TL: King George IV

Also it was mentioned that George has a daughter called Victoria born in 1840 and this update mentions that Victoria has a daughter called Victoria Paulina born in 1842. It's extremely unlikely that they would give the same first name to two daughters, so they won't marry each other.

Was about to mention the same, this Installment gives us defacto confirmation that George and Victoria don't marry. Possible then that Victoria still marries Albert, and that Albert is made heir to Belgium. By 1844 OTL Ernest was Duke and Albert was effective heir, and thus to his sons, but ITTL if Ernest is Duke, then he cannot be heir to Belgium (a la Alfred OTL, with Edward VII abdicating his own claim) so the claim transfers to Albert and Victoria and their child.


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I don’t think that George and Victoria will get married in this TL.
Because the timeline said that George had a daughter in 1837. The duke of Clarence has said that Victoria will not get married until at least 18.
Even if she got married and conceived a child on her 18th birthday(May 24th), the child would be born in 1838
A slight spoiler alert here, I've double checked in case I made an error with some dates (entirely possible!) but the birth years of George V's children will be: 1838, 1840, 1842, 1846, 1848, 1850, 1855 and 1858. But exactly right on the Princess Victoria (Kent) front!
Also it was mentioned that George has a daughter called Victoria born in 1840 and this update mentions that Victoria has a daughter called Victoria Paulina born in 1842. It's extremely unlikely that they would give the same first name to two daughters, so they won't marry each other.
Well spotted!
Was about to mention the same, this Installment gives us defacto confirmation that George and Victoria don't marry. Possible then that Victoria still marries Albert, and that Albert is made heir to Belgium. By 1844 OTL Ernest was Duke and Albert was effective heir, and thus to his sons, but ITTL if Ernest is Duke, then he cannot be heir to Belgium (a la Alfred OTL, with Edward VII abdicating his own claim) so the claim transfers to Albert and Victoria and their child.
You're all such great detectives! Yes, the last installment confirms that King George V and Princess Victoria of Kent will not marry. There's a slight infatuation between them when they're younger as often happens growing up in such a close knit way but ultimately, there are different spouses on the horizon for both of them. As for Prince Albert, the girl he wants to marry won't necessarily be the girl he weds. ;)
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"Even in death, she was forbidden to return to England. Instead, her brother Leopold, by then King of the Belgians, arranged for her to be interred in the crypt at the Church of St Moritz in Coburg. Her coffin was later transferred to the Ducal Family Mausoleum in Coburg in 1860 and in the same year, Princess Victoria commissioned a small memorial to her mother which was placed in the Royal Crypt of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. [3]"

I think this bit from George IV part 13 kinda reveals where Victoria is going, unless our most esteemed author has changed it since


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"Even in death, she was forbidden to return to England. Instead, her brother Leopold, by then King of the Belgians, arranged for her to be interred in the crypt at the Church of St Moritz in Coburg. Her coffin was later transferred to the Ducal Family Mausoleum in Coburg in 1860 and in the same year, Princess Victoria commissioned a small memorial to her mother which was placed in the Royal Crypt of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. [3]"

I think this bit from George IV part 13 kinda reveals where Victoria is going, unless our most esteemed author has changed it since
I was wondering if anybody would pick up on that! Very well spotted and thanks for reading!
"Even in death, she was forbidden to return to England. Instead, her brother Leopold, by then King of the Belgians, arranged for her to be interred in the crypt at the Church of St Moritz in Coburg. Her coffin was later transferred to the Ducal Family Mausoleum in Coburg in 1860 and in the same year, Princess Victoria commissioned a small memorial to her mother which was placed in the Royal Crypt of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. [3]"

I think this bit from George IV part 13 kinda reveals where Victoria is going, unless our most esteemed author has changed it since

Could Delft be given to Belgium when the Netherlands is partitioned?


Monthly Donor
Could Delft be given to Belgium when the Netherlands is partitioned?
Princess Victoria's marriage will take place in 1837 so not too long to wait until everything becomes clear.

Victoria will also get her own mini-timeline/biography after Part One of George V's story with a lot more detail as to how her life plays out after her marriage too so she won't wed and disappear entirely.
Could Delft be given to Belgium when the Netherlands is partitioned?
The borders of the Netherlands and Belgium and are very likely to remain the same as they are IRL. Delft is in South Holland, for it to go to Belgium would be to kill the Netherlands. Also the Royal Crypt in Delft is the family crypt of the House of Oranje-Nassau, it would be very unlikely to be used by Belgian monarchs even if they also got the northern Netherlands.

The big difference would be Luxembourg, if the male line of the House of Oranje-Nassau never dies out, the personal union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg doesn't end.


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The big difference would be Luxembourg, if the male line of the House of Oranje-Nassau never dies out, the personal union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg doesn't end.
I initially began this TL because I found myself wondering if it would make all that much difference if Victoria was never Queen. Which was a little naive on my part because it meant redesigning most of the Royal Family trees of Europe! And naturally this has a knock on effect in many countries with situations as you describe here occurring. As much as I possibly can, I'll be including some more mini-timelines/biographies for important characters who crop up along the way but without a Queen Victoria, Europe does end up looking quite different and not in the usual "No Wilhelm II" way either.
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Right, with some thought - so Victoria marries William III of the Netherlands (with Victoria Paulina being named after Victoria herself and her paternal great grandfather, Paul I of Russia), which the Duke of Clarence desired IOTL, but as Heir Presumptive, she had more room to refuse (given the Duke/Kings health, he was likely to be dead by the time of the marriage itself), will likely not flirt with the idea of marrying the Tsarevich (may not even meet him) and Leopold redeploys Albert and Ernest elsewhere, with one marrying Charlotte Louise, to cement an heir for Belgium. This likely avoids the Belgian Congo (Charlotte being George's sister, her husband would be unlikely to make the same moves as Leopold II) which can cause some significant political upheaval that Opo promised us, and as I guessed earlier, it explains why Dowager Queen Louise refuses to attend her daughter's marriage (and as [likely] Albert may not officially be heir to Belgium at that point, why the wedding is in England)

This leaves my earlier guess of George V and Caroline of Hesse Homburg, but they need to get the name Victoria from somewhere, so the Princess must be named after her godmother, Victoria of the Netherlands.
My guess for George’s bride is Sophia of Württemberg.

Sophia wanted to marry the Duke of Brunswick, and only her father's promise of betrothal to William III of the Netherlands preempted it. With William marrying Victoria, then this puts Sophia back in play for the Duke or Brunswick.

Or she marries Ernest, on the assumption he is Leopolds heir, but when Leopold dies, Ernest refuses to give up his beloved Dukedom, and Belgium passes to Albert and Charlotte. IOTL, Ernest was put forward as King of Greece in 1862 prior to William of Denmark, and refused it for this very same reason.
GV: Part 1, Chapter 8: All Change


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King George V

Part One, Chapter Eight: All Change

To everyone’s surprise (and the Duke of Wellington’s relief), the minority government got off to a relatively successful start. The Prime Minister was in a difficult position. Whilst some moderates in his party favoured parliamentary reform and hoped the confidence and supply arrangement with the Whigs would force the issue, Wellington himself was conflicted. Whilst he accepted that there was a need for some parliamentary reforms which he regarded as practical and efficient, he was steadfastly opposed to the wholesale reform of the electoral system demanded by the Whigs. Peel was more inclined to support electoral reform and suggested that now was the perfect time to introduce it; after all, wasn’t it better to introduce moderate reforms the Tories could live with rather than risking the collapse of the government, a Whig administration in its place and a dramatic overhaul of the electoral system the Tory party would despise? But Wellington disagreed. In the first few months of the minority government, much of the legislation of the day was formed minor bills dubbed “the Bread and Circuses Acts”. These included the Beerhouse Act which liberalised the regulations concerning the brewing and sale of beer, the Game Act which protected game birds and introduced licenses and the need for permanently appointed gamekeepers in an effort to reduce poaching and the London Hackney Carriage Act which introduced penalties for unscrupulous cabbies who charged too much or refused to take passengers on journeys they considered to be too short or unprofitable. [1]


The Duke of Wellington.

Aside from the ‘Bread and Circuses Acts’, there were more weighty bills introduced. The Forgery Act consolidated into one bill all legislation which imposed the death penalty for forgery whilst the Law Terms Act made various overdue changes to the court system of England and Wales. Building on Robert Peel’s earlier success in introducing the Metropolitan Police Act which founded the Metropolitan Police Service in the capital, his successor Alexander Baring introduced the Special Constables Act which provided a long-term framework for the appointment and operation of a part-time volunteer reserve of statutory police forces. The Pay of the Navy Act improved the way Royal Navy personnel received their salary (though there was no increase) whilst the National Debt Act attempted to address the economic after-effects of the Napoleonic Wars without a return to the much-hated tax rises of Lord Liverpool’s government. On these bills, the Tories and Whigs proved to be of one mind but the Whigs had not agreed to prop up a minority government to improve sailors’ wages and regulate beer sales. They wanted something more concrete and even more radical to send a clear signal to the electorate that they could influence the government’s agenda.

With Wellington refusing point blank to address parliamentary reform, Viscount Althorp and Earl Grey decided to push for another Whig cause: the abolition of slavery. The anti-slavery movement in Britain first became organised in 1783 with the formation of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade established in 1787. The leader of this movement was William Wilberforce, a former independent Member of Parliament who had tried (and failed) to force an abolition bill through the House of Commons under successive governments. The Slave Trade had already been made illegal throughout the British Empire but slavery remained a common practice in many British colonies. The Duke of Wellington had supported moves to introduce practical measures to assist slaves and to compensate slave owners who found themselves poorer as a result of the enforcement of the Slave Trade Act but this was where his abolitionist sympathies ended. Wellington stood four-square behind the “West India interest” which counted dozens of MPs, peers and prominent businessmen (and Tory party donors) among those who directly profited from slavery. As Ambassador to Paris from 1814 – 1815, Wellington’s brief was to negotiate for the suppression of the slave trade but by the time he became Prime Minister, he held no truck with the abolitionist movement and his views were more in line with those of Robert Peel who believed that any moves to further address the issue would create “two distinct and separate races in a free society which should prove a very great problem indeed”. In his opinion; “moral improvement led by civilized nations is the only route to preparing Africans for freedom”. [2]


William Wilberforce.

For the Whigs, abolitionism was the cause they were prepared to champion if Wellington would not consider electoral reform. They insisted on introducing legislation to abolish slavery once and for all and expected Wellington to pay up for their support of his minority government. Wellington instead took this opportunity to solve a problem left over from the departure of the Ultra Tories from his party. Whilst in the Commons their voice had not been silenced as he had hoped by the 1830 snap general election (which returned 53 Ultras), in the Lords there was a possibility that they could be outnumbered. In order to do this, Wellington would have to ask the Duke of Clarence as regent to create 16 new Tory peers but he was concerned the Whigs would protest this move. He used abolitionism as his motivation. In a meeting with Viscount Althorp and Earl Grey, Wellington mused that it might just be possible to see an abolition bill through the Commons if they were prepared for the fight but any such bill would be immediately defeated in the Lords. To prevent this unfortunate situation, Wellington would need to create a few more Tory peers to shore up support before the bill was introduced but he could not do so with the possibility that the Whigs would publicly object to what amounted to packing the upper chamber in the Tory party’s favour. Althorp and Grey agreed that they would refrain from public criticism of the creation of 16 new peers providing the abolition bill they wanted was introduced within the next three months.

Whilst some in the Cabinet hoped for advancement to the peerage, none of those who sat in the Commons could be considered for elevation because it would mean the loss of an all-important Commons seat. Wellington therefore looked to party donors and former army comrades to introduce to the Lords instead. The 16 included Sir George Bampfylde, a wealthy Devonshire baronet who had consistently donated large sums to the Tories in exchange for a seat in the Commons but had twice failed to be elected. He now entered the Lords as Baron Poltimore. Admiral Sir James Saumarez, the hero of the Battle of the Gut of Gibraltar, was similarly elevated as Baron de Saumarez. But there was one new peer whose ermine robes ruffled feathers among the Whigs. Charles Bathurst had served in the Liverpool and Eldon governments but chosen not to contest his seat at the 1830 election. His pedigree was exemplary, having served previously as Treasurer of the Navy, Secretary at War, Master of the Mint, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and President of the Board of Control and most recently as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. Born Charles Bragge, he married Anne Bathurst, the granddaughter of Sir Benjamin Bathurst who was the youngest brother of the 1st Earl Bathurst, known for his extreme high Tory views and zealous Anglicanism. His son Henry became equally prominent, serving as Lord High Chancellor in the reign of George III with the incumbent Earl (Charles’ cousin by marriage) serving under Lord Eldon as Lord President of the Council.


Charles Bathurst, Viscount Bathurst.

