Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

Just a heads up that I've had a weekend without internet (quite frightening to realise how dependent EVERYTHING is on a connection) so the next update will be published either tomorrow or Wednesday. Apologies for the wait!
Given your extraordinary speed of updating, without the slightest lapse in quality, none of us have any grounds to complain. There’s certainly no need to apologise:)
GV: Part Two, Chapter 29: Goodbye Lottie New


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King George V

Part Two, Chapter Twenty-Nine: Goodbye Lottie

In 1948, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took several liberties with the truth for their motion picture The Little Empress. One of these inaccuracies concerned the arrival of Princess Charlotte Louise in St Petersburg and her subsequent wedding to the Tsarevich on the 29th of November 1840. In the film, the Tsar (Basil Rathbone) forbids the Princess (Deborah Kerr) from seeing any of her visiting family because he takes an immediate dislike to her when she is cheered by crowds of shivering peasants lining the Nevsky Prospect. He locks Charlotte Louise away in a tower to prevent her from seeing her brother and sister-in-law during the pre-wedding festivities and then claims she is ill after the ceremony robbing her of a last goodbye to the King. Of course, this serves the invented narrative of the film well (Charlotte Louise eventually telling the Tsar on his deathbed that one day she shall rule Russia…) but it bears little relation to the actual events surrounding the wedding of George V’s sister to the Russian Tsarevich.

The King was determined that he wouldn’t enjoy a single second of his time in Russia. He was deliberately obstinate in delaying his preparations for the trip and kept complaining that the Tsar and his wife were “crashing old bores” who would “make the whole thing vulgar and prolonged”. The Queen on the other hand was greatly looking forward to their trip. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was in fact Louise’s cousin (Alexandra’s mother Louise was the Queen’s aunt), though the pair hadn’t actually met because Alexandra married just before Queen Louise was born. To that end, the Russian Empress had invited every Mecklenburg-Strelitz relative she had to St Petersburg and so as the King would not feel outnumbered, she extended the same generosity to the Hesse-Kassels too. Whilst the Queen said how nice that would be, the King retorted, “Oh not another family reunion Sunny, I’m worn out with them all crowding about us at every turn”. When Louise reminded him that the Empress was a relation, the King replied; "Aren't they all?". [1]

There would however be one less immediate family member for George to worry about. Princess Victoria had extended her visit to Britain following the death of her aunt Augusta to attend the Service of Thanksgiving for her cousin’s marriage. She intended to travel with the King and Queen to Russia to be present at the wedding ceremony itself but that all changed when her grandfather-in-law, King William I of the Netherlands, abdicated. It was now imperative that Victoria return to Holland as soon as possible as her father-in-law’s inauguration and the accompanying festivities were to be held on the 28th of November. But Victoria had other ideas. She insisted that she would still be going to St Petersburg for Princess Charlotte Louise’s wedding on the 29th of November and feeling that she had found just the ruse needed to get her own way, she wrote to her husband saying; “I really should be in St Petersburg and after all, Mama is the Tsar’s sister and she should be represented by someone of senior rank in the family”. The Prince of Orange wrote back a ferocious note reminding his wife that if anyone was to represent the new Queen Anna in Russia, Queen Anna herself would decide who that was to be. In actual fact, she’d already taken care of that, asking her sister Maria (Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach) to do the honours. [2]


The inauguration of King William II of the Netherlands. Victoria can be seen standing to the right hand side of Queen Anna.

In a sulk, Victoria left her return travel plans distinctly vague much to the frustration of her husband. Eventually he booked Victoria a passage for the 20th of November and told her that if she was not on board when the ship sailed, he would divorce her. This was an idle-threat on William’s part (he was prone to fits of bad temper in which he intimidated his wife with all kinds of horrible consequences when he felt she had slighted him) but when Victoria complained to her cousin King George about the situation, he sided with his cousin-in-law and admonished Drina for being “quite unreasonable and very silly”. Victoria ultimately returned to the Netherlands as arranged, though the Dutch court knew full well that she had caused unhappiness and some felt slighted that once again she seemed to put her British relatives over her duties in the Netherlands. They were further put out when Victoria left the inauguration ball early on the 28th of November complaining of a headache, yet the following morning she was seen riding out in her carriage with her ladies in waiting. In a letter to her cousin Charlotte Louise, she wished her every happiness in Russia but insensitively warned; “You must of course expect to be hated in your new country because all English princesses are in foreign courts. We are treated most unreasonably because they all know that they are mostly the muddled offspring of princelings and parvenus, whilst we are granddaughters of King George III”.

Meanwhile, another royal cousin proved himself far amenable. Prince George of Cumberland did not expect to be invited to join the King and Queen in Russia and was making arrangements to go home to Berlin. But when King George V heard this, he protested; “But then you’d miss our Christmas at Hanover House! No no, you must stay here and I will make sure you have everything you need”. So it was that Prince George ended up staying on at Buckingham Palace. This did not please the Duke of Cumberland at all however and he wrote to his sister Mary that for Prince George to be included in family events whilst the Duke and his wife were not “is so very spiteful and I am afraid poor Freddie is laid low by the whole ghastly business”. He added somewhat imperiously; “The King should not forget that I am his uncle when all is said and done and I should take precedence over my son. Neither should the Queen forget that Freddie is her aunt and so has as much right to be invited to such events as that dreadful little Underwood creature, perhaps more so”. Cumberland later claimed it was the promotion of his son in the King’s affections at the cost of his own continued exile that made his wife unwell. The Duchess of Cumberland died in June the following year aged 63. [3]

The British government were much in agreement with the sentiments of the unenthusiastic King but dreaded the forthcoming wedding for very different reasons. A particularly unkind piece had appeared in a newspaper (no doubt motivated by Russophobic opinion on the part of the editor) which said “His Majesty has now committed to a further six weeks abroad which has the unhappy consequence of making the King absent from these shores yet once again. In these last twelve months, the King has spent almost 5 of them outside of his Kingdom – yet these travels did not include a visit to Hanover, as was so controversially pointed out earlier this year – and we have to wonder whether he will ape his ancestors in making England his part-time residence, preferring the comfort of continental courts to the his many English estates”. Of course this was derided by those in the know as deeply unfair. George V extended his summer holiday to Germany only to accommodate the wishes of his government in making a trip to Normandy; likewise, it had been the Foreign Secretary who asked him to prolong his absence to represent the United Kingdom at the funeral of the King of Prussia. George was hardly in a position to refuse and as far as Russia was concerned, had the Tsar allowed two wedding ceremonies to take place the King might not have found himself obligated to head for St Petersburg in the first place.


The HMS Royal Sovereign.

