Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

My condoleances sir , too. I am well to aware of how it feels, there were two weeks since the person who i felt loved me the most in the family, my grandpa, died . Stay strong!
Thank you all so very much for your exceptionally kind and generous messages of condolence and support over the past few days. I'm really very touched.

I have been writing a new instalment (it turns out that spending time with our Crown Imperial cast is a brilliant distraction!) and I hope to have something with you all soon.
Opo, I'm sure sorry to hear about your father. I lost mine in 2007. Our Dads may no longer be physically present, but they live on in us. I've learned this as I've gotten older and hear myself saying something or reacting in a certain way to some circumstance exactly the way my Dad would. Reminds me that I'll always have a part of him with me. Losing a parent reminds you that everyone has a finite time on this old earth and that we should never take our loved ones for granted.
GV: Part Two, Chapter 25: Home Again George
King George V

Part Two, Chapter Twenty-Five: Home Again George

Upon their return to England from the continent, the King and Queen were widely applauded for the success of their first official foreign visit of George V’s reign. The British press were effusive in their collective praise, publishing glowing reports of how George and Louise had “charmed the French, His Majesty proving himself a very skilled ambassador for British interests supported as ever by Her Majesty’s elegant appeal which won the hearts of all those fortunate enough to see the King and Queen in Normandy”. Naturally these accounts of the royal visit to King Louis-Philippe were not always entirely accurate but facts could not be allowed to get in the way of obsequious testimonies to the royal couple’s achievements. Most popular was a series of sketches (drawn from imagination in London) which appeared as a ha’penny supplement and quickly ran out among the enthusiastic British public. This did not please Sir James Graham who had hoped to “keep His Majesty in the Drawing Room and out of the Cabinet Office”. He feared that the King might now have a taste for foreign travel and was concerned that “His Majesty might now fancy himself a diplomat”.

The Prime Minister’s anxieties were not entirely without foundation. At Buckingham Palace, the King began to invite Lord Derby and Sir Thomas Fremantle for increased private audiences and lunches where he presented maps annotated with his own notes on how the Oriental Crisis might be resolved now that the French had withdrawn support from Ibrahim Ali. Whilst this troubled the Prime Minister, Lord Derby actually welcomed the King's interest. "His Majesty shows a respectable grasp of the situation", he wrote, "And we must not forget that the previous government failed to take advice which arguably may have let to quite a different outcome at Bala Hissar. Sir Thomas Fremantle praised George too for his “very keen interest which is far from a hinderance for he has spent many days consulting his briefings and applying them to maps so as to gain a better understanding of the situation in Egypt”. Sir James warned both ministers not to encourage the King; “His Majesty’s wings must be clipped if we are to avoid Buckingham Palace becoming an extension of the Foreign Office”, he wrote in a private note to senior cabinet officials. Sir James needn't have worried. In July 1840, the King would find his attentions diverted to family matters on three fronts; the first concerning his cousin Prince George of Cambridge, the second concerning his recent travels and the third concerning the ongoing negotiations to settle his sister's marriage contract. He would have little time to play the diplomat.


Prince George of Cambridge.

As soon as the King and Queen were settled back at Buckingham Palace, the King summoned his cousin Prince George for a private audience. Rumours of his relationship with Lady Augusta Somerset were now rife in London and George was to be sent to Ireland with the 12th Royal Lancers as soon as possible. The King wanted to see just how bad the situation was, his knowledge of the matter restricted to the gossip passed onto him by his cousin Victoria when he visited her at Het Loo earlier that year. A bashful Prince George admitted that he had kept Lady Augusta as his mistress and that she had now left England for Madrid but he could not promise that the scandal would not escalate; "There are letters" he said nervously. The Duke of Cambridge had made financial arrangements for Lady Augusta in Spain but Prince George had not dared tell his father that she was still in possession of letters from the Prince which in his words "may cause future difficulties". It was imperative that the letters were retrieved and they now languished in a safe in a solicitor's office in Berwick Street. He had offered to compensate his paramour for their return but he could not afford the price she had in mind. The King agreed to pay the sum and see to it that the letters were destroyed.

