Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

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.
Thank you so much - and full marks to you for guessing correctly! And yes, quite right, Phipps deserves some recognition I think, he's proving to be quite the asset to our George V.

Wow, is it really 100/101? I'm astonished. I never thought I'd still be working on TTL, let alone that people would still be interested in reading it. But I'm glad on both counts. Thank you for pointing the milestone out!
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.
Helene was a very grand red herring - I think it possibly could have worked? - but ultimately, Agnes wins the day.

But I'm thrilled you picked up on the point about George's preferences because that will definitely be a theme in the future. Thanks for reading!
He does visit them regularly but they are still very young. The only one old enough to have an actual relationship with their parent is Missy and she spends most of the time in Germany.
Very much this.

George would visit the nursery every day to see Princess Victoria and the Prince of Wales but he probably wouldn't stay longer than hour (if that) - which by the standards of the time makes him quite a hands on father. But as Victoria rightly says, Missy is probably the only one he could have a real relationship with at this point and sadly she lives in Germany and so he'd probably only see her for about 8-12 weeks of the year.
GV: Part Three, Chapter Fourteen: Courts and Courtings
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Fourteen: Courts and Courtings

As the King prepared to leave Burg Rheinstein for Coburg, a rather brusque note reached Trechtinghausen from Rosenau. Hereditary Duke Ernst conveyed his sincere regrets that “circumstance makes it impossible that we might receive you at this time” and suggested that George V might “wish to call upon us at a future time when we are better suited to accommodate Your Majesty as we would wish”. The King was not pleased, neither did he believe Charlie Phipps when he suggested that the cancellation might be because there was “rather a lot of flu about”. George knew better. Though he could not confirm his suspicions, he was right to suppose that the Hereditary Duke had been forced to withdraw his invitation on the orders of his father, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Ernst I had little cause to show any kind of hospitality to the British Royal Family and from his sickbed at Ehrenburg, he declared “That boy shall never set foot inside a palace of mine whilst I still draw breath”. His prejudices were not entirely without foundation. It must be remembered that King George IV and Queen Louise had subjected Ernst I’s sister Victoria (Duchess of Kent) to little more than a smear campaign which saw her flee into exile without a penny to her name. Though Victoria was partly responsible for what came next, the fact remained that she died in an asylum in Bonn in 1833, kept away from her daughter and her reputation in tatters. [1]

Then came Dowager Queen Louise’s vicious treatment of Prince Albert, Ernst I’s youngest son, who might have married Princess Charlotte Louise had things turned out differently. The situation had been far more complex than that but clearly, just as he blamed the British for what had happened to his sister, Ernst held a grudge that Albert had been sent so far away to marry a woman he barely knew, despite his successes since that time. [2] But even if Ernst was fair-minded enough not to rest the sins of the parents on the shoulders of their son, the last twelve months had hardly given the Duke cause to warm to George V either. Not only had he snubbed Ernst’s brother Leopold by refusing to call on him in Brussels during his last tour of the continent (something which was now a favoured topic of gossip at the courts of the minor German states) but he had also nearly wrecked the chances of the Hereditary Duke marrying Alexandrine of Baden because George V wished to force a marriage between the now Hereditary Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and George’s controversial Cambridge cousin. In other words, it was little wonder that Duke Ernst was not as forgiving as his son and that he put pay to any suggestion that the King might use Coburg as a stopover on his journey to Leipzig.

It was therefore decided that the King should remain at Trechtinghausen for two more days whilst Charlie Phipps replotted the royal progress, the new travel plans taking the party from Trechtinghausen to Rumpenheim instead where George could spend a few days with the Hesse-Kassels before moving on to Leipzig via Eisenach instead of Coburg. Prince Frederick and Princess Louise of Prussia were delighted to have the King in their company for a day or two longer and as the weather was particularly fine, they arranged a grand picnic to be held on the river bank below their castle. The guests at Schloss Sooneck were invited to join Frederick and his houseguests as they made their way down the mountainside to a carefully selected spot but though the word ‘picnic’ might suggest images of tartan blankets on the ground and a few rounds of hastily prepared sandwiches, royalty in the 19th century prove that even the most informal of meals could be transformed into something truly magnificent.


Burg Rheinstein.

A small army of servants were dispatched from the castle above to carry down heavy wooden tables with extra leaves inserted which were then draped with fine linens of white and scarlet upon which fine Meissen porcelain in white and gold hand-painted with flowers and cherubs was carefully laid out with military precision. Hampers arrived bearing vast quantities of food that included consommés of chicken or vegetables, poached turbot and wild salmon, thin slices of smoked beef from Hamburg served with creamed spinach, a whole saddle of venison, roast woodcock and a boar’s head stuffed with the forcemeat, wrapped in bacon and glazed with cognac, all topped off by the puddings and sweet courses with generous offerings of fruits, jellies and ice creams. Nobody sat on the ground because antique chairs were carried from the ballroom of the castle, down the mountainside for their comfort and arranged at small round tables. Whilst the guests were encouraged to serve themselves, each little group had two footmen to clear their dirty plates and to keep their crystal glasses topped up with champagne, Riesling or Sauternes as the courses dictated.

Despite his impressive luncheon, the King seemed distracted. He was allowing his irritation at the change in his travel plans to dominate his mood and he became a little sulky as a result. Try as she might, Frau Wiedl could not lift his spirits but she suspected someone else could. With the extended Prussian family present, Wiedl began to circulate when the meal was concluded and proposed to one or two of the guests that they might take a riverside walk after luncheon. Most declined politely, perhaps the thought of such an excursion after such a heavy meal was weighing on them just as much as the rich and buttery foods yet to be digested. But Wiedl headed for one guest in particular – Agnes of Anhalt Dessau. Wiedl was no fool. She had watched the King dance with Agnes at the gala at Burg Rheinstein the previous evening and how, when the waltz concluded, the King invited the Princess to come and sit with him, Frau Wiedl and Charlie Phipps to help Agnes get over any residual embarrassment from her little tumble. Agnes made the King laugh. She was bright and outspoken, a little too energetic maybe, but she had helped to put George in a much better mood than he had been after his own stumble earlier that day which left him sodden with the waters of the Rhine.

Initially, the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau refused to allow her daughter to go with Frau Wiedl as the party assembled. Prince Alexander and Prince George led the troupe, promising to point out the Clementskapelle on the other side of the river bank, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and his mistress Madeleine Buhr walking behind them with Charlie Phipps and Frau Wiedl. The King languished behind, kicking at the ground as he walked away slowly from his table.

“Oh very well”, the Duchess suddenly snapped, spying the King wandering alone, “You may go Nessa. But do not talk too much and do not dirty your gloves”.

“Might I go too Mama?!”, an excited Princess Maria Anna asked.

“Of course not!”, her mother snapped, “They do not want silly children underfoot, really girl, you are too ridiculous. Go on now Nessa. And for goodness sake, do not slouch - or run!”

Beaming with every step, Agnes was too excited to pay any attention to her mother's cries and dashed towards the back of the group – placing her directly beside the King.

“Ah”, he muttered, his tone not altogether a welcoming one, “It’s you...”

“Mama said I might join the walk after all”, Agnes said, noticing the King’s dull mood, “So here I am!”

“Yes. Here you are”

After a few moments of silence as Frau Wiedl seemed to rush the rest of the group forward, the effervescent Princess clearly felt the awkwardness of the situation too much to bear.

“You’re very grumpy today”, she said matter-of-factly, “Mama is grumpy too. But then she’s always grumpy”

“Is she indeed…”, the King said, scowling a little and staring at the ground.

“Yes she is”, Agnes said, hopping a little, “Papa says it’s because she has a lot of headaches but then Mama says I cause the headaches so I don’t know what I should think about it all”

In spite of himself, George felt the corners of his mouth lift a little.

“What do you do to cause such headaches?”, he asked, somewhat playfully.

“I never know”, Agnes prattled on, “Mama won’t tell me. She tells me lots of other things but never that. Do you like swimming?”


“I can’t swim”, Agnes said looking up into the sky, “I tried once but Mama didn’t think it was proper and I swallowed lots of sea water so I didn’t try it again. I should like to though. I think...”

George felt his shoulders relax slightly. Frau Wiedl looked back for a moment and smiled as she pretended to be totally immersed in Prince Carl’s description of a Roman mosaic he had seen recently at a castle in Rottweil. She gazed upon the scene just long enough to spy the King burst into a peal of laughter as Princess Agnes seemed surprised by her achievement.

“How very interesting”, Frau Wiedl said out loud, turning quickly back to Prince Carl, “Very interesting indeed”.

From Trechtinghausen, the King and his group moved on to Rumpenheim, the atmosphere there proving a little tense as the family prepared for Princess Auguste’s wedding to Prince George of Cumberland in two months’ time. Princess Louise Charlotte had given her assurance that she would give her blessing to the marriage if Auguste waited until her 20th birthday. That had not yet come but still, Prince William was holding his wife firm to her promise – which didn’t please her much. Princess Louise Charlotte had very firm opinions on what sort of gown her daughter should wear, what flowers she should carry and whom should be invited. She was determined not to allow Princess Mary to dominate the arrangements as she had for Princess Augusta’s wedding earlier that year to the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Mercifully, the King was only to stay at Rumpenheim for a night or two and he joked to Charlie Phipps that he had visions of “my two aunts, swords drawn, right there in the aisle of the Chapel Royal – and it may well come to that”. [3]

Then it was finally onto Leipzig, or more precisely to Gaussig, the palladian manor house in Bautzen leased for the Princess Royal by Queen Louise in 1839. Gaussig had been home to the Princess Royal for nearly five years and the King was greatly impressed by “the comfort of the house and the efficiency of the staff” when he arrived there. This efficiency was the achievement of Lady Dorothy Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, daughter of 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, Governess to the Princess Royal and a close friend to Princess Augusta of Cambridge who had shared the house at Bautzen with ‘Dolly’ until her recent marriage. Indeed, the sole purpose of the King’s visit to Gaussig was to ensure that the departure of Princess Augusta as grand chatelaine of the estate did not cause any disruption to the Princess Royal’s progress and he was greatly relieved to find that whilst Augusta had provided a key link to Missy’s family in her development, his daughter had formed a strong attachment to Lady Dorothy too. But the King was aware that others in the household may resent Dolly for her lack of status, after all, an order from a Princess would always be taken more seriously than that given by the daughter of an Earl - and a foreigner to boot. To that end, the King decided to create Lady Dorothy Wentworth-Fitzwilliam ‘Lady Steward of the Household of the Princess Royal’. Lord Steward was an ancient office granted to senior royal household staff members who served as the heads of other royal households such as that belonging to the Prince of Wales or the Duke of York but never before had there been a female appointed to such a lofty position. Whilst this would have been considered the thin end of the wedge at Buckingham Palace, Dolly's counterparts consoled themselves with the fact that at least this new ‘Lady Steward’ was far away from their cloistered private dining room in Windsor to cause them any bother.


