'She is really doing all in her power to create suspicions
which I am persuaded have no foundation.'
THE FEELINGS RUNNING HIGH against the Queen -- despite her occasional public appearances in the late 1860s -- and what was perceived as her selfishness and greed as well as her wilful refusal to perform more public duties, were fanned by certain newspapers and magazines which brought up other more scurrilous charges against her: she was showing exceptional partiality to one of her Highland servants. This 'great Court favourite', as John O' Groats Journal referred to him, was said to be far more than an indulged servant: he was the Queen's lover; she was 'in an interesting condition'; they were secretly married; he was her medium in spiritualist seances; he was her keeper, for she had gone mad. Curiosity about the man consumed society. One day in March 1867 A. J. Munby saw 'a long line of carriages near the Achilles statue in the Park waiting to see the Queen go by to Windsor . . . And then the Queen drove by, with outriders & hussars, her younger children with her, looking plump & matronly and pale, in widow's weeds; and that John Brown, of whom there is so much foolish talk, sat behind, a big man in livery.' 1
Most of the members of the Royal Household, although reputedly referring to Brown as 'the Queen's stallion', were convinced, as Henry Ponsonby told his brother, that while 'certainly a favourite', the man was 'only a Servant and nothing more'; and what Ponsonby supposed had begun as a joke had been 'converted into a libel'. 2 Randall Davidson, who saw much of her in his capacity as Dean of Windsor and her domestic chaplain, said that 'one had only to know the Queen to realize how