Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

It's either that or Mary Adelaide is widowed pretty sharpish and George marries her in the end.

If we're at Xmas 1843 now, and Child 4 is born in Late 1846, that still puts us at a March 1846 marriage at the latest, really. So a maximum of about 27 months for a meet cute and marriage and for Wife #2 to fall pregnant.

I can't see it being an 1844 marriage or engagement, so that means it'll be 1845 at the earliest unless George has an indiscretion and we get a royal shotgun wedding.
Your counts are off as right now is Christmas 1842 so an engagement in 1844 is absolutely possible and also likely
You are right. I do still think it will be a 45 wedding though, unless there's an indiscretion that forces George into a shotgun wedding. A somewhat "Oh, the irony" situation as "Poor George" Cambridge watches from afar.
I think that @Opo will pick someone who is obscure IOTL so that it would be easier to create a personality for them. So maybe one of the daughters of the Duke of Lippe or another obscure figure in history.
I think that @Opo will pick someone who is obscure IOTL so that it would be easier to create a personality for them. So maybe one of the daughters of the Duke of Lippe or another obscure figure in history.
This is definitely true to some extent, it always helps me if a main character comes in with a reasonably clean slate - though obviously I try and find out as much as I can. For example, with George Cambridge I knew he was a bit of a lad when he was younger, a gambler and a womanizer. And based on his life in the OTL, it allowed me to make a George Cambridge for TTL who could help me change what I wanted to change but would still be plausible. So certainly in shopping for George V's new bride, I scoured the Gotha from top to toe but focused on the smaller courts which still had a fairly close connection to make the introduction easier.
GV: Part Three, Chapter Ten: A Tale of Two Cousins
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Ten: A Tale of Two Cousins

In a world without text messages and budget airlines, opportunities to reunite with family members who had made new lives in other countries were few and far between in the 19th century. This explains perhaps why King George V had been so reluctant at one time to see his sister Charlotte Louise marry into the Russian Imperial Family. From the moment she married, a separation of over 1,000 miles would exist between brother and sister and though, like all European royalty at the time, they were prolific letter writers, nothing could compare to the joy of infrequent but much cherished face-to-face reunions. If Grand Duchess Marie had hoped to distract the King from the absence of someone special by surprising him with the presence of someone equally as beloved, she was entirely triumphant.

The King noted that Charlotte Louise (now known as Maria Georgievna and referred to as such hereafter) looked different somehow, something many people observe about a friend or relation they haven’t seen for some time, but it was not so much Lottie’s physical appearance that seemed changed but rather it was her bearing itself. She had never lacked confidence; indeed it was incredibly brave for her to accept the Tsarevich’s proposal and to make the decision to move to a new country she knew very little about and which was so markedly different from her own. But now she seemed to have adopted a kind of gentle certainty, not so much hauteur or superiority but with a very obvious outward projection of who she was and what that meant in the world.

Maria Georgievna had proved an enormous success in Russia since her arrival in 1840 and this can only be attributed to her own determination to make her marriage work. She was devoted to her husband Alexander and whilst her anxieties about her new life may have once given her cause for doubt, she quickly resolved to face those concerns head on, address them and conquer them. Her first task was to perfect the Russian language and this she did skilfully by asking for copies of books she knew well to be translated into phonetics so that she could at least converse a little in her new homeland. But she quickly found she had a flair for the language and though the Russian court spoke almost exclusively French, Maria Georgievna charmed people when she spoke confidently in Russian – though she would always do so with an accent that wasn’t quite so elegant as native speakers. This did not apply so much to old church Slavonic which she never quite grasped but which she could just about follow based on the context of Eastern Orthodox ritual. When it came to her new religion, Maria Georgievna did an excellent job of appearing sincere and indeed, in later life she did find a comfort in Orthodoxy. But at the start of her marriage, she found it too complex, too overwhelming and too foreign to truly engage with Orthodoxy in a sincere way. Yet she gave the impression that she had fully embraced her new faith and this was enough to impress those around her for whom Orthodoxy was a huge part of their daily lives.


Maria Georgievna.

But there were many other adjustments Maria Georgievna had to make when she arrived in Russia that affected her day-to-day life far more than what language she spoke or which prayers she recited. The Tsarevich and his wife were given the Anichkov Palace in St Petersburg to live in, an imposing 18th century imperial residence that had been heavily extended in the reign of Tsar Alexander I to make it a suitably grand residence for his sister, Grand Duchess Elena, to live in. Whilst it remained leased to Elena for the duration of her lifetime, the Grand Duchess spent hardly any time at Anichkov before she left Russia for Germany in 1799 to marry Hereditary Grand Duke Paul Frederick of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Sadly, Elena died not long after at the age of just 18 years old and in his grief, Tsar Alexander effectively closed Anichkov until the Tsarevich and his new bride took up residence there in 1840 with a huge cash injection to renovate the palace and make it their own. This Maria Georgievna did to great acclaim. She was aware that there was a clash between the English and Russian style and that in St Petersburg, the furnishings at Windsor might be regarded as old fashioned – or even a little shabby. To that end, she engaged French and Italian interior decorators to transform the Anichkov and the ladies of the Russian Court were pleasantly surprised that the “little Englander” that such good taste.

In her dealings with the Romanov family, Maria Georgievna was incredibly careful not to involve herself in any of the politics that tended to dominate the various branches of the dynasty. She indulged nobody in gossip, she never took one person’s side against another and whenever she was asked what she thought about a family matter, she would reply “I shall wait to see what Papa has to say about it”. Deferring always to the Tsar was a very wise move at a court where the Russian Emperor inspired enthusiastic devotion among his subjects. For his part, the Tsar was extremely fond of his daughter-in-law. He thought her to be beautiful, gentle and kind but he noticed that “she has within her a flash of steel that will one day be tested and found totally unbending”. Her mother-in-law however, was less effusive in her compliments. Alexandra Feodorovna was not an unkind woman and Maria Georgievna did nothing to inspire animosity, yet the Empress was never more than polite to her daughter-in-law and she showed Maria little warmth. She once said; “Like all English women, she is charming on the outside but obstinate within”. But the Empress was alone in this judgement and other members of the Romanov family welcomed Maria with open arms.

