King George V
Part Three, Chapter Sixteen: Boundaries
By the standards of European royalty, most certainly by those of the Prussian Royal Family to whom he enjoyed a close proximity, the Duke of Cumberland did not live a particularly comfortable existence. When his part in a plot to unseat his elder brother as regent for King George V was exposed, Cumberland was forced to go into exile leaving his luxurious London townhouse and his extravagant country estate behind him . As punishment for his misdemeanours, he saw his annuity (which once stood at £18,000) dwindle down to £10,000 a year and whilst this was not exactly a modest income when compared to the general population (it was the equivalent of around £600,000 today) it was peanuts compared to the sums enjoyed by the Grand Dukes and Princes he surrounded himself with in Berlin. The Cumberlands leased a townhouse in Halensee, a mere half an hour’s stroll from the Charlottenburg, the Tiergarten and the Brandenburg Gate. In many respects, Haus Cumberland
resembled one of those Belgravia mansions so familiar to Londoners with five storeys providing a basement kitchen, servant’s hall, butler’s pantry and bedroom, wine cellar, coal store and laundry closet. An elegant entrance hall on the first floor spread outward into a dining room, morning room, small library and study. On the second floor was the drawing room, ladies’ boudoir, music room and family dining room whilst the third boasted four large double bedrooms and two dressing rooms fully equipped with en-suite bathrooms. The top floor, far less richly decorated than those below, was made over to a warren of tiny single bedrooms with one shared bathroom at the end of the corridor where the servants slept.
The Duke of Cumberland.
When they first arrived in Berlin, the late Duchess of Cumberland sent a list to England of the furniture and personal effects she wanted brought from Cumberland Lodge in Windsor. She quickly set about making the house fresh and bright with new colour schemes introduced into the gloomy rooms, new draperies, settees and rugs which made Haus Cumberland
quite a comfortable and pleasant home. The Cumberlands had ten servants (a housekeeper, a butler, cook, coachman, two footmen, two maids, a tweenie and a bootboy) and in addition, the Duke had a Private Secretary who doubled as a valet whilst the Duchess had a ladies’ maid who accompanied her as a kind of general companion when she travelled . The house was often filled with their Berlin acquaintances and for a time, their son Prince George lived with them in one of the four suites on the third floor. By 1843, things had changed. Rehabilitated by his cousin the King, the Earl of Armagh left Berlin for England and then, in a heavy blow to the Duke of Cumberland, the Duchess died. By the end of her life, the Cumberland finances had taken a heavy battering despite their best efforts to increase their fortune and when his wife died, the Duke seemed to give up. He had a modest amount of money left in the bank on which to live but the house in Halensee quickly declined in standards. Cumberland turned the morning room into a kind of barrack room bringing in an iron bedstead and a desk. The upper floors and their elegant rooms were closed up, the furniture covered with dust sheets and the windows shuttered. He retained the services of his butler, cook, a footman and a maid but he simply couldn’t afford to keep on anybody else. His situation was extremely depressing and one he never tired of complaining about.
His loudest complaints in recent years had been directed toward the late Queen Louise, inspired by their brief meeting in Berlin in 1840 at the funeral of King Frederick William III of Prussia. The Duke insisted that he had somehow been duped of a significant inheritance left by his mother, an inheritance he now “reluctantly” pressed because if he did not, he may need to seek a hefty loan to keep the lights on at Haus Cumberland. He laid claim to two pieces of jewellery in the collection of the late Queen Charlotte – a pair of earrings and a ring – which he alleged were currently in the private collection of Queen Louise and which he insisted had been wrongly placed there by Louise’s aunt and predecessor, Queen Louise, the Queen Mother. His letters were not aggressive, indeed, he suggested that the Queen Mother had only failed to execute the late Queen Charlotte’s wishes properly because she had received “very poor advice at the time” and that it was all “an unfortunate oversight but one so easily corrected”. Louise made discrete inquiries in 1840 to source the precise nature of the inheritance the Duke was referring to but found that the situation was far more complex than Cumberland’s letters suggested.
When Queen Charlotte died in 1818, she bequeathed most of her jewels to the House of Hanover. It was a vast collection acquired during her record breaking 57-year tenure as Queen consort and was rumoured to be so enormous that when her executors came to distribute the jewels to her instructions, they had to join three billiard tables together at St George’s Hall in Windsor where tiaras, necklaces, aigrettes, brooches, earrings, rings and bracelets were painstakingly laid out on a carpet of green baize. Each item was carefully catalogued by John Bridge (of Rundell & Bridge) who entered a description and a valuation into a special book before the pieces were wrapped individually, placed into small boxes, labelled and stacked accordingly on a long table where each member of the Royal Family was encouraged to come and collect what was theirs. The bulk of the collection went to the Crown of course. Queen Charlotte had left her biggest and most impressive pieces to “the House of Hanover” and thus, King George IV took ownership of them when he became head of the House in 1820 after serving as their "custodian" during the last months of the regency for King George III. For the late Queen’s remaining children (including the Duke of Cumberland), there were various boxes collected or dispatched but two items in the catalogue were not so easily disposed of.