This generosity cost George V the princely sum of £800 (the equivalent of £50,000 today). But in the event, Prince George found the collection was incomplete. Lady Augusta had held some back and nobody could be sure where she was keeping them. The King bid his cousin farewell as he prepared to leave for Dublin, promising to do all he could to protect Prince George's reputation but this came with a warning; "There is only so much I can do for you", the King said tersely, "If you cannot keep control of your own affairs, it is far better not to engage them in the future". It appears the King did not feel this caution was enough and unbeknown to Prince George, the King instructed a private detective to follow the Prince when he was in Ireland. After a few months it seems His Royal Highness had redeemed himself enough to be left to his own devices once more and the private detective was released from his commission. The King wrote to his uncle in Hanover; "I have settled this matter and believe that George is now suitably corrected in his behaviour. We shall not speak of it again". The Duke of Cambridge replied thanking the King for his generosity and hoped that Prince George would "find some way to repay you for all your kindness and consideration in recent days".

Ironically, it was another letter from Hanover which made it's way into the King's possession and caused him further stress. At the Carlton Club in St James’ Street, the Prime Minister was enjoying a few pre-theatre drinks with friends when George Smythe, the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, asked for his advice. A curious note had come from Hanover and had made it's way to Smythe's desk. A Professor by the name of Wilhelm Albrecht had read newspaper accounts of the time the King and Queen had spent in France, the Netherlands and Germany and far from being overcome with admiration for the royal couple, he was deeply offended – how had King George V come so close to Hanover and yet not paid even a brief courtesy visit to his subjects there? The letter was clearly written in high dudgeon and controversially for the time, seemed to offer a personal criticism of the King.

“There can be no greater disappointment to the people who cherish the bonds which exist between the two Kingdoms than to be so wilfully ignored by those who receive that affection so freely. A great many of us here in Hanover are left disheartened by the lack of reciprocity of our sentiments and we do feel deeply aggrieved that the warmth and fondness so widely held for Their Majesties should be so readily ignored and not considered worthy of acknowledgement. This letter is written with my profound regret that this situation was allowed to transpire and I can only hope most sincerely that such an oversight shall not become habitual as it was in the last two reigns”.


Wilhelm Albrecht

Professor Albrecht was a constitutional lawyer at the University of Göttingen, that noble seat of learning founded by King George II in 1734 to promote the ideals of the Enlightenment. King George III sent his own sons Adolphus, Ernest Augustus and Augustus Frederick to Göttingen to study and the university also boasted Prince von Metternich and the philosopher Schopenhauer among the ranks of its illustrious alumni. It should be noted that Professor Albrecht was no radical. He held no sympathy with republican views and he had welcomed the 1833 constitution in Hanover (which remodelled the old aristocratic government in a more liberal direction) only because he saw it as the best way to maintain the personal union that existed between the Crowns of Britain and Hanover. He later insisted that he had never intended for the King to see the letter, much less to offend him personally. But when George Smythe gave Albrecht’s letter to the Prime Minister, Sir James Graham saw the perfect way to cool the King’s appetite for foreign affairs.

“Add this to His Majesty’s box for this evening”, he said with a wry smile, “On the top mind you, the very top. And His Majesty might like to see the first briefing from the Russian talks too, I had thought to wait a little longer but now I see that would be most incorrect”.

By "the Russian talks", the Prime Minister was referring to the latest developments in the negotiations for Princess Charlotte Louise's marriage to the Russian Tsarevich. Progress had been made whilst the King was away with the non-political nature of the union successfully stressed in the opening rounds. The Tsar hadn't expected the British to approach the talks in any other way but that didn't mean he would overlook the usual requirements, formalities and niceties which must be observed when two royal houses arranged a wedding. First on the Tsar's list of priorities was the dowry of Princess Charlotte Louise. He knew that the Princess had a modest fortune of her own, though it was nowhere near as impressive as that enjoyed by her brother King George. In 1839, she was granted £23,000 as an annuity from the Civil List and was also given a lump-sum of £20,000 with which to establish her own household at Marlborough House. The King had specifically arranged for this and had made cuts to other family allowances to provide it; but he, like his ministers, were well aware that the £23,000 per annum salary would be revisited the moment the Princess was engaged to be married. The King had also been working on the assumption that his sister would wish to keep Marlborough House as a permanent home in London but even if she did not, the £20,000 paid by parliament to establish the property as her official residence was hardly chump change and must be reflected in any dowry paid on the occasion of her marriage.