Of the Tsar’s seven children, five lived in St Petersburg, each with their own palace. Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna married the Duke of Leuchtenberg in 1839 but the couple remained living in Russia as Maria was the Tsar’s favourite daughter and he could not bear to be parted from her. Indeed, when Maria Georgievna arrived in St Petersburg, some of the Romanovs were put out because the Tsar was spending an extraordinary amount to construct a new palace on the banks of the Moika for the Leuchtenbergs so that Maria Nikolayevna would be in walking distance of the Winter Palace. But it was the Tsar’s daughter Alexandra to whom Maria Georgievna became particularly close. Known to the family as Adini¸ Maria Georgievna took to her sister-in-law immediately as she, like so many in St Petersburg society, was charmed by her wit and lively personality. She had a strong passion for music and studied the subject seriously, taking lessons from the soprano Henriette Sontag. “Where you find Adini, you will find Lotye”, the Tsar observed with a smile, and when the Tsarevna gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in 1842, it was no surprise to anyone that Maria Georgievna insisted on naming her in her Adini’s honour. The Grand Duchess also served as the Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna’s godmother.

But an early admirer of Maria Georgievna was the Tsarevich’s brother Grand Duke Konstantin. He was 13 when Maria arrived in Russia and was immediately smitten, turning to the Grand Duke Michael (his uncle) at the wedding and asking excitedly “Does she have a sister I might marry one day?”. It was a harmless teenage infatuation of course but by 1845, it showed no signs of abating and the Empress had to step in and tell Konstantin not to spend so much time at the Anichkov, which hurt him deeply as he was incredibly fond of his brother and possibly felt more at home in the liberal salon of Anichkov than the more conservative drawing room of the Winter Palace. But beyond the splendour of the Romanov mansions, the people themselves warmed to Maria Georgievna remarkably quickly. Whilst the Empress was more reserved and preferred to live a quiet and private life, appearing in public only when she had to, the Tsarevna was more than content to “be seen” and she had an easy, informal approach to these interactions which was quite unusual in Russia and which endeared her to Russians within a few months of her marriage. This was to cause difficulties later but in 1842, those who had doubted the match between Alexander and Maria would be a success were left to eat their own words as they were very much the toast of St Petersburg with the Tsarevna earning glowing testimonials all round.

The Tsarevich did not accompany his wife to Neustrelitz for the Christmas of 1842 (Christmas being celebrated later in Russia than it was in the West), neither did Maria Georgievna bring her infant daughter with her. The Tsar might not usually have allowed such travel but he had close family ties with the Neustrelitzes, his wife (the Empress) being the niece of Grand Duke George. One non-negotiable aspect of the permission given to Maria Georgievna to travel alone however was that she must take a generous retinue from her household which surprised some of her relations who could only dream of such luxuries. Though the Tsarevna personally would have preferred to have travelled with just a lady’s maid, court convention held that a member of the Imperial Family should always be attended by the most senior members of their household whether at home or abroad.

This was strictly regulated by the Table of Ranks introduced by Peter the Great and for Maria Georgievna, this meant she was accompanied to Neustrelitz by no less than 8 people; the Hofmeister of her household, the Hofmeisterin (his female equivalent),a Statsdame (or lady of the suite), two Fräuleins (or maids of the bedchamber), a groom, a personal secretary and her personal chaplain who always held the rank of Archimandrite. King George V looked on with curiosity as every morning, his sister walked in the gardens of the Grand Duke’s palace in Neustrelitz with this entourage of attendants waddling behind her like imperious ducklings, each tending to their mistress as if she were a china doll to be cosseted and protected against such inconveniences as an uneven path or a chill in the air. Maria Georgievna would often complain that this way of living was “too excessive”, yet she never attempted to change it. For the rest of her life, she would remain the prized charge of these court retainers for whom no demand was considered unreasonable and who fussed and fidgeted to ensure that her every need was met.

It must be said however that none of this acted as a barrier to Maria Georgievna getting stuck into the family celebrations for Christmas as she had before her marriage. Neustrelitz was teeming with European royalties that year and the guest list was incredibly impressive. As well as the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and their family, invitations had been dispatched and extended to the Grand Duke’s nieces and nephews from the Württemberg, Thurn und Taxis and Prussian royal houses and they in turn brought their children which saw the Anhalt-Dessaus, Solms-Braunfels and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadts in attendance along with Grand Duchess Marie’s relations from Hesse, the United Kingdom and Denmark. All ages were represented and as was their wont, all royal titles and protocols were dispensed with as they used nicknames and precedence was thrown away allowing everybody to sit with whom they liked at meals. This was not exactly a Bohemian free for all however. As one of the guests remarked; “They are informal – but they wear tiaras when being so”. Other guests remarked on how childish they could be. The Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz for example, led duck races in the ballroom with chalk lines applied to the parquet. Each duck was named after a member of the family and the guests were encouraged to bet on them and whoop and cheer their support from the sidelines. George V won twice but his third consecutive victory was challenged on the grounds that he was caught throwing small pieces of bread onto the racetrack to encourage his steed to move along a little faster.

If anyone had concerns that the Christmas of 1842 might prove too painful for the King, they were relieved to see his happiness. He joined in every game played and he greatly enjoyed his time at Neustrelitz that year. As the season came to a close, he may have worried that a return to England might prove an anti-climax but fortunately, there was good news on that score. His sister had permission to remain with him for few weeks longer and join him on his visit to the Prince and Princess of Orange in the Netherlands where the Tsar’s sister just so happened to be Princess Victoria’s mother-in-law, the Queen consort to King William II. George was delighted, not just because this would mean more time with Lottie but because he was secretly dreading his visit to the Oranges, confiding in Charlie Phipps that he wished he hadn’t agreed to call on them at all. William and Victoria were a tumultuous pair, their marriage frequently rocked by disagreements. But it appeared that they had reconciled for a time and George hoped that this cousin’s pregnancy indicated that any difficulties or estrangements were now at an end. How wrong he was.


Princess Victoria.

The Prince and Princess of Orange were perhaps a classic example of a couple so similar in personality that they clashed in spite of themselves. Victoria was prone to sulk when things didn’t go her way and she could be incredibly stubborn and wilful – so could William. Victoria was also a keen gossip and inserted herself into squabbles or dramas because she enjoyed the drama of such things – so did William. But the quality they both shared in spade loads was their short temper which could erupt at any given moment and last for hours, if not days. At the start, Victoria had climbed down from these rages and switched on a dime to play the role of subservient, regretful wife but when she discovered that her husband had taken a mistress (the first in a long line of many), she no longer saw any need to moderate her behaviour. As successful an entrance as Maria Georgievna had made at the Russian Court, so Victoria had made a dismal impression at The Hague. She didn’t care much for any of the ladies assigned to her, neither did she like the furnishings of her new home at the Kneuterdijk Palace. She had been granted a generous sum to refurbish it but she quickly grew bored and announced it wasn’t the decoration which irritated her, it was “the fact that I must live here at all”. She much preferred the grandeur of Het Loo and so, eager to please her, her parents-in-law were only too happy to let her use that palace as she wished. But then Victoria dug her heels in. She spent all of her time at Het Loo and so increasingly became a stranger to the Dutch court.

