The Return of the Queen (3)
I apologize for the long delay (again).

Now, let's add a little something to thicken the plot…

April 14, 1820
8:15 p.m.

In one week, the new Parliament would meet. Liverpool’s majority had been reduced, but was still there.

Henry Brougham had not been expecting visitors today. He and his wife had nearly finished packing for the trip to London when Samuel Whitbread had shown up at their doorstep, quite unannounced. Nonetheless, they had been able to treat him to a respectable dinner.

Now, Brougham and Whitbread were in the drawing-room.

“Again I apologize for presuming upon your hospitality in this fashion,” said Whitbread, “but there is a matter in which I desperately need your wisdom. I would have written you a letter, but I thought it would be best if neither of us were the source of any… potentially incriminating correspondence.”

Brougham leaned forward in his chair. “You have my full attention,” he said. “Pray continue.”

“Recently I received a letter from a well-informed source in France,” said Whitbread. “It contains most disturbing allegations against men in the highest levels of government, and against the royal family itself.”

“Who is this source?”


Brougham was silent for a moment. The number of living men whose intellects he considered equal to his own could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Talleyrand happened to be one of them.

Whitbread reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter. “I have it here,” he said. “Would you care to read it?”

“By all means,” said Brougham. He took the letter and held it up to the lamp.

The handwriting was not elegant, but workmanlike and legible. It had been some time since Brougham had read anything in French, but after a few sentences the old lessons came back to him.

“Disturbing” was a very mild word for what Talleyrand alleged. He charged that the King, his brothers the Dukes of York, Clarence and Cumberland, the Prime Minister, Castlereagh, Sidmouth and other prominent Conservatives were plotting to remove Charlotte Augusta from the line of succession in favor of her infant cousin Victor Alexander. More than that, the letter claimed that they had previously tried to assassinate her in the guise of medical care, and that Sir Richard Croft had been their agent in this matter. Talleyrand offered no proof for any of this, but claimed to have sources deep within the ranks of the government.

“What do you make of it?” said Whitbread at last.

“First, to state the obvious — without proof, these are actionable libels that we daren’t repeat to anyone… at least, not in such a way that they could be traced back to us.

“Now having said so much, three questions come to mind. Imprimis, why did he write this letter and address it to you? Secundus, is any of this true? Tertius, what ought we to do about it?”

“I should say your second question is the most important of the three,” said Whitbread.

“Very well; whatever else may be true or false, I do not believe there was ever a plot to murder Her Highness. Given how many men and women die under the care of doctors with the best of intentions, it seems to me that if Croft had truly aimed at her death, she would not today be among the living.”

“But as Talleyrand says, her Highness did have two miscarriages under Croft’s care and two healthy births under Stockmar’s. Do you think this a coincidence?”

“I think I know who I want caring for my Margaret in her confinement,” said Brougham. “Croft may be a bungler, but I do not believe him a murderer. And consider — at the time the miscarriages you speak of occurred, she was the sole legitimate heir in her generation. No conspiracy involving the royal family would dare jeopardize the dynasty by doing her in or by tampering with her powers of parturition.

“More importantly, remember one who did die on Croft’s hands — Louis of France, the one man whom all these alleged conspirators would have wished a long and happy life. With his death, all Castlereagh’s plans came crashing down in ruin.”

“Then you believe Talleyrand a liar.” Whitbread sounded strangely disappointed.

“I believe him clever, ruthless and motivated by his own interest and that of France, in that precise order,” said Brougham. “We have already seen in the Netherlands his willingness to meddle in the affairs of other nations. Too often the Tories have accused us of being naïve in our understanding of the French — let us not prove them right.”

“But what if he is telling us the truth?”

“The charge that the king and his ministers plan to disinherit Her Highness — that much at least may be true, although it would be a very bold move on their part and I cannot imagine how they would go about it,” said Brougham. “Talleyrand may have included it to lend credibility to his other claim… in which case we may expect to see this plan put into motion before very long.”

