Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

Also, I was looking back through the story and I found that George V’s dog Jack passed away in 1840 in a caption to a picture. However, there is no mention of how George reacted to the death so I was wondering if there is going to be a mention of that.

It was alluded to in George V, Part 2, Chapter 15
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
I don’t think it will be that fast.
I actually really like the pace that this story is going at and I don’t think that @Opo should rush
Thank you @nathanael1234, that's great to hear!

Truth be told, I have been worried about the pace and if it's quick enough for those of you who have stuck with TTL for so long now. The last thing I want to do is bore people or to have people decide TTL isn't as enjoyable as it was. I can't believe we're fast approaching a year since we began and as @wwbgdiaslt says, we've covered 25 years of history thus far which I never thought I would when I started. Personally I'm having a ball writing it and so long as people enjoy reading it, it'll continue.

It must be said that 'George IV' did run much faster than 'George V' - mostly because George IV was my first attempt at a TL and in some ways, I wish I had put in more detail. George V is proving to be a much bigger project but I'm really in no rush to leave Crown Imperial behind any time soon - if anything, I'm still minded to keep the project going until we reach the modern day.

I did consider increasing the pace of the TL and wrote two instalments with that in mind. But it didn't really sit right with me. Speeding things up to hit the big events means sacrificing quite a lot of detail but also, it means seeing far less of the "B-characters" such as Princess Mary, the Cambridges and Cumberlands, or the Strelitzes. That said, if people are finding the pace a bit too slow then I can always try and find a happy medium for future instalments.

Now that my schedule is relatively back to normal, I'm hoping to get back to two chapters a week so that may make a difference too.

Whilst we're on that subject, it seems a good time to mention that we are in the final chapters of Part Two and will soon move on to Part Three. I'll be taking a week's break in between so that I can update my wiki which contains all my notes/biographies/plot points/family trees etc otherwise things can get a little muddled.
Also, I was looking back through the story and I found that George V’s dog Jack passed away in 1840 in a caption to a picture. However, there is no mention of how George reacted to the death so I was wondering if there is going to be a mention of that.
Very well spotted - I had overlooked the departure of Jack!

As @wwbgdiaslt mentioned, there was a brief mention of him in a previous chapter but sadly he has departed the scene by January 1841.

I'll add a little reference to this in the next instalment though as poor old Jack perhaps deserves a proper send off in our TL.
 
GV: Part Two, Chapter 33: Clipping the Wings

Opo

Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Two, Chapter Thirty-Three: Clipping the Wings

On the night before the London Conference, King George V and Queen Louise took an early supper with a few close friends at Buckingham Palace. These suppers were a mainstay of George V’s reign and in a marked departure from what had come before, these informal gatherings of five or six trusted individuals allowed the King to create a relaxed atmosphere in which his guests were more willing to speak freely. George found these occasions extremely useful as a supplement to his official briefings from various government departments, those present offering him their own opinions which he could then balance against the views expressed by his ministers. On this particular evening, the King was greatly cheered to see Rosalinde Wiedl back at court after a recent absence of three weeks. In a further sign that their relationship was (at least at this time) entirely platonic, George was fully accepting of her new paramour (Prince Alexander of Prussia having found himself a new mistress in Geneva) Robert Vernon Smith, the former Under Secretary of State for War and Colonies under the Whigs, now a Privy Councillor. Vernon Smith was married to Lady Emma Fitzpatrick, the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Upper Ossory by his mistress Elizabeth Wilson. But Vernon Smith was not the only Whig present that night. Also in attendance was Lord Melbury, the former Foreign Secretary.

Melbury had formed an unlikely friendship with the King after a rocky start to their relationship and whilst the change of government required that George restrict his meetings with his former ministers, Melbury was one of many over the years who seemed to be exempt from this convention – at least in the King’s view. George would always struggle with changes of government, not because he favoured one party over the other, but because he was so welcoming to incoming ministers that he forged friendships with them quite quickly [1]. He could never understand why a Tory friend should be kept away from his dining table simply because there was a Whig government, neither could he appreciate that seeking advice from these individuals (even privately) was likely to ruffle feathers – as indeed it did with Lord Melbury during his tenure as Foreign Secretary when the King consulted the Duke of Wellington over the government’s Afghan policy. Charlie Phipps had his own methods to avoid such clashes, encouraging people like Melbury to decline invitations from the Palace if they came too frequently. But by February 1841, Melbury had not been to the Palace since well before Christmas and so could not be kept at arm’s length any longer without the King becoming suspicious.

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Lord Melbury.

The King listened intently to the latest news from the Whig camp. The election defeat of 1840 had seen Lord Cottenham put out to pasture but he left behind him a broken and weak opposition. Lord John Russell and his supporters were still trying to dominate the Whig cause but they faced opposition from other wings of the party. The old guard rallied around Earl Spencer. Known to all as ‘Honest Jack’, John Spencer (the 3rd Earl) had served in the Grey and Lansdowne governments, his most senior appointment being that of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Famed for his integrity and spirit of fair play, Spencer was regarded by his supporters as a well-liked and well-trusted party grandee. Yet Spencer himself had lost the taste for politics, indeed, having left the Treasury in 1836 and following his promotion to the House of Lords upon the death of his father in 1834, Spencer was more interested in the cattle at Althorp than he was the fortunes of his colleagues in parliament [2]. At the Reform Club in Pall Mall, the Whigs were evenly split between those who supported John Russell and those who wanted to see Earl Spencer take the lead – or at least a party figure who had the backing of Earl Spencer as a kind of anointed successor. In Melbury’s view, Spencer was a decent and honourable man but he could not fathom why so many of his fellow Whigs wanted to force him from retirement back into the main fray.

Those not in the Russell or Spencer camp had found their way to none other than Lord Melbury himself. His record in high office was perhaps a little shaky but whilst the Melbury Plan had not been a huge success in Afghanistan (to put it mildly), Melbury’s supporters argued that the Oriental Crisis could never have been resolved as quickly and as peacefully as it had been without Melbury’s push for a conference with the Russians at Brighton. Whilst Sir James Graham’s Tories took the credit for having “won the battle without a shot fired”, the Whigs insisted that it was Melbury’s departure from Palmerston’s more aggressive foreign policy that secured victory against the Ali dynasty in Egypt. It appears that the King agreed and perhaps he invited Melbury to Buckingham Palace ahead of the conference at Hampton Court to get more details on the background of the Oriental Crisis which began when Melbury was still in office. But both the Prime Minister and pro-Melbury Whigs took the invitation to mean something quite different. For Sir James, it suggested that the King was preparing himself to get involved in the politics of the conference. For Melbury’s supporters, it was a sign from on high that when it came to the Opposition, the King favoured his old friend Melbury over Lord John Russell or Earl Spencer. [3]

We do not know what the King and Lord Melbury discussed after supper in private but it seems logical that the King might ask Melbury for his opinion of what the United Kingdom should be bargaining for at the conference. However, the Prime Minister had no time to meet with the King before the conference began to discuss the matter and unfortunately, this put Sir James in a temper as the various delegates arrived in the capital. It also irritated him that the King was eager to show off a gift presented to him by Lord Melbury on his visit to the palace the night before; a new Spaniel puppy whom the King named Foxy in Melbury’s honour. The King’s devoted canine companion Jack had died in November 1840, earning himself the first plot in a new cemetery created at Windsor for departed royal pets. George still had several dogs; one called Harry gifted to him by the Queen who had sired puppies with the Queen’s dog Diamond giving the King three King Charles Cavalier Spaniels in addition to Harry named Jimmy, Ludo and Patch. The new addition to the pack was proudly showcased to every guest at the conference with the words; “Look at what old Foxy gave to me” or “Good old Foxy, knew exactly what I wanted, what?”.

The Foreign Secretary, Lord Stanley, was nowhere near as irked by the King’s meeting with Melbury as the Prime Minister was – neither was he put out by the King’s new puppy. In his view, it was only natural that the King should want to speak with someone who was in office when the crisis began before hosting those who had seen the matter through to its final conclusion. Stanley even wrote to Lord Melbury some time later expressing his “deep regret” that the Prime Minister had “taken so badly to it, for I know that you would not have offered anything other than a recollection of the events as they began which surely His Majesty welcomed as I myself did when you so kindly briefed me upon my appointment”. Stanley felt Sir James was being overly paranoid and that he was not being fair to the King who, after all, had proved himself quite the diplomat in Normandy when given the chance. George could not be considered to be in any way reckless or foolish. He was well informed and spoke well to official representatives of other nations. He was, in Stanley’s view, an asset to the Foreign Office, not a hindrance.

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Prince Frederick's Barge which carried the King and Queen from Westminster Pier to Hampton Court.

If the Prime Minister was in foul mood when the welcome ceremonies began for the delegates of the London Conference in February 1841, the festivities themselves did not serve to cheer him much. As predicted, London was treated to a grey drizzle which certainly took the shine from the river pageant the King had been so proud of when he proposed it. Canopies were erected on the royal barges to protect guests from the rain but the French delegate, François Guizot, was heard to remark; “Are they trying to drown us?”. The Spanish delegate Joaquín de Ferrer y Cafranga quipped back “No Sir, they want to put us in our beds so that they might have the floor”. That said, the damp weather did little to dissuade Londoners from turning out en-masse to see the Thames filled with boats all manned by the Royal Watermen in their bright uniforms. For his part, the King delighted in every second of the three-hour cruise from Westminster Pier to Hampton Court. When George asked Lord Stanley if he enjoyed it, the Foreign Secretary replied, “It was a most interesting experience Your Majesty”, his face telling quite a different story as he brushed down the raindrops from his frock coat sleeves.

“Oh come now Stanley!”, the King said happily, “I’d say it was a great success and much appreciated. After all, nobody fell in, nobody drowned”

A dour Stanley looked up to the heavens where the rain was beginning to pour down much harder and replied, “No yet Sir, no”.

The delegates for the London Conference were a varied bunch and all came with vast retinues of personal staff who had to make the journey from London to Hampton Court by carriage. Unfortunately most were held up and so many of the delegates arrived to the palace sodden through but unable to change. Queen Louise ordered fires to be lit throughout Clock Court where most guests were to be accommodated. The Duchess of Buccleuch later remarked; “As we all sat in the Great Hall, one could almost see the guests steaming away gently like meat puddings”. Brandy was passed about to warm the delegates who had already been formally introduced at Buckingham Palace before the river pageant left the capital. France was represented by François Guizot, the new Foreign Minister who had succeeded Adolphe Thiers. He considered the entire conference a waste of time and was far more interested in returning to Paris as quickly as possible to focus on the French troubles in Algeria. From Spain, there was Joaquín de Ferrer y Cafranga who (perhaps innocently) asked if there was a Catholic church nearby where he could worship; he was quietly reminded that Hampton Court had once been the home of Cardinal Wolsey…

The Prussians sent Baron von Werther to represent them, a man who had declined the office of Foreign Minister twice before being convinced to take on the role in 1837. Though he was regarded as domestically weak, his skill for foreign policy was widely admired and he managed to maintain good relations with France whilst keeping the Russians from making too many demands on the Prussian military. From Russia there was Prince Gorchakov, well known to the British government as he had led the Russian delegation in Brighton which had seen the United Kingdom pledge itself to taking the Russian side in the Oriental Crisis in a kind of marriage of convenience where the Ali dynasty was concerned. Prince Gorchakov had been greatly impressed by Sir James Graham and though the Prince had been difficult and haughty on his previous visit, the marriage of the Tsarevich to Princess Charlotte Louise had softened him to the English somewhat. Once again, he arrived with an army of personal staff who all had to be accommodated at Hampton Court with most bedding down in the store rooms of the Fish Court, a far cry from their comfortable billet at Gorchakov’s palace in St Petersburg.