In a small anteroom, the surviving daughters of Queen Charlotte gathered to meet the Attorney General, John Bridge and the then Duke of York and Albany (later King George IV). Those assembled included Princess Augusta, Princess Mary and Princess Sophia (the spinster contingent) but what was discussed that day also affected the Queen of Württemberg (Charlotte, the Princess Royal) and the Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg (Princess Elizabeth) too. In a small box laid open on a pedestal were two pieces of jewellery which would have been very familiar to the sisters; a glittering pair of pendant earrings with two large pear shaped diamonds and a ring set with a sumptuous black pearl surrounded by three small diamonds and three white pearls. The Attorney General read from the late Queen’s will:
“I bequeath those jewels presented to me by the Nawab of Arcot to my four remaining daughters, or to their survivors or survivor, in case they or any of them should die before me, and I direct that these jewels should be sold and that the produce shall be divided among them, my said remaining daughters of their survivors, share and share alike”
The three sisters stood in silence for a moment, Princess Mary’s eyebrows raised, Princess Augusta looking awkwardly at the floor, Princess Sophia gently weeping. The Duke of York explained that Rundell & Bridge had appraised the items and that they carried significant value. The pieces were to be broken up directly, the stones sold and the monies shared as Queen Charlotte had directed…that was until Princess Mary asked for a moment or two alone with her sisters. After a time, the Duke York, the Attorney General and Mr Bridge were invited back into the anteroom and Princess Mary delivered the verdict.
“We are all agreed, and we believe we speak for our sisters in Germany too”
, she said haughtily, “That these pieces must not be destroyed, neither must they leave our family. We should like to ask if they might instead be held in trust on our behalf?”
John Bridge was instructed to take the jewels in question back to his vault at Rundell & Bridge
and there they remained until 1834 when Bridge died and the company was sold. When the new owners (Bridge's nephews) revived the firm as Rundell, Bridge & Co,
they took an inventory and in Bridge's personal safe, they found Queen Charlotte's jewels accompanied by a copy of her will. But they had no idea of the arrangement entered into in 1818 and so they wrote to the Duke of Clarence (as the King's Regent) apologising for the fact that there had been a terrible oversight and that the jewels would be sold as soon as possible and the proceeds from the sale directed as the late Queen had wished. In a mad dash across London, Clarence sent his equerry to Rundell, Bridge & Co
with a copy of a note signed by the Duke's sisters and the jewels were brought to Buckingham Palace where they were stashed away in the Royal Vault for almost a decade. In Rundell, Bridge & Co's
archives, we find a ledger entry; "1 pair diamond earrings, 33ct/23ct & 1 ring, three diamonds, pearl in black centred, white pearl without - returned to owner D/Cl for Crown".
Added to this entry many years later in block capitals in red ink, stamped into the margin, we see the words ARCOT DIAMONDS.
But what exactly were the Arcot Diamonds and where did they come from?
In 1777, Queen Charlotte was at Windsor when Captain Munro Elliot was received in audience to present her with a gift. He handed her a small wooden box inlaid with green velvet on which nestled five spectacular brilliants. Queen Charlotte’s eyes were immediately drawn to the two largest stones, an almost identical pair of antique oval shaped colourless diamonds which earned envious coos of approval from her ladies as she held them up on her palm to inspect them more closely. The three smaller stones were equally impressive in their quality of course but it was the two larger diamonds which sparked Queen Charlotte’s interest. Her Majesty was informed that these were a gift from Nawab Muhammed Ali Khan Wala-Jah, who had sent Elliot from the Carnatic Kingdom in South India to present these diamonds to the Queen as a personal gesture of loyalty and friendship to the British Crown for its assistance in unseating the French-installed usurper of his throne, Chanda Sahib, and restoring the Nawab to his seat at Arcot. This story added a certain exotic mystery to the diamonds but it was entirely fictitious, possibly dreamed up by Elliot on his passage home. Whilst it was true that the British had helped the Nawab beat back French forces from his palace, the diamonds were gifted some 27 years after that event. If they were a token of gratitude, they were very late in coming. In reality, the aide of the East India Company had come at a price – some £5,000 a year – and though much of this was met by the Nawab with land grants to the British, when he had nothing else to give Company directors went into his palace and seized anything they thought might be of significant value. The five diamonds given to Queen Charlotte were impressive but they were only a meagre offering compared with the other jewels, antiquities, paintings, furniture and antique weapons seized by the East India Company.
The Nawab of Arcot.
Nonetheless, Queen Charlotte was thrilled with her present and immediately sent the diamonds to Rundell & Bridge who served as the Royal Goldsmiths. The larger “matching” pair of diamonds (one was 33 carats, the other 23) were set into a pair of earrings whilst the smaller three were set into a ring surrounding a large pearl sent to Queen Charlotte by the Sultan of Johor. The ring was a favourite and Queen Charlotte wore it almost every day until her death in 1818 but the earrings were considered so valuable that even Charlotte considered they be reserved for only very special occasions. The earrings (or rather the diamonds themselves) were nicknamed the Arcot diamonds, Arcot I
being the larger and set into the right earring, Arcot II
being the smaller and set into the left. In 1810, it appears the earrings were sent back to Rundell & Bridge when a smaller stone in the right clasp came loose. The firm was asked to clean the diamonds but also to reappraise both pieces. When John Bridge undertook this task, he reported back to the Queen personally; in his view, the Arcot diamonds had a market value of some £50,000 – the equivalent of a staggering £3.3m today. We have seen the fate Queen Charlotte planned for them and how her daughters stepped in to prevent the Arcot diamonds being lost forever and this may have remained the case were it not for the Duke of Cumberland’s interest in them in 1843. 