“We cannot possibly let them do that!” said Whitbread. “It would be a disaster. We must warn the people.”

“An anonymous leaflet, perhaps,” said Brougham. “Published under a pseudonym — ‘Junius Secundus,’ perhaps, or ‘Junius Junior.’” He chuckled at his own little joke. “If the charge is false, no real harm will be done, as no one will believe it who was not already disposed to think the worst of the Tories. If the conspiracy exists, then publicizing it anywhere is likely to scupper it… and to set the king and his ministers wondering which of them let the secret out.”

“Easily done,” said Whitbread.

“Yes, but this may be a trap,” said Brougham. “If you were to write such a broadside, the next missive from Talleyrand might read: ‘Howsoever you try to disguise yourself, Junius Secundus, the fact remains that the allegations in that leaflet could have come from no one but myself, and I dispatched them to no one but you. Therefore, unless you wish to be exposed as a libellist and the agent of a foreign power, you are my man in London henceforth and for ever.’” By the look on Whitbread’s face, he hadn’t thought of this at all.

“Then… what do you suggest?”

“This letter came to you. The decision rests with you.”

Whitbread sat in thought for a long moment. Finally he said, “I will sooner risk my own ruin than the ruin of the people. I will publish it anonymously and see what comes of it. Whatever happens, dear Henry, I promise you will be held blameless.”

Damned right I will, thought Brougham. “Thank you, Samuel,” he said.

So, Brougham thought to himself later, Talleyrand is putting in his oar… and on our side of the boat. What mischief is he up to? Well, whatever it is, I’m certainly not going to abandon the cause of reform for fear of serving his purpose. But if he thinks he can make me a pawn in his game, he is very much mistaken.

Suddenly, Brougham was looking forward to the next session of Parliament. At last he had a worthy adversary.
I dont understand a word of this new update just wow.

Here's the short version: Talleyrand has written to Whitbread (the biggest Francophile in Parliament) claiming, among other things, that King George IV and his supporters are plotting to make his baby nephew heir to the throne instead of Charlotte Augusta. Whitbread's going to repeat this claim in an anonymous pamphlet, so as not to run up against the U.K.'s fearsome libel laws. Brougham doesn't know if the king is plotting anything or not, but he's quite sure Talleyrand is.

I for one have to say I love all of this plot and treachery. Very interested to see how this fight will go and what else Talleyrand has up his sleeves.

The shit in the silk stocking is making his mark on England! Most excellent!

I aim to please.


Here's the short version: Talleyrand has written to Whitbread (the biggest Francophile in Parliament) claiming, among other things, that King George IV and his supporters are plotting to make his baby nephew heir to the throne instead of Charlotte Augusta. Whitbread's going to repeat this claim in an anonymous pamphlet, so as not to run up against the U.K.'s fearsome libel laws. Brougham doesn't know if the king is plotting anything or not, but he's quite sure Talleyrand is.

Thank you very much, i see the light now.


To clarify my comments above... I really love the way this is going. Hope you've got even more complications up your sleeve! ;)


All I'll say at this point is that I plan on keeping Alexander on the throne longer than IOTL.
So, he doesn't take his little voyage to the south of Russia, then? He gets even more out of touch with reality?


Are you planning to have him remarry upon the death of his wife, then? Produce heirs?
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Let's just say there's a reason I brought up his younger brother in the big update on Page 28.
Ohhhh... so, the Poles manage to overthrow Constantine? That'll be good... :D

(By the way... if this hasn't already been nominated for a Turtledove, it seriously needs to be. It's in-fucking-credible; one of the best timelines on this site right now. :))
The Return of the Queen (4)
Queen Caroline returned to her kingdom on March 13. Among the first to hail her arrival was Thomas Barnes of the Times, who in the next day’s editorial not only compared her to William the Conqueror, Henry VII and William III, but added that “this woman comes arrayed only in native courage and (may we not add?) conscious innocence; and presents her bosom, aye, offers her neck to those who threatened to sever her head from it, if ever she dared to come within their reach.”

