Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy


Monthly Donor
Thank you all for your lovely messages! I had an unexplained seizure which still needs some investigation but I feel much better after a few days bed rest and I was looked after so well by our wonderful NHS staff. I'm really so touched that you all sent best wishes and I hope to get another instalment of "Tantrums and Tiaras" with you as soon as I can.
Thank you all for your lovely messages! I had an unexplained seizure which still needs some investigation but I feel much better after a few days bed rest and I was looked after so well by our wonderful NHS staff. I'm really so touched that you all sent best wishes and I hope to get another instalment of "Tantrums and Tiaras" with you as soon as I can.
Take your time. Hope you get better.
GV: Part One, Chapter 19: The Parting


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part One, Chapter Nineteen: The Parting

The New Year was ushered in at Windsor Castle with a small and intimate gathering of the closest members of the British Royal Family. The Duke of Clarence was now confined to a wheelchair and it was deemed inappropriate for him to be seen in public in such a state of poor health. Yet the Duke was in good spirits that evening as his family gathered in St George’s Hall. Those present were impressed as he seemed to rally somewhat and even the ever practical Duchess of Clarence allowed herself a moment of hope believing that her husband might yet defy the odds and recover his strength. But the Royal Medical Household was prepared to take no risks with their charge however bright he may have seemed in recent days and when news came that there was a serious influenza outbreak in the capital, the entire Royal Family changed their plans and remained at Windsor Castle well beyond the festive season. Whilst this was inconvenient for some, the Duke of Clarence privately relished the opportunity to spend as much time as he could uninterrupted with his beloved niece, Princess Victoria.

With her 18th birthday fast approaching, negotiations for Victoria’s marriage to the Prince of Orange had been concluded. It had taken almost a year to agree a marriage contract with two sticking points that required compromise. The first was where the marriage itself should take place. Given that travelling to Holland was out of the question for the Duke of Clarence, he was insistent that his niece should be married at the Chapel Royal of St James’ Palace so that he could attend. The Dutch quite reasonably felt that their future Queen consort should be married in The Hague. However, precedent was on the Duke’s side and like her parents in 1818, Victoria would have two marriage ceremonies; the first would be held on Victoria’s 18th birthday at the Chapel Royal. The second would take place at The Hague on the 10th June. A second quibble was raised over how Victoria would be styled as the wife of Prince William of the Netherlands. Historically the Prince of Orange was styled His Highness and though the Prince was already styled His Royal Highness, the British wanted confirmation that the same would extend to his wife when the time came with no demotion or inequality in her rank. This assurance was given and negotiations moved on to the sordid topic of coin.


The young Victoria.

The British were expected to provide a dowry which would include an annuity for Victoria’s lifetime. Some in the Cabinet felt the Dutch were trying to wriggle out of their own obligation to provide an annuity for the Princess and talks stalled as the two Ambassadors charged with the finer details of the marriage contract had to convince both parties to commit to the same sum. Eventually both the British and the Dutch agreed on a personal allowance of £8,000 a year (or 20,000 guilders) [1]. But far from being penny pinchers, the Dutch were actually hugely generous in providing a further lump sum of 60,000 guilders to the newlyweds for the purpose of renovating the Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague. Kneuterdijk had been given to the Prince of Orange as an official residence but had not been refurbished for some time. It was expected and encouraged that Victoria would wish to make the residence her own and despite the huge cost, very few objected. With the marriage contract finally settled, preparations for Victoria’s wedding at St James’ began in earnest.

The Duchess of Clarence took the role of the mother of the bride, overseeing everything from the floral displays to the design of the wedding dress. Victoria did not wish to follow the fashion of the day and wear silver or even gold and instead settled on a cream-coloured satin gown that would be heavily embellished with deep flounces of lace. But amidst the talk of which dinner service should be used at the wedding banquet [2] and where to source the freshest orange blossoms for the bride’s hair, there was one issue which could only be decided by the Cabinet; what to do about Uncle Leopold. Whilst King Leopold of the Belgians had a perfect right to be invited to his niece’s wedding, and whilst the British people remained fond of him, the British had yet to officially recognise the Kingdom of Belgium. The Dutch had even more reason to oppose such recognition and the prospect of King Leopold marching into The Hague with all the honours afforded to a foreign sovereign was unthinkable given that the Dutch still maintained that Belgium was their territory and not an independent and sovereign nation. The Dutch Royal Couple would not attend the wedding in England but there was to be a significant Dutch deputation present and thus, King Leopold had to go without an invitation. Indeed, no Coburg relations were to be invited to either ceremony.

This grieved Princess Victoria who had always been fond of her Uncle Leopold but she accepted the diplomatic situation meant there would have to be sacrifices. The Duke of Clarence felt it mean spirited of the Dutch not to overlook King Leopold’s attendance at St James’ though he too accepted the advice of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston. Whilst King Leopold would have been a front runner to lead Victoria down the aisle in the absence of her father, the Princess now had to decide whom to award the honour to. Naturally her first choice was the Duke of Clarence but he graciously deferred; “All eyes must be on the bride and not her lame old uncle”. Victoria therefore asked her cousin, King George, to lead her to the altar. Princess Charlotte Louise and the two Cambridge Princesses were to serve as bridesmaids. The Prince of Orange would be supported by his brothers Prince Alexander and Prince Henry whilst King William’s brother Prince Frederick was to attend in an official capacity as chaperone to the Princess Victoria and charged with the important task of “returning Her Royal Highness to the Kingdom of the Netherlands”.


Lady Sophia de L'Isle and Dudley.

Just as everything seemed settled, there came news in April which threatened to throw the entire event into chaos with a possible postponement. The Duke of Clarence’s eldest and favourite daughter, Lady Sophia de L’Isle and Dudley was expecting a baby and as the Duke waited for news of the arrival of a new grandchild, tragedy struck. Lady Sophia died during the birth at the age of 40. Clarence was thrown into uncontrollable grief and for at least two weeks, he barely ate or slept. He was too ill to attend his daughter’s funeral and was represented instead by his estranged son, the Earl of Munster. A note of sympathy from Munster had given the ailing Clarence hope of a reconciliation between father and son but it was not to be. To make matters even worse, Clarence had to face the loss of his daughter alone. Another possible postponement was considered when the Duchess of Clarence had to rush to Meiningen to be at her dying mother’s bedside, only to fall gravely ill herself. Fortunately, the Duchess recovered and was able to return to her husband in England in time for the wedding but weighed down with worries, Clarence’s fragile health seemed likely to give out at any moment.