The Tsar was working on a very different set of assumptions. He believed that his future daughter-in-law would retain her £23,000 a year and that she was in line for a dowry which could reasonably be expected to range from £50,000 - £60,000 based on calculations drawn from previous royal marriages. He knew that parliament would have to vote on the matter and to sweeten the pot, he very generously offered to compensate the British Treasury for the renovations made at Marlborough House to prepare it for Princess Charlotte Louise to use as her official residence. He acknowledged that she had only lived there for 16 months and as he did not feel it at all appropriate that she should keep an official home in London, he was prepared to pay any outstanding costs on his future daughter-in-law's behalf. But the Tsar was content for the Princess to maintain a private country residence in England she could return to occasionally and to that end, he wished to make a formal offer on the lease of Claremont House on her behalf. Claremont had been purchased in 1816 by the British Nation via an act of parliament as a wedding present to Princess Charlotte and the then Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. Leopold lived at Claremont before he became King of the Belgians in 1831 but he still retained Claremont's 120 year lease - of which there were still 96 years remaining. The Tsar offered to buy the lease from King Leopold at the price of a 100 year lease to compensate him further, and King Leopold was eager to accept. He didn't visit Claremont anymore and besides, he was not as financially well off as his British or Russian counterparts. [1]


Claremont House photographed in 1860.

The next matter outstanding was perhaps more important than the Princess' dowry or property portfolio; where would the marriage actually take place? Princess Charlotte Louise believed that she would follow the precedent set by her cousin Princess Victoria when she married Prince William of the Netherlands and that she would have two wedding ceremonies; the first being held according to the Anglican Rite in England (preferably at St George's Chapel, Windsor) and the second held according to the Orthodox Rite after her reception into the church in St Petersburg. The Tsar quickly disavowed her of that notion. The Tsarevich and his bride would be married at the Grand Church of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, indeed, the Empress had already begun making preparations for the ceremony and would soon dispatch the necessary invitations to King George V and Queen Louise. Russian custom dictated that they would be required to host a banquet at their Embassy for the Russian Imperial Family as a gesture of thanks for the extravagant wedding ceremonies staged for Princess Charlotte Louise by the Tsar and his wife. This banquet would not come cheap; the British Royal Family would be expected to offer something equally lavish but at the same time, it should not overshadow the hospitality provided by the Russian Imperial couple. [2]

As for an Anglican marriage service prior to the Orthodox ceremony, this was quite out of the question. As an Orthodox Christian, the Tsarevich could not take part in such a ceremony without committing a sin. Orthodox Christians were welcome to attend church services in another denomination but they must not take an active part or else they were considered to have violated church teaching. In this, the Tsar was acting on the advice of Metropolitan Serafim Glagolevsky of the Most Holy Synod who insisted that it would not only be sinful for the Tsarevich to be married in a ceremony held according to the rites of another church but that it did not inspire confidence that the Princess was truly committed to embracing her new faith if she still felt an affinity with the Anglican Communion. How could she be married in the Church of England one day and then withdraw from that Church the next when she was received into the Orthodox Church? The concept of two wedding ceremonies was ruled out by Tsar Nicholas, though he did concede that Metropolitan Serafim had indicated there was no barrier to some kind of ceremony which offered a blessing in both denominations which could be held at the Imperial Russian Embassy in London prior to the Princess' departure for St Petersburg. [3]