The only surviving portrait of Lady Dorothy Wentworth-Fitzwilliam (later Princess Dorothea von Botticher) taken some time in the 1890s.

Lady Dorothy took her new role extremely seriously and her devotion to her charge (coupled with her discretion) made her an invaluable asset to the Royal Family but also, a much-loved friend. When Missy finally returned to England in 1853, Dolly accompanied her and climbed even further up the household pecking order when she was appointed Mistress of the Robes to the Princess Royal and in this position, became a kind of honorary aunt to both Missy, her siblings and half-siblings [4]. Yet nothing good lasts forever and when the Princess Royal married in 1861, Dolly elected to remain in England where she became a lady-in-waiting in the Queen’s Household. This did not please Princess Marie Louise one bit and she sulked for months but Lady Dorothy’s decision was a boon to historians for it is from Dolly that we gain a unique and invaluable insight into the life and times of King George V, his family and his court [5]. From her appointment as Lady Steward in 1843 until her death, she kept an extensive (some might say exhaustive) set of journals in which she diligently recorded the lives of those she served. These diaries offer more than catty gossip or opinions on evening gowns too. In the case of the Princess Royal, they show us just how well she was progressing at the Heinicke School in her childhood and Dolly even kept a list of the words and phrases the Princess was learning, remarking on their clarity of sound or highlighting which of them Missy struggled with – she would then use these in every day parlance until they were perfected.

In one of her first entries, Lady Dorothy recounts the visit of King George V to Herrenhausen for Hanover Week in August 1843 which saw the Princess Royal make her very first appearance in public at the age of just 5 years old.

HMK instructed that PR should ride out with Dss of Cambs and Pss MA – I sitting beside – crowds most appreciate and kind. PR in pale blue with lace trim, basket-weave hat and white flowers. All very pretty. Much taken with the crowds and waved gaily and happily which they met with applause. She did not care much for the horses who were most restless – much reassurance given. [6]

But true to form, Dolly does not concern herself only with the trappings of royalty or pomp and pageantry. Another entry reveals that the atmosphere at Herrenhausen was “really most unpleasant”…and she tells us why.

D&Dss Cambs very sombre pair. She has not smiled since our arrival and her greeting very cold, almost perfunctory. He far warmer as he always is but so drawn and clearly v. tired with everything. All talk here behind closed doors is of the FritzCambs who have caused yet more unpleasantness. Both D&Dss very quiet. Am told she is to go to N/Str within the week b/cos she cannot bear to be at H/hausen for much longer. All gossip and whispers. Very unpleasant for them. Supper good, sat next to Chips – plum cake steeped in white brandy with cream – GR 3x! [7]

Lady Dorothy was perfectly astute in her assessment of the mood at Herrenhausen (though the King may not have approved of her keeping a tally of the number of servings he had at dinner) and she was quite correct in attributing the Cambridges’ sour mood to yet another stab at their dignity from their disgraced son and heir. When the Cambridges left Herrenhausen for London for the wedding of their daughter earlier that year, they stayed on a week or two longer than they might have done ostensibly because they had matters to settle at their Piccadilly mansion but in fact, they had been advised to drag out their absence from Hanover until a rather unfortunate matter was settled. George Cambridge had relocated to Erfurt, some 160 miles away from his family home in Hanover and yet now, despite his father forbidding him to ever darken the Cambridge door again, the Earl of Tipperary was on his way back to resolve a dispute which he hoped might, quite literally, improve his fortunes.

Upon his marriage, the Duke of Cambridge handed over the princely sum of £500 to his son with which to disappear off into the night with his bride. This was hardly chump change when one considers that the average annual wage of the working man in England in 1843 stood at just £15. The Earl of Tipperary however, was not used to living on a budget. He had already displayed a severe ignorance of frugality and was no stranger to amassing debts. Whilst he had the common sense to spend a decent amount of his windfall on securing a ten-year lease on a farm house in Kirchheim as a marital home, the remaining monies quickly dwindled as he attempted to maintain the style to which he had become accustomed – and as his wife determined to prove that whilst she was no Princess, she had every intention of living like one. Indeed, the FritzCambridges' (as the couple were nicknamed in the courts of Europe) servants were instructed to call Franziska Her Royal Highness and that, if anybody called, they were to say “I shall see if the Princess can receive you”. It was symptomatic of the delusions of grandeur the couple had in common but delusions can be expensive fancies, as the FritzCambridges quickly discovered.

With an estimated £230 now owing to a Prussian bank, time was running out and George Cambridge had to act quickly to avoid the shame of destitution. He could not ask his father for more money, he doubted it would be given if he did. Thus, he decided to use the remaining funds he could muster to hire a lawyer to represent him in a legal case whereby he intended to secure the FritzCambridge fortune for life. When Franziska’s uncle, the Bishop of Hildesheim, died in 1840 he bequeathed his entire estate to his niece – a bequest which amounted to some £22,000 (the equivalent of £1.3m today) and which was to be released to her in full when she reached the age of majority or when she married (which in legal terms amounted to the same thing). The executors of the Bishop’s estate (the monks at the Benedictine Abbey of St Godehard) had allowed the Bishop’s brother to administrate the trust that had been established and though we do not know what their terms were, by 1843 Franziska’s father had barrelled his way through two thirds of the inheritance. Now, the Earl of Tipperary determined that not only would he petition for the remaining third to be handed over to his wife but that she was also entitled to the Fritz estate at Emmerke which had been purchased by the trust, supposedly in her name and interest.


Ferdinand Fritz, Bishop of Hildesheim

In the usual way of things, this would be a simple dispute to be mediated by the provincial government where the will of the late Bishop was read – but there was a complication. This meant the petition would be presented in Hildesheim, where Franziska’s father August was High Bailiff. So it was that George Cambridge was advised to take his case directly to the Hanoverian parliament, the Lantag. Just as in England where the House of Lords provided a Committee of Privileges to oversee disputed claims of inheritance (mostly concerning peerages), the Assembly of the Estates had a similar committee which took up unresolved petitions from the provincial governments as a form of appeal. The problem was that this would undoubtedly bring even more attention to the case, something which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge desperately wanted to avoid. As a concession, the hearing was at least scheduled for when they were out of the country so that they would be spared the worst of the gossip but the outcome of this petition was to ensure the FritzCambridges remained a topic of interest for weeks, even months, to come.

At the heart of the case was a very simple question; had the conditions of the late Bishop’s will been met so as to warrant an order from the committee that the trust and all its assets established on Franziska’s behalf should now be handed over to her? On the first condition, Franziska failed – she had yet to reach the age of majority. But on the second, she stood a much better chance and this is what the FritzCambridge lawyer focused upon when he presented the Earl of Tipperary’s case – Franziska was now a married woman and this entitled her, or her husband on her behalf, to claim her inheritance in full. The Committee were presented with an unenviable task. This went far beyond the usual family squabble over a few hundred thalers or disputed ownership over a plot of farmland. What the Committee would now have to unpick, stitch by arduous stitch, was whether Franziska Fritz was legally married in the Kingdom of Hanover. The affirmative was likely to rouse royal displeasure. The negative may well suggest that Hanover’s parliament was not as sovereign as the constitution declared it to be. And just like that, George Cambridge had given the Herrenhausen gossips yet another scandal to feast upon. Indeed, some courtiers at his parents’ palace even placed bets on the outcome.

In 1819, the Kingdom of Hanover (recently elevated from the status of an Electorate at the Congress of Vienna in 1814) adopted a new constitution. This constitution was strengthened in 1833 when the Duke of Clarence, acting as Regent for King George V, promulgated a new constitution which replaced the royal patent which allowed the Hanoverian aristocracy to govern through provincial diets and to provide a bicameral parliament with an upper and lower chamber loosely modelled on the Westminster system. This parliament, the Landtag, had the right to make laws, set taxes, approve a budget and to take on ministerial accountability previously the sole domain of the absentee Chancellery based at St James’ Palace in London. The legal status of Hanover was no longer in any doubt; it was an independent, sovereign nation with its own parliament and its own judiciary. Practically, this meant that the British government could still encourage the Hanoverian parliament to take a view or legislate along similar themes to that being pursued in England but the British parliament could not force its counterpart at the Leineschloss to do so. [8]

But the question before the committee in 1843 was not whether the British parliament could legislate for Hanover (it clearly could not) but whether legislation passed before the new constitution was granted could be said to apply in the Kingdom, specifically, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Ironically, the House of Lords had already considered this exact question just months earlier when Augustus d’Este presented his case to claim the Sussex Dukedom. He claimed that whilst his father’s marriage to Lady Augusta Murray was invalid in the United Kingdom, it was valid in Ireland and Hanover and that as a result, he was entitled to assume the peerage. The Committee of Privileges in London resolved that the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 did not apply to Ireland or Hanover but that the Royal Marriages Act did not apply to a territory or a dominion per se, but rather to individuals. The law clearly stated that the terms of the bill applied to the descendants of King George II and thus, whether those descendants chose to marry at Westminster Abbey or on a beach in Honolulu, they were still very much bound by its consequences. [9]

The Committee in Hanover however, had a different angle to consider. George Cambridge and Franziska Fritz had married in Erfurt. Erfurt was a possession of the Crown of Prussia and thus, under Prussian law, the couple were required to apply for a civil license to marry which, having been approved, could then be presented to any official or minister who had the authority to conduct a marriage ceremony. But there was something else too. The FritzCambridges had married according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church and according to Hanoverian law, all such marriages were to be recognised in Hanover as valid under the terms agreed when the Catholic hierarchy was established in the Kingdom in the early 19th century – which somewhat ironically had led to Franziska’s uncle becoming the Bishop of Hildesheim in the first place. With both of these factors in mind, the Committee could not declare the FritzCambridge marriage to be invalid. For one thing, domestic law stated that it wasn't. But for another, custom dictated that marriages contracted in one German state were automatically to be recognised in other states, regardless of the social consequences of that marriage in terms of rank or inheritance [10]. Whilst in England the Earl of Tipperary was considered a bachelor living in sin, in Hanover the law was crystal clear; he was married to Franziska Fritz and as a result, she was perfectly entitled to claim her inheritance.