For Princess Victoria, the preparations for her new life in the Netherlands had proven a happy distraction. Whilst the modern reader may well ask “Did she love her future husband?”, this was not a priority for those who arranged her marriage. A mutual respect or close friendship was the foundation of most royal marriages of the day and if love followed, all well and good. Victoria did not know her future husband particularly well and the focus had been not on promoting closer bonds between them but instead on ensuring that she was well prepared for her future role as Princess of Orange. Yet many years later, Victoria’s daughter, Princess Victoria Paulina wrote, “Mama never spoke of love until Papa died. As with so many marriages of the period, they married almost as strangers, but I believe they truly parted as friends. Certainly, she spoke very fondly of her wedding day”. Victoria’s new uncle-in-law spoke less fondly of the event. Frederick was appalled to find himself given a shabby suite of rooms to occupy at St James’ for the duration of his stay and wrote that he wished he had found his own lodgings in a hotel rather than be cramped into a leaky and cold St James’ with the increasingly eccentric Princess Sophia as a neighbour.

The wedding festivities might well have been pared down a little given the Duchess of Clarence’s illness. She still needed rest, but both the ailing Duke and his sickly wife were absolutely determined to do the best by their niece, who had become as close to them as a daughter over the many years she had lived in their charge. There were to be two banquets, one held to celebrate Victoria’s 18th birthday on the evening before her wedding and one held after the wedding ceremony itself. But whilst the former would be a grand affair with peers and politicians crammed into the Buckingham Palace ballroom, the latter was a far more intimate family affair. Far from a celebratory atmosphere, this banquet would be the final farewell to the Princess and even Princess Augusta temporarily suspended her rule never to find herself in the company of her sister-in-law Queen Louise so that she could say goodbye to her niece. Even so, she stayed for only an hour before returning to Windsor, leaving St James’ Palace well before the bride and groom.

Victoria’s 18th birthday banquet (held the evening before she actually turned 18) was reported to have been the finest held at the Palace since George IV’s renovation of the property, supposedly to impress upon the Dutch delegation the style to which the Princess was accustomed. In reality, the Duke and Duchess of Clarence wanted to give Victoria the very best of everything before they saw her depart for the Netherlands. The Duke was prone to public displays of emotion and he could not hide his heartbreak at the impending parting. When Princess Victoria entered the ballroom dressed in a silver satin gown (and wearing the impressive Mandi Parure for the first time), the Duke burst into a flood of tears and had to be supported by the Duchess of Clarence as he stood to give his farewell address. “You have been to us as a daughter”, he choked through the emotion, “And we hope that we have been to you as dear and as loving as your beloved father would have wished us to be. As we gather to mark this new chapter in what we all pray will be a long and happy life in your new home, know that your old home will be forever tinged with longing for you dearest Drina, leaving us as you do with so many treasured memories”.


William, Prince of Orange.

Princess Victoria’s cousin, King George V, then gave his own speech. He praised Victoria’s beauty, charm and generosity and in a speech written for him by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, George spoke of “a new era of close friendship between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom forged in the happy union between the Prince of Orange and our dearest cousin Victoria”. The sadness then gave way to festivity. There were galops and polkas after a sumptuous dinner and champagne was served to the guests who finally departed the palace at 2am to a flurry of fireworks set off from St James’ Park. Princess Victoria returned to Clarence House with her aunt and uncle ahead of her wedding ceremony but before she went to bed, she had a few moments alone with the Duke. In her diary, Victoria wrote; “Dear Uncle William held my hand and promised me that all would be well. And then he presented me with a beautiful gift of a diamond bracelet which had belonged to Grandmama (Queen Charlotte). We sat for a while together and then I kissed his cheek and went to my bedroom. I could hear the poor dear old man crying long into the early hours”.

At around 1pm on the 24th of May 1837, Mary Bettans arrived at Clarence House with the Princess’ wedding gown. Bettans had long provided gowns to the ladies of the British court but especially for the Princess. She had made the mourning clothes for Victoria upon the death of her father in 1820 and was Victoria’s first choice to provide her trousseau from Bettan’s establishment at 84 Jermyn Street in London. Victoria’s wedding dress was made from cream-coloured satin woven in Spitalfields and was trimmed with deep flounces of Honiton lace. Handmade lace motifs were appliqued onto cotton machine made net and in her hair, Victoria wore orange flower blossoms affixing a veil designed by William Dyce, head of the Government School of Design (which later became the Royal College of Art). She also wore a tiara loaned to her by her future mother-in-law, Princess Anna, comprised of large pear-shaped pearls set on a diamond band. Victoria teamed this with her engagements presents; a diamond riviere and matching earrings from her parents-in-law and a diamond and pearl stomacher from King George.

The British Royal Family was amply represented except for the Dowager Queen Louise who feigned a headache to be excused. The Cambridges stepped in to ensure Duchess Luise did not miss out on the celebrations and though initially reluctant, Queen Louise allowed her niece to make the short trip from Marlborough House to St James’ where the young lady was given charge over the Cambridge’s youngest daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide. She managed to keep the little princess quiet throughout the entire ceremony and earned praise from her aunt Augusta for managing the feat. At the reception given at Clarence House afterwards, the King too was forthcoming with compliments for his cousin and though his heart still pined for another cousin Louise, the Duchess of Clarence noted that; “Georgie spent far more time with Luise than he usually does, indeed, he was very gay in her company”. Ironically, it seemed far easier to the couple to communicate without the dour Dowager Queen breathing down their necks and Major Smith commented; “if only the Queen would leave the King to his own business he could not fail to be impressed by the Duchess”.


William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury.

The wedding ceremony itself was “simple and elegant” with the couple being married according to the Anglican rite by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley. Howley raised eyebrows by referring to the Princess during the exchange of vows as Princess Victoria and not as Princess Alexandrina Victoria, her actual name. There was amusement too when Prince George of Cambridge sneezed at the very moment the Archbishop asked for objections to the marriage. Following the ceremony, the guests were treated to a second banquet but this was a far more intimate affair with those invited restricted to close family and friends of the couple. Then the moment the Duke of Clarence had been dreading arrived.