From Austria came Prince Metternich, the main stay of Austria’s foreign policy for almost three decades who valued the balance of power in Europe above all things. He was likely to clash with the Russian delegation for though the two nations had allied themselves against Muhammed Ali Pasha and his son Ibrahim, this was a temporary truce and did nothing to persuade Metternich that Russian territorial ambitions in Central Europe and the Ottoman Empire must be resisted at all costs. King George was quite excited to meet Metternich, one of the best-known political figures of the day but Queen Louise was less intrigued. From what she had heard of Metternich’s third wife, the Countess Melania Zichy-Ferraris was an imperious and arrogant woman who expected the very best treatment to prove she was every bit as worthy of her husband as his first wife Princess Eleonore von Kaunitz had been. But Queen Louise was relieved to find that the final delegate, Mustafa Reşid, was not nearly as difficult to host as she had been led to believe he might be. In a typical display of British ignorance, the Queen had been warned that Reşid might bring as many as 12 wives with him (in fact he was only married twice in his lifetime and not to two women at the same time) and that he would expect his own personal chef to prepare his meals as “Mohammedans do not eat European foods”. [4]

Fortunately, the supper party at Buckingham Palace held before the conference included the Queen’s friend the Reverend Michael Alexander who advised her that Reşid did not have the coterie of consorts the Ottoman Sultans had and that so long as the menus contained no pork and offered a hearty variety of vegetable dishes, the Ottoman delegate would be more than happy to eat whatever he was presented with. Interestingly, Queen Louise seemed very intrigued as to the reasons why Muslims ate differently from Christians. A devout Christian herself (and far more active in her religious life than her husband), the Queen believed that all religions encouraged people for the better. Michael Alexander later spoke of the Queen’s interest in Judaism, Islam and even Buddhism. She collected copies of religious texts (in March 1841 she acquired a particularly beautiful copy of the Qur’an and later that year she was gifted a leather bound copy of the Book of Mormon) and she often stumped clergymen with questions as to how one religion could believe something so different to another when their desired outcome seemed to be exactly the same. [5]

The British had a very firm objective at the London Conference, one that took priority over what should be done now that the Ali dynasty was in tatters in Egypt. At Brighton, the Russians had agreed to re-open talks on the future of the Turkish Straits and this was the bargaining chip the King had used to force a u-turn of French foreign policy which saw Ibrahim Ali Pasha so roundly defeated. Had the British not achieved this, it is arguable that with French military support still on the table Ali would have pressed on to Constantinople. In other words, Lord Stanley believed the main focus of the conference must be to loosen the Russian grip on the Dardanelles, something the Russians were unlikely to give up freely despite their earlier assurances that the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi would be abandoned. For the Russians however, the priority was not the talks on access to the Turkish Straits but rather to see to it that the young Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid I was not pushed toward the major Western powers against Russia in the future. The Tsar knew that the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi and its privileges could not be held indefinitely and it is fair to say that Nicholas I was increasingly nervous that it made war with the other Great Powers more likely, not less. That said, the Russians would not abandon the treaty with any great enthusiasm. [6]

The first point of agreement reached at the conference at Hampton Court was that the Ali dynasty must withdraw any remaining troops in Syria, the Hijaz, the Holy Land, Adana and Crete. Egypt and the Sudan was once again reaffirmed as Ottoman territory and was to be put under the control of an Ottoman vassal loyal to the Sultan. The Ali dynasty itself had removed Muhammed Ali Pasha from his position as Governor during the Oriental Crisis and installed his son Ibrahim in his stead and whilst there were initially suggestions that Muhammed Ali might be restored to his former position, the British and the Russians advised against this. They had little cause to like Muhammed Ali given he had always favoured French interests over their own. Likewise, the Ottomans would not accept Ibrahim Ali in any capacity, believing him to be far more aggressive than his father. But the Alis still had huge public support in Egypt, after all, it was Muhammed Ali who had the led the Albanian army into Egypt to fight back the French in the 1798 which allowed the Ottomans to keep control of Egypt, albeit through the Ali dynasty. The Sultan would have to accommodate this if he wished to avoid future clashes with his Governors. [7]

To this end, it was announced at the conference that the Sultan had approved a new power structure in Egypt. The Alis had claimed the title (and position) of Khedive of Egypt, a higher ranking office than that of Wali or Governor. The Ottoman Sultans had never recognised this because it suggested a greater degree of autonomy for its vassal in Egypt than it wanted to give. However, now the Sultan approved the use of the title and codified the responsibilities of the new Viceroy. He would rank above the Governor and would act as a kind of buffer to curb the Wali’s powers. In a magnanimous gesture, the Ali dynasty was to be allowed to keep the somewhat hereditary post of Governor; though only one among it’s membership was considered trustworthy enough to be appointed. Abd al-Halim Bey (Muhammed Ali’s sixth son) had not signed the declaration which forced Muhammed Ali from his position, refusing to turn against his father in favour of his brother Ibrahim. Ibrahim had imprisoned Abd al-Halim but he was quickly released when other members of the family protested. Abd al-Halim was loyal if nothing else. In an addendum to the decree appointing him Wali of Egypt, the Sultan specifically named those who had signed the document ousting Muhammed Ali as being barred from ever holding the position of Governor fixing the future line upon the descendants of Abd al-Halim - at least this is how it would later be interpreted. The Alis could hardly protest this given that they had encouraged Ibrahim Ali to march on Constantinople and smash the Ottoman Empire once and for all, a move Abd al-Halim had again rejected as foolishness.

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Koca Hüsrev Mehmed Pasha

As the new Khedive, the Sultan looked no further than a former Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire who had served briefly from 1839 until 1840 but was widely respected in all corners of the Sultan’s administration. Koca Hüsrev Mehmed Pasha was an Ottoman admiral, reformer and statesman who is perhaps best known for his rejection of the turban as part of his uniform in favour of the fez which became standard issue thanks to his reforms of the army. Hüsrev knew Egypt well, he had served as Governor in 1802 only to find himself captured by the Mamluk-Albanian army when Muhammed Ali seized power. Despite this, Muhammed Ali respected Hüsrev and restored him to his post after two days of his release. There was a certain poetic justice in Hüsrev’s appointment as the new Khedive – though he gained no real power, he was elevated among the Alis who had forced him out of Egypt altogether. The Sultan saw Hüsrev as a reliable pair of hands, a man of great experience who benefitted from having quite an impressive personal army led by generals which he himself had not only trained but whom he had raised from childhood to become strong military leaders. Hüsrev had personally adopted almost 100 children from slave markets who became his protégés and the Ottoman officer corps was nicknamed ‘Hüsrev’s Children’, so prevalent were his adopted children in the ranks. He had not been opposed to retirement but jumped at the chance to serve, especially in Egypt where his reputation was not as glorious as it was in Turkey.

The assembled delegates were only too happy to accept this arrangement, internal Ottoman politics not really being of huge interest to them, though the Russians were wary of Hüsrev who had given one or two passionate anti-Russian speeches in his time as Grand Vizier and the French regretted that their old ally Muhammed Ali was to be consigned to the history books. But much like the British, the Russians were eager to move forward to the agreement concerning the Turkish Straits. Regardless of who governed Egypt and the Sudan, it was the Straits (and who had access to them) which would determine whether the Oriental Crisis had been worth the Russian effort to secure a coalition. Every delegate but Prince Gorchakov wanted the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi to be abandoned and a new access agreement put in its place. The proposal agreed and presented by the British, French, Spanish, Austrian and Prussian delegations argued that the Bosporus and the Dardanelles linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean should be barred to all warships regardless of origin unless those ships belonged to the fleets of the Sultan’s allies in wartime. For the Russians, this meant giving up valued direct access to the Mediterranean which had been so hard won in 1833. Gorchakov had been authorised to agree to this by the Tsar but before doing so, he put forward a proposal of his own; that access to the Dardanelles exist under a new arrangement known as the Straits Pact. [8]

Gorchakov argued that Russia had played the biggest part in assembling the pro-Ottoman coalition and that it therefore could reasonably expect that to be reflected in the agreement reached at Hampton Court. The Prince proposed that during peacetime only a set quota of warships from all nations should be allowed to pass through the Straits. In wartime, these quotas would be suspended and only allies of the Sultan allowed passage as had previously been suggested. The quotas could be set at a follow up conference with the Pact taking effect later in the year, but in this way everybody’s interests could be respected and protected. Gorchakov played his hand well. At Brighton, he had agreed only to revisit the terms of the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi. He had not yet revealed that the Tsar had authorised him to withdraw from it entirely. Lord Stanley was intrigued by the proposal. It certainly seemed a fair outcome, though naturally there would have to be penalties for those nations who exceeded their quota. The Austrians, wary of Russian expansion, refused to countenance the proposal until it saw what the quota system might look like in more detail. To Metternich, keeping the British out of the Black Sea and the Russians out of the Mediterranean was the only way to retain the balance of power and keep the peace in Europe, though he admitted that if the Russians did not back down the flow of Russian warships through the Turkish Straits would be just as heavy as it was before the Oriental Crisis. The Prussians declared for neither side, asking for more time to examine the Gorchakov proposal. The Ottomans remained silent; they despised the terms of Hünkâr İskelesi but they also knew they owed a great deal to Russia in winning back Egypt and the Sudan.

The French were also wary of the Straits Pact. They had been led to believe that the matter was settled and that the Russians were going to abandon the current agreement with the Ottomans. But Guizot took the lead from Prussia and Austria; he simply wanted to examine the proposal in more detail before giving his view. Guizot had close ties to Russia, his primary confidant being the Princess Lieven who had served as Russian Ambassadress to London for twenty years and who relocated to Paris when she separated from her husband. Her brother was the Chief of the Secret Police in Russia and a close friend and confidant of the Tsar. He was therefore more amenable to giving the Russians a fair hearing, at least more so than his predecessor Adolphe Thiers. He urged all delegates to consider that they should agree nothing which might lay the foundations of future grievances and the Gorchakov proposal was therefore left on the table for discussion at a later session. The meeting was adjourned for the day and the guests treated to a sumptuous dinner hosted by King George and Queen Louise. As the delegates moved around the Great Hall, the Prime Minister kept a close eye on the King.

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Prince Metternich.