The Committee issued its ruling. Worded carefully, it stated that it “considered that Franziska Fritz has the legal status of a married person and that, as such, the terms of the last will and testament of the late Otto Fritz, Bishop of Hildesheim, are fulfilled in accordance with the law; and that she may receive the inheritance therein bequeathed to be released to her by the executors and trustees as named in the sums and deeds hereby recognised”. George Cambridge had much to celebrate and (rather indecorously) gloated to friends that nothing would please him more than to see his father-in-law evicted from Emmerke by the same agents who were to place the property on the market for the vast sum of £30,000 – apparently August Fritz had at least improved the estate enough for it to appreciate in value. The Cambridges were kept informed of developments but even delaying their return to Hanover was not enough to provide sufficient time for the public interest in the case to subside. Once again, the Duke and Duchess made their way home to their palace where even those closest to them could be found whispering unkindly in corners. But there was also the added embarrassment that many in Hanover felt that the Duke had behaved badly. What had his son done that was so wrong that he should be left penniless, forced to embroil himself in costly and unnecessary legal battles to save himself from ruin? The conversation had now shifted from the FritzCambridge marriage to the apparent cold-heartedness of the Earl of Tipperary’s parents. Neither the Duke of Cambridge nor his wife could understand why they had suddenly become so disliked or why the public had any sympathy with their son whatsoever.

The FritzCambridge inheritance may have been the subject on everybody’s lips when the King arrived for Hanover Week but any mention of it was strictly verboten. Unfortunately, this was far too serious a matter to be ignored and as the King hosted politicians and privy councillors alike at Herrenhausen, it did not take long for news of the Landtag’s decision to reach his ears. It was played down as nothing more than a dispute over an inheritance but the King was wise enough to know it meant far more. The parliament in Hanover had openly defied him. Whether they had the legal right to do so or not was immaterial. All remaining public appearances and private audiences in the royal diary were immediately cancelled as the King summoned his most senior ministers to his presence. He wanted a full account of what had transpired and why the decision had been taken. Their answer did not please him. It was made abundantly clear that under Hanoverian law, the Committee had been given no choice but to rule that the FritzCambridge marriage was valid – and as such, the inheritance had to be granted. The King didn’t care a fig for the inheritance. He only cared that the parliament in Hanover had involved itself on a matter which the King considered to be closed and which risked opening up yet another can of worms on the subject of royal marriages. George fumed on the subject all the way home to London. [11]


Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, c. 1850.

Left at Herrenhausen, the Cambridges had reached breaking point. They were fast becoming an object of ridicule in Hanover and neither could see a way forward. The Duchess took the situation particularly hard, already sinking into a depression sparked by the feeling that she was somehow responsible for the wrongs committed by her son. Hanover had been home to the Cambridges since their marriage in 1818, indeed some speculate today that Augusta would never have accepted Adolphus (he was after all her senior by 20 years) had she been forced to live in England [12]. Herrenhausen brought independence but it also kept Augusta away from the pettiness of the English court, not to mention that it also allowed her to live in reasonably close proximity to her own family and meant that she could be among people who shared her views, values, language and customs. This in turn enabled the Cambridges to look past the rather hasty and hurried circumstances of their marriage and build a happy life together, interrupted only by a brief sojourn back to England during the Long Regency. Back then, they had longed to return to Hanover and begged the King to allow the Duke to resume his post as Viceroy. Now, they would ask His Majesty to withdraw that appointment. At 69 years old, the Duke had held his office for almost 30 years. But now, his time at Herrenhausen looked to be coming to an end. “When all is said and done”, he wrote sadly to his sister Mary in England, “How much time do I have left to me? Our dear brother was just a little older than I. I do not wish to spend the years remaining living under a shadow”. [13]

The Cambridges would have the perfect opportunity to present their case personally to George V six weeks later when they returned to England for the wedding of Prince George of Cumberland and Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel. Despite their low spirits, they could not excuse themselves from the occasion given that Adolphus was the uncle of Prince George and Augusta was the aunt of Princess Auguste. But they were also under strict orders to attend under the command of the formidable Princess Mary. She had totally ignored Princess Louise Charlotte’s instructions and had compiled a guestlist of her own according to the arrangements she had made for the wedding of Princess Augusta of Cambridge and the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz earlier in the year. Mary was not merely being obstinate. She was fond of Prince George and had a serious concern that he may find his side of the Chapel Royal a little sparse. After all, his father the Duke of Cumberland lived in exile and his mother was dead. He was an only child and had few friends in England beyond members of the Royal Family and their staff, who were due to attend anyway. By contrast, the Hesse-Kassels were a numerous bunch and all would expect an invitation. Mary had to cast her net wide and decided that quantity was more important than quality, dispatching a summons to the half-siblings of Prince George of Cumberland with a few Strelitz and Thurn und Taxis relations thrown in for good measure.

The King had returned to England in bad temper and the last thing he wanted to discuss was another royal marriage. However, when Princess Mary sent him the guest list, he quickly made his way to her rooms at Buckingham Palace to discuss the arrangements.

“I know what you’re going to say”, Mary said, chomping on slices of hot buttered toast and marmalade, “But I had to invite him Georgie. With any luck, the old prig will have the decency to decline but short of calling in the chimney sweeps, I cannot fill the Chapel any other way”

“What are you talking about Aunt Mary?”, George sighed.

“My brother, of course!”, she exclaimed, sending crumbs tumbling, “If all I hear is true he won’t have the money for his passage anyway. Or his boat may sink. But if he does come, we shall just have to grin and bear it”

“Oh that”, George said distractedly, “No, I wasn’t talking about that…though let us both pray for bad weather on the channel…I was talking about this…you’ve got the Anhalt-Dessaus in at St James’?”

“Well what’s wrong with that?”, Mary huffed, “There isn’t room here Georgie, not if you insist on giving the Strelitzes their usual suite and after all, they’re no relation of ours…”

George shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Really Aunt Mary, sometimes I despair, honestly I do…”

He took out a red pencil from his pocket and began to put thick lines through some of Princess Mary’s handiwork.

“Put the Prussian lot at St James’…and then…we’ll have the Solms-Braunfels at Clarence House…and the Anhalt-Dessaus can go to Marlborough House…there”, he concluded proudly.

“Well I really don’t see what all the fuss is about”, Mary sighed, “But I shall tell the Master of the Household just the same”

“St James’ indeed”, the King said frustratedly, “It’s cramped enough as it is and the Anhalt-Dessaus were very kind to me when I was at Trechtinghausen, it won’t repay them much by tucking them away in that draughty old mausoleum”

“It’s good enough for my sister”, Mary sniffed.

“She’s mad as a march hare”, the King mused, then noting his somewhat insensitive description of his Aunt Sophia, apologised, “Sorry. I would just like there to be some order to these things. Now I must go…”

“Oh? Where are you off to? To Lisson I suppose? Georgie, they are working as fast as they can…”

Charlie Phipps entered the room and handed the King his hat and coat.

“No no, I have to go to Marlborough House”, George said hurriedly, heading out the door, “To make sure it’s ready when the Anhalt-Dessaus arrive”

“But Georgie!”, Mary called after him, “They won’t be here for…”

Astonished, the Princess looked up at a smirking Charlie Phipps.

“Really Phipps…what on earth has gotten into that boy?”


[1] A flashback to George IV’s reign here.

[2] If there’s interest, I’ll try and give a brief summary of what Albert has been upto in Brazil since his marriage but at the moment, I can’t shoehorn it into a future chapter without it feeling forced or proving a diversion!

[3] Louise Charlotte was his aunt by marriage of course, as the wife of the King’s uncle William of Hesse-Kassel.

[4] Mistress of the Robes is an office more associated with the Household of the Queen (it existed for some 500 years until last year and has now seemingly been abolished in the new reign) but Mistresses of the Robes were also appointed to the Households of the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of York and others.

[5] Hold that thought!

[6] & [7] Dolly’s code here equates to:
  • -HMK, His Majesty the King
  • PR, the Princess Royal
  • Dss Cambs, the Duchess of Cambridge
  • Pss MA, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
  • D&Dss Cambs – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
  • N/Str – Neustrelitz
  • H/Hausen – Herrenhausen
  • Chips, Charlie Phipps
This was a popular style of journal keeping at the time and some of these abbreviations have been taken from the OTL journals of Queen Victoria.

[8] This took some researching (hence this week’s delay!) because there’s very few reliable sources out there on how the legal system of Hanover worked in terms of the personal union etc. Fortunately I was able to find some but it took some doing!

[9] This is the same ruling passed in 1844 in the OTL which raised the same questions in Hanover on this subject but in our TTL, there’s someone to actually press it further.

[10] Though it must be said this did not make a marriage equal - but that’s a whole different kettle of fish we won’t go into here…

[11] Reform of the Royal Marriages Act 1772 incoming…and a very important mechanism for the future of TTL.

[12] The OTL Queen Victoria actually speculated this too.

[13] An important issue raised here as who could replace Cambridge and does this end the permanent presence of a member of the Royal Family in Hanover?

Just a quick sign off to say that this chapter is laying the groundwork for future events which includes royal marriages (and their validity) and the relationship with Hanover. I'm sorry there's only been one update this week and that it doesn't move us on terribly far but this one took an awful lot of research (and headstratching!) and is sort of vital to underpin future themes in TTL without making them seem implausible!

That said, I hope you enjoyed it and as ever, many thanks for reading!
Excellent chapter as always. Interesting developments in hanover, those are worth keeping an eye on.

And i'm all in for a re-cap and visiit to Albert, i want to see what impacts he has done to Brazil with his abilities!
Are there going to be any plays made about Victoria of Kent, with her being a tragic heroine destroyed by the evil Queen Louisa?
I know the Saxe-Coburg's are small fry, but they have always had the ability to punch above her weight and become major players , so I can't help but wonder if there is going to some unexpected consequences of the hostility between the house of Hanover and the house of Saxe-Coburg? "Viva "The Mouse who roared."
Really good chapter. I look forward to watching George’s relationship with Agnes grow. She seems the exact opposite of Louise. Because , she doesn’t seem reserved or restrained in any sort of way. It’s going to be fun to see how she fits into British society.
Also, George Cambridge should just be sent somewhere really far away.
Oh I do hope Cumberland makes it for the wedding.


"Who's that?"
"That's my father..."
Wild horses couldn't keep old Cumberland from donning his uniform and taking his place at the Chapel Royal! Princess Mary will not be pleased...
Are there going to be any plays made about Victoria of Kent, with her being a tragic heroine destroyed by the evil Queen Louisa?
I know the Saxe-Coburg's are small fry, but they have always had the ability to punch above her weight and become major players , so I can't help but wonder if there is going to some unexpected consequences of the hostility between the house of Hanover and the house of Saxe-Coburg? "Viva "The Mouse who roared."
I think you're absolutely spot on, I could see Victoria's story being turned into plenty of tragic plays - and Netflix specials in the modern day. In the OTL she's usually portrayed as a dotty old lady or a scheming bitch hell bent on power. But in our TL, I think Peter Morgan would definitely want to give her the Princess Margaret treatment in The Crown and rehabilitate her to a whole new audience of fans.
Really good chapter. I look forward to watching George’s relationship with Agnes grow. She seems the exact opposite of Louise. Because , she doesn’t seem reserved or restrained in any sort of way. It’s going to be fun to see how she fits into British society.
Also, George Cambridge should just be sent somewhere really far away.
Thankyou so much! And I'm thrilled you picked up on this. I knew that any new wife for George couldn't just be a carbon copy of Louise and so Agnes will definitely stir things up a little. But also, it's hard to see that George would take a fancy to someone this early after his wife's death unless she stood out from the crowd. She's not actively pursuing the King, perish the thought, but I think she's clearly made an impression on him. ;)
Excellent chapter as always. Interesting developments in hanover, those are worth keeping an eye on.