A carriage drew into the courtyard ready to take Victoria and William to Harwich where they would board the HMS Royal George and sail to the Hook of Holland. The Duke was determined to wave his niece off on his feet and to the applause of his family, he struggled to lift himself out of his wheelchair, aided by Major ‘Honest Billy’ Smith. The Duke made his way towards his niece, his cheeks wet with tears and his voice trembling with emotion. Victoria kissed her aunt and uncle goodbye and with that, the Clarences watched their adoptive daughter leave England forever. The roar of the crowd rang in the Duke’s ears as he slumped back into his wheelchair. King George patted his uncle on the back affectionately as the Duke mopped his eyes with a handkerchief.

It has long been said by more sentimental historians that the Duke of Clarence willed himself to live long enough to see his niece married but by the time Victoria left for the Netherlands, the Duke was an extremely sick man. Two days after the wedding of Princess Victoria and the Prince of Orange, the Duke collapsed and was confined to his bed for the last time. Lord Melbourne was informed that the Duke had just weeks to live. A steady stream of relatives made their way to Clarence House each day to visit him and whilst the Duchess hoped her husband might rally, by the 1st of June 1837, it was clear to everybody that the end was near. Princess Augusta and Sophia visited their brother each day and the Cambridges did likewise until on the 19th of June, the entire family were summoned to Clarence House for the Duke’s final hours. The Duchess had not slept properly in ten days but as exhausted as she was, Adelaide sat by her husband’s beside holding his hand as he slipped in and out of consciousness. He died in the early hours of the morning of the 20th June 1837. He was 71 years old. [3]


The final portrait ever painted of the Duke of Clarence by Sir David Wilkie.

The Duke of Clarence’s death was expected but nonetheless caused a huge outpouring of grief across the United Kingdom. Although they were never particularly good friends, Lord Melbourne paid a glowing tribute to Clarence calling him; “the finest example of a devoted and loyal servant to his King and country”. Even more radical politicians had to accept that Clarence had carried out his duties as King’s Regent with an unwavering enthusiasm and dedication and as plans for the Duke’s funeral were put into action, the Royal Family moved from London to Windsor where the funeral service was to be held. In the Netherlands, the Princess of Orange received the news of her uncle’s death two days later. She burst into tears and cried out; “Poor dear Uncle William!”. The strength of her grief shocked her Dutch in-laws and even though the Dutch King arranged for a memorial service at the Hague for the Duke of Clarence, Victoria was adamant she must return to England immediately. This was out of the question so soon after her marriage and Victoria, ever prone to temper tantrums, gave significant cause for concern during her first few months at the Kneuterdijk Palace.

For King George, the Duke of Clarence had been a constant support and was without question his favourite uncle. Having never known his father in any real way, George had clung to Clarence closely during his youth and there was a genuine love between the two. It was therefore to be expected that despite the Duke of Clarence’s request for a small funeral, the King insisted that he be given every honour possible with a state funeral scheduled for the 8th of July 1837. The King led the procession that day followed by the male members of the Royal Family, peers, privy counsellors and members of the judiciary. The Dead March from Saul was played as the Duke’s coffin was borne through the streets of Windsor draped with his royal standard and as a nod to his naval career, his Admiral’s tricorn, his sword and his Garter collar were placed on a velvet cushion on top of the casket. As was traditional, the funeral took place at sunset with the Brigade of Guards lining the route with burning torches. Minute guns were fired from 4am for the next seventeen hours until the Duke’s coffin was taken down to the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel, Windsor where it would be laid to rest.

The Duke of Clarence’s funeral was notable for being the first whereby the ladies of the Royal Family did not have to sit hidden from view. Though they wore long black crepe veils to hide their faces, the King asked that the ladies of his family be allowed to sit in the Quire stalls so that he could personally sit beside the Duchess of Clarence to comfort her. As the Duke’s coffin was lowered into the vault, the King led his aunt to the aisle where the Duchess curtsied and the King bowed his head. George then escorted his weeping aunt to the State Apartments where for three hours the poor widow had to receive deputations formed of Ambassadors and Members of Parliament so that they could express their condolences in person. Seated on a dais, she was supported by the sisters of the late Duke and the Cambridges. Notable by her absence was the Dowager Queen Louise. Though she attended the funeral, she returned to Royal Lodge immediately afterwards. There was no wreath from the Dowager Queen, neither did she write to her sister-in-law Adelaide expressing sympathy. For Louise, the Duke’s death evoked no emotion, rather she saw it as an opportunity. Clarence was dead. Cambridge was now the King’s Regent and with a year of regency left, Louise regarded her brother-in-law’s death as just one more obstacle she had overcome in her grand plan.


Adelaide, Dowager Duchess of Clarence, 1837.

Court mourning for the Duke of Clarence was set to last for 12 weeks and as a result the King’s engagements were cancelled as a sign of respect. This meant he did not attend the grand opening of Euston Station, London’s first mainline railway terminus, as planned. This was a relief for George who impressed everybody with his kindness and consideration towards his grieving aunt. According to the Duke’s will, Clarence House was to remain the home of the Dowager Duchess of Clarence for her lifetime but after that, it was to return to the Crown Estate. But Adelaide had no desire to return to Clarence House alone. Instead, she withdrew to Bushy House at Hampton Court. Her earlier illness had left her weakened and her husband’s death had left her in a precarious state. On her doctor’s advice, Adelaide rested at Bushy Park until plans could be made for her to travel abroad for a time where the improved climate was deemed beneficial to her health. Every step of the way, the young King reassured his aunt that she would want for nothing and that everything she needed would be placed at her disposal without delay.

For the Duke of Cambridge, his brother’s death meant that he was now King’s Regent and as such, was confirmed in the position at St James’ by the Lords Commissioners. As he always intended and as had been previously agreed with the Prime Minister, the Duke of Sussex was named his deputy. But before Cambridge could begin his work, he first had to act as the executor of his brother’s estate. The vast bulk of Clarence’s private fortune was bequeathed to his niece, the Princess of Orange, but there was generous provision for his widow too. For his many illegitimate children, there were lump sums ranging from £1,000 to £5,000. The Earl of Munster was furious at what he considered a paltry inheritance and even threatened to challenge the will in the House of Lords. He had to be placated by a generous offer from the Duke of Cambridge with a private agreement providing Munster with £5,000 a year for his lifetime to be paid by the Crown.