The Duke’s relationship to his siblings was always a fractured one. His brothers considered him a petty and spiteful man, far too conservative and reactionary in his politics and (perhaps the most cardinal sin in royal circles) a tedious bore. His sisters mostly felt the same but for two exceptions. Cumberland’s relationship with Princess Sophia had always been a close one; the Duke’s most ferocious critics claimed it was unnaturally close. His political enemies alleged that Cumberland had begun an incestuous love affair with Sophia in the late 1820s and that she had given birth to a son as a result and though we have no evidence to support such a theory, it perhaps speaks to how deeply unpopular Cumberland was in England that most were willing to believe the story on face value . When the Duke left England in the 1830s, Sophia continued to write to him but the only sibling he saw with any regularity was his sister Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg. Princess Elizabeth, the seventh child and third daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte, frequently visited the Cumberlands in Berlin and they spent many summer holidays and Christmases as Elizabeth’s guests in Frankfurt where she relocated in 1829 when her husband (the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg) died leaving her brother-in-law to succeed him. Much of Elizabeth’s dowry and annuity and had been spent shoring up the family fortune and allowed Frederick VI to remodel his palace and build a new royal residence (the Gotisches Haus) in the grounds of Bad Homburg. Frederick expected his widow would reside there but the Homburgs had other ideas and Elizabeth was forced to purchase a new estate for herself in Frankfurt where she died in 1840.
In her will, the Dowager Landgravine Elizabeth ordered that her estate in Frankfurt be sold and the proceeds shared out between her siblings. But Elizabeth died in some considerable debt and so the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Cumberland, Princess Augusta, Princess Mary and Princess Sophia were left with just £6,000 to share between them. For the Cumberlands however, Elizabeth made special provision that the Duke should receive an additional sum of £5,000 (which could not be honoured by her executors) whilst his wife should receive the gift of “the diamond earrings bequeathed to me by my late mother”.
The executors apologised that this bequest could not be met, not because the earrings had been sold, but because they could find nothing among Elizabeth’s personal effects which fit that description either in her collection at Frankfurt or at Bad Homburg. Cumberland believed he knew why. He insisted that the earrings Elizabeth had promised to his wife could only be the Arcot diamonds and so, from 1840 onwards he set about presenting his demands for Queen Charlotte's earrings to be handed over by the late Queen Louise. He threw in the ring for good measure, though Elizabeth's will made no mention of it.
Louise summoned the Court Jeweller in 1840 to discuss this request but was informed that it was very unlikely Princess Elizabeth would ever have sought to gift jewels that were not hers to give. Records from 1818 showed that Queen Charlotte had indeed left Elizabeth several jewels in her will and that these did include a pair of diamond earrings - but that bequest had been honoured shortly after the late Queen died. Furthermore, the Court Jeweller produced a copy of the note concerning the Arcot diamonds and why they had not been sold as Queen Charlotte's will had directed. Augusta, Mary, Sophia, Charlotte and Elizabeth had all put their names to an affidavit in which they stated that as joint owners of the diamonds, they were in agreement that they were too important to be sold and that they should be held by the Crown “in perpetuity”.
But now Cumberland claimed that this agreement had no legal validity. Indeed, he believed that he had inherited Elizabeth’s claim to the proceeds of the sale of the diamonds and that he had a perfect right to insist (on his late sister’s behalf) that the Arcot diamonds be put up for auction immediately securing him a portion of the proceeds to the tune of some £25,000 – the equivalent of £1.5m today. To save any further unpleasantness (and perhaps to keep the Duke from consistently pestering Queen Louise), George V instructed that the sum of £10,000 should be made over to the Duke of Cumberland from the King personally to compensate him for a bequest that could not be met. The Duke used this sum to purchase Schloss Elze, a 16th century manor house in Hildesheim. But renovations had gone way over budget and by 1843, Cumberland had still not relocated. He needed more money and he knew just where to get it. He began to pursue his ”lost inheritance” once more.
At St James’ Palace, the Duke was staying with his sister Princess Sophia. She had not made the short journey to Buckingham Palace for her nephew’s wedding on account of her infirmity and when Cumberland skipped the wedding breakfast and returned early, he told Sophia that it was because he was feeling tired and would much rather spend some precious time with her instead. Inevitably, the conversation turned to things past.
“The thing I remember most about Mama is her great style. Wouldn’t you agree?”, Cumberland mused, “Her gowns so very fine…and all those jewels…”
Sophia nodded with a sad little sigh.