Charlie Phipps was determined to nip this criticism in the bud and cleverly, he suggested that the Royal Party might prefer to travel on the Royal Sovereign and not the Royal George, departing from London instead of Southampton. [4] Phipps reasoned that the Sovereign was not only bigger and more comfortable but that it had a special connection which the Russians would appreciate; at a review of the fleet in 1814 held to celebrate the Treaty of Paris, the Tsar’s predecessor and older brother Alexander I had joined the Prince Regent and the King of Prussia on board the Sovereign to lead fifteen ships of the line and thirty-one frigates out to sea. The King was impressed by this thoughtful gesture and was certain the Tsar would be too. In reality, Phipps knew the Sovereign to be a faster vessel than the George which would cut the King’s trip abroad in half from six weeks to just three [5]. The only problem was that there might not be enough room to accommodate everybody on board. Fortunately, circumstances intervened and the Cambridges elected not to join the King and Queen in Russia on the grounds that the Duchess was suffering from a head cold. It’s more likely they did not want to be met with gossip about their son and heir. Instead, the Duke of Cambridge sent some money to his daughter Augusta and told her to join her grandparents in Neustrelitz so that she could represent the Cambridges in St Petersburg instead. Augusta was delighted as it meant an opportunity to see her cousin Fritz (the Queen’s eldest brother) once again. The two had kept up some correspondence for some time and everybody in the family saw the prospect of wedding bells in the future.

George’s visit to Russia marked the first ever made by a reigning British sovereign but he was only to make the journey in a private capacity; this was no state visit but a personal one for an intimate family occasion, though just how intimate a ceremony that hosted 800 guests could be is perhaps left to the interpretation of the reader [6]. Whilst it was custom for a delegation from the Foreign Office to join the Sovereign whenever he travelled abroad, the King had tried to maintain the non-political nature of his sister's wedding by asking the Prime Minister if he had any objection at all to the King taking the Joint Clerk of the Privy Council William Bathurst with him instead of someone more senior. Sir James was more than content with this arrangement until news came from Egypt just days before the King and Queen were to leave for Russia; Ibrahim Ali had capitulated. Faced with an ultimatum and the loss of the defected Ottoman Fleet which proclaimed their allegiance for the Sultan once more, any hopes of his taking Constantinople had been dashed. He must now await the outcome of the London Conference the following year. [7]

Politically this was a great triumph for the Tories. They roared their approval in the Commons as the Whigs, led by Henry Labouchere on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition Lord Normanby, tried to deny just how close to a Europe-wide conflict the Great Powers had come. They were reminded in no uncertain terms that had the Whigs remained in power, Lord Palmerston would have insisted on sending gunboats whilst Sir James Graham’s government had wrestled victory from the Alis without a single shot fired. This was very much the tone the majority of the newspapers took and there was much talk of how the improved Anglo-Russian relationship had prevented a terrible crisis. Consequently, anti-Russian sentiment seemed to thaw just enough to see the odd favourable comment made in the Tsar’s favour. This would prove to be a huge relief to the King who was concerned that nobody would turn out to see his sister’s departure from St Katharine’s Dock but it was also something that saw Sir James Graham about face, wishing now to warm the Russian relationship further ahead of the all-important peace talks in February 1841. Rather than the Joint Clerk of the Privy Council, Lord Derby himself was to accompany the royal party to Russia which confused the King who remarked; “So much for this thing being kept in the family”. Also joining the royal party on their journey to St Petersburg were the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Major Billy Smith and Charlie Phipps.

On the evening before the Sovereign was due to set sail, the King gave a small family dinner party at Buckingham Palace for the Tsarevich and Princess Charlotte Louise. It was an incredibly simple affair, very much to the private tastes of the King and Queen. Indeed, there were no servants with the Queen ordering a simple hot and cold buffet to which those invited could help themselves. The Sussexes, Princess Mary, the Cambridges and Princess Sophia were all invited to bid their niece goodbye and there was much toasting with champagne and long drawn-out speech giving for the duration. As the guests departed, only a handful held back; Princess Mary, the Duke of Cambridge and of course the Tsarevich and Princess Charlotte Louise. Princess Mary’s farewell to her niece was particularly touching. In her diary, Queen Louise recorded how; “Poor Aunt Mary really was so very overcome which surprised us all. She kept weeping and kissing dear Lottie on the cheek and holding her hand very tightly. She said, ‘Now do not forget your silly old Aunt Mary little one’ and begged her to remember to write often. When she finally came to leave, Aunt Mary seized Sasha in her arms and kissed him too saying ‘You must bring her back to us whenever you can, you must promise you will do that’. And then she tottered away and we could hear her crying all the way!”.

The following morning, a great procession was staged from the early hours of the morning as carts were loaded up to take the King and Queen’s luggage to St Katharine’s Dock, as well as Princess Charlotte Louise’s personal possessions she had chosen from Marlborough House to take to her new home. But inside Marlborough House, there was another parting to be concluded. Charlotte Louise’s lady in waiting, childhood friend and most devoted companion Lady Anne Anson had asked if she might be spared waving the Princess off from the dockside. “I could not bear to see you grow smaller and smaller in the distance Ma’am”, she said sadly. Lady Anson had been the closest thing to a sister Charlotte Louise had, she was perhaps even closer to Anne than she was to her cousin Princess Victoria. It had been Charlotte Louise’s wish to take Lady Anne with her to Russia as a lady-in-waiting but Lady Anne’s husband saw no life for the pair in St Petersburg and besides, the Empress forbad it. “It would be quite improper for you to bring an English lady with you”, she said, “For I have taken great trouble and care to choose ladies from my own household who would be most upset if you were to favour an old friend over new acquaintances”. Lady Anson would always remain a close friend to Princess Charlotte Louise, indeed they corresponded for decades to come and the Ansons made frequent trips to Russia to visit. But for Charlotte Louise, it now became apparent that every link she had to her homeland was being removed from her; she was to travel to Russia with only her husband to support her following their marriage.

By the time the carriages carrying the King and Queen and Princess Charlotte Louise and the Tsarevich left Buckingham Palace, quite a crowd had formed which was sustained all the way to Tower Hill. It was an enthusiastic one too, though some miserly journalists suggested this was more because Londoners always enjoyed a bit of pageantry to brighten their dull working day and in no way reflected any change of heart concerning the Princess’ marriage. It was noted that some Russian emigres had joined the crowds to present Princess Charlotte Louise with a posy of flowers before she boarded the Sovereign and it was also noted that she removed the taffeta scarf keeping her hat secure so that she might use it to wave goodbye to those who had come to wish her well. “There was no public farewell in a formal sense”, the Times reported, “For His Majesty was present and will say a private goodbye to his dear sister in the grandest of settings, no doubt a more comfortable experience than it might have been had the King been forced to wave his sister off to her new home from the noisy London dockside”. Princess Charlotte Louise recalled later that she wished she had been able to see the crowds from the deck of the ship as she left but her eyes were simply too full of tears.

