Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

GV: Part Three, Chapter Twelve: Princes and Paulets

Opo

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King George V

Part Three, Chapter Twelve: Princes and Paulets

Over 7,000 miles away from the grandeur of Buckingham Palace and the sooty damp air of London in February, an English naval officer was putting pen to paper aboard the HMS Carysfort stationed in the mild sunshine and turquoise seas of the Hawaiian Islands. Lord George Paulet, son of the 13th Marquess of Winchester and commanding officer of the Carysfort was comprising a note to the captain of an American ship, the USS Boston, which imperiously declared;

Sir,

I have the honour to notify you that His Britannic Majesty’s Ship Carysfort, under my command, will be prepared to make an immediate attack upon this town, at 4 o’clock P.M tomorrow in the event of the demands now forwarded by me to the King of these islands not being complied with by that time.


The town was Honolulu and this incident would forever be remembered as the Paulet Affair, a rather dubious honour for the Captain of the Carysfort. It began just a few months earlier when the British consul to the Kingdom of Hawaii, Richard Charlton, asked Paulet to investigate allegations that British subjects resident on the islands were being denied their legal rights. This was a hot topic of discussion in diplomatic circles at the time, China having been so recently brought to task by the British on the same pretext. Paulet asked for an audience with Hawaii’s King, Kamehameha III, to discuss the matter but His Majesty declined as he was not resident in Honolulu at that moment. Instead, the King wrote to Paulet suggesting that he meet with Gerrit P. Judd, the American chief government minister who had arrived in the Kingdom as a missionary but who renounced his citizenship to become King Kamehameha’s most trusted advisor. Paulet was furious. Though an entirely reasonable suggestion on the part of His Majesty, Paulet took this as a snub which only served to confirm to him Richard Charlton’s view that Judd was nothing less than a dictator. Indeed, Paulet insisted that Kamehameha’s letter was not from the King at all and that Judd had fabricated it.

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King Kamehameha III.

Paulet demanded that the rights of British subjects be restored upon immediate threat of war. He had no orders to do so and was acting well beyond his bounds but by this time, he was so determined that his course of action was justified that he issued his ultimatum “in the certain knowledge that I acted as His Majesty’s government would expect”. Faced with the threat of a full scale invasion of his Kingdom, Kamehameha III gave in. He signed a provisional cession to the United Kingdom placing his nation under temporary British authority. Delighted with his achievements, Paulet landed his sailors and marines, seized all government buildings and set about tearing down the Hawaiian flag wherever it was found to be flying. Union flags were raised in their place and Paulet quickly appointed himself and three others among his staff to form a new government in a country that now belonged to the British Crown. The only problem was that the British Crown had no idea what Paulet had done until mid-March when news came from Honolulu that the British Empire had acquired a new colony. Lord Betchworth was astounded by these developments but also incredibly angry. At a time of heightened tensions in Europe as a result of the Spanish Question, the last thing Britain wanted was to hand France a cause for war which arguably, Paulet had just done.

The Kingdom of Hawaii, also known as the Sandwich Islands in Britain at this time, was a relatively young country founded in 1795 when the great warrior chief Kamehameha the Great conquered O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’I and Lāna’i and unified them. Fifteen years later, the entire archipelago was brought under one Crown and recognised by the Great Powers of Europe and America. Naturally this was not entirely altruistic. Trade agreements were sought and signed but one country was keen to exert more influence than any other: France. Catholicism had been made illegal in Hawaii and in 1831, French missionaries were deported. The French took this as an excuse to conduct a holy war – or rather, they threatened one – and in 1839, King Kamehameha III was forced to sign the Edict of Toleration and pay compensation to the French government. But this also saw France given special trade privileges which were not extended to anyone else. Observers believed this was merely the overture and that within a year or so, France would make a push to take the islands for her own. Yet European affairs took precedence and the French made no such moves – after all, she would need a good pretext to invade a sovereign nation recognised by the Great Powers without sparking another continental clash. The British had taken New Zealand and so the loss of trade with Hawaii was not a particularly pressing concern. But now, Paulet’s actions threatened to hand King Louis-Phillipe the justification for war he wanted whilst also throwing into doubt Britain’s long-held position that she would only ever serve to protect Hawaii’s sovereignty and would not annex the islands for the British Crown.

The British Crown itself was soon to learn of the Paulet Affair from Lord Betchworth, who hastily made his way to Buckingham Palace where King George V was in a state of high alert, his carriage kept permanently readied to take him to Sussex House at the first indication that his uncle’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. The King had sent Dr Alison, his personal physician, to Sussex House to keep watch and when Betchworth arrived, the King panicked and seized up his cloak and hat ready to set off for Hammersmith. Relieved that he was not required to make a mercy dash to a death bed, the King offered Betchworth a little brandy and listened carefully as the Foreign Secretary relayed the situation at hand. Like Betchworth, the King was outraged.

“By what authority did Paulet act in such a manner?”, the King asked incredulously, “Did the Consul give him orders to take such an action? Did you?”

“Certainly not Your Majesty”, Betchworth reassured George, “The whole affair has taken us completely by surprise and I must confess, we are at a loss as to how the matter might be resolved efficiently without causing further diplomatic incident”

“Well I am not at a loss in the slightest”, the King ranted, “Sit there Betchworth, I intend to put this matter to bed this instant”.

The King sat at his desk and composed a direct letter to King Kamehameha III. It is reproduced in full here:

Your Majesty, Cousin, [1]

It is with the deepest regret that I have learned of the actions of Cpt Lord Paulet in your capital. On behalf of my government, I express a profound sense of sorrow that such a situation has developed and it is my fervent hope that such a disagreeable state of affairs can be remedied most efficiently. With Your Majesty’s kind consent, I beg you receive our representative forthwith so that our two governments may resolve this matter to our mutual advantage and satisfaction.

I send this with my very sincere good wishes to Your Majesty and to the people of your nation,

In respect of our long-standing friendship,

George R. [2]

But the King’s letter was never sent to Honolulu. Instead, the British government chose to wait until Kamehameha III sent an envoy to London to plead Hawaii’s case. It was therefore a surprise to the King some weeks later to learn that Betchworth was meeting with James Marshall, the envoy appointed by Chief Minister Judd, to discuss the situation further and that in light of their talks, the need for a formal petition from one Sovereign to the other was felt to be redundant. George was informed that Britain had already dispatched Admiral Thomas to relay a message to the King of Hawaii that “His Majesty’s government is willing and has determined to recognise the independence of the Sandwich Islands under the present Sovereign”. A similar reassurance was being given in Paris at that time to two envoys dispatched by Judd to France. It seemed that war had been averted and all at the Foreign Office breathed a sigh of relief. But the King was far from pleased. He could not understand why his communique to the King of Hawaii had been held back, neither could he agree with the government that Paulet should face no disciplinary action because he had acted on the advice of the Consul, Richard Charlton, who had been relieved of his post. “This now draws a veil over the unfortunate affair”, Betchworth wrote in a letter to William Gladstone, “Though His Majesty feels quite differently I am afraid to say”.