Not so far away from Sir James, King George stood with the Ottoman delegate Mustafa Reşid and his translator. By his side was Prince Metternich. The King was animatedly explaining that he had been most surprised on his visit to Russia at how friendly the Tsar had been. Warming to his theme, he spoke of the grandeur of his sister’s new home at Anichkov and spoke of how charming those he had met in St Petersburg had been. This was little more than benign recollections of a recent trip (the King also spoke highly of Normandy and said he was sad never to have visited Vienna) but the Prime Minister was not impressed. From what he could glean from the conversation, it almost sounded as if the King was praising the Tsar but in which direction he could not make out. When Metternich said he was surprised by Gorchakov’s proposal of shared access to the Straits, the King nodded and laughed; “Well they’ll surprise you these Russians”. He had not violated convention, he had no played the diplomat, he had not offered an opinion or expressed a view; yet Sir James believed the King was doing just that. Excusing himself, he asked Charlie Phipps to arrange an urgent meeting with the King which Phipps was only too happy to do, assuming the Prime Minister wanted to seek the King’s advice or to keep him up to date with the developments of the session earlier that day.

“May I ask what Your Majesty was discussing just now?”

George raised his eyebrows.

“You may”, he said kindly, “Though at risk of boring you Prime Minister, I was asking Prince Metternich what he thought of the renovations here. Apparently he is undertaking some kind of remodelling of his own palace in Vienna, I wondered if he might take any ideas from what we have done here”

The Prime Minister seemed to have a nasty smell under his nose.

“And to the Ottoman delegate Sir?”

“Well he was…what is this now Sir James? Surely you don’t want an account of everything I've said to every guest in the place?”

“With respect Your Majesty, the discussions are at a very crucial stage. Lord Stanley seems to be open to the Straits Pact proposal and I fear that the Austrians may convince the French to do likewise. Prince Metternich owes the Tsar some support given the economic concessions made in recent months. The Ottomans will accept anything that is better than what they have and the Prussians and the French are playing for time until they see which way the wind blows. I cannot risk any delegate changing his mind based on a private conversation which may be taken as the official stance of Your Majesty's government"

The King was no longer smiling. He poured himself a glass of brandy, always a notable thing for the King rarely drank alcohol.

“Let us get to the heart of this Prime Minister”, he said, pointing to a chair so that Sir James might take a seat. The Prime Minister did not take the invitation and remained standing. “Very well”, George sighed, “But you shall be more comfortable if-”

“I should be more comfortable if you had not sought the advice of Lord Melbury on these matters before the conference began Your Majesty”

George grinned and shook his head.

“Oh so that’s what it’s all about! Oh really Prime Minister, it might amuse you to know that Lord Melbury himself gave me a ticking off once, when I asked the Duke of Wellington for some advice on something. But I assure you, I asked Foxy for no such advice. In fact, he was telling me about the Whig woes, something I’m sure you know well enough already but which I was a bit puzzled by. Half of them rabid for Russell, the other pushing that old man Spencer out of his retirement. I assure you Sir James, that was all we discussed”

But the Prime Minister was not in the mood to be won over. He had walked a tight rope in recent months, burdened with a desperate domestic situation that had added new demands to the Treasury. Determined to keep his promise to balance the books, he was facing the very real possibility of accepting total defeat in Afghanistan which may endanger British interests in the Sindh. And then there was China, the situation now so tense that the Treasury may have to rustle up a generous war budget on a moment’s notice. He had not yet had time to pursue his own vision for the United Kingdom, mopping up the damage from the previous administration taking up the majority of the parliamentary agenda. He needed a victory; the Oriental Crisis had been just that; it would be worthless if Britain gave one inch to her rivals in these talks and the Prime Minister was worried that the King may inadvertently tip the balance in his talks with the assembled delegates.

“I promise you, I have not said a single word about the discussions today. Damn it all, I changed the subject when Metternich asked my opinion!”

“But he did ask you Sir. You are building a reputation as a diplomat, it has been that way since Your Majesty visited France, Metternich himself praised your skills in that arena”

“Oh what nonsense!”, the King fired back, “If he did then I hope he praised the Queen likewise, we only softened Louis Philippe for your ministers to get what they wanted”

“And we were grateful for that Sir”, the Prime Minister snapped, “But the Crown has no place in the Foreign Office. I am appreciative of your hospitality, it will…as you say…soften the delegates and stand us in very good stead to get the agreement we seek but when it comes to diplomacy you must leave that to your ministers”

The King shot up from his seat.

“Must?!”, he hissed, “Who are you to tell the King he must Sir? Remember your place Prime Minister, you owe it to my invitation”

A frosty silence hung in the air. Suddenly the door to the anteroom opened. A smiling Queen Louise swept in, fanning herself and walking over to her husband.

“It is so very hot in there!”, she giggled playfully, “I regret having all those fires lit now. Georgie dear, we have guests, you should not hide away in here”

The King said nothing. Louise realised all was not as it should be.

“Prime Minister”, she began softly, “Would you be a dear and go and ask Princess Mary to dance with you? She is so very eager for a waltz but nobody seems to ask her. They all think she’s much too old and you know she’s very fond of you” [9]

“Sir James is…”

“I believe Her Majesty is right Sir”, the Prime Minister interrupted, “We should not hide away. And I am sure we shall return to this matter in the future”.

With a bow of his head, Sir James left the room. Queen Louise kissed her husband on the cheek.

“Put a smile on that face Georgie!”, she said teasingly, “And come and dance with me”

An hour later, the Prime Minister was in yet another anteroom, this time with his Foreign Secretary. The two men were just as much at odds with each other as the King and the Prime Minister had been earlier that evening. Stanley believed that Britain and Russia had entered a new era of co-operation which benefitted the Concert of Europe as a whole. It was entirely possible that the Russians would abandon their claims to the Dardanelles if pushed but it was equally possible that they might later try and reassert them causing even greater worries to the United Kingdom and her allies. The thought of a handful of Russian warships curbed by an agreed quota in the Mediterranean was far less worrying than an entire fleet but beyond that, it was very likely that Britain would find herself in difficulty in Afghanistan if the latest briefings at the Foreign Office were to be believed. Dost Mohammed Khan had been restored to power. He was planning a huge enthronement celebration to mark his return as King of Afghanistan and he could easily afford it given the Russians had just given a vast cash injection to his beleaguered Treasury.

They were not being generous of course; it was a down payment on increased access to Afghanistan which would allow the Russians to resolve their own difficulties in Bukhara and Khiva. The British faced being squeezed out entirely. Lord Stanley reasoned that if the British were more receptive to Russian proposals now, the Russians might be equally as receptive when the British tried to protect their interests in Afghanistan in the future – something they clearly could not do militarily. A mechanism might be put into the Straits Pact to suspend access or cancel a quota altogether if a majority voted to do so. But Sir James took the opposite view. The Straits Pact did nothing but open the door to Russian expansion. It did not balance the Concert of Europe, rather it allowed a slow trickle of a corrosive build up which would eventually turn a stream into a flood. Sir James argued that the Tsar had clearly agreed to abandon the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi with his ministers, why not push for that when it was there for the taking? Lord Stanley answered back that Gorchakov might still be forced into taking that position but that as things stood, there was no official offer of a withdrawal from the treaty terms on the table. He believed it far better to be seen to entertain the Russian proposals of shared Straits access than to dismiss it entirely. Britain could then take the majority view when the other delegates made their position clear, which he expected to fall against the Straits Pact proposal anyway. It was stalemate.

Back in the Great Hall, a slightly red-faced King George sat in his chair next to Frau Wiedl watching the Queen dance. He could not allow his guests to see him sulk and yet it was evident to everybody that he was no longer in good humour. For the King, he was facing an uncomfortable truth; that he was forever going to subject to the will of his ministers and that he could not direct his own path. No matter whether he enjoyed involving himself in foreign affairs or not, it would be up to his Prime Ministers to decide how welcome his advice or opinions were. And Sir James seemed to have made it abundantly clear that they were not welcome in the slightest. His domestic role was clearly defined and yet his role as "the nation's host" was more vague. In the King's mind, the government had been only to happy to let him assist in France when the going was tough but now they saw him as little more than a party planner, someone who put on a jolly time for visiting dignitaries but who could not be trusted with anything more than that. It was a knock to the King's confidence and he felt his wings were being unfairly clipped.

“Do you think you would like to to Vienna?”, Frau Wiedl asked the King, desperate to break the silence, "I hear so many lovely things about it"

“And what would be the point of that?”, the King pouted, “I shouldn’t be allowed to say anything when I got there. I can’t say anything, anywhere”.


Notes

[1] He shares this attitude with the OTL Queen Victoria. Whilst she took it to extremes at times, she could never fathom why the ministers she liked could no longer come to court as often just because they had been voted out. The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was much the same and felt that once a person had left office, they should be welcomed at court regardless of the benches they sat on in the Commons or Lords.

[2] As in the OTL. Spencer had many supporters and allies in the Whig party who saw him as their natural leader against Russell but Spencer was more interested in agriculture than in politics after he left office and so they were disappointed.

[3] Melbury is also the nephew (by marriage) of Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne via Louisa Fox-Strangways. Lansdowne is a former Whig Prime Minister in TTL.

[4] The word ‘Mohammedan’ seems to have been the common name used for Muslims in Victorian England. I'm not entirely sure if it's become a pejorative term these days so I apologise in advance if it has, I only use it here (as I have before) for accuracies sake

[5] Queen Victoria received a copy of the Book of Mormon in 1841 in the OTL. Apparently she never read it and was less inclined to do so when she was sent a letter from a Mormon Bishop inviting her to repent for her sins.

[6] Nicholas I had changed his mind on this treaty but he didn’t give any indication he was willing to abandon it until the Straits Convention came to be discussed in 1841 in the OTL. It was seen as something Russia should expect to lose given that the British had done most of the donkey work in the Oriental Crisis but here of course we have a different scenario entirely where the British and the Russians are matched in their efforts. If the Tsar can keep a hold of the existing arrangement, he'd be a fool not to make every attempt to cling to it - or something close to it.

[7] A knock on effect because we butterflied Muhammed Ali Pasha into retirement in favour of his more ambitious son Ibrahim Ali. I toyed with the idea of ditching the Alis entirely but all things considered, I don’t think the Sultan would be so foolish as to overlook the popular support they still retained in Egypt.

[8] Several factors have led to me to put this forward as an idea. The first is that the British are in a much weaker position in Afghanistan and the Russians would feel there’s a chance to push their luck a little. The second is that this is the first time the Russians are able to test the waters where the new era of Anglo-Russian relations are concerned. Whilst the British have made it clear that the Tsarevich’s marriage would carry no political ties, I think it would be naïve to think the Russians wouldn’t want to see just how far that position could be moved. It’s also worth bearing in mind that nobody went in to this conference demanding a full Russian withdrawal from the Straits. The aim was to renegotiate – and this is the first step in that renegotiation. See Note 6 too. The butterflies here are not exactly huge ones but they have potential to be used in the future where the Crimea is concerned.

[9] Poor Sir James!
 
