Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

George: How dare you suggest I'm in love with Agnes?
Also George:
and said that he hoped Agnes was “cheery of disposition knowing that you have left my evenings so totally devoid of amusement that all I can do is sit about thinking of you”. In another letter he writes, “Think of me, your poor Georgie King, wandering the Highlands and wondering why you are not”.
I'm glad he ends up enjoying Scotland.
Great chapter. I’m glad that George loves Scotland. I can definitely see the change it has in George. He was even nice to Betchworth. I do hope that Sir James actually lets George participate in government more.
Well spotted! I was wondering if someone would pick up on that...Betchworth better hope George takes a liking to Balmoral! ;)
And here it is resolved . . . I spoke too soon. Being out of time sequence confused me.
My apologies, reading the transition between each chapter I can see what you mean - I'll tighten that up a little tomorrow so it makes for easier reading. Many thanks for alerting me to it!
George: How dare you suggest I'm in love with Agnes?
Also George:

I'm glad he ends up enjoying Scotland.
Is there anything more fickle than a young man in love? x'D I'm so happy you highlighted this!
Just a little bit of housekeeping to attend to. Someone asked if the posts in Opo's Palace (my test thread) contain spoilers or any information not included in TTL so far.

To reassure anyone loathe to peek just in case, if you've been following TTL since the very beginning (Thankyou!) then there's nothing in the Crown Imperial Guide in the Palace that will be new to you. However, if you've just picked up on TTL and browse the Guide then yes, I'm afraid there are whopping great spoilers!

The idea for the Guide is to provide a kind of Cliffs Notes to new readers so they can catch up to the current chapter relatively quickly by reading character profiles and a general timeline for each part so far. It'll take a week or two for me to bring us up to 1844 as I haven't done any work on the Guide since I finished the George IV timeline - and obviously new instalments for George V take priority! But hopefully the Guide will be of some use.

So to clarify - for long term readers, the Palace contains no spoilers. For new readers - it definitely does.
I did some research and Felix Mendelssohn visited London in May 1844, since he wrote a piece in honor of Queen Louise, maybe he visits George who asks to play some pieces?
I did some research and Felix Mendelssohn visited London in May 1844, since he wrote a piece in honor of Queen Louise, maybe he visits George who asks to play some pieces?
Absolutely, great idea I'll definitely work in!
It does have at least one date of death that I don't recall being mentioned in the timeline thus far
Could you possibly do me a favour and let me know via DM which one? I produce the profiles from my existing notes on my private wiki and though I'm careful to edit out anything that's not been mentioned thus far, this sounds like one escaped me!
GV: Part Three, Chapter Twenty: Holiday Plans
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Twenty: Holiday Plans

At the Palais Bourbon in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris on the Rive Gauche of the Seine, Lord Betchworth sat in the splendour of an anteroom waiting for his French counterpart, François Guizot, to arrive. A bottle of very expensive of Bordeaux was provided for Betchworth to sip as he awaited the Foreign Minister who finally arrived three hours later than scheduled with his apologies that he had been delayed whilst touring the site of the new Foreign Ministry building on the Quai d’Orsay. In fact, Guizot had been taking an extremely long luncheon at the Austrian Embassy on the Rue Fabert leaving Lord Betchworth to wait his turn until the French Foreign Minister had concluded his talks with the Ambassador Extraordinary of the Austria to Paris, Count Anton von Apponyi. Unbeknown to Betchworth, Guizot had already met with the Prussian Foreign Minister Baron von Bülow too. This had led some historians to conclude that Guizot was very much hedging his bets as he approached the difficult issue of what consequences there should be for Russia when they violated the terms of the Straits Pact. If he was, he had good reason. In the 1830s, two distinct blocs in Europe had developed; the liberal bloc in the West formed of France and the United Kingdom and the reactionary bloc in the East formed of Prussia, Austria and Russia. This latter bloc had come together as the Holy Alliance in 1815 and though fraying at the edges somewhat as Austria feared Russia’s ambitions in the Balkans, the basic principles of the agreement still held firm. The alliance wished to restrain liberalism and secularism in Europe and to uphold absolutist, Christian rule. This meant in practise that Austria, Prussia and Russia would always find themselves wary of French and British foreign policy that was guided by far more liberal principles than the conservative views which directed foreign policy in Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg.