This incident has frequently led to misinterpretation in other biographies of King George V. Some historians (rather weakly) have suggested that the King was outraged that his letter was not sent when instructed because he felt a kind of affinity with Kamehameha III. Such biographers suggest that this stemmed from the visit of King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamāmalu in 1824 when both had been treated rather poorly by the British - at least, they were not received as generously as the Kings of Prussia or France might have been - and then, tragically, they caught measles and died. In his book The Life and Times of King George V, Edward Roberts suggests that "this tale haunted the King and he felt a great sense of affection for Kamehameha III thereafter". But this is very unlikely. George V was only four years old when the King and Queen of Hawaii visited England and it's far more reasonable to believe that he became so invested in the Paulet affair for far less sympathetic reasons. Once again, he had been cut out of the decision making and in resuming his official duties, George had a renewed enthusiasm for foreign affairs in which he still felt he could play a part. The King felt he had been unfairly prevented from doing so and this would at least explain why from March 1843 onward he took a severe dislike to Lord Betchworth and referred to him thereafter as “that scoundrel”.

Betchworth later confided that he believed the King’s letter to Kamehameha III was entirely appropriate and that the documents sent with Admiral Thomas to Honolulu were written in exactly the same spirit as that which appears in the King’s note to his Hawaiian counterpart. Almost 180 years after the event, the National Archives throws new light on the situation and suggests that George V was wrong to take against Betchworth, a position he maintained for years to come. In state papers released in 1980, we see that Betchworth put the King’s letter to the Cabinet, not for its approval (the King was in perfect step with government policy) but to illustrate the depth of feeling the King felt on the matter. According to the notes of that Cabinet meeting “It was unanimously agreed that it was a fine letter but that it's dispatch might be delayed at the present time pending further investigation of the matter at hand”. Later on, an addition in red pencil makes clear that the letter was “to be held further” and this instruction is initialled by none other than the Prime Minister, Sir James Graham. Graham’s own estate papers reveal that whilst he had no objection to the content of the King’s letter, it was the “familiarity in tone” which bothered him. “I do not feel it at all appropriate that His Majesty should address the King of the Sandwich Islands as cousin, for he is not, and the concept of ‘begging’ the indulgence of such a low-ranking Sovereign is hardly decorous or in any way appropriate”. But George V was not aware of this and he believed that it was Betchworth who had curtailed his diplomatic efforts.

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Lord Betchworth.

Fortunately for the King, there was one way he could show his solidarity (if indeed it was that he felt) with King Kamehameha III which neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary could discourage or halt. Later that year, when the British occupation of Hawaii had ended and the appropriate overtures of remorse had been made and accepted, King George V made a gesture of his own. When the newly appointed Consul William Miller was dispatched to Honolulu, the King summoned him to Buckingham Palace before his departure and handed over a box in which there lay the insignia of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. It was not quite the Garter, the customary order of chivalry bestowed on foreign sovereigns, but it marked the first time that the Bath was given to a foreign head of state and for the King, it was a clear expression of both his conviction that Paulet had acted badly but also that he was perfectly capable of expressing his own “soft power” in the diplomatic arena without the approval of his ministers. Graham thought the award “a rather tiresome gesture” and in his journal in November 1843, he notes; “His Majesty most animated at receiving a gift from the King of the Sandwich Islands in the form of a wood carving – quite an ugly thing – but which is clearly intended to serve as a thank you for the Bath, the Sandwich King clearly having no decorations of his own to give”. [3]

Lord Betchworth found himself in an extremely awkward position as he attended the State Banquet held at Buckingham Palace in honour of the King of Prussia around the same time as news from Honolulu reached the United Kingdom – he was seated well away from his usual place next to Princess Mary and instead was relegated to sit between the Duchess of Portland and the wife of the Bishop of Ripon – and he was not ignorant to the fact that the King seemed in no mood to speak with him when they found themselves together in the palace ballroom for a brief moment or two. But to his credit, Betchworth did not complain and he did not seek to address the animosity. He bore it with dignity and even when his colleagues joked that the King though him a scoundrel, Betchworth simply smiled politely and took it on the chin. When Betchworth died in 1856, Sir James Graham lamented that “his virtues and talents were not always appreciated but they were no less abundant and admired by so many who had the pleasure of his company”. Even George himself relented a little and told Graham privately after Betchworth's death; "He was no friend to me but I respected his service to the country nonetheless".

A month after the state visit of the King and Queen of Prussia, on the 21st of April 1843, the King was taking breakfast when Charlie Phipps entered the room with news from Dr Alison at Sussex House. The King’s uncle was in his final hours. George dashed to his carriage and made haste for Hammersmith. In his journal, he details the scene;

I entered the bedroom to see my poor uncle laid there, the little Duchess holding his hand and gently mopping his brow with a damp handkerchief for Alison explained that he felt a great heat despite the fact that the fire had not been lit, a symptom of his unfortunate condition. She made to curtsey to me but I motioned that she should not. The wretched woman looked so pitiful, as if she were clinging to her husband’s hand willing him to stay just one day longer.

Uncle Sussex was responsive to me but he could no longer speak and so instead, I sat aside the bed and held his hand and said the things I thought I must. I prepared to leave and told the Duchess that if he survived the night, I would return and that she must ready some things for she would be welcome to travel with me to the Palace for a time if the worst came. She wept at this and thanked me but as I made to leave and the two of us stood in the hall discussing the matter, Alison stepped out to us and told us that Uncle Sussex had breathed his last.

Phipps was present to make all arrangements and the Duchess then came back with me to the Palace where Aunt Mary did a splendid job of comforting her, especially when one considers her former reluctance even to receive her. I told her that she should have no concerns for her future and that all would be taken care of. Then she gave me a curious little stack of papers from Uncle Sussex’s desk in which he made the most curious request – that he should not be buried at St George’s but rather that he should be laid to rest at Kensal Green!

Aunt Mary told me that he had taken such a decision because he wished to be near to Aunt Sophia when her time came – and because he believed Aunt Sussex would never be allowed to be interred with him at Windsor and he wanted to be buried with her. This causes me the difficulty because it means I shall have to invite Aunt Sophia for luncheon tomorrow to discuss the matter. She is now almost completely blind and almost as mad and one feels ashamed to admit that one feels no affection for her at all. It is my hope that she will convince the Duchess to ignore Uncle’s strange funeral plans but Aunt Mary says his executors will insist and I find that a very rum business. [4]

Totally unexpectedly, the death of the Duke of Sussex encouraged a large outpouring of public grief – at least in the capital – for the next week. Just as they had for the late Queen Louise, Londoners went about their business with black armbands on display and churches held public memorials. The Duke was remembered as a kind old gentleman and not as the scandalous playboy he had once been. There were glowing tributes to him but perhaps the most touching came from a gentleman called Louis Loewe, a Jewish academic who had been introduced to Sussex in 1836, Sussex quickly becoming his patron and friend. In his eulogy, Loewe said; “He was, in all benevolent and exalted feeling, an active and vigorous promoter of art, science, and literature; he was, on all occasions, the steadfast advocate of the innocent when in danger, and of the defenceless when threatened with oppression; and, for nearly forty years, he was a most zealous patron of our charities” [5]. The people of London clearly felt the same with thousands lining the route from Sussex House to Finsbury Chapel to watch the funeral procession go by. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the King however, were to be disappointed. According to his wishes, the Duke of Sussex did not receive a state funeral and so the procession was limited to his servants and a handful of friends (such as Loewe) who walked behind the coffin. There was also a large contingent of Freemasons, the Duke having been Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England since 1813 and the founder and patron of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution for just 6 months.