Almost immediately, there were conspiracies. Some whispered that Victoria was clearly mad. Her grandfather had been declared so, her mother had died in an asylum, therefore it stood to reason that Victoria’s temper tantrums were indicative of a far more serious condition which she had inherited one way or another. Victoria made few friends at court and in her loneliness, she seems to have become something of a trouble maker. We have already seen how she spread tittle tattle to her relations abroad which irritated those who felt she was becoming bitter and her half-sister Theodora was the only frequent visitor to Het Loo who could put up with Victoria’s mood swings. Unfortunately, this meant that sympathy was in short supply when the Prince of Orange installed his new mistress, Elisabeth van Lynden, as one of Victoria’s ladies in waiting. When Victoria complained to her mother-in-law, Queen Anna told the Princess of Orange that it was not her place to criticise the decisions the Queen took regarding the royal household and that she would be far better occupied caring for her daughter. Princess Victoria Paulina was now two years old and it had not gone unnoticed that her mother seemed to have no maternal instinct whatsoever. From the moment Linna was born, Victoria did her best to keep her in the nursery and only visited infrequently, and even then for just a few minutes at a time. Prince William on the other hand adored his daughter and this only seemed to make Victoria more determined to keep Linna at arm’s length.

A brief reconciliation between the Prince and Princess of Orange saw Victoria fall pregnant for a second time and it was hoped that this may encourage her to get closer to her daughter. It did not. Neither did the rapprochement between the Oranges last for long. Whilst pregnant, William complained that Victoria was “growing too fat and is more obstinate than ever” and this pushed him further into the arms of Elisabeth van Lynden who made no attempt to hide her relationship with the Prince from Victoria with whom she was in daily contact. The situation was untenable and caused so much unpleasantness than a summons to Het Loo caused most pangs of dread. Eventually, just before Christmas in 1842, the Prince of Orange took Elisabeth van Lynden with him to the Kneuterdijk. They spent the season together with Princess Victoria Paulina and left Victoria with only her half-sister Feodora and Feodora’s husband Ernst (Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg) for company.

The news that King George V was to visit Victoria at Het Loo before the New Year’s celebrations greatly cheered her and she spared no expense in readying the palace to receive her cousin. But the day before he arrived, news came from The Hague that William would not be joining his wife to host George – he was going to Switzerland with Elisabeth, presumably for a holiday, but in fact his mission was far more sly in nature. Elisabeth was pregnant with William’s child and he wanted to settle her into her own residence in Geneva so that this did not cause scandal in Holland. Victoria was horrified that William had reneged on his promise and felt he was being “unreasonably rude toward my cousin the King” but fortunately, she had no idea of the true purpose behind William’s sojourn to Switzerland, which would undoubtedly have caused far greater fireworks than those to be enjoyed by the crowds on New Year’s Day.

However, Victoria’s anger soon turned to delight when the King and his sister arrived at Apeldoorn shortly before New Year’s Day - it wouldn't last. Though she happy to see Maria Georgievna was accompanying George, Victoria quickly reviewed her sentiments after just a few days. It seems that she particularly took against Lottie who had brought a large staff with her and this Victoria related to her uncle King Leopold; “It is quite ridiculous for Lottie to carry on so with far too many of these people following her about. It is clear that she has been quite changed by life in Russia and I do not care for this change because she was always so simple and unassuming. Now she feels every bit an Imperial Highness I fear and seemed determine to show it off. But I was not impressed and I paid no attention to her airs and graces which are really quite unattractive – not to mention her jewels which really are so gauche! They evidently are new pieces made for her but they have no style and I thought them quite vulgar when compared to my own”. The more Maria Georgievna spoke of her new life in Russia, the more unpleasant Victoria became as the green-eyed monster seemed to become an unwelcome dinner guest. King George noticed this and became defensive, making the atmosphere far less enjoyable than that which the King had relished so much at Neustrelitz. The cattiness subsided a little but it was only to be a temporary truce.

King William and Queen Anna invited King George and the Tsarevna to their own palace in The Hague for a ball on New Year’s Day which they both accepted with enthusiasm. If nothing else, it would be a relief from the dour and eggshell like ambience at Het Loo. But Victoria refused to go on the grounds that she felt unwell. Her pregnancy provided the perfect excuse but she seemed to feel that George and Lottie should decline too and stay at Het Loo with her to keep her company. The King made it clear that he could not decline an invitation from the Dutch sovereign whilst he was in his Kingdom and Victoria quickly flew into a rage, screaming that she had never been respected by her English relations and that they were only too happy when she had married and left for the Netherlands.


Het Loo Palace.

She railed against Lottie too, reminding her that in their childhood Victoria had been a constant companion to her and that she was owed at least some loyalty. Lottie tried to reason that the Tsar had only allowed her to stay away for so long because she was to call on his sister, Queen Anna. But it did no good. Eventually, Victoria broke down in tears and when George and Lottie tried to comfort her, she revealed the whole sordid saga of just how precarious her marriage was and how her husband had all but abandoned her to live with his mistress at the Kneuterdijk. All George and Lottie could do was console their cousin. As the King wrote to his Aunt Mary; “I do not approve of William’s behaviour but it is little wonder that he cannot heal the wounds in the situation because Drina is so very unreasonable. We have never spent a more disagreeable visit and I shall be relieved when I can return home”.

But this would not be for a few days yet and the worst disagreement was yet to come. Though she had used her pregnancy to avoid a visit to Neustrelitz and to The Hague, Victoria announced over luncheon that she had come up with a brilliant idea. She realised that Maria Georgievna would now make her return journey to Russia and that the King would be forced to travel home alone. Therefore, Victoria gleefully declared that she would accompany George on his travels because “I have not seen Uncle Leopold in some time and I know he is missing me”.

George did not look up from his salad.

“I’m not going by Brussels”, he said nonchalantly, “The yacht has been brought to Rotterdam”

“Rotterdam? But that is so silly”, Victoria sighed, “You have been everywhere on Uncle Leopold’s borders but you won't go to his front door. He will be very offended if you do not call upon him Georgie”

“Really Drina, I don’t wish to discuss this”, the King said firmly, “My journey was agreed with the Foreign Office before I left home, the arrangements have been made, I shall not change them at the 11th hour”.