As he endeavoured to settle his late brother’s affairs, Cambridge had the perfect excuse to avoid meeting with his sister-in-law. The Dowager Queen was not surprised that Sussex had been named deputy regent but fortunately for Cambridge, she blamed Melbourne and the late Duke of Clarence for “tying the knots tight to deny me what is rightfully mine and which my brother-in-law would have welcomed”. This was untrue of course; the Duke of Cambridge shared the view that the Dowager Queen should be left out of any official regency matters and had gone to great lengths to keep her as far away from court as possible by sending her on a fact-finding mission to provide a new royal residence for the British Royal Family. But he could not avoid her forever and finally, he relented and met Louise at Buckingham Palace. Surprisingly, Louise did not mention the regency or the appointment of the Duke of Sussex as deputy. Rather, she was keen to see another matter settled.

In a letter written to the Duke of Cambridge before their meeting, Louise wrote, “Our niece cannot remain in England indefinitely and whilst I accept that there is to be no concession to my position as would be expected in regard to His Majesty’s regency, I cannot forget that my late husband the King insisted of his brothers that they respect my right as the King’s mother to arrange the marriages of our children. I have not pressed this matter in recent weeks but I feel now we cannot allow the situation to continue without a clear indication of your support for my preferences in this and to settle the case once and for all”.

For the Duke of Cambridge, there was no objection to Duchess Luise as a wife for the King. “She is a young lady of many qualities and I have no doubt that she would make a fine Queen”, he wrote to his brother the Duke of Sussex, “But I agree with the sentiments of our dearly missed brother William that the King cannot be forced into marriage, neither do I intend to insist as regent that he accepts a bride he does not find agreeable. Furthermore, I see no cause for urgency in this matter and whilst I agree that that the young lady should not stay in England indefinitely and clarity on her position would be a kindness to her, there is nothing before me which would prompt me to demand the matter be settled as the Queen wishes”.


The Dowager Queen Louise.

The time for negotiation was over as far as the Dowager Queen was concerned. If the King would not offer marriage to the Duchess voluntarily, she would insist and arrange the marriage herself without his approval. Cambridge would simply have to agree and if he did not, she would make it known that he was defying the will of his late brother King George IV who had, in her view, given her full permission to arrange the marriages of her children regardless of what anyone else might think. The emboldened Louise set a deadline. She had made arrangements to visit Kent for two weeks as guests of the Meade-Waldo family at Stonewall. She was considering two properties (still convinced the Cambridge offer that she find a new royal residence for the family was genuine) in the county and accompanied by Duchess Luise and Baroness Pallenberg, she was to seek them out and assess their suitability.

The first under consideration was a country house near Westerham in Kent. Chartwell was a 14th century estate with significant acreage and a substantial brick-built manor. First put up for auction in September 1836 at Cheapside as “a suitable abode for a genteel family”, Queen Louise had heard that the house would need substantial renovations but had its charms. The second property she had in mind was Hever Castle, best known as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Hever had been purchased by the Meade-Waldo family in the late 18th century, but they had preferred their secondary estate at Stonewall leasing Hever to private tenants. They were not averse to selling the castle for the right price and possibly seeing an opportunity to improve their dwindling finances, they offered to host the Queen as she made her inspections of both Chartwell and Hever. By the time she returned to London, the Queen expected a decision to have been made regarding the King’s marriage one way or another. “Even if a betrothal with a period of delay before marriage is the only outcome”, she wrote, “I must demand this now or I should be failing in my duty as a mother”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had mixed feelings about the situation. On the one hand, Duchess Luise was closely related to the Royal Family and was well-liked for her bright disposition. She had shown remarkable tact and generosity during her time in England and had settled into life with the British Royal Family with great ease. The King clearly liked Luise and enjoyed being in her company and he could do far worse. But on the other hand, the King was only 17 years old and whilst there was something to be said for securing a marriage as early as possible for him [4], both the Duke and Duchess knew that the only reason the Queen wished the King to marry immediately was to protect her own standing at court in the future when the King reached the age of majority and could effectively freeze her out of the royal inner circle.

Cambridge sought to avoid an ultimatum. He believed that if the King was forced, he would either submit and resent his new bride as his late brother the Prince Regent had done or he would rebel and seek an unsuitable match like the Duke of Sussex. George was therefore invited to dinner at Cambridge House on the 18th of August 1837, ostensibly to discuss his forthcoming higher examinations ahead of his posting to the Royal Military College in Berkshire. Try as he might, the Duke of Cambridge could not steer the conversation in the right direction. Ultimately, it was the Duchess who raised the issue of her niece’s future in England. The King was not naïve. He knew that his mother had spent the best part of a year trying to force the King’s interest in Luise and he knew that she was keen for him to marry as soon as possible. For his part, the King liked Louise. He found her to be beautiful and charming, he admired her resilience and he admitted that he had enjoyed getting to know her better as time had progressed. But he did not see the reason for rushing into marriage, especially given that he would have little time when he reached the age of majority to focus on family matters.


The Duke of Cambridge.

“I’m afraid your mother insists that you indicate a preference”, Augusta lamented, “If nothing else because it is unfair to keep poor Luise here when she might return home to her parents”. The young King could see that to be true though he remained unmoved. He simply wasn’t ready to decide. The Cambridges tried to reason with him that, sooner or later, he must marry, and he might not find another prospective bride who pleased him as much as Luise. But their encouragement would only go so far.

“I will not force you”, Cambridge ruled, “You must take time and you must make the decision you deem to be right for you both. Your mother demands an answer by next week, but I shall insist you be given more time if you promise me that you shall think on the matter most carefully?”

The King was grateful to his uncle and agreed. . This was taken as a promising sign by the Duchess of Cambridge. Writing to her sister at Hever Castle, Augusta wrote; “He has not dismissed Luise entirely and if he really did not wish to marry her, or indeed, anybody at this time, he would simply have expressed that. That he did not is encouraging but I do urge you dearest sister not to press him too tightly on this. We both feel that this is too important a decision to be made in haste and I believe his time at the college will give dear Georgie the time he needs to come to terms with his future and what he must do for the best. Please believe me when I say to you that we acted in no way to provide obstacles or barriers and that we only encouraged His Majesty to think on the matter for a little while longer which I am sure you will appreciate is the best approach”.