Instead, the King and members of the Royal Family accompanied the Duchess directly to Finsbury Chapel where the funeral was to be held whereafter the Dowager lady was accompanied by her brother-in-law and Princess Sophia to Kensal Green cemetery for the burial. Initially, George V had intended to go too but at the 11th hour, Phipps advised against it. In her grief, the Duchess of Sussex had invited her husband’s children (the d’Estes) to attend the burial (though not the funeral service itself) and it was felt inappropriate for the King to be present in case the newspapers reported that His Majesty had received them – thus offering a kind of formal, royal recognition of their existence. But everybody knew the d’Estes existed and what their relation to the Duke of Sussex was. If they didn’t, they soon would. As predicted, just two weeks after the Duke of Sussex died, Augustus d’Este appealed to the House of Lords to recognise his claim to the Sussex Dukedom – and to the Sussex fortune. [6]

The Dowager Duchess of Sussex was aghast at this and, according to Princess Mary, “became so hysterical at the prospect that I was forced to strike her and give her strong drink to calm her nerves. It really was such a terrible display and one I was most embarrassed to witness”. But Mary’s attitude had changed toward her sister-in-law and now she became rather protective of her. This was probably inspired by what she regarded as "a disgusting act" on the part of Augustus d'Este which she addressed in a letter to a friend reproduced here for the first time:

“I quite appreciate that this man is an invalid and I concede that he will no doubt miss the generous allowance granted to him by my dear late brother in recent years - an allowance I might add my brother was under no obligation to provide but did so because he was a charitable man. But one really must question what the ghastly pair in question have been doing with so very much money! I mean to say my dear, how much money can a cripple spend? It quite puzzles me for you know my own allowance is not much greater than the sum my dear brother gave to these creatures and I hardly think I could be accused of living a shabby existence on such an income.

I am told they live in quite a nasty house, though it is of good size, but my dear - it is in a dreary seaside town! Such a property cannot exact that much in the way of expenses, though no doubt the sister behaves as if she was Queen of the May and perhaps is extravagant. I have seen her only once, from a distance, a pinched sort of person and so clearly one of those awful bitter spinsters who take so very much joy from the afflictions of a relative they can care for. It makes them feel of use one supposes. But my dear, if everything one hears about his malady is true, this man will be dead himself come the winter and what good will a peerage and £4,000 a year serve him then? It is his sister who leads him in this, of that I am quite sure". [7]

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Augusta Emma d'Este, later Lady Truro.

Fortunately, His Majesty was slightly more charitable in his view of the situation than his aunt. He deplored the fact that d’Este had taken his cause to the Lords but at the same time, he assumed that the d’Estes had serious cause for concern at their future prospects which were not rooted in greed at all. In a private audience with the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Pollock, the King asked if there was any indication at all that d’Este might be persuaded to drop his appeal. In Pollock’s diaries, we see how the King “gave serious thought” to offering d'Este a baronetcy and a small sum of money regardless of how his appeal turned out but the King seems to have withdrawn that gesture when he found his name dragged into d’Este’s case. Augustus' legal team insisted that by giving consent to the Duke of Sussex’s second marriage to Cecilia Underwood, the King had “given some degree of recognition to the late Duke’s first marriage contracted in Rome in 1793 and therefore, the paternity of the d’Este children in no doubt, there is reasonable claim to both the peerage in question and at least some portion of the late Duke’s estate currently valued at some £78,000. Pollock remained convinced that the Lords would not find in d’Este’s favour but he could only reiterate what he had told the King before – his actions of recent years had, undoubtedly, given d’Este a far stronger case than he may have had otherwise.

George V was becoming increasingly frustrated by the monolith that was the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. He had been King for 16 years and in that time, two members of his immediate family had fallen foul of its restrictions causing public scandal and personal turmoil. Now the act was in the spotlight again and it perhaps served to teach the King a valuable lesson that would shape his future approach to his role as Sovereign. In later years, he would muse “I frequently ponder where I, George, cease to exist and where I, George Rex, come to be” and perhaps it was the combined events of 1842 and 1843 that forced him to consider very carefully whether it was possible for him to continue to approach family matters as he always had. “There are no two persons here”, he concluded in his later reflections, “There can be, and is most definitely, only one George – he who bears the Crown and all its weight – and it is that George I hope I have been these many years”. From 1843 onwards, George would make no more allowances for poorly behaved relations because he felt a personal affection for them and this would hold firm for the rest of his life. But this new resolve was not enough and some form of restriction had to remain when it came to royal marriages. In an audience with Frederick Pollock, George gave the first indication that something monumental was about to change and which was to produce perhaps the most important achievement of George V’s early reign, which we shall explore in greater depth shortly.

In June 1843, the Royal Family were able to tune out the unpleasant articles now appearing in some newspapers lamenting the fact that Augustus d’Este had lost his case in the House of the Lords. His illegitimacy prevented him from inheriting the Dukedom of Sussex and likewise, he was not entitled to a single penny from the Sussex estate which the Duke’s executors insisted had been carefully apportioned and in which the late Duke himself made no provision for his illegitimate son or daughter. The public reaction was not kind. Many felt that the d’Estes had been unfairly treated and some pointed to the fact that Augustus was hardly in a position to work to support himself (or his sister) and that they stood to lose everything because the establishment had closed ranks. The King was advised that if he did wish to make a gesture to the d’Estes, he could do so now the case had concluded without fear of reprisals. From his own pocket, George V arranged for both Augustus and his sister Emma to receive the sum of £400 a year each for the next 25 years making the total sum payable £10,000, a pitiful advance on what might have been but which was more than the princely sum of nothing. There was no baronetcy but the King did award Augustus d’Este a Knighthood in 1845 when enough time had passed so as for it not to prove too controversial. Augustus d’Este died three years later. His sister survived him by 18 years and following her marriage in 1845, spent her remaining years at Truro House with her husband Sir Thomas Wilde (later Lord Truro).