This was almost entirely hyperbole — almost. Even as these words were going to print, the king was giving the order for Powell and Leach to gather all the evidence against her — and not merely the work of the D’Issy Commission, but the 1813 investigation and the so-called “Delicate Investigation” of 1806. This last had been based on the allegations of Lady Douglas that (among much else) her adopted child, William Austin, was in fact her biological child by another man — which would, at the time, have constituted high treason…

To Viscount Castlereagh, the claims made in the pamphlet The Plot Against Our Princess were already proof that the Radicals regarded libel and slander as fit weapons with which to attack the royal family. If he had known of Talleyrand’s missive to Whitbread, it would have confirmed all his worst suspicions — that in their eagerness to destroy the existing structure of power in the United Kingdom, the Radicals had become either the dupes or the willing collaborators of its ancient enemy, France.

Of course, Henry Brougham could have pointed out in return, had he known, that Castlereagh had no scruples about sharing British domestic concerns with a tyrannous foreign prince. “Your Highness will observe, that although we have made an immense progress against Radicalism, the monster still lives, and shows himself in new shapes; but we do not despair of crushing him by time and perseverance,” he had written to Metternich at the beginning of the year.[1]

In that same letter, the foreign minister had noted prophetically that “our session is likely to be a troublesome one” and spelled out his gravest concern: “Much will depend on the course her majesty shall think fit to pursue. If she is wise enough to accept the pont d’or[2] which we have tendered her, the calamities and scandal of a public investigation will be avoided. If she is mad enough or so ill-advised as to put her foot upon English ground, I shall, from that moment, regard Pandora’s box as opened.” He went on to thank Metternich profusely for his correspondence with the king, which, he said, “had its due weight in reconciling our royal master to the advice which his ministers felt it their bounden duty to give to his majesty.”

This letter also reveals the true motivations of Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh, which had very little to do with the sanctity of the royal marriage. To King George IV, the fight against Caroline was a war he had been waging since shortly after the birth of their daughter. To Their Lordships, the fight against Caroline’s Radical allies was a political extension of the wars against Revolutionary France and Napoleon — a defense of Christian civilization against the forces of Jacobinism, the guillotine, Chaos and ancient Night. Small wonder too that Metternich was willing to offer his input, or that Castlereagh was so eager to accept it.

And if the Radicals were willing to smear the reputations of the king and his brothers, the Tories had little cause for complaint under the circumstances. Not content with the d’Issy Commission’s allegations, leading Conservatives were quietly putting forth enough salacious rumours to transform this fifty-year-old grandmother into the Semiramis of the Regency era. The drawing-rooms of the upper classes echoed with claims that during Caroline’s travels abroad she had enjoyed sexual encounters with such disparate figures as King Joachim of Italy, Lucien Bonaparte and the Dey of Algiers (which led to the inevitable jokes about her having been “as happy as the Dey was long.”) Of course, all this mud hurled from on high only served to cement the Queen’s popularity among the Radicals — but this, too, was part of Castlereagh’s plan.
Bertrand Martineau and P.G. Sherman, The Great Scheme

[1] IOTL Castlereagh wrote this letter to Metternich in May.
[2] I.e., their proposed settlement of 50,000 a year in exchange for staying out of the country.
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Rather my thoughts as well. Sounds like things are going to get messy in Britain. If it falls to reactionism more completely than OTL it could really screw up developing, social and economic, in both Britain and Europe with no liberal powers left. :mad::mad:

Rise of the Queenites (1)
The new session of Parliament began on April 21. Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh, and the rest of the king’s supporters, were ready for political battle. “We have at length come to a final and ultimate issue with this outrageous woman,” said John Hely-Hutchinson. “She has set the King’s authority at defiance, and it is now time for her to feel his vengeance and his power.”