“Of course you must!”, Victoria snapped back, “You are not beholden to the Foreign Office for a private visit, it is not so very inconvenient and it shan’t delay you, if we leave tomorrow morning we could be-“

“No Drina!”, George barked, “Now will you kindly stop badgering me about it and let me enjoy my meal”

“You haven’t seen him for years”, Victoria continued, “And after all he did for you when you were small. I know he feels very badly that you won’t receive him, he told me so, he told me-“

“Drina…”, Lottie warned quietly, “I really do think you had better change the subject”

“You cannot order me about Lottie”, Victoria sneered haughtily, “You are not in St Petersburg now you know”

“That’s enough!”

The King shot up from the table and snatched up his napkin, wiping his mouth and throwing it back down onto his half-eaten meal.

“We came here because we miss you Drina, we really do”, he said reasonably, “But you have become insufferable. You gossip, you snipe, you make unkind remarks and I shall sit through no more of it. I shall be leaving tomorrow morning, for Rotterdam, to return home. And I suggest you remedy your temper very quickly for otherwise we shall part on bad terms, and I do not believe either of us would want that”.

And with that, he left the room, Lottie quickly following behind him. Victoria sat in silence for a moment. She looked at the empty seats before her and then motioned to a footman who had witnessed the entire scene.

“Oh clear these things away!”, she shouted. Outside in the corridor, George and his sister exchanged worried looks. It seemed Victoria may be cracking under the pressure of her marriage and not at all thriving as Lottie was. There had been signs before but seeing Victoria in her own home, it was clear that she was close to breaking point. Something would have to give and quickly.

True to his word, King George left the following morning. A tearful and apologetic Victoria gave profuse reassurances that she was suitably remorseful and the three cousins were able to depart on friendly terms. None of them knew when they would meet again, though they gave assurances that would write and travel as soon as they were able to be reunited. Victoria asked her cousins to promise that they would return to Holland for the christening of her baby and both agreed but neither the King nor the Tsarevna were private people who could decide their own schedules. They were tied into a life of state occasions, private audiences and public appearances and these things could not be set aside for family events on a whim - or with any regularity. The irony was that had Victoria embraced her position in the Netherlands from the start, she too would have found this to have been the case and she may not have been as lonely, not that one can entirely blame her when her husband had put her into such an uncomfortable situation. Amidst tears and goodbyes, the three cousins were parted once more. The King returned to England (without calling upon King Leopold in Brussels), the Tsarevna returned to St Petersburg and the Princess of Orange settled herself in at Het Loo awaiting the birth of her second child.

“So much has changed for us”, George observed to Charlie Phipps as his carriage pulled away from Victoria’s palace, “Were we ever really those little children who played together at Clarence House not so long ago?”


And so we come to the end of 1842 and head into 1843! This chapter was especially written to provide us with an opportunity to catch up on how Lottie and Drina were taking to their new lives. They had been such important characters for so long that it felt right we returned to them to see how their stories were progressing and I'll try to introduce these every so often so we can keep up to date.

I'm still battling this flu which is determined to hang on for a while so I'm taking the weekend to myself for a little R&R but I'll be back with a new instalment early next week as we go forward into a brand new year.
Victoria and William are perfect for each other in all the wrong ways. After the dinner, I thought Victoria would just start throwing plates and other things. Will George ever visit Austria or Italy?
I'm loving the contrast between Lottie and Drina, though I worry about how things will go for the latter...
Poor Drina! But then, William and Victoria were always going to clash when thrown together. Hopefully things will start to improve for her quite soon...

Will George ever visit Austria or Italy?
Yes to both, though perhaps not in the same "coincidental" way as the OTL Queen Victoria did.

For context, Victoria only visited Austria and Italy once (in a private capacity on holiday) and IIRC, she only met Emperor Franz Joseph twice.

The first occasion was in 1863 when she was on holiday in Coburg and Ernst II sprung Franz Joseph on her as a dinner guest - Victoria wasn't pleased about this because it offended the King of Prussia and she felt obligated to dine with him afterwards to calm him down.

Their second meeting took place in 1888 which was a little more public in nature but still considered a private, informal call. Victoria was on holiday again, this time on a much longer tour of France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain and stopped at Innsbruck, so Franz Joseph elected to meet her at the railway station and offer her luncheon there in a room made over for the purpose.

Victoria recorded the meeting in her journal as follows:-

I had not seen [Franz Joseph] since 1863 at Coburg. We lunched "à quatre" in a room full of flowers. I unfortunately had a very bad sick headache & could eat next to nothing. The Emperor was most kind & talked very pleasantly on many subjects. He said how happy he was at the good relations existing between our 2 countries, which he hoped would continue, as in case of war, we could act together. Russia was incomprehensible, & he thought Bismarck much too weak & yielding to Russia, which was a great mistake. Later the Emperor presented Prince Constantine Hohenlohe, who seemed much pleased to see me. He was a nephew by marriage of my beloved Feodore. I thought him very pleasant. The rest of the suite were presented & I presented mine. After a very affectionate leave-taking, we went on. The Emperor had travelled 17 hours from Vienna, on purpose to meet me.
GV: Part Three, Chapter Eleven: Ripples
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Eleven: Ripples

The King returned from the Netherlands to a snow-blanketed London, his carriage cutting tracks through its thick white blanket as it clattered its way to Buckingham Palace. After an unpleasant stay with his cousin, the Princess of Orange, at Het Loo, George V was relieved to be home once more and despite the difficulties at Apeldoorn, he was much buoyed by his time at Neustrelitz – especially his reunion with his sister, the Tsarevna of Russia. In a letter to the Dowager Duchess of Orléans sent from Buckingham Palace two days after his return to England, the King wrote, “I had greatly feared the season as it approached, and I confess I cannot yet comprehend the forthcoming anniversary in February without pangs of dread, yet all was made so very jolly at Neustrelitz that it was a great relief to me” [1]. Duchess Hélène had sent the King a gift as a token of her thanks for his recent courtesy call to her in Paris following the death of her husband (“a fine album of lithographs of the family”) and in his thankyou note, he added; “I can only hope you were as well supported as I for so much kindness was shown to me that I have returned home feeling far more able to face the year ahead which shall be a happy one for my family as my dear cousin Augusta is to be married in June”.

