Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

If I had to rank my top 5 characters that are still alive, they would be
1. King George
2. Princess Mary
3. George Cumberland, Earl of Armagh
4. Princess Charlotte
5. Charlie Phipps
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
You have such a great way with metaphor!
Thank you so much!
Seconded! That was one of my favourite lines too!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it!
There are some moments when this thread turns from Crown Imperial into The Princess Mary fan thread and I am completely fine with that.
Me too! Mary is always a joy to write, it's great to see she's popular with you all.
My favorite Living character is Princess Mary.
Deceased is still the Duke of Clarence.
This was lovely to read, it's nice to know that he's still fondly remembered from previous chapters!
 
GV: Part Three, Chapter Four: A Most Capable Young Man

Opo

Monthly Donor
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Four: A Most Capable Young Man

It was around 2.30am on the 28th of May 1842 that a night watchman on duty at Runcorn’s Mill in Chester Street, Chorlton on Medlock, first though he saw a gas lamp in the upper storey of the warehouse of one of Manchester’s largest cotton mills. The light was quickly extinguished, so quickly in fact that Arthur Warwick thought he had imagined it. But ten minutes later, from the same upper storey of the warehouse, Mr Warwick saw the unmistakable glow of flames coming from within. Charging out from his shed in the courtyard, he grabbed a fire bucket and was about to enter the building when there was a huge explosion which knocked him to the floor in a shower of glass and a billowing cloud of black smoke. Dazed and covered in soot, cuts and bruises, Warwick ran the length of the street hoping to wake his cousin who lived on Charles Street to come to his assistance. But as he rounded the corner, he saw around 20 or 30 men standing in the shadows, their arms linked, forming a circle around him. They did not attack Warwick but neither did they seem at all moved by his insistence that he must be allowed to go and raise the alarm. It would be another hour before Manchester’s municipal fire brigade were roused and another hour before they made it to the scene of the blaze, by which time the crowd had got bigger and the mill was totally burnt out. Those who looked on were not mere spectators with a morbid curiosity; they were mill employees.

Violent attacks on mills and factories, such as that on Runcorn’s Mill in Manchester, were admittedly rare but they marked the start of a summer of strikes which would see some of the worst examples of social unrest the United Kingdom had seen for a decade. It is hard to pinpoint where exactly they began but within days of the Runcorn Mill fire, strikes were being reported throughout the Midlands, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Strathclyde. The newspapers took great pride in reporting every detail, turning the strikes into a sensation, the use of the words “riot” and “uprising” featuring in headlines in all regions for maximum effect. Reports came to William Gladstone at the Home Office; they had a common word too – “organised”. Whilst Britain was quite familiar with strike action, riots and protest, organised industrial action was rare because various landmark bills passed in the 18th century made striking illegal and those who rallied people to withdraw their labour could be tried and found guilty on a charge of sedition. Under a 1661 act of parliament, sedition was defined as:-

…an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against the person of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom, as by law established, or either House of Parliament, or the administration of justice, or to excite His Majesty's subjects to attempt otherwise than by lawful means, the alteration of any matter in Church or State by law established, or to incite any person to commit any crime in disturbance of the peace, or to raise discontent or disaffection amongst His Majesty's subjects, or to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of such subjects.

The penalty was life imprisonment but convictions were rare because the 1661 act set a caveat that a person could only be found guilty if two witnesses presented evidence to prove that sedition had taken place, after which the King personally had to authorise a prosecution. In cases where sedition was proven and prosecuted, those found guilty were sentenced to life imprisonment or transportation, the latter being regarded as a fate far worse than the death penalty in 1840s England.

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A typical scene in Huddersfield during the 1842 strikes.

It did not require a finely tuned network of state spies to determine who the co-ordinators of the strikes were. Those who marched were open in their association and many held aloft banners or placards which aligned them very clearly with the Chartists. The Chartist movement had maintained a presence in Britain despite some of their demands already being met. Their activities of late had been mostly reduced to public meetings at which members debated the finer points of their bold new vision for Britain, such as a codified constitution for the United Kingdom, equal constituencies and annual parliamentary elections to find suitable candidates to represent those constituencies. But until the summer of 1842, the Chartists might have been regarded once more as a fringe group, their internal divisions leaving them disorganised and without a clear focus. What they needed was an issue which had a real and tangible connection to the working man who belonged to the various worker’s rights groups which were not always affiliated with the Chartists. In April 1842, Alexander Baring unwittingly provided them with the perfect call to arms. [1]

As one might expect, the reintroduction of income tax was not popular with wealthy landowners of all political persuasions, they saw the tax as little more than a state raid on their bank books. But a new class was emerging in Britain at this time - the industrialists. The upper middle classes resented the rise in “new money”, people who could buy their way into a world they had spent generations trying to protect from the common man. Duchesses found themselves obliged to invite lower middle class mill owners to their country estates for house parties as Dukes tried to educate these men, who often had far more money than the aristocrats, on how best to exert the influence that came with their newfound wealth. At last, new money and old money had a common cause to unite in – they both hated the income tax. The industrialists had already been forced to deal with a raft of new regulations on the use of child labour and on offering better working hours and conditions. But the income tax nipped at their purse strings and the obvious way to offset this new expense was simply to slash wages. This approach was nicknamed the ‘Baring Cut’ and as wages were already in decline, the reduction hit thousands of industry workers hard. Fearing a return to the dark days of mass unemployment, starvation and packed workhouses may be imminent, the working classes did not simply sit and wait for poverty to claim them. They intended to act.

At a general meeting held in Chester and attended by 3,000 regional representatives, William Lovett presented the case for a new approach to be adopted by all affected by the wage cuts. Lovett was a stalwart of the Chartist movement and had helped to establish the London Men’s Working Association. His radical politics and activism for the poor had seen him become such a prominent Chartist figure that he had been jailed shortly after being elected the movement’s secretary. Whilst in prison, Lovett wrote a book which led to the establishment of the National Association for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People. The association was not exactly popular (it never surpassed more than 500 members) but it gave Lovett a unique position in the Chartist movement in general; he was regarded as a “do-er”, someone who put his money where his mouth was and who was more inclined to organise rather than theorise. Though he abhorred political violence, he was a strong proponent of strikes and in the spring of 1842, he led the Chartist call for general industrial action.

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William Lovett.