Great chapter!
It seems that Sir James may not last much longer as the prime minister. I think that lord Stanley could make a pretty good prime minister. Mostly, because he is pretty laid back and he listens to the King’s ideas.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Great chapter!
It seems that Sir James may not last much longer as the prime minister. I think that lord Stanley could make a pretty good prime minister. Mostly, because he is pretty laid back and he listens to the King’s ideas.
I'm glad to enjoyed it! And thanks again for the reminder about Jack who got his final mention in this chapter.

In defence of Sir James Graham, he's not exactly come to power at the best time and I think he's finding his feet as Prime Minister just as much as George is finding his feet as King. It's a tense relationship and one that needs something to push it into much friendlier territory but Graham's tenure as Prime Minister depends on more than that. Let's put it this way; it can only get better from the point they're at! You're right though, Stanley is much more open to ideas which will make him a valuable asset to the Tories going forward.
 
GV: Part Two, Chapter 34: Making Amends

Opo

Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Two, Chapter Thirty Four: Making Amends

On the second day of the conference at Hampton Court, a special luncheon was to be held in the Orangery, originally built for William III to serve as a greenhouse for exotic plants but which now served as an additional dining room. The morning session of the conference concluded with yet more stalemate; no delegate being prepared as yet to take a firm position on the Straits Pact proposal offered by Prince Gorchakov. But when the delegates arrived at the Orangery for a four-course luncheon (comprised of Croquettes de Poisson, Côtelette de Mouton, Faisan Rôti and Courte aux Pommes avec Riz), they found the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sitting in places where they had expected to see King George and Queen Louise. The Prime Minister was worried. He had not seen the King since the events of the evening before and had spent a restless night replaying his conversation with His Majesty in his head. Sir James knew he had behaved badly and had overstepped his bounds. He had planned to take the King to one side after luncheon and offer his apologies, yet now the King was nowhere to be seen.

In fact, the King and Queen were on their way to Bushy House, the 17th century lodge first built for the Keeper of Bushy Park by William Samwell on the orders of King Charles II [1]. The house had been knocked down, rebuilt, knocked down again, rebuilt a second time, remodelled and then extended, its most recent occupants being the Duke and Duchess of Clarence. The Duchess had never cared for it much, the house having previously played host to the Duke, his mistress Dorothea Jordan and their ten children before the Duke married in 1818. When the Duke died, his brother the Duke of Cambridge honoured his late brother’s wishes in appointing his sister-in-law Adelaide as the Ranger of Bushy Park for her lifetime which gave her exclusive use of the house and which became the Dowager Duchess of Clarence’s official residence. But her poor health saw Adelaide move around the country as the weather changed (“I spend my life running from the damp of England”, she once said sadly) and so Bushy House mostly remained empty.

Bushy_House%2C_Bushy_Park_-_geograph.org.uk_-_362754.jpg

Bushy House on the Bushy Park estate, photographed in 1992.

The King’s arrival at Bushy House caused something a stir. The skeleton staff left at the property scrambled to find something to give the royal couple in the way of food and drink but none of the rooms had been aired and the whole house had a rather neglected atmosphere. For her part, the Queen had no idea why they had suddenly withdrawn from Hampton Court and lunch at the Orangery to head for Bushy Park. That was until the King finally broke his silence and told her what had happened the previous evening.

“What is the point of me?”, he asked wistfully, “I always knew I could not rule but I did not know I could not speak”.

George was facing an internal conflict which only a handful of his predecessors had experienced. In his lessons with Baron Stockmar, it had been carefully explained to him that the monarch did not rule in England, rather they reigned [2]. In practise, this meant that whilst the King could advise his ministers in private, he must always do so without taking a clear position on the political matters of the day lest he express a clear opinion that might put him at odds with his government. Some of his predecessors, including his grandfather King George III, had played fast and loose with this relatively new convention. It was not unheard of for Georgian Kings to dismiss governments because they did not agree with the course they were pursuing and yet George V never wanted to be a political figure. If anything, he found politics tiresome and thought it best left to those foolish enough to seek out high office. That being said, he was not content to be a mere figurehead and he did want a role to play that made him useful and necessary to the workings of government. His trip to Normandy had shown him that he had a particular flair for diplomacy and whilst he understood he could not set foreign policy, he did not see any reason why he could not involve himself in Foreign Affairs so long as he did not take a contradictory opinion to the government of the day or commit the government to agreements it did not find palatable.

It is possible that the conference at Hampton Court gave George a glimpse of what life might have been like had he been able to choose his own path. Surrounded by men like Prince Gorchakov and Prince Metternich, he may well have resented the freedom they had to speak their minds and to chart their own course. At first, he had tried his best to prove his worth amongst them, doing exactly what he believed the King should do; entertain foreign visitors so that they thought highly of Britain and regarded her as a friend, thereby making negotiations or agreements easier to weather. But even this it seemed was a step too far. George felt silenced. Worse than that, he felt useless. All he could see before him was an endless round of ribbon cutting, foundation stone laying and garden parties and whilst he always enjoyed playing host, it was never going to be enough for someone who had ideas and thoughts of his own. Queen Louise listened to her husband’s troubles, saying little until he had finished when she took him in her arms and kissed his cheek gently.

“We must go back Georgie”, she said softly, “It would not do to let them think we do not care”

“We will go back”, George relented, “But not tonight. Uncle Sussex can deputise for me. I just want to stay here”.

The following morning, the King awoke to find the Queen missing. Charlie Phipps told George that Her Majesty had taken advantage of a dry spell in a week of constant downpours to go riding before breakfast. Accompanied by the Duchess of Buccleuch, the Queen made the short journey on horseback to Hampton Court where she sent a footman to the Prime Minister’s rooms. Would he care to join her for a morning walk before the big events of the day? Sir James was hardly in a position to say no, though he was most certainly bleary eyed as he struggled his way into his breeches and top coat and headed out into the Clock Court where he saw the Queen waiting for him.

Queen Louise was by nature an optimist. Her bright disposition earned her the nickname ‘Sunny’ and so determined was she to see the good in people that those around her often wondered how she could remain so cheerful and engaged during the most dull and tedious of engagements. She very rarely lost her temper and was known as something of a peacemaker in the wider family, keen to resolve tensions when they came about because she simply wanted everybody to be happy. But this morning, her usual smile was absent. She didn’t appear angry but in a strange way, she looked sad.

“Good morning Your Majesty”, the Prime Minister said, bowing low and walking beside Louise.

The Queen said nothing. She simply indicated that it was time to walk, the pair making their way further into the Home Park until they were quite alone and not at risk of being overheard. In an attempt to break the awkwardness of the silence, Sir James cleared his throat and said “I hope His Majesty is recovered? We were sad not to see him at the luncheon yesterday, Phipps told me the King was experiencing some discomfort?”

“Yes he was”, Louise said softly, “But he was not unwell. He was hurt Prime Minister, just as I was hurt when he told me what had passed between you”

Sir James looked at the mud collecting on his boots. His face flushed a little with embarrassment. He had spent much of the night replaying his conversation with the King over and over in his head. He knew he had spoken harshly and unfairly. Yet how did one apologise to a King? The Prime Minister was still committed to his belief that the Sovereign should aim to play no part in policy making yet he could see that His Majesty had done nothing to earn the rebuke Sir James gave him. He would have to make amends. Like a guilty public-school boy, he stood in the morning fog fully prepared to receive a lecture on how badly he had behaved. Yet Queen Louise did not seek to humiliate him for his actions. She believed in fairness and where somebody had been unjustly treated, the Queen always sought to put that right.

“I…I believe I have behaved badly Ma’am…I believe I have offended His Majesty”

“You did not offend him Prime Minister”, Louise replied gently, “I think you disappointed him. He thought you trusted him, that you valued his advice and his efforts”

“Oh but I do trust His Majesty, of course I do Ma’am”, Sir James protested, “And I very much value his advice and his efforts on behalf of the government and of the people of this country. I was perhaps a little harsh in my words, I admit that I allowed my own anxieties to cloud my judgement. But I do assure you Ma’am that I believe His Majesty to be a very capable and skilled young man, his advice has proved beneficial to me on many occasions thus far in my time in office. I should never wish the King to feel excluded”

“But he does Sir James”, the Queen said sadly, “He always has. My aunt saw to it that my husband would never truly believe himself capable of any great achievement. I knew that was wrong the moment I met him, even then he was so strong to me, so confident. I saw his potential. It was only later, when I really came to know him, that I realised how very delicate he can be. He bruises easily you see. And I’m afraid your words hurt him very deeply”.

Sir James hoped the ground would open up and swallow him whole. He could not remember the last time he felt such embarrassment.

“I do not pretend to understand the politics of this country”, the Queen said self-deprecatingly, “Perhaps I should not attempt to. But I do know that each of us has our part to play, we all have something to contribute to make a better future for our children. My part was always very clear. I must support the King. It is no chore because I love him Prime Minister. Each day with him is a gift from God, it is the dearest and best thing I could have given to me. But the King has another great love in his life above me, above our children, above all things – he has his country. And all he wishes is that he may serve that country well, to the very best of his abilities and talents. And he has many talents Prime Minister. Do not underestimate him in that. When we came back from France he was so very excited and happy, not because he felt any sense of personal achievement but because he believed he had done his duty well. And that’s all he asks to do now Prime Minister. If only you will trust in him as I do and let him serve his people as he thinks he must and as I know he can”

437px-Jamesgrantham.png

Sir James Graham

The Prime Minister felt a lump in his throat. He had always respected Queen Louise but now, for the very first time, he saw just how deep her devotion to her husband ran within her. In truth, Sir James could relate to her words. He had been Prime Minister for just a year and already there was talk on the Tory backbenches that he wasn’t proving himself to be the asset so many of his colleagues believed he might have been. The problems mounted so quickly, every day seemed to bring a new challenge and yet there never seemed to be time left to focus on his own agenda, the vision he had for the Britain he wanted to build. For too long he had tried to keep his Cabinet ministers on a short leash, involving himself too closely in their work for fear that something may slip through the cracks unnoticed and lead to an almighty scandal or row that would bring his administration crashing down. He would have to learn to relax his grip and to appreciate that no man could ever govern England by himself, though many had tried.

“Thank you Ma’am”, Sir James said, his voice cracking a little, “I do believe that no man could be as fortunate as His Majesty to have such a passionate defender. And he is luckier still that his defender is his also his wife and the mother of his children. I shall go and see the King at once. I shall apologise in the strongest of terms, that I promise you”

Queen Louise smiled. She linked her arm around that of Sir James and the pair began walking back towards the palace.

“Just make him feel wanted Sir James”, the Queen replied softly, “Make him feel wanted and I assure you he will repay your trust so very brilliantly”.