“I remember a pale blue dress”, she smiled, “By the time it came to me, alas, it did not fit. But then Mama was always so slender, like a tiny little bird. I hear now the ladies of the court are quite modern in their dress, hardly any jewels at all in fact”
She dropped her voice to almost a whisper.
“I had hoped to give my new daughter-in-law something suitable along those lines”, he complained, “But of course, money being what it is…and I have had to part with the few pieces Freddy left behind…”
“That is too sad”, Sophia consoled him. A moment of silence prevailed.
“Of course…sister dear…there were those jewels of Mama’s…”
Sophia shifted uneasily in her seat.
“Yes. Well I don’t know anything about that Ernest…”
“They were to be sold when Mama died”, he continued, no trace of the shaking elderly gent about him now, his supposed infirmity replaced with a steely determination.
“Oh really?”, Sophia replied airily, “I don’t recall. Shall I ring for tea?”
“They were to be sold and the money shared between you”, Cumberland reminded her seriously, “You and Charlotte. Elizabeth. Augusta…and Mary…”
Princess Sophia looked pained.
“Yes, well....we decided…”
decided”, Cumberland interjected haughtily.
“It was all for the best Ernest”, Sophia pleaded, “Now please, let us not speak of it anymore. It really is a very unpleasant subject for me and I really don’t know a thing about it”.
Later that evening, the Duke of Cumberland met with the former Solicitor General, Sir Charles Wetherell specifically to discuss Queen Charlotte’s will, it’s terms and whether Cumberland may be able to lay claim to the jewels he was determined were truly his – at least in part. Wetherell believed the Duke had a case but that it would be significantly improved if he could gain Princess Sophia’s approval to it. Wetherell advised that if the Duke could encourage his sister to make a claim to her portion of the bequest, a court could force the Arcot diamonds to be sold and the proceeds shared under the terms of the late Queen’s will – with the late Princess Elizabeth’s inheritance passed to the Duke of Cumberland. But it was a very risky move, one bound to receive maximum publicity and to further damage Cumberland’s poor reputation in England, not to mention that it may encourage the King himself to “review” Ernest’s annuity and implement further cuts. Cumberland laughed at the suggestion.
“My annuity may be cut but it cannot be withheld entirely”, he said confidently, stroking his moustache, “And besides, I shall have other sources of income..."
Cumberland raised his glass of port and toasted his old comrade. He knew what he must do next and believed himself perfectly placed to deliver what Wetherell needed to proceed.
Back at Buckingham Palace, King George V was in extremely good humour as his guests reassembled in the ballroom for the evening gala to celebrate the marriage of the Earl and Countess of Armagh. Amidst the quadrilles and gavottes, it was noted by those closest to His Majesty that there seemed to be only one partner for the King that night – Princess Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau. This we know to be true thanks to Agnes’ squirrel-like obsession with “collecting” sentimental objects. Indeed, when she died in 1897, her two youngest daughters had to oversee a huge operation of almost military proportions in cataloguing and preserving over 50 years of not only letters and diaries but calling cards, wedding invitations, gift labels and menus. Among this enormous hoard of ephemera we find Agnes’ programme du bal
from the gala given at Buckingham Palace on the 3rd of November 1843 which shows that of 14 dances, she was partnered for 5 of them by His Majesty the King. Princess Mary needed no aide memoir to tell her what was unfolding and from a settee in the corner of the ballroom, she chatted animatedly to the Duchess of Portland whilst keeping a close eye on her nephew who seemed genuinely delighted to be in Agnes’ company once again.
To this end, Mary extended an invitation to the Anhalt-Dessaus to join the Royal Family and their guests when the court moved from London to Windsor a week later. At the King’s request, most of the Hesse-Kassel and Meckleburg-Strelitz contingents had been asked to stay in England to celebrate Christmas at Windsor Castle as the Royal Family had done during the days when the late Queen Louise had played hostess. George V always adored large family gatherings and in addition to the guests already present in London for the Earl of Armagh’s wedding, invitations were also sent to Het Loo and St Petersburg in the hope that the King’s sister Maria Georgievna and her husband the Tsarevich, and the King’s cousin Victoria and her husband the Prince of Orange, might join the happy band at Windsor. But both invitations were declined. Maria Georgievna was four months pregnant and once again, could not make the journey back to England in her condition . This irritated George who muttered dejectedly, “Having babies is a most inconsiderate thing for all involved”. Yet the news from Het Loo pleased him less. Victoria apologised that she could not come to England for Christmas, not because she was enceinte, but because she could not bear to leave her son Prince William behind and he was far too young to travel. The King thought this a feeble excuse as his own children had crossed the seas in their first year without any ill-affect. “This sudden obsession with the child is quite boring”, George mused, “She never cared for the last one, why should this one be so important?”.
Victoria, Princess of Orange.
