|Victoria, Queen of England|
|by James Parton, 1868|
Accordingly, on the following day Prince Albert came in from hunting at the unusually early hour of twelve, for he had received an intimation the evening before that the queen had something particular to say to him.' On being summoned to the queen's presence he found her alone. Precisely what occurred on the occasion will never be known. It seems, however, that it devolved upon the queen to propose the momentous question. The following is the prince's version of what passed, as given in a letter to his grandmother:
"The subject which has occupied us so much of late is at last settled. The queen sent for me alone to her room a few days ago, and declared to me in a genuine outburst of love and affection that I had gained her whole heart, and would make her intensely happy if I would make her the sacrifice of sharing her life with her, for she said she looked on it as a sacrifice. The only thing which troubled her was that she did not think that she was worthy of me. The joyous openness of manner in which she told me this quite enchanted me, and I was quite carried away by it. She is really most good and amiable, and I am quite sure Heaven has not given me into evil hands, and that we shall be happy together. Since that moment Victoria does whatever she fancies I should wish or like, and we talk together a great deal about our future life, which she promises me to make as happy as possible. Oh, the future! does it not bring with it the moment when I shall have to take leave of my dear, dear home, and of you? I cannot think of that without deep melancholy taking possession of me."
As soon as the interview was over, the queen, according to her custom, recorded her feelings in her diary.
"How I will strive," she wrote, in the first gush of tender emotion, "to make him feel as little as possible the great sacrifice he has made! I told him it was a great sacrifice on his part, but he would not allow it. I then told him to fetch Ernest (his brother), who congratulated us both and seemed very happy. Ernest told me how perfect his brother was."
The same afternoon, she wrote to her Uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians, who had from the first favored the match most warmly. This letter is highly creditable to the good, simple heart of the maiden queen:
"My mind is quite made up, and I told Albert this morning of it. The warm affection he showed me on learning this gave me great pleasure. He seems perfection, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him more than I can say, and shall do everything in my power to render this sacrifice (for such in my opinion it is) as small as I can. He seems to have great tact, -- a very necessary thing in his position. These last few days have passed like a dream to me, and I am so much bewildered by it all that I know hardly how to write; but I do feel very happy. It is absolutely necessary that this determination of mine should be known to no one but yourself and to Uncle Ernest until after the meeting of Parliament, as it would be considered, otherwise, neglectful on my part not to have assembled Parliament at once to inform them of it."
To which the good old king replied, very sensibly and happily: --
"In your position... you could not EXIST without having a happy and agreeable interieur. And I am much deceived (which I think I am not), or you will find in Albert just the qualities and disposition which are indispensable for your happiness, and which will suit your own character, temper, and mode of life. You say most amiably that you consider it a sacrifice on the part of Albert. This is true in many points, because his position will be a difficult one; but much, I may say all, will depend on your affection for him. If you love him, and are kind to him, he will easily bear the bothers of his position, and there is a steadiness, and, at the same time, a cheerfulness in his character which will facilitate this."
Nothing remained but to announce the intended marriage to the Privy Council, and through the council to the country. The council met, November 23d, to the number of eighty, in one of the large rooms of Buckingham Palace, the queen's London residence. It devolved upon the queen herself to make the announcement to this formidable company.
"Precisely at two," the queen wrote in her diary, "I went in. The room was full, but I hardly knew who was there. Lord Melbourne I saw looking kindly at me with tears in his eyes, but he was not near me. I then read my short declaration. I felt my hands shook, but I did not make one mistake. I felt most happy and thankful when it was over. Lord Lansdowne then rose, and, in the name of the Privy Council, asked that this most gracious and most welcome communication might be printed. I then left the room, the whole thing not lasting above two or three minutes. The Duke of Cambridge came into the small library where I was standing and wished me joy."
The queen wore a bracelet in which there was a portrait of Prince Albert, and she says in her journal, "It seemed to give ..me courage at the council."
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