In his memoirs, Sir James Graham wrote “having confidence in one’s colleagues is the most vital asset one can have in tackling the work of government”. It has been often quoted by his successors and though he does not attribute this revelation to Queen Louise, undoubtedly she played a large part in helping him see just how misguided he had been to try and sail the ship of government alone. He would now need to learn to trust the men he had chosen to serve in his government and to trust the man who had appointed them on the Prime Minister’s recommendation, the King. But first, he had to apologise for his earlier transgressions. Rather than simply offer a handful of platitudes however, Sir James took the Queen’s advice. He penned a letter to the King which was hand delivered to Bushy House and which read as follows:-

“It grieves us very deeply that Your Majesty has been taken unwell and cannot be with us, especially as the government feels that there can be no greater asset to this country than her King. Particularly now Sir, though I dare say I do not have the right to petition Your Majesty so, when your own ministers are so very conflicted at the proposal laid before us two days ago. In this matter, I feel that Lord Stanley and I could have no better advisor, and Britain no more dedicated and skilled an advocate, than in the person of our Sovereign. It is therefore my most sincere hope Sir that you may find it possible to return to us as soon as Your Majesty’s health allows, so that Lord Stanley and I may seek an audience with you on this most troubling matter. I have the honour to remain Sir, Your Majesty’s most obedient servant”

George was sceptical and initially resisted the Prime Minister’s request. Yet after a very quiet lunch, as if the entire household had been badgering him non-stop that morning, he suddenly stood up and said loudly; “Oh damn it all, Phipps, we’re going back to the big house, evidently I have my uses sometimes, we shall walk over there now and have the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary come and see me in the library in an hour”.

As he left the room, the King caught sight of his wife smiling.

“Oh Sunny, do stop grinning all over the place and go and change, I can’t be late, things are at a very difficult stage and they need me to help the thing along”.

Louise stood up and made her way to the door, kissing her husband playfully on the cheek as she left; “Very good dear”, she said happily.

Some time later, the King sat in the library with Sir James Graham and Lord Stanley. At first, there was a little awkwardness between George V and his Prime Minister but this soon dissipated as Lord Stanley showed the King a map of the Dardanelles and explained that whilst the Russians controlled the Straits now, they were willing to limit their presence to an agreed quota of warships which was favourable to the other Great Powers. The Prime Minister argued that he believed Gorchakov had been instructed to abandon the terms of the existing treaty with the Ottomans and that if he was pushed, all Russian warships could be barred from the Mediterranean within a fortnight. This was by far the best outcome to strive for as it undoubtedly restricted the opportunities for Russian expansion.

“But as I understand it Prime Minister”, the King said poring over the map and lighting a cigarette, “Lord Stanley seems to believe we may face being shut out in Afghanistan now? And that the Russians are even better placed than they were before to cause us trouble in the Sindh?”

“And I do agree with Lord Stanley on that point Sir”, Graham replied, “But we shall gain nothing in the long run if we give away our best opportunity to restrict Russian warships from passing through the Straits on a regular basis, whether their number is limited or not. And we must not forget that we are to be bound to the quota too, a quota we’re accepting in principle without knowing the detail”

The King thought a while.

“You mentioned penalties Lord Stanley? What are these likely to be?”

“The most obvious condition to set would be a restriction of all vessels from the offending nation Your Majesty, including trade ships. It offers a kind of economic sanction for those nations who would exceed their quota”, Stanley explained.

“I see”, the King said, scratching his head and looking down at the map on the table before him, “Well gentlemen, it seems to me that you both have the answer to your problem staring you in the face”.

“Sir?”

“Lord Stanley is quite right”, the King explained, “If we show goodwill toward the Russians in accepting this Pact, we may gain the advantage we need in Afghanistan. But the Prime Minister has very sound reasons to doubt the proposal Stanley, you must entertain them. Whether it be ten warships or a thousand, there is the possibility that this may exacerbate Russian expansion. And your penalty simply isn’t enough. What you need is a red line in the sand, a mechanism whereby the actions of the offending party violate the pact to such an extent that it is considered nullified. That would allow for the Prime Minister’s proposal to take effect, that only warships belonging to the allies of the Sultan may pass through the Straits in a time of conflict”

But the Foreign Secretary was not convinced; “Why would the Russians agree to that though Sir?”

“Because the alternative is that we reject the proposal and convince the other delegates to do likewise, thus the Russians lose all access to the Straits as the Prime Minister believes they have prepared themselves to accept in the first place”

“And what would the mechanism be to prevent them tearing up the Pact at a later stage?”, the Prime Minister asked, now slowly coming to the realisation that the King was not only capable but that he was handling the situation far better than most politicians might.

“Oh I don’t know”, the King shrugged, “Something such as as a signatory to the Pact making an act of war against a fellow signatory or consistently violating the quota. And the Russians will have to pursue those options if they ever wish to return to the status quo we have today. If they honour their proposal, we can monitor how many Russian warships are in the Mediterranean, where they are and what their objective is and we gain something where Afghanistan is concerned. Violating the quota they agree with us now will lead to the economic sanctions Lord Stanley suggests and perhaps that will prove deterrent enough. But if it does not and if the Russians violate the Pact in its entirety, the Ottomans will close the Straits to all but their allies and the Russians will be kept out of the Mediterranean as you wish them to be Prime Minister, surely that’s a compromise you can both live with?”

“But that could mean war Sir”, Graham said tentatively.

“Undoubtedly”, the King replied bluntly, “But there shall be a war anyway if they take the actions you’re predicting, Pact or no Pact. And if the signatories to the pact felt it worth fighting for because it keeps the balance of power in the Concert of Europe…”

“It would make us allies against the Russian threat and Russia would not dare take on the Great Powers as a unified force”, Lord Stanley finished the King’s train of thought for him, “I think it’s a very sound proposal James, I really do”. [3]

This became the agreed position of the British government as it returned to the negotiating table. The Austrians indicated that they were prepared to accept the Straits Pact without the caveats Lord Stanley put forward but the moment the penalties were presented to the conference, Metternich applauded them and promised to support the British in including the so-called red line in the sand in the final text agreed. Prussia followed suit. France and Spain did likewise. The Ottomans were wary, having no real reason to trust that Russia would honour any agreement it made but mindful of the fact that had it not been for Russian support, Egypt, the Sudan and possibly Constantinople, would be in the hands of the Ali dynasty. Prince Gorchakov enthusiastically accept Stanley’s conditions; he could now return to St Petersburg and tell the Tsar that whilst Russian’s access to the Mediterranean would be limited from now on, it had not been closed altogether as most believed would be the outcome of the conference. The Straits Pact of 1841 was agreed and the text committed to paper by a clerk from the House of Commons. It would be taken to Westminster Hall and signed on the final day of the conference, the Great Powers congratulating themselves that they had maintained balance and secured peace in Europe once more.

Back at Buckingham Palace when the conference had concluded, the King was in ebullient mood. Just as the Queen predicted, the reassurance that his advice was valued cheered him enormously. And there was further opportunity to make use of his talents in the coming months too. Upon their return to London, the Queen was handed a letter from her mother. The Queen’s sister Duchess Caroline was engaged to be married to the Crown Prince of Denmark and as a result, the King and Queen would have to leave for their German holiday a little earlier than planned. Queen Louise was not entirely enthusiastic about her sister’s marriage. Crown Prince Frederick had already been married, to his cousin Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark, but the marriage quickly ended in divorce. Yet Caroline seemed to like Frederick and this was enough for the Strelitzes to give their blessing. They were to marry in June at Neustrelitz and the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess hoped that the King and Queen would be present. There was also talk in the family that Louise of Hesse-Kassel (a first cousin to both King George V and Queen Louise) was expecting an imminent proposal of marriage from the dashing Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Ironically, Duchess Caroline’s marriage to Crown Prince Frederick was just as miserable as his first and ended in divorce. The couple had no children and in the fullness of time, Christian and Louise became King and Queen of Denmark when Frederick died in 1863. [4]

Caroline_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz.jpg

Duchess Caroline of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, later (and briefly) Crown Princess of Denmark.

The King apologised to the Prime Minister in their weekly audience that certain agreed engagements may have to be postponed to fit the new schedule, especially as the newly established Hanover Week was to extend the King’s trip abroad even further. The Prime Minister did not seem overly enthusiastic at this news but for very different reasons than the King might have expected.

“I wish the Duchess and the Crown Prince every happiness”, Graham said rather obsequiously, “But I had hoped to convince Your Majesty to undertake a visit elsewhere during your time on the continent”

“Oh?”

“You see Sir, now we have agreed to the Straits Pact, we must set the new quotas to be applied under its terms and in order to gain the best outcome for Britain, I had hoped that I might persuade Your Majesty to pay a state visit to Prussia. I believe the Austrians will strive for balance and I consider that the Prussian government will seek to keep Russian access to a minimum but I fear they may wish to limit our presence in the Mediterranean too Sir. It is my hope that a visit to Berlin may warm the Prussians to our way of thinking and I know that King Frederick was very touched by your attendance at the funeral of his father”

The King nodded, “Well if you think we can do some good, I should of course be only to happy to –“

“And there is also the question of the French state visit Sir”, Sir James interrupted, “They shall be expecting a return invitation after Your Majesty’s visit to Normandy and again, we shall want King Louis-Philippe to be favourable towards our requirements during the talks on quotas in the Straits, Lord Stanley believes September would be the most opportune time for such a visit if Your Majesty finds that agreeable?”

At the end of their audience, Graham withdrew and Charlie Phipps entered the room.

“A long audience today Your Majesty”, Phipps said, removing one stack of papers on the King’s desk for another”

“Yes it was”, the King said.

“Anything of note Sir?”

“I believe he was trying to say sorry”, the King replied with a smile, “It seems my wife has rather busy”.


Notes

[1] Some inhabitants of Bushy House were not in fact Rangers of the park but by the reign of George III, the house always came with the title and was given to the Duke of Clarence in 1797. As in the OTL, the Dowager Duchess of Clarence didn't really spend much time there and in fact, the house remained empty from 1849 until 1865 when Queen Victoria offered it to the Duke of Nemours in exile.

[2] Always a hotly debated topic of course and ironically, this is what Stockmar always told Queen Victoria in the OTL whilst encouraging her husband Albert to involve himself in politics, especially foreign policy which was largely dependent on his direction in the years before his death. Lord Palmerston once said that he didn't see why Prince Albert wasn't appointed Foreign Secretary given that he directed much of Britain's foreign policy in the 1850s. Though I assume this was said in some degree of jest!

[3] I wrote two versions of this chapter, one where the British rejected the Pact and one where they accepted it. All things considered, I think that the Tory approach from now on would be to focus on the British interests in India in place of embarking on any new mad adventures elsewhere. China will be a problem and we'll return to the tensions there in the next chapter but in the balance, I think Britain has more to gain by accepting the Pact than it does by rejecting it - especially where Afghanistan is concerned. And Britain's interests there (now threatened by the Russians) are far more important.

[4] As in the OTL, though some of the marriages of their illustrious children will differ in TTL.
 