The Sovereign’s route to St Petersburg took seven days across the North Sea, along the Skagerrak and Kattegat, into the Baltic Sea and across the Gulf of Finland. Empress Alexandra had sent a very detailed catalogue of what the British arrivals should expect but surely nothing could prepare them for the welcome staged on their behalf by the Tsar and his wife. A beautiful barge highly decorated was sent out to bring the party ashore, the dock teeming with people craning their necks so that they might be the first to spy their future Tsarevna [8]. It was 2 degrees below and so against the pure white of the snow that covered everything in sight in an elegant soft blanket, the colours of the Union flag and the Imperial standard were made that much brighter. A huge dais had been constructed with almost every member of the Tsar’s family waiting to receive the British party, the ladies covered in sumptuous furs with small silver boxes filled with coals hidden in their muffs to keep their gloved hands warm in the freezing temperatures – an idea supposedly imported from Manchuria. The men tried their best not to shiver in their military uniforms.


The Palace Square, Winter Palace, St Petersburg, 1840.

When the royal party arrived at the dais, the Tsar greeted the King before he greeted his own son. Kissing George on each cheek and shaking his hand, the Empress did likewise, taking Queen Louise in her arms before kissing her future daughter in law. Then the carriages arrived. The Tsarevich and Princess Charlotte Louise might be the happy couple but they were to travel in the second landau – the first was reserved for the Tsar and his wife. After them came smaller carriages for King George and Queen Louise, the rest of the Romanov clan and the court officials. Lord Derby was surprised to find himself sharing a carriage with the Tsar’s daughter the Grand Duchess Maria (Duchess of Leuchtenberg) who noticed how cold the Foreign Secretary looked and who nodded to her coachman who then produced a bottle of vodka from his coat. “Never have I welcomed the sight of strong drink as I did that day”, Derby later remarked. He would need some sustenance. Instead of being driven directly to the Winter Palace for the welcome reception, the Tsar had planned a procession around the city with his guests treated to the magnificent sights of Kazan Cathedral, the Bolshoi Theatre and St Isaac’s. It would be another hour before the British contingent found themselves in the splendour (and warmth) of the Winter Palace.

The welcome reception was quite informal by Romanov standards. The King and Queen were given a suite of rooms to use temporarily so that they might change out of their travelling clothes but they were a little unsure as to what they should wear for what appeared to be a kind of buffet-style afternoon tea. The Empress sent word to the Duchess of Buccleuch that she wanted to know what Queen Louise had decided to wear for the occasion. Sensing a French-style trick at hand, the Duchess replied, “Oh something warm and comfortable”. The reply came back; “It is only that Her Imperial Majesty wished to know whether or not the Queen was still observing half mourning for the late Princess Augusta and should like to have shown sympathy if that were the case”. The Duchess of Buccleuch was suitably admonished and when the King and Queen finally appeared in what might best be described as country estate comfortables, the Tsar took great interest in the tweed of the King’s jacket. George would later send him bolts of a similar material for Nicholas to have made up into suits.

There was of course to be much formality over the next few days but in this corner of the Winter Palace, everything was put onto the level of a family get together. The King and Queen’s extended family would not arrive until the next day but the Empress made a point of talking about her Strelitz relations to put the Queen at ease whilst the Tsar and the Tsarevich gave the King and Lord Derby a tour of one of the many picture galleries. As they wandered, the Tsar noticed that the King looked a little on edge; “Well gentlemen”, he said as if the idea had just struck him, “What say we leave the ladies for a brief moment and have a smoke”. Lord Derby would note later that he had never seen anyone light up as happily as the King did that afternoon. For someone who had dreaded his trip, the King admitted in a letter to his uncle Sussex that “The Tsar and his wife really have gone to great lengths to make us feel very welcome and most comfortable, though I do find all the excess of the place a little vulgar”.

In this, George was possibly referring to his billet for the duration of his stay in Russia. The Tsar had decided to give the Anichkov Palace, that grand 18th century imperial palace at the intersection of the Nevsky Prospect and the Fontanka River, to the Tsarevich and his bride as their St Petersburg home. It had been renovated by Alexander I some 20 years earlier when the Grand Duchess Elena vacated it but it showed no signs of age. Anichkov was grand and imposing of course but the private rooms were almost cosy. “I do not want you to think we did not want you to stay with us here”, the Empress explained as she bid the Queen farewell on the journey to Anichkov, “But I thought that it might be nice for Lotya to spend her first night in her new home with her English family. That way she will always think of you there and not so far away in London”.

At Anichkov, the King and Queen were given a small army of servants to care for them with valets and ladies’ maids on hand to provide anything Their Majesties might need. Even their breakfast trays had been carefully thought out with tea provided instead of coffee and the Empress had even ordered her Chamberlain to order “English sundries” from London with two large hampers especially brought over from Fortnum & Mason packed with jams and marmalades, gentlemen’s relish and even Scotch Eggs which the Empress assumed was some kind of breakfast food. [9] The same comforts were extended to Princess Charlotte Louise of course, though she had far more important things to worry about than what she was to eat first thing in the morning. In her suite, she was introduced to the ladies of the court set aside to help her prepare for the two important ceremonies ahead; her reception into the Orthodox Church and of course, her wedding day. But she needn’t have worried. The Empress travelled to Anichkov personally to put her at her ease and when the Princess responded in Russian, Alexandra kissed her gently whispering kindly; “Oh no my dear, they would much prefer French”. [10]


Anichkov, 1850.

The Tsar was uncertain as to whether the King and Queen would want to attend the ceremony for Charlotte Louise’s reception into the Orthodox faith, after which there was to be a “family-only” reception. “On the contrary”, the King replied, “We must see the way things are done here”. He possibly regretted the decision when a few hours later he found himself forced to stand in the Grand Church of the Winter Palace for what seemed an eternity. He didn’t understand a single word, though Grand Duke Michael stood beside the King and Queen trying helpfully to explain what was happening. The King muttered; “We brought Missy into our church within 25 minutes”. Fortunately, Princess Charlotte Louise was far more moved by the experience. Dressed in a white gown embroidered with an olive branch motif, she was anointed with chrism oil in the sign of the cross on her forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, breast, hands and feet so as to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Empress stood as her godmother and was the first to say out loud the name by which the Princess would now be known for the rest of her life; Maria Georgievna. [11]

Though she was never as pious as some of her relatives (or indeed her own children), Maria Georgievna was nonetheless a sincere convert to Orthodoxy. She came to appreciate its traditions and rituals, though it was noted that she nonetheless continued to celebrate Christmas Eve on the 24th of December as she did in England as well as celebrating the occasion according to the Russian Orthodox liturgical calendar later in January. Her children were always grateful for this and indeed, her daughter the Grand Duchess Maria (later Queen of the Netherlands) recalled how for nearly a whole month her mother celebrated Christmas with parties and gift-giving well before the other Romanovs began their own festivities. Her son Grand Duke George remembered how his mother “Introduced us all very early to the traditions of an English Christmas, though none of us were ever reconciled to that horrid fruit pudding she so adored, neither did we care for English songs which we all thought sounded very ugly”.