Augusta’s marriage was to take place in June and would see the Royal Family assemble at the newly installed Chapel Royal at Buckingham Palace to see her wed the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Because the marriage was to take place in England, and because the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Augusta herself were in Germany, the King handed over most of the arrangements to his aunt, Princess Mary, who simply modelled the event after her own wedding in 1816. The Cambridges were consulted on none of the arrangements, neither were the Strelitzes, and Grand Duchess Marie and her sister the Duchess of Cambridge were slightly put out to find invitations dispatched to the guests for a date they had not agreed and in a venue which might not have been their first choice. Nonetheless, on one thing all were agreed; no invitation would be sent to the King’s mother at Kew to attend despite the fact that she was aunt to both bride and groom. However, George V took everybody by surprise when he suggested that if his Aunt Marie and Aunt Augusta wished to pay a private call on the Dowager Queen at Kew, he would not object provided that they stay no longer than an hour. Marie and Augusta wrote to Louise asking when they might visit but they received no reply.

Following her wedding, Princess Augusta would move permanently to Neustrelitz but there was one matter to be settled ahead of the happy event: her annuity. As a Princess of the Blood Royal, Augusta was entitled to receive a dowry and some form of income which would be secured by an act of parliament. Augusta could not expect anything near the generous sums given to her cousin Charlotte Louise when she married and indeed, she was to receive even less than her cousin Victoria (of Orange) too. The King proposed that Augusta should receive £5,000 as a dowry and that she should be paid £2,500 every two years until the death of the Duke of Cambridge in which case she would receive £7,500 every four years [2]. The government had prepared much lower figures but it appeared that her brother’s loss was Augusta’s gain, indeed, perhaps the King inflated the sums to send a message to Erfurt as to what might have been. Regardless of this, Sir James Graham agreed that the sums were reasonable and he foresaw no difficulties in securing the act of parliament that would provide Augusta with both a dowry and a private income for life. The King’s own wedding present to the couple, beyond the tiara which had already been given as an engagement gift, was the use of an apartment at Marlborough House, a property now shared once more with the Earl of Armagh and Princess Sophia already in residence.


A young Augusta of Cambridge, later Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

It seemed that marriage fever was in the air as just a week later, the Earl of Armagh requested an audience with the King. Though he had missed the gathering at Neustrelitz and a much-longed for reunion with Princess Auguste, absence had made the heart grow fonder – and more determined – and Prince George was now resolved to taking the plunge and asking for Auguste’s hand in marriage. The King was delighted of course and he could not help but feel he had one-upped his aunt Louise Charlotte. Whilst the Princess of Hesse-Kassel had insisted on a long engagement with a wedding taking place no sooner than October 1843 when the Princess turned 20, George’s delays and Augusta Cambridge’s wedding meant that an engagement would now most likely be announced after June with a ceremony taking place just a few months later in October, as Princess Louise Charlotte had originally demanded but with none of the obligation met other than by circumstance. The King gave his consent willingly and promised he would speak to the Prime Minister about the practicalities of another act of parliament being introduced to secure Prince George’s annuity. But this request was not so favourably received in Downing Street.

When it came to royal finances, the Cumberland name was certain to ruffle feathers. In the past, parliament had become used to hearing constant complaints from the benches in the Lords from the much-despised Duke of Cumberland that he was not receiving what he should. In 1826, the Duke submitted a request that his annuity (£18,000 a year) should be increased by £5,000 because he could not afford to pay for his son’s education. Parliament was torn on the issue and ultimately settled on a compromise; Cumberland could have an additional £2,500 a year on the understanding that Prince George must live in England if the Duke was receive the money. The Cumberlands agreed and came back to Britain but just two years later, Ernest Augustus became embroiled in a plot to oust his elder brother as regent for King George V and install himself in the post instead. When the plot collapsed, Cumberland was humiliated and he was forced into self-imposed exile in Germany with his wife and son. The £2,500 increase was removed under the terms of the 1826 agreement and thereafter, Cumberland would consistently petition for more money. It never came and in fact, his annuity was decreased as the years went by. [3]

But in 1840, the Duke’s son was rehabilitated as a member of the British Royal Family by virtue of the fact that his cousin, the King, greatly liked Prince George. The two became firm friends and confidants and as we have seen, George V took a keen interest in his cousin’s prospects. He even created him Ranger of Busy Park (with an annuity of £5,000) so that he might have a private income and a house of his own in England but the fact remained that to many, Prince George of Cumberland was something of a stranger. Because he was blind (some sources say by as much as 80%), his opportunities to take on a more public role as a member of the Royal Family were considered to be much reduced and as such, he did not undertake official duties on behalf of the Crown [4]. The Prime Minister was personally fond of George Cumberland but he felt there was likely to be strong opposition to granting him an annuity before his marriage – indeed, there was potential for the Commons to reopen old wounds to deprive the Prince’s father of what remained of his own allowance. Graham explained this to the King as sensitively as he could and to his credit, the King sympathised.

In a world where Royal Families are expected to “slim down” their number to suit a modern concept of monarchy, it may seem strange that in 1843, the British Royal Family were actually facing something of a staff shortage. It must be remembered that at this time, the monarchy was not expected to be seen in public as often as it is now – yet, arguably George V and Queen Louise raised that expectation because they were content to make more regular appearances than had been seen in previous reigns. The King had returned to a full programme of royal duties and had a busy three-month programme scheduled which included several public ceremonies connected with the upcoming state visit of the King and Queen of Prussia. For other events, Princess Mary was called upon to deputise. Until the Christmas of 1842, the Duke of Sussex was often asked to pitch in too, though he was considered to have retired some time before for reasons we have previously explored. But when George V returned from his winter holiday, there was worrying news concerning his uncle that suggested Sussex may not be around to pitch in for much longer.

The Duke of Sussex was fast approaching his 70th birthday and the King wished to do something special to celebrate the occasion. But when he wrote to the Duke’s wife asking for her advice on what he might like, she was forced to betray a confidence. Though he wished to suffer in silence, Sussex had been diagnosed with erysipelas, a form of cellulitis which was common at the time because of poor standards of hygiene and which allowed the bacteria which caused the disease to spread quite easily. In advanced cases, the patient faced the agony of red, painful blisters all over the skin which could lead to necrosis and lymphedema. In the days before antibiotics, erysipelas was recurrent and often fatal as it gave rise to open wounds which quickly became infected and could not be treated. His doctors feared that the Duke of Sussex would not recover and that he potentially had only two months, three at the outside, to live. The King was shocked to hear that his uncle was so unwell and immediately asked his private secretary to arrange a visit to Sussex House by the end of that week. In truth, the King had been avoiding the Sussexes for months and now he felt guilty that he had done so.