But these strikes would be somewhat different to those of the past. Rather than strike for a return to their previous wage before the Baring Cut was imposed, Lovett and his supporters proposed a motion at Chester that all who went on strike should refuse to return to work until their employers signed an agreement, the text of which was agreed at a second Chartist convention held in London. In a petition to parliament, the Chartists demanded that the “slave-class of Britain” should demand “a firm and compact union on the principle of equality before the law”. The political establishment was described as the “enfranchised and privilege” and the only way to remove the ”mark and brand of social inferiority” was for parliament to force factory bosses to reverse the wage cut but also to commit to signing this petition which demanded a vote for every man over the age of 21 regardless of his income, a secret ballot and equal parliamentary constituencies. The government regarded this as little more than fantasy and accused the Chartists of encouraging radical sentiments. Baring himself said of Lovett; “He is the most cruel of men for he frightens the uneducated poor into believing that they will starve if they do not support his childish political theories, which are really a collection of nonsensical proposals inspired by little more than envy. The poor do not take up the Chartist banner because they believe in it but because men such as Lovett have tricked them into doing so to further his own ambitions. In this way, he is the very character he describes in his literature for his privilege is unquestionable”. [2]

Baring was perhaps accurate in one aspect of his assessment. The poor and uneducated were unlikely to have understood the full extent of what the Chartists were calling for and it is unlikely that they had any real interest in the parliamentary reforms men like Lovett were demanding. But they did understand one thing; they were becoming poorer and the Chartists represented a return to financial security. Whilst nobody else seemed prepared to fight for their interests, the Chartists were and this was enough to convince many to take up the call and join in a nation-wide flurry of strikes. The Leeds Mercury terrified its readers that the city had fallen to “The Chartist Insurrection” and whether the strikers understood the true meaning of the movement or not, thousands marched and refused to countenance a return to work until “the people’s charter becomes the law of land”. Non-affiliated radical groups came out in sympathy. The London Times reported that “a flag of red, white and green has been adopted by some who wish to see the abolition of the monarchy, the dissolution of parliament and a people’s assembly installed in its place. Such revolutionary antics may amuse readers for we know their ambitions are little more than novelty but the political establishment must nonetheless take such sentiments seriously to prevent the poor and uneducated flocking to this wicked and evil cause simply on a promise of more bread for their table”.

200 miles away from Manchester in the leafy Georgian grandeur of Chesham Place, a very different scene was playing itself out. The Earl and Countess of Harewood were giving a dinner party at their London townhouse, having finally decided to shut up their country estate in the West Riding for the season given that their contemporaries seemed to be doing the same thing despite the strictures of court mourning. Lord and Lady Harewood were very much old money, the family owing its fortune to Edward Lascelles, the 1st Earl, who could boast a position as the third wealthiest peer in England thanks to his family’s “investments” in the West Indies. When the slave trade was abolished, his descendants saw their fortune boosted with a “compensation” payment of £26,000 (the equivalent of £2.6m today) which the Harewoods used to shore up their position as one of the country’s great political dynasties, donating huge sums to the Tory Party. Even the 3rd Earl’s marriage was contracted with politics in mind; he married Lady Louisa Thynne, the daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Bath, her sister being well known to readers as the Duchess of Buccleuch, former Mistress of the Robes to the late Queen Louise. The Buccleuchs were present at Chesham Place that evening along with the Earl and Countess of Belmore, Viscount and Viscountess Marsham (sister of the Duke of Buccleuch), Tory MP and baronet Sir John Buxton and his wife Lady Elizabeth and Lady Ursula Bantock, the widow of General Sir Gordon Bantock. We find this guestlist in the journal of none other than Benjamin Disraeli, who was invited to Chesham Place to join the Harewoods for supper and who was in no doubt as to why he had been invited; the Duchess of Buccleuch had been the perfect court insider during her tenure as Mistress of the Robes but now she was out. As Comptroller of the Household, Disraeli (who had been included as part of the Buccleuch social set since his appointment), was an ideal source of inside information.

What Disraeli did not know was that the Buccleuchs had insisted that he be invited because they had heard worrying rumours in recent days which they felt duty bound to investigate. Whether out of genuine concern or because they saw an opportunity to prove their loyalty to the Crown and find a way back into the King's inner circle is debatable. Certainly King George V seemed to have frozen them out, possibly because the Duchess was one of the few non-family members to have witnessed Queen Louise's final hours. It is possible that he did not wish to maintain associations with such individuals, though it must be said that Dr Alison's services as Royal Physician were maintained. It is likely that the Harewoods invited Disraeli to their dinner party at Chesham Place on the instructions of the Buccleuchs and it is equally likely that Disraeli was suspicious of their motives from the moment he was asked - regardless of the fact that he worshipped as an Anglican, many in high society were blinded by rampant antisemitism and were not inclined to invite Jews, even those in prominent positions, to their table. In between courses of Veal Consommé, fillets of Dover Sole, Lobster, Chicken in Champagne Sauce, Venison, and Profiteroles, all washed down with the very best wines from the Harewood cellar, the conversation naturally turned to the news of the day; a similar arson attack to that which destroyed Runcorn’s Mill in Manchester had been reported at a dying plant in Cromford, Derbyshire.

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The Duchess of Buccleuch.

“They should all be birched”, Lady Bantock declared imperiously, “The working classes have become far too excitable. I blame the railways. All this travelling about heats the blood”

“I really know nothing about it of course”, Lady Marsham replied, “But what I find so very puzzling is this…these Chartist fellows say that they want better pay and working conditions, yet they burn down the very factories and mills in which they work…thereby making themselves unemployed so they receive no pay at all. I mean to say, there’s simply no logic to any of it, is there?”

The assembled company chuckled politely.

“They should be hanged”, Lady Bantock growled, “These things must be nipped in the bud before they get out of hand. Otherwise we shall have anarchy. Am I to expect my maid to set fire to the house for an extra guinea a year?”

“My maid would sleep through a strike”, Lady Buxton said with a wry grin, “All she seems to do is sleep. All through her day off in fact. I really think these people have far too little to do, that’s why they become agitated”

“My dear I know exactly what you mean”, the Countess of Harewood said sadly, “Do you know, our under-house parlour maid…Ethel…or Elsie…something like that…well last week she marched herself up to the morning room and do you know what she said? She said, ‘Sorry Mum, I’ve got work outside and I’m giving me notice’” [3]

“Impertinence”, Lady Bantock snapped, “These young gals are far too educated these days. They expect everything and appreciate nothing”.