Wellington elevated Charles Bathurst (he assumed the surname by Royal license in 1804 when he inherited Lydney Park in Gloucestershire from his maternal uncle Poole Bathurst) to the peerage as Viscount Bathurst of Lydney in the County of Gloucestershire. [3] Bathurst was considered to be a friend to both the Tory moderates and Ultra Tories, taking each issue on its own merits. He had served in the Orange Cabinet but he was not ferociously opposed to Catholic emancipation. At the age of 76, he was unlikely to sit in the Lords for a long time but it was his interests in the Slave Trade that proved controversial and perhaps inspired Wellington to appoint him. His grandfather in law Sir Benjamin Bathurst had held senior appointments in the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company. As a result, his interests in the slave trade had made him an incredibly wealthy man and with his fortune made, he purchased Cirencester Park and left a vast sum of money great enough to endow all three of his sons with country estates. Charles had his own associations with the slave trade having been made an honorary freeman of the Society of Merchant Venturers for voicing his own opposition to abolitionism. The jig was up. If Wellington had created 16 new peers to ensure the passage of an abolition bill in the Lords, he would not have elevated men like Charles Bathurst. Althorp and Grey wanted answers.

As the row over the Wellington peerages grew, the Prime Minister needed an urgent distraction. It presented itself in the first week of August 1831. On the 4th of August that summer, the alarm was raised at Kensington Palace at around 5pm when a fire broke out in the State Rooms. In a move to enforce cost saving measures at the royal residences, beeswax candles had been replaced with tallow ones. Tallow was unpopular because of its smell (tallow candles were produced from beef or mutton fat) but it also dripped more than beeswax and burned quicker needed to be frequently replaced. The cause of the fire was later believed to be the result of a tallow candle falling out of a chandelier in the King’s Privy Chamber which set fire to the draperies and tallow candles were banned from ever being used again.

The blaze spread quickly to the King’s Drawing Room, the Cube Room, the Nursery and Queen Caroline’s Drawing Room before taking hold in Queen Mary’s Privy Chamber and Queen Anne’s Dining Room. In 1830, only Princess Sophia was in permanent residence at Kensington Palace though her sister Princess Augusta had a suite of rooms there. Their brother the Duke of Sussex lived on the Kensington estate at Nottingham Cottage and from here, he raced to help extinguish the blaze aided by members of the Royal Household and the ad-hoc collection of local firefighters which comprised rudimentary fire brigades. Fortunately, nobody was hurt or injured in the blaze but the fire spread into the second and third floors which weakened the fourth and saw the roof collapse. Kensington Palace was all but gutted with only the King’s Gallery, the Presence Chamber and the King’s Grand Staircase untouched due to the courtyard separating them from the main body of the fire. [4]


A view of Kensington Palace before it was destroyed by fire.

The following day, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Wellington traveled to Kensington to assess the damage. The Palace was deemed beyond repair. Kensington had fallen into a state of neglect in recent years and as it was home only to the sisters of King George IV it was felt an unnecessary expense to renovate it, especially given that Princess Augusta spent most of her time at Frogmore House in Windsor. Both Clarence and Wellington agreed that the cost of building a replacement for Kensington would be both unpractical and unpopular. It therefore came as a shock to the Duke of Clarence when Alexander Baring informed the House of Commons that the government would release monies from the Consolidated Fund to pay for a new palace to be built on the Kensington site. Clarence was baffled. Neither he nor any member of his family had asked for such a project to be undertaken and he believed the Duke of Wellington shared his view. But Wellington needed a distraction from the abolition debate and a row over royal expenditure never failed to dominate the Commons whenever it was introduced.

After days of debate (in which Wellington deliberately avoided the Duke of Clarence), Wellington staged a climb down. “At the request of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence”, he announced, “Proposals to pay for the construction of a new palace at Kensington from the Consolidated Fund have been abandoned”. In a gesture perhaps intended to be serve as an apology to the Duke, Wellington further announced that the sum voted for the Civil List from 1831 onwards would be restricted to the expenses of the Royal Household alone. There would no longer be any financial responsibilities associated with the cost of civil government, severing the link between the Sovereign and the cost of the civil government. Wellington felt that this would help to avoid any confrontation with Clarence regarding the bizarre announcement concerning a new Kensington Palace but in reality, it put the Duke in the firing line. It was reported (inaccurately and unfairly) that when the government had pulled out of funding a replacement for Kensington Palace, the Duke had angrily responded by demanding the monarch no longer be responsible for costs incurred by the Civil Government. In this way, the Duke would have more money to construct a new palace at his own expense – or rather, at the expense of the young King George V.

This was unfortunate because it temporarily dented the Duke of Clarence’s popularity. But it also soured the friendship between the Duke and the Prime Minister for a time. The only positive to come from the debacle was the creation of the London Fire Engine Establishment [5] under the leadership of James Braidwood who had founded the first professional, municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh. Whilst the row over Kensington had bought Wellington a little time, he could not escape the demands of the Whigs forever. To add to his worries, Viscount Althorp had ensured that every Ultra Tory in the Commons and Lords knew that Wellington was flirting with the idea of allowing an abolitionist bill to be introduced (this was of course totally untrue). The Ultras were furious but following the Kensington row, they learned the truth. Wellington was losing his grip. It was entirely possible that the Whigs may take office or that another general election would be required. This time, they would be well prepared.

At his townhouse in London, the Duke of Newcastle held a meeting attended by 48 of the 53 Ultra Tories in the Commons and a handful of trusted Ultra Tory peers. Newcastle believed that the Ultra Tories had not done better at the 1830 snap election because they appeared to be nothing more than a splinter group. That had to change. Over the course of three days in August 1830, the Ultra Tories debated their positions on everything from emancipation to abolition and electoral reform. There was no hope of healing the rift with Wellington’s moderate Tories. It was time to strike out alone. The Portman Square Declaration was signed by 68 Ultra Tories and committed them to a series of policy positions. These included the repeal of the Catholic Emancipation Act, a commitment to defeating any attempts to introduce abolitionism or electoral reform and a pledge that they would always uphold the interests of the Anglican communion and of the Union above all else. The result was a new political party in Britain. They called themselves The Unionists. [6]


Portman Square where the Unionist Party was founded.

A main concern of the Unionists was the situation in Ireland. In the 1830 snap general election, Daniel O’Connell had been re-elected but this time he represented the Repeal Association. Established shortly before the general election, the Association was a political movement that saw a massive influx of new members in Ireland and which campaign for a repeal of the Acts of Union of 1800 between Great Britain and Ireland. Whilst the Unionists’ position was that the Union must be preserved come hell or high water (they were committed to the use of force to quell any uprisings in Ireland), Wellington felt personally betrayed by O’Connell whom he felt had u-turned on his promises at their meeting not to stir up any further division in Ireland if Catholic emancipation was introduced. If anything, the situation had deteriorated, not improved. In March 1831, the Tithe War had erupted in Ireland and saw a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience in reaction to the enforcement of tithes on the Roman Catholic majority to pay for the upkeep of the established state church, the Church of Ireland. Tithes had to be paid regardless of an individual’s faith and if they could not be afforded with money, yeomen were given permission to take livestock or possessions instead.

Whilst at first the so-called Tithe War was relatively peaceful, in March violence returned when a force of 120 yeomanry tired to enforce seizure orders on cattle belonging to a Roman Catholic priest. Encouraged by his Bishop, the priest had tried to prevent people from being forced to pay tithes by placing their stock under his ownership. If they had no money or livestock, the tithe could not be paid or enforced. The yeomanry arrested the priest which caused an outbreak of riots in County Kilkenny. Similar protests broke out in County Wexford too. O’Connell had always disavowed violence but in this case, he had no choice but to defend those who rioted. Indeed, O’Connell represented those arrested in court and managed to secure several acquittals. Whilst O’Connell favoured maintaining a connection with Britain in a personal union of the crowns of the Kingdom of Great Britain and a restored Kingdom of Ireland, he felt personally let down by Wellington and from this point on, he would be regarded more and more as “the Liberator of the Irish Nation” in Dublin but as a troublemaking radical at Westminster.

Closer to home, Wellington’s refusal to consider electoral reform brought violence to Wales in May 1831 when coal miners took to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil to demand higher wages and to protest against a lack of enfranchisement and general unemployment. The protest spread to nearby industrial towns and villages and it is believed that the Merthyr Rising marked the first time the red flag of revolution was flown as a symbol of a worker’s revolt which would later be adopted international as a symbol of socialism and communism. As the situation grew worse, the mood turned against not only the government but the whole British establishment. There were cries of “I lawr â'r Brenin” (“Down with the King”) and a march of 10,000 workers brought the town to a complete standstill. They formed themselves into guerrilla detachments and those with military experience trained their fellow rioters to establish an effective central command. For 8 long days, the men and women of Merthyr Tydfil held control of the town and were able to issue demands to the authorities but it could not last forever. Government representatives managed to divide the rioter’s council with conflicting promises of reform and as the council fell into disagreement, 450 troops were marched into Waun above Dowlais with leveled weapons.


The Merthyr Rising.

The riots were over but it had been a close-run thing. Worse still, the news of what had happened in Wales spread throughout the country at a time when news of revolution on the continent was flooding in daily. The Unionists predicted revolution in Britain too. They called for a permanent armed presence in cities or towns that had shown sympathy with rioters in the past, especially in the north, and they proposed harsh penalties (including capital punishment) for any who dared encourage their neighbours to rebellion or revolt. Their speeches in the Commons were deliberately alarmist in rhetoric and some moderate Tories became nervous, even going so far as to mutter ‘hear, hear’ after a speech given by Sir Richard Vyvyan in which he predicted “nation wide revolution fuelled by anarchists, rebels and Catholics if the rise of radical sympathies is not quickly put down, by force if necessary”. For Wellington, time was running out. Sooner or later, he would have stop kicking the can down the road and accept that his minority government was about to lose control.

Meanwhile at Clarence House, a dazed and confused Princess Sophia found herself homeless following the fire at Kensington Palace. Though she rarely used her own apartment at the Palace, Princess Augusta was equally put out at losing her London residence. As luck would have it, King Leopold had returned Marlborough House to the Crown when he accepted the offer to become King of the Belgians. Leopold had spent a small fortune on making Marlborough House as comfortable as possible and so the Duke of Clarence elected to offer it to his sisters as a new place to live in the capital. Princess Augusta did not relish the idea of sharing a house with her younger sister, however. Sophia was eccentric and known for her lacklustre approach to keeping her accounts in order.

Augusta did not want to be held responsible for Sophia’s debts and neither did she wish to be served by Sophia’s staff, most of whom were in their dotage. Clarence therefore divided Marlborough House into apartments. The first apartment was comprised of the Dining Room at the front of the property and two of the drawing rooms at the back. Named ‘Apartment A’, there was a private entrance through the colonnade which led to three spacious rooms which were incorporated into suite. The second apartment (‘Apartment B’) was comprised of two drawing rooms at the back of the property, the library, an anteroom and the music room. Both apartments were served by the same kitchen with accommodation for servants provided in an exterior building. Upstairs, the rooms were more evenly divided to create two more apartments which were intended to be used as temporary accommodation for guests.


Marlborough House today.

The rubble of Kensington Palace was cleared and the last remaining rooms which had been untouched by the fire were demolished. In its place, the Duke of Clarence personally funded the creation of a new public garden complete with memorial fountains to King George III and Queen Charlotte. This was somewhat ironic as George III despised Kensington Palace and after his accession, never visited the property. The Duke of Clarence “gave” this site and the 265 acres of parkland which had served as the private gardens of the Palace to the Borough of Kensington which was elevated to the status of a Royal Borough. Nottingham Cottage was vacated by the Duke of Sussex who took an upstairs apartment at Marlborough House, the cottage becoming the home of the Royal Kensington Park Keeper and Head Gardener. The Royal Borough had to pay for the cottage (only the parkland was free) and Sussex used the funds to buy a townhouse in Belgravia as soon as he realised that residing at Marlborough House meant cold food and providing an audience to the constant clashes between his bickering sisters Augusta and Sophia.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Clarence set the condition that the Royal Borough of Kensington must maintain the park well and that it should never be sold or used for the construction of private housing. It must also be opened to the general public and there must be no charge for entrance introduced anywhere in the park. This led to an intriguing court case in 2002 when the public lavatories built in the park in 1922 were installed with new pay turnstiles. The Friends of Royal Kensington Park took the Royal Borough’s Parks Department to court on the grounds that the 80p charge for the use of the lavatories was a charge for entrance which was prohibited under the terms of the gift made by the Duke of Clarence back in 1830. The Friends were successful and today, the public lavatories are once again free to use. Clarence’s gift was no doubt very well intended but it was somewhat short sighted. In the future, George V would have seven children and trying to fit the British Royal Family as a whole into the apartments at Buckingham Palace, St James’ Palace, Marlborough House, Clarence House and Windsor proved a constant nightmare. It also meant that George V would have to consider building a new palace to accommodate some of them but finding a site as convenient as Kensington proved difficult.