But the King had a good reason for not wanting to visit his uncle. In the aftermath of George Cambridge’s decision to marry Franziska Fritz the previous year, the King’s most senior legal advisor (Sir Frederick Pollock) had cast doubt on the validity of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s marriage and in informal discussions on what might be done to resolve this, the King had been warned that the situation would not be as easily remedied as he might have presumed. Though the King had indicated his willingness to grant his consent to the Sussex marriage, Pollock disagreed with his predecessor as Attorney General that this was enough to validate it. In his view, the King had only given the nod to the Privy Council to issue an Order-in-Council which any member of the Royal Family was entitled to apply for under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 providing they were over the age of 25. So long as parliament raised no objection, the marriage would be valid. But this applied only to marriages which were yet to take place, not to marriages which had already taken place and which were, under the same terms, invalid at the moment they were contracted. In the case of the Sussexes therefore, the situation remained that both ceremonies the couple had undergone did not conclude in a valid and legal marriage and though consent would be given, it had not been given because no application was made for it before the second wedding took place in Pillnitz.

However, Pollock had raised another matter concerning the Sussex marriage which seemed even more prudent now than it had a few months earlier. It was expected that when the Duke died, he would leave his entire fortune (estimated at £80,000) to his wife. The King had given a personal assurance that he would arrange an annuity for the Duchess of £5,000, a far cry from the £18,000 a year the Duke received but quite reasonable for a wealthy dowager. Sussex House was leased from the Crown and would be renewed for the remainder of the Duchess’ lifetime. But there was a problem. Before he married Lady Cecilia Underwood in 1831, the Duke had attempted to marry somebody else. In 1793, he “married” Lady Augusta Murray in Rome. Like his second marriage, this was invalid under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 but King George III insisted that the Court of Arches declare it annulled just in case it had any legal validity elsewhere because in that same year, Lady Augusta gave birth to a son. He was named Augustus Frederick for his father and given the surname d’Este, because both his mother and father could claim descent from the royal house of that name. Nonetheless, the Duke of Sussex continued to live with Lady Augusta and in 1801, she gave birth to a daughter who was named Augusta Emma. Months later, the Duke of Sussex abandoned Augusta Murray and considered he had never been married to her at all.


Augustus d'Este

That being said, the Duke acted honourably and provided £4,000 a year to Lady Augusta for the purpose of providing for their two children. When Augusta died in 1830, Sussex continued to honour his financial commitment (though his children were now adults) and paid each of the d’Estes £2,000 a year from his own annuity. In 1831 he married Lady Cecilia Underwood but in doing so, he unwittingly set in motion the makings of a right royal headache. In the marriage register, he listed himself as a widower and not a bachelor. This did not matter too much in 1831 because his second marriage, like his first, was considered invalid anyway. But when the King sought to recognise this second marriage, Pollock believed he had contributed to a future difficulty specifically concerning Augustus d’Este.

The Duke of Sussex’s children lived together at Mount Albion House on the East Cliff of Ramsgate. They were estranged from the Duke but continued to rely on his money to survive. Curiously, Augustus d’Este is the earliest recorded person for whom a definite diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be made and he charted the progress of his disease in his diaries which were later used as a basis for further research into the condition. He was therefore considered an invalid, well provided for by his annuity from his father, but unable to engage in any profession and further supplement his income. When the Duke died the d’Estes would be left with nothing and in their unique circumstances, they may lose everything. It was entirely possible that Augustus d’Este may therefore mount a legal challenge to the Sussex estate to get what he considered was rightfully his – a task made easier for him if he could prove that the Duchess of Sussex was not his father’s wife at all, though not a guaranteed outcome as he himself was declared illegitimate.

But if the King validated the second Sussex marriage, an argument could be made that he had recognised “the moral and religious effects of whatever has taken place, regardless of the legal effects of the first marriage contracted” and that “There shall be an effort made on the behalf of Mr d’Este to assert that the first marriage was valid in Ireland and in Hanover and that, consequently, the aforementioned illegitimate son of the His Royal Highness may have serious claim to the Sussex peerage on these grounds”. Pollock was relatively sure that the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords would not find in d’Este’s favour but he urged the King to think very seriously about the consequences of trying to use the vaguer parts of the Royal Marriages Act to retroactively recognise the second Sussex marriage. In his view, it would be far simpler (and safer) to simply grant consent ahead of a third ceremony which could then standalone legally and would reduce the risk of the first Sussex marriage ever being used in d’Este’s favour – though even this could have undesirable consequences later on. [5]

When the King arrived at Sussex House in the second week of January 1843, he was understandably nervous “for how does one tell a dying man that the thing which sustains him most may not in fact be the solid foundation of his life he believes it to be?”. Upon entering the Duke’s bedroom, George V was “rocked to the core to see the poor old man who was brilliant red in the face and clearly in much distress – the little Duchess tended him most devotedly throughout and gave me tea in a separate room when Uncle Sussex drifted off to sleep for a time”.

It was to the Duchess that the King explained the difficulties of the situation and in his journal, the King pays tribute to her “stoicism and calmness for she took all of Pollock’s assessment very well and said she would discuss it with my poor uncle at the appropriate time”. The following day when the King was walking in the grounds of the Palace, Phipps brought him a letter from his uncle which asked formal permission for the King’s consent to marry Cecilia Underwood for a third and final time. The Sussexes would ask the Dean of Windsor to conduct the ceremony quietly at their London home and would draw no more attention to the wedding than to invite the required witnesses, if consent was given, and if a special license could be obtained in time. When the King read the letter, he “was most moved and shed a tear”.

“Of course he may have my consent Charlie”, the King said quietly, “And will you be so kind as to find out the date on which this ceremony will take place. If my uncle is willing and agreeable to it, I should like to stand witness myself”.

On the 27th of January 1843, the Duke of Sussex’s 70th birthday, in the drawing room of Sussex House, the King and Charlie Phipps stood as witnesses to the third, final and valid marriage of the Duke of Sussex and Cecilia Underwood. The Duke was propped up in a chair for the ceremony and vows were exchanged after which the Dean of Windsor looked on as the King personally signed the register as required. When the Attorney General heard what had transpired, he rolled his eyes and remarked; “A most generous act. But possibly a most foolish one too”. By allowing (albeit in a well-intentioned gesture) the Sussexes to marry with his consent the King had unwittingly given Augustus d’Este what he needed to mount a case to the House of Lords in the future which otherwise may have been considered easily resolved against the petitioner. But in Germany, the former Prince George of Cambridge heard the news with great interest too.