After the reception ceremony, there was a grand luncheon held at Anichkov where the extended Hesse-Kassel and Mecklenburg-Strelitz relations had finally arrived. “Everything had an atmosphere of comfort and ease to it”, Maria Georgievna later recalled, “I was very grateful to my mother-in-law for that for she made a very difficult thing so very easy. I was allowed to take my first steps in my new homeland surrounded by those I knew and loved well and I hope my own children feel I did the same for their husbands and wives when the time came for them to marry”. For Queen Louise, the whole mood of the trip was now transformed as she could spend time with her parents and siblings. The King too enjoyed being with his Hesse relations, though he noted later that he couldn’t help but wonder if they had been invited because “the Empress still has more children to see married off yet”. That evening there was another banquet, this time to push the focus to the following day’s wedding ceremony. It was here that the Tsar and his wife presented gifts. For their new daughter-in-law, there was a large ikon of St Edward the Martyr, King of England from 975 until 978 and venerated as a Saint in both the Anglican and Orthodox churches. Lord Derby perhaps took the shine off this gift when he said, a little too loudly, “Murdered, wasn’t he?”.

Then came the other gifts in the form of orders of chivalry. Three velvet cushions were brought forward by footmen, two bearing the Order of St Catherine in the rank of a Dame Grand Cordon, awarded to Maria Georgievna and Queen Louise respectively. For King George, there was the Order of St Andrew which fortunately had been mentioned ahead of time and so the King was able to present the Tsar with the Order of the Garter in return. There were also gifts of jewellery, a diamond and ruby brooch for Queen Louise and a diamond cravat pin for the King. The other Romanov relations offered clocks, tapestry cushions and even perfumes which unsettled the King and Queen as they had no idea whether they should have brought small tokens for each of Maria Georgievna’s new in-laws. The evening was finally brought to a close not with dancing but with a speech by the Tsar in which he gave his blessing to the couple ahead of their big day.

At 11.30am on the morning of the 29th of November 1840, the Empress Alexandra departed the Winter Palace for Anichkov. By tradition, she would bring Maria Georgievna to the Grand Church to be married. It was the Empress who would place one of her many tiaras upon daughter-in-law’s head. The Imperial Jeweller also delivered a diamond necklace and matching earrings which had belonged to Catherine the Great for her to wear, though Maria indicated that she would prefer to wear her amethyst parure which her brother had given to her shortly before her departure from England. “I shall see your jewels are brought with us”, her mother-in-law said kindly, “Then when you change into your evening dress, you can put them on for us all to admire”. The bride’s dress was widely complimented by the ladies of the Russian court who dressed her and the English newspapers noted that whilst the ivory satin gown had been made in Russia, the Princess’ veil was made in England from Honiton lace and amidst the Imperial Eagles “one could clearly see the emblems of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as the heraldic supporters of the Lion and the Unicorn”.

Though St Petersburg was blanketed in snow and the weather extremely cold, Maria insisted that she would not travel in a closed carriage. She wanted to be seen by the people, something the Tsar acknowledged and congratulated her for. That said, to keep her warm she had to be covered with a huge fur blanket with a second draped around her shoulders which left her feeling sweaty and hot. Fortunately there was just enough time for her to be made presentable once more before the wedding began. At 12pm precisely, the canons of the Peter and Paul Fortress rang out to announce that His Imperial Highness the Tsarevich was about to marry his bride. The Tsar and his wife led the procession with the King and Queen walking behind. Once at their place before the altar of the Grand Church of the Winter Palace, the groom arrived with his young brothers. And then, finally, in the last steps of a journey that had seemed to last forever, Princess Charlotte Louise – now Maria Georgievna – began her procession. She was followed by the older Romanov ladies, then the Tsarevich’s sisters with Princess Augusta of Cambridge leading some of the younger Hesse-Kassels and Strelitzes.

Archpriest Ivan Popov, the Imperial confessor and chief of the palace clergy, led the ceremony with the rings presented and the couple formally betrothed in front of the congregation. At the very last moment, the Tsar sent a chamberlain to whisper into King George’s ear. Though the King was not Orthodox, Nicholas felt George should have the honour of holding the nuptial crown above his sister’s head whilst Grand Duke Michael did the same for the groom. Unfazed, the King held aloft a diamond crown above Maria Georgievna’s head as the bride and groom were led around the lectern three times. With a final prayer, Alexander and Maria were finally proclaimed man and wife to the applause of all within the Grand Chapel. Queen Louise wrote of the experience; “It was so very moving and I’m afraid I wept absolute tears! Though we were all shaken out of that when suddenly every church bell in Petersburg rang out and there was gunfire from the fortress which we had not expected and which caused all of us to cry out in alarm much to the amusement of the Russians”.


Alexander and Maria Georgievna on their wedding day.

At the subsequent wedding breakfast, the King gave a speech in which he praised his sister’s beauty, elegance and charm, her courage and her determination. Though he bid her a fond farewell, this was not his real goodbye. That came much later when George and Louise prepared themselves to leave St Petersburg following the return banquet held at the Dowager Princess Baryatinskya's palace on the banks of the Neva. The Tsar complimented the King on how splendidly everything had been arranged, though there was a sting in the tail; the Empress remarked that she was glad to see Russian hospitality had not been overshadowed. This was presumably a compliment, had the banquet at the Baryatinsky Palace outshone any of the celebrations staged by the Romanovs it would have been taken as an insult. Still, the Empress' remark did not cast a pall over the proceedings and the guests went home satisfied that all due honour had been done.

At the Anichkov Palace the following morning, Queen Louise kissed her sister-in-law goodbye and wished her well; “When the baby is born, you must both come to England”, she said gaily, “I won’t take no for answer!”. With a knowing nod, Sasha led Louise out of the room leaving George and his sister alone together. An awkward silence filled the room. Neither knew what to say.

“You look happy”, George said eventually, holding Maria’s hands in his, “And I am so very proud of you.”

“If I am happy it is because you made it so”

“Oh I doubt that”, the King grinned, “I haven’t been very co-operative in all this. But I…I didn’t want to lose you Lottie. I’ve never wanted to lose you”

Maria began to weep. She held her brother close and whispered in his ear; “You will never lose me Georgie. I’m always with you. Remember that”

Now it was the King’s turn to cry. He smoothed down his coat and tried to ignore the tears falling from his eyes.

“Now you listen to everything Sasha tells you”, he said, his voice breaking with emotion, “And you’ll visit us soon so it won’t be too long before we’re back together again. And I want a letter every day, no excuses now, what?”.

The King made to leave. Just as he reached the door, he turned back to look at his sister. She did look happy. And then George raced forward, throwing his arms about his sister and kissing her cheek.

“I love you Lottie, so very much”, he said, “And I shall love Sasha and your children, I shall love every happiness you know, I shall love every memory you make here. But I shall still love you as if it were just us. We will always be our father's children.”

“How proud he would be”, Lottie nodded through sobs, “How very proud”.

George wiped his eyes. He slowly made toward the door. He didn’t look back. He couldn’t bear to. Just on the other side was the Queen. She held out her hand to her husband and kissed him.

“Let’s go home Georgie”, she said softly, “Let’s go home and meet our baby”.