And i'm all in for a re-cap and visiit to Albert, i want to see what impacts he has done to Brazil with his abilities!
Thankyou! I'll do my best to give a little Albert update with the next chapter.
Thankyou! I'll do my best to give a little Albert update with the next chapter.
Oh, great. I am curious to know what he is doing in the far away Brazil…
And Agnes is really interesting… Princess Mary has no idea of why the King has taken so much interest in the accommodations for the Anhalt-Dessaus but Phipps know it very well…
GV: Part Three, Chapter Fifteen: A House Divided
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Fifteen: A House Divided

It was a misty morning on the 28th of October 1843 when a packet steamer docked at St Katharine’s in London, a small collection of weary travellers descending from the passenger deck to the cobbled street below. Peddlers carrying trays of hot pies and paper bags filled with roasted chestnuts yelled out into the haze, coachmen jostled for position along Mews Street hoping to pick up a generous fare and beggars leaned against soot-stained walls holding aloft tin mugs for a few coppers from London’s latest new arrivals. Amid the scene, Charlie Phipps stood looking anxiously towards the ship, desperately trying to avoid the hawkers and vagrants alike, the bite of the October morning kept out by a thick beaver-fur coat. After almost every passenger had disembarked, Phipps looked down at his pocket watch. Had he been given the wrong time, he wondered. Then, he gazed back up at the deck where a sailor was struggling to pull a large trunk down the ladder. Another stepped in to help him. Then, a third emerged, a wizened figure in a black frock coat with fur trim around the neck holding on to the sailor’s arm. He was tall and thin with a strong roman nose under which a bushy grey moustache twirled at the edges. He used a cane and the support of the sailor to make his way to the ladder, animatedly chatting away as he followed his trunk down onto the dockside. He gave the sailor a coin. The sailor smiled and shook the old gentleman’s hand. Phipps took a deep breath and made his way across the cobbles.

“Your Royal Highness”, he said softly, giving a small bow of the neck, “I am His Majesty’s Private Secretary, welcome to London”

The Duke of Cumberland narrowed his eyes and looked Phipps up and down.

“What a curious thing it is to be welcomed back to one’s own country”, he mused, reaching out his gloved hand to offer a friendly greeting, “Might I take your arm sir? I am weary from my journey”

Phipps gallantly helped the Duke out toward Mews Street where the cabbies looked on with some curiosity. At the end of the road stood a carriage painted in light grey with rich blue velvet curtains at the windows. On the door was painted the Royal Coat of Arms in silver, almost glowing as the gas lamps picked it out in the gauzy morning light. Phipps opened the carriage door and helped the Duke of Cumberland inside. Climbing in after his charge, Phipps rapped on the top of the coach and it began its slow trundle away from Mews Street into Tower Hill.

“His Majesty apologises Sir; he would have liked to have welcomed you personally but he is otherwise detained this morning”

“Humph”, the Duke snorted, “I should wager he’s still in his bed, what? My father would never have allowed it. The best of the day wasted in a pit. Young men today simply do not appreciate the enemy of time. Where am I to lodge?”

“St James’ Palace, Your Royal Highness”, Phipps explained kindly, “Princess Sophia will receive you”

“I am glad”, Cumberland nodded, “It has been too long since I saw my sister. She was always kind to me”

A brief silence descended, the Duke holding on to a rope on the carriage door to steady himself as the coach swayed to and fro along the bump and rattle of the London streets.

“This girl my son is to marry…a pleasant young lady is she?”


The Duke of Cumberland

Phipps was taken aback by the question. He was suddenly reminded of just how much a stranger to the Royal Family the old Duke had become. Cumberland had once been a figure of great public interest, not because he inspired affection but because he was so very much despised by the press, politicians and people alike. His efforts to unseat his elder brother as Regent for King George V had finally seen him evicted from the country he loved. In his self-imposed exile in Berlin, the Duke’s only real connection with his former life came by virtue of his wife’s family, the Prussian Royal Family extending the odd dinner invitation to the Cumberlands bringing a rare opportunity for the Duke to don his uniform, orders and decorations and remind himself of what it was to be a Prince at court. His son and heir, Prince George, had rehabilitated the Cumberland family reputation somewhat, becoming a much-loved friend to the King and well-liked by other members of the Royal Family. But this was not extended to the Duke who, now a widower, lived on a meagre allowance (by royal standards at least) with a skeleton staff. He rarely entertained and had not seen his son for months. Such a life seemed to have knocked the fight out of the old man. Phipps noticed his hands shook a little and each of his 72 years seemed to be etched on his wrinkled face.

“The Princess is delightful”, Phipps replied, feeling a little sad for Cumberland, “She arrives tomorrow”

“Not consulted”, the Duke said with a sigh.


“I was not consulted”, Cumberland said, fishing for his handkerchief to mop his teary eyes, though whether this was from emotion or the harshness of the morning chill Phipps could not tell, “Such is my station now”

At St James’, Phipps helped the Duke out of the carriage, across Friary Court and through the Queen’s Door which led to the modest apartment where the Duke’s sister Princess Sophia lived. The 66-year-old was seated on a chair in the lobby, a lady in waiting at her side, dressed in her finest awaiting her guest. Sophia was now completely blind, her hair totally white under it’s lace cap, her hands unsteady.

Meine liebe schwester…”

Cumberland pottered his way toward Sophia who leaned against her lady in waiting to rise from her chair. She held out her arms before her and waited to feel her brother’s kiss on her cheek. Both stood for a moment, weeping and holding on to each other’s arms.

“Come inside now dear”, Sophia said gently, “I have so very much to tell you”

Phipps watched as brother and sister walked away into Sophia’s apartment. The pathetic scene left him feeling quite sullen.

Contrary to his uncle’s assessment, the King was actually wide awake and busy with his morning papers at Buckingham Palace – he simply didn’t wish to spend a moment longer in Cumberland’s company than was absolutely necessary. Despite this unwelcome arrival however, George was in good spirits. His day had begun with a letter from Princess Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau, a brief note saying how much she had enjoyed their meeting at Trechtinghausen but which was accompanied by a drawing of two cats dancing on a roof. Underneath, Agnes had written the caption “Cat Dance!”. It was so charming that the King set it among the objects on his desk, grinning each time it caught his eye. It made the rather tedious report from the Treasury bearable. JC Herries was predicting another difficult winter ahead. The harvest was poor and some grains in short supply. A rise in prices was inevitable and the cushion of the dreaded income tax was soon to dissipate as the government had to honour its promise and phase it out within the six-month time frame agreed in Cabinet.

George puffed on a cigarette and turned his attention instead to his Foreign Office briefing, a school of politics that interested him far more than economic policy (which he never really understood). It was not exactly edifying reading. The King of Afghanistan was once again squeezing British traders, the Russians now gaining the upper hand there. In Hong Kong, there was growing animosity to the British in their new colony. The Straits Pact was holding. Just. Meanwhile in Spain, Espartero had been ousted as predicted but the situation was described as stable. Isabella II had been declared to have reached the age of majority, though she was only 13, approving the 1837 Spanish constitution and installing a liberal government led by Salustiano de Olózaga – a much needed boost for the Anglo-Spanish trade agreement being negotiated in Madrid.

Away from the King’s Study, Princess Mary was bounding through the corridors of Buckingham Palace ensuring that all was ready for the wedding of Prince George of Cumberland and Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel. For all her faults, Mary was proving to be an excellent hostess and on her watch, the Palace had recaptured the glitter of the past which Queen Louise had sought to curtail somewhat. Though the Royal Household found Mary to be a formidable mistress, she was not unkind or unnecessarily demanding unless her orders were not carried out to the letter – in which case she could erupt until matters were settled to her liking. The wedding of Prince George was to take place in two days’ time and so it was that Mary paid particular attention to the Chapel Royal. Whilst carrying out her inspection, she spied the Bishop of London (who was to perform the marriage ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury being unwell) casting his eye over the altar. Catching Princess Mary’s eye, the Dean bowed and smiled.

“Your Royal Highness…”

“Now I shan’t have a thing changed”, Mary boomed accusingly, “Why are you here?”

“I have an audience with His Majesty, Ma’am”, the Bishop explained, “But it has been delayed as I believe the Prime Minister has not yet been dismissed”


“Yes Ma’am, he is still in audience with His Majesty”

“How disappointing”, she sighed, “Well do not clutter yourself in here, I have much to do and I can’t have Bishops under my feet”

“Quite Ma’am”, the Bishop smiled awkwardly, “I shall…”

He looked about for some kind of indication as to where else he might wait.

“I shall…wait in the corridor”

Mary smiled and nodded approvingly, turning her attention to the altar where the Bishop had just put a cushion on which the wedding bands might be placed. She sighed and moved the cushion an inch to the left, patting it for good measure.

The Prime Minister’s weekly audience with the King had been brought forward, the wedding gala for the Cumberlands knocking it off the agenda at it’s usual time. It marked the first since the King’s return from Germany and there was much to discuss. Sir James Graham had resolved to curtail the King’s foreign travels for a time and had seemingly found a way to enforce the new restriction without appearing to exert too much authority. Charlie Phipps had defended his master well when the topic had been raised before George V’s departure for Germany and Graham had promised that the King would be “kept busy”. The Prime Minister wished to hush criticism that the Sovereign was spending too much time abroad whilst also keeping His Majesty’s interests diverted away from the Foreign Office. To affect this, Graham proposed a royal progress which would see the King visit Scotland for the first time since his coronation. There had not been an official tour north of the border since the reign of George IV because much of George V’s reign thus far had fallen under the Long Regency. George had very little interest in Scotland, his only memories associated with it being a brief holiday or two spent at Abbotsford with his estranged mother.

But the Scottish tour of 1822 had been a huge success, a display of pageantry and pomp choreographed by the late Sir Walter Scott to introduce King George IV to his people in Scotland in a series of galas, fetes and public appearances that all agreed had done much to endear those who saw His Late Majesty to the monarchy. Indeed, the only place George IV’s wife was ever received warmly by the majority of the British people was in Scotland. She had even planned to build a new palace for herself there, her assessment being that the Scots were far friendlier than the English (though it must be said she saw little of Scotland beyond the country estates of friends). King George V was less enthusiastic about the idea of touring Scotland and even more so when the Prime Minister proposed that his tour should be extended well beyond the fortnight his parents had spent there. Graham suggested that the King spend eight weeks in Scotland, recreating the visit of his father in 1822 in Edinburgh but then moving on to tour Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee, St Andrews and finally Aberdeen. Officially, the motive of the tour was to introduce the Scots to their King but in reality, Graham simply wanted the King to be elsewhere when the new parliamentary session opened in February, something that didn’t suit the King’s purpose at all. If anything, he intended to watch parliament all the more closely because he intended that they should assist him in bringing some resolution to recent headaches.