Caroline had not been idle during the preceding month. After a week at Claremont House coping with a bout of stomach trouble, she had begun holding a series of mass demonstrations throughout the London area — demonstrations that in their scale and duration openly flouted the Six Acts. In a later age, this would have been called “peaceful defiance,”[1] but in 1820 it was dangerously close to rebellion. Even Lord Chancellor John Scott, First Earl of Eldon and one of the king’s allies, said that “she is the most courageous lady I ever heard of.” (By contrast, King George hardly set foot in the London area for most of this time, leaving most of his duties to be handled by his comparatively competent brother Frederick Duke of York.)

She was not alone. Although Caroline’s support was strongest among the lower classes, many leading citizens attended these events as well, including a number of Radical MPs — in fact, most of these rallies and marches were organized by Alderman Matthew Wood, former Lord Mayor of London.[2] More importantly, Charlotte Augusta herself attended and addressed the crowd at many of them…

By the time Parliament was back in session, the King’s faction already felt that the “Queenites” had them under siege. “We have been entirely out-generaled,” lamented Lord Hutchinson.

Their counterattack began on the very first day of the session. Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh presented each House with a huge lawyer’s brief-bag stuffed full of copies of all the evidence the King’s supporters had been able to compile — the two “Green Bags” which were soon to become infamous throughout the empire — along with a message from the King recommending this evidence “to the immediate and serious attention of these Houses.”

But the bags were not simply thrown open to the public. Liverpool’s first step was to announce that on Monday he would propose the formation of a “Secret Committee on the Papers Relating to the Conduct of the Queen.” This committee would parse the evidence in the bags and issue its recommendation.

Monday began in the Commons with a speech of immense length by Lord Castlereagh in which (among much else) he repeatedly asserted that the purpose of the proposed inquiry was simply to discover the truth, and professed astonishment that anyone should imagine that it was intended to harm the reputation of the Queen. “No such intention was ever for a moment, or ever could be, harboured by his majesty's government,” he said, “the object of the message before the House being merely to obtain that advice which it professed to require.”

When Castlereagh was done, Henry Brougham took to the floor. He began by reading aloud a letter from Caroline and her solicitor, Thomas Denman, denouncing the idea of “a secret tribunal to examine documents privately prepared by my adversaries,” and demanding to have the case against her made in public at every step. He then reminded his audience of the social horrors that had ensued from such public airings of previous royal scandals, in which “the opening of a newspaper was regarded with disgust by every modest and well-conducted family.” In effect, Brougham was demanding that King and Parliament drop the matter now.

Then George Canning entered the fray. He neither supported nor opposed the formation of the committee, but expressed profound regret that matters had reached such a pass. (And well he might — he had been a friend of Caroline’s since her wedding in 1795, but he now oversaw the East India Company for King George.) “The wish nearest my heart,” he said, “was that this extremity could have been avoided. My next wish is that which must be the wish alike of all the country — that Her Majesty might come out of the inquiry with honour to herself, and satisfaction to her friends.”

Then William Wilberforce asked the House to delay the appointment of the committee until Wednesday. The House agreed to this — the first of many attempts Wilberforce would make to postpone the inevitable.
Bertrand Martineau and P.G. Sherman, The Great Scheme

[1] Civil disobedience
[2] IOTL, Caroline moved into Wood’s Mayfair residence for a while after her arrival.
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I must say, while I find this aspect of the TL fascinating, I'm at a total loss as to where this is going. I never before realised what a hole there was in my history of Britain, but apperently the 20 odd years between Waterloo and Vicky ascending the throne have completely escaped my attention. In a way, it's nice to not see where things are going right of the bat, but I also don't have any OTL comparisons...

Anybody got any book recommendations for this time period?

P.S. Yay, update :p
On the Caroline affair itself, Jane Robins's book "The Trial of Queen Caroline" is pretty good.

The key differences between TTL and OTL are:

• Everything connected to the Caroline affair is happening about six weeks earlier.
• At this point IOTL, public unrest had already taken the form of demonstrations like the Manchester demonstration that ended in the Peterloo massacre, and the Radical War in Scotland. ITTL, the economy took longer to slow down and the pressure is still building.
• Charlotte Augusta is involved. And Talleyrand is definitely up to something, although I'm not saying what just yet.