[1] I had to include this as it always fascinates me as to how members of Royal Families seem far less concerned about their genealogy than we are. In the Duke of Kent's recent memoirs, he mentions his Russian relations ("But I'm not sure how they fit in"). Ah that we should all have such grandmothers...

[2] This is very Victoria. She didn't care so much for whether or not she should be present for grand occasions but rather based her decision to attend on whether she wanted to be present. There's a story about a military review in Aldershot in 1867 which she refused to attend because she was still in mourning. After being told that meant the Princess of Wales would have to go (Victoria already being tired of Alexandra's popularity), she claimed she'd always intended to go to Aldershot and that her mourning must come second to her duty. That was all well and good until the Emperor Maximilian got shot and Victoria found a good excuse to cancel the whole thing.

[3] But not in Hanover of course where (in TTL), she was never Queen consort.

[4] At this time, the British Royal Family had access to three royal yachts still in service from the reign of King George III. Sovereign was the largest.

[5] I've had to use a calculator to work out how long the journey would have taken. The Sovereign being capable of 10-12 knots, the nearest I can approximate from the Port of London to St Petersburg is 7 days. But I stand to be corrected here as nautical speeds are not my speciality!

[6] It's widely reported that the first visit made by a reigning British sovereign to Russia was the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. However, Edward VII made a state visit to Russia in 1908 and I believe he had paid a private visit to Russia before then after his accession. From my records, I believe George's visit here is the first visit made but again, I'm happy to be corrected if someone has other statistics.

[7] A knock on effect from our earlier butterflies where the Oriental Crisis is concerned.

[8] Originally a title for the daughters of the Tsar, by the time Alexander II married Marie of Hesse and by Rhine in the OTL, it had come to be used for the wife of the Tsarevich.

[9] Fortnums had been in business for well over 100 years by this time and boasted the Tsar of Russia among the ranks of their grandest patrons.

[10] The language of the Russian Court was French, Russian was only really spoken in private with German following a close second.

[11] And we'll call her Maria from now on.


Better late than never! This chapter is a little longer than usual as I have a busy weekend ahead so the next might not be till Monday or Tuesday.

Sadly, this is where we leave Charlotte Louise for a while. With these sorts of marriages, it's hard to go into too much detail without derailing our main focus which is of course King George. As with Princess Victoria, I'll try to drop in little updates here and there and Maria Georgievna will make return visits to England. I'll also try to make sure her children get a mention as they arrive too. But certainly for a little while, she's relegated to a B character rather than an A character.

Many thanks for reading!
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I love this chapter, she shall always be Charlotte Louise though, much better name imo but Romanovs gonna Romanov

Also just a small thing regarding the travel. I highly doubt that they'd travel via the IJsselmeer (ij combo in Dutch is capitalised as one letter when needed) as that won't exist for almost a hundred years (the drivers for that development, the protection of the coastline in that region, are all still there). At the time it's still a bay called the Zuiderzee, but they wouldn't travel via that as they'd be going the long way around, especially as they'd be making a short visit to the Netherlands that way. More likely they'd just cross the North Sea.
Also lovely to see that the Dutch royal family is much more integrated into Europe's royalty this time around, first a British match and later a Russian match. Considering how OTL treated the Orange-Nassau's, I certainly hope they'll be better off this time around


Monthly Donor
I love this chapter, she shall always be Charlotte Louise though, much better name imo but Romanovs gonna Romanov

Also just a small thing regarding the travel. I highly doubt that they'd travel via the IJsselmeer (ij combo in Dutch is capitalised as one letter when needed) as that won't exist for almost a hundred years (the drivers for that development, the protection of the coastline in that region, are all still there). At the time it's still a bay called the Zuiderzee, but they wouldn't travel via that as they'd be going the long way around, especially as they'd be making a short visit to the Netherlands that way. More likely they'd just cross the North Sea.
Also lovely to see that the Dutch royal family is much more integrated into Europe's royalty this time around, first a British match and later a Russian match. Considering how OTL treated the Orange-Nassau's, I certainly hope they'll be better off this time around
Ah this is a huge help! I must confess, I couldn't find anything on old shipping routes so had to go with whatever I could find from today. So I'll make a little edit on that one and I'm grateful for your pointing it out!

Many thanks for reading and for your kind comments on the chapter. The Dutch are definitely getting a better run of things in terms of the family ties which pleases me as they've always been a favourite. ;)

With thanks to good old Wikipedia, this shows what the Zuiderzee looked like, as you can imagine I doubt they'd go via these waters. The southern part is now the IJsselmeer and the province of Flevoland and the northern part is basically one massive tidal flat. Anything Dutch related is gonna get my attention, and hearing they aren't Europe's royal punching bag is good to hear


Monthly Donor
So Lottie is finally married! Nicholas was a lot more hospitable than I thought he would be.
Another fantastic chapter!
Thank you so much! After all her trials and tribulations, it's nice to see her find her happiness at last. Though of course, that isn't to say it'll all be plain sailing. I'm not a "happy ever after" type and this is a huge transition for her to make - it would be silly of me to pretend everything slotted into place the moment she was married. But eventually I believe she'd settle nicely in Russia. I think if she has one defining character trait it's that her earlier disappointments have made her determined. That'll serve her well for the future.
Damn you. Why are my eyes so blurry?!
Haha, I shall be sure to put a "Handkerchief Warning" on chapters in the future with weepy scenes. ;)
I’ve just got caught up on this TL. Loving it to bits!!!
Thank you! I'm so happy you're enjoying the TL!
GV: Part Two, Chapter 30: A Tale of Two Georges New


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Two, Chapter Thirty: A Tale of Two Georges

TW: This chapter contains references which some readers may find upsetting.

At St Katharine’s Dock, a respectable crowd had turned out to see the return of the Sovereign following it’s 8 day crossing from St Petersburg to London. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex waited patiently on the dockside until the royal yacht finally came into view, it’s flags fluttering in the crisp December air, the throngs of people who had gathered letting out cheers and rounds of applause. The London Times reported that “the people perched precariously on window ledges in the very highest buildings for a glimpse of Their Majesties but were left somewhat disappointed. For after an hour or more, a closed carriage arrived to replace the phaeton in which the Duke and Duchess had travelled to Tower Hill. By which time, it had begun to rain. Yet still the crowd did not disperse but were ill-rewarded for their patience for the only sight any of us saw emerge from the Sovereign were two figures with umbrellas, under which I am reliably informed walked the persons of the King and Queen, who then drove away without their customary warm greeting which Londoners have so come to enjoy. Their Majesties must have been eager to return to Buckingham Palace where they shall spend only two days before leaving the capital once more for their home in Dorsetshire”.


St Katharine Dock, London, from an 1828 print.