King George IV and Queen Louise at Hopetoun, Edinburgh, 1822.

Understandably, the King was furious when he discovered that the Landtag in his “other Kingdom” had confirmed the validity of his cousin’s marriage. But that was merely the overture. Buoyed by his success (and a healthy cash injection to his beleaguered finances), George Cambridge had decided that there was only one thing outstanding yet to be settled following his marriage to Franziska Fritz; he wanted his royal rank back. He was advised this was a hopeless case for in the United Kingdom, there was no such thing as birthright when it came to royal titles and styles. These were in the sole gift of the monarch and whilst convention dictated that George was indeed entitled to be styled as a royal prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain etc, the King was well within his rights to remove that style if he so wished. But George Cambridge had other ideas. He had already instructed a solicitor in England to look into the possibility of approaching the Committee of Privileges on the matter, news which quickly reached the Palace and sent the King into one of his temper tantrums. The King had been warned that George Cambridge was by no means done with his attempts to restore his reputation but even before this, the recent difficulties borne of his decision to recognise his late uncle’s marriage had inspired the King to take action in some way to prevent a similar situation ever arising again. The rumours coming from Erfurt made the matter both pressing and urgent. George V consulted the Attorney General to help him put together a plan of attack and now the King wished to put these proposals before his Prime Minister with a view to Cabinet approval and a parliamentary vote.

Though in later years George V would insist that he had always reacted to events rather than to proactively affect change, this wasn’t entirely accurate for in November 1843 he took a monumental decision which would perhaps become remembered as George V’s biggest contribution to the British monarchy, certainly during his early reign. Pragmatic and with one eye on the future, what the King was about to do would forever change the way the monarchy operated and it would have very tangible effects in the decades to come. He was not motivated by spite in this, he did not act simply to prevent his cousin from causing yet another scandal – though it must be said that George was advised that if Cambridge did press his case in England, the public mood may well be on his side – rather, the King acted as he did because in the last fifteen years, the only real scandal to affect the monarchy emerged from one thing and one thing only – the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. He admitted that he had not handled the fallout of these incidences well and that, whilst he tried to act out of kindness where his late uncle was concerned, he had effectively proven the act to be a catalyst for crisis. What George III had intended to protect the monarchy from scandal had actually set it on a direct course for public humiliation. The Royal Marriages Act could not be allowed to stand a moment longer.

It should be remembered that the Royal Marriages Act had never been popular in England, indeed, it was only narrowly passed by Lord North in the first place. When George III introduced the bill, the aristocracy were immediately offended because they believed that it was little more than a legal reminder that the Royal Family were a cut above any Duke or Earl not in terms of rank but in terms of pedigree. The message sent to a gentry which had actually provided one or two royal consorts in their time was that the royal bloodline was far too precious to be sullied with commoner blood ever again and that, much like the Stuarts, the Hanoverians considered themselves to be an impeccable breed for whom the mere daughter of a Duke or an Earl would never do. One of the most ferocious opponents of the bill was the Whig titan Charles James Fox. He believed George III’s behaviour was autocratic, even tyrannical. He fought to repeal the bill once it had passed, almost succeeding but for 18 votes. But at the time, the legislation delivered exactly what George III wanted and so, for the next 72 years, the status quo was redefined on royal authority regardless of the troubles it caused for two of George III’s own children. Now, George V had had enough. Something must be done, and quickly, before the Royal Family became caught in a spiral of controversy relating to a bill which had ultimately caused more harm than good.

George V’s objective was a fairly simple one: to relax the harsh restrictions of the Royal Marriages Act (and to contain the fallout of the disagreements it caused) whilst keeping the monarchy itself protected from marriages which would be seemed unsuitable or unacceptable by the Crown, parliament and people alike. At first, he believed the way to affect this was to ask parliament to introduce a new bill which would allow members of the Royal Family to contract morganatic marriages [1]. Morganatic marriage was relatively common among European royalty and though it was still unwelcome, it spared many families the unwelcome attention brought to the British Royal Family’s doorstep in recent years. In most German states, a Prince could marry a beggar if he wished and the marriage would be valid – but there was a price to pay. In most cases, an unequal marriage resulted in the bride taking on an inferior courtesy title (which might be created for her) with special remainder to her children who were considered legitimate but who had no succession rights beyond the title created for their mother. It led to a kind of “Within but without” scenario whereby a Prince might become a Grand Duke without an heir but with children who were nonetheless legitimate. This opened the door to some difficulties in certain royal houses when those affected might try to erase the stain of the morganatische from their family tree – something we have already come across where Alexandrine of Baden’s ancestors were concerned and which ironically affected George V’s descendants in Darmstadt in the early 1890s. [2]

But the Baden example also reveals that morganatic marriages, and the offspring of such unions, were not well received in royal circles. The Duchess of Cambridge could never countenance Alexandrine as a daughter in law because she was the product of a morganatic marriage and in practical terms, Europe had a two-tier system of royalty in operation whereby some Princes and Princesses were more equal in stature than others - and thus, received differently. So though morganatic marriage was a viable option in many European courts, it was still discouraged. Each royal house had its own way of regulating these marriages and instituted house laws, a set of legally binding rubrics established by an ancestor to govern the way the royal house would operate in certain situations. The House of Hanover had no such laws but in most other courts, they served as permanent reminders of royal authority derived from a very different source than parliamentary sovereignty. For example, in Russia, the Romanov dynasty was governed by the Pauline Laws of 1797, a set of imperial regulations that acted as divine commandments imposed by an autocrat upon his own family. But even the smaller German courts had house laws as their “code of conduct”. In Coburg for example, the House Laws forbad the accession of a Roman Catholic which posed a serious threat to that particular family in 1893 when Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha died without legitimate issue [3].

The United Kingdom had no need of such laws because unlike the Emperor of Austria or the Tsar of Russia, the King was subject to parliamentary sovereignty as a constitutional monarch. Parliament had settled the succession in 1701 and only approved the Royal Marriages Act because they saw the benefit of it – not because the King demanded it. But recent events had shown that though he had no claim to the same authority as the Russian Tsars or the Austrian Emperors, King George could still make use of certain royal privileges to shape the monarchy as he wished. In removing royal rank from his cousin the Earl of Tipperary, George V had established a new precedent; that those who married in defiance of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 would lose their style of Royal Highness and Prince of the United Kingdom, etc. But he had confused that precedent by trying to retroactively give his consent to the marriage of his late uncle the Duke of Sussex. When the King met the Attorney General, he was given the following advice: there was absolutely no possibility of parliament ever agreeing to establish the concept of morganatic marriages in England. The aristocracy would never stand for it and besides, it would go against centuries of English law concerning not only marriages but inheritances too. However, Sir Frederick Pollock did see a way forward that could provide the King with the outcome he wanted but which did not infringe too much on the status quo.


Sir Frederick Pollock, 1st Baronet, 1840 by Lawrence.

First and foremost, Pollock’s advice (if followed) would see the wholesale repeal of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Instead, it would be replaced with something called the Succession to the Crown Act, so called because the major platform of the reform was to put in place consequences serious enough to deter George V’s family from contracting unsuitable marriages even if a mechanism allowed them to do so and have those marriages recognised in law. The Royal Marriages Act was unpopular but it’s penalties rather lacklustre, designed to penalise the bride rather than the groom. Those who married in contravention of it had their marriages declared invalid but they retained their place in the line of succession, their titles, styles and other royal privileges such as continued annuities. The Succession to the Crown Act would change this, giving with one hand but taking with another. Under this new legislation, only the first twelve individuals in the line of succession would be required to seek the Sovereign’s consent for their marriage. If that consent was declined, the individual in question could still go ahead and marry, a marriage that would be recognised and their children considered to be legitimate – but they would lose their succession rights and whilst their children might inherit peerages, they could not inherit a claim to the British throne. They would also forfeit their royal rank, and a second bill was to be introduced alongside the Succession to the Crown Act to regulate this. The two acts together marked the biggest change to the succession since 1701 and would require the approval of the Cabinet before going to parliament for the approval of the Commons and the Lords.

The Royal House Act would supplement the Succession to the Crown Act in creating a new legal entity and was considered a way to convince parliament that unlike King George III, King George V was not acting autocratically. This act stated that the Royal Family was to be restricted in number to the King’s children and grandchildren in the male line. Everybody else was to be considered a member of the Royal House. This was intended to serve as a kind of royal insurance policy with the legislation determining that the King had the right to extend or withdraw membership at any time via Letters Patent as Head of the Royal House. In effect, this meant two things. In the future, the King’s children and grandchildren in the male line would remain Royal Highnesses and Princes and Princess of the United Kingdom. They would also be members of the Royal House of course but their primary status was as members of the Royal Family. They could hold Crown appointments and be granted annuities accordingly and so long as they toed the line, their status would never change.

But the most important adjustment was for those who might be born into the Royal House (not the Royal Family) in the future. These individuals would be entitled to the style of His/Her Highness Prince/Princess XYZ of Hanover [4]. Despite a lesser rank, they would retain their succession rights and if they fell into the first twelve in the line of succession, they would still be required to seek the Sovereign’s consent before their marriage. For example, the children of Princess Marie Louise. But what of those members who, by their own actions, were “ported” over to the Royal House? To understand how this would work, we may imagine a situation where George Cambridge married after 1844 and in which his chosen bride was not a Roman Catholic.

The Earl of Tipperary would have fallen under the provisions of the new Succession to the Crown Act and we shall suppose that consent was withheld but that George chose to marry anyway. George would have lost his succession rights and have ceased to be His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge from the moment he married under the terms of the Succession to the Crown Act. But his marriage would still have been valid and under the terms of the Royal House Act, he would have become His Highness Prince George of Hanover, his wife becoming Her Highness Princess George and his children styled accordingly because they would be legitimate. Also, they could inherit the Dukedom of Cambridge even if they could not inherit the Crown itself and so, whilst the new approach under the Succession to the Crown Act was harsher than that of the Royal Marriages Act, it affected fewer individuals and was far more generous in it's consequences. Of course, none of this could have applied to George Cambridge’s case if he married a Roman Catholic as he did when he took Franziska Fritz for his bride. The Act of Settlement determined that and restrictions on Catholics were to remain. Indeed, Pollock was forced to address this directly, perhaps with George Cambridge's example in mind.