On the 28th of June 1843, a spectacular wedding took place at the Chapel Royal at Buckingham Palace. Princess Augusta of Cambridge was married in a beautiful gown of silver satin with brilliant-studded brocade wearing the tiara she had received from King George V as an engagement gift. The Strelitzes were well represented with Grand Duke George and Grand Duchess Marie standing beside their son as he acted as one of two supporters to the groom, Hereditary Grand Duke Frederick William (the other supporter being King George V, Fritz’s brother-in-law). Augusta’s bridal party included her younger sister Mary Adelaide (whom Princess Mary rather unkindly – and hypocritically – deemed ‘far too fat for the frock she had on’) and her cousins Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel, the 5-year-old Princess Royal and the 3-year-old Princess Victoria. But there were some notable absences. The bride’s Hesse-Kassel cousin, Princess Louise (now married to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg – the future King Christian IX of Denmark) could not attend as she had just given birth to her first child, a son named Frederick. Likewise, the Princess of Orange had recently been safely delivered of a son – a boy named William – and in stark contrast to the birth of her first child, her letter to the King excusing herself from Augusta’s wedding was full of happiness at his arrival; “He is the most dearest and darling child, so very pretty and sweet natured, but he cries so and does not care to be held for too long which is too frustrating for I wish to cradle him in my arms every waking moment! I simply cannot leave baby so soon and please do forgive me for my absence from dear Augusta's wedding which grieves me so”.

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Augusta of Cambridge on her wedding day, June 1843.

But not everybody had such a joyous excuse for staying away from the nuptials. Despite the protests of the two Augustas (bride and Duchess), Princess Mary had not issued an invitation to her nephew George Cambridge. Augusta was therefore married without her brother in the congregation, something that deeply hurt the Earl of Tipperary who sobbed the entire day thinking of the family gathering he had been excluded from. He had extremely limited resources and so could not even afford to send his sister a gift. The Duchess of Cambridge bore the absence of her son well but privately she told her daughter that she would never forgive his exclusion from the proceedings and that whilst she fully accepted there must be consequences for George’s actions, it was particularly cruel that he had been ostracised in such a cold manner. Augusta agreed and though she knew it would infuriate the King if he knew, once she settled in Neustrelitz in August 1843, the Princess met with her brother privately in a brief reunion – though without his wife in tow.

The celebrations held at Buckingham Palace in June 1843 were two-fold. With both the British Royal Family and the Hesse-Kassels assembled for the Strelitz wedding, Prince George of Cumberland finally had the opportunity to ask for Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel’s hand in marriage. She was delighted to accept and those present were all invited to return to England in November for another royal wedding. Princess Louise Charlotte had given her assurance that she would consent to the marriage of her daughter to the Earl of Armagh once her daughter had turned 20 years old and so, a provisional date of the 3rd of November was given for the ceremony to take place. Furthermore, the guests on this occasion would be invited to remain in England to celebrate Christmas at Windsor rounding off the year with a return to the festivities of old. But first, the King was off on his travels once more. True to his word, and keen not to miss another Hanover Week, George was to join the Strelitzes and Hesse-Kassels on their return to Germany. But the King decided that he would not repeat the mistakes of staying with family on his journey which had caused him such headaches previously. Instead, the King decided that he would head for Trechtinghausen where he would avail himself of a brief holiday at Burg Rheinstein before moving on to Hanover.

Rheinstein was well known to the King as one of the many estates owned by Prince Frederick of Prussia, the father of George’s friend and confidant, Prince Alexander. Their friendship had waned a little in recent years as the King had grown closer to Frau Wiedl – it must be remembered that Alexander had treated Wiedl quite poorly and abandoned her in England. But in a display of contrition for past actions, Alexander invited Frau Wiedl to Rheinstein too, providing a nice opportunity for Rosalinde to visit her family in Hanover during the King’s trip. Alexander’s only concern was that Wiedl may gossip in the company of a friend he was entertaining at the same time as George V was due to arrive - one he was eager to impress. The lady in question had been widowed the previous year and with her whole life changed, she bought an estate in Lausanne where the Prince had spent the Christmas of 1842. Wishing to repay her hospitality, Alexander issued an invitation to what he described as “a charming little house party” but which perhaps he saw as a potential opportunity to charm the widow in question for she was only 28, still quite a beauty and held a very real chance of playing quite an important role in the courts of Europe in the years to come.

Her name was Hélène, Dowager Duchess of Orléans.

Notes

[1] Regardless of ancestry or family ties, Sovereigns exclusively addressed each other as 'Cousin' during this period - most still do.

[2] This was very much the reaction of the OTL Queen Victoria who was said to be so outraged by what Paulet had done that she swept the table clean of it's clutter and screamed with rage - a neat little trick she had a penchant for.

[3] The first Hawaiian order of chivalry wasn't founded until 1865.

[4] It appears that Princess Sophia didn't want to be buried at St George's and so, regardless of the validity of his marriage or not, Sussex made arrangements to be buried at Kensal Green near Sophia. This irritated the OTL Queen Victoria who said she was quite content to see the Sussexes buried together if that's what he would prefer but Sussex held firm and when he died, his executors insisted his wishes be followed.

[5] Loewe actually wrote a special discourse on the Duke's life which included special prayers in his memory. The book is now held at the Bevis Marks synagogue in London and can be viewed online here: https://www.ochjs.ac.uk/mullerlibra...net/Loewe/stainedglassdesign/LL/Louis-04.html

[6] As in the OTL.

[7] I abhor the use of the word cripple but that's how d'Este was described in newspapers etc at the time and so I include it for historical accuracy - and Princess Mary isn't exactly gentle in her words at the best of times.

Many apologies for the delay in this chapter! House renovations are taking longer than expected and the chaos is a bit disruptive! As ever, thank you for your patience and for reading!

P.S - I'm aware that I'm making recent instalments a little longer than they were previously and that they're covering a bit more time too. I hope people are okay with this quickening of the pace, it just allows me to move the story on a little more rapidly until we get to a more hefty narrative as otherwise I worry we may get bogged down in unnecessary side dramas and we won't see William IV's accession for a whole decade in real time. x'D
 
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Ah. I note the arrival of Helene of Orleans.... I wonder which Prince (or King) she's really going to fall for 😉

Also, isn't George of Tipperary Augusta Cambridge's brother, not her cousin? You have him down as both during the description of her wedding.

Nice to see Victoria of Orange acting maternal for once... The OTL Queen Victoria wasn't good with babies, but this one seems to have softened a bit, at least for the moment....

And yes, I agree with @Dragonboy The diplomacy in this chapter was top notch.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Ah. I note the arrival of Helene of Orleans.... I wonder which Prince (or King) she's really going to fall for 😉

Also, isn't George of Tipperary Augusta Cambridge's brother, not her cousin? You have him down as both during the description of her wedding.

Nice to see Victoria of Orange acting maternal for once... The OTL Queen Victoria wasn't good with babies, but this one seems to have softened a bit, at least for the moment....

And yes, I agree with @Dragonboy The diplomacy in this chapter was top notch.
Thank you! I got my Georges confused...if nothing else, I am determined TTL will eradicate the name George by 1900! x'D

Thank you so much for your kind comments too. And yes! Victoria has finally found her maternal instinct! As you say, the OTL Victoria was not exactly wowed by babies, even her own, but there was one notable exception in Prince Leopold and in TTL, I chose to have that bond appear with her first born son William as she's had a rough time and I think she'd see him as a kind of gift. A golden child, just as much as Leopold was to Victoria in the OTL.