Prince William of the Netherlands was born on the 22nd of April 1843 at Het Loo Palace, the second child of the Prince and Princess of Orange after his elder sister Princess Victoria Paulina. Named for his father, grandfather, uncle et al, he was known within the family as Wim
and came as a much-needed balm to soothe his parents troubled marriage. The Prince was the result of a brief reconciliation between the Oranges but shortly after it was announced that a baby was on the way, his father disappeared to Switzerland with his mistress Elisabeth van Lynden. She too was expecting a baby and the Prince of Orange had arrangements to make for her in Geneva so that the birth of his illegitimate child would not cause scandal in Holland. When the Prince of Orange returned to the Netherlands without Elisabeth, he did not go immediately to Het Loo but returned instead to the Kneuterdijk Palace where he waited to be told that his wife had gone into labour with his second child. Not that the Prince intended to head for Het Loo to be with her of course.
That was prompted only by the news that Victoria had been safely delivered of a son and so, along with his parents King William II and Queen Anna, the Prince raced to Het Loo to see the future Dutch Sovereign as a babe in arms. Queen Anna had concerns, not just because her son’s indifference to the wellbeing of his wife was indicative of a marriage broken beyond all repair, but because Victoria was not exactly renowned for her maternal instinct. She showed little to no interest in her daughter Victoria Paulina but a future monarch could not be ignored in the same way. The Queen was worried that her daughter-in-law’s aversion to small children (even her own) might inflict some untold suffering on the child which might have serious consequences later on. Thus, Anna intended that if Victoria showed the same reluctance to shower the baby with affection as she had when Linna was born, the King and Queen would bring the baby to the nursery in The Hague instead so as to ensure he had everything he might need.
Queen Anna’s anxieties were immediately eased when she arrived at Het Loo to find Victoria reading to her newborn son in a bassinet set up at her bedside. “She spoke of nothing but the child”, Queen Anna recalled, “She was so very taken with him and said how delightful he was. We were all quite shocked by this but I confess I felt a great relief for I did not wish to part the child from his Mama and perhaps Drina has only been a little slow to the feelings of motherhood because she had no knowledge of it from her own childhood”. In letters to her sister-in-law in Russia however, we see how Queen Anna’s relief quickly turned to irritation. “Drina does not allow [the Prince of Orange] near the child and she refuses absolutely to allow the governess to do her work. She will not bring him to us because she says he is too fragile yet then she boasts of what a fine, strong constitution he has. It is most tiring and makes poor William (the elder) so very angry for he feels he is denied time with his son which is so very unreasonable on Drina’s part. Yet I do not seek to interfere in this for any rebuke may discourage what has become a very favourable change in Drina’s character, though she still makes no effort with poor little Linna at all”. Sour and dejected, the Prince of Orange quickly headed back to Geneva. At least there he could spend some quality time with his other newborn son, even if he was illegitimate.
To understand Victoria’s possessive attitude towards the little Prince, we must consult the diary kept by Dr Pieter Sanderse, Physician to the Prince and Princess of Orange from 1840 until 1844. In a previous letter to King George V, Victoria had described the young Prince as “very loud” which she insisted was a testament to his good health. Indeed, Victoria’s letters to her relations describing the new addition to her family all make mention of just how strong and healthy her baby was. The reality was, tragically, somewhat different. When Prince William was just three weeks old, his governess noticed a large bruise on his right forearm. Dr Sanderse examined the baby and said it was probably the result of not being put to bed correctly, that he may have rolled near to the edge of the crib and injured himself. From then on, he was to be swaddled tightly and hourly checks performed by his nursery staff to ensure he was comfortable during the night. The bruise went away and no more was said of it until the Prince was five months old when two more bruises appeared, this time around his left knee. Dr Sanderse knew that he could not have injured himself under the new rules he had given the Prince’s night nurse but this, coupled with the baby’s loud and persistent cries, indicated that something was not quite right.
The Doctor informed the Prince of Orange that he had concerns that the infant Prince may have experienced fits, something he had no proof of but which might explain why he had bruised himself. After an examination, Sanderse gave a tentative diagnosis of “childhood epilepsy” . Victoria was devastated and insisted that Sanderse was mistaken; "The doctor is an old man", she protested, "And he is wrong. My baby is perfect and I shall not let Sanderse see him again if these are the nasty things he says". Victoria became almost manic, refusing to be parted from the baby at any time and this became so exhausting, that she even made herself ill by skipping meals and trying to stay awake well into the small hours each night. Eventually her routine settled but what remained was a desperate fear that her son might experience another seizure and that he may die as a result. From then on, Prince William was destined to be cossetted and protected for the rest of his life, never allowed to stray beyond his mother’s sight and always forbidden to do the things other children of his age might enjoy. He certainly would never be allowed to travel. In later years, his sister Princess Victoria Paulina said sadly, "I believe Mama had her love weighed and matched in gold. She gave every scrap of it to William. There was simply none left for anybody else".