The Attorney General's concern was that parliament may overlook the benefits of the new legislation because it was a distinct possibility that it’s provisions may inadvertently give rise to Catholic cadet branches of the Royal House in the future. Though they could not inherit the throne, this could be taken as a step too far among a population which still held very strong anti-Catholic views despite Catholic emancipation a decade earlier. To resolve this, the Royal House Act was to include a clause which specifically excluded Catholics from becoming members of the Royal House and if an existing member married a Catholic, they would forfeit their membership immediately, no longer afforded the style of Highness or Prince/Princess of Hanover. Naturally they would already have lost their succession rights under the terms of the Act of Settlement which neither the Succession to the Crown Act or the Royal House Act replaced in any way. It remained on the statute books unaffected [5]. The King asked if there was any possibility that this new approach may strengthen the case of George Cambridge specifically if he sought to appeal to the Committee of Priveleges as it was rumoured he stood poised to do. George V worried that his cousin may now seek to claim membership of the Royal House. Pollock reassured the King that whilst Cambridge may indeed appeal [6], the new legislation would not be applied retroactively and as such, the Earl of Tipperary would walk away empty handed.

The King personally made a few additions to the Royal House Act. He wanted to make it clear that members of the Royal House were not to be deprived of their nationality, that they were still eligible to be created peers of the realm and that just as the Sovereign could “demote” a member of the Royal Family to membership of the Royal House, he could also raise a member of the Royal House to membership of the Royal Family – for example, if a grandchild in the female line was to become heir apparent, it therefore being entirely appropriate that he or she be styled Royal Highness etc with all the privileges associated. But he also made one important stipulation which had never before been installed in British law; that members of the Royal House to whom consent did not apply, were free to marry as they wished with one exception; they were to be forbidden from marrying divorcees. In doing so, they would immediately forfeit their membership even though their marriage would be considered legally valid.

A provision was also made that, even in the event of the accession of a female monarch, the Royal House would maintain the name of Hanover. The Succession to the Crown Act and the Royal House Act combined would serve to secure the monarchy’s reputation for decades to come and would become known in history as the King’s Laws, a moniker which originated among opponents to the legislation but which now has even been adopted by the Royal Family itself on their website in the telling of this episode in the monarchy’s history. George V was determined that his solution was logical, “dignified” and “wholly appropriate to prevent further disruptions which may continue to arise from the Royal Marriages Act of 1772”. He was confident it would be adopted and passed and in his journal prior to his audience with the Prime Minister, he wrote “Pollock’s advice v. sound. All things considered well and the case made for their inclusion most strongly”.

When the King presented these reforms to the Prime Minister, Graham was quietly impressed at just how thoroughly George had prepared his proposals. He had sought advice from the Attorney General, from the Prime Minister and would (pending Graham’s consent and departure) seek the advice of the Church of England too. But Graham wanted a very important reassurance before taking the proposed measures to Cabinet for their approval. Whilst George V had shown a far more magnanimous attitude to the Civil List than his predecessors, a recent bill to provide Prince George of Cumberland with an annuity upon his marriage was not well received in the Commons, even though it passed. The Prime Minister believed he could use the new legislation proposed to ringfence royal spending in the future to some extent, arguing that the Royal House Act should make clear that no dowries or annuities would be considered in parliament for members of the Royal House and that, if a member of the Royal Family married without consent and was granted membership of the Royal House they should be required to forfeit any financial assistance from parliament that would see a rise in the Civil List. In practise, this meant that if a member of the Royal Family married without consent, he may well become a member of the Royal House but he could never be granted an annuity by parliament and his only recourse to a payment from the Civil List would depend on the generosity of the Sovereign from existing funds. The King was wary but agreed when Graham suggested this alone would be enough to convince any opponents to other clauses in the two bills. Graham promised to introduce the reforms to Cabinet and “test the waters”.

But there was a catch. Graham looked down at Pollock’s handiwork and sipped at his port, mulling over his next move.

“Of course Your Majesty, even if the Cabinet approves of these measures and the government sponsors this legislation, I can give no guarantee that my colleagues in the House of Commons will vote in favour”

“I quite understand Prime Minister”, the King replied, “But nonetheless, I believe we have presented an approach which is eminently fair and practicable”

Graham gave a wry smile.

“Parliamentarians do not always favour things because they are fair or practicable Sir”, he said, “And I feel it my duty to warn Your Majesty that when parliament has considered such legislation before, the Royal Marriages Act for example, some members chose to vote the legislation down because they believed it was not correct, in principle, to pass a bill simply because the King wished it. Your late grandfather was himself accused of intimidating members into adopting the very legislation you now wish to repeal”

“Oh but that is intolerable – and most unfair”, George sighed frustratedly, “I should never intimidate and I recognise that parliament has the right to deny this legislation’s passage. I should like you to make that clear to your colleagues if this is to be considered on the floor of the House”

“And I shall do so Sir, I assure you…”, Graham enthused, “But if Your Majesty wishes me to introduce this legislation, I could not do so until the State Opening next year and if I may be so bold, it might serve our purpose far better if Your Majesty were…to remove yourself for a time…many of my colleagues come to the Palace on a regular basis, members of the other place too, I should like to ensure we leave no door open to those who may suggest pressure was being exerted”

“I would never do that!”, George barked, “Good God man, I’m no tyrant”

“Oh perish the thought Sir”, Graham replied hurriedly, “But you do see my meaning? We must chart the course carefully if we are to have success”

“Fine”, George grumbled, “Introduce it when I go to Hanover next year”

“Alas Sir”, the Prime Minister sighed, “Parliament shall be in recess then. But if Your Majesty were to take my proposals for a tour of Scotland next April…it would coincide with the anniversary of the visit of Your Majesty’s late father…a perfectly reasonable pretext…”

The King fixed Graham with a glare. He knew exactly what the Prime Minister was trying to do, though of course he didn’t yet grasp the true reason Graham wanted him to go to Scotland in the first place.

“Oh very well. Give Phipps the papers on the blessed tour”, the King said, a hint of steel in his voice, “We shall consider them”.

Graham stood up and bowed.

“Very good Your Majesty”, he said, “And meanwhile, I shall put these proposals to the Cabinet and report back at the earliest opportunity”

The King said nothing of all this to his family as they assembled for the Earl of Armagh’s wedding on the 3rd of November 1843. He decided that he would hold a small family summit before the act was introduced in 1844 instead. However, as monumental as his decision was, his attentions were quickly diverted with the arrival of the Anhalt-Dessaus to London. Though he had not set out to welcome the Duke of Cumberland personally when he arrived at St Katharine Dock, George V did so for the Anhalt-Dessaus when their ship arrived, even providing a phaeton in his own livery to convey them to Marlborough House. The same courtesy was extended to the Hesse-Kassels but not the Solms-Braunfels or the Prussians who were offered carriages decked out in the most junior royal livery and who had to make do with the Deputy Earl Marshal to greet them.


The Chapel Royal, Buckingham Palace, 1843.

The allocation of accommodation told its own story too. Whereas the other guests were squeezed into the relatively uncomfortable suites of St James’, the Anhalt-Dessaus were given two suites at Marlborough House; the Duke and Duchess (and their son the Hereditary Duke) took the apartment once used by the Dowager Queen Louise whilst the Anhalt daughters, Princess Agnes and Princess Maria Anna, were given an apartment all their own with two ladies maids provided for their comfort. In this apartment, the King had personally selected the floral arrangements, hand chosen the pages of the backstairs who would care for the girls and even put a landau at their disposal should they wish to travel independently – which did not please the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau who was used to keeping her daughters under her careful watch at all times.

This special treatment did not go unnoticed, neither could anybody fail to spot that at the welcome luncheon given at Buckingham Palace the day before the wedding, Princess Agnes was seated far closer to the King in between Prince George of Cumberland and the Duke of Cambridge than precedence might otherwise allow. The Duke of Cumberland meanwhile was pushed as far down the table as possible, tucked in between the Bishop of London’s wife and Princess Marie Louise of Anhalt-Dessau, a princess of Hesse-Kassel by birth (and a first cousin to King George V) who had married Prince Frederick Augustus of Anhalt-Dessau in 1832, he being the brother of Duke Leopold IV, Princess Agnes’ father.

But among these Anhalt-Dessaus were also a whole host of Mecklenburg-Strelitzes, Hesse-Kassels, Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburgs and Hohenzollerns. It was one of the biggest assemblies of European royalty for quite some time and reports shared with the general public spoke of the grandeur of the occasion where “every guest can claim a castle or a crown of his own whilst ladies vied with each other to display their finest jewels”. A footnote mentioned that the Duke of Cumberland (“mercifully now a stranger to these shores”) was present but that immediately after the wedding ceremony itself, he left and did not attend the wedding breakfast given in honour of the Earl (and new Countess) of Armagh.

This was rumoured to be because the Duke was horrified to see that as his son made his way to the altar that morning, he had been granted the Order of the Garter which he proudly displayed on his Windsor uniform. This was not in any way unusual of course, Cumberland himself had the Garter (as did all of his brothers) but it seemed to have irritated the old Duke, presumably because it was a further sign that his son enjoyed the favour of the monarch and Cumberland did not. To make matters worse, not only had the Earl of Armagh been given an annuity by parliament of £5,000, but it was also gazetted on the morning of his wedding that he had been appointed Royal Colonel of the 13th Regiment of Foot which was renamed The Earl of Armagh’s Light Infantry in his honour. As if this wasn’t enough, in addition to serving His Majesty as the Ranger of Bushy Park and the Lieutenant of Hampton Court Chase, the King had appointed the Earl of Armagh to take over as the new Ranger of St James’ and Hyde Park. This increased the Earl of Armagh’s income to £18,000 a year – the same figure Cumberland had once enjoyed and which had been increasingly cut over the years. [7]

Citing tiredness in his old age, Cumberland returned to St James’ Palace where he gave a small supper for an old friend, the former Solicitor General, Sir Charles Wetherell. Wetherell was one of Cumberland’s staunchest supporters, a passionate opponent of Catholic emancipation who had seen his parliamentary career tumble when he took against the Duke of Wellington on the issue. Wetherell was now old and bitter, furious that he had not been elevated to the Lords by Sir James Graham – he had even selected his title, Earl of Boroughbridge – when the Prime Minister introduced an army of new Tory peers to the upper house. Wetherell had been asked to St James’ Palace by the Duke of Cumberland for far more than a helping of pilchards on toast, a bowl of potage and a slice of madeira cake. Cumberland was on manoeuvres once more.


[1] Something considered by almost every British monarch by George I in fact but which has never been allowed to get a foothold. The most obvious example was the proposal that Edward VIII be able to marry Wallis Simpson morganatically. This was rejected because it was felt that morganatic marriage could not be introduced for one individual alone, even if that individual was the King, and that it could have disastrous consequences in a world where peers had the hereditary right to sit in the legislature. It was also considered (by the 1930s anyway) to be a continental custom which could not easily be imposed on the UK without tearing up centuries of existing legislation, something no government was mad enough to embark upon.