The King and Queen had very little choice other than to return to the Palace as quickly as possible. The last leg of their journey across the North Sea had been particularly rough and Queen Louise had been taken unwell. Dr Arthur Ballinger, a junior physician attached to the Royal Household, had joined the royal party on their trip to Russia and later remarked that the only person on board the Sovereign not to be afflicted by sea sickness was the King. For the others, Dr Ballinger prescribed a hot mixture of brandy, lemon juice, honey and ginger but in most cases, the alcohol simply made the situation worse. The Duchess of Buccleuch was particularly badly affected and when the Queen complained that Ballinger’s remedy was making her feel worse, the Duchess pitched the entire jug of the concoction overboard. But worryingly, whilst everybody else recovered soon after the waters calmed, Queen Louise remained in her sick bed. “She could keep nothing down at all, not even a little cold tea”, the Duchess of Buccleuch noted, “And we were all so very worried for Her Majesty that Ballinger got a terrible ticking off from the King, His Majesty insistent that his remedy had in fact made the Queen a great deal worse. For her part, Her Majesty simply kept saying ‘I shall be perfectly alright’ and bore the ordeal with great stoicism”.

But sadly, the Queen was far from alright. The moment she returned to Buckingham Palace Dr Allison was called to examine her. He gave her a sleeping draught and told the Duchess of Buccleuch to ensure she administer the same draught for the next few days. Then he made his way to the King’s Study where George V was pacing anxiously.

“I am so very sorry Your Majesty”, Allison said softly, “Her Majesty has suffered a miscarriage”.

The news came as a terrible blow to the King. The arrival of another baby, a baby he was so determined was to be a son, was the promise of happiness he had clung to as he endured his farewell to his sister in St Petersburg. In a few days, the King and Queen were to travel to Hanover House for Christmas with their most intimate friends and relations and it was planned that the Queen would be able to stay there and enjoy the peace and calm of “the little house” given Dr Allison’s advice that this pregnancy may take a higher toll than the last. The King immediately wanted to go to his wife but she was already sleeping. She would recover, Allison said, and this sad turn of events did not mean she could have no further children in the future. Nonetheless, the Queen’s loss was deeply distressing to both George and Louise and naturally the celebrations for Christmas at Hanover House were immediately cancelled. The Queen could not travel in time and so it was that Their Majesties faced a more sombre Christmas at Buckingham Palace instead.

Fortunately, the Cambridges were still in England having delayed their return to Hanover until after Christmas. The Duchess was one of many who had experienced similar tragedies and she reasserted herself in the affections of the royal couple by devotedly nursing the Queen through the worst. The Duke consoled his nephew as much as possible too, inviting him and Frau Wiedl to dine at Cambridge House as a much-needed distraction. It was unfortunate therefore that just days after the King and Queen returned to London, alarming news came from Sandhurst where Prince George had been confined to barracks pending a decision on his future in the British Army. Evidently this detention had only served to make the Prince less penitent and he now resented the harshness of his punishment so much that he had made a decision for himself. In a letter to his father, the Prince said that he no longer wished to serve in the army and would take up Lord Hill’s offer to resign without a stain on his character. Thereafter, he would go to Canada – with Ada Marsden. As soon as she was free to marry, they would do so. Princess Alexandrine of Baden could marry “another unfairly maligned prince”, he said, “Nothing will force me to take her, or any other spinster cousin, for a wife for as long as I live”.

These were nothing but immature threats borne of frustration which aimed to provoke a response from a strict parent. Prince George was clearly bored and wanted free of the consequences of his actions. Yet the Duke of Cambridge did not see it that way. He was genuinely concerned that his son and heir meant what he said in his letter and he saw that there was no further time for delay; a decision on the Prince’s future must be made before the year was out. To make matters worse, there was also a letter from Lord Hill. He had reports that far from being well behaved in the presence of the soldiers put on watch to ensure he did not go AWOL again, he had enraged one by gambling with him for high stakes which he then refused to pay once he lost at cards. All three were disciplined but it was yet a further sign that Prince George was far from being corrected in his behaviour. Cambridge had hoped to keep this latest development from the King given the circumstances but George knew when his uncle was out of sorts. After a few glasses of brandy following their dinner, the Duke came clean. He gave the King a copy of the Prince’s letter and closed his eyes.

“I simply don’t know what else to do with the boy”, he said sadly, “Haven’t we done everything to try and save him from himself?”

The King carefully folded the letter and put it in the inside pocket of his coat.

“Not everything, no”, he said sternly, “But by God I shall see to it that we do”.

By contrast to his cousin and namesake, Prince George of Cumberland was making his presence at court felt in a very different way. He was to join the Royal Family at Hanover House for Christmas but when those plans were cancelled, the King still extended his invitation for the Prince to remain in London as his guest. Prince George had very little to do with his time and so called on the relations he had never really had a chance to get to know before. He spent time with the formidable Princess Mary who seem to have a complete lack of tact and spent much of their time together telling George how awful his parents were. Princess Sophia was far more friendly but she was by now almost completely deaf and when the Prince asked what memories of his grandfather she might share, Sophia replied; "I think there's a slice left but it's yesterdays". In the evenings, George dined with the King, the Cambridges or the Sussexes. His blindness meant that he could not explore the city as he might have liked and as for most people with a disability in these times, life could be quite boring and lonely. One afternoon, faced with another day of nothing to do, he made his way to the Queen’s Apartments and asked the Duchess of Buccleuch if he might have a moment with his cousin. From a chaise where she was laying down, Queen Louise heard George’s voice and invited him inside.

“Forgive me but I just wanted to bring you a little something”, he said kindly, “It’s the new Dickens. I heard that you liked his work and well…I asked Simpson to go and fetch you this from Cecil Court”.

He handed a copy of Master Humphrey's Clock to the Duchess of Buccleuch who smiled and presented it to the Queen.

“There's a new serial in it; The Old Curiosity Shop. I want to read it myself but I’m afraid Simpson doesn’t care for Dickens very much”

Queen Louise made to stand up but the Duchess moved forward to prevent her.

“Oh really Charlotte”, Louise said brusquely, “I am not an invalid, I am allowed to stand!”

She moved towards Prince George and kissed him on the cheek.

“That was very kind of you George dear”, she said, “And if you want to hear it, I shall be happy to read it with you”.


Master Humphrey's Clock.

This marked a turning point in the Queen’s recovery. She had been confined to her bed for almost a week and as anyone might expect, she was extremely depressed, blaming herself for the loss of her baby. Dr Allison insisted that there was nothing she could have done to prevent her miscarriage but the Queen thought he was just being kind. Prince George offered her something which nobody had thought to do; he gave her the chance to be needed. Each afternoon, he made his way to the Queen’s Apartments for tea and there, Louise read a chapter of The Old Curiosity Shop. It did not take long before laughter was heard in the Queen’s Apartments once more and when George suggested that they take a walk before the next instalment, Louise took the Prince by the arm and together they pottered in the gardens talking about their favourite characters and what they thought might happen. From the window of his study, the King looked on and smiled. The Queen was slowly returning to her old self once more. The pain would always be there of course, thoughts of what might have been. But she was smiling again. And that pleased the King.