But George V knew none of this and his only thought in December 1843 was how the rejection of his invitations by his sister and his cousin meant four-less at Windsor for Christmas that year. His spirits were lifted however when Princess Mary, on the grounds of not wishing to break up a happy party, proposed that the Anhalt-Dessaus and the Prussians be asked to stay on in England to join the British Royal Family at Windsor instead. This pleased the King no end as it meant he could spend more time with Prince Alexander of Prussia…but also with Princess Agnes. Before the court moved to London, the King offered to take the Dessau princesses (Agnes and her sister Maria Anna) to see the new Home Park at Lisson where George was constructing his new royal complex on the former Regent’s Park estate. Then he took them to the British Museum, to the newly installed statue of Lord Nelson atop his column in Trafalgar Square, to the National Gallery and even to the theatre, attending a matinee at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane . This trio did not venture out alone of course, they were always accompanied by others; Princess Mary, Prince Alexander, Frau Wiedl etc. But one accompanying presence on these excursions was less welcome. In his diary, the King notes in very hasty penmanship (indicative no doubt of the strength of his feelings on the matter); “To the Abbey with the Dessaus. Agnes very appreciative and took a very keen interest in all we saw, keeping a little booklet of notes and drawings which were most charming and which we all enjoyed looking at after luncheon. Dss. Dessau on the other hand does nothing but complain and snipe, she is rude and snobbish and a bore and I wish most sincerely that the old gibface should b-gg-r off back to where she came from”. 
At Windsor however, there was more freedom to be had away from “the old gibface” that was the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau. The unusually mild winter weather allowed the guests of the King to make full use of the Great Park and so the King was able to entertain the Dessau sisters away from the sour-faced disapproval of their mother. Yet the Duchess continually found a way to annoy the King and so Frau Wiedl stepped in. Though she had taken the nearby Radley House as a country residence, she was still very much the sole inhabitant of Fort Belvedere and with the help of Princess Mary, she orchestrated a divide between the two generations of royalty staying at Windsor that Christmas. Each night, the younger ones would head to Fort Belvedere for a light supper followed by raucous game playing whilst the older ones would remain at the Castle itself taking a more formal dinner presided over by Princess Mary before a poet, author or musician might be invited to give a more sombre recital. When the Duchess showed reluctance to allow her daughters to go to the Fort, Princess Mary boomed “Oh Freddy dear, do let the children go. They don’t want to be shut up with the old croaks when there’s so much fun to be had at the Fort”. When the Duchess suggested she might go to the Fort with her daughters, Mary said (somewhat unkindly) “Oh you wouldn’t care for it there my dear – you and I are far too old to play games”. The Duchess was in fact twenty years Mary’s junior.
On Christmas Eve, the entire Royal Family and their guests gathered in the Great Hall for the traditional exchange of Christmas gifts ahead of a special musical performance given by the composer Michael William Balfe who had been specially invited to Windsor by Princess Mary to provide some post-supper entertainment. Mary was a little disparaging of Balfe calling him "the violinist" but in fact, he was one of the most popular composers of the day and in December 1843, was the toast of London society when his opera The Bohemian Girl
opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane that November . Mary had not seen the piece but the King had been humming tunes from it since his the matinee he saw with the Dessau sisters and in Mary's words, "It was either the violinist or the writer and I didn't think the latter at all appropriate". By "the writer", Mary was referring to Charles Dickens who had just had enormous success with his latest novella A Christmas Carol.
Indeed, so popular was the work that copies had sold out by Christmas Eve 1843. Dickens had dedicated the work to the memory of the late Queen Louise whom had been so ardent an admirer of his work and though he had offered to come and read the piece to the King's guests at Windsor, Princess Mary had declined on the King's behalf. She did not consider Dickens a great writer, neither did she "believe a ghost story at all appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child". Balfe therefore received royal patronage that year instead of Dickens, which the man himself thought "very ungrateful". 
Michael William Balfe.
Whilst many lovely presents were no doubt exchanged, readers may have a particular interest in the gift given by the King to Princess Agnes and it would be true to say that George V had spent many weeks pondering over exactly what to give her. Standing by the Christmas tree as the Great Hall spilled over with laughter and appreciate thankyous as gifts were exchanged, the King picked up a relatively small parcel from a table wrapped in bright pink paper and tied with a white ribbon which he took over to Agnes.
“It’s just a little something…”, he mumbled, “I’m not very good at this sort of thing…choosing presents I mean…”
Inside the box was a beautiful brooch in the form of a gold wreath studded with seed pearls (Agnes’ birthstone) surrounding a porcelain panel on which was painted a little bird surrounded by flowers. Without thinking, a clearly delighted Agnes leaned forward and gave the King a kiss on the cheek, immediately blushing and sinking into a deep curtsey before turning excitedly to her father and saying “Oh Papa! Look! Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”
The brooch gifted to Princess Agnes by King George V in 1843.
Duke Leopold looked down briefly at the brooch; “Very fine indeed my dear”, he said, nodding approvingly. Then he lifted his gaze to meet the King’s eye and nodded again. He said nothing but in that gesture, he seemed to indicate his approval not only for the gift but for the fact that the King was clearly showing a keen interest in his eldest daughter. Leopold did not push this, of the Anhalt-Dessaus he was always the quieter of the pair and perhaps at this stage he did not believe there to be any possibility of a serious outcome to this flirtation. Nonetheless, he did not object and even smiled as the King offered to pin the brooch to Agnes’ lace lapel. Princess Mary was also a spectator to the scene. Whereas before she had wondered why the King was paying so much attention to the comfort of the Anhalt-Dessaus, now she believed all was crystal clear; the King was in love.