GV: Part Two, Chapter 35: Old Foes

Opo

Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Two, Chapter Thirty Five: Old Foes

In the days before the King and Queen departed for Germany, an unexpected note came from Kew Palace, now the official residence of the King’s mother, the Dowager Queen Louise. Louise had lived entirely alone at Kew since 1838 and was allowed few visitors, none of them members of the Royal Family for fear she may try to rehabilitate herself or cause further troubles. In the early days of her confinement at Kew, the Queen was not allowed to send or receive any letters but this had been slowly relaxed so long as a list was kept of whom precisely the Dowager Queen was corresponding with. It appears that (perhaps for form’s sake), the Queen Mother’s sister Grand Duchess Marie had sent her a letter with news that Duchess Caroline (the Dowager Queen’s niece) was to be married. It was not an invitation, Grand Duchess Marie knew better than that, yet the Queen Mother was becoming restless. Shut out for longer than she had imagined she might be, she sent a note to her son informing him that she intended to go to Neustrelitz for the ceremony. She did not expect to accompany the King and Queen, she would make her own travel arrangements and she would find suitable accommodation nearby with friends in Neustrelitz so that any contact with her son would be minimal. Had she asked permission, it is possible that Queen Louise might have convinced the King to accept the Queen Mother’s request. Instead, the King dispatched Charlie Phipps to Kew on an unenviable mission.

Phipps noted in his diary that the Dowager Queen “looked so much older than her years” (she was after all only 47) and that her dress was “somewhat shabby, the lace on her cuffs frayed and her hair speckled with grey”. Kew itself was described as “damp, gloomy and devoid of any charm” and Phipps noted that many of the rooms were kept shuttered, the furniture covered with large grey dustsheets. The Dowager lived in just three rooms at Kew, using the King’s Breakfast Room as a kind of all day salon connected to the King’s Closet and the King’s Bedroom. Little had changed in the décor since the reign of King George III, though the Dowager Queen had substituted the King’s bed for that of the late Queen Charlotte found in the Queen’s Apartments. “There were no family portraits on display”, Phipps recalled, “They had been replaced with oils of vases of flowers or scenes from Windsor”. The Queen Mother’s staff were few in number, restricted only to a lady’s maid called Wilson and a butler called Stafford. These aged retainers had been in the service of the Royal Family since the late 1760s and were both approaching their mid-70s. They served the Dowager Queen devotedly, yet it was a far cry from the days when Louise ruled the royal residences with a rod of iron.

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Kew Palace, once known as the Dutch House but known today as the Dower House at Kew.

The King’s Private Secretary had the delicate task of explaining to the Queen Mother that the King had forbidden her to leave Kew and that she should not expect to make the journey to Neustrelitz. Having seen the Dowager Queen at close quarters in years gone by, Phipps dreaded the inevitable hysterics and yet he was in for a surprise. When he told Louise that the King “would prefer her to remain at Kew”, she simply nodded in agreement.

“As His Majesty wishes”, she said quietly, continuing with her embroidery as Phipps spoke. Making to leave, the Dowager asked Phipps if he might stay to tea. He could hardly refuse. He half expected her to ask questions about the family; was the King well? Were her grandchildren happy and healthy? Yet the Queen Mother had only one topic of conversation on her mind, indeed, Phipps quickly worked out that the Dowager Queen had never intended to go to Neustrelitz at all; she wanted more money and the only way to get it was to corner Phipps and send him back to Buckingham Palace with her request. She explained that her allowance had been so drastically cut (from £45,000 a year to just £10,000) that she could not afford to maintain Kew and that if she did not receive an increase in her annuity she would have to ask the King to find a more suitable home for her to live in.

“Of course, it is so very silly that Marlborough House is now empty…”, she said airily, “It was always such a comfortable residence, though heaven knows what state I should find it in now after my daughter’s…renovations…”

“I must warn you Ma’am that I feel it unlikely that His Majesty will consider an increase to any allowances this year”, Phipps said tentatively, “The cost of living remains high and the King does not feel the Royal Family should be seen to ask for additional sums until the crisis is resolved. As for Marlborough House…”

“I would be quite prepared to move my household there by the Spring”, the Dowager Queen replied, ignoring Phipps’s warning completely, “Pray God the increase in my allowance will allow me to find better servants. They really are so very lazy. They complain they have nothing to do but I tell them, we have plenty to do. They shall have to retire before I am returned to court, I fear they could never adjust”. [1]

Phipps raised an eyebrow. After thanking the Dowager for his tea, he made the journey back to Buckingham Palace. He decided not to present the Dowager Queen’s request to the King but rather to take it to her niece, daughter-in-law, namesake and successor, Queen Louise. Louise knew that any mention of the King's mother was likely to send George into a sulk, the mere mention of her name having long been prohibited at court. Yet she had some sympathy with her aunt. Regardless of how she had treated her children and putting to one side the fact that she was so deeply unpopular with the people and with the Royal Family itself, the Queen promised Phipps she would try and find a solution. She secretly sent a promissory note to her aunt for £5,000 with a card that read “With deepest affection, Louise R”. The Queen decided it was a small price to pay to keep her mother-in-law from antagonising the King with her requests. It proved to be so. At least for a time, anyway.

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The Dowager Queen Louise.

King George and Queen Louise left England in the second week of May 1841 and made the long journey to Berlin where they were to stay at the Charlottenburg Palace, a familiar setting to both. The King had visited Berlin twice before, once in 1834 on his first foreign tour and again with his wife in 1840 for the funeral of King Frederick William III. This time however, the mood at the Schloss was far more celebratory and King Frederick William IV and his wife Queen Elisabeth were delighted to welcome their British counterparts to the Charlottenburg. They were housed in the East Wing where the Queen’s aunt and namesake, Luise, had lived with her husband Frederick William III until her untimely death in 1810 at the age of 34. Indeed, at the welcome ceremony Queen Elisabeth presented Queen Louise with a portrait of the late Prussian consort as a gift which now hangs at Lisson Park in the Queen's Library. As a further reinforcement of family ties, King Frederick William IV presented Queen Louise with the insignia of the Order of Queen Louise in the rank of Dame First Class which she wore to the state banquet that evening, the King beside her wearing the insignia of a Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle given to him in 1834 by the Prussian King’s late father when George V was just 14 years old.

Much of this visit was purely ceremonial, the real diplomatic advantages to be won discussed in back rooms by the Prussian and British foreign ministers, Lord Stanley having joined Their Majesties for the first leg of their German tour. He would later meet with them again at the start of Hanover Week which inadvertently began the custom of the British Foreign Secretary forced to attend the week-long itinerary of parades and dinners in Hanover which almost all of Lord Stanley’s successors came to regard as a dreaded inconvenience before the task was passed over to a junior minister representing the Foreign Secretary instead. Yet despite government officials taking the lead in the talks in Berlin, there was an opportunity for George to lend a hand. In private talks with the King of Prussia, he was able to highlight the difficulties ahead where the quota system of the Straits Pact was concerned and in a roundabout way, he tried to make King Frederick William understand that Britain had her concerns that the quotas must be equally balanced to make the Pact a success. Frederick William agreed. In truth, he was not happy that Baron von Werther had given Prussian approval to the Pact at Hampton Court and he made it abundantly clear that Prussia would only accept the most minimal presence of Russian warships going through the Turkish Straits.

However, this did not mean that the King and Queen’s visit to Berlin had been a waste of time. Indeed, they were well received in the Prussian capital with thousands turning out to see them as they paid visits to the Brandenburg Gate, the Gendarmenmarkt with it’s imposing French and German cathedrals and of course, the Königliches Schauspielhaus where the royal couple were treated to a performance of Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber, one of the most influential figures in German Romantic Opera. This would have significant repercussions later on when the King and Queen returned to England. The King’s Theatre had renamed itself in honour of Queen Louise in 1838 but now, the Queen improved her relationship with the house company who became the first theatre company in England to be given royal patronage as ‘The Queen’s Players’. They were financially supported by Her Majesty personally who hand-picked the plays they would perform and Queen Louise promoted the company further by attending their first opening night in October 1841 when the Players staged a revival of the popular play The Maid of Mariendorpt by James Sheridan Knowles. Today, the Queen’s Players still exist and retain their home at the Queen’s Theatre. Since 1895, they have presented awards to prominent actors, playwrights and directors, the most prestigious being the Queen Louise Medal whose recipients have included Sir Noel Coward, Richard Burton, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Dame Maggie Smith.

But the royal couple’s visit to Berlin also saw them make a new acquaintance who would become particularly important for those studying the lives of the British Royal Family in the future as well as the art world. Franz Winterhalter was a German painter born in Baden in 1805 and with the patronage of Baden’s Grand Dukes, he quickly established himself as a favoured court painter who excelled in portraiture. The King and Queen met Winterhalter on their visit to the Prussian Academy of Arts and by September, George V had commissioned him to create a portrait of Queen Louise. Winterhalter’s portrait so impressed the royal couple and was so well-liked by King George V that he would continue to offer patronage to Winterhalter until the painter’s death in 1873. Winterhalter painted the Princess Royal in 1842 and almost every member of the British Royal Family sat for Winterhalter between 1841 and 1870. But Winterhalter’s portrait of Queen Louise is also notable for whilst the King wished her to be depicted in her full regalia with tiara, orders and her coronation robes, the artist disagreed. Instead, the Queen wore a simple green silk gown trimmed with white organza speckled with pearl bead work. When George V saw the final work, he remarked; “Two things are clear to me. The first is that my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. The second is that Mr Winterhalter is the greatest artist of his generation”.

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Queen Louise by Winterhalter, 1841. [2]

With an agreement worked out on the forthcoming talks to set the quota system implemented by the Straits Pact, the King and Queen enjoyed the last remaining days of their hosts’ generosity. Yet the farewell banquet was overshadowed by the presence of one guest the King did not relish meeting again: his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland. Word had been sent ahead of George and Louise to the Prussian court that the King would welcome the addition of his cousin Prince George of Cumberland to the guestlist, George having also been invited to accompany the King and Queen to the wedding of the Crown Prince of Denmark and Duchess Caroline in Neustrelitz. But whether by accident or design, the King of Prussia extended this invitation to Prince George’s father who had lived in Berlin since his ignominious retreat from Britain over a decade or so earlier. The Duke was now an old man of 70, almost completely bald but for a few wisps of white hair at his temples though his impressive moustaches were still as thick and full as ever. He was to be seated beside Queen Louise at the farewell banquet (with King Frederick’s younger brother and eventual heir Prince Wilhelm of Prussia on the other side) and the Duke immediately caused a stir when he arrived in his uniform as a British Colonel and his insignia as a Knight of the Order of the Garter with none of his Prussian decorations on show.

For nearly three hours, the Duke loudly complained to his niece Queen Louise that the Cumberland lot was not a happy one. The Duchess was gravely unwell, laid low by a nasty infection of the chest. But the real cause of her malaise, the Duke insisted, was their living conditions. Much like his old ally the Dowager Queen at Kew, Cumberland had seen his annuity from the Civil List cut but for very different reasons. Officially, the Duke lived abroad and as such, was only entitled to a modest salary from the Crown. Unofficially, it was no secret that the King disliked his uncle and saw no reason why he deserved an inflated allowance. There had been a clash between the royal couples following the death of the Queen’s aunt the Princess of Thurn and Taxis, the Duchess of Cumberland insisting that Louise had no right to inherit jewels which she felt should go to the Princess’ immediate family instead. Now jewels were on the Cumberlands’ list of grievances once again.