The King was watching from his window during an audience with the Prime Minister, the last to be scheduled for that year. The King was distracted but not entirely by the positive signs of recovery in his wife. The Cambridge issue was dominating his thoughts. He was hardly paying attention as Sir James Graham gave an overview of the achievements of the government over the last 9 months; food prices had stabilised and though there was continued unrest in some cities the Home Secretary believed there to be no credible threat of a return to the dark days of the Winter of Discontent. The situation in Afghanistan was best described as “temperate”, Dost Muhammed Khan now having secured Kabul once more and awaiting the outcome of next year’s London Conference to see where his bread was best buttered. But there was an ongoing situation that would need urgent attention in the New Year.

“I fear we must address the situation in China. I am afraid my predecessor applied a patch to a tear that is now fraying”, Graham continued, not looking up from his papers and so overlooking the fact that the King was not entirely enthused by their conversation, “And now that Elliot has resigned, I am loathe to send our new man into the field with a broken bat. You see Sir, we have bought time with the Chinese but it shall not hold and that means a review of our foreign policy. I’m quite in agreement with Lord Derby that we must push further but I cannot do that…”

The Prime Minister glanced up. The King stood at the window, looking down into the gardens below where the Queen was out walking with Prince George of Cumberland, Princess Mary and little Princess Victoria in her bassinet. He smiled.

“Perhaps Your Majesty might like to end the audience a little early?”

“What? Oh no, do forgive me Prime Minister. It’s just that…well, the Queen is so much improved of late”

“I am very glad to hear that Sir”, Graham smiled, “I well remember when Lady Graham and I suffered a similar loss. It took time for us both to accept but we did so. And we were drawn much closer because of it”

The King nodded; “Thank you for that Prime Minister. Now do go on, the situation in China, I believe we had reached a kind of agreement with the Emperor on trade?”

“Not quite Sir”, the Prime Minister replied, “The policy we inherited from the last government proved only to be a holding tactic. Nothing was actually agreed as it were, it was merely a gentleman’s understanding”

In fact, the “understanding” was anything but gentlemanly. Before the Whigs were ousted from office in March 1840, they committed themselves to the Melbury-Granville Plan. It marked a significant change of course in British foreign policy with Palmerston’s gunboat diplomacy abandoned following the disaster of Bala Hissar and Melbury’s preference for negotiations, conferences and treaties offered up in its place. It was hoped that the Chinese may be brought to terms regarding a permanent British presence in Hong Kong if the United Kingdom was seen to make stronger efforts to curb the trade of Opium as the Chinese wanted. Lord Melbury introduced a bill which appeared to ban the trade but which in reality served as a kind of smoke screen that would allow opium to be sold just as before yet gave the Chinese the impression that the British had had a change of heart. The bill only made mention of the East India Company but Lord Melbury felt this was perfectly adequate given that the Chinese themselves had highlighted the company as the main culprit. Ostensibly, all ships flying the company flag were now banned from trading in opium and if they did, the British Chief Superintendent in China (Charles Elliot) could issue a penalty notice which forced the East India Company to pay a fine fixed at 10% of the value of their cargo.

But there was a glaring loophole; the East India Company was still able to hire “runners” which collected the cargo from the East India Company’s ships well off the coast of China and which then took the contraband to the port. The runners sold it for an inflated price which would cover the cost of the 10% penalty if the ship was caught and impounded by the Chinese authorities. In effect, all Lord Melbury had done was introduce a new tariff on opium which the East India Company was happy to pay because a) it could afford to do so and b) because the alternative was that they could not sell their most valuable commodity at all. The Tories voted with the bill because whilst most claimed to be against the Opium trade, they did not want to sacrifice their stance on free trade or endanger their own investments in similar trading companies that might be affected. It seemed that everybody was getting what they wanted and whilst opium was still pouring into China, it allowed the British authorities to claim that they had banned the trade of opium and had even introduced deterrents to stop those traders who fell outside of their jurisdiction. If the Chinese wanted more co-operation, they would have to allow the British increased authority in the region – namely, they would have to allow the British to take more control in Hong Kong where a Chief Superintendent would enforce British justice. Of course, this came with an added request that the Chinese allow British merchants to trade more freely in Amoy and Shanghai to make up for the shortfall in the profits lost to British merchants from the opium trade.

The Tories upheld this policy when they came into government. Lord Derby believed that Lord Melbury had not pushed far enough in his demands but he could not make too much noise where the Opium Trade was concerned. The Tories had tied themselves up in knots on the subject during the general election campaign and whilst Sir James Graham had spoken in favour of banning the trade of opium altogether, his free trade principles made him reluctant to take further action when the restrictions he inherited from Lord Cottenham’s government were proved to be inadequate. So the situation had gone by for the last six months with Lord Qishan, the Viceroy of Liangguang, reporting that he could see for himself that the British restrictions were not working – indeed, he suspected that they were never intended to work in the first place. He called a meeting with the British Chief Superintendent, a veteran naval officer, Charles Elliot in the first week of November 1840 to raise this issue but Elliot could offer nothing to ease the tension. He bought a little time by telling Qishan that a change of government in England always meant delays in changing matters of foreign policy but he knew himself that this was a weak response unworthy of his post.

Charles Elliot was appointed by Lord Palmerston but was kept on by Lord Melbury and Lord Derby because Elliot was so widely respected in both the Royal Navy and in the Diplomatic Service. When Elliot first saw the Melbury Plan on the opium trade, he gave it the benefit of the doubt but now it was evident to all concerned that nothing had changed. The last straw was a comment from an East India Company agent who told Elliot; “They can raise the fine to 80%, we’ll always find someone out here to buy the damn stuff for what we say it’s worth”. Elliot’s sense of honour would no longer allow him to be drawn into an elaborate confidence trick. He immediately wrote to Lord Derby offering his resignation; “No man entertains a deeper detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic on the coast of China than I and I have steadily discountenanced it by all the lawful means in my power. Yet these lawful means are now being used as a foundation for a great deceit in which I shall play no part, though it shall inevitably mean the total sacrifice of a position I have held with great personal enjoyment for some years past”.


Charles Elliot.

In the same briefing, Elliot warned the British government that they were sleepwalking toward catastrophe. In his view, the Chinese were growing impatient and far from being inclined to reach an agreement with the British on increased trading rights or a permanent presence in Hong Kong, Chinese officials were preparing a report to the Emperor which proposed a zero-tolerance policy. The Chinese would inevitably attack British ships and the British government would have to retaliate by sending a fleet of gunships to the China seas as Palmerston had wanted to a year earlier. There would be war, a war which the British were ill-prepared for. When Lord Derby read this, he voiced concerns that this might threaten to turn the public against the Tories just as Bala Hissar had turned the public against the Whigs. As a holding gesture, Lord Derby suggested that the penalty for trade in opium be increased to 15% and that 5% of that should be given to the Chinese authorities as compensation. It meant that the East India Company would once again have to raise its prices but surely the Chinese were not so high and mighty as to turn down such a beneficial arrangement? Elliot was furious. Derby’s proposal was little more than state sanctioned bribery. He refused to put the proposal to Lord Qishan before his departure and later said he had never felt so ashamed of his home country as "when her ministers stooped to blackmail to preserve a most ruinous and un-Godly trade".