[2] Missy’s children…

[3] In the OTL, Coburg was inherited by the Duke of Edinburgh as the second son of the late Prince Albert, brother of Duke Ernst II. But in TTL, Albert’s children cannot succeed to Coburg because under the terms of his marriage both he and they must be in communion with Rome. He was also required to relinquish claims to Coburg for himself and his children, regardless of Coburg's House Laws. So what happens to the Duchy in 1893? We shall see.

[4] Which they all were anyway but this makes primary was previously secondary. The use of Highness was also not new to the Royal Family. This was granted to princes and princesses who were great-grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line with the exception of the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. Had George V and Elizabeth II not made changes to this approach, the Cambridge children would have been styled as His/Her Highness until their grandfather acceded to the throne.

[5] Heavy stress on the AoS remaining in place!

[6] He wouldn’t have got anywhere if he did. Parliament has no authority over styles which can only be granted or revoked by the Sovereign as hons honorum. Once again, Prince is not a title but a style – only a peerage is truly a title.

[7] The Ranger post here would particularly sting for Cumberland as he fully expected to be given the post in the OTL by William IV and was overlooked for it with the Duke of Sussex appointed instead. In TTL, the likely trajectory would have been that the Duke of Clarence as Regent would have made the same decision and with Sussex’s death just before Armagh’s wedding, it makes him a natural for the post. But Cumberland still holds his post as Ranger of Windsor Great Park…for now. As stated in the chapter, these posts were highly valued because they came with an annuity for the duration – usually set at £5,000 a year.

So, why this change to the Royal Family/House?

This was never intended to be a wander through the OTL with new faces. The purpose of TTL is to showcase an alternative to the British monarchy under Queen Victoria (and beyond). I believe this is the first of many big changes which sets the course of the monarchy in TTL on a very different path to that of the monarchy in the OTL. Possibly for the better…possibly for the worst. I had always intended to introduce this theme in TTL (a theme actually considered by the OTL King Edward VII which sparked the concept) but I had to wait until now to lay enough groundwork to make it plausible. I needed the King to have a strong motive (George Cambridge/the Duke of Sussex) but I also needed him to be in a position where the succession was more secure than when he first came to the throne. He has three children after all. Now a counter argument would be, what if all three marry in contravention to this new act? They’d all lose their succession rights? Well, I’d consider that to be an unlikely outcome anyway but I would argue that by taking this action, George is actively thinking about what he might do if his own children followed Cambridge’s example and installing a deterrent to ensure they do not. That said, what if an Edward VIII hoves into view? Could he manipulate this to get his way?

Equally, there are more subtle changes here which could inspire dramatic events in the future. Note that George V has forbidden a successor to change the name of the Royal House – though an amendment to the act would make it possible. If we go down the same OTL route, how does this affect things in 1917? Equally, more intimate relations to the Sovereign, even his own grandchildren, could be deprived of their titles were the situation in TTL the same as that in the OTL. What of a Princess Margaret type figure? Is her life made easier or more difficult with this system? Does the future bring changes to the legislation on the position of Catholics or divorcees? How would a future Charles III be affected? Has George V taken an action that spares the British Crown years of scandal or has he unwittingly opened the door to more complex clashes long after his time? We shall see…

One final point – an important one – is how these reforms (if indeed they are passed) would be taken in Hanover. At this stage in TTL, George V has done much to repair the broken relationship between the British Sovereign and his people in Hanover. Yet Hanover may well be looking at a situation whereby they lose their permanent royal representative at Herrenhausen for the first time in decades…and there is no obvious successor given that George V may very well want the Armaghs to stay in England to carry out royal duties. Will that weaken the bond? Equally, what if Graham gets his way and manages to curtail the King’s annual visits to Hanover? And on these reforms specifically, how will the people of Hanover take it when they see that (even though the styles relate to the Royal House and not the Kingdom itself), their homeland seems to be nothing more than a dumping ground for the spares and the sinners?

This isn’t an approach I’ve invented. It’s one many monarchies have taken over the years for different reasons and with different outcomes. But I think it’s one that’s fascinating to explore in a UK context. I hope I’ve done enough to make this change feel plausible and that the groundwork makes it a logical conclusion. But also, that it shows just what sort of King our George V is shaping up to be. He’s maturing into his role and thinking about the future. And naturally, this may also lead him to conclude that his future may be a happier one with someone else in it…

And for those who wanted a Prince Albert update, stay tuned, it's on it's way in just a short while!
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Great as always! George is on his way of earning plenty of highly prestigios epithets! Good to See that he's working on his hanoverian manda, they should be as important to him as his british ones.

Keep up the good work
GV: Part Three, Appendix I: A Brief Trip to Rio
King George V

Part Three, Appendix I: A Brief Trip to Rio

In another world entirely, the winter of 1843 might have seen the Duke and Duchess of Kendal preparing themselves to take up residence at Herrenhausen [1]. After some initial reluctance, King George V would no doubt have taken to his new brother-in-law and by 1843, accepted the Duke of Cambridge's resignation as Viceroy of Hanover opening the door to a new role for Prince Albert. The parting would no doubt have been easier to stomach than that of the real events, the King's sister maintaining her London residence and spending her summers at Claremont [2]. Children would no doubt have followed, the result of a happy marriage between teenage sweethearts. Yet this was not to be. As we now know, the romance between Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was cut tragically short and his marriage to Princess Charlotte Louise of the United Kingdom prevented by the Dowager Queen Louise and King Leopold of Belgium. As she became Tsarevna Maria Georgievna of Russia by her marriage to the heir to the Russian throne, Albert too found a new life far away from his ancestral homeland with another.



In 1838, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was studying at Bonn when he was summoned to his father’s palace at Ehrenburg. Under relentless pressure from his uncle (the King of the Belgians), his father (the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and the family’s most senior advisor (Baron Stockmar), it finally became clear that Albert could never marry Princess Charlotte Louise of the United Kingdom and that a suitable alternative had been found for him instead. Negotiations began for a marriage between Prince Albert and Princess Januária, Princess Imperial of Brazil which took some time as the finer details were worked out. The Brazilians had strict conditions and were unrelenting; Albert must become a Roman Catholic; he must sign away his inheritance in Coburg and agree that his children would belong only to the House of Braganza and not to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Albert really had no say in the matter at all. With King Leopold and Duke Ernst accepting on his behalf, Albert was finally engaged to Princess Januária.

Upon his arrival in Rio, Prince Albert immediately questioned his decision to follow the course charted for him by his family. Januária was not the beauty he had been led to believe and looked very different from the portraits he had seen. She was also just 16 years old, a capricious personality who was starting to understand her position and what it could bring her. She was somewhat imperious at her first meeting with Albert but admitted that she thought him very handsome indeed. The couple married in October 1838 at the Imperial Chapel in Rio de Janeiro (also known as the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Ancient See) to great public interest and acclaim but in the Imperial Court, Albert was not universally welcomed. Many wished to see the Princess make a far more impressive marriage and though the union brought a link to Belgium, it was felt by some that Januária may have found a more inspiring husband among the other Catholic courts of Europe. Albert was regarded with suspicion in some circles, particularly among the so-called ‘courtier faction’ at the Imperial Palace, who were concerned that the new Duke of Paraiba (as Albert became on his wedding day) might try to interfere in Brazilian politics – most notably, the contentious issue of the majority of the Emperor. [3]

Pedro II became Emperor of Brazil in 1831 when he was just 6 years old. The only legitimate male heir of Pedro I to survive infancy, he was recognised as heir apparent to the Brazilian throne as Heir Imperial in 1826 when he was little over a year old. Then tragedy struck. His mother, Empress Maria Leopoldina, died following the birth of a stillborn child. Two years later, his father married Princess Amélie of Leuchtenberg whom the young Prince Imperial liked very much and forged a close bond with. Yet Pedro I would soon pursue a disastrous course and determined to restore his daughter Maria II as Queen of Portugal (usurped by his brother Miguel), without political support in Rio, he was forced to abdicate and go into exile. The Prince Imperial was left behind and immediately proclaimed Emperor Pedro II. But he could only assume his constitutional prerogatives upon reaching the age of majority when he turned 18 in 1843 and so a regent was elected to act on the Emperor's behalf. This regent did not come from the Imperial Family but from the Brazilian parliament which installed a triumvirate to maintain balance between political rivals. This changed in 1835 when the liberal Diogo Antônio Feijó was elected sole regent after introducing the Additional Act to the General Assembly in 1834. But Feijó proved unpopular and he was quickly replaced by the conservative Pedro de Araújo Lima who was created Marquis of Olinda and regent for Pedro II in 1837. [4]

Olinda was a curious figure, a staunch monarchist who was driven by a desire to see Imperial Authority restored as he believed the Crown was the only stabilising force to secure Brazil’s survival as a sovereign nation. To this end, Olinda was keen to restore the traditions and ceremonies of monarchy lost with the death of Pedro I to instil deference and loyalty to the Crown among the populace. An important example of this came in 1836 when the 14-year-old Princess Januária was declared Princess Imperial of Brazil as heir presumptive to her brother, the Emperor. Carried to the Palace of the Senate in an open landau to the cheers and applause of enormous crowds, Januária appeared before the deputies clad in a rich gold gown bearing the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross to declare an oath of allegiance to “keep the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman religion; Observe the Political Constitution of the Brazilian Nation and be obedient to the laws and the Emperor”. For Januária, this ceremony was incredibly important as it was perhaps the first time that serious consideration was given to the idea that she may be declared to have reached the age of majority instead of her brother, allowing her to be named regent on Pedro II’s behalf. [5]

The issue of the Emperor’s majority was a controversial one causing much division among Brazil’s leading figures. The Marquis of Olinda was prepared to introduce a bill which declared the young Emperor to have reached the age of his majority regardless of his actual age but this was opposed by the liberals who believed that Olinda simply wanted to make the monarchy beholden to the Conservative regime when Olinda stepped down as regent. Likewise, the courtier faction opposed the move because they foresaw the same situation as the liberals did, only with the Crown now obligated to that party instead. The proposal that Princess Januária be declared regent for her brother was offered as a middle of the road compromise but the courtier faction (led by Aureliano Coutinho, the Minister of Justice) were unconvinced. Alongside his brother Paulo and the Emperor’s former supervisor Mariana de Verna, this faction saw that both Conservatives and Liberals could just as easily exert authority over the Princess Imperial as they might do over the young Emperor. But one of their chief objections was that the Princess (though clearly intelligent and sensitive to the current situation) was simply not mature enough to assume the regency. [6]

As the liberals continued to oppose Conservative plans to declare the Emperor to have reached the age of majority early, Olinda listened to the objections of the courtier faction and set about finding Princess Januária a suitable husband. So it was that in 1838, she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert had no great ambition to see his wife achieve power through a regency but he did see a window of opportunity to prove his worth in his new homeland. If Albert and Januária could show themselves to be an asset both to the three factions and to the Emperor personally, this may secure the Paraibas a greater role to play when Pedro II turned 18, married and had children [7]. To affect this, Albert sought to befriend those who headed each faction. He already had Olinda’s respect but he had to convince others that he was keen to play a part in Brazilian affairs in a way that did not see him labelled a foreign interloper. At the Paço de São Cristóvão, Albert and his wife hosted Aureliano Coutinho and Paulo Barbosa and the two men were impressed by Albert’s enthusiasm for his new homeland. They also saw a more mature Januária but most importantly, a changed Pedro II.