The Duke of Sussex

Around this time, Cambridge was desperately trying to bring his own legal case against his father-in-law for the remaining sum of money left to Franziska Fritz by her uncle, the Bishop of Hildesheim, which had been held in trust for her until she came of age – or married. But Fritz's father insisted his daughter was not married because the King had ruled the marriage invalid and thus, he could keep the trust and spend the money as he liked. Not that there was much left. The case would have to be heard in Hanover and this initially made the Earl of Tipperary reluctant to bring it forward but as his finances became strained, he had little choice but to press on. But now there was something new to consider; had a new precedent been set? If the Duke of Sussex could marry with consent to a commoner and retain his royal style and title, why then was the same consent being denied to George Cambridge? Little did the King know it but at Erfurt, a storm was brewing. [6]

In their weekly audience, the Prime Minister raised no objection to the King’s validation of the Duke of Sussex’s marriage whatsoever. As far as he was concerned, the Sussexes had lived as husband and wife without consequence and if there had been a legal oversight in the way the marriage was validated, it made perfect sense for it to be rectified – especially in light of the fact that the Duke was dying and that nobody wished to see the Duchess of Sussex robbed of reasonable provision for her impending widowhood. But Pollock had been to see Sir James Graham and had shared with him his worries on what this might mean for the d’Estes – and though he did not reference George Cambridge by name, he raised the prospect that the King may have created a new precedent which could give grounds for further legal challenges. Pollock’s view remained unchanged that the King had acted within the framework of the existing legislation on Royal Marriages. He had simply given consent to one and withheld it from another as was his right. This was the view the Prime Minister and the Cabinet would take too.

Meanwhile, the King gave serious consideration to the issue of Prince George of Cumberland’s future annuity and believed he had found a solution. He was well aware that the demands on the Royal Family to make public appearances were growing and that he could not meet that demand until his children were much older. At first, he considered asking Princess Augusta and her new husband to live in England for a time after their marriage to help shoulder the workload but Grand Duke George was totally opposed to this. As much as he adored his son-in-law, the people expected their Hereditary Grand Duke and his new bride to make their new life in Neustrelitz, not in London. Then, George V decided that the obvious solution was to ask Prince George to begin carrying out a limited series of public engagements. The King accepted that he could not expect the Prince to adopt too much, his sight would always be a barrier to that. But it would at least give some justification to the impending request for an annuity and besides, the King wanted his cousin to play a part in the monarchy, ably assisted in the future by his wife and children. Prince George’s first public appearance therefore was scheduled for the 25th of March 1843 and would see the Earl of Armagh head to Rotherhithe where he would attend the opening of the new Thames Tunnel, the first ever to be constructed successfully under a navigable river and the brainchild of Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard. But before this public debut, Prince George would have an opportunity to dip his toe in the water before a large crowd.

The State Visit of the King and Queen of Prussia was to take place in the first week of March and would be accompanied by plenty of public ceremonial. George V had relented on earlier plans to scrap most of this and therefore it was decided that the King, Princess Mary, the Earl of Armagh and the Duchess of Sussex would welcome the Prussians at St Katharine Dock and accompany Their Majesties to the Palace in a grand carriage procession. However, if the Earl of Armagh was nervous about his role at the forthcoming state visit, that was nothing compared to the worries which had overtaken the Foreign Office. Lord Betchworth had been in constant meetings with the Envoy Extraordinary to the United Kingdom, Baron von Bunsen, ahead of King Frederick William IV’s visit which was ostensibly being held to reaffirm Anglo-Prussian co-operation but was really a very grand backdrop to discuss the pounds, shilling and pence of a massive free trade agreement that the British wished to conclude with the Prussian government. But a similar trade agreement was also being negotiated with Spain and it was Spanish affairs which became the focus of Baron von Bunsen’s pre-state visit audiences with the Foreign Secretary.

In 1815, Austria, Prussia and Russia formed the so-called Holy Alliance. This agreement was forged to uphold the absolutist cause in Europe and to maintain Christian values in Europe’s politics. It was eagerly adopted by Russia, Prussia and Austria and whilst other nations were initially wary, by 1825 almost every European ruler had endorsed the Alliance with the notable exceptions of the Ottoman Sultan, the Pope and King George IV. In his view, the Holy Alliance was “mystical nonsense” and his government wholeheartedly agreed. Some in Britain hoped that the Alliance would collapse when Tsar Alexander I died, after all, he had been the great mastermind behind it in the first place – inspired and encouraged by a Russian spiritualist. Eventually, this would come to pass and most look back today on the Alliance as just a scrap of paper that had no real impact on the Concert of Europe at all – yet that scrap of paper did have consequences in one corner of Europe which threatened to present a continental crisis in 1843.

Twenty years earlier, the Holy Alliance still very much intact, King Louis XVIII mobilised the French army to assist Spanish Royalists in restoring King Ferdinand VII to his throne. Ferdinand’s journey to the Spanish Crown had been a chaotic one and is too complex to explore in any detail here but in 1823, a Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis (actually it was nearer 60,000) marched into Spain, smashed the liberal partisans of the Cortes and restored King Ferdinand as King. This solved Ferdinand’s immediate problem but replaced it with another. Despite four marriages, he had been unable to secure the succession with a male child and so he did what any King might do in his position and declared a change. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1830 settled the Crown of Spain on Ferdinand’s eldest daughter Isabella and removed Ferdinand’s brother Carlos, Count of Molina, as the next in the line of succession under Salic Law. Needless to say, the Count of Molina was none too pleased with this arrangement but just the same, in 1833 Ferdinand died and his daughter was proclaimed Queen Isabella II at the age of just three years old.


The infant Queen Isabella II of Spain.

The regency which followed was turbulent to say the least. Supporters of the Count of Molina, known as the Carlists, proclaimed him King Carlos V and civil war quickly erupted. This time, the French position was somewhat different. King Louis Philippe joined Britain and Portugal in endorsing Queen Isabella against the Carlists (though many in the British Foreign Office had concerns that he secretly favoured the Carlists over Isabella) [7]. The Carlist War continued until 1840 when General Baldomero Espartero conquered Morella and Cabrera in Catalonia. The war was over, the Carlists had lost and suddenly, every European power was insistent that it had always backed Queen Isabella in the civil war even if they had not done much to show it. Espartero was rewarded for his loyalty by being made Regent for the minor Queen Isabella II and under his progressive leadership, he forged new relations with his neighbours which in Britain’s case, included the aforementioned trade deal which was still under negotiation. But by 1843, it seemed Espartero’s time had run out.