Really glad you enjoyed the chapter!

Alexander better keep his mittens off Helene, she's meant for George!
Alexander actually did try and court Helene in the OTL when she was widowed but alas, he had to settle only for her friendship...will the same be true here I wonder? Thanks for reading and for your feedback!
 
Pretty good chapter. The Paulet Affair was handled beautifully. Even though I want the King to be happy, I don’t understand how marrying Helene would work. She is the mother to the heir to the French throne. I don’t think the French people would want the French king’s stepfather to be the British King. However, if this does happen, I won’t mind.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Pretty good chapter. The Paulet Affair was handled beautifully. Even though I want the King to be happy, I don’t understand how marrying Helene would work. She is the mother to the heir to the French throne. I don’t think the French people would want the French king’s stepfather to be the British King. However, if this does happen, I won’t mind.
Thankyou! I'm glad you enjoyed the telling of the Paulet Affair, I thought it was a perfect opportunity for George to get stuck back into diplomacy (or try to!) something he really has a flair for.

As for Helene, I don't want to give away any spoilers but I will say that in the next chapter or so, it should become pretty clear who will become George's second wife, though it may take a little longer than before for him to hear wedding bells.
 
GV: Part Three, Chapter Thirteen: A Very Important Night Indeed

Opo

Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Thirteen: A Very Important Night Indeed

At Downing Street, the Prime Minister donned his hat and cloak and waited for his carriage which was to convey him the short distance to Buckingham Palace for his private audience with the King. But at that moment, Charlie Phipps arrived. It appeared that the King, sending his compliments, had requested that the audience be rescheduled to 8am the following morning – a particularly early call – which would allow the King to head for the Port of London to catch the 10.30 packet steamer bound for the continent. Graham rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed, removed his cloak and hat and invited Phipps to join him for a quick bite of supper and a glass of champagne. A spectre of old was emerging and the King’s actions gave Graham pause for thought as he reflected on something he had dismissed just two nights previously but which now he considered may need closer attention - and discussion with the King's closest advisor. Simply put, there was a growing feeling among some in the corridors of government that the King was spending too much time abroad. In December 1842, the King travelled to Paris before moving on for the Christmas celebrations at Neustrelitz. Nobody could much object to that given the circumstances, after all, 1842 marked the first Christmas the King spent as a widower and he had chosen to do so in the supportive atmosphere of his in-laws’ palace. He had returned a little later than planned because of the surprise reunion with his sister, the pair moving on to the Netherlands before George reached London once more in late January 1843. But now he was off on his travels again.

Ostensibly, the King was crossing the water for Hanover Week. He had missed the opportunity to attend in 1842 because he was still in mourning for Queen Louise and though he had paid a courtesy visit to the Kingdom on his journey to Neustrelitz for Christmas that year, now he wished to involve himself fully in the pageantry of the project he had established two years earlier. But the schedule was not limited to a week in Hanover plus travel time – which in those days was far lengthier than it is today. Graham looked over the King’s agenda which would see him take a week’s private holiday at Trechtinghausen before moving on to Coburg. He had not seen Hereditary Duke Ernst for some time and perhaps motivated by certain feelings of guilt in the way Ernst’s new bride, Alexandrine of Baden, had been treated by a branch of his own family, the King wished to pay a call to Ernst to congratulate him in person on his recent marriage. From Coburg, the King would travel to Leipzig. With Princess Augusta now married, she could no longer reside at Gaussig, the private residence the King and Queen leased for the Princess Royal so that she would not have to board at the Heinicke School. Changes would have to be made to the household there and the King wished to oversee them personally. Leaving Leipzig, he would then visit Brunswick before finally arriving in Hanover where he would remain for a week before coming back to England – diplomatically avoiding another visit to his cousin Victoria at Het Loo, the last having been something of an ordeal. In total, the King would be absent for 6 weeks which, in addition to his earlier travels, meant that for the 12 months of 1843, George V would be resident in England for just 10 of them.

In some ways, this was not unusual or excessive. The court always moved in the summer months, in previous reigns to Windsor or Hanover, and there was actually little work for the Sovereign to undertake as parliament was in recess. Indeed, King George II often used to insist that the parliamentary session be brought to a swift conclusion so that he could make his way to Herrenhausen for the start of his own summer holiday. Most ministers left the capital around June or July and headed for their country estates, or the continent, before returning some time in September and this is why Sir James had not objected when Hanover Week was first proposed. But there was another reason. The more time the King spend abroad, the less time he had to involve himself in politics – particularly where the Foreign Office was concerned – and that came as a great relief to Sir James personally. The problem was that Britain had seen this same situation not so long ago and at a dinner party around this time, the Prime Minister was somewhat taken aback to hear a stark reminder of the past over his grouse and claret.

At Harcourt House in Cavendish Square, the Marquis of Titchfield was giving a supper party for a few friends. The eccentric Marquess, best known for his love of tunnels which relayed into a vast network of underground passages built beneath his country estate at Welbeck Abbey, had just returned from Venice and was telling his guests how impressed he was by the city as a holiday destination. A fellow diner, Lord Powerscourt, boasted that he had unique access to a hunting lodge in the Black Forest, a far more superior vacation spot than the dirty canals of crowded Venice.

“And what do you hunt there?”, Lady Eglinton asked, “Is it something very rare?”

“It is rather”, Powerscourt grinned like a naughty schoolboy, “We hunt for German George! Why, that is the only place you’re like to see His Majesty these days, what?”

The table was suddenly plunged into hysterical laughter. Sir James gave a polite half-smile. But he was far from amused.

German George was a nickname given to George V’s great-great-grandfather George II and was far from an affectionate moniker. He frequently spent his summers in Hanover and as his reign progressed, faced open criticism for it. Much was made of the fact that George II seemed to head for Herrenhausen with alarming regularity because it was the only place he could entertain his mistress (Amalie von Wallmoden) away from the prying eyes of his wife Queen Caroline. But when Caroline died and Amalie moved to England, George still preferred to head for his “other Kingdom” at the first opportunity. His tangled romantic life aside, the most obvious reason for this was that George II was a Hanoverian. He was born at Herrenhausen in 1683, reluctantly accompanying his father to England in 1714 when Queen Anne’s health declined and the family were told to hold themselves in readiness for the accession of King George I. When he came to the throne in 1727, King George II made no attempt to curtail his interests in Hanover and as a result, people began to regard him as a remote and foreign stranger who only served to remind them that the Hanoverians had no real connection to England beyond their ancestry.

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King George II.

It did not help that George II was dull, boorish and easily caricatured. When Dr Johnson wrote some very unkind verses about George and his mistress, the press feigned outrage but the public lapped it up. In response to Johnson’s attack on him, George II was said to have remarked bitterly “I hate all poets and painters” – but the press satirised this as “I hate all boets and bainters”, playing both on George’s apparent lack of interest in the arts but also parodying his heavy German accent. The public quickly caught on and in the absence of any real affection for the man, they dubbed the King German George. When he died, they showed little in the way of public grief and it would take many years for George III to win back their trust and respect. He did so by portraying himself as an English country gentleman – and by never visiting Hanover. George V took a more middle of the road approach in trying both to maintain his first priority to the United Kingdom whilst giving some recognition at least to the fact that he was also King of Hanover.