The following morning, the Royal Family gathered for church at St George’s Chapel. but the King returned to the castle a little subdued. He could never leave the chapel without being consumed by thoughts of his late wife who was buried there and naturally his mind turned to the upcoming anniversary of her death in just two months’ time. He headed to the nursery, dismissing the staff there so that he might spend a little time with his children alone. Missy had been brought by Lady Dorothy from Germany and the Princess Royal now sat on the King’s lap as he sang songs to her and Princess Victoria, the Prince of Wales sitting quite happily in the corner demolishing a wooden brick tower with great zeal. Amidst the scene came a quiet tap on the door.
“Come”, the King said, launching back into the rhyme the little Princesses were enjoying so much.
“I’m sorry Your Majesty but Princess Mary says it’s almost time for luncheon now…”
Princess Agnes gave a polite little curtsey.
“It is, is it?”, the King smiled, lifting the Princess Royal into the air, “Well we shall just have to keep Aunt Mary waiting shan’t we? Because I have promised my daughter we shall go and visit the puppies and I make it my business never to break a promise to my daughter. Now Agnes, why don’t you help Toria here, I think we had better let Nanny keep Willy…I do not think the puppies want to be bashed on the head with...whatever that thing is…”
Agnes looked over to the Prince of Wales who was busy waving a wooden model of a soldier about quite boisterously. George thanked the nursery nurse who dutifully stepped into the room and picked up the Prince of Wales, bobbing to the King as he led Agnes and the two infant princesses out of the room and along the corridor to where the late Queen’s spaniel Diamond had given birth to six little puppies.
Queen Louise and her puppy, Diamond, 1838.
“Oh Sir!”, Agnes breathed as she saw the little dogs butting heads and bounding toward the door to welcome Missy and Toria, “Aren’t they just the sweetest little things!”
“I hope you’re talking about my daughters and not the puppies”, the King said playfully, “And you know Agnes, you really do not have to call me Sir. You may call me Georgie, I shan't be offended in the least.”
“Sorry Sir”, Agnes replied, then with a giggle, “I mean, Georgie. Why doesn’t my Mama call you that?”
“Hadn’t really thought about it”, the King mused, “But she doesn’t call you Agnes, does she?”
“No”, Agnes said, blushing a little, “She calls me Nessa. I suppose you might like to call me that, if I’m to call you Georgie? But never Aggie! Oh I can’t bear that, it sounds far too much like Eggy and who wants to be Eggy?”
“Eggy!”, Toria parroted loudly with a shriek, “Eggy!”
The King collapsed into hysterics as Princess Agnes teased her; “Oh how wicked you are! But how perfectly adorable too”. Agnes hugged the little girl and lifted a puppy toward her so that she might get a better view. The King looked down at the scene with a smile. At that moment, he wouldn’t have wished to be anywhere else for all the tea in China. Unfortunately ,his happiness was interrupted by a nervous looking page.
“Excuse me Your Majesty”, he stammered, “But Princess Mary…that is Her Royal Highness…Mary Sir, she says…”
“I know what she says”, the King sighed, “Come on now…we had better do as we’re told”.
Later that night, peace and quiet descended on the castle. The grand feast of luncheon lay heavy and endless rounds of charades and hunt the slipper had taken their toll. In the green drawing room, a fire crackled in the grate and candlelight lulled those inside into a gentle slumber. The old Duke of Cambridge, a bright-orange paper hat tilted over one eye, dozed in a chair by the window, his wife set to a little embroidery, tutting disapprovingly when he snored a little too loudly. Princess Mary was wolfing her way through a plate of cold game pie and stilton as the King sat opposite her, staring into the flames of the fireplace. Everyone else had gone to bed and when the clock struck 11, the Duchess of Cambridge stood up and gently shook her husband awake.
“I am not asleep Augusta”, he croaked out, “I was…”
“Resting your eyes dear”, the Duchess said exasperatedly, “I know, I know”.
“Don’t let her bully you Uncle”, the King taunted, “If you want to snore, you jolly well snore!”
“I wasn’t snoring…I was…I think it’s time we retired for the – merciful heavens, Mary, you can’t still be hungry? That’s your third plate this evening!”
is not a word”, Princess Mary boomed imperiously, lifting a handful of dried dates into her mouth, “And it is impolite to keep count...”
The Duchess of Cambridge leaned in to kiss her nephew goodnight. Then she gave her husband an awkward glare.
“What?”, the Duke said, still half-asleep, “Oh yes. Um…Georgie…I was wondering if you’d care to walk out with me in the morning? Before breakfast, what?”
“Delighted to Uncle”, the King nodded, puffing at a cigar, “Not too early mind...”
The Cambridges shuffled out of the room leaving the King alone with his aunt Mary. For a moment or two, all that could be heard was the crackle of the logs in the fireplace and the gentle ticking of the clock on the mantle.
“Peace and quiet”, Mary sighed, finally lowering her plate and conceding defeat, “No doubt we shall have all the more of it when our guests leave”
The King nodded.