Whilst the Duke of Clarence saw to domestic matters, the Duke of Wellington could no longer avoid squabbles in his government. The Whigs had finally lost their patience with constant delays and presented him with an ultimatum. Either he introduce an abolition bill, consider Lord John Russell’s proposals on electoral reform or they would withdraw themselves from the confidence and supply agreement and introduce another Motion of No Confidence in the government. Wellington could not count on the support of the newly created Unionist Party to support him if such a motion went forward but neither could he bring himself to support abolition or electoral reform. He offered a compromise in a bill introducing some minor parliamentary reforms which he had always regarded as long overdue but the Whigs were not satisfied. On the 10th of September 1831, a year exactly since the Motion of No Confidence in Wellington’s government had been introduced that saw him call a snap general election, the Whigs introduced a motion of their own. Wellington had been Prime Minister since 1828 and just two weeks before the third anniversary of his taking office, he traveled to Clarence House to offer his resignation to the Duke of Clarence. He was exhausted and had no desire to fight another general election, nor did he expect his government to survive the vote on the Motion of No Confidence.


Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.

The Duke of Clarence was caught in a difficult position. The Tories had a plurality in the Commons, albeit by only five members, and Robert Peel expected that Clarence would seek to appoint him Prime Minister in the wake of Wellington’s resignation. But the Motion of No Confidence had not been laid against the Prime Minister personally, rather it had specified that the House had no confidence in the government as a whole; a government in which Robert Peel served. Another general election was unavoidable and instead of calling Peel, the Duke of Clarence summoned the Lord President of the Council, William Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland to act as a caretaker Prime Minister instead. Portland’s father, the 3rd Duke, had served twice as Prime Minister; the first occasion was during the Fox-North coalition whilst his second term lasted from 1807 until 1809. The Duke of Clarence felt badly for Peel. He was a popular and bright politician of many talents who deserved a chance at leading a government. But Clarence had (benign) ulterior motives. Immediately after summoning Portland, he asked to see Peel. The Duke explained that whilst he believed Peel was the right man to serve as a caretaker Prime Minister, he privately believed that the Whigs may be elected with a majority in the next general election. If that were so, Peel might be tarnished with the Tory defeat which would prove a stain on a very promising career. Peel wrote in his diary; “I had intended to treat His Royal Highness with contempt and to decry his actions but as soon as he addressed me in this very fatherly and kindly way, I confess I felt moved to tears and could not have thought better of him”.

The Duke of Wellington returned to Apsley House. He was now 62 years old and felt it time to retire from politics. Whilst he would naturally continue to contribute to debates in the House of Lords, he did not expect to hold any political office in the future and prepared to spend the last years of his life working on his memoirs and occasionally visiting the regiments of which he would no doubt remain Colonel in Chief. The Duke of Clarence held no grudge and where possible, Wellington was invited to Buckingham Palace or to Windsor Castle as a friend of the Royal Family. He was particularly moved to be asked to stand as a godfather to King George V’s eldest daughter and firstborn child Princess Marie Louise, the Princess Royal (later Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine) in 1838 and he embraced his role as elder statesman, unofficial advisor and friend to the King from the late 1830s until Wellington’s death in 1852.

The 1831 general election result came as no surprise. The Tories lost their majority of 5 returning 184 MPs overall. It was a crushing blow to Wellington personally and for some months, he could not face appearing in public, blaming himself for the Whig victory. The Whigs won an overall majority with 256 seats whilst the Unionists bolstered their presence in parliament with 66 seats, an increase of 13 from the previous general election when they had been returned as Ultra Tories. The Duke of Portland resigned as caretaker Prime Minister and the Duke of Clarence called a triumphant Earl Grey to Clarence House where he invited him to form a government. After 24 years in opposition, the Whigs were finally back in government. [7]

[1] These were introduced in 1831 but I’ve brought them forward as Wellington would want to fill the legislative timetable with ‘Bread and Circus’ bills to put off the inevitable clash over electoral reform/abolition as would be pushed by the Whigs.

[2] Direct quotes from Robert Peel.

[3] Butterflies! Viscount Bathurst would have been chosen to distinguish him from Earl Bathurst and Baron Bathurst, the latter being the courtesy title of the Earls Bathurst. In the OTL, Charles was not elevated to the peerage but it’s crucial to the story in this TL that he is.

[4] More butterflies. Kensington Palace did not burn in 1831 and in the OTL, it was far busier with the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria in residence.

[5] Introduced in 1833 in the OTL.

[6] Two points here. The first is that obviously this refers to a political party in the early 18th century sense. It’s as organised as the Tories and the Whigs were at this stage but would still be considered a grouping of like-minded individuals compared to the modern set up of political parties. The second is that in the OTL, circumstances were very different and as the Whigs entered government the Tory party had time to repatriate most of the Ultras. This doesn’t happen in our TL of course because of the political situation I’ve created. Thus The Unionists are born.

[7] I must correct myself slightly here. This was the first wholly Whig government since 1783.
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GV: Part 1, Chapter 9: The Days of May


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part One, Chapter Nine: The Days of May

With the general election over and majority government restored, the new Prime Minister Earl Grey, began to settle into his post and appointed a new ministry. But the arrival of new ministers also meant the departure of several key figures in the Royal Household who had served the Royal Family for many years. As a Tory, the Earl of Jersey was replaced by the Whig supporting Duke of Devonshire. Lord George Beresford left his post as Comptroller of the Household and was succeeded by Lord Robert Grosvenor. Other departures included the Countess of Harrow and Baroness Lyndhurst from the Household of Queen Louise but these had proved to be only nominal appointments. The Dowager Queen was still living in Hanover and showed no signs of returning any time soon. Instead, the two ladies appointed to her household by the Duke of Wellington served the household of the Duchess of Clarence whilst officially being in the employ of Queen Louise. Finding replacements for these ladies of the bedchamber was to prove difficult.


Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister.

Not only were none of the ladies approached to take on the post willing to relocate to Herrenhausen with an indefinite return date but the Queen’s reputation preceded her. Since her arrival in England in 1819, Louise hated the custom of appointments to the Royal Household being cut short or extended based on the change of government. She had always much preferred to choose her own ladies of the bedchamber and fortunately for her, the Duke of Wellington had turned a blind eye. At this time, she relied entirely on Baroness Pallenberg who had been appointed an extra-lady of the bedchamber by the previous Prime Minister in an attempt to avoid the usual hysterics which followed new appointments to Queen Louise’s Household. But the new Prime Minister did not enjoy the same relationship with the Royal Family as his predecessor and now, there was an issue raised in parliament which could no longer be ignored.

Not only was it the right of a Prime Minister to make appointments to the Royal Household but Queen Louise was also in receipt of an annuity of £45,000, the highest sum paid to a member of the Royal Family after the King. Shortly before Christmas 1831, John Lee Lee, one of the two Members of Parliament for Wells, raised a question in the Commons asking if Her Majesty Queen Louise intended to now reside permanently in Hanover. If so, did the government believe the Civil List should be amended to reflect that fact? The Prime Minister did not necessarily agree with the sentiment but he did have concerns that the row could escalate. To that end, he asked the Duke of Clarence to try and convince his sister-in-law to return to Britain. Knowing that this would only encourage Queen Louise to extend her stay in Hanover, the Duke tried another method. He invited the Cambridges and the Dowager Queen to come to Windsor to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, the Prime Minister appointed Louisa, Marchioness of Lansdowne (wife of the new Lord President of the Council), to Louise’s household with the suggestion that she begin her service in the Queen’s employ in the new year when hopefully Louise had returned to England permanently from Hanover.


Schloss Herrenhausen.

Herrenhausen had proved to be a much preferable residence for Queen Louise than Royal Lodge. As Dowager Queen of Hanover, she only outranked her brother-in-law (the Duke of Cambridge) and his wife as the Vice Regal couple in the order of precedence but this gave her an immediate sense of authority which she enjoyed. Whilst she had no formal role, position or power in Hanover, Louise seemed lost in a fantasy world where she was actually Queen of Hanover and that her wishes must be respected and obeyed without question. Whilst her relationship with her sister Augusta had always been a close one, now cracks began to appear. Augusta had no great longing for authority, neither did she care all that much about position, protocol or precedence. But she quickly became tired of being forced to attend to her younger sister as if she were a lady in waiting and on several occasions, Louise seemed to make a concerted effort to humiliate Augusta. At a banquet given for officers of the Hanoverian Army, Louise arrived uninvited and late forcing the entire gathering to stand in the middle of the meal. She then made her way to the middle of the table where her sister Augusta was seated as the highest-ranking lady present – that was, until Louise arrived. Without saying a word, Louise waited until Augusta left her place and sat down in her chair, dismissing Augusta’s half eaten dinner and then launching in a monologue about the poor quality of her rooms at Herrenhausen which she intended to refurbish.

It was in this atmosphere that the Duke of Clarence’s invitation to Windsor came and naturally, the Cambridges jumped at the opportunity. Queen Louise refused to return to England and when pressed by her brother-in-law, Louise replied indignantly; “I am Queen of Hanover, I shall find more friends here than I ever have in England”. The Cambridges departed for England taking their two children, Prince George and Princess Augusta, with them. Queen Louise gave her sister nothing to take to England for her own children but staged elaborate Christmas celebrations at Herrenhausen which cost a small fortune and left a significant dent in the Viceroy’s annual budget. On Christmas Day itself, Louise gave presents to her household but refused to present smaller gifts to the servants as was the custom. Instead she delegated this task to Baroness Pallenberg. She also caused offence when she failed to deliver the customary Christmas Box to the pastor of the Kreuzkirche. Given that he was not allowed to profit directly from the weekly collection, the Viceroys of Hanover had always set aside a generous financial gift at Christmas time which supplemented his income through the rest of the year. The Duchess of Cambridge put the situation right when she returned to Herrenhausen but word had already circulated that the pastor had been disrespected by Queen Louise and her reputation in Hanover began to suffer just as much as it had in England.

Christmas was far more jolly at Windsor Castle that year, though the party was smaller than it had been on previous occasions. Two guests most keenly missed were the Coburg princes, Ernst and Albert. The young King always enjoyed the company of the Coburgs but the Christmas of 1831 saw them spend the holiday season with King Leopold in Brussels. It was not only the King who missed them. It was the Duchess of Clarence who was first made aware my Madame Fillon that the twelve-year old Prince Albert had been writing letters to the nine-year-old Princess Charlotte Louise since his last visit. They were harmless, childish letters but it escaped nobody’s attention that clearly the young Prince had a special fondness for the Princess. The letters were hardly romantic, indeed, in one he asks if Charlotte Louise “has grow taller yet because you are very small and I now can stand much higher than you”. In another, he accuses the Princess of stealing his playing cards; “which you said Georgie had taken but which I know you took because I saw you with them”. But there was a touching admission of fondness too; “Papa says we must spend Christmas with Uncle Leopold but I think that is quite silly because you will not be there and so I will not enjoy it at all”.


Adelaide, Duchess of Clarence.

The Duchess of Clarence thought the exchange very sweet and decided to pretend she knew nothing about it. If the letters changed in tone or became unsuitable in any way, she would raise the issue with King Leopold but for now, it seemed a healthy friendship that required no interference from the adults. Some time later, the exchange was brought out into the open as Princess Charlotte Louise could speak of nothing else but Prince Albert and that he might be coming to England in the summer. Innocently, the Duchess of Clarence asked Princess Victoria if she had received any letters. Pouting she replied, “Yes but only from silly Ernst and I’m not sending a reply to him because he has a funny head”. At the Christmas festivities in 1831, the children were once again indulged by their aunt and uncle. The Clarences went above and beyond to give them happy memories and in later life, Princess Victoria recalled that “There were never Christmases as wonderfully merry as those we enjoyed with Uncle William and Aunt Adelaide at Windsor”.

That Christmas brought with it an unexpected announcement at court from Baron Stockmar which delighted the King but irritated the Duke of Clarence. King Leopold wanted Stockmar to return to his employ and whilst Stockmar wished to return to Coburg, he had agreed to serve as a kind of ex officio advisor to the court at Brussels. [1] For the Duke of Clarence, this marked a turning point. He now saw Stockmar as a “vain and ambitious creature” and resented what he regarded as “an abandonment of the duties he promised to carry out because he sees more rewards in Belgium than he does in England”. Stockmar addressed the issue himself in his memoirs published sometime after his death but his reasons for leaving England have been embroidered a little. He claims that the deciding factor was “a long and mutually close friendship with King Leopold” and that he felt the post in Brussels would prove more challenging. Yet he also says that he had decided to retire by this time and that his new post with King Leopold was “a more informal, more casual appointment which allowed me to reside at my home in Coburg whilst still being of use to His Majesty”.

