'We must all try, gently, to get her
to resume her old habits.'
ACTIVE AS SHE HAD BEEN in attempting to guide her Government's foreign policy and priding herself on having 'the eyes of Argus in spite of [her] broken heart', the Queen continued to live, so far as the outside world was concerned, in impenetrable and mournful seclusion.
A few months before Prince Albert's death, the poet, A. J. Munby, had seen her on her way to and from Parliament, 'in ermine robe and diamond coronet, looking well and young. Great crowd and more cheering than I have heard before -- one workman near me very enthusiastic, shouting, " England's Crown for ever!" as he held his hat up.' 1
Now the months went by and neither Household nor Ministers could persuade her to show herself in public. Charles Grey, her Private Secretary, was blamed by the Cabinet for not doing more to urge her to do so, since he was known to be as close to her as any member of her Household. Indeed, she herself had written to him to say that she could not deny he was her 'main support'; and when he was away, she added, 'she always feels additionally anxious. She is not worrying herself now [ January 1863], & is calmer; but her constant & ever increasing grief -- added to a terribly nervous temperament by nature (which her precious Husband knew but too well & often had to suffer . . .) -- prevents her taking anything calmly.'2
Grey did what he could to persuade her to emerge from her seclusion, knowing quite well that, as her second daughter, Princess Alice, assured him, and as he himself observed at a ghillies' ball at Balmoral, the Queen's health was not really as delicate as she claimed it was. ' Princess Alice also