The Duchess of Buccleuch smiled. Then she looked over to her sister-in-law across the table and lifted her glass. Lady Marsham registered the agreed signal and turned to Disraeli.

“I imagine life at court is quite a sober affair at present Mr Disraeli?”, she asked leadingly, “I hear there shall be no parties at all at the palace for the rest of the season”

“That is quite so Lady Marsham”, Disraeli replied politely, “Quite understandable of course, though I believe many are quite upset at the cancellation of Queen Charlotte’s Ball”

“Ridiculous people”, Lady Bantock barked, “A ball during court mourning indeed, whoever heard of such a thing?”

“Alas Lady Bantock”, Disraeli said diplomatically, “Not everybody it seems is as generous in their sentiments as you”

Lady Bantock looked affronted by the compliment rather than charmed by it.

“I quite understand Mr Disraeli”, Margot Marsham continued, “Do you know my dears, I heard the most shocking thing the other day. Dear Dolly Trentham was invited by the Mauleys, and she went, and…well I could hardly believe it but…they had a band! Yes my dears, a band! Charles paid £5 and a whole regiment arrived at the house with drums and cornets a-plenty! They made such a terrible row, Beebee told Dolly that she thought Charles was to find them a quartet or something but no – they played marches till the sun came up!”

“Well they aren’t allowed to play in the parks”, Lady Belmore cut in, “One supposes they were glad of something to do!”

“I do not find that at all amusing”, barked Lady Bantock, “Really…with the court still in mourning…a band indeed”

“If everybody was there…”, Lord Harewood remarked a little unkindly, “Where were you Margot dear?”

Lady Marsham pursed her lips.

“We were not asked”, she replied tartly.

“Don’t be too downhearted Margot”, the Duke chipped in kindly, “You shouldn’t like it at the Mauleys, band or no band. The place is teeming with Russell’s lot. A penny tax on every waltz, what?”

The assembled diners laughed and returned to their meal.

“Do you know the Mauleys, Mr Disraeli?”, the Duchess of Buccleuch asked, nervous that the opportunity she needed was slipping away.

“Only by name”, Disraeli replied, “Though I should not have accepted an invitation to so boisterous a party as Lady Marsham describes even if I were better acquainted”

“Quite so”, the Duchess said, sipping her champagne, “Though of course, society will take it’s lead from His Majesty and I hear he has been seen out dining with friends once more...”

“Yes, I believe so”

“In Bloomsbury Square…doesn’t your father live in Bloomsbury Square, Mr Disraeli?”

“He does Duchess, yes”

“I do hope he is well…I hear it’s quite busy there these days…in Bloomsbury Square…comings and goings…”

“Oh?”

Lady Marsham picked up her sister-in-law’s lead.

“Well Dolly Trentham told me just the other day that there are more Whigs in Bloomsbury Square nowadays than there are at Holland House…”

“But Dolly will exaggerate Margot”, the Duchess said a little too quickly.

“No, no”, Margot Marsham continued enthusiastically, “That’s exactly what she said. Sidney Herbert, the Clarendons, Lord Melbury…even Freddie Spencer and that terrible wife of his…and as for unsuitable entertainments, well my dears, I could hardly believe it but Dolly said they actually played cards. Penny a point! Now what do you think of that?”

“Disgraceful behaviour”, Lady Bantock boomed, “Quite inappropriate!”

“Oh I don’t think we can go that far”, Margot corrected the old dowager, “After all, His Majesty was there and if he found it acceptable then I’m sure they were quite correct to offer games”.

“Well, I think it’s time we left the gentlemen to it”, the Countess of Harewood said tactfully, the men rising in their seats as the women prepared to leave them to their port and cigars. Disraeli was no fool. He knew only too well that he had been invited to the Harewoods thanks to an ulterior motive and now he understood what that motive had been; the Buccleuchs wanted him to know that the King was mixing with the pro-Melbury Whigs on a regular basis and that this was considered thoroughly unsuitable by the Tory party grandees who saw Melbury as a far bigger electoral threat than Lord John Russell. After all, Russell was easy to demonise but Melbury was not, given that he was a far more traditional establishment figure and was known to be less radical in his thinking (though no less ambitious) than his rival. But now that Disraeli had the information the Buccleuchs wanted to impart, he had to work out what to do with it. Others may gave gone directly to the Prime Minister who would undoubtedly have chastised the King and demanded he correct his behaviour. However, Disraeli was far more intelligent than that. The following day, he asked if he might have an audience with Princess Mary on the pretext that the government wished to arrange a state visit for the King of Prussia as soon as court mourning came to a close. He chose his moment well, waiting until their conversation became less formal and tea was served. Princess Mary was always far easier to approach when she was eating.

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Disraeli.

“I wonder Ma’am, if I might speak to you freely, on a situation I understand is developing at the moment and which I confess has troubled me a great deal?”

“That sounds very ominous Mr Disraeli”, Princess Mary replied, half in jest, as she leaned forward and helped herself to another slice of seed cake, “Please…speak as you must.”

“I am grateful to you Ma’am”, Disraeli said, following Mary’s lead and helping himself to a sandwich from the plate offered, “I think you may know that my father lives in Bloomsbury Square…”

“Why should I know that?”

“Well Ma’am, his neighbour is known to you, Mrs Wiedl. And I understand that His Majesty has been dining at Bloomsbury Square quite frequently of late”

“I fail to see why that should be any concern of yours Mr Disraeli”, Mary said defensively. She clearly believed Disraeli was about to hint at something unpleasant.

“Oh believe me Ma’am, I should never criticise His Majesty and indeed, I am greatly cheered to see that he is recovered enough from his most tragic loss to feel that he can go out in society once more. But the fact is Ma’am that some of Mrs Wiedl’s other guests…who are present when His Majesty dines there…they are Whigs Ma’am. And I do not say this because I am politically opposed to them, I count a great number of Whigs among my friends. But I understand that Mr Vernon Smith’s ambition is to see Lord Melbury take control of the Whig party and that he is using Mrs Wiedl’s home in Bloomsbury Square to affect this. I believe the Prime Minister is as yet unaware of His Majesty’s visits to Bloomsbury, or at least, he is not aware of the company that is kept there…”

“The Prime Minister wouldn’t be aware of a monkey in his porridge”, Princess Mary snorted. Disraeli forced a smile.