But in a letter written to a friend shortly after his departure from England in 1832, Stockmar is far more truthful about his reasons for leaving England. Firstly he felt “a complete lack of support for the system of education agreed with the late King which has never been enforced by the Duke of Clarence who is far too indulgent of his nephew”. Secondly, he disliked life in England and “had never intended to remain in the country outside of the service of [King Leopold]”. Another passage in the missive might give some clue as to the real reason why Stockmar decided to leave England; “because the long-term prospect was not a reliable one and there was little guarantee that my position would be secure when His Majesty came of his age”. This suggests that Stockmar was well aware (and perhaps even expected) that King George V would hold to his childhood resentment of the strict disciplinarian Stockmar represented in his early life and dismiss him at the earliest opportunity. Stockmar therefore faced a choice between a further five years of service in England only to be ousted when the King reached the age of majority or secure a post in Brussels where he could exert his influence and authority for as long as he wished without the threat of dismissal.


Baron Stockmar in retirement.

The Duke of Clarence rewarded Stockmar for his service by making him a Knight Commander of the Royal Guelphic Order but there was to be no pension, something not guaranteed to members of the Royal Household at this time and given solely at the discretion of the King (or in this case, his regent). Clarence appointed John Lawton, the King’s tutor from Cambridge, as the King’s Private Secretary which in effect gave Lawton control over George V’s education and lifestyle. Stockmar left a detailed report on the King’s progress thus far and a detailed essay on his recommendations going forward; Lawton conveniently misplaced them. His first decision was to liberate George V from the solitude of Royal Lodge and George was allowed to return to his rooms adjoining those of his sister and cousin in the State Apartments of Windsor Castle. Lawton also relaxed the number of hours the King was to study but in an important change of direction, he also abandoned the syllabus that Stockmar had implemented. Lawton saw the King’s interests lay in military history and philosophy and he allowed George to spend more time on these subjects rather than forcing him to spend hours learning Greek or studying English literature for which he showed no aptitude or interest. But Lawton also abandoned any prospect of the King being educated at a public school and most importantly, he brought to an end the seclusion enforced by Stockmar from boys of his own age.

Lawton created a social circle for the young King taken from the children of prominent members of the Royal Household. The most senior was Henry Fitzalan-Howard, the Earl of Arundel (and future 14th Duke of Norfolk) who was five years older than the King. Though he was a Roman Catholic, he was also heir to the hereditary offices of Earl Marshal and Chief Butler of England and Lawton felt installing an older influence into the group essential to keeping order. Next came John Henry Campbell, Earl of Campbell and his brother George (the future 8th Duke of Argyll) who were the nephews of the childless Lord Steward, George Campbell, 6th Duke of Argyll. The youngest son of the Earl of Jersey, the Honourable Francis Child Villiers was included as was Frederick Blomfield, one of the sons of the Bishop of London. George had never had friends of his own age outside of the extended Royal Family before and initially, Lawton noted that he was withdrawn and shy, seemingly unwilling to introduce himself or enter into conversation with his new social group. But this did not last long. The ice was broken when the Earl of Arundel asked if the boys might see the King’s collection of lead soldiers and before long, the Great Hall of Windsor Castle had been transformed into a battlefield as the boys debated strategy, becoming friends in the process.

Perhaps as a result of this, or because of his passion for military history at this time, the young King asked his uncle, the Duke of Clarence, if his friends might have special uniforms because they were to create their own special regiment. The Duke indulged this (though the regiment was never officially created of course) and the Windsor Brigade was formed. George gave himself the position of Field Marshal whilst the other members of the group (which was expanded to include the Coburg princes and Prince George of Cambridge) were Brigadiers. The young King designed the uniform personally which was formed of a dark blue high-necked frock coat with silver buttons bearing the King’s monogram. Brigadiers wore silver tabs and a small crown was embroidered on the epaulettes. To complete the overall look, they were given dark blue cocked hats edged with silver brocade trim sporting a plume of three ostrich feathers and each was given a miniature sword (blunted to avoid unfortunate accidents).

The Duke of Clarence was delighted. Though this may have appeared to be a childish game of playing soldiers, nobody could fail to be impressed when the future King spent hours drilling his troops in Windsor Great Park. He even ticked off a guardsman who failed to salute to the Earl of Arundel when he passed by, objecting that the young man was a Brigadier and entitled to respect from a junior rank. It was possibly the Windsor Brigade which also gave the King his life-long love of uniforms. During his reign, he would take a personal interest in the redesign of British military dress and he would also extend the use of the Windsor Uniform introduced by King George III in 1777 with a variation established for senior courtiers. He also loved insignia and whenever he was presented with a new order of chivalry from a visiting diplomat or head of state, he would commission a special box to store it in and write a detailed account of its history, when it was given and how it was to be worn. He took this further in 1880 when he established the Royal Georgian Order, a dynastic order of knighthood created to recognize personal service to the monarch.

With Stockmar’s departure, the King’s life became far happier and he began to excel in his studies. He deeply impressed Earl Grey during an audience when he asked what the Prime Minister made of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. After some discussion of the issue, the young King disappeared and returned with his copy of Leviathan; “I have made some notes on this matter”, George announced seriously, “I should be grateful if you would tell me if you believe them to be good observations”. In a report to the Duke of Clarence, Lawton praised the King’s “natural curiosity for answers, his serious approach to the subjects he finds of interest and his respectful and disciplined nature in the school room”. It was not a universally glowing report however and Lawton observed that “His Majesty shows no real flair for poetry and has very little interest in literature. Indeed, he finds it to be a bore. Yet he does read for pleasure, even if these are more serious works. As yet these do not include religious works and I confess that I do have some concerns at his lack of interest in the subject overall”. Lawton was not the only one to notice the King was not particularly enthused by religion. The Bishop of London raised eyebrows when George quoted Voltaire in an audience and one Sunday as the Dean of Windsor preached on the subject of forgiveness, the young King was heard to remark; “This is all very dreary”.


Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London.

The one subject conspicuously absent from the King’s schedule was politics. Whilst he was educated on the constitution and how parliament worked, it was felt important not to encourage him to take a stance on the big issues of the day, at least not until he was much older and even then, he must be taught the importance of the Sovereign’s role in relation to the political arena. In later life, the King resented this; “During the years of my education, I might have been toppled by revolution and sent to the guillotine, yet I knew nothing of this because politics were verboten to me”. The King was perhaps over exaggerating slightly but there was a very real prospect in 1832 that England was to face its biggest upheaval since the Civil War. The catalyst was the Great Reform Act and the resulting chaos was dubbed ‘The Days of May’. [2]

As Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington had spent his tenure resisting calls for electoral reform. This had ultimately toppled his government, split his party and had rewarded the pro-reform Whigs with a majority. Earl Grey’s Reform Act of 1832 [3] sought to to radically overhaul the electoral system in England and Wales. It proposed to abolish tiny districts, introduce increased representation to cities and to change the selection process for Members of Parliament to avoid one powerful patron installing their preferred candidates. But by far it’s most ambitious aim was to expand the franchise to the give the vote to small landowners, tenant farmers, shopkeepers and householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more. Whilst some exemptions were to be introduced allowing for lodgers to vote, the act would only expand the franchise to qualifying men and there would be an explicit statutory bar to women voting by defining a voter as a “male person”.

At the Committee Stage, opponents of the bill slowed its progress by introducing tedious and long-winded objections to minor details but ultimately this proved futile; the Whig majority meant the bill would sail through the Commons at the voting stage before it moved on to the House of Lords. Nonetheless, Earl Grey anticipated the bill’s defeat. The Whigs had no majority in the Lords and whilst the Tory party had split, there was still unanimous agreement between the moderate Tories and the Unionists that the Reform Bill should be opposed. Many saw it as a threat to their financial interests or as an attempt to gerrymander. The Duke of Newcastle, the leader of the Unionists in the House of Lords, decried the bill as “indulging the radical mob” and said that if it passed, the Whigs might never leave office. Grey had predicted this response but he could not foresee that when the bill came to the vote, it would be the Lords Spiritual who defeated it.

Some Tory peers had concerns that the public mood was not only pro-reform but violently so. They worried that if the bill failed, the country might sink into insurrection. Unwilling to be blamed for this, they refrained from voting entirely so that they could be seen as neither supportive nor opposed to the Reform Act. But this voting deficit made the defeat of the bill a certainty and unwittingly made the Lords Spiritual the scapegoat. It was the Bishops who saw the bill rejected by 41 votes and a cheer went up in the chamber as the result was read. None could have predicted that the consequences would be immediate. The Birmingham Political Union, founded in 1829 by Thomas Attwood, had held public meetings since 1830 on reform and counted some 15,000 people among its membership. It’s aims were much the same as those contained in the Reform Bill and when it came to the evening of the vote on the 5th of May 1832, the BPU had staggered runners from Westminster to other large cities and towns so that the result could be passed quickly from place to place.


A painting of the Attwood Rally in Vauxhall.

Naturally, London was the first city to see the full effects of the bill’s defeat. [4] Initially, Thomas Attwood addressed a crowd of around 3,000 people in Vauxhall in a pre-organised rally to respond to the inevitable defeat of the bill in the Lords. By the end of his address that evening, the crowd had grown to 20,000 and the atmosphere was so tense that the recently formed Metropolitan Police asked for reinforcements from the army should the situation escalate quickly. When the news finally came of the bill’s defeat however, neither Attwood nor these reinforcements keep order. The crowd broke free in the chaos and swarmed toward Regent Bridge [5] toward the Palace of Westminster. When they could not get close to entering the palace, the crowd immediately dispersed into the surrounding streets. As the news of the bill’s defeat travelled, their numbers increased. Diarist Charles Greville noted; “There seemed no man in the city who did not share the anger of the rioters and who was determined that his neighbours should know of it. Looking down from my window, I estimated there to be some 200 men in Greek Street alone and the dull roar of greater crowds could be heard all over the city”.

In most cases, the army managed to contain the crowds by forming barricades at the ends of streets and forcing them away from the Palace of Westminster. In other cities across England, the number of soldiers was not enough to keep order and the mob was quickly joined by those who didn’t much care about the political situation but saw the opportunity to engage in violence. It did not help matters that in most cities, the news that the Reform Act had not passed coincided with the closure of the public houses and drunkards spilled out onto the streets looking for trouble. In Bristol, the city jail became a target and prisoners were freed en masse. They joined the riots whilst seeking out their jailors for revenge. Control of the city was quickly lost and for three days, the city centre burned causing £300,000 of damage and 250 casualties. The scene was recreated in Derby and Sheffield whilst in Birmingham, the local magistrates were overrun and locked in the holding cells of the local goal.

In many places, the reaction was uncoordinated and saw random attacks which often had more to do with local grievances than the national situation. But in Nottingham and London the protesters had set upon one very clear target; the Duke of Newcastle. The leader of the Unionists whose words on the Reform Act had been the most opposed and most widely reported, the rioters intended to make him pay the price. Nottingham Castle saw a huge surge of people who wasted no time in setting the building on fire. It was burnt to the crowd as the mob then made their way to Clumber Park, the Duke’s secondary estate in Nottingham where his family were in residence. Fortunately, Clumber was successfully protected with minimal damage. The case was very different in London where the Duke had insisted on leaving the Palace of Westminster to return to his Portman Square townhouse. According to Robert Peel, he was heard to say “I shall not be intimidated by radicals” as he boarded his coach and left the Palace.


Nottingham Castle burns on the first night of the Days of May.

As his coachman approached the Duke's home, he noticed an ominous glow in the distance. Portman Square was on fire. The coachman immediately tried to turn into a side street but the crowds beyond the area had become aware of the Portman Square blaze and were heading towards it from behind the Duke of Newcastle’s carriage. At this time, it was commonplace for peers to display their coats of arms on banners hanging from the doors of their coaches. This proved fatal for the Duke of Newcastle. As he leaned out of the coach to try and bring the banners in, his coachman panicked and deserted him. One of the protesters, William Edmonton, spied the Duke leaning from his coach and cried out “There he is! There’s Newcastle!”. The mob swarmed towards the coach. The Duke tried but failed to latch the doors and six men entered, dragging Newcastle from his coach just before the horses reared and overturned the coach, killing two protesters in the chaos. The men threw a rope around Newcastle and bound him, carrying him on their shoulders to Portman Square Garden.

