'No one ever, I believe, has met with such
an ovation as was given to me.'
'TODAY IS THE DAY,' the Queen wrote in her journal on 23 September 1896, 'on which I have reigned longer, by a day, than any English sovereign.' 1
That autumn was a happy time for her. General Kitchener was doing well in the Sudan; Lord Salisbury's third Cabinet, formed the year before, was proving so much more amenable than any of Mr Gladstone's: 'Every day,' she told Salisbury, 'I feel the blessing of a strong Government in such safe and strong hands as yours."2 And, towards the end of September, Princess Alice's beautiful daughter, Alexandra, known as Alicky, came with her husband, Tsar Nicholas II, to stay at Balmoral.
The Queen had at first been much against Alicky's proposed marriage to the Tsarevich. She had hoped that she would marry her grandson, Prince Albert Victor, whom she had described, without too strict a regard for the truth, as not only 'kind' and 'affectionate' but also steady; 3 and she had viewed the prospect of the girl's marriage to the Tsarevich with alarm 'on account of the country, the policy and differences with us and the awful insecurity to which that sweet child will be exposed'. When his father, Tsar Alexander III, died in November 1894 the Queen's fears for the future were increased by the thought of the 'sweet innocent gentle' girl being placed on 'that very unsafe Throne' and having her life 'constantly threatened'. 4 It was a 'great additional anxiety' to her in her 'declining years.
Yet when she got to know Nicky she could well understand why