“The fact is Ma’am that I do not wish the Prime Minister to be alarmed by such reports if they reach him as they have reached me. And so I thought it best to put the matter before you, knowing as I do how concerned you are that His Majesty must be well supported in these difficult days, a task you undertake so very admirably”

Princess Mary smiled.

“Well Mr Disraeli”, she said, wiping her sticky fingers on her apron, “You were quite right to come to me. Indeed, I am most grateful that you did. I confess I was not aware of the situation but you did right to inform me of it. And I shan’t forget your kindness, you have my word on that”.

“As ever Ma’am, you are most gracious”, Disraeli cooed. Princess Mary blushed a little.

“Oh Mr Disraeli”, she chuckled, “I shall have to keep a very close eye on you!”.

The Prime Minister and the King had previously clashed on George’s friendship with Lord Melbury. At that time, it was left to Queen Louise to play peacemaker and to relieve the tensions. Sir James Graham relented and accepted that Melbury was a friend to His Majesty and that, provided that the King respected the constitutional barriers that existed, he could be generous enough to overlook the former Foreign Secretary being included in the Windsor set (so long as invitations were not extended too frequently). But had Sir James discovered that the King was practically dining at the equivalent of a Whig party meeting on a regular basis, he would undoubtedly have tendered his resignation. He had considered it in the past when he felt that the King was failing to show political impartiality in his choice of guests (ironically Lord Melbury had felt the same way when he was Foreign Secretary) but had been talked down on the basis that the King was in no way displaying a preference. But George V’s presence at Bloomsbury Square would be much harder to explain away. Princess Mary acted without delay. But she did not approach her nephew. Rather, she summoned Frau Wiedl to her presence at Buckingham Palace.

“I asked you here to thank you for being so very hospitable to His Majesty in recent days”, Mary began, “You were very kind to do so and I believe the King is much better than he was”

“It is always a pleasure to host His Majesty”, Frau Wiedl smiled, “And I am grateful for the compliment Ma’am”

“Yes…”, Mary said sharply, “Of course, you must understand that not everybody is as generous with their compliments as I am. And I wonder…I wonder if it is not time for His Majesty to focus more on his work…”

Frau Wiedl smiled; “Am I to understand that my friendship with the King is to come to an end?”

Princess Mary was shocked by Rosalinde’s frankness.

“Oh goodness me no”, she replied, “But in future, I wonder if it might not be better to restrict your meetings to a more appropriate venue. The Fort or…well…an establishment of your own. Have you never thought of taking a house?”

Wiedl felt a slight pang of animosity but she did not show it. Princess Mary had reminded her that though Bloomsbury Square had been gifted to her by her lover Vernon Smith, and whilst the King allowed her to use Fort Belvedere as a country residence, she owed everything she currently had to the kindness of others. She had no establishment of her own because she had no money of her own.

“You see my dear”, Princess Mary continued, “Your friendship with my nephew is one he values, I know you mean a very great deal to him and that you have been very good to him since…well, in recent weeks. But there are those who may misconstrue that friendship and I wish to protect His Majesty from gossip. I know only too well how the chattering classes can find something ugly in the most pure of places. But if you had your own establishment, you should be free to entertain His Majesty as often as you wished without the need to invite guests who really could cause the most terrible headache given their…allegiances…if you understand my meaning?”

“I think I understand you perfectly Ma’am”, Wiedl conceded, “Though I confess, I have never wanted to take a home of my own here. English houses are so very different, they require so much effort to upkeep, so much is expected.”

“They needn’t be”, Mary said haughtily, “I myself do not keep an extravagant household and I have a very modest staff”.

Princess Mary employed 78 servants in her residences at Gloucester House in Weymouth and her country estate at Bagshot Park near Windsor, with a further 23 at White Lodge in Richmond Park where she relocated after her husband’s death. She was hardly the sort of person one might associate with modest living.

“Now my dear, there is a charming little house at Radley, very manageable, I believe the owner is that horrid little Bowyer person, you’ll know of him, he was the one who went off his head and found himself living in Italy. Well, he lost all his money you know, and he had to sell every stick of furniture in the place before he went to live with the Catholics. But I understand he now leases the house and that his tenant was killed in a riding accident which really is most fortunate because now Radley is empty and the tenancy is really quite manageable. The household there is limited but it is included in the price which is very reasonable. And Radley is only an hour away from Windsor so it would be very convenient for you”

“Ma’am, I really don’t…”

“Of course, it’s never a good idea to inherit servants from a previous owner, but I am sure someone of your considerable resources could manage. And the house really is very pretty. Anyway, I had my secretary make an appointment with the agent for you. My carriage will collect you tomorrow morning and take you to Windsor, I do hope you’ll take it on, it would be so very practical, don’t you think?”

Whatever Frau Wiedl thought of Princess Mary’s suggestion, Radley’s estate archives show that for the next three years, Rosalinde Wiedl leased the estate from Sir Thomas Bowyer (who had not gone mad at all, he simply defected from the Tory Party to the Whigs, but in Princess Mary’s view this was probably akin to the same thing). As for the King, he was to be kept in the dark as to why Wiedl's invitations to Bloomsbury suddenly stopped and why she had elected to return to Windsor so suddenly without his knowledge. His evening outing cancelled, the King chose to dine quietly with his aunt instead and was most intrigued when Princess Mary told him that Frau Wiedl had asked her advice on taking a home near Windsor at Radley.

“But she has the Fort”, George said, finding the whole situation very curious indeed, “I can’t see why she should want Radley as well...”

“Oh I can”, Princess Mary said, her mouthful of meringue, “Women like to have their own establishments. And the Fort is your home Georgie dear. I’m sure she is most comfortable there but it’s much nicer for someone in her position to have a home to call her own. Even if it is leased”

“Hmmm”, George mused, “I suppose so. Well it’s left me at a very loose end I can tell you. And I’ve broken a promise. I was going to return that book on forestry I borrowed from Foxy"

“Well why not ask Lord Melbury here?”, Mary replied, “Make a little party of it. But you had better balance the books dear. Why not ask the Buccleuchs?”

The King shook his head.

“No”, he replied a little abruptly, “No, I don’t want Charlotte here”

“Oh...”, Princess Mary said pretending to wrack her brains, “Well what about Mr Disraeli and his wife?”