The Prime Minister had no concern that the King was unpopular with the public, indeed, if anybody had restored the public’s affection for the Royal Family in the last decade or so, it was George V. Yet if these (admittedly ungenerous) observations were being made at the dining tables of the aristocracy, it would not take long before the press barons and the satirists picked them up. Anticipating a crisis, Graham was put in the unfortunate position of trying to convince the King to cut short his travels but he could not do so directly. Instead, he sought the help of Charlie Phipps, the King’s Private Secretary, presenting the case to him over supper that there were a few unpleasant stirrings in some quarters that the King might be spending too much time abroad. Phipps raised an eyebrow.

“I concede His Majesty was abroad for longer than expected at last year’s Christmastide”, he said sternly, “But previous visits were made with government approval Prime Minister. And Hanover Week likewise”.

“I quite agree”, Graham said forking anchovy toast into his mouth, “But before you depart tomorrow, you might consider this; if the likes of Lord Titchfield and Lord Powerscourt are indulging in such gossip in private, it will not be long before the press share such sentiments with the public. And whilst I do not believe they would share Lord Powerscourt’s view, even if it were a serious one which I am inclined to feel it is not, it may place His Majesty in an unfortunate position. And an unfair one”

Phipps felt his temper rising. He sipped his glass of champagne.

“Prime Minister, might I be frank with you?”

“Of course...”

“Are you asking me to tell His Majesty that he cannot go to Germany tomorrow?”

“I shouldn’t dream of it Phipps”, the Prime Minister said, shaking his head, “But I have to ask…is it really all that necessary for him to visit Coburg? Or Leipzig even? Surely these trips extend the holiday further without real value?”

Phipps stopped eating and placed his napkin on his plate.

“With respect Prime Minister”, he said, now clearly irritated, “I could quite understand your concerns if the King had obligations here during the summer months but as his role has been…limited…what does it matter if he holidays in Germany or in Windsor?”

“It matters a great deal”, Graham said trying to calm the situation, “I do not wish for the King to be unfairly accused of absconding-“

“Absconding?!”

“At the very least, indulging himself in excessive foreign tours”, Graham added hastily, “All I am proposing is that His Majesty consider this trip to be his last - for a time. At least until Hanover Week next year”

Silence reigned for a moment.

“Forgive me Prime Minister”, Phipps said, almost accusingly, “But doesn’t that mean His Majesty will have more time to involve himself in state affairs?”

Graham smiled.

“Oh you needn’t worry about that Phipps”, he said calmly, “I believe His Majesty will be far too busy”.

A week later and the King and Frau Wiedl, accompanied by Charlie Phipps and a new addition, Miss Henrietta Brown (Wiedl’s new companion), arrived at Burg Rheinstein. Rheinstein was a picture postcard schloss built on a mountainside near Trechtinghausen with exquisite views of the Rhine. It was built in 1316 and much valued for its strategic location but just 30 years later, it was almost completely abandoned and by the 19th century, fell into ruins. Then, along came Prince Frederick of Prussia looking for a holiday retreat to share with his new bride Princess Louise of Anhalt-Bernburg. He purchased the castle, rebuilt it and transformed Burg Rheinstein into one of the most luxurious private houses in Germany. Rheinstein had the added bonus of having exclusive access to Schloss Sooneck, a hunting lodge purchased by the future Frederick William IV and his brothers in 1834 and renovated for the purpose. The Prussian Royal Family frequently took their holidays moving between the two properties providing the perfect blend of entertainment and comfort. George V loved Rheinstein and always welcomed his visits there, especially as it meant spending time with Prince Alexander of Prussia (Prince Frederick’s eldest son). Though Alexander had struggled recently and had not behaved all that well, the King was fond of him and on this particular occasion he was pleased that there was no longer any ill-feeling between the Prince and Frau Wiedl.

The house party at Burg Rheinstein was intended to be a relatively modest one but expanded when it appeared that some of Alexander’s cousins had been offered the use of Schloss Sooneck for a few weeks. So it was that in addition to the King, Frau Wiedl, Prince Alexander and Prince Alexander’s younger brother Prince George, the “Prussian Uncles” came up to Rheinstein from Sooneck each evening for dinner. These uncles were Prince Wilhelm of Solms-Braunfels (with his morganatic wife Countess Maria Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau) and Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels (with his mistress, Madeleine Buhr). Wilhelm and Carl were the sons of none other than Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, better known as the Duchess of Cumberland. She had been married three times and on each occasion, produced children so that the extended family came to include a host of half-brothers and half-sisters and they remained extremely close – on the whole. Wilhelm and Carl were half-brothers to George V’s cousin, the recently engaged George of Cumberland but it must be noted that George V wasn’t all that familiar with this branch of the family as for years the Cumberlands had lived in exile and so the King never really got the chance to meet his late aunt’s children until well into adulthood.

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Burg Rheinstein today.

Another guest at Burg Rheinstein that year was the glamorous Dowager Duchess Hélène of Orléans, widowed in the same year as King George V and who had become something of a personal friend to him in recent months. George had visited Hélène to pay his respects and offer his condolences following the death of her husband when he passed through Paris in 1842 on his way to Neustrelitz and ever since, the pair had kept up a regular correspondence. But Prince Alexander had also formed a friendship with the Dowager Duchess. Most recently, he had spent Christmas with her in Switzerland and his invitation to Burg Rheinstein was no mere courtesy. After a string of unsuitable mistresses which made his parents mad with anxiety for his future (including Frau Wiedl), Alexander seemed to have taken a shine to Hélène and he confided to his younger brother around this time that he saw absolutely no reason as to why he should not marry her. Hélène was still young, still beautiful and though she married into the Catholic Royal Family of France, she had remained a Lutheran. She was known throughout Europe for her wit and glamour but there was something else too - something far less frothy. Hélène had a will of iron. An ambitious young woman, she defied her parents by accepting the proposal of marriage from the Duke of Orléans in 1837 not because she loved him or because she wished to live in the sumptuous comfort of Versailles – she accepted him because she wanted to be a Queen.

Though her husband was now dead, Hélène was insistent she should lose none of her position – or prospects. The House of Orléans had been plunged into a fierce debate with Ferdinand Phillipe’s death as to what might happen if King Louis-Philippe died whilst his new heir (Hélène’s eldest son, also called Louis-Philippe) was in his infancy. One side of the family felt the King’s second son, the Duke of Nemours, should be made regent were the worst to happen. But another side favoured Hélène and she was determined to secure her place as Regent of France in that eventuality come hell or high water. This was made easier for Hélène by the Duke of Nemour’s unpopularity. He was seen as brusque and haughty and he hated public ceremony but Hélène was only too happy to be seen in public and court their approval. When the matter came to a head, many expected Hélène to fight tooth and nail for her claim but she surprised everybody by withdrawing to her summer villa in Lausanne. It did not do for women to be seen scheming and plotting for power. She had every confidence that she would win out in the end and though she did not speak publicly of the future, her fierce devotion to ensuring her son attained his birthright was her first, and many might say only, priority in life.