The following morning, the Dowager Queen stepped into a carriage bound for London, leaving Hever three days early. She would return to London without delay, telling a nervous Baroness Pallenberg as their journey began; “The time for indulging the boy is long past. I shall settle this in my favour before the week is out”.

[1] I’ve used historical money calculators for this exchange rate but I know they can be unreliable so apologies in advance. The actual sums mentioned were based on those paid to Princess Victoria, the Princess Royal in the OTL when she married the Crown Prince of Prussia.

[2] Royal weddings still took place in the late afternoon at this time rather than in the morning or just after noon.

[3] In the OTL, William IV died at Windsor Castle. Here he dies at Clarence House.

[4] Again, these things were often considered much earlier in the OTL. Brides for the future Edward VII were being considered and their families openly approached with a view to negotiating a marriage contract from the time he turned 13.
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“The time for indulging the boy is long past. I shall settle this in my favour before the week is out”.
Wait... she is going to try and order thr King around like he is a toddler? The lad she essentially abandoned and ran away from to galavant around in the German courts?

Is she asking for a major backlash/ having the guards brigade forcibly remove her?
Again, these things were often considered much earlier in the OTL. Brides for the future Edward VII were being considered and their families openly approached with a view to negotiating a marriage contract from the time he turned 13.
If you think that’s bad, take a look at what the Spanish Bourbons got up to.


Monthly Donor
Wait... she is going to try and order thr King around like he is a toddler? The lad she essentially abandoned and ran away from to galavant around in the German courts?

Is she asking for a major backlash/ having the guards brigade forcibly remove her?
Very true! I think that's entirely Louise's problem. Had she stayed in England after George IV's death and actually been the mother to George V she claims she wants to be now, she might never have found herself facing a very different future.

Glad to read the latest installment. More glad to see that you are doing better.
Thank you so much!
The Dowager Queen coming on all Alexis/Dominique again at the end.
If you think that’s bad, take a look at what the Spanish Bourbons got up to.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank those readers who nominated this TL for a Turtledove Award. I really am very touched and considering that I haven't been here all that long and this was my first TL on, it's a huge compliment. Thank you again!
Very true! I think that's entirely Louise's problem. Had she stayed in England after George IV's death and actually been the mother to George V she claims she wants to be now, she might never have found herself facing a very different future.
I have to wonder what will happen if she is escorted from and barred from the Palace for the Foreseeable future. I mean I wonder how the house of lords will react as well as the public will be something to see.
GV: Part One, Chapter 20: Marry in Haste...


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part One, Chapter Twenty: Marry in Haste...

Whilst the Royal Family in Britain adjusted to life without two of its most beloved members, the Courts of Europe had far less sentimental reasons to pay attention to the goings on at St James’ Palace. For most crowned heads, their priority was to secure good marriages for their children and the Almanach de Gotha was as essential an addition to their library as the Bible or the works of Shakespeare. Since the early 1820s, three names had taken the interest of Kings, Grand Dukes and Sovereign Princes from Lisbon to Vladivostok but now only two remained. With Princess Victoria of Kent married to the Prince of Orange, the sovereigns of Europe were prompted to declare their interest in the remaining candidates. It was well known throughout the continent that King George V’s mother had all but decided that he would marry Duchess Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz but the future of the King’s younger sister, Princess Charlotte Louise, was as yet undecided. There were rumours that the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha favoured Charlotte Louise as a bride for his eldest son, Hereditary Duke Ernst. Other court gossip linked Charlotte Louise to the Tsarevich of Russia, the Crown Prince of Württemberg and even the Crown Prince of Bavaria [1].


The young Princess Charlotte Louise. [3]

Princess Charlotte Louise turned 16 just one month before her cousin Victoria’s wedding and it was perhaps inevitable that for the first time, the Princess contemplated love and romance. For some time, she had been exchanging letters with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Once a familiar figure at the British court, things had changed once Albert’s uncle Leopold had become King of the Belgians. Despite his visits to Windsor being less frequent however, Prince Albert’s interest in Charlotte Louise had only grown stronger and as he approached his 18th birthday in 1837, he finally broached the issue of his marriage to his uncle Leopold in Brussels. King Leopold was ambitious for his nephews and regarded their marriages as essential to securing closer links to the Royal Families of Europe. Whilst his country remained mostly unrecognised by the Great Powers, Leopold saw his nephews as an extension of his own family and supplanted their father in taking a strong interest in their futures. His marital ties to England were now a thing of the past, his niece Victoria now the future Queen consort of a nation which did not recognise his new position. If Ernst and Albert married well, any loss of face could not only be recovered but dramatically improved when the Great Powers finally relented and offered recognition to Leopold’s Kingdom; possibly even prompted through carefully arranged royal marriages.

Without question, Prince Albert was King Leopold’s favourite nephew and he sought only the very best match for him. He was therefore delighted when Albert privately indicated that he wished to propose marriage to Princess Charlotte Louise. Whilst she was two years his junior, the childhood friends had quickly become teenage sweethearts and the love letters exchanged between the two indicated that both felt their future included the other. King Leopold was a strong supporter of the match, seeing Prince Albert as his successor in England, a Coburg prince in a high position of influence in the British capital. Princess Charlotte Louise was after all first in line to the British throne and the succession in England was known for producing unexpected results. The possibility of a Queen Charlotte with Prince Albert as her consort was not entirely unthinkable and at this time, there was a rumour that the young King George V was prepared to abdicate to marry a German actress he had met in Coburg rather than the Mecklenburg Duchess his mother was forcing him to wed. This was enough for King Leopold to approach Baron Stockmar and order him to travel to England to raise the possibility of an engagement between Prince Albert and Princess Charlotte Louise.