“Disraeli? I always thought he was a bit stiff”

“I think he's just a little reserved. And there's nothing at all wrong with that Georgie. In fact, he came to see me yesterday, about this state visit business. I thought he was quite charming. A most capable young man…”

The King mulled it over for a moment and agreed. Little did he know that he had just avoided a major clash with his Prime Minister, and possible public embarrassment, all but for Disraeli's discrete intervention to prevent such a scandal. Though Disraeli was still viewed with suspicion by many in the aristocracy, he had just won the support of Princess Mary and this would be prove extremely advantageous. But in the coming weeks, Disraeli would prove to Mary that his assistance to the Royal Family to preserve the King's reputation was no mere anomaly and he would soon have yet another opportunity to prove just how capable he really was.



Notes

[1] In our TL, the Whig government already introduced one Chartist demand; salaries for MPs.

[2] The text of the Chartist demands is taken from the OTL agreement. Baring's response is my own.

[3] Mum meaning 'Madam' in this context.
 
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[4] She would also need a male guarantor who was over 21 and owned his own property. Unless gifted or inherited, women were not allowed to purchase property in England without someone to "stand" for them, a situation which continued well into the 1970s.
Really?

I thought that married women were allowed to own property on their own, From the Married Womens Property Act 1882 married women were given may of the same rights as single women, this included purchasing property. There was an earlier MWPA in 1870 (But MWPA 1882 is what I still remember 40 years after stopping work in Life Assurance.)

So I think you are about 100 years out. The rule you quote looks like the rule up to 1974 for single women in USA.

I suspect full equality did not occur until later https://www.parliament.uk/about/liv...ives/relationships/overview/propertychildren/
 
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Opo

Monthly Donor
Really?

I thought that married women were allowed to own property on their own, From the Married Womens Property Act 1882 married women were given may of the same rights as single women, this included purchasing property. There was an earlier MWPA in 1870 (But MWPA 1882 is what I still remember 40 years after stopping work in Life Assurance.)

So I think you are about 100 years out.

I suspect full equality did not occur until later https://www.parliament.uk/about/liv...ives/relationships/overview/propertychildren/
I'll defer to you on this one as I'm sure you're right, the note I added in was admittedly based on anecdotal knowledge as I recall Ann Leslie saying in her memoirs that she wasn't allowed to buy a flat on her own unless she had a male guarantor which kicked off a bit of a debate at the time with others saying they faced similar arrangements.

I'll remove the footnote as it's not needed now, many thanks for your input on this!
 
A Disraeli-centric chapter that is very interesting. I like seeing the king from the perspectives of the nobles. I guess Disraeli just got his big break a few years earlier.
 

Opo

Monthly Donor
Hopefully George can sort out this little pickle, he has a knack for diplomacy and tact.
I think that had George been thinking a little more clearly, he would have realised from his first visit to Bloomsbury Square that he really shouldn't have gone a second time. Disraeli really has helped him dodge a bullet here.
A Disraeli-centric chapter that is very interesting. I like seeing the king from the perspectives of the nobles. I guess Disraeli just got his big break a few years earlier.
Thankyou! I enjoyed giving Disraeli the focus for a chapter and as you say, it pushes him forward a little earlier. It was also a handy vehicle to move us forward in time without spending another chapter solely on George's grief but also, the dinner party scene allowed me to highlight the differences between rich and poor at this time.

The strikes of 1842 were pretty important and there was such a gap, yet the various aristos eating at Chesham Place almost seem to find the whole thing amusing.
 
GV: Part Three, Chapter Five: Good George, Bad George

Opo

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King George V

Part Three, Chapter Five: Good George, Bad George

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returned to Hanover, their two eldest children remained behind in England. The Duchess agreed with her sister, Grand Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, that the Princess Royal should return to Germany as soon as possible to resume her schooling at Leipzig and to this end, she had instructed her daughter Princess Augusta to wait at Cambridge House in Piccadilly until King George V changed his mind and allowed Missy to travel. Princess Augusta had been an unofficial guardian to the little Princess since her relocation to Germany, a role she greatly enjoyed because it brought her a certain degree of independence, but also because she was genuinely fond of the Princess Royal. With the assistance of Lady Dorothy Wentworth, Augusta had created a comfortable environment for her second cousin to grow up in and she even went so far as to learning sign language. Augusta’s parents were only too happy to see their eldest daughter take on this task, not just because they wished to make life easier for the King but because by the summer of 1842, it was becoming clear to the extended family that Augusta’s relationship with her cousin, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was intensifying. Most had expected an engagement between Frederick William and Augusta by the spring of 1842 but it is likely that the Hereditary Grand Duke delayed his proposal because of the unexpected loss of his elder sister, Queen Louise, that February. At Cambridge House, Augusta began to get a little impatient as she longed to return to Germany where she always felt she truly belonged.

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Princess Augusta of Cambridge.

To her father, the Duke of Cambridge, Princess Augusta was the perfect daughter; she was capable, kind, generous, selfless and she had a very suitable marriage in the making with a young man whom the Duke respected and liked. But to the Princess’ mother, there was only room for one golden child in the Cambridge family and that was Augusta’s elder brother Prince George. By the summer of 1842, the Prince had already displayed to everybody else in his family that he was nowhere near worthy of his mother’s high praise. He had narrowly held on to his army career by the skin of his teeth (and the intervention of his cousin the King) and he had plunged the Royal Family into its only scandal in years by carrying on with an Irish actress which led to a much-publicised divorce case. The fact that Captain Marsden had withdrawn his case at the last moment was a miraculous reprieve for Prince George but it came at a price; the King insisted that George be transferred to his Hanoverian regiment so that he would be forced to live at Herrenhausen under the watchful eye of his parents. Furthermore, the King wanted his cousin married as quickly as possible and had even gone so far as to order the Cambridges to invite his preferred candidate, Princess Alexandrine of Baden, to Hanover for an introduction. Were it not for the sudden death of his wife, the King might well have been paying more attention to how this relationship was progressing but in reality, it was the Cambridges who took their eye off the ball and completely missed the warning signs that their son and heir was up to his old tricks once more.