The Metropolitan Police had been made aware of the situation and were on their way but were slowed trying to quell other riots going on throughout the city. The mob was so large that it stalled them in Upper Berkeley Street by which time, the Duke of Newcastle had been kicked to death. Not content with their kill, they hoisted the Duke’s body onto their shoulders and paraded him for a time before perhaps realizing the gravity of their actions and dropping him into a fountain. The crowd began to flee as the police began to filter through onto the scene but they were too late. Portman Square was engulfed in flames, Newcastle had been murdered and in the ensuing rush to flee the scene, 56 people were trampled to death. Soldiers were dispersed throughout London but again, the sheer number of people meant the streets were difficult to navigate. As news reached the Palace of Westminster at the chaos growing across the city, the Lords locked themselves into the chamber for safety.

This undoubtedly saved many of them from sharing Newcastle’s fate. A crowd had broken into Lambeth Palace and had ransacked the building, finally setting it alight before fleeing the scene. The Bishop of London’s residence, Fulham Palace, was given the same treatment. But some in the Commons had already left and for Unionists and Tories, this meant taking a serious risk. One who did so was the Unionist leader in the House of Commons, Sir Richard Vyvyan. He made the catastrophic error of trying to fight back the crowd from his door and fired a pistol, killing a 20-year-old rioter. The mob retaliated, disarmed him and used his own pistol against him. His body was then stolen by two rioters who threw him into the Thames after looting it for any valuables they might find. Inside Vyvyan’s residence, his lover appeared at the door wrapped in nothing but a fur blanket and yelled to the crowds; “Do not attack me gentlemen, I was only hired for the evening!”. The crowds roared with laughter and she was carried on the shoulders of a handful of men to the safety of a nearby inn. Vyvyan’s house was burned.


Henry Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle, 1785 - 1832. Seen here with the Portman Square Declaration which founded the Unionist Party.

At Clarence House, the Duke and Duchess were quickly led to the wine cellar where they were hidden and protected by armed guards. The Duke was said to remain calm (“They have no dispute with us my dear”) but the Duchess was hysterical and quickly began screaming that she was to be “slain like Marie Antoinette!”. [7] Curiously, the royal residences were spared the crowd’s wrath. Whilst soldiers were dispatched to protect Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, the worst they saw were a handful of stones, bricks and bottles thrown over the walls. A small group tried mounting the gates at Buckingham Palace but were quickly convinced to come down by the soldiers present. The Duke of Clarence was correct in his assessment. The rioters had no quarrel with the monarchy. Yet Clarence knew the next steps he took would be crucial and if he put a foot wrong, that could rapidly change with catastrophic consequences.

As the country burned and the streets descended into anarchy, Earl Grey did all he could to ensure that the full force of the law was enacted against those who rioted. Whatever sympathies he might have for their cause, he knew that restoring public order at any cost must be his priority. As they had in Merthyr Tydfil, some of the rioters waved red flags and some even took up arms against the military. Grey feared if he could not restore order, revolution was inevitable. Fortunately, London was not only the first city engulfed by violence and fire-setting but the first to have order restored. Bristol followed after three days. Liverpool and Manchester would take longer, with rioters managing to maintain control of the cities for almost a fortnight. It seemed there would be a respite from uprising but nobody in parliament could fool themselves that violence would return if the bill was introduced and failed once again. Ironically, the Days of May had proven something to Earl Grey, and to his opponents; the public wanted reform and if it was denied to them in parliament, they would take it for themselves on the streets. Even the most ardent opponent of reform had to concede this fact. At Apsley House some days after the riots finally settled down, the Duke of Wellington was heard to remark; “We have a clear choice before us now; reform or revolution”. The choice was soon to be made.

[1] Stockmar left England for Coburg in 1830 when Prince Leopold became King of the Belgians. He served him as an advisor but eventually was sent back to England when Victoria became Queen in the OTL. Both she and Prince Albert welcomed Stockmar and he became a much-valued advisor to them but in this TL, naturally he will not return to England. I did ponder if he would have valued his position in the British court more than the one he took on in Brussels but as the TL says, I figured he would not be so naïve as to think George V would want to retain his services when he reached the age of majority.

[2] Obviously this is a very different ‘Days of May’ to the one in the OTL but it's based loosely on the same major events in English cities. The timing is different because of the extended tenure of the Duke of Wellington etc in TTL and so some of the events have been sandwiched together, delayed or exaggerated to fit the new narrative. But it's not a vast departure from the events of the OTL which were considered by some to be the beginnings of a revolution.

[3] We don’t have the First Reform Bill in this TL so the act itself will just be called the Reform Act, colloquially still the Great Reform Act. It comes in 1832.

[4] In the OTL, it was Derby but again, we’re dealing with a different situation/timescale here.

[5] Now Vauxhall Bridge, Regent Bridge was the name of the original bridge that stood there in 1832.

[6] Again, delayed in this TL.

[7] Queen Adelaide in the OTL was haunted by Marie Antoinette’s fate and when the 1831/32 riots broke out, she was heard to say this so it's a direct quote.
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So a romance between Albert and Charlotte, perhaps?
I’m glad George had friends his own age.
I’m glad Stockmar’s gone. I wonder when George will find love?
It went all July Revolution there for a bit, didn't it.

Looks like my Albert/Charlotte guess might be right, now just to see if Albert ends up as King of Belgium


Monthly Donor
It went all July Revolution there for a bit, didn't it.

Looks like my Albert/Charlotte guess might be right, now just to see if Albert ends up as King of Belgium
I have to admit, before I researched the Days of May I had no idea how close to revolution the UK came when the Great Reform Act was first defeated. Certainly enough to panic poor old Adelaide.
GV: Part 1, Chapter 10: The Battle for Reform


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part One, Chapter Ten:
The Battle for Reform

The Times of London begrudgingly congratulated the Whig government for “quickly bringing the country to heel” in the aftermath of the Days of May but laid the blame for the riots and uprisings that had caused millions of pounds worth of damage all over the country and had left an estimated 260 people dead at the Whigs’ door. “Had they not charged forth on the folly of reform”, one columnist (who wisely stayed anonymous) wrote, “Britain might not have been brought as low as Paris”. Much was made of the murders of the Duke of Newcastle and Sir Richard Vyvyan and the public mood was considered so volatile that the funerals of both men had to be held as privately as possible. The Prime Minister was advised not to attend. Both men would become political martyrs for the Unionists and in the days that followed, 13 Tories elected at the 1831 general election defected to the Unionist grouping in the Commons. They believed that Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington had lost control of the Tory cause and balked when Robert Peel offered a statement in the House of Commons supporting Earl Grey’s attempts to restore public order. The ‘May Thirteen’ felt that the statement should have been used to force Grey’s resignation which Peel felt was “ill-advised and disrespectful”.

Mass arrests had taken place in putting down the Days of May riots and many local magistrates were forced to hear cases with ten or twelve defendants presented to them at a time. This in itself caused outcry because many felt this was a violation of their rights to a fair trial. In Hereford, there were too many defendants to pack into the court room at one time and so the hearings were heard in a church hall. None of the sentences given were enforced however because the magistrate forgot to have the Royal Coat of Arms brought over and thus the case was not deemed to be heard in a proper setting and the sentences were revoked. Those who were not so lucky included the Edmonton brothers who were arrested and charged with the murder of the Duke of Newcastle. They confessed their crime proudly and were said to walk through the streets with their heads held high as they were taken to Horsemonger Lane Gaol and hanged in public.


Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Southwark.

In Bristol, a magistrate provoked a mini riot which had to be put down by force when he sentenced Thomas Mattheson to be hanged for his part in the riots and for his remains to be gibbeted. His corpse was fixed in irons and suspended in a cage exposed for permanent view by the riverside at Broad Pill. This was widely reported and caused nationwide disgust, so much so that the Home Office issued instructions that all gibbets be removed across England and Wales without delay. The last man to face this ignominious end was James Cook, a bookbinder in Leicester convicted of the murder of his creditor, in August 1832. The magistrate who ignored the Home Office’s instructions was removed from his post and gibbeting was never again practiced in the United Kingdom. Whilst other rioters were hanged for their part in the Days of May uprising, the most common sentence was transportation for criminal damage, affray or a breach of the peace. In London alone, 89 men, 44 women and 6 children were transported to the Colony of New South Wales as punishment. The youngest was just 7 years old, a boot boy from Peckham, called Charles Rawlins. Rawlins died en route to the penal colony.

The political consequences of the Days of May were about to get even more chaotic. One of those arrested in London was Thomas Attwood, the leader of the Birmingham Political Union. As with the vast majority of those arrested and charged, Attwood was charged with a common law offence, in his case, incitement. As an inchoate offence, it was alleged that whilst Attwood had not personally rioted or caused damage to property, he had encouraged others to carry out such acts at the rally held in Vauxhall on the 5th of May 1832. The case caught the public imagination and became the subject of fierce debate. Wellington referred to Attwood’s trial as a “test of the freedoms of speech” (we do not know what position he took on Attwood’s guilt or innocence) and whilst many Tories opposed Attwood’s views and deplored his actions during the Days of May, it was not uncommon to hear them talk of a man’s right to speak to his views to an assembly. Robert Peel’s opinion was clearer than the Duke of Wellington’s; “As abhorrent as a man’s views may be, he none the less has a right to speak them and cannot be held accountable for the violent acts committed by others who may have misinterpreted his words or who had not the good sense to walk away”. Attwood’s trial was to be held at the Central Criminal Court as Attwood’s alleged offences had taken place in the jurisdiction of London and Middlesex. He was to be charged on two counts; incitement to affray and incitement to sedition.


Thomas Attwood.

In an attempt to keep the trial from causing any further disturbances, the press was embargoed by the Lord Chamberlain from printing details of when the hearings would be held but naturally the Birmingham Political Union were kept informed and made the details as public as possible. They called on everyone who supported Attwood (and by extension, the Reform Act) to march peacefully to the Old Bailey to demonstrate their strength of feeling. 57 members of the BPU gathered at Attwood’s house in Harborne, Birmingham and set off for London. En route, they were joined by fellow BPU members, abolitionists, reformists, radicals, dissenters and non-conformists. By the time they reached the Old Bailey, they were around 10,000 people strong and to indicate that they did not intend to recreate the violence of recent weeks, they carried white banners emblazoned with olive branches. Even so, there were reported skirmishes when some groups tried to join the march carrying the red banners they had raised during the riots. Fearing these may become targets for trigger-happy soldiers, these groups were asked to leave the red banners behind and heated arguments occasionally bubbled over into the odd brawl.

Earl Grey was deeply concerned about the outcome of the Attwood trial. If he was found guilty of incitement to affray, the most likely outcome was a heavy fine. But incitement to sedition was a far more serious charge and could potentially see the death penalty imposed. The case hinged on two opposing arguments. The prosecution stated that Attwood was guilty of incitement to sedition under the Sedition Act of 1661, in particular, that Attwood had “fostered disaffection against the government and constitution of the United Kingdom, as by law established, and had excited His Majesty’s subjects to attempt other than by lawful means, the alteration of the constitution by committing crimes in disturbance of the peace and raising discontent”. This seemed a very clear-cut charge. Attwood had clearly rallied people to his cause and the result was mass rioting throughout the City of London which led to the disturbance of the peace. Two witnesses were brought forward to attest to this as required by the Treason Act of 1695.

The defense naturally took a different view. Whilst the Sedition Act of 1661 did make it a crime to incite His Majesty’s subjects to committing crimes in disturbance of the peace, they contested that Attwood had done nothing of the kind. Affidavits were provided to attest to the content of the address Attwood had given at Vauxhall which showed that he had not incited violence, rather he had; “Pointed out errors or defects in the constitution as by law established with a view to their reformation” which the Sedition Act of 1661 clearly stated was not a crime. Furthermore, he had only advocated the change of the alteration of the constitution “by lawful means” and whilst Attwood accepted that these had “produced feelings of ill-will between classes of His Majesty’s subjects”, his actions were not seditious in intent. Furthermore, Attwood noted that he had not criticized the government as he was in agreement with them that the Reform Act should be passed, neither had he said one word against the monarchy, parliament or any other authorities. His address had criticized the position of Unionists, Tories and the Lords Spiritual who had opposed the Reform Act. This, Attwood believed, was entirely lawful; “And not only is it lawful but surely it is the very example of the rights and privileges afforded to every Englishman to speak his mind according to his conscience”.


