should be very sorry to see Mother and Daughter separated, yet anything I am sure is better than the present state of things.' Her mother had 'seemed delighted', the Queen thought, when she had told her that she was to marry Prince Albert; but she had, in fact, complained bitterly that she had not been informed about the engagement earlier -- why, even

-264-

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Queen Victoria: A Personal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgements xv
  • Queen Victoria's Prime Ministers xviii
  • Part One - 1819-1861 1
  • 1 - The Family 3
  • 2 - The Parents 9
  • 3 - The Child 17
  • 4 - Conroy 25
  • 5 - Progresses 30
  • 6 - Uncles 41
  • 7 - The Young Queen 53
  • 8 - Melbourne 60
  • 9 - Coronation 70
  • 10 - The Hastings Affair 76
  • II - A Pleasant Life' 85
  • 12 - A Headstrong Girl 90
  • 13 - German Cousins 98
  • 14 - Prince Albert 107
  • 15 - The Bridegroom 111
  • 16 - Honeymoon 120
  • 17 - Robert Peel 130
  • 18 - The Prince and the Household 137
  • 19 - Royal Quarrels 148
  • 20 - Osborne 157
  • 21 - Travelling 165
  • 22 - Balmoral 175
  • 23 - The Prince of Wales 183
  • 24 - Palmerston 193
  • 25 - Chartists 199
  • 26 - Pam is Out 204
  • 27 - The Great Exhibition 210
  • 28 - Scenes 216
  • 29 - Crimean War 221
  • 30 - Napoleon III 230
  • 31 - The Princess Royal 238
  • 32 - Indian Mutiny 248
  • 33 - The German Grandson 256
  • 34 - Death of the Duchess 264
  • 35 - The Disappointing Heir 268
  • 36 - Death of the Prince 276
  • Part Two - 1861-1901 283
  • 37 - The Grieving Widow 285
  • 38 - Seances and Services 293
  • 39 - Princess Alexandra 298
  • 40 - The Recluse 307
  • 41 - Disraeli 314
  • 42 - John Brown 321
  • 43 - The Royalty Question 331
  • 44 - The Princely Pauper 338
  • 45 - Typhoid Fever 342
  • 46 - Maids-Of-Honour 349
  • 47 - Secretaries and Ministers 353
  • 48 - Regina Et Imperatrix 360
  • 49 - The Half-Mad Firebrand 367
  • 50 - Golden Jubilee 379
  • 51 - Die Engländerin 384
  • 52 - The Daughters 391
  • 53 - The Sons 396
  • 54 - The Grand Children 414
  • 55 - Would-Be Assassins 420
  • 56 - Holidays Abroad 428
  • 57 - Death of Brown 440
  • 58 - The Munshi 446
  • 59 - Diamond Jubilee 455
  • 60 - Life at Court 461
  • 61 - Dinner Parties 468
  • 62 - Books 477
  • 63 - Bookmen 481
  • 64 - Failing Health 484
  • 65 - Death 492
  • 66 - Funeral and Burial 495
  • References 503
  • Sources 523
  • Index 535
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