A 9 year old Emperor Pedro II.

The young Emperor was a deeply unhappy child left totally bewildered by his parent’s abandonment and prone to anxiety attacks and fits of tears. Whilst this vulnerability endeared him to the people, the courtier faction was deeply worried that this may never change and that Pedro II might lack the confidence needed in his future role. Though intelligent and capable, he had few friends and even his servants were forbidden from talking with him unless he asked them a question. Painfully shy and desperately lonely, Prince Albert’s arrival in Rio was a miracle as far as Pedro was concerned. He had always been fond of Januária, yet here was an exciting young man from across the sea who could empathise with Pedro’s situation and could also bring some joy into his life simply by keeping him company [8]. Albert encouraged Pedro’s love of reading, the two studying together as Albert tried to improve his knowledge of his new country’s history and customs. But Albert also managed to ease Pedro’s anxieties, even persuading him to make public appearances which Pedro agreed to do if Albert and Januária accompanied him. What was quickly emerging was a united trio who could bring the Imperial Family’s presence out from behind palace walls and into the public arena. This deeply impressed the courtier faction who saw a way forward to remove the political stronghold over the regency.

The Liberals also quickly gained an appreciation for Albert’s efforts. He first introduced himself by inviting liberal figures (including some former Restorationists) to the Palace when the Paraibas held large dinner parties, Albert carefully steering the conversation away from politics and into shared areas of interest. In late 1839, the liberal faction once again voted down a Conservative bill to declare the Emperor to have reached the age of majority but they signalled that they would reconsider their position on a bill to declare the Princess Imperial regent instead. Prince Albert was consulted on this proposal but asked all factions to delay their decision on the matter. He knew that many still regarded him as a foreigner, barely acquainted with his new home land and urged “a period of calm whilst I prove myself a trusted friend to the people, for if my wife is to be successful in her position as regent, she must be protected from rumour and gossip that I have in any way exerted unreasonable or unwanted influence over her decisions”. There was another reason Albert sought to delay the bill too; the Paraibas were expecting their first child. In February 1840, Januária gave birth to a son who was named João Carlos. Under the terms of his marriage contract, Albert now became a Prince of Brazil in his own right with the rank of Imperial Highness and this, combined with his seemingly unambitious approach, won over the final nay-sayers. In April 1840, the Princess Imperial was named regent for her brother Pedro II. [9]



Albert was keen to encourage both his wife and his brother-in-law to go among the Brazilian people. He took a lead role in reviving and restoring important traditions and ceremonies which had been allowed to lapse and in this way, he made the monarchy more visible in the capital but also encouraged the first tour of the provinces. He was proving himself to an invaluable asset to the Crown and though some die-hards resented him as “that pompous little Coburg”, the people seemed to take to him well. But most importantly, he became a vital presence in the life of the young Emperor who came to rely upon Albert for advice, consolation and entertainment. Many spoke of the relationship that developed between them as “a glorious friendship” and the courtier faction was particularly pleased at the positive influence Albert had on the young Pedro II. By 1842, the Paraibas were entering their last year of regency, an important year for the couple as Januária gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Maria Luisa. All eyes now turned to the impending coming of age of the Emperor in December 1843. Plans were drawn up for the coronation of Pedro II which Prince Albert studied carefully, making suggestions but recognising that he must be careful not to be seen to take advantage of the new position he had carved out in Rio.

He suggested that the coronation should be treated as a grand declaration to the world that Brazil had survived a tumultuous period and that it was entering a new golden age. He proposed inviting key figures from across Europe to attend and that the Emperor should play host to the Great Powers. This was even more important, Albert argued, if the Brazilian government was intent to see Pedro II married as soon as possible. A large royal gathering in Rio might help to secure a better range of options, the Brazilian Imperial Family not exactly being the first port of call for the Great Powers in the royal marriage market. The Brazilian government had serious concerns that, though Albert and Januária had now provided the line of succession with two children, this was supplemented only by Januária herself, and her sister Francisca. Pedro II would have to marry urgently and secure the succession in the direct line. The government made clear that their first choice was a Habsburg and as such, they dispatched Bento da Silva Lisboa to Vienna to open marriage negotiations in 1842. But Lisboa couldn't get an audience with the Prince von Metternich for love nor money. Indeed, he was openly refused. Metternich had favoured Pedro II's uncle Miguel I in the Portuguese Civil War and saw no reason why he should extend the hand of friendship to Pedro I's son as he sought to find a wife.

When news of Lisboa's failure reached Rio, Albert stepped into the fray. Keen that his brother-in-law should be presented with a wide range of options to choose from (preferably resulting in a true love match which Albert himself had been denied) , the Duke of Paraiba proposed that he would go personally to Vienna to try and improve Metternich’s attitude toward a Habsburg match. The visit would take place on the pretext that Albert was visiting his Catholic Coburg relations who had settled in Vienna and thus, he might be able to use these connections to wangle an audience with the Prince. Albert departed Rio in January 1843 and made his way home to Coburg for the first time since his marriage four years earlier, briefly stopping at Brussels en route to visit his uncle, King Leopold of the Belgians. Wisely, he remained circumspect about the true nature of his return to Europe. He had good reason. At the same time as Albert sought to open negotiations with the Austrians on a marriage between his brother-in-law and a Habsburg Archduchess, King Leopold had been trying to secure a marriage between Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Leopold’s nephew who belonged to the Catholic cadet branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, and Princess Clémentine of Orléans, Leopold's sister-in-law and daughter of the Queen of France who in turn was the daughter of the Habsburg-born Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Sicily.

Prince August was born in Austria, served with the Imperial Army and lived in Vienna. There was some difficulty however relating to how the bride and groom would be at court after their marriage and it fell to Metternich to settle the debate. He decreed that whilst Princess Clémentine would be received as Princess of the Royal Family of the Bourbons, August would not be recognised as a Royal Highness and thus, the marriage considered unequal in Vienna. In the event, August and Clémentine married anyway and settled in France, August retiring from the Austrian military to join the French Army, even though by his birth he remained an Austrian subject [10]. This entire incident had soured King Leopold toward Metternich whom he felt had snubbed the Coburg family (a popular pastime among the Royal Houses of Europe in the 1840s) and Prince Albert, well aware of the ongoing unpleasantness, knew it would be unwise to let his uncle know that he was about to request an audience with the orchestrator of this slight, Prince von Metternich.



Prince Albert was eventually received by Metternich in Vienna in June 1843. He had been given a list of suitable Habsburg spinsters to set his sights upon (on behalf of the Emperor of course) but soon found that Metternich wrong footed him. Though the Prince spoke of Albert as "an intelligent, capable and genial man who displays none of the aggressive traits of his uncle which is to be much welcomed", he knew very well why the Duke of Paraiba had come to Vienna and he was not about to be brow beaten into giving his consent to a marriage between the Austrian and Brazilian Imperial Houses he did not approve of. Though he was well prepared to fight the Brazilian cause, Albert was totally thrown off course when Metternich proposed that the Brazilian government should give serious consideration to a very different bride for Pedro II; the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas I. Such a marriage would secure an impressive dynastic match for Pedro II and besides, Grand Duchess Olga was widely renowned to be one of the greatest beauties in Europe, attractive, intelligent and highly cultured. From Metternich's point of view however, this match (whilst no doubt construed elsewhere as a friendly gesture to Russia) would give the Brazilians what they wanted in terms of a well-bred Empress whilst also severing any hopes for a marriage among the Habsburg Archduchesses. [11]

All Albert could do was relay this back to the Brazilian government, leaving Vienna to return to Coburg until he was given some indication of whether he should remain in Europe on his mission or return to Rio empty handed…


[1] The most likely peerage for Albert as the King's brother-in-law, in the OTL the Prince Regent considered it for Prince Leopold when he married Princess Charlotte but never created it.

[2] A likely wedding present from King Leopold of the Belgians.

[3] This is a pretty similar situation to the one Albert faced in the United Kingdom in the OTL. Despite his links to the King of Belgium (the world's youngest monarchy at the time), most thought Queen Victoria could do much better. Even she called him "a Prince of the Wood" in their early years together when they quarrelled - as they did frequently - a reference to his limited credentials. But I think this would apply almost anywhere. Albert is unknown, junior but with powerful sponsors.

[4] & [5] All as in the OTL.

[6] Ironically they didn't feel the same way about the even younger Emperor assuming his majority...

[7] Olinda actually felt that if Januaria married in the OTL, this may bring opponents of his regency plan on board but he also wanted to secure the succession which was then limited to three people - all of them minors. In this same bloc, I think this is true to Albert's character. He never seemed to want to marry Victoria in the OTL for power but he knew he had something to offer and quickly set about trying to carve out a role for himself - which I think he'd do in Rio too. For those who have forgotten, Paraibas is a reference to Albert's title 'Duke of Paraiba' which he received upon his marriage in TTL.

[8] Albert's own childhood was no picnic. His parents' marriage was a wreck and eventually they divorced. Albert's mother was flung into exile, married her lover and was forbidden from ever seeing her children again. She died of cancer at the age of 30 when Albert was just 13.

[9] PoD for Brazil.

[10] As in the OTL.

[11] In the OTL, Metternich did propose the Grand Duchess as a wife for Pedro II but he was too late. Because he delayed meeting Lisboa, the Brazilian government looked elsewhere and in a rush, accepted an offer from the government of the Two Sicilies that Pedro should marry Princess Teresa Cristina. Which in the OTL, he did. Metternich tried to offer his alternative but by that time, Pedro was engaged and the matter settled.

This turned out to be a much longer update than I planned to give but I know lots of people were interested in Prince Albert's story in TTL and though we keep up to date with Victoria and Charlotte Louise every now and then, Albert has been overlooked because the paths just haven't crossed anywhere it could fit naturally into our British focus. I may well do one of these again in time if we get to a point where all goes quiet on the Albert front! And actually, I quite like the format and so potentially I might include similar posts in the future if things have been a little quiet where Victoria and Lottie's stories are concerned too. Many thanks for reading and I hope this goes some way to giving a productive update on what Albert has been upto!