When Queen Charlotte died, her vast collection of jewels was divided among her children according to a carefully compiled list she had diligently kept for many years as she acquired new pieces. Her successor, Queen Louise (King George V’s mother, now the Dowager Queen) took great pains to distribute the jewels as her mother-in-law had requested but when it came to the Cumberlands, there was no bequest listed. This was little wonder; Queen Charlotte bitterly opposed the Duke’s wife even though Frederica was her niece and she forbad the Duke from visiting her. They remained estranged and were not reconciled when Queen Charlotte died in 1818 and whilst the Duke received a substantial sum when his father King George III died in 1820, he now seemed to believe that there was a part of his mother’s estate to which he was still owed; he wanted his share of Queen Charlotte’s collection of jewels. [3]

“Of course, I have not pressed the matter before Sunny”, he told Queen Louise at the Charlottenburg, using her nickname in a display of cringe-making overfamiliarity, “But you see, Freddie’s doctors tell me we should find a house away from Berlin. The air is not good for her here. But as I told them, my purse doesn’t run to it. Can’t run to it. And then I remembered that I never did settle that matter....”

Queen Louise sipped a glass of cold Riesling.

“I shall ask Phipps to look into for you Uncle”, she said kindly, “Now I think it may be time to turn, I-“

“Phipps is it? I shall make a note of that”, Cumberland interrupted, “You see I do have a list, in fact I could have a copy sent for, dash it all, where is that man Hoffer?”

The Duke looked about for his manservant.

“Please don’t worry Uncle”, the Queen reassured Cumberland politely, “We can discuss it at another time”

“Quite so”, the Duke nodded with his mouthful of meringue, “I asked George to mention it but he’s so unreliable, head in the clouds most of the time. Of course, I did mean to raise the matter with you at Neustrelitz but much as your dear mother begged me to attend, I can’t leave Freddie until she is recovered. She would have been here tonight of course but…well, that is how things are. I had hoped Georgie would visit her before he leaves…”

“Really Uncle, I will ask him, I promise you but I –“

Try as she might, Queen Louise was caught in Cumberland’s sights and for the rest of the meal, she was forced to listen to his litany of financial woes and thinly veiled digs at his brothers alive and dead. When the banquet was finally over, Louise told the King what had transpired, George having successfully ignored the Duke for most of the evening.

“Visit Aunt Freddie?”, the King laughed, “That wicked old creature? Good heavens no. A pound to a penny she's fit and well and wants to catch us on that blessed jewellery business again. I've sent a note back with George but I can think of nothing I want to do less than go to that horrid little townhouse of theirs to sit through another three hours of begging”

“You didn’t sit through it!”, Louise protested with a smile, “I did!”

Arriving at Neustrelitz a few days later, George and Louise were delighted to be in the company of far more agreeable relations. But there was also the thrill of being reunited with the Princess Royal, brought to Neustrelitz by Princess Augusta of Cambridge from Bautzen a little earlier than planned. The three-year-old was given a special role to play at the wedding ceremony of Crown Prince Frederick and Duchess Caroline as a flower girl, dressed in a pale lilac gown with small white roses sewn into her hair. This moved the King enormously and it was important to both George and his wife to see their daughter taking on all the usual activities which might be offered to other children of her age, despite her disability. The wedding itself was notable for other reasons too; the groom caused concern among those gathered when it became clear he was intoxicated at the ceremony, so much so that he briefly sat down to steady himself during the service leaving his wife standing alone for a few moments at the altar. Queen Louise confided in her mother Grand Duchess Marie that she thought Caroline had made a terrible mistake; “That isn’t for you to say”, Marie sniffed, “Really Sunny, you should not say such things. Be happy for your sister!”. In fact, the Queen was right. Within just 5 years, the Crown Prince’s excessive drinking and shameless womanizing led to scandal and divorce. Caroline later remarked of her erstwhile husband; “He really was much too bizarre!”. [4]

Before leaving Neustrelitz, George was disappointed to hear that his cousin the Earl of Armagh was to leave the party early and head back to Berlin. His mother, the Duchess of Cumberland, had taken a turn for the worse.

“Oh George, that really is too bad”, the King said, a little insensitively, “You see, I have been speaking with Aunt Adelaide and I had something I wanted to put to you. She no longer wishes to stay at Bushy Park and though Uncle William intended her to have the place for her lifetime, she’s far more comfortable at Witley. So I wondered if you might possibly consider becoming my Ranger of the Park? The allowance isn’t much but the house is quite charming and I would pay for all the renovations you need. Think it over would you? We’d very much like to see more of you and you should be with the family more, not stuck here in Berlin with so little to do”.

The Earl of Armagh thanked the King for his generous offer. He too was sad to be leaving Neustrelitz early. Though he was naturally worried for his mother’s health, he had been greatly enjoying himself, especially when he found himself in the company of his cousin, Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel. Auguste had just turned 18 and was considered a great beauty with all the charm and elegance the Hesse princesses had become known for. It appears she liked Prince George too, attracted by his confidence despite his physical difficulties. She sat next to him at the wedding breakfast given in honour of the newly-weds and later wrote to Queen Louise asking if she thought she might write to him, or whether it may give the wrong impression. [5]

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Auguste of Hesse-Kassel.

Louise gently nudged Prince George in the right direction so that a letter reached Rumpenheim before Augusta made the first move. Romance was in the air elsewhere at Neustrelitz. Before the guests departed, a special ball was held at which Prince William of Hesse-Kassel announced that his daughter Louise (a former favourite of King George V) was engaged to be married to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. The King and Queen were delighted for the couple, though George privately noted that Christian had limited prospects and that Louise “may have to rough it as the poor fellow hasn’t two pennies to rub together”. Nonetheless, George and Louise liked Christian for his unassuming and jovial nature and they invited the couple to visit them in England before the year was out, that visit cementing a long-standing friendship between the King George V and the future King Christian IX of Denmark. [6]

From Neustrelitz, the King and Queen made their way to Hanover. Following criticism the previous year that they had by-passed Hanover without so much as a by-your-leave, the King had decided to implement something known as Hanover Week which would see Their Majesties pay an annual visit to the Kingdom taking up residence at Herrenhausen for just seven days during which time they would pack in all the usual trappings of their day-to-day duties in England in just one week. Initially, the British government was apathetic to the idea and most expected it may prove to be something of a busted flush. Yet when the King and Queen arrived for the welcome parade, it appeared that everyone and his wife had turned out to see Their Majesties. Swapping their coach for a landau at Schulenberg, the King and Queen waved to the assembled crowds as they made the short journey to Herrenhausen. There, a regimental band played God Save the King and other popular marches as the Viceroy, the Duke of Cambridge, handed over his sword to the King who touched it with a gloved hand before the Duke replaced it. This was to signify that whilst the King had formally taken up residence in Hanover, the Viceroy remained his chief representative. There was a balcony appearance before a grand luncheon attended by the great and good of the land with just a few hours rest before a gala was held in the palace ballroom.

The following day, the King and Queen travelled by carriage again to the Assembly building where George V delivered an address on the theme of “well-established dynastic ties transformed into a new (but no less fond) relationship between the Sovereign and his loyal subjects in Hanover”. For those critics who felt that the British monarchy had treated Hanover as a kind of personal holiday home rather than as a serious extension of their birth right, the King’s address was music to their ears. Those who had published harsh critiques of the King’s decision in 1840 to skip a visit to Hanover were not silenced, rather they now wrote glowing letters of praise instead. There was no time for the King to congratulate himself on his innovation, however. After the meeting at the Assembly, the royal couple rushed back to Herrenhausen where a luncheon was held for the Privy Council of Hanover. The following day, a garden party was on the agenda for 300 specially invited guests to be hosted in the impressive grounds of the King’s official residence in his Kingdom of Hanover. But that summer was particularly hot and just an hour before the garden party was due to begin, the Queen had to disappoint the eager crowds desperate to catch a glimpse of her and ask her Aunt Augusta to deputise for her instead. She was exhausted from the endless round of engagements and needed time to rest if she was to make the Guelph Day parade the following morning.

The first ever Guelph Day was held on the 24th of June 1841 and was modelled on the Garter Day parade held annually at Windsor. Ostensibly it was held to celebrate the Royal Guelphic Order and on this inaugural Guelph Day, Letters Patent were issued to modify the constitutional of the Royal Guelphic Order founded by the late Prince Regent. George V limited the number of Knights Grand Cross to just 24 and for the first time, it was announced that women were to be admitted to what was to become the senior Royal House Order of the British Royal Family. Queen Louise was the first Dame Grand Cross of the Order, the second being the Duchess of Cambridge. Both received pale blue sashes with a glittering diamond breast star enamelled with the white horse of Hanover on a red background in the centre just before the parade began and were formally invested with the King draping white and light blue mantles around their shoulders and placing bonnets with white and blue plumes upon their heads. These robes had been designed by the Prince Regent in 1815 but had never actually been worn before, there never being an occasion at which the costume seemed necessary. Some modifications were made to the robes, the Knights spared the gloves and spurs which everybody agreed looked quite ridiculous. Now, the most esteemed members of the Royal Guelphic Order donned their medieval-inspired attire and began their stately march from the Palace forecourt through the Gardens where a fleet of carriages stood waiting to take them to the Garrison Church for a special service of thanksgiving.

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The Prince Regent's design for the robes to be worn by his Knights of the Royal Guelphic Order.

King George was delighted with the success of the first Hanover Week bar the service at the Garrison Church which he thought particularly shabby. For this reason, he commissioned a brand-new church to be built in Hanover and set the task of designing it to his favourite architect Decimus Burton. The Royal Guelphic Chapel was to be built on the site of the Garrison Church which was demolished in 1842 and the chapel’s construction completed in 1844. As at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the banners of the Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order were to be displayed in the Quire and as a tribute to the Duke of Cambridge, orders were given that his standard was to fly above the chapel whenever he was in residence at Herrenhausen. A statue of the Duke was placed above the door of the chapel in 1851 and though it was intended to honour future viceroys in the same way, this was never followed through and so today it is only the Duke of Cambridge who looks down in effigy as tourists make their way into the chapel.

Though the King and Queen might usually travel to Leipzig or Bautzen in the summer to spend time with the Princess Royal, the addition of their visit to Prussia and the bringing forward of Hanover Week saw their schedule become so arduous that instead they opted to head south to spend a week at Rumpenheim with their uncle William of Hesse-Kassel before travelling on to Rheinstein Castle near Wiesbaden as guests of Prince Alexander of Prussia. Rheinstein was officially the home of Alexander’s father Prince Frederick but he was in Berlin and Prince Alexander was using the castle for the duration of the summer. It was later to become Alexander's favourite residence and King George V spent many happy summers there when the Princess Royal eventually left Leipzig. The King had not seen Alexander for some time and though one might assume there would be a degree of awkwardness, the Prince having abandoned his mistress Rosalinde Wiedl who now found herself a close friend and confidant of King George, it was not unusual for such women to hop between European courts as they found and lost favour with Kings, Grand Dukes and Princes.

