'I was more than astonished, I was rather angry.
I did not expect my Maids-of-Honour to be
snapped up before my very nose.'
SUCH EXCITEMENTS AS WERE AFFORDED by the visits of the Sultan and the Shah to Windsor were still very rare. Yet by the time of the Shah's visit in 1873 the Queen had at last outgrown the worst of her grief. She was seen to smile more often, and to laugh. She began once more to record in her diary incidents that had amused her; her letters became more cheerful; she brought herself to play nostalgic tunes on her piano, and she began to dance again -- she was still dancing ('like a pot', a German prince whose English was not strong enough for the compliment informed her) at Windsor when she was seventy -- she told funny stories about herself and was fond of relating how one clear and starlit night she had opened her bedroom window to look out into the dark sky and a sentry at the foot of the Castle wall, thinking she must be a housemaid, 'began to address her in most affectionate and endearing terms. The Queen at once drew her curtains but was simply delighted at what had happened.' 1 She was still capable of exercising an undoubted charm which Randall Davidson described as 'irresistible'. 2
There was no relaxation, though, in the propriety that the memory of Albert's strict moral sense had emphasized. The Queen, as her husband had required of her, demanded impeccable discretion in conduct as well as in conversation. To satisfy her sense of decorum people whose birth or duties brought them into her presence must not merely be innocent, they must never have appeared to be guilty. They must also conform to