Naturally there was some speculation in royal circles as to whether Hélène ever considered the possibility of setting her sights a little higher. After all, who would turn down the opportunity to become Queen of the United Kingdom instead of Regent of France? The answer is Hélène. Whilst she clearly admired George V, and whilst she liked him very much, she would never consider leaving her children to be raised by their grandfather – or their uncle, the Duke of Nemours. Indeed, Hélène never considered remarriage once she was widowed. To do so would remove her influence in Paris, something she was not inclined to give up regardless of her earlier yearnings to become a Queen. For his part, there is no indication that George ever considered Hélène as anything more than a friend, someone he was sympatico with because of their shared bereavement. Somewhat ignorant to the inner turmoils of the House of Orléans, George regarded Hélène as someone he could confide in and enjoy spending time with. But if he ever thought of her as anything more than that? We have no evidence of it. What we do know is that Hélène held fast to her convictions – and to her possible future in France – and even when Prince Alexander proposed to her some time later, she refused him. She was possibly more fond of Alexander than she was of King George, yet even this was not enough. She remained unmarried for the rest of her life.

The party at Burg Rheinstein was an incredibly lively one and the King even made inquiries as to whether there might be a similar property to acquire in the area so that he might always begin his trip to Hanover with a week at his own castle on the banks of the Rhine. Prince Alexander kindly offered him the use of Rheinstein whenever he wished but the King graciously declined, remarking “But Zander, your house is always so busy”. Indeed it was. On the final night of the King’s stay at Trechtinghausen, the extended Prussian family at Schloss Sooneck were invited to a grand gala to be hosted by Alexander’s parents Prince Frederick and Princess Louise. This illustrious gathering saw the King reunited with his cousin Louise of Hesse-Kassel and her husband Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, invited to join Christian’s sister Frederika and her husband the Duke of Anhalt-Bernburg, Princess Louise of Prussia’s brother. Prince Frederick’s sister was present too, also named Frederica, with her husband the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau and their children Princess Agnes, Hereditary Duke Frederick and Princess Maria Anna. [1]

The Anhalt-Dessaus were considered to be the poor relations of the House of Ascania. Duke Leopold IV succeeded his grandfather Leopold III in 1817 but though he inherited a substantial palace at Wörlitz and an equally impressive castle settled in the old gardens of the Oranienbaum, these had been acquired at huge personal expense leaving very little ready cash for Leopold IV to enjoy. His grandfather was regarded as a paragon of virtue, a liberal Anglophile heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. He built schools, he patronised the arts and sciences, he improved infrastructure and even provided social housing to his poorer subjects. Leopold III rejected the antisemitism of the age too, granting a sum of money to found a Jewish school and repealing old dictates which set discriminatory social policies against the Jewish community in his Duchy. But all this came at a cost. Whilst Anhalt-Dessau was one of the most modern and prosperous of all the small German states, Leopold himself faced a unique problem – and a rather ludicrous one. As the head of the senior Anhalt branch, he was not allowed to receive his kinsmen from Köthen and Bernburg because they were raised to a princely rank whilst he remained a Duke. Just like the Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, Duke Leopold was therefore forced to pay a huge amount of money to the Emperor in 1806 to put this right. It cost him everything he had and was soon proven a poor investment when the Holy Roman Empire collapsed.

Leopold_IV_Anhalt.jpg

Leopold IV of Anhalt-Dessau (later Duke of Anhalt)

Anhalt-Dessau remained prosperous but unwilling to impose higher taxes on his people, Leopold III slowly saw his private fortune dwindle. When he died in 1817, his grandson Duke Leopold IV had to get his affairs in order and do the thing his grandfather would never consider – he cut public expenditure and raised taxes. He was deeply unpopular as a result and though just as liberal in outlook as his grandfather, he never quite attained the level of public affection Leopold III had enjoyed. That said, the public were extremely fond of the Duke’s wife, Princess Frederica, and his three surviving children. The eldest of these was the 19-year-old Princess Frederica Amalie Agnes, known as Princess Agnes to the public and as Nessa within her family. Born in 1824, she had an unfortunate start in life as she was regarded by her parents as a replacement for her elder sister (Princess Frederica Amalie Auguste) who tragically died at the age of just 3. Two years later, Agnes was born and though she was doted on by the Duke and Duchess, she was always made aware that she had to live up to the expectations her parents had that she would prove herself a worthy successor to their lost child. Even so, Agnes’ mother could be cruel. She once told the young Princess “You are not beautiful Nessa, but you are charitable, so you are not entirely without value”.

The Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau was a dyed in the wool snob. She was particularly sensitive to her financial situation and never tired of reminding her husband, and her children, that she was the granddaughter of the King of Prussia and as such, was entitled to absolute deference and respect. The Duke suffered this, even when his wife openly stated she had married beneath her. But most pertinent to our story is the fact that the Duchess had a particular hatred of the English. Her mother, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, had taken as her third husband the Duke of Cumberland – a figure well known to us – a man the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau despised. She blamed Ernest Augustus for causing her mother such misery in her later years, living on a reduced income in a leased townhouse in Berlin and practically exiled from the United Kingdom. Frederica was fiercely loyal to her mother’s memory and she frequently spoke of the late Queen Charlotte as “that poisonous old woman” for Charlotte had never reconciled herself to Frederica as a bride for the Duke of Cumberland and was the first to ostracise her at court in England. The Duchess was therefore not entirely enthusiastic when she arrived at Burg Rheinstein from Schloss Sooneck to find King George V in attendance. Still, she was polite enough, providing a stiff curtsey and a half-smile before wandering away to hold court among her half-siblings.

That gala at Burg Rheinstein on the 11th of August 1843 has entered the history books because it was here that an incident took place which has been told and retold over the decades with varying degrees of accuracy. Indeed, even the most austere of historians have tended to rely on a fairy-tale account of events perhaps because the public still seem to want fairy-tale royalty even in this day and age. In later years, Princess Victoria (King George V's daughter) wrote a catty note to a friend after the story from Burg Rheinstein was printed in a woman’s journal; “It may have happened that way”, she said imperiously, “And I might be the Queen of Roumania” [sic]. But conversely, Frau Wiedl insisted until her dying day that the accounts of that evening were entirely accurate, that she had witnessed the proceedings herself, moreover, it had been she who played a very active part in the Cinderella story that unfolded. In this biography, I have decided to present the tale as it is told in the legend because I can find no account of it to suggest it did not happen that way and because it is now so ingrained in the public imagination that to omit it would seem churlish.