Amidst these demands were smaller, some may say far more petty, requirements. The Tsar explicitly rejected any suggestion that his daughter-in-law might take on the style of Her Imperial and Royal Highness, even though that would have been the appropriate form of address for Charlotte Louise once she was married. When in England, she was to be gazetted only by her Russian titles and by her new Orthodox name which the Tsar had been reluctant to approve but had now accepted. In her meetings with her catechist in London, Archpriest Belov explained the importance of Charlotte Louise selecting a name which honoured both her new religion and the dynasty she would marry into. She chose the name Maria Georgievna; Maria in honour of the Virgin Mary (but also for the Tsar's late mother) and Georgievna in honour of her late father, brother and the many other Georges in her family tree. Tsar Nicholas was delighted that Charlotte Louise had chosen Maria as it was a religiously sound choice but also he was touched for the reason given, that it paid tribute to his mother who had taken the name Maria too when she converted to Orthodoxy and married the Tsar's father (Paul I) in 1776. But he disliked the patronymic of Georgievna and advised that the Princess might instead prefer to take Feodorovna. He was wary that she seemed to wish to stress her English connections and suggested that some in his court might be a little suspicious of this. The Tsarevich intervened. His fiancée wished to avoid Feodorovna as she was so determined to take the name Maria whilst "still allowing the name of my beloved grandmother of happy memory to stand alone in the hearts of the Russian people". It wasn't quite true but it worked.


Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, née Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg

It was the Tsar's final requirement which was certain to set King George's teeth on edge. Nicholas asked for assurances that when Charlotte Louise returned to England for holidays or family gatherings, she would take precedence over the other ladies of the Royal Family - coming second only to the Queen. Nicholas must have known this would never be accepted and it is possible that he included this requirement so as to get his way with other demands when he conceded the matter of precedence in England was not his to ordain. Nonetheless, all these claims were put into the first round of talks and submitted to the King in his nightly box from the Cabinet Office for his consideration. So it was that after a meeting with Lord Derby, feeling content that he was doing so much good in offering his advice on the Oriental Crisis, the King sat at his desk in his study and opened the leather bound case which contained his daily collection of state papers. [4] His cheerful disposition was about to crash around his ears. First he read the letter from Professor Albrecht in Hanover, so meanly placed before anything else on the Prime Ministers' orders. Putting the letter on his desk, he looked to the next page assuming there would be some kind of government memorandum to advise him on how to deal with the letter. Instead he found the papers from the Russian negotiations - and the Tsar's demands.

It would be fair to say that nobody on duty in the vicinity of the King's Study that evening could fail to have heard the King's views on these developments. Amid shouts for his Private Secretary, Charlie Phipps entered the King's Study to find George V had cleared his entire desk with a violent sweep of his arms and now papers, picture frames, statuettes, a clock, an ashtray and other ephemera were scattered all over the room. The King was raging with temper and Phipps immediately ran to collect the Queen and 'Honest Billy' Smith to help him calm the King down. After much pleading, George was placated just enough to go with the Queen to her rooms whilst Phipps and Smith cleared up the mess.

"His Majesty's temper is becoming a problem Smith", Phipps complained, "I find myself holding back on things I should tell him for fear that he will react badly. But this...this is beyond anything I have seen of him before"

"He feels too much", Smith nodded, "But if anybody can get through to him then it's the Queen".

Smith was right. In many ways, Queen Louise had to be wife, companion, confidant and lover to her husband; but she also had to adopt the role of a mother. Only she could calm him and in a letter sent to her predecessor as Mistress of the Robes, the Duchess of Buccleuch wrote to Harriet Sutherland; "There are times when His Majesty is most distressed by family difficulties and though he controls his temper admirably most of the time, there are occasions when he blows up so dramatically that he is prone to tears and then the Queen must sit with him and hold him like a little boy until he is calm again". The King would later grow out of this habit, his temper seemingly diminished by the time his children reached adulthood. Certainly they are in agreement in their recollections that George V never displayed a foul temper in their presence, quite the opposite in fact. He was nothing but patient and calm with them, even when they pushed him to the limits of that patience when they were older. But at this time, the 20 year old King was still adjusting to his role and when the mood struck him, he could behave like a sulky teenager overcome with anguish or rage one moment and then play the mature young man focused on his duties the next. No doubt this was a hangover from his topsy-turvy childhood and whilst it dissipated in later years, in 1840 this dynamic was still very much in evidence.

The Queen cheered her husband by proposing they leave London for a little while. Neither had any engagements scheduled for a month as they had asked for time to recover from their travels; why not pay an impromptu visit to their new home at Broadwindsor? Hanover House had been completed during their absence, the small army of craftsmen engaged to make it comfortable finished six weeks early. Queen Louise was certain a visit to Hanover House was just what the King needed and as ever, she convinced him that what she proposed was good for him. The King agreed but like a petulant and moody child offered some kind of reward after a tantrum, he said he would only go if the Queen "made a jolly party of it". Queen Louise knew this meant she must include Frau Wiedl, now all but separated from Prince Alexander of Prussia but still very much liked by the King and Queen. She also invited Lord Melbury and his then love interest Miss Sarah Adderley, Colonel and Lady John Fane and the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.