When he returned to England for Christmas in 1841, Prince George was reminded of the pact he had made with his cousin the King. In his anger, George V had threatened to send his cousin to Hong Kong on the staff of Sir Henry Pottinger. The only way to avoid this was for Prince George to agree that he would marry as soon as possible. As far as the King was aware, his cousin was still in regular correspondence with Princess Alexandrine, though naturally given the circumstances that followed the Christmas of 1841, the subject had not been raised directly. If the King did give his cousin’s marriage a thought, it would have been on the assumption that an engagement was “pending”. Yet despite his assurances to the contrary, Prince George had stopped replying to Princess Alexandrine’s letters by the November of 1841. The Grand Duke of Baden was left in a state of some confusion; the Cambridges seemed to have been pushing hard for an engagement between their son and his daughter and then…nothing. But again, neither the Grand Duke or Princess Alexandrine pressed the matter because both in England and in Hanover, the British Royal Family were in mourning and nobody could expect any such talks to progress just yet. That said, Alexandrine did write to Prince George expressing her condolences on the loss of Queen Louise and was puzzled as to why she received no reply. Unbeknownst to the Badens, or indeed the Cambridges, Prince George’s affections had settled on another.

Franziska Fritz was just 18 years old when she met Prince George of Cambridge and it is likely that she was introduced to him when she accompanied her father, August, to Herrenhausen. August Fritz was one of Hanover’s High Bailiffs, these being the elected representatives which represented the High Bailiwicks created in 1823 when the Kingdom of Hanover was reorganised according to unitary standards. August was an obvious candidate for the High Bailiff of Hildesheim given that his family held much influence in the city but he was not universally popular outside of his birthplace because he belonged to the Catholic minority. The Fritz family were one of the oldest Roman Catholic families in Hanover and several of their number had served as court chaplains to the Dukes of Calenberg-Grubenhagen in the 17th century as well as to the mission parishes which Duke John Frederick established in the electorate between 1665 and 1679. Catholics were guaranteed the right to practise in these parishes by John Frederick’s protestant successor, Ernest Augustus I (the father of King George I of the United Kingdom who succeeded Queen Anne in 1714) but it was only in the early 18th century that reforms to laws on religious liberty and freedom of settlement opened the door to Pope Leo XII issuing a papal bull in 1824 which meant that Roman Catholics could freely practise in Hanoverian society in a way they perhaps still could not in England. [1]

The Fritz family swapped their religious posts for secular ones with the notable exception of Franz Ferdinand Fritz (1772 – 1840) who served as Bishop of Hildesheim from 1836 until his death four years later. Bishop Fritz was Franziska’s uncle and he had taken a great interest in his niece’s education, enrolling her at the Normal School in Hildesheim where he taught until the cathedral chapter was reorganised and the future Bishop was appointed as one of the seven Cathedral chapters serving Bishop Osthaus, the man he would succeed as Hanover’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric. Fritz lived a very simple life and disapproved of the grandeur many of his contemporaries coveted but this didn’t prevent him from acquiring a healthy fortune of his own. In 1840, Bishop Fritz died and according to the terms of his will, Franziska inherited his fortune but because of her youth, this was administrated by her father and he wasted no time in spending the money acquiring a large estate at Emmerke which no doubt his younger brother would have disliked enormously. The cash injection to the Fritz family must also have helped August’s prospects and perhaps it was his newfound wealth and position as a High Bailiff that saw him invited to Herrenhausen with his colleagues in late October 1842. As any ambitious father might, Fritz took his charming young daughter to the Hanoverian court with him. But whilst he may have hoped one of his richer and more illustrious colleagues might have found Franziska an appealing prospect for one of their eligible bachelor sons, he can’t possibly have predicted that the one young man who would take an interest in his daughter was His Royal Highness the Earl of Tipperary. [2]

We do not know how Prince George approached Franziska after their introduction or even if they met again in person before he left for England ahead of Christmas 1841. But certainly by July 1842, George had become so enamoured of her that he wrote to Fraulein Fritz begging that she run away from Emmerke and make her way to Paris where he would meet her and the pair would be married. To fund this elopement, the Prince borrowed £10 (around £600 today) from an army colleague and sent half of it to Hildesheim. In a further sign of his immaturity (or infatuation), the Prince did not consider how or where the pair would be married when they reached the French capital and instead sent an address for a hotel where they could be reunited, presumably the details of their nuptials would be decided there. It appeared that George was planning a fait accompli, to take Franziska as his wife and then let the chips fall where they may. He said nothing of his plans to anyone and told his would-be spouse to do likewise. Then he told his sister Princess Augusta that he had been invited for a house party at the home of an army friend near Sandhurst, ordered his trunk to be packed and asked the footman at Cambridge House to arrange for a handsom cab to collect him on Friday afternoon from where he would make his own way by train to Berkshire.

Princess Augusta was no fool. Princes did not summon handsom cabs, neither did they go for house parties in the country without a valet on hand. Prince George explained that the party was only a modest one and that he had promised his father not to trouble the servants too much. He did not wish to take the family carriage and cause a fuss. His sister was not convinced but who was she to forbid him to go? She protested that her mother had insisted he stay behind in England to keep Augusta company but it was no use. As much as she insisted that he should stay in London, the Prince was not to be deterred in his plans and on Friday the 24th of June 1842, the Earl of Tipperary made his way to London Bridge Station taking a train aboard the South Eastern Main Line Railway to Reigate Junction, the ticket price including an omnibus connection to Dover Priory. Once there, the Prince took a room at Worthington’s Hotel on Packet Boat quay. His choice of accommodation was no accident. Whenever the Cambridges travelled across the channel from England to Hanover, the first leg of their journey always began at Worthington’s from which they took the early morning packet service from Dover to Calais. Prince George even booked his passage on the same ship his parents had used on their most recent return journey, the Ferret. All he could do now was enjoy the comfort of his room at Worthington’s and wait. [3]

Meanwhile at Bushy Park, the “other” Prince George was equally preoccupied with thoughts of marriage though his choice of bride and his proposed path to the altar was certainly far more conventional. For almost a year, George had been writing to Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel since their first meeting at Neustrelitz and their most recent reunion had been at Windsor for the Christmas celebrations of 1841. It had been the late Queen Louise who had pushed the couple together having noticed their obvious attraction to each other. The Hesse-Kassels had lodged with the Earl of Armagh at Bushy Park when they left Windsor in the weeks before the Queen’s death and this had given the Earl of Armagh a chance to spend more time with Auguste away from the prying eyes of the extended family. It had also given him a chance to get to know Auguste’s parents a little better, Prince William and Princess Charlotte well aware that a proposal may be in the offing. But the couple were divided on just how suitable the Earl of Armagh would be as a husband for their daughter.