“Of course…you’ll miss some more than others”
The King nodded again, half listening. Then as if he had just caught his aunt’s words in mid-hair, “What?”
“I said, you will miss some
of our guests more than others”, Mary repeated with an encouraging smile.
“Yes I heard you”, the King replied, “And that is true. Alexander really has turned himself about you know, not so much drinking and all that. He’s a pleasure to be with. I was thinking of asking him to stay on a bit.”
Princess Mary rolled her eyes a little.
“No dear”, she corrected, “I meant our little Dessau friend. You like her I think...”
“Agnes?”, the King said inquisitively, “Yes, she’s great fun isn’t she? Did you see her after dinner? Trying to get Aunt Augusta to play ‘Our Granny doesn’t like Tea’?  I don’t think my darling Aunt quite appreciated that. Very amusing though”
“She is very amusing”, Mary nodded, almost willing the King to say what Mary believed she already knew, “And so good with the children. And with you”
The King shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.
“I think we were all quite taken with her…quite taken…and I wonder if-“
The King stubbed out his cigar in the ashtray and leaned forward, fixing his aunt with an almost dangerous glare.
“What do you wonder, Aunt Mary?”
“If I were you…”, the King replied tersely, “I’d keep my spiteful gossip to myself for once”
Princess Mary looked genuinely pained.
“But Georgie, I didn’t mean anything by it!”
The King stood up sharply.
“I’m going to my bed”, he snapped unkindly, “And I suggest you do the same. All that wondering
must have left you very exhausted”.
And with that, the King marched out the room leaving a stunned Princess Mary in silent shock.
 For those who may have missed the Cumberland Plot in my George IV TL, you can find the chapter with a little background to what occurred here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-british-monarchy.514810/page-6#post-22561367
 Only female members of the Royal Family at court (any court) had ladies in waiting as opposed to ladies' maids. A companion
was a kind of in-between who was still technically a servant but was usually drawn from the middle classes and mixed far more freely with her employers than say, the housekeeper or cook. ‘Tweenie’
here refers to another fish nor fowl servant but in a different way; tweenies were basically the most junior female servant one could employ, “going between” the scullery and the kitchen – usually to handle the most unpleasant and arduous work which those above her in the pecking order thought beneath them.
 This is a blend of OTL and TTL. Here’s what actually happened:-
When Queen Charlotte died, the Arcots were held back from sale by George IV who wanted to pry them out of their setting and have them added to his coronation crown. But Rundell and Bridge kept the Arcot diamonds in their vault instead – possibly to protect them. There they seem to have languished unclaimed until 1834 when the OTL William IV agreed that they should be sold. Arcot I and Arcot II were purchased by the first Marquess of Westminster at Willis's Room in St. James on July 20th, 1837 along the Nassak diamond which later formed a tiara for his wife.
But there was another ‘jewel’ story going on concerning Queen Charlotte’s collection directly concerning the Duke of Cumberland (aka the King of Hanover) in the OTL which I wanted to introduce a version of here. In 1837 when Ernest Augustus became King of Hanover, he immediately petitioned to have a vast haul of diamonds handed over to him because his mother’s will stated that she had left her jewels to “the House of Hanover” of which he
was now head. This raged on for 20 years until there was an actual court case in which Victoria and Ernest Augustus battled it out in arbitration.
He died mid-proceedings in 1851 but his son and successor (the Earl of Armagh in TTL) continued the case and won. Victoria was so angry she refused to have anything to do with the Hanovers for years and was especially aggrieved at the loss of Queen Charlotte’s nuptial crown. But the Hanovers were equally disappointed because they thought part of their loot would have included the Arcot Diamonds…the most valuable among the share they got…and there they were, glistening atop the Marchioness of Westminster’s coiffure. So this is an "inspired-by" plot line which really serves to provide us with that infamous straw of a camel's back fame where the Duke of Cumberland ITTL is concerned.
 This story was widely circulated at the time – it’s very very
unlikely to be true.
 Another baby for Lottie and Sasha here, their second.
 I think most readers will know what’s really happening here, however, this is how *that*
condition would most likely have manifested itself and how it would first have been diagnosed in 1843. I'm no expert however and have had to rely on what pre-20th century research is out there - which is fairly limited I'm afraid.
 Nelson “went up” on the 3rd of November 1843.
is a lovely old Victorian insult meaning “ugly”, specifically someone who had quite a pointy jaw. As for b-gg-r
, I think that’s self-explanatory but the way it’s written here is indicative of the time when people obviously did swear but when writing such words down was considered a step too far.
 As in the OTL.
 I believe @nathanael1234
suggested Dickens might dedicate a work to Louise and here, she gets quite an important one. The line about Carol
selling out by Christmas Eve is in fact true to the OTL.
 'Our Granny doesn't like Tea'
was a popular parlour game at this time where the players have to list what Granny is eating for tea...but the food and drinks mustn't include the letter 'T' or else you're out of the game.
"Alphabet" games were hugely popular with lots of variations and there's a similar game in a book I found on 1830s parlour games called Taboo
which is much the same with the players choosing a letter that's forbidden and then encouraged to list things in genres. To the same end result.