Hanover House took almost two years to build and was a fine example of the neoclassical architecture Decimus Burton and his royal patron so admired. The intention with Hanover House was that it should serve as a holiday retreat on the 15,000-acre estate at Broadwindsor acquired by the King for £25,000 in 1838, and according to that brief the house was to be modest yet comfortable. But Hanover House quickly established itself not only as a holiday home but as a place the King ran too when he was displeased. “Nothing can soothe the spirit as the little house does”, he later said. That is not to say that he only ever used Hanover House as a place to seethe or sulk, it became his most favourite residence and during his reign he would all but ignore Windsor as a country retreat using it only for the odd weekend house party in the summer months when he was not abroad in Germany visiting the Princess Royal or his extended relations at Rumpenheim. The “little house” was a place where the King and Queen had hoped they could be themselves, totally private and free from any of the formality expected at Buckingham Palace, or later at Lisson Park. Yet “little” the house was not.

Burton had originally designed a small manor house much like a parsonage, taking the King and Queen at their word when they said they wished to enjoy a private residence without too much grandeur. But by 1839, Hanover House had grown and developed to see two large wings added so that the completed property was now comprised of 17 rooms on the ground floor, 12 on the upper and 14 on the so-called Nursery Floor – though these rooms were far smaller and were to accommodate the servants employed at Hanover House from neighbouring Beaminster. The finest craftsmen were engaged to provide the archways and pillars that supported the “spine” of the house, a long gallery accessible from the lower floor by two grand staircases which were dominated in the centre by an imposing statue of King George II sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott who also provided the impressive marble balustrades which allowed visitors to peer down from the gallery into the vast entrance hall below.


Hanover House.

The Queen invited Morel & Seddon, the favoured furniture suppliers of the late Prince Regent, to assemble a team of interior decorators to furnish Hanover House with heavy silk draperies, damask wallpapers, gilt carvings and furniture, some of which had been taken from the vast collection that had once been stored at Carlton House and other pieces which had been saved from the fire at Kensington Palace. The result was a lavish but elegant home, far more intimate and comfortable than Buckingham Palace but no less magnificent in its décor. Stuffed full of antiques and treasures taken from the Royal Collection, the high ceilings and tall windows flooded the rooms with light and each “suite” was themed to suit the Queen's tastes. There was the Chinese Drawing Room with hand-painted wallpaper depicting scenes of Chinese village life, a Japanned cabinet made by Chippendale proudly displaying jars, vases and other porcelains collected when Chinoiseries was all the rage in the previous century and which Queen Charlotte had so admired. The Crimson Suite, comprised of a bedroom, dressing room, small sitting room and personal bathroom took its name from the rich red curtains, carpets and upholstery within, it’s cousin in the east wing identically kitted out but in a yellow that everybody agreed was really closer to gold in hue. The George IV Room was the closest thing to a state dining room and was naturally dominated by a vast portrait of the King’s father proudly bearing down on guests from its home above the fireplace with it’s marble surround intricately carved with columns and cascading foliage.

The “little house at Broadwindsor” caused quite a stir among those fortunate enough to be extended an invitation to visit. When Lord Melbury first saw the property he noted in his journal that it “was indeed a little house when compared to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle but in every way the rooms are highly decorated to an excessive degree and one cannot help but feel awed by the grandiosity of the design”. He was not alone in his assessment. Lady Ellen Fane thought Hanover House “a charming and elegant place, quite well-suited to Their Majesties tastes and interests”. Others were less impressed. The Duke of Buccleuch remarked that Hanover House was “a King’s interpretation of a parson’s manor – if the parson in question was Pope Gregory”. His wife, the Duchess, loathed spending time there calling it “the little prison” because there was simply nothing to do, the surrounding estate not really proving suitable for any kind of country pursuit other than walking. The only entertainments were to be found inside the house and even then, no house party ever numbered more than a dozen guests because Hanover House simply couldn’t accommodate any more.