Sir Nicholas Conyngham Tindal

The trial was heard by Sir Nicholas Conyngham Tindal as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. After three days, a verdict was finally given. On the first charge of incitement to affray, Attwood was found not guilty. He could not reasonably be held accountable for breaches of the peace and criminal damage committed by others, even if the perpetrators of such actions had been present at the BPU Vauxhall Rally. The second charge was more complex and took up the bulk of the hearing. The verdict, again, was not guilty. Sir Nicholas explained to the court that the jury could only convict of incitement to sedition if they were satisfied that the defendant meant that “the people should make use of physical force or if his intention were to excite the people to take power into their own hands or to excite the people to tumult and disorder”. Whilst some were insistent that this was precisely what Attwood had done, the jury disagreed. Sir Nicholas summed up the case as follows; “I find that the defendant spoke according to his conscience in accordance with the law and at no time did he incite, encourage or otherwise excite those present in Vauxhall on the evening of the 5th of May to violence, disorder or criminal damage. Whilst I regret the events of that evening most sincerely, I do not believe they can be attributed to the actions of Mr Attwood and he is therefore free to leave the court with no stain upon his character”. [1]

At Clarence House, a relieved Prime Minister relayed the verdict to the Duke of Clarence. Clarence was privately suspicious of Attwood and was not altogether convinced that the jury had reached the correct verdict. Nonetheless, he noted that Grey was “a man wracked with anxieties and had to be fortified with brandy before we came to the main business”. The main business was Grey’s response to the defeat of the Reform Act in the House of Lords. In response, the House of Commons passed a motion with a substantial majority which reaffirmed its confidence in the government. This insurance policy was not of Grey’s design but rather was led by senior Whigs who did not want Grey to backtrack or doubt the clear path ahead. With this in mind, Grey informed the Duke of Clarence that he had no choice but to ask for parliament to be prorogued as the same bill could not be introduced twice in the same session. Before the next session was opened, Grey intended to submit the names of 76 new Whig peers to be created which would give the Whigs an outright majority in the Lords and ensure the passage of the Reform Act when it was reintroduced.

This put Clarence in an invidious position. Personally he did not share Grey’s zeal for electoral reform and politically was closer in his views to the moderate Tories. He had no sympathies with the Unionists whom he saw as “traitors to their party for their own petty gains” but neither could he align himself with the majority Whig view. Creating a huge raft of new peers was bound to be controversial, it may even make Clarence personally unpopular in the country and in parliament. To refuse to do so would force Grey to resign and only a Whig could be appointed in his stead who would be just as committed to the proposals to pack the Lords as Grey was. The Duke had been horrified at the events of the Days of May and whilst the Clarences in London had been spared the ire of the crowds, in the north of England there were demonstrations which called openly for the abolition of the nobility and of the monarchy itself. Clarence asked if there was any alternative.


The House of Lords, 1832.

The Prime Minister was steadfast. Not only did he believe he had a mandate to take such a drastic step (and would resign if the Duke refused) but there was a conference proposed to take place any day to form a union of MPs, Peers, prominent businessmen, party donors and other key establishment figures to act as a pressure group to force reform. The National Political Union was the result and two days after Grey’s meeting with the Duke of Clarence, they delivered a petition to the House of Commons which demanded that MPs withhold supply until the House of Lords gave in and accepted the Reform Bill. The Duke of Clarence had asked for a few days to take advice on Grey’s proposals. Eventually he asked for a compromise. He would be willing to do as Grey asked but only if every possible alternative was exhaustively explored before parliament reconvened. If the Prime Minister remained committed to such a course, Clarence might then be inclined to accept the need for the creation of the new Whig majority in the House of Lords for the sake of maintaining public order. [2]

With parliament prorogued, the entire political establishment went into overdrive. Meetings were held between every interested party and whilst most of this was bluster and there seemed no big indication of massive changes of opinion, peaceful rallies in favour of reform were held in London which advocated non-payment of taxes. These groups even tried to force a run on the banks. Signs appeared all over London which read; “Go for Gold!” and in the first day of the campaign, almost £2m was withdrawn from the Bank of England (out of £7m in the bank’s possession). Time was running out. The Unionists were determined not to shift in their opposition. Their new leader, the Earl of Winchelsea, warned any Unionist who even considered voting for the Reform Act would be “hounded out like the rat he is” and that a change in the Unionist position would be “the gravest and most despicable insult to the memory of our fallen colleagues who were brutally slain by a radical mob”. Naturally they also called for a retrial in the case of Thomas Attwood with Winchelsea stating publicly that the only acceptable outcome was “for Attwood to be hanged for all to see”.

The Tory benches had different concerns. Many of them agreed with the Unionists that in principle, the Reform Act was an assault on the constitution that they could not support but there was something else to consider; it had been their lack of votes which had seen the bill defeated by the Lords Spiritual. To counteract this from happening again, Grey would create dozens of new Whig peers who would take their seats for the duration of their lifetime and thus, the Lords would be stacked against the Tory interest for some considerable time. It would also undoubtedly cause a headache for the next Tory government as they might be forced to create just as many new peers to redress the balance. In doing so, the House of Lords might find itself the new target of radicals and reformists and what then? The Duke of Wellington distributed a letter to Tories he felt may see the danger ahead and begged them to reconsider their opposition to the Reform Act. A further 14 peers defected to the Unionists. They saw Wellington as having given in.

In July 1832, two important developments saw further political division after parliament was recalled but before the Reform Act was reintroduced. The first was the announcement via the Speech from the Throne that the government intended to push ahead with reforms to the administration on the structure and revenues of the Church of Ireland. A bill would legislate for administrative changes and reorganize (and reduce) the number of Bishoprics and Archbishoprics in the established protestant church in Ireland. It would also make changes to how church lands would be leased which could result in secular appropriation of ecclesiastical property. In effect, this would mean a redistribution of the wealth of the Church of Ireland from the richest to the poorest bishoprics. Many regarded this as the Whigs' revenge on the Lords Spiritual for defeating the Reform Act but even some Whig MPs and peers had concerns about the bill. The Unionists called the proposals “the Irish Bribe” and the Church of England’s response was to accuse the government of threatening disestablishment if the Lords Spiritual refused to vote with the government when the Reform Bill was reintroduced. [3]


John Keble.

The most well-known response, and most influential, came from John Keble. Keble was a former curate and Anglican writer who had gathered a large following thanks to his writings in The Christian Year, a book of poems for Sundays and feast days of the Church Year. It’s publication and positive reception saw Keble appointed to the Chair of Poetry at Oxford and he was invited to contribute regular articles to newspapers on church matters. But it was his sermon in response to the Whig proposals for the Church of Ireland, named the National Apostasy, which earned him political recognition for the first time. The sermon was an astonishing attack on the government and taking the first Book of Samuel as his text, Keble accused the Whigs of “trampling on the good Christian people of England”. He warned that “if the Apostolical Church should be forsaken and degraded, I cannot conceive a kinder wish on her than that she may, consistently, act in the spirit of this most noble sentence. If such a calamity should happen, the Church would have to be constant in intercession”. But he went beyond calls for prayer. Whilst stopping short of proposing rebellion against what he predicted would become “an apostatized state”, he urged those listening to him to “uphold and restore the endangered Church” as “in the days of pagan persecution”. The National Apostasy sermon proved to be electric and copies were circulated and read throughout England.

The Earl of Winchelsea was particularly impressed. Whilst he was not a man with any great interest in theological disputes, he recognized a convenient political ally when he saw one. Keble was invited to give his sermon in person to a meeting of the Unionists. The response was mostly loud applause and thumping of the tables but a few raised eyebrows. Keble was regarded as a “High Anglican” which some believed far too close to Roman Catholicism for comfort. Nonetheless, Keble could be deployed as a useful ally in the future and thus, Winchelsea was happy to endorse Keble’s sermon as “a powerful defense of our Church”. He went further, stating that the sermon had “touched my soul in a most profound way” and promised that if he were Prime Minister, he would never forget Keble’s teachings and make them the foundation of a Unionist government’s approach to church matters. Many of the Lords Spiritual believed Keble to be little more than a would-be Catholic who didn’t have the guts to cross the Tiber. Others agreed with him. Both sides were united however in their support of the Unionist position that any Church of Ireland bill must be defeated and that they would not be bribed or blackmailed with the threat of its introduction.

The second development was connected with the Unionists once again but fell closer to home for the Duke of Clarence, and the King in particular. As the United Kingdom seemed to have narrowly avoided revolution in the Days of May, similar rioting had been seen on the streets of Paris in June as republicans led an anti-monarchist insurrection in an attempt to reverse the 1830 establishment of the July Monarchy of King Louis Philippe. 82 were arrested in a bloody clash with the authorities and would be forever immortalized in the Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables. The news of the Days of May and of the Paris Uprising had reached the courts of Europe and one person in particular was incensed by the reports she read. Queen Louise immediately dispatched a letter of condolence to the 21-year-old Duke of Newcastle who had succeeded his father and had taken his seat in the House of Lords with the Unionists. But Louise’s letter was not just a personal expression of sympathy. In her missive, she spoke of the “despicable crimes of the mob who only bring destruction and chaos with their Godless views”. She paid tribute to the Duke’s murdered father as “one of the greatest sons of England” and said that she would “always see his efforts as an example of loyal and devoted service to His Majesty and to the people of the United Kingdom”. The letter found its way into the hands of the Earl of Winchelsea.


George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchelsea.

Fortunately for Queen Louise, Winchelsea did not publish the letter because it was deemed impolite to share such a missive in public that was written for private view (unless it was to serve as evidence in a criminal trial). This was doubly true when the author was royalty. But Winchelsea did boast about its contents, supposedly telling a group of Tories that “the Queen stands with us”. Word trickled to Downing Street and Earl Grey immediately departed for Clarence House in a furious temper. The Duke of Clarence assured him that he had no idea that Queen Louise would write a letter to Newcastle, neither did he share her sentiments beyond her expressions of sympathy that the young Duke had lost his father in such ghastly circumstances. He promised to admonish Louise but Earl Grey had already promised to do just that; “You may indicate to Her Majesty that my previous demands that she return to this country may have been ignored but His Majesty’s government has not changed it’s view. If she does not return to this country by the end of the year, I will personally see to it that her allowance is removed and she will not receive a single penny until she is back here on English soil, where I shall ensure that she knows the true extent of my feelings on the subject of her political interference”.

With tempers flared, the Duke of Clarence tried to calm Lord Grey. He asked if there had been any progress on finding an alternative to the creation of new Whig peers. Grey’s response was one which the Duke had been dreading. The Prime Minister intended to submit a list of peers to be created to represent the Whigs in the House of Lords the following morning. Unkind historians of a dramatic nature have suggested that Queen Louise was personally responsible for forcing Grey’s hand. Had she not provoked him to temper, he would not have doubled down on his threat. But this is inaccurate and has little basis in fact. Whilst Earl Grey was furious with the Dowager Queen, he had already made up his mind that he would petition the Duke of Clarence for the creation of new peers. Neither is it true that the Duke of Clarence felt unable to oppose Earl Grey’s demand once Queen Louise had taken a political stance and involved herself in the row. The Duke had already resigned himself to agreeing to Grey’s wishes and was simply waiting to hear if the Duke of Wellington’s pleas to his fellow Tories to step down their opposition for the greater good had been successful. They had not. The Duke of Clarence asked the Prime Minister for one promise in return; that Grey postpone any introduction of a bill concerning the Church of Ireland, a bill the Duke absolutely and categorically stood firmly opposed to as a member of the House of Lords. Grey agreed.

The response to the creation of 76 new peers was ferocious. Even moderate Tories were outraged and this only seemed to encourage them to double down on their decision to block the bill; only now they could not. As the new Whig peers approached the Lords to take their seats, the Earl of Rosslyn called out “Lock the doors!”, inspired by the tradition to do the same in the Commons during the State Opening of Parliament. Some of the younger peers attempted to do just that before order was restored and the Whig peers were finally admitted. They were booed and jeered as they entered and took their seats. The Reform Bill sailed through and would be sent to the Duke of Clarence as King’s Regent to give Royal Assent. Earl Grey breathed a sigh of relief. The Duke of Wellington shook his head. The Earl of Winchelsea was incandescent and stormed out of the House of Lords. Around the country, supporters of reform celebrated into the night. Those who opposed it became determined to demonstrate their anger. The diarist Charles Greville summed up the situation as follows; “And so the Age of Liberalism has begun. I can't help but wonder if dear little England is ready for it?”

[1] I'm really not a legal expert here so I apologize in advance if some of the processes or legal terms are misused in this installment. I've done my best to put something together based on what I could research but I'm only too happy to make amendments if someone more familiar with the law spots any major errors!

[2] In the OTL, King William IV did consider allowing Earl Grey to pack the Lords but the need to do so disappeared when Wellington convinced enough Tories to back down and abstain on the Reform Act. See my note below for a little more detail on why things are different in this TL.

[3] This mostly lines up with the OTL but the parliamentary timetable here means that there's a clash and that Grey can use his plans for church reform to try and get one over on the Lords Spiritual before they vote. I did not feel it realistic that the Bishops and Archbishops would relent in their original position so they take a stand here and commit to their position as they did in the OTL. Church reform just gives a little more flavour and as it was a Whig proposal anyway (dropped in the OTL in 1834), it does no harm to bring it forward by a few months.