But when George and Louise arrived, they found a sober atmosphere awaiting them. News had just come from Berlin that the Duchess of Cumberland had died. She was 63 years old. As well as being an aunt to both King George V and Queen Louise, Frederica was also the grandmother of Prince Alexander, his grandfather Prince Louis Charles of Prussia being Frederica’s first husband who died in 1796. As a mark of respect, all festivities planned for the King and Queen’s stay at Rheinstein were cancelled, though it must be said that neither Prince Alexander nor King George V had any real affection for the late Duchess. The King sent a letter of condolence to his uncle and another to his cousin the Earl of Armagh but there was no question of the King and Queen heading back to Berlin for the funeral. At her own request, the Duchess had opted for her remains to be buried at the New Crypt at the Johanniterkirche in Mirow. The Duke had hoped to construct a vast mausoleum for his family in the grounds of the church but he insisted he could not afford to do so, the basis of yet another request for more money from his nephew. [7]

Despite his animosity towards his aunt, the King ordered that a Service of Thanksgiving be held for the Duchess at St George’s Chapel, Windsor upon Their Majesties’ return from Germany. It was sparsely attended. When Princess Mary was asked why she had bothered to go at all when everybody knew she hated her sister-in-law, she replied unkindly; “Because I wanted to be quite sure she was really dead”. Though the King had invited his cousin Prince George to England to represent his father at the service, the Duke (perhaps not unreasonably) turned up with him. Cumberland made heavy weather of his return to England and though he might have re-opened either of his homes at Windsor or Kew, he opted instead to rely on the generosity of the King and Queen by availing himself of a suite of rooms at Windsor Castle. He showed no great eagerness to return back to Berlin but given the circumstances, King George was forced to bite his lip and tolerate his uncle’s prolonged presence.

It was just a few days after the memorial service held for the Duchess of Cumberland at Windsor that Queen Louise was taken unwell. She had been pale for a few days, overly tired and prone to bouts of vomiting. She was experienced enough to know what her symptoms meant and yet she dared not suggest the cause until it was officially confirmed by Dr Alison; Her Majesty was pregnant once again. She heaved a huge sigh of relief for privately she had been worried that her miscarriage at the turn of the year might mean she could no longer conceive a child. Dr Allison reassured her that it was very unlikely she would face a similar outcome. She was in good health and all signs pointed to the delivery of a healthy child sometime after Christmas. But as delighted as the King was, he was taking no chances this time. Against her wishes, George insisted that the Queen remain at Windsor until the baby was born. She was not to undertake any official engagements, neither was she to risk any long journeys to other royal residences. He demanded a daily medical examination of his wife and ordered that the reports from these be presented to him each day so that he could be absolutely certain that all was going well with the Queen’s pregnancy.

This caused a certain degree of frustration on the Queen’s part. But it also led the King to lose his temper with his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland. The Earl of Armagh had by this time accepted the King’s kind offer to reside at Bushy Park at Ranger (this also made him the ex-officio Lieutenant of Hampton Court Chase, which the Earl particularly enjoyed) and he quickly set about listing the redecoration plans the King had so generously promised to pay for. But the Duke of Cumberland began to interfere. Furthermore, he kept sending Queen Louise little notes reminding her of their conversation in Berlin regarding Queen Charlotte’s jewels. Cumberland was even more invested in the matter now that he was a widower, feeling that his Berlin townhouse was far too big for him alone. He would need to find a smaller residence, he said, though the houses he had in mind did not come with small price tags. When the King discovered that his uncle had been badgering the Queen, he immediately dispatched Phipps to make it clear to the Duke that he was fast outstaying his welcome. It had been four weeks since the Duchess of Cumberland was honoured with a memorial service at St George’s and now, Phipps suggested as diplomatically as he could, it might be time for the Duke to consider returning home to Germany.

“Oh but I can’t do that”, the Duke objected, “You see, I do not yet know where home shall be from now on. In fact, I was thinking of opening the Lodge until I find somewhere more suitable. Though it’s likely to be difficult…money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to”.

Eventually, the King gave in. He offered his uncle a lump sum of £10,000 to be used to top-up his bank balance and this allowed the Duke to purchase Schloss Elze, a 16th century modest manor house in Hildesheim. It was here that the Duke of Cumberland would spend the last years of his life. Increasingly bitter, he constantly requested further financial assistance from his nephew but his requests fell on deaf ears and an increase in his allowance never materialised. In 1845, he shocked the Royal Family by taking himself a new wife, Edith Wegener, a Hanoverian widow 24 years his junior. Because he did not seek the King’s permission for this marriage (which no doubt would have been refused anyway), the marriage was declared void under the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Less than six months later, Wegener deserted her new husband and left him alone at Schloss Elze. She was never heard from again but it is believed that she took with her the remainder of the Duke’s fortune. He died on the 18th of November 1851 at the age of 80 and by his own request, was buried alongside his wife in Mirow. [8]

The news that the Queen was expecting another child began to occupy the King's mind constantly, much to the exhaustion of those around him. Naturally he worried that things may go wrong as they had before. Yet he could not hide his excitement either. He was determined the child was to be a boy and though this may tempt readers to imagine he had a kind of Henry VIII style obsession with securing a male heir, in reality he just wanted a son with whom he could share his interests. The King’s journal at this time reveals that as soon as the Queen’s pregnancy was confirmed, George began making lists of suitable names; George was not to be considered (“There are too many Georges already”) and the King issued instructions to Charlie Phipps that the moment the Queen gave birth and the announcement was made, he would create his son Prince of Wales without delay as he did not wish to wait until the christening. Likewise, the royal nursery was to have a complete overhaul before the baby’s arrival and Major Smith was asked to begin the search for a suitable military colleague of good standing to serve as Head of the Prince of Wales’ Household from the very start.

One thing was certain; this baby was the most eagerly anticipated arrival in all England and nobody could get a word of sense from the King for as long as he anxiously awaited the arrival of his son and heir.

Notes

[1] As stated in a previous chapter, this never happens but in 1841, the Dowager Queen would still have hope that her estrangement (and virtual confinement to Kew) is only temporary.

[2] Winterhalter's Unknown Woman in Green conveniently doubles for Queen Louise here!

[3] This is based on a real life difference of opinion the Duke of Cumberland (as King of Hanover in the OTL) with his niece Victoria. He complained that the Queen was refusing to hand over "my diamonds" and went so far as to seek legal arbitration to determine ownership. Naturally the matter was settled in Victoria's favour which did little to repair the frosty relationship between the two.

[4] A real quote from Duchess Caroline in reference to her former husband.

[5] She was actually known as Augusta but I use the alternative spelling here because we already have Augusta of Hesse-Kassel (the Duchess of Cambridge) and Princess Augusta of Cambridge, so Auguste is easier in the long run!

[6] The Danish succession crisis is far too complex to get involved in in any great detail here so forgive this relatively brief description of events.

[7] Obviously in the OTL she was buried at the Mausoleum at Herrenhausen as Queen consort of Hanover, a position she never held in TTL.

[8] It's unlikely we'll meet the Duke of Cumberland again so giving this insight into his future seems appropriate. Naturally in the OTL none of this happened because he was King of Hanover and I had to plot out what I thought was most likely for him as an extended member of the Royal Family living in a kind of self-imposed exile.

Double helpings today!

This is mostly because I realise the last two chapters have been very politics/diplomacy heavy and haven't really moved us on all that much in time. So to correct the pace a little and to provide something different for readers I know prefer the focus to be on the Royal Family themselves, we have an additional instalment today which I hope everyone enjoys. As ever, many thanks for reading!
 
This continues to be excellent :)

And a boy... Combined with the King reaffirming his status as King of Hanover and being a bit more of a presence there... This'll be interesting. With a potential son, Hanover could remain in union with Britain for quite a bit longer...
 
This continues to be excellent :)

And a boy... Combined with the King reaffirming his status as King of Hanover and being a bit more of a presence there... This'll be interesting. With a potential son, Hanover could remain in union with Britain for quite a bit longer...

We've known that a William IV appears to take the throne after George, apparently his son (there's been a reference to the Prince of Wales being called Willy in the late 1840s), and I'm sure there's been a hint about the future of the Hanoverian Union, other than that there is eventually an Elizabeth II ITTL too.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
This continues to be excellent :)
Thank you so much!
We've known that a William IV appears to take the throne after George, apparently his son (there's been a reference to the Prince of Wales being called Willy in the late 1840s), and I'm sure there's been a hint about the future of the Hanoverian Union, other than that there is eventually an Elizabeth II ITTL too.
Absolutely, George V will be followed by William IV. :happyblush
 
Another great update!
I loved Louise’s meeting with James. I loved how see got to we how much she cares for George and James is now no longer my least favorite character.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Another great update!
I loved Louise’s meeting with James. I loved how see got to we how much she cares for George and James is now no longer my least favorite character.
Thank you @nathanael1234! I always enjoy writing George & Louise's romantic scenes and I'm glad to hear Sir James has redeemed himself a little here ;)
 
Just caught up and I must say this is a great TL :) The characters are well written (Even the awful ones like dowager queen Louise) and it's interesting to see how the changes have affected things beyond the royal family! A continued British-Hanoverian Union is also something not often explored, so very interesting
[4] A real quote from Duchess Caroline in reference to her former husband.
He was very strange indeed. Although funnily enough quite belovedly remembered amongst the common Danish people
[6] The Danish succession crisis is far too complex to get involved in in any great detail here so forgive this relatively brief description of events.
The Danish Succession Crisis/The Slesvig-Holstein Question is an amazingly fun mix of dynastic rights, personal squabbles, confusing legal issues that are hundreds of years old in some cases, nationalism and great power politics. If one dives just a little bit into the details they often end up drowning in it, so it is quite forgiveable to just skirt relatively easy over it hahaha :)
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Just caught up and I must say this is a great TL :) The characters are well written (Even the awful ones like dowager queen Louise) and it's interesting to see how the changes have affected things beyond the royal family! A continued British-Hanoverian Union is also something not often explored, so very interesting
This is so kind of you to say and much appreciated, thank you!
The Danish Succession Crisis/The Slesvig-Holstein Question is an amazingly fun mix of dynastic rights, personal squabbles, confusing legal issues that are hundreds of years old in some cases, nationalism and great power politics. If one dives just a little bit into the details they often end up drowning in it, so it is quite forgiveable to just skirt relatively easy over it hahaha :)
I tried to understand it for years and then I watched a documentary where Queen Margrethe explained it all. Not only is she a fascinating speaker but clearly a very keen family historian. She brought it all to life so brilliantly it all finally clicked - but I wouldn't risk trying to present it in an instalment of my own, I think it would need several!
 
“But he does Sir James”, the Queen said sadly, “He always has. My aunt saw to it that my husband would never truly believe himself capable of any great achievement. I knew that was wrong the moment I met him, even then he was so strong to me, so confident. I saw his potential. It was only later, when I really came to know him, that I realised how very delicate he can be. He bruises easily you see. And I’m afraid your words hurt him very deeply”.
“I’m not mad, prime minister, just disappointed.”
 
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