But Their Majesties adored the house and details of their time there offer a unique insight into their relationship. They took breakfast every morning together in the Supper Room which was located just off of the Queen’s Bedroom; it was noted salaciously by the Duchess of Buccleuch that “Her Majesty does not dress until after breakfast…” and that the King “attends her in the Supper Room after she has woken without being called”. Even more intriguing to the servants at Hanover House was the Windsor Room which adjoined the Supper Room. This was Their Majesties’ shared bedroom, small and intimate and totally out of bounds to even the most trusted of servants or Royal Household employees. The euphemism “Gone to Windsor” quickly caught on at Hanover House among the staff who knew that the moment two footmen appeared in the corridor outside the Queen’s Bedroom, the entire upper west wing of the property was barred to them.


The Floorplan of Hanover House, the Lower and Upper Floors (Nursery Floor not shown). [6]

After breakfast, the King and Queen took full advantage of the lower floor and all it had to offer. The King spent much of his time moving between his Sitting Room, the Smoking Room and his Study accessible via the Library which now housed the family archives brought from the Round Tower at Windsor. The Queen had her own Sitting Room, Music Room and the curiously named Silk Closet where she took her afternoon nap – often accompanied by her husband. She also favoured the Hanover Room which led out to the terrace overlooking the sprawling gardens, the Strelitz Room next door used to host guests for afternoon tea or a light supper when the George IV Room was not considered suitable. But on the floor above too, the King and Queen had more than enough space to relax, each with their own “Suite” comprised of a second Sitting Room, Bedroom and Salon. Guests fortunate enough to be issued an overnight invitation could be accommodated in the Yellow Suite or the comfortable bedrooms across the Gallery corridor in the Dutch Room or the Kensington Room.

Of particular interest to those intrigued by the King's relationship with Frau Wiedl is the Crimson Suite, the rooms in the west wing located next to the King's Bedroom. In 1844, an interconnecting "false" door was added to give the King easy access to the Crimson Suite, something he specifically said he did not want installed when the house was built because he wanted his rooms in Hanover House to be totally private and inaccessible to anybody without his prior permission. Fraud Wiedl never slept anywhere else in the property but the Crimson Suite and from around 1845 onwards, she was encouraged to bring some of her own possessions and furnishings to make the rooms feel more like her home away from home. She even stayed at Hanover House alone on occasion until by the 1860s, she was in permanent residence there. On the King’s instructions, his servants became hers for the duration and she would ultimately became the sole resident of the property after George V’s death, spending her last years at Hanover House until she died there in 1901.

After a few days at Hanover House, the King's mood was dramatically improved. Both the Queen and Frau Wiedl accompanied him on walks around the estate where they listened to his plans to install an Orangerie. He wondered if part of the estate might even be suitable for racing, a sport he enjoyed but had never really taken as big as an interest in as his father or uncles had. He talked too of how he might repair the damage done in Hanover. He understood that Professor Albrecht had been temporarily dismissed from the University of Göttingen which he now felt was quite unfair. After all, the chap had raised a reasonable objection and it had been short-sighted not to think to pay a visit to Hanover. Not that the King would take the blame of course. It had all been Aunt Augusta's fault. Had she minded her own business and allowed the King and Queen to visit Neustrelitz instead of Rumpenheim, Albrecht might never have written his "beastly letter". The King would write to the Duke of Cambridge and instruct him to see that Albrecht was reinstated with the King's compliments. [5] Perhaps it might be possible for Their Majesties to spend a week in Hanover next summer, the King mused. He was sure something could be arranged, perhaps even a parade or garden party so that his subjects there had a better opportunity to see him.

But he was less conciliatory when it came to his sister's marriage negotiations. He bitterly complained about the Tsar's demands calling him "a vicious old booby" and on two occasions he left his guests feeling somewhat awkward when he lectured them on "the savagery of the Russians". This was all for show of course but the Queen's patience was wearing thin. Like it or lump it, the King must finally accept that Princess Charlotte Louise was to be married and would leave England. If he wanted their relationship to remain as close as it could be (and always had been), the Queen insisted he must do his best to respect her wishes, whatever they may be.