George had expressed his own misgivings in a conversation he had with Queen Louise and Princess Mary at Windsor shortly before the New Year. He liked Auguste very much but he doubted she would ever accept him. Whilst her letters indicated that his romantic feelings towards Auguste were entirely reciprocated, he thought that his blindness would serve as a barrier. He worried that Prince William might consider that his daughter’s marriage to Prince George would see her become more nurse maid than wife but he also worried that his financial situation would offer little in the way of compensations to sweeten the pot for the Hesse-Kassels. At one time, his inheritance might have been quite healthy but the cut in his father’s Civil List allowance over the years (coupled with his late mother’s lavish spending) had reduced the Cumberland fortune substantially. Whilst he would inherit two properties in the fullness of time, he could not sell them as they were under lease from the Crown. George therefore found himself in the unusual position of being potentially asset-rich but with little hard cash to show for it. That said, he at least had his own private income now, the King having granted him an annuity of £5,000 as a salary for his role as Ranger of Bushy Park and the house that came with the post was hardly a two up two down in a Manchester terrace.

From the point of view of his prospective in-laws, it was actually Princess Charlotte who had reservations. As far as Prince William was concerned, if Auguste truly loved Prince George then the pair should marry. After all, George was the heir to the Cumberland Dukedom, he was close to King George V who would surely find him more senior appointments in England as time progressed (and as his disability allowed) and life as a royal duchess in Britain wasn’t to be sniffed at. Princess Charlotte on the other hand was less convinced. She saw George as a kind, gentle and amiable young man but beyond his future rank, he had very limited prospects because of his blindness and because his inheritance had been so drastically reduced. Prince William placated his wife that the King was fond of his cousin and would most likely restore the full Cumberland annuity in the future. Bushy Park was a comfortable home for a future Countess of Armagh, William’s sister the Duchess of Cambridge, would be on hand to help and guide Auguste in the ways of the English court and she would clearly be cherished and well-loved by her future husband. Yet still Princess Charlotte was not to be swayed. After all, Auguste had only just turned 18 in the October of 1841.

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Princess Auguste of Hesse-Kassel.

If Prince George did propose, Charlotte wanted her daughter to consider very seriously the future she may have with him and to that end, the Princess insisted that her husband make her a promise whereby Auguste would not marry for at least a year if she accepted the Earl of Armagh, and furthermore, that their engagement should be kept secret. The Princess did not demand this concession in an effort to keep the couple apart. Indeed, she proposed that Auguste be sent to England for a time as Queen Louise had been before her marriage, so that she could experience life there and get to know her prospective spouse a little better. This would give both sides time to reflect on things and to change their minds if necessary. If they still felt committed to each other after that time, Charlotte would give her blessing and the engagement could be announced with a view to a marriage taking place around Auguste’s 20th birthday in October 1843. Prince William agreed. This seemed eminently reasonable and most practical. All they had to do now was wait for the Earl of Armagh to pop the question, though William warned that if he did propose and if Auguste accepted him, he may not wish to wait a year and a half for a wedding.

“He shall have to”, Charlotte insisted imperiously.

“And if he finds someone else in the meantime?”, William asked.

“Oh really”, his wife scoffed unkindly, “How many girls do you think would line up to become a blind man’s nanny?”

Back at Bushy Park, the Earl of Armagh had in fact made up his mind to propose to Auguste despite his own misgivings about how suitable she may find him as a husband. But in order to do so, he needed the permission of the Sovereign first. He had no doubt that King George would give his consent, yet how could he talk to his cousin of marriage when His Majesty was still reeling from the loss of his wife? It was a delicate situation and one that the Prince addressed in a letter to his intended; “I should never wish to hurt His Majesty or to cause him further distress and that is why I must tell you dear one that I have not made mention here of the things we discussed when you stayed with me last. But know that my heart remains full of those things and when I consider the time to be right, I shall put them before the King - as I must - as kindly as I can”.

A short time after the Earl of Armagh wrote this, he sent a note to Princess Mary to ask if he might take tea with her. Wisely, the Prince opted to put his plans before his aunt before he put them to his cousin. She saw no reason why he should delay but suggested that she might put the idea to the King in a roundabout way as an idea before George asked for formal permission to marry.

“I had tea with your Cousin George today”, she said airily, “I thought he was very preoccupied”

“Oh?”

“Well, a young man like that, his thoughts tend to stray to the future…and…things”

“What things?”

“Wedding bells Georgie. Wedding bells”, Mary said bluntly.

The King looked up from his consommé and smiled broadly.

“Ah. Well you aren’t telling me anything I did not already know Aunt Mary”, he said cheerfully, “I’m just glad he’s doing as his told at last, though I won’t deny I thought it would be far more of a struggle than it’s proven to be. But why did he come to you? I know Aunt Augusta isn’t keen on the idea but Uncle Cambridge says the Badens really are quite a respectable family, the girl especially good company, he said”

“No, no Georgie!”, Mary laughed, “No, I’m talking about Cumberland George. Goodness me, the very thought! You shall have to hog tie Cambridge George to a post and have it hauled into St George’s before that one settles down. No, Cumberland George came to me today and asked what I thought about him getting married. And…how you might feel about it too…”

“Oh…”

The King looked back to his bowl and resumed his meal.

“Well?”

“Well, what?”

“How do you feel about it?”

“Why couldn’t he come and ask me himself? Why does he have to go through you? I call that very feeble...”

“Oh come now Georgie”, Mary said brusquely, “You can hardly blame the boy for not wanting to upset you. All this talk of weddings. I remember myself how hard it was to see life going on after William died. Though of course, I rallied, as one must. But the fact is, he cares about you and your feelings, and he doesn’t wish to cause any upset with his plans”

George put down his spoon. He should be thrilled and delighted for his cousin, after all, Sunny was so very eager to see the Earl of Armagh and Princess Auguste married. She thought they would make a delightful couple, so well suited, she used to say. He felt that way too only now when he thought of his cousin getting married there was another sentiment there in the back of mind which he couldn’t quite place. All he knew that it was the same uncomfortable feeling that had surfaced when he thought of letting Missy return to Germany. He had no desire to interrupt his daughter’s education, he knew it was the last thing his late wife would want. Neither did he want to scupper his cousin’s marriage plans, he believed George and Auguste were fond of each other and he wished them to be as happy as he had been with Louise. And yet, he couldn’t quite bring himself to articulate that. Instead, he simply shrugged.

“I am finished”, he said quietly to a waiting footman, “You may remove this”

Princess Mary rolled her eyes heavenward and changed the subject.