In a letter to his beloved, Prince Albert wrote, “Uncle Leopold is for us and Stockmar is to arrive at Windsor shortly to meet with your Uncle Cambridge. Hold fast to us my darling one for we have only to bear this separation a little longer before we shall never be parted again”. Princess Charlotte Louise showed Albert’s letters to Lady Anne Anson, her long-time friend and confidant. Lady Anson later wrote; “There can be no question that Prince Albert of Coburg (sic) was deeply in love with the Princess and that he wished to marry her. His uncle the King [of the Belgians] took a great interest in this for he was an ambitious sort of man, but I do not believe even he could fail to be moved by the very real and genuine affection the young Prince had for the Princess at this time”. Diplomatically, Lady Anson does not reveal whether Princess Charlotte Louise reciprocated Prince Albert’s feelings but without a doubt she did. Writing to Albert in the autumn of 1837 she writes, “I yearn for news from you my dearest for Stockmar has arrived and yet he has not been to visit me. I had hoped that all would be well and arranged by now and I feel so utterly wretched at not knowing what is to be. Oh, my darling one, I pray for us and hope all shall be good for I know my only happiness is with you”.


The young Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Baron Stockmar met with the Duke of Cambridge at the end of July 1837. Whilst privately he was received as a representative of the King of the Belgians with all due respect afforded to an Ambassador, Stockmar’s visit was not gazetted so as to avoid causing a diplomatic incident with the Dutch. Cambridge knew Stockmar well, though he did not care much for him regarding him as a snob who had been given far too much influence in England in the past. Still, Cambridge was polite and a little surprised when Stockmar revealed that Prince Albert and Princess Charlotte Louise had been corresponding together for some time. The Dowager Duchess of Clarence had been aware of the blossoming romance for but as her late husband had set a rule that no marriages could be considered for the two princesses in his charge until they turned 18, she had allowed it to play out as nothing more than teenage infatuation. Cambridge was unsure of the next step to take. If Prince Albert was serious in his offer, the Duke advised that the precedent set for the Princess of Orange might be followed. A private engagement could take place now that his niece was 16 years old with a view to marriage in two years’ time if the couple still felt they wished to wed. “But I must advise you also Stockmar”, the Duke said wearily, “That arranging the marriage of Princess Charlotte will be very different from that of Princess Victoria. After all, it is my sister-in-law who will arrange it and you must know of her sentiments regarding the Coburg princes”.

Stockmar wrote to King Leopold passing on Cambridge’s position on a proposed engagement between Prince Albert and Princess Charlotte Louise but tactfully omitted the full extent of the Duke’s advice. Because of this, King Leopold allowed himself to run away with the idea that the marriage was all but contracted. Without delay he wrote to his brothers in Coburg and Vienna announcing the good news that Prince Albert had proposed marriage to Princess Charlotte Louise and that the negotiations for a marriage contract were shortly to begin. This was perhaps not the wisest approach. King Leopold’s brother Prince Ferdinand showed the letter to his wife Maria Antonia who then wrote of the developments to her niece by marriage in The Hague, Princess Victoria. Victoria naturally told her mother-in-law, Queen Anna, who penned an urgent missive to her brother Tsar Nicholas in St Petersburg asking if he was aware that the English princess was about to be engaged and therefore any Russian interest in her prospects thus far had all been for naught.

This royal round of Chinese whispers took some time of course but at Windsor, loose-lipped courtiers were openly discussing Princess Charlotte Louise’s future as the bride of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Many of them remembered Prince Albert and approved of the match, though much was made of his lack of prospects. The Coburgs were not exactly the wealthiest family and though increasingly well connected to the thrones of Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal, there was a view that unless the Ducal Coburg succession changed in Albert’s favour, Princess Charlotte Louise would have very little position outside of Great Britain. Lady Anne Anson recalled; “Rumours abounded that the Duke of Cambridge had accepted the marriage proposal and that the pair were to be married at Windsor and live at Marlborough House but those of us who knew the Royal Family intimately knew this to be nothing more than idle speculation. For myself, I saw no serious proposal because I knew of the intense dislike the late Queen had for the Coburg family, a resentment forged in her early years in England. She would never countenance a marriage between her only daughter and one of the Coburg princes and that is why I do not hesitate in setting the record straight here in saying that Princess Charlotte Louise never seriously entertained the prospect of marrying Prince Albert of Coburg (sic)”.


Lady Anne Anson.

Lady Anson was perhaps inventing her own record of events slightly to protect the reputation of her friend and confidant, but she was quite correct in her assessment that the Dowager Queen would never have contemplated a marriage between her daughter and Prince Albert. The fate of the late Duchess of Kent was still spoken of in England as a cautionary tale and Louise had transferred her hatred of “that wicked creature” to King Leopold, his brothers and their children. The Duke of Cambridge had hoped to raise the prospect of a Coburg marriage upon his next visit to Marlborough House, but this was delayed by an official visit to Southampton. By the time the Duke was able to visit his sister-in-law, she had already been told of Stockmar’s visit (and the reason for it) by the ever loyal Baroness Pallenberg. The Dowager Queen was already in high dudgeon. She had cut short her house hunting in Kent to return to London to settle the future of her niece once and for all. She was none too pleased that the Cambridges had seemingly advised the King to take yet more time to consider his feelings towards Duchess Luise and so it was that the Duke of Cambridge stepped across the threshold of a Marlborough House possibly unprepared for what was about to transpire.

Initially, the Duke was lulled into a false sense of security. Queen Louise led the way into the dining room for a frosty but delicious luncheon of Cotelettes de Saumon with Sauce Remoulade, Poules Panés with haricot beans and Cabinet pudding with Créme Anglaise. [2] Little conversation passed between the two, the Duke becoming increasingly uncomfortable as his efforts to raise harmless topics were met with silence. At the end of the meal, the Queen nodded to Baroness Pallenberg who ushered the footmen from the dining room. Louise stood from the table, motioning for her brother-in-law to remain seated. From a sideboard, she offered sherry, pouring two glasses and returning to the head of the dining table where she fixed the Duke of Cambridge with a determined and dangerous glare. The old soldier recognised an ambush when he saw one. He waited for the onslaught but only silence came. Then…


The Dowager Queen brought her palm down onto the dining table, throwing herself upwards out of her chair and pacing the length of the dining room with her skirts rustling and her eyes wide with rage.

“How dare you!”, she roared, “How dare you treat me in this way!”

The Duke of Cambridge was taken aback. Louise continued her tirade; “I would never have thought this of you Adolphus. Clarence? Yes, oh he was always poison, he was always against me. Sussex? He would stoop so low, anything to advance his whore bride but you? To plot and scheme against me in this way, it is unpardonable!”