As he listened to the Prime Minister, the King suddenly became more curious about Hong Kong.

“What is our ultimate objective there?”, he asked, interrupting Sir James, “It cannot be simply to keep exporting opium?”

“Not at all Sir. Your Majesty’s subjects in the region are gravely mistreated”, the Prime Minister explained, “They are frequently arrested on spurious charges, there are attacks on their homes and businesses, they have no security. We want the Chinese to cede Hong Kong under the authority of a British administration to ensure they are protected. And of course, to secure our trade routes in the Far East which as I have explained Sir, are left very much to the whim of the Chinese which cannot be allowed to continue. They can inflict great economic damage to us without notice and in such a situation, we shall have no option but to declare war and fight for our interests”

The King leaned forward and lit a cigarette. He said nothing for a time and allowed Sir James to embark on another lengthy monologue.

“The new man…to replace Elliot…who had you in mind?”

“Sir Henry Pottinger”, the Prime Minister replied, “I believe his service in India qualifies him for such a post”

“I should like to see him before he leaves”

The Prime Minister nodded; “Naturally Sir, I am sure Sir Henry would be honoured”.

“And if that is all for today….”

Aware that his time with the King was now at an end, Sir James stood up and bowed. A little bell rang and the door to the King’s study opened. Charlie Phipps handed the Prime Minister his hat and coat and then entered the room to hand the King a stack of letters freshly arrived from Russia. The King looked down at the letter on the very top. He smiled. It was Lottie’s handwriting.

“Charlie?”, he said, calling Phipps back before he could leave, “Tomorrow I shall be seeing Sir Henry Pottinger. And then I should like you to make my apologies to the Queen but I shan’t be able to dine with her in the evening, I’ll be going to Windsor for a day or two. Don’t bother them at the big house, Frau Wiedl and I will stay at the Fort”.

Phipps nodded obediently.

It was a bitterly cold afternoon at Sandhurst with a gentle flurry of snow descending on the parade ground. In his room, Prince George laid on his bed half dressed, smoking a cigar and gazing at the ceiling. His father must have had his letter by now. All the Prince wanted to know is how soon he could be released from this hellish situation. He day dreamed of what he’d do first. He’d go to Liverpool of course. That was where Ada Marsden was staying. They could get a passage to Canada easily enough from there, though it was likely to be pricey. No matter, he had kept back a little something his mother had sent him to make up for the shortfall in his allowance. The army had been thoroughly petty in his view, cutting his wages by two thirds until his new posting was concerned. Oh well, he had got in before them this time hadn’t he? In a few weeks he’d be on a ship bound for Canada with his girl, his father and the army disappearing into the distance as he travelled across the Atlantic. Suddenly, George was rudely shaken from his daydreaming by a figure standing in the doorway. It was the King.

George shot up from his bed and pulled his braces over his shirt, rolling his sleeves down and making an effort to appear presentable. The room stank of stale beer and old smoke. The King looked down at an open trunk by the wardrobe. Half of its contents had spilled onto the floor. There was a silver picture frame on the top – the likeness of Mrs Marsden half-smiled from behind the glass. His Majesty kicked the trunk with the toe of his boot.

“Going somewhere are we?”

The Prince began to mumble.

“Sit down George. This shan’t take very long”

His face flushing red, the Prince sat down. The King towered over him.

“I dined with Uncle Cambridge last week. He showed me a letter. Did you write it?”

Prince George nodded solemnly.

“Then I am glad to discover that despite being a cad and a drunkard, you have not become a liar into the bargain”, the King snapped sarcastically. He pulled out the letter and put it gently into his cousin’s lap, “I suggest you destroy that. I shan’t pay out again if it should fall into the wrong hands”

“Georgie I…”

“No no”, the King said, holding up a gloved hand, “I am not here for the purpose of a debate. I have tried to be reasonable. But it appears that I was wrong to do so. I tried to tame you. Now I see that I shall have to break you first. Have you a bottle of brandy?”

The Prince nodded.

“Then pour yourself a glass cousin. I think you shall have need of it”.
I’m sad to see Louise have a miscarriage.
Just a question, would George Cambridge and George Cumberland be known by their 1st middle names? Because it would get really confusing considering how many George’s there are


Monthly Donor
I’m sad to see Louise have a miscarriage.
Just a question, would George Cambridge and George Cumberland be known by their 1st middle names? Because it would get really confusing considering how many George’s there are
It is sad but unfortunately it was so common place at the time that it almost had to happen at some stage. It's still pretty remarkable that Queen Victoria had as many children as she did in such quick succession but even more remarkable that they all survived infancy.

As to your question, this is a brilliant point and it was only after writing this that I reminded myself that I needed to grab my copy of the fantastic biography of Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy who lists most of the Royal Family nicknames. I don't think George Cumberland is in there but I'm almost 100% certain George Cambridge is which might help to make things a little less confusing in the future! As always, thankyou for reading!


Monthly Donor
As to your question, this is a brilliant point and it was only after writing this that I reminded myself that I needed to grab my copy of the fantastic biography of Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy who lists most of the Royal Family nicknames. I don't think George Cumberland is in there but I'm almost 100% certain George Cambridge is which might help to make things a little less confusing in the future! As always, thankyou for reading!
I've had a look through the Pope-Hennessy biography as I'm working on a new chapter today but unfortunately there's no mention of any nicknames for either George Cambridge or George Cumberland. It appears that to differentiate between the many Georges, the Royal Family put the relation before the Christian name or territorial designation.

In our case, that would give us George Cambridge as 'Cousin George' and George Cumberland as 'Cousin Cumberland'. It doesn't really help as much as other Royal nicknames do (Drina, Dolly, Toria etc) but I'll do my best to try and make it clear which of our three Georges is the focus so things don't get too muddled!
Oooh, could we see more royal presence in Canada? perhaps Prince George could be given a position there.. though I doubt it considering his misdemeanors

Considering the preliminaries between the King and the Prince, it seems the Prince should have been careful what he wished for...


Monthly Donor

Considering the preliminaries between the King and the Prince, it seems the Prince should have been careful what he wished for...
Very true! The Canada in Prince George's mind and the Canada of 1840 are two very different places indeed. It's unlikely he'd have much knowledge of what life is really like there, mostly taking his impression from the highly romanticised articles in national newspapers.

How many people really got fooled by all that I wonder?
Very true! The Canada in Prince George's mind and the Canada of 1840 are two very different places indeed. It's unlikely he'd have much knowledge of what life is really like there, mostly taking his impression from the highly romanticised articles in national newspapers.

How many people really got fooled by all that I wonder?
Could not find much information about exaggerated advertising for potential immigrants to Canada. I assumed the Prince wanted to get to civilized areas of Canada such as Ontario or Montreal.