The following morning, the King was in his study at Buckingham Palace reviewing a stack of papers from the Foreign Office. The Chinese authorities had sent a diplomatic note to Admiral Sir William Parker that they wished an urgent meeting with a senior British representative. Parker had been instrumental in securing British victories at Ningpo in March and at Woosung in June. Both had been overwhelming and humiliating defeats for the Chinese with 600 killed at Ningpo, despite the Chinese forces outnumbering the British three-fold, and hundreds killed and wounded at Woosung against Parker’s onslaught from the HMS Cornwallis anchored off the bay. 5,000 Chinese troops gave counter fire from 3-mile lines of fortifications from the north bank of the river but to no avail. Within hours, the Chinese artillery was suppressed by Parker’s marines who seized 250 guns and held their positions until the British main land force joined them. The Qing officials were left aghast at how quickly their troops had fallen, yet they daren’t go to the Emperor and admit that China simply couldn’t win against the British and that the war was lost.

The Emperor found that out for himself soon enough. In July 1842, the British forces led by Sir Hugh Gough marched on Chinkiang. Facing a 4,000 strong garrison of Manchu and Mongol Bannermen, the battle would determine who controlled access to the Caoyun system, the only way the Chinese had to move grain throughout their vast empire. Gough proudly told his men that if the Chinese would not surrender, as they evidently must, he would starve them into submission by blocking the confluence of the Grand Canal and the Yangtze River. The Chinese moved 2,700 Green Army Standard troops into Chinkiang to boost the 2,300 soldiers of the first Qing Army brigade, the 1,832 troops of the second and the 2,155 troops of the third. But it wasn’t enough. The Green Standard Army was unfamiliar with the terrain of Chinkiang and faced British muskets with swords and spears. British warships provided cover as their troops swarmed the Beigu mountain and within an hour, the Green Standard Army had been crushed.

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The capture of Chinkiang Foo.

Just as it had been at Ningpo and Woosung, the British overran the Chinese batteries and held their positions. They focused their attack on the West Gate of the city as the tired and broken Chinese armies deserted en masse. Despite the brave efforts of the few who remained, the West Gate was breached and after a day of street battles against the last surviving defenders, the British cheered as the Qing army retreated. News was sent to Peking that Chinkiang had fallen and the Emperor immediately summoned Hai Ling, the Supreme Commander of the Qing Army to the Forbidden City. But Ling was already dead. He committed suicide with his entire family, unable to face the humiliation and shame he blamed himself for bringing to the Emperor’s door. Those who advised the Emperor could only cower in the shadows, hoping that his fury would not cost them their lives. Some tried to run. Others accepted the inevitable and lost their heads. But the Emperor could not escape reality, however harsh the recriminations he handed to his commanders and advisors might be. China had lost the war and now it was time to come to terms. Word was sent to Admiral Sir William Parker who in turn communicated the Chinese position back to the Foreign Office. The British could now issue their demands ahead of peace talks. [4]

King George was buried in the finer details of these proposals from the Foreign Office when his concentration was broken by Charlie Phipps who gave a polite cough to indicate his presence.

“What is it?”, the King said without looking up from his papers.

“Her Royal Highness Princess Augusta is here to see you Your Majesty”

“No Charlie, not today. I’m far too busy”, the King replied vaguely, “Tell her to go and see Princess Mary, I shall see Princess Augusta on Thursday for dinner...”

“Begging your pardon Sir but Her Royal Highness says it is really most urgent she talk with you”

The King sighed and looked up.

“Oh very well Charlie, send her in will you?”

The moment the King saw his cousin, he knew something terrible must have happened. Her cheeks were heavy with tears, her eyes bright red and her hands trembling as she clutched a letter to her chest.

“Good God”, the King exclaimed, jumping up from his desk and rushing over to Augusta, “What on earth…”

Augusta curtsied and held out the paper in her hand.

“I didn’t know what else to do…”, she said sadly.

The King took the letter from her. Please Lord, he said quietly to himself, please don’t let it be Uncle Cambridge. He couldn’t bear that. Not so soon after…

"Please know that I was quite determined to take the action I have and that I meant you no inconvenience, dear sister. I tell you of my plans only because it occurs to me that Papa may blame you for what is to come and I do not consider that would be fair. What you do with this letter must be for own your conscience but know that mine is clear for I know I am right to go to the woman I love and take her for my wife.

There was no other course of action open to me and I could not bear to be parted from her longer than I have been already. I shall write to you from Paris when the matter is done. I do not know how these things shall transpire after that but know that I shall always love you dearly and that I hope you shall one day know the same happiness as I have come to know these past months.

Your brother, with love, George”


The King read each line, his upper lip curling into a snarl with every word. When he was done, he roared so loudly that Phipps dashed back into the room. Princess Augusta was beside herself, falling to the floor and sobbing into her hands. The King crushed the note in his hand angrily, throwing it across the room toward the fire.

“You…Phipps….I….”

George could hardly speak he was so consumed with rage.

“Damn it man, fetch Princess Mary here at once…NOW!

Princess Augusta looked up at the King, his face scarlet and his eyes watering with tears.

In that moment, she feared her brother was lost forever.


Notes

[1] Much of this history of Catholics in Hanover was researched here: https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07127c.htm

[2] Franziska Fritz is entirely invented here, she did not exist, though "her uncle" did and served as Bishop of Hildesheim as described. I took liberties with the family tree to suit my purpose here by giving him an older brother in politics and a daughter who catches the eye of George Cambridge. I rarely invent characters from thin air so I hope readers can overlook it on this occasion!

[3] As luck would have it, when I was researching how Prince George might have escaped to Dover, I found this brilliant resource which amazingly makes reference to a trip taken by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 1837 which I was able to reference here and make good use of; https://doverhistorian.com/2015/03/21/packet-service-to-1854/

[4] This is very much an overview of what happened during the China War (as it is known thus far in TTL) and is based on the battles of the OTL. I didn't see there'd be any need to deviate from those events or their outcome because IMO, there's no way the Chinese realistically could have resisted the British advances even with the head start I gave them by delaying it slightly.
 
Ooh, this is fun. A Catholic gentlewoman as the Countess of Tipperary? The scandal is going to tear the country apart...

I enjoyed this chapter - it was nice to see George beginning to think of what Louise would want rather than his overwhelming grief, and there was a nice balance of domestic and political.

Looking forward to more, as always!
 
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