General Note

Two installments today because I had written Part 9 yesterday but had no time to post it and Part 10 is fresh off the presses. Well, my keyboard at any rate!

There are obviously big political changes here (as promised earlier) and it's really the result of extending Wellington's tenure and giving the Ultra Tories a little more support in previous installments as a result of the decisions Wellington made in his career ITTL which obviously was much shorter in the OTL. With the Ultra Tories becoming a more clearly identifiable grouping too (as the Unionists), there's a home for disaffected Tories as their party has split far more than it did in the OTL. But also, with Wellington being ousted from office quite unceremoniously, he's not only no longer called upon to serve as PM a second time when Grey resigns as in the OTL but his influence in the Tory Party is weaker than in the OTL.

The consequence of these factors combined is that the political landscape begins to divide among new lines but also, the Duke of Clarence isn't spared the demand to create a raft of new Whig peers. It's been discussed here before but in the OTL, Grey not only considered doing this to push the Reform Bill through but the Duke of Clarence (as King William IV) dropped his initial opposition and was about to agree when Wellington managed to convince enough Tories to abstain and the need disappeared. Things are different in this TL and so what we get is a Whig majority in the Commons AND in the Lords which will make for a very interesting few years ahead politically.

For those who are following the royalty aspect of this vs the politics, my apologies, we'll be back to tantrums and tiaras very soon!

And for those readers keeping up on such things...

The Grey Ministry (from 1831 until this installment)
  • First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords: Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons: John Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer
  • Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
  • Secretary of State for the Home Department: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
  • Secretary of State for War and the Colonies: F. J Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich*
  • Lord Chancellor: Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux
  • Lord President of the Council: Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
  • Lord Privy Seal: John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham
  • First Lord of the Admiralty: HRH The Duke of Clarence
  • President of the Board of Control: Charles Grant, 1st Baron Glenelg**
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Henry Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland
  • Postmaster-General: Edward Ellice, 1st Baron Ellice***
*In this TL, he did not serve as Prime Minister between 1827 and 1828 but still defected from the Tories to the Whigs.

**Defected to the Whigs as a Reformist. In this TL, he was elevated to the peerage with the 1832 intake and not in 1835 as in the OTL.

***In the OTL, this post was actually held by the Duke of Richmond, an Ultra Tory who defected to the Whigs because he opposed Catholic emancipation. However, in this TL because the political situation is different, he would not have defected to the Whigs but gone over to the Unionists with Newcastle etc. Ellice is therefore elevated to the peerage from the Commons in 1832 with the 'Clarence' intake becoming Baron Ellice.
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GV: Part 1, Chapter 11: Family Ties


Monthly Donor
King George V

Part One, Chapter Eleven: Family Ties

In the Spring of 1832, it was announced that the newly installed King Leopold of the Belgians was to marry again. This was a subject of great interest in Britain even though at this time, the British government had yet to formally recognize Belgium as an independent sovereign nation out of sympathy (and economic interests) with the Dutch. Leopold’s first wife had been the late heiress presumptive to the British throne, Princess Charlotte of Wales, and since her death Leopold had lived in Britain supported by the Civil List as a kind of ex-officio member of the British Royal Family. He attended court regularly, had served as an unofficial advisor to the King’s Regent and was widely respected for the way he had remained in England and contributed to public life even after the death of his wife. Yet now, Leopold was the King of a foreign country. He had vacated his residence at Marlborough House and found himself in a curious position where the British government recognized him as a King and but didn’t recognize his country. This posed a headache for the Duke of Clarence on a personal level but in parliament, King Leopold’s diplomatic status was a secondary concern. His finances however were now used to force an issue the Prime Minister wished to see resolved as a priority.

Since his marriage to Princess Charlotte, Leopold had been given an allowance of £50,000 a year by an act of parliament. Upon leaving England to sit on the throne of Belgium, Leopold announced in a grand gesture that he did not consider it right that this should continue. He would voluntarily return £30,000 of his annuity to the Treasury but in a letter to Lord Grey, King Leopold explained why he was not minded to return all of it; “I have maintained my establishments here upon their accustomed footing and that, consequently, there remain to be fulfilled and discharged pecuniary engagements and outstanding debts to an amount which it is quite impossible for me to state at the present time with precision”. These debts included salaries, pensions and allowances paid to members of his household staff but King Leopold also wished to continue to support the charities he and his late wife had chaired or patronised and he wished Claremont, his country home in Esher, Surrey, to be maintained as unlike his former residence Marlborough House, he did not wish to relinquish it. Leopold had sent a canary into the mine. [1]


King Leopold I of the Belgians.

His proposal was that he establish a trust in England to be overseen by the Treasury. They could deposit the remaining £20,000 a year left from his annuity into this trust which would then be used to fund only his English financial interests with no money drawn from it to contribute to his expenses as King of the Belgians. Unusually, Parliament found itself unanimous in its opposition to such a proposal but were divided on what the resolution to the situation should be. Radicals like William Cobbett and Samuel Whalley demanded that the £20,000 a year be scrapped entirely or else put into a public trust to fund charity schools or hospitals in the capital. Whigs such as Lord John Russel felt the £20,000 should continue to be paid for as long as it took to settle Leopold’s debts, after which time, the matter could be reviewed.

The Tory MP George Robinson wanted the House of Commons to be allowed to examine Leopold’s financial records to indicate whether or not he was telling the truth about his financial situation. The Unionists not only wished the £20,000 to be removed as an annuity but for any monies received by Leopold since he took up residence in Brussels to be repaid to the Exchequer. Sir William Heathcote, now the leader of the Unionists in the Commons since the death of Sir Richard Vyvyan, even raised the spectre of war; “In a conflict between Britain and Belgium, we might find ourselves contributing to the war chest of an enemy sovereign, a situation that must be resolved today given that we have no guarantee that we might not soon be called upon to assist our protestant allies in the Netherlands if they seek to reclaim their former territory”.

Lord Grey had very little to like about Heathcote but he was delighted when the MP raised a different theme in the debate; “Can it ever be considered just that a member of a foreign royal family with no connection to this country other than through his status as a widower, might continue to be in receipt of a substantial allowance such as this when he will never again be a permanent resident here, nor serve the Crown to which he no longer has any allegiance beyond family ties?”. Heathcote might well be describing Queen Louise who was still refusing to countenance a permanent return to England from Hanover against the wishes of the British government.

Grey did not need the Dowager Queen to be raised by name in the debate, the fact that the principle had been discussed (and widely agreed with on all sides and in both Houses of Parliament) was enough to exert a little more pressure. This was not just about settling a personal vendetta for Lord Grey. In recent weeks, Queen Louise’s newfound zeal for Unionist politics had seen her continue to correspond with senior Unionist peers, something even her sister Augusta could not seem to prevent her from doing. For Louise, this was not the result of a sudden interest in affairs of state; she simply knew that it was causing her brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence, stresses and strains as he tried to reassure the Prime Minister that she acted only in her name and against his wishes. Louise was playing a dangerous game.

She upped the stakes when she suddenly left Herrenhausen for Berlin, supposedly at the invitation of the King of Prussia, on a month’s long visit. In reality, she did not stay with the King of Prussia but with her brother-in-law, the Duke of Cumberland. The so-called Cumberland Plot had destroyed the Duke’s reputation in Britain and even though he maintained connections with former political allies and friends, he had been forced to go into a kind of self-imposed exile in Berlin as a result of his public disgrace. Cumberland was not overly fond of Queen Louise and had been left sore when she had failed to jump to his defense when the Cumberland Plot was exposed. Instead, she too had left England. But now word reached the Duke from Unionist peers that Louise was involving herself in political issues on their behalf, most recently in sending a furious letter to the Duke of Clarence almost quoting the Duke of Richmond word for word opposing the creation of dozens of new Whig peers and giving the government an instant majority in the House of Lords. Clarence had not responded but Cumberland saw an opportunity to use the Dowager Queen to restore his standing with former Ultra Tories who had been left publicly humiliated for supporting the plot to make Cumberland regent for King George V with Queen Louise as his deputy.


Queen Louise.

Earl Grey despised Cumberland more than he disliked Queen Louise and he knew the stir that would be caused when it was revealed publicly that Queen Louise and the Duke of Cumberland were once again in clandestine meetings together. Provoked by the Dowager Queen, Grey made good on his threat to hit Louise where it would really hurt; her finances. The debate on King Leopold’s annuity was the perfect cover and the government announced that in order to resolve the issue on royal salaries, the Civil List would be reviewed. Grey had no intention of cutting Louise’s allowance entirely, neither did he believe it necessary to remove the remaining £20,000 from King Leopold’s finances. In the latter’s case, the government said that it should be considered a pension for the many years of devoted service given to the United Kingdom by a man who may once have been Prince Consort. The government accepted however that as the King would never again be a permanent resident in the United Kingdom, the allowance should never be increased in any future acts of parliament, though it could be removed entirely if a state of war ever existed between Britain and Belgium. A state of war was about to erupt between the Prime Minister and the Dowager Queen. With the Duke of Clarence’s agreement, her allowance was to be cut from £45,000 per annum to £25,000.

Earl Grey explained his reasons for this change to the Queen (now back in Hanover from Prussia) in a letter; “Your Majesty’s position is different entirely from that of King Leopold in that you remain Madam, the mother of our beloved sovereign with all the dignities and privileges such a position rightfully affords to the bearer of such prominent and important status. But Your Majesty must appreciate that the payment of such a high annuity to one who no longer wishes to reside within the United Kingdom must be treated under the same principle as that which has been agreed concerning the annuity of the King of the Belgians. I would stress however that the Cabinet is unanimous in it’s view that this situation should, and would, be immediately reviewed at such a time as Your Majesty returns to reside in England permanently, as it is unanimous in it’s view that these new financial arrangements are entirely appropriate”.


Earl Grey.

Louise was incandescent with rage. Naturally she blamed the Duke of Clarence for somehow convincing Grey to cut her allowance but because the Prime Minister had (perhaps deliberately) invoked the name of King Leopold, the insult was even more painfully received. It also came at a particularly difficult time for Louise financially. She had committed to refurbishing her suite of rooms at Herrenhausen and forbidden from using the Viceroy's budget for such frivolous means, she had been forced to meet the costs personally. But this had only become apparent after she had commissioned the team of architects and interior designers, upholsterers, restorers, carvers and gilders who would undertake the work. Not wishing to be seen as beholden to her brother-in-law, the Duke of Cambridge, she decided to pay the exorbitant bills herself and the work had begun. The cut in her allowance would mean she could no longer afford to pay for the renovations as planned and she might even be forced to seek an increase to her personal revenues to clear the remainder of the bills which now looked worryingly as if they would become substantial debts.

But though Queen Louise had lost this particular battle, King Leopold (to the Dowager Queen’s fury) had emerged victorious. His proposals for the Belgian succession would only serve to enrage Louise further. France had generously welcomed Belgium’s declaration of independence from the Netherlands and now sought to cement the alliance further through marriage. King Leopold would take as his second wife the daughter of the King of France, Princess Louise. The match was an arranged one and took only political expediency into account rather than romance. Princess Louise was twenty-two years younger than her new husband and was bitterly opposed to leaving France and her family. A shy and retiring lady, Louise wanted to live a quiet life in the countryside and had no interest in the role of a Queen consort. She was also overwhelmed to realize that her primary function would be to provide an heir for the Belgian throne, the succession to which in 1832 was uncertain.

The Belgian Constitution gave rights of succession to the throne only to the legitimate descendants of King Leopold. As he had no legitimate descendants in 1832, it was decided that if this situation continued after his marriage, the King would be able to name his heir presumptive to parliament which would then approve (hopefully) his preferred candidate. The Constitution would then be amended to give rights of succession to the legitimate descendants of the heir presumptive when he became King of the Belgians upon the death of King Leopold. King Leopold was a particularly ambitious character but not so much for himself as for his family. He privately indicated at this time that in his mind, there was only one candidate he could propose if his new wife failed to give him the heir he needed; his nephew, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Whilst his elder brother Ernst would inherit Coburg and Duke Ernst I’s moderate fortune, Albert stood to inherit nothing. He must either find himself a vacant throne with the backing of the Great Powers or marry into a reigning family to improve his position in the model of his uncle if he wished to be more than a minor German princeling among the grand courts of Europe.


Queen Louise of the Belgians by Winterhalter.

King Leopold knew that Albert would be supported by France, Great Britain and Prussia (provided recognition had come by then). If this was to become a reality, Albert would have to be raised in Belgium and special attention given to his education - and to his future bride. Securing the succession if Albert was proclaimed heir presumptive would become an immediate priority and as marriage negotiations could take some considerable time (especially when the stakes were as high as finding a wife for a future King of the Belgians), it seemed wise to begin looking at potential candidates even though Prince Albert was only 13 years old. In this matter, King Leopold recruited Stockmar as his senior advisor but there was an issue that both would have to overcome if Albert was going to be seriously proposed as Leopold's heir in the event that he had no legitimate children with his new Queen; religion.