A conservative General, Ramón María Narváez, was plotting to oust Espartero in a military coup that would see Queen Isabella declared to have reached the age of majority and therefore able to replace the progressive government of Spain with a more conservative regime. In terms of trade agreements, this made Prussia more likely to gain than the British but yet Baron von Bunsen had very serious concerns, as did many in Berlin, that this military coup may trigger a second civil war in Spain and if it did, the Prussians feared that King Louis Philippe may feel the need to intervene militarily [8]. Lord Betchworth assured von Bunsen that this was nothing more than pessimistic speculation. Whilst a conservative government in Spain might mean difficulties for France and Britain economically (Narváez being likely to want to renegotiate existing and pending trade agreements), the two countries had only been so vocal in their support of Queen Isabella in the past because both had endorsed the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830. So long as Narváez did not seek to remove Isabella as Queen of Spain, both countries had absolutely no motivation to go further than that.

Indeed, the only way the situation in Spain could cause conflict between the Great Powers, Betchworth observed, was if Prussia (or any other nation for the matter) supported Narváez if he did seek to remove Queen Isabella. It was agreed that the Spanish Question should be dropped entirely from the agenda between Foreign Ministers when King Frederick William IV visited England. In his report to Berlin, von Bunsen said “The Betchworth Promise is that Britain shall not intervene in any way provided Isabella remain Queen of Spain - and that the King of the French is of similar mind” but in Betchworth’s audience with King George V, the Foreign Secretary said that he had an assurance from the Prussians that they did not seek to intervene in Spanish affairs because they were committed to supporting Queen Isabella just as much as the British and the French. The King read Betchworth's accompanying report (deeming it "worthy of continued consideration") with great interest but had little time to dwell on the Spanish Question as the Royal Family prepared to welcome the King and Queen of Prussia to London. On the 5th of March 1842, Frederick William IV and his wife Elizabeth Ludovika were received at Buckingham Palace where they were treated to a sumptuous state banquet - and the Spanish Question was ignored entirely.

George V awarded his Prussian counterpart the Order of the Garter whilst Frederick William returned the favour by creating George V a Knight 1st Class of the Order of the Red Eagle in addition to the Order of the Black Eagle which George had already received in 1834. Prince George of Cumberland received the same honour of the Red Eagle as King George whilst Princess Mary and the Duchess of Sussex received the Order of Louise (Mary being granted the rank of Dame, Special Class but Cecilia reduced one rung down as a Dame, 1st Class). Gifts were exchanged and the King and Queen of Prussia presented George V with a remarkably beautiful 17th century German turret clock in brass and gilt. This can be seen in later photographs of the King at work in his study at the Augusta Tower at Windsor where it was always placed on his desk and which he swore kept better time than any other clock he owned – of which there were hundreds. Indeed, so adamant of this was the King that by 1846, the order was given that the Palace clockmakers should set every other clock in every royal residence by the Prussian Turret Clock, a tradition that was kept for decades and nicknamed 'Prussian Time' by courtiers as the clock was nowhere near as accurate as the King believed. Those expected at the Palace were therefore advised to wind their watches 15 minutes fast to avoid being late and to accommodate the new Prussian Time.


The Prussian Turret Clock.

Some time later, King Frederick William IV said of King George V, “It would be very foolish to underestimate the King of England [sic] for out of all of us, I believe it is he who is possibly the most loved and respected by his people. In all things he is amiable but he is also practical and capable. It is my considered opinion that in time, he shall prove himself either a great friend to our country or a very formidable foe and we would do well to cement strong ties between our Kingdoms to prevent the latter”. Queen Elizabeth felt likewise and wrote to her sister Archduchess Sophie of Austria; “We discussed the future of George England amongst ourselves on our return for though he is very recently widowed, it surely cannot be too long before he considers taking another bride – he is a young man and young men are always in need of a wife, and he also has those three dear little children who are also in need a mother. We might consider that in the near future, though admittedly we have little to offer directly”.

George V almost broached this subject himself in a letter to Prince Alexander of Prussia. Alexander had written to offer support as the King faced the first anniversary of his wife’s death and though Alexander did not mention the possibility of George ever marrying again, he offered the following observation: “I have been able to bear this horrid anniversary for I have been kept so very busy – though not always on themes I might enjoy – and though I still ache for Sunny’s presence, I find that it is my work which fills the void she has left – I expect it shall always be thus”.


[1] The first anniversary of the death of Queen Louise.

[2] The OTL sums were much lower because it was expected that parliament would have to pay out for three Cambridge children. In the event, George Cambridge's annuity wasn't settled until 1850 when his father died and Princess Mary Adelaide's annuity came as a surprise because nobody ever thought she would actually find a husband - Mary Adelaide's actually proved to be the most generous of all three annuities.

[3] Here the Cumberland finances are different because of our TTL so far but mostly because he never became King of Hanover in 1837 and so had need of a continued annuity.

[4] This almost marries up with the situation of the OTL around this time when many were wondering if George Cumberland's blindness would prove a hinderance - or even a total barrier - to his future as King of Hanover. But George was able to carry out public appearances (provided he had assistance from a discrete equerry) and proved himself quite able despite his disability.

[5] This was actually the advice given to the OTL Queen Victoria by Lord Melbourne when she sought to do exactly what George V has tried to do in our TTL.

[6] More of Lord Melbourne's advice here!

[7] This became of increasing concern to Palmerston in fact who openly accused Louis Philippe of being disingenuous in the OTL.

[8] The reaction to the early-1843 situation in Spain here is modelled on the reports given to Queen Victoria by Robert Peel in the OTL which she documents pretty extensively in her journals.

Just as a heads up, I know that February 1843 gave us the Paulet Affair and it will feature in TTL (some of you specifically asked a while back if it would) but obviously the news from Honolulu would take some to reach England so here it's delayed until the next instalment.
The reason I think it will be Agnes is because I think Alexander of Prussia will try to play matchmaker and set his cousin up with George. Also, Agnes is single, is against anti-semitism(she would write a book about it), she was also interested in charity much like the late Queen Louise.
I’m calling it. It is Alexander of Prussia’s cousin, Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau.
I also really liked the chapter.

I'm still leaning towards George and Helene of Orleans, given their close friendship and the fact she's protestant.

"You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment..." ;)

Thankyou all for your lovely comments on the update! Of course, there may be other runners in the Great Queen Race yet to be introduced but we shall see. We shall see.
Just a heads up that I'm busy working on a new chapter to go up today or tomorrow. I had planned to put one out on Friday as I prefer to provide two a week where possible but real life has an inconvenient way of disrupting alt-history sometimes! Thanks for your patience guys!