To that end, Princess Charlotte Louise was invited to come to Hanover House with her aunt Mary to discuss the path forward. After days of pushing, Queen Louise managed to get the King to make her a promise; if Princess Charlotte Louise wanted to follow the Tsar's instructions on how and where she would be married, the King must give his blessing for her sake. But Queen Louise could only go so far in resolving any animosity that existed within her own family. She could not, for example, ease the worries of government ministers who were equally put out by some of the Tsar's demands. Neither could she do anything to prevent the debate in parliament on Princess Charlotte Louise's dowry (or the Tsar's purchase of the lease of Claremont House in Surrey) from turning into a Russophobic free-for-all as the Leader of the House of Commons, William Gladstone, feared it might become.

However reluctant he may have been in recent months to confront uncomfortable family matters head on, the King was about to find that as head of that family, he could no longer stick his head in the sand. The "new royalism" had successfully put a sticking plaster on the past. The British people had allowed tales of scandalous princes with their loose living mistresses, bitter duchesses with their vicious rivalries and lavish spending and royal greed slip away into the past only because they had not been reminded it of it. They had come to regard the Royal Family of recent years as something far more worthy of respect and deference. George and Louise had even been called role models for a new age. But this could only be maintained if the monarchy was kept free from scandal or public outrage.

George had built the foundations of his early reign well thus far. He was soon to find out how much stress those foundations could bear and how ignorance was not always bliss.

[1] In the OTL, King Leopold retained Claremont until 1851, visiting frequently because of his close relationship to the Queen and Prince Consort. That doesn't exist here of course and given the state of his finances, I think it reasonable to assume he'd jump at the chance of a cash injection for a property that at this stage is costing him more to upkeep than is actually worthwhile. That said, the Tsar is being very presumptuous (though no doubt well-intentioned).

[2] This was the case in 1866 when Princess Dagmar of Denmark married the future Alexander III in the OTL. King Christian IX and Queen Louise could not afford to put on such extravagant festivities and so had to stay away from their daughter's marriage ceremonies entirely.

[3] In the OTL, two wedding ceremonies (one Anglican and one Orthodox) took place when Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia in 1874. But this was only agreed to on the basis that the Orthodox wedding came first and perhaps made more sense given that the Grand Duchess was to live in England thereafter and raise her children in the Anglican tradition and not the Orthodox. The Church's advice was politely rebuffed by Tsar Alexander II and he did not forbid his daughter to take part in an Anglican wedding service when she arrived in England but here the situation is reversed and Tsar Nicholas was a much more devout man than his son, so I believe he'd hold firm to what the Holy Synod says and not what his future daughter-in-law would prefer.

[4] I've avoided the term 'red box' here as I believe it wasn't until much later that the box actually became red. I've seen various takes (Gladstone preferred red, Prince Albert demanded red...who knows?) but in the lack of a definitive I'll keep the colour vague for now!

[5] Albrecht here is the famous Albrecht of Göttingen Seven fame and he will reappear in the future. In 1837 when Ernest Augustus became King of Hanover, he tried to undo the 1833 constitution and earned a sharp rebuke from the lawyers who had helped make the Hanoverian Constitution more liberal. The situation is different here but the Seven will make an appearance in a reduced way.

[6] I'm afraid I'm no architect so this is the best I can manage for a floorplan sadly! It's difficult to illustrate a brand new building that doesn't actually exist but I hope it's just enough to give a rough idea of which rooms are where for future reference in chapters set at Hanover House. I will try and offer a better diagram in the future when things are not so topsy-turvy!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your very kind messages in recent days. They've all been very much appreciated at a very difficult time and I hope you'll all take this extended chapter as my thanks. I'll admit it's been tricky to get back into the swing of things and so apologies if this instalment feels in any way a place holder but I needed to take some time away and then found it a bit of a challenge to pick up from where I had left off. Once again, many thanks for reading!
You would never have known you struggled with this chapter. It flowed as beautifully as ever. And George's behaviour makes absolute sense. Our brains don't stop growing until our mid-20s and he's undergone a lot of change in the past few years. Of course he's going to act irrationally at times.

Take care of yourself ❤