When Leopold accepted the throne of Belgium, he did so on the condition that he would not be required to change his religion. Belgium was a Catholic majority country, a key cause of the revolution that saw Belgium split from the protestant United Provinces of the Netherlands. Leopold accepted that a Catholic country should have a Catholic monarch and as a result, he sought only to take a Catholic bride. A papal dispensation had been granted by Gregory XVI which recognized Leopold’s marriage to Louise on condition that any children be raised in the Catholic faith, thus allowing for Leopold's heirs to reign as Catholic Kings. But if these heirs did not appear and if Leopold named Albert as his heir, Albert too would have to marry a Roman Catholic unless he considered converting himself. Not to do so might flirt with antipathy (or worse) towards the protestant monarchy in proudly Catholic Belgium and Leopold knew only too well the difficulties this could cause. Once offered the throne of Greece, he had declined and the position had instead gone to Prince Otto of Bavaria. Now as King Otho, many in Greece resented their sovereign who refused to even consider converting to Orthodoxy. [2]

But there were other factors to consider too. At this time, nobody in Belgium knew how long the Great Powers (with the exception of France) would take to relent and recognize Belgium as an independent sovereign nation. Brides from countries that were likely to remain opposed (such as Russia) could not be considered on these grounds as well as the religious differences. As for Prince Albert himself, there was only one girl at this time he had any interest in at all; Princess Charlotte Louise of the United Kingdom. Their friendship (for that is what it remained at this very early stage) had always been seen as nothing more than a childish infatuation but in recent weeks, Albert had begun to talk openly to his friends about Charlotte Louise as “that great love of mine”. As a teenage boy facing puberty, it was only natural that he would experience the first pangs of romance and as he had spent so much time in England, it was perhaps to be expected that Charlotte Louise would become the focus of these feelings.


A sketch of a young Prince Albert.

They were not entirely reciprocated. Princess Charlotte Louise was precocious but still only ten years old. She saw Albert as nothing more than a close friend, perhaps even more as a sibling than a future husband. She was wise enough to know (and had been educated to appreciate) that her life would be defined by the man she married but there was no pressure put upon her from any corner to think about this as anything more than inevitable but many years away. The Duke of Clarence had decided that neither of his nieces would be married before the age of 18, nor did he even wish to entertain proposals of marriage before that time. Naturally they would still come. Already the Empresses, Queens and Grand Duchesses of the grand courts of Europe were consulting the Almanac de Gotha for suitable future brides for their powerful sons and word had already reached England that the Tsar of Russia was seriously considering the two English princesses as possible matches for the Tsarevich. In the Netherlands too, Charlotte Louise and Victoria were frequently connected to the Prince of Orange but there was one stumbling block for Charlotte Louise that did not exist for Victoria. Until King George V married and had children, Charlotte Louise remained heiress presumptive. As the King's sister, her prospects were time sensitive depending on the future role she was likely to play in the United Kingdom.

In the midst of these ruminations, King Leopold married Louise of France. Within a month, she was pregnant and Leopold was reassured by her doctors that given her healthy appetite and the way she was carrying her child, there was little doubt that it was a boy. During Queen Louise of the Belgian’s pregnancy, Prince Albert’s prospects were still being discussed in relation to Belgium by King Leopold, Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Baron Stockmar. But the birth of King Leopold’s son and heir Crown Prince Louis Philippe in 1833 put pay to the idea that Albert might become King of the Belgians after his uncle. The notion was briefly raised again following the sudden death of the Crown Prince two years later, but the birth of a second son for King Leopold in 1835 meant that Prince Albert had lost his chance of reigning in Belgium. Nonetheless, King Leopold still regarded his nephews as important ambassadors for the Coburg family and Stockmar was asked to give serious consideration to their future brides as they grew closer to marriable age.

Because of the personal connection between the British and Belgian monarchies, the Grey government felt it important to stress that they had no intention of recognizing Belgium and to prove it, they issued an invitation to the King of the Netherlands and his family to visit England in the Spring of 1833. William II was a a godfather of King George V and since the conclusion of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, relations between the two countries had improved significantly. The government did not wish to sour these relations again by being seen as hypocrites, on the one hand securing allowances for King Leopold and on the other, promising the Netherlands that British sympathies were with the Dutch.

William II and his wife Queen Anna (née Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia) came to England in April that year, their visit falling during the celebrations for the 13th birthday of King George V and the 12th birthday of Princess Charlotte Louise. The King and Queen brought with them their three eldest sons; William, Prince of Orange (born in 1817), Alexander (known as Sasha, born in 1818) and Henry (born in 1820). Queen Anna had her own network of spies in St Petersburg who had relayed to her that both Princess Charlotte Louise and Princess Victoria were being considered by the Tsar as future brides for his son. But the King and Queen of the Netherlands also had the girls in mind as potential matches for their own son and heir, the Prince of Orange. Their visit allowed them to subtly declare their interest, the Queen presenting Charlotte Louise with a glittering diamond and sapphire brooch set in 24 carat gold. Each of the three Dutch princes stepped forward with gifts of a gold bracelet, a pair of gold earrings and a gold necklace. Lord John Russell who was present at the celebrations commented wryly that it was; “Like the arrival of the Magi to the stable”.


King William II of the Netherlands, Queen Anna and their children.

Queen Anna was greatly impressed with Princess Charlotte but again, her position as heiress presumptive to King George V meant that a contingency candidate would be needed. Anna felt that the Tsar might prefer Victoria to Charlotte Louise because she was his goddaughter (and because she was now very unlikely to inherit the British throne). The Dutch King and Queen decided to keep both princesses in play. Victoria was given gifts and encouraged to spend time with the Dutch princes during their stay just as much as Charlotte Louise. King William II considered that if Charlotte Louise succeeded her brother, his second son Alexander would make the perfect Prince Consort. If she did not, she would do just as well as Queen of the Netherlands married to the Prince of Orange. If the Russians got there first, Victoria would have to do, though King William was not as impressed with her as he was with Charlotte Louise, commenting that "of the two English princesses, Charlotte is by far the sweeter in nature and the prettiest, which is unlikely to change all that much". The English princesses had their own comments to make on appearances. Whilst Charlotte Louise though Prince Alexander was "shy but pretty", Victoria believed all three of the Dutch princes to be "very plain, very heavy and very dull".

Charlotte Louise agreed when it came to the Prince of Orange. She was unimpressed when she asked William what he had been reading, only to be told that he found such intellectual pursuits boring and "fit only for would-be preachers and parsons". In a letter to Prince Albert, who must have been very relieved, Charlotte Louise said the Prince of Orange was "a very stocky and dull boy" who "ate too much and spat". Fortunately for both, the Duke of Clarence was not going to relent on his promise that neither princess would marry before they were 18. [3] The King of the Netherlands was well aware of the Duke's pledge but nonetheless asked him to "be mindful of the future links our two families may share" and reminded him of the importance of “protestant princes being united against orthodoxy and popery on the continent”. The following month, King William II asked his wife to write to the Duchess of Clarence to see if it might be possible to begin preliminary negotiations for a marriage contract in the near future between Princess Victoria and the Prince of Orange. The Duke of Clarence was not naive and had already calculated his response. He favoured such a union but he would ask the Dutch to wait until his niece turned 15 years old. In that time, he saw no reason why the two teenagers should not continue to meet and if they liked each other, an engagement at 16 with a view to a wedding when Victoria turned 18 was not unthinkable.

But before the Dutch Queen could send a letter and secure interest in their future daughter-in-law, news came from Germany which meant any talk of negotiations, engagements and weddings came to a sudden halt. At the Siegburg Asylum near Bonn, Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, succumbed to tuberculosis and died on the 25th of May 1833. She was 46 years old. The Duchess had been effectively exiled from England a decade earlier. She had not seen or communicated with her daughter since that time but in her room at Siegburg, stacks of letters were discovered which she had written to her daughter but which had always been returned to her unopened. These letters were sent to England by the Duchess' doctors but disappeared and never found their way into Princess Victoria’s hands. It is speculated that the Duke of Clarence kept them until Victoria turned 18 but that they were destroyed before they could be passed on. Victoria had no idea of her mother’s true fate until much later in her life and felt great shame that her mother had died in an asylum. It became a verboten subject of discussion for the rest of her life.


The last portrait of Victoria, Duchess of Kent. Painted before she was admitted to Siegburg Asylum.

The Duchess of Clarence broke the news of the Duchess of Kent’s death to her daughter Victoria in the first week of June 1833. Victoria was said to have wept for a time but then seemed to recover quite quickly. Her grief was not prolonged, simply because she had never really known her mother. For the last ten years, she had believed the Duchess of Kent to be travelling in Germany, the standard response given when she inquired after her. But she had never seen a portrait of her mother, neither had she ever been given letters from her to read. Her grief seemed to be for the idea of a mother she had perhaps invented and not the woman she had not seen since she was a toddler and whom she could not really remember. The Duchess of Kent’s body was taken to Coburg where she was buried in the crypt of the Church of St Moritz. She had wished to be buried alongside her late husband at Windsor but the Duke of Clarence felt this would be too much for her daughter to bear. Instead, he arranged for a private memorial service to be held in the Chapel Royal of St James' Palace. The Duchess' coffin was later transferred from the Church of St Moritz to the Ducal Family Mausoleum in Coburg in 1860. In the same year, Victoria commissioned a small memorial to her mother which was placed in the Royal Crypt of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft.

At Herrenhausen, Queen Louise was informed of the death of her great rival. In reality, she had gained nothing from her efforts to destroy the Duchess of Kent. Much like her sister-in-law, Louise had been forced to leave England and had no real relationship with her children. Indeed, Louise had become less popular than the disliked Duchess ever was at court and few would welcome her if she ever returned. Upon hearing that the Duchess of Kent had died, Louise replied only with a barked admonition to Baroness Pallenberg; “You know only too well that I have forbidden that woman’s name to be mentioned in my presence”. But she didn’t let the event pass without further comment. Made aware that the King of the Netherland was seriously considering her niece by marriage as a future wife for the Prince of Orange, Louise wrote to Queen Anna. It was typical of the Dowager Queen's penchant for poison.

Louise wrote; “The tragedy at Bonn these past weeks has come as a great shock to us all but poor Victoria had suffered so in recent years. The stories of her behaviour at Coburg before she was sent to Siegburg were chilling, indeed, one must ask what the people there thought when she became so erratic. I have heard that at times she even became most violent and so in the end the Duke had no choice but to send her away. I do fear this will take a great toll on poor dear little Drina in England and we must hope that she will be well cared for by her own physicians in her grief. For we must never forget, we in such great positions of responsibility for the care of our children, that her grandfather died mad and her mother was sent to the asylum for much the same reason. I do hope this has no ill-bearing on her future for she is such a lively girl, if not a little unpredictable in mood".

When no word came from The Hague as expected, the Duke of Clarence asked if subtle inquiries could be made as to the state of things. Had the King and Queen so quickly changed their minds about his niece? He did not wish to force the issue but the silence seemed ominous. Clarence was quickly informed about the contents of Queen Louise's letter. There were rumours that the King and Queen of the Netherlands would now only consider Victoria if her dowry was substantial and if she was subjected to extensive tests by a qualified physician who could absolutely rule out any possibility of "madness" in her. The Duke of Clarence's usual calm temperament shattered. He threw a vase, bellowed that the Prime Minister be summoned immediately and the Duchess of Clarence ran from the room weeping when, for the first and only time in their marriage, he shouted at her as she tried to calm him down. “I will do anything and everything in my power to silence that vicious creature”, the Duke raged, “And the government will support me or else I shall resign my post without delay”.

Queen Louise was about to discover that her luck had run out and the dangerous game she had played since her husband's death was to be brought to a swift and unpleasant end.

[1] Leopold’s letter is quoted directly here though this debate moves forward a little in TTL as opposed to 1834 in the OTL.

[2] In the OTL when this situation was considered, the Belgian parliament was divided on this issue. Some felt that Leopold’s named heir (in the lack of a natural one) should be a Catholic, others felt it was enough for them to marry a Catholic.

[3] Clarence won't relent on this but naturally he will have to consider proposals before then and possibly even engagements as was quite usual at the time. It was felt more important to secure a marriage with an engagement and have a wedding take place a year or two later than lose the best candidate in the game.
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Queen Louise was about to discover that her luck had run out and the dangerous game she had played since her husband's death was to be brought to a swift and unpleasant end.
Well she dug a rather deep grave for herself that is to be expected.