On the morning of the gala, the King went fishing with Prince Alexander and Prince Wilhelm. Whilst walking back to the castle, he slipped on a wet rock and twisted his ankle. He was reassured he had not broken anything and that a few days rest would ease the ache. So it was that by the time of the ball that evening, the King could not avail himself of the dancing and had to content himself by sitting on a settee in a corner watching everybody else enjoy themselves. As the couples whirled about the ballroom, the King’s gaze fell upon the 19-year-old Princess Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau dancing with Prince George of Prussia. Some accounts say it was a gavotte, others suggest it was a polka. The important thing is that no matter the dance, the outcome was the same. Prince George was a little too boisterous and as Princess Agnes turned, the heel on her shoe broke off and she tumbled to the floor. George, not being mature enough to behave as a gentlemen should, laughed. Agnes burst into tears and fled from the ballroom onto the terrace. The King saw this unfold and limped over to Prince George to admonish him for his bad manners.

Then, George followed Agnes onto the terrace to see if she was recovered. He found her sobbing and flushed with embarrassment.

1842-presume-de-la-princess-med-1.jpg

Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau, painted in 1842.

“Are you hurt?”, he asked gently.

“Oh!”, Agnes exclaimed, quickly descending into a curtsey, “No Your Majesty. I am quite well only…it was the shock of the fall you see. And everybody saw…”

“You needn’t worry about that”, George smiled, “If it makes you feel any better, I tumbled myself earlier on. In the river. I was soaked to the skin”

Agnes giggled.

“Well that’s not very kind is it!”, George joked, “Here I am, come to comfort you for your unfortunate accident and you have no sympathy for mine at all!”

Agnes grinned. Then she looked apprehensive once more.

“What’s the matter?”, the King asked kindly.

“It’s just…”

“Yes?”

“Mama will be so upset with me for falling and for running out as I did. And now I cannot go back to the party because my shoe is broken. Look! And everybody will tease me and laugh at me. I wish I could just run away. Beastly shoes, beastly George, beastly ball!”

George suppressed a chuckle.

“I don’t care for dancing all that much”, he said with a sigh, “But I still like a jolly party. Shall we make this a jolly party?”

“Sir?”

Phipps was waiting just inside the doors that led onto the terrace.

“Fetch Rosa for me will you Phipps, there’s a good chap”

Within a few minutes, Frau Wiedl was on hand. The King whispered a few words in her ear and she disappeared back into the ballroom. Then, somewhat shiftily, she returned and handed the King a pink velvet bag. The King handed it to Princess Agnes.

“Here you are”, he said proudly, “Least said, soonest mended, what?”

Agnes looked into the bag. Inside were a pair of pretty ivory satin shoes. She eagerly slipped them on and beamed at the King.

“Oh look!”, she gasped excitedly, “And they’re so much prettier than my other ones. Aren’t they just darling? I don’t know how I should thank you”

“I do”, the King said with a warm smile, “You can partner me for this waltz”

And so, George V led the way back into the ballroom and danced his only dance that evening with Princess Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau.

It is a charming story and has all the elements required for a fairy-tale which is probably why it has become so popular in the retelling. Charlie Phipps later said there was some truth in it. Agnes did fall. Frau Wiedl did assist with a pair of shoes. And the King did dance with the Princess that night – his only dance. But regardless of the precise details of the event, that night would prove to be a very important one for George V. A very important night indeed.


Notes

[1] Leopold was Duke of Anhalt-Dessau at this time but later became Duke of a united Anhalt when he inherited the Duchies of Anhalt-Kothen and Anhalt-Bernburg.

And so here we have it...I can now officially confirm that we have met George's second wife. And that it won't be Dowager Duchess Hélène.

In my research, I could find no reason as to why Hélène would abandon her children in France - and there is no way that King Louis-Philippe would have allowed them to be raised in England. But as I mention here, Hélène really wasn't interested in taking a second husband. Her sole ambition in life once she was widowed was to see her son reign as King of the French - possibly to increase her own power and influence. Thus, Alexander is left disappointed, though George will remain a close friend. Apologies to those who were firmly in the Hélène camp!

And so we come to Agnes. Queen Louise fans...do not panic...he hasn't moved on that quickly! The fact is, it would have been expected for the King to marry again if for no other reason than that his children needed a mother. That was very much the view then and people would have been more shocked if he remained alone for the rest of his life than marrying again. That said, we will not hear wedding bells any time soon. The narrative (and our discussions here) mean that it's obvious to us now that he will marry Agnes. But in the story itself, George hasn't given that the slightest thought. Agnes is a pretty girl he met at a party. His heart belongs to the memory of his dead wife. He has no immediate desire to court another woman, let alone marry her.

So this will be a slow burn and we'll have to wait a while to see the pair wed. But I didn't want to string out the "Who will it be?" for too long - so now we have a "When will it be?" instead. I hope people approve of my choice for George, I confess there were others in the running when I plotted this out before I began writing TTL but from the moment I knew I had to say goodbye to Louise, Agnes just seemed the best successor. Not that she will be a carbon copy - if I did that, we might as well have spared George V his sufferings! She'll bring a different energy when she finally arrives in England but as to when that will be and how that will happen? You'll have to wait and see.

As ever, many thanks for reading!

P.S - In the interest of tying up loose ends, in my switching of brides and grooms, this leaves Agnes' OTL husband Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Altenburg free to wed his cousin Marie who in the OTL married George V of Hanover (here the Earl of Armagh).
 
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I do love a good meet-cute! I am also interested to see how this relationship progresses in the future. Even if he and Helene won’t get together, at least he has a new friend.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
I do love a good meet-cute! I am also interested to see how this relationship progresses in the future. Even if he and Helene won’t get together, at least he has a new friend.
One of the things I've come to really enjoy about writing TTL is that I find out a little more about the "B-Cast" as I go along. And it seems that Helene had so many potential suitors when her husband died but she just wouldn't consider it. I suppose for her it was a choice between holding out for a life in which she could have some autonomy over things or being subservient to yet another husband she may not really have loved all that much.

Thanks for reading!
 
I heartily approve of your choice for George, also what a wonderful little story
Also good god there are so many tiny little German states at this time, and they're controlled by like a dozen families and their branches.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
I heartily approve of your choice for George, also what a wonderful little story
Also good god there are so many tiny little German states at this time, and they're controlled by like a dozen families and their branches.
Thankyou so much! I'm really pleased you're happy with Agnes!

And yes, it's so bizarre isn't it? Not to mention a total headscratcher when you're trying to unravel them to see who is related to who...and when all of them are called George, Frederick or William or Louise, Frederica or Marie. x'D
 
And yes, it's so bizarre isn't it? Not to mention a total headscratcher when you're trying to unravel them to see who is related to who...and when all of them are called George, Frederick or William or Louise, Frederica or Marie. x'D
Some of those houses are also really really old, many being around a thousand years old
 
Another great chapter. It seems like Prince Alexander is the classic definition of a hopeless romantic. George is going have to deal with a Monster mother in law. I’m excited to see George and Agnes’s love blossom. She seems like a sweet girl. Also, Charlie Phipps got an A+ in my book for sticking up for King George against Sir James.
Also, congrats on your official 100th update even though technically it’s your 101st update.
 
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I wanted Hélène, mostly to see how they would make it work and because George likes older women. But I like Agnes and I can't wait to see how the romance develops.
 
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