When the Prussians and Austrians signed the Straits Pact in London in 1841, both parties expressed doubts to the other that it would hold for very long. Austria in particular believed that the Russians would violate their quota agreed in Vienna “within months” and that Prince Gorchakov had only paid lip service to the agreement because the alternative was to lose access to the Straits entirely. The Pact allowed Gorchakov to return to Russia as a hero and indeed, the Tsar was delighted with his achievements in securing maintained access to the Straits. But this did not mean that the Tsar agreed with the idea of a quota system or that he intended to honour it. Thus, the quota had been consistently ignored, Tsar Nicholas telling those who urged caution to remember that Austria and Prussia would not allow the liberal democracies of Britain and France to sanction Russia too harshly. This was about to be put to the test in Paris in 1844 as Betchworth and Guizot met to determine the best possible approach that all nations could agree to and enforce as a united group. Guizot had already gauged the Austrian and Prussian view and both von Apponyi and von Bülow were in full agreement that all signatories should be recalled to Vienna and the quota system used to deter Russia from her current path. Bülow proposed that new quotas should be set which took into account the number of ships the Russians had already sent through the Straits, for example, if Russia was allowed 50 ships then this would be reduced to reflect the number she had exceeded her quota by giving her a new limit of 30 ships instead. The Austrians felt this a proportionate and fair response too. From their standpoint, this not only sent a message to Russia that they must honour their international agreements but it limited the number of Russian ships passing through the Dardanelles into the bargain.


François Guizot

“It is the most likely outcome”, Guizot said mournfully as he poured himself a glass of wine, “But it is not an outcome I believe we should accept. I have presented the facts to His Majesty as they are and it is his belief that this will send quite a different message to the Tsar – that he has still gained access to the Straits he would not have otherwise have had, even when he breaks his promises”.

Betchworth sighed.

“I quite agree Guizot”, he said, “The agreement was always to enforce economic sanctions, all nations signed to that effect in London”.

“Then it shall be war”, Guizot replied, shrugging his shoulders.

He had good reason to presume so. In the 1840s, “economic sanctions” meant one thing and one thing only – a blockade. This strategy was first tested in 1827 when Britain, France and Russia deployed a fleet off the Greek coast to interrupt supply lines to the Turks and the Egyptians. At first, the blockade worked but within days, the fleet (which was strictly forbidden from engaging militarily) opened fire on a Turkish ship and the result was a full-scale naval battle at Navarino which resulted in the loss of the entire Turkish and Egyptian fleet and 7,000 men. Nobody wanted to risk a similar outcome in the Dardanelles which would no doubt trigger an all-out war between the Great Powers. [1]

“If we do not follow the agreement to the letter, how can we possibly uphold it?”, Lord Betchworth said impatiently, “No Guizot, I am sorry, but what they are suggesting makes the Pact totally redundant. What is to stop the Tsar sending another 50 ships through the Straits on the pretext that he was simply pre-empting a new quota next year? I have put together my own proposal, one I hope you will give serious consideration to…”

Betchworth laid some papers before Guizot who nodded kindly and began to skim read them. What Lord Betchworth was proposing was a declaration signed by France, Britain, Austria and Prussia which would be sent to the Ottoman Sultan demanding that all Russian ships passing through the Straits should be halted at Gallipoli, their holds surveyed and their cargo valued. A customs charge of 15% of the total value of the cargo must then be applied and paid before the ship was allowed to proceed on to Constantinople, provided of course that it was not in violation of the quota in the first place. Guizot nodded approvingly. It offered practical and direct sanctions which may not be enough to deter the Russians from breaking the terms of the Straits Pact in the future but might open the door to increased charges if they did so, all within the nature of the agreed penalties but without risking a military clash between the Great Powers. Guizot gave the so-called Betchworth Declaration his full support and promised to put it before the Ambassador of Austria later that evening and the Prussian Foreign Minister the next morning but he was not hopeful that either party would bend to accept it. Betchworth sent word back to England that he had presented his proposals and was “moderately hopeful” that they would be accepted.

Though the King had asked to be kept well informed on the outcome of the Paris talks, he did not see Betchworth’s briefing when it arrived in London as he was still in Scotland, or more specifically, he was preoccupied with house hunting in the Highlands. It is said that the Balmoral estate near the village of Crathie in Aberdeenshire was once home to a hunting lodge favoured by King Robert II of Scotland in the 14th century and caused much animosity when it was gifted by Robert’s successor to the 1st Earl of Huntly. The Gordons wasted no time in tearing down the hunting lodge and replacing it with a family home and whilst they continued to entertain the great and good on the estate, naturally they felt no need to open their doors (and their 50,000 of prime hunting ground) to those who had always been guaranteed an invitation in days of old but didn’t quite fit with the new Balmoral set.

This remained the case for nearly 300 years until 1662 when Balmoral passed from the Gordons to the Farquharson family. There were two distinct branches of the Farquharsons – those who had Jacobite sympathies and those who did not. The Jacobite Farquharsons from Inverey held the deeds to the Balmoral estate from which they travelled to Falkirk Muir to fight Bonnie Prince Charlie. Though a Jacobite victory, the advantage was wasted and shortly after the Young Pretender was defeated at Culloden, his supporters found themselves stripped of their estates with Balmoral transferred from one lot of Farquharsons (now disgraced) to another branch of the family who hailed from Auchendryne. But these Farquharsons hadn’t a penny to bless themselves with and they quickly sold Balmoral on to the Earls Fife in 1798. The Fifes were drawn to Balmoral for exactly the same reason as