Cambridge stood up. He was not going to allow himself to be intimidated.

“I will be generous and forget this incident ever occurred”, he said calmly, “I shall leave now, and I only hope you recover from whatever ailment has caused this temporary lapse in judgement”

Louise drew herself up to Cambridge, fixing him with her scowl.

“You do not have my leave to go! I am the Queen”

Cambridge sighed and fell back into his seat. He tried a different approach.

“I can’t think what on earth has upset you so Louise dear, I came here for a quiet luncheon, and I find bedlam”

“You have arranged the marriage of MY daughter on the orders of that pigeon-livered toad Stockmar. You forget your place Adolphus, you know only too well that George insisted that I was to arrange the marriages of our children. I go away for a few weeks and what do I find on my return? You have matched my daughter to a Coburg! A Prince of the ten acre wood who is little more than a stable hand, you and Stockmar-“

“Louise”, Cambridge raised the volume of his voice a little, interrupting his sister-in-law, “You are misinformed. Stockmar did come to me, he did talk of a marriage between Lottie and the Coburg boy but I did not sanction anything. I came here today to ask for your opinion on the matter which I shall then relay to Stockmar. Did you really believe I would behave in such a way after all these years? Do you not know me at all Madam?”

Suddenly, Louise was deflated. Her cheeks flushed red and she felt hot. She clutched at her sherry glass and took a long gulp, sitting in her chair once more and staring down into the wood grain of the table. Cambridge allowed a few moments of silence to pass. Regardless of her opinion towards him, Cambridge had never sought to interfere in the marriages of his late brother’s children. He respected George IV’s wish that his widow should be given sole jurisdiction over the matter, just as the late Queen Charlotte had arranged the marriages of the Duke of Cambridge and the late King to the two Hesse princesses.


The Duke of Cambridge.

His concern as regent extended only to ensuring that the candidates were suitable; good protestant princesses from respectable families of unimpeachable reputation. Whilst the Duke of Clarence had taken a more paternalistic approach which had been inevitable given that King George V and Princess Charlotte Louise had pretty much been raised by the Clarences, Cambridge had no such close relationship with his niece and nephew. Whilst he might seek the advice of his wife when proposals were raised, he had absolutely no intention of blocking any marriage which Louise deemed appropriate and which did not contravene the Royal Marriages Act. He explained this to his sister-in-law calmly, placing his hand on her hers and trying to reassure her.

“Then why have you advised my son against marrying Luise?”, she snapped, only this time a little more defensive than offensive, “Is she not suitable Adolphus?”

“Of course, she is!”, Cambridge replied kindly, “But my dear, I did not advise Georgie against her. I advised he think about the matter for a while longer. He is still so young. If you wish me to approve the marriage as his regent then naturally I will but I thought we had all agreed it was for the best that Georgie propose to the girl of his own free will?”

I did not agree!”, Louise wailed, now sounding more like a petulant child than a ferocious matriarch, “I wanted to secure the marriage months ago and you are all against me! Even Augusta fails to help. I have never been allowed to take my true position in this wretched country, never. And now, when I wish to exercise the one right I have as the King’s mother, you all deny it to me just as I have been denied everything else”

Cambridge sighed. He shared his late brother’s view that it was only right for Louise to arrange the marriages of her own children. But he also shared the view of the late Duke of Clarence that forcing the King to marry young could only prove problematic in the long run. As Regent, it would be Cambridge’s duty to inform the Prime Minister and the Privy Council if the King wished to marry before he reached the age of majority, something he hoped he could avoid unless the King himself indicated that he freely wished to marry Duchess Luise. Whilst he had knocked the stuffing from his sister-in-law and calmed her initial rage, he knew that he would have to bend to Louise’s wishes if she now forced the issue. If he did not, he would not only be betraying the memory of his late brother the King by ignoring his wishes but he would also not be a man of his word.

“Louise, might I offer you a compromise?”, the Duke said generously, sipping his sherry, “Georgie thinks of nothing these days but the army. I beg you, wait until he has finished his time at the Royal Military College. It is just a few months more after all”

“A few months more when I am to be ignored”, Louise sulked, “Victoria was engaged at his age, she is married now, nobody objected to that!”

“Apples and oranges my dear”, Cambridge consoled, “Louise, what I say now I say as a brother to you; do not force him. If you do, he will resent you until the end of his days and you will lose him forever”

The Dowager Queen sat motionless for a moment. Something deep within her told her that Cambridge was right. There and then she had a choice before her that would cement her future. She could relent and allow her son to choose for himself, hoping that he would appreciate and acknowledge a change of heart in his mother’s approach that might help to repair their long-broken relationship. Or she could ignore her brother-in-law’s sound advice and insist on his immediate approval for a marriage between the King and Duchess Luise. She would exercise her authority; she would use her niece as a conduit to a greater position at court and recapture the standing she had once enjoyed when her late husband sat on the throne. She turned to look into her brother-in-law’s eyes. Though she once blamed him for ejecting her from Herrenhausen, she could not deny that he had been a good husband to her sister Augusta and she did not see any of the ambition she had attributed to the late Duke of Clarence’s motives over the years. He had advised her well in recent weeks and trusted her with far more than William ever had. She rose from the table and turned towards the fireplace. Cambridge could have sworn she even wiped away a tear. Finally, the Dowager Queen broke the silence.


Dowager Queen Louise.

“I will visit His Majesty before he leaves for the military college”, she said haughtily, “I trust his time there will be well spent”

The Duke of Cambridge allowed himself a sigh of relief.

“As for that ridiculous Coburg nonsense, you will tell Stockmar to return to his Lord and Master and never raise the subject again”

Louise now returned to the dining table after pouring herself a second glass of sherry. Cambridge felt himself on much safer ground as his sister-in-law went into a long (and tedious) account of her visit to Kent. She was sad to report that neither Chartwell nor Hever were at all suitable for a future royal residence. Chartwell was far too small and practically needed to be rebuilt brick by brick. As for Hever, she suspected the property was worth a third of the asking price and that her hosts were trying to gouge her. All was not lost however. That morning a notice had appeared in the London Times which announced that the Liberal peer Lord Foley was putting his estate at Witley Court up for auction. Foley had lost a fortune at the card table and Witley had been placed into a trust by his debtors who now wanted a quick and efficient sale. Louise had yet to visit Witley Court but by all accounts, it had possibilities.

Cambridge sat with one eye on the mantle clock. He was eager to leave Marlborough House and return to Piccadilly for an evening of port and bridge with some gentlemen from his club. Louise noticed.

“Oh my dear Adolphus”, she cooed, “I am so sorry, I have kept you far too long. Please, give my love to Augusta and the children”.

The Duke stood and kissed his sister-in-law on each cheek before turning to go. As he approached the door of the dining room, Queen Louise called his name.

“There is just one more thing”, she said with steel in her voice, “Will you ask the Prime Minister and Lord Durham to come here at their earliest convenience?”

The Duke of Cambridge was somewhat taken aback by the request. It was well known that the Dowager Queen despised the Liberals, most of all Lord Melbourne. The only politicians the Dowager Queen ever entertained were High Tories who had not defected to the Unionists and the Unionists themselves. Cambridge doubted that his sister-in-law had any interest in the planning for the forthcoming general election, neither had she yet been informed (on the advice of the Duke of Norfolk) that the Coronation committee was soon to meet to begin discussing the ceremony which would take place 12 months from now. Louise drew herself up in her chair and smiled. It was not a warm smile.

“His Majesty shall marry Duchess Luise before the end of the year. I will inform the Prime Minister and the Lord President personally”

Cambridge felt his heart drop a little in his chest. The die was cast. He could give no solid reason to oppose his sister-in-law, neither could he go back on the promise he made to his late brother the King. He had kept Louise out of the King’s affairs so far as the regency was concerned but that was the extent of the protection he could offer. There was no serious objection he could raise. The King was only 17 years old but if he was old enough to be crowned within the year, he was old enough to be married. Duchess Luise was the right age, rank and religion. Whatever the implications for his nephew, and though he had always hoped that the choice would be George’s, Cambridge saw that Louise was not about to let her last opportunity to secure her position at court pass her by. She needed to install her niece at her son’s side as a last-ditch attempt to reclaim the authority and influence she had always craved. It was hopeless to believe her son’s happiness would deter her from that course.

Cambridge nodded silently.

“As you wish. Madam”

He left Marlborough House in a daze. What had transpired there that day? Should he have emulated his late brother Clarence and been more forceful with the Dowager Queen? Did he have that right? Would his nephew resent him too now? As his carriage pulled away and headed to Piccadilly, he thought of the young King so eagerly engrossed in his studies. He would soon be away at the Royal Military College, pursuing the one thing that gave him the most joy. In 12 months’, time, his life would change forever; King and husband all in one fell swoop. He would need as much support as possible in those first few years and Cambridge had always intended, and had given his word, that he would offer that support in the absence of the late King. It was unlikely now that Georgie would ever want his uncle’s advice or support again.

Returning to Cambridge House that evening, the Duke told his wife Augusta of the Dowager Queen’s decision.

“I failed that boy”, he remarked sadly, “I failed the King”

At Windsor, the King himself remained in blissful ignorance of what lay ahead.

[1] Obviously the Crown Prince of Bavaria was a Roman Catholic but this wouldn't have stopped gossip-mongers matching Charlotte Louise to him, just as it didn't stop the British press matching the OTL incumbent Prince of Wales to Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg.

[2] An actual menu served at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria in the autumn of 1837.

[3] This is a portrait of Catharina Annette Fraser by Kruseman. I try my best to use unknown subjects to illustrate new characters but unfortunately, this is the best I can make fit here!
George probably wont be as upset at marrying Luise as what everyone thinks. Annoyed and piffed sure.

But seriously Louise. Forcing your son you never bothered to try raise into a marriage before he wants. And thinking you'll have any power at court. Delusional or what.
But seriously Louise. Forcing your son you never bothered to try raise into a marriage before he wants. A d thinking you'll have any power I court. Delusional or what.
Pretty much this she still very much wants to be at court though her son and daughter in law will have something to say about that.
Well, as soon as George ans Luise marry, the Dowager looses precedence as First Lady at Court, so she's certainly putting a lot of trust that George and Luise won't summarily cast her aside. Luises effective confinement will come back to haunt her.

But we know George and Luise are compatible given the fact they seem to conceive their eldest on their honeymoon.


Monthly Donor
George probably wont be as upset at marrying Luise as what everyone thinks. Annoyed and piffed sure.

But seriously Louise. Forcing your son you never bothered to try raise into a marriage before he wants. And thinking you'll have any power at court. Delusional or what.
Spot on. Ironically, had Louise been a little more patient and allowed things to develop naturally then there's little doubt George would have taken the initiative and seen Luise as an ideal bride. By forcing his hand, his mother really has condemned herself to a very uneasy future.
Pretty much this she still very much wants to be at court though her son and daughter in law will have something to say about that.
At this stage, Louise truly believes that she can engineer things in her favour through her niece. But just because Luise has done as she's told thus far, Luise's new position means that she might not be as subservient and willing in the days to come.
Well, as soon as George ans Luise marry, the Dowager looses precedence as First Lady at Court
Exactly this. Though I wouldn't like to be the one to spell that out to her. ;)
I expected nothing from Louise and I'm still disappointed.

It'll be interesting to see where things progress from here!


Monthly Donor
I expected nothing from Louise and I'm still disappointed.

It'll be interesting to see where things progress from here!
I'm afraid to say she's about to get worse but you won't have to wait too long now for her come uppance. We reap what we sow...
I could not figure what the scene between Cambridge and the Dowager Queen reminded me of, but I think in my head she was played by Veerle Baetens as she portrayed Margaret of Anjou in the White Queen.


Monthly Donor
I could not figure what the scene between Cambridge and the Dowager Queen reminded me of, but I think in my head she was played by Veerle Baetens as she portrayed Margaret of Anjou in the White Queen.
I can definitely see that comparison. I have to confess that as a devotee of vintage period drama, the character of Louise has been more than a little inspired by Pamela Brown's Archduchess Sophie in Fall of Eagles. ;)
The Dowager Duchess of Clarence had been aware of the blossoming romance for but as her late husband had set a rule that no marriages could be considered for the two princesses in his charge until they turned 18, she had allowed it to play out as nothing more than teenage infatuation.
It's a shame more royal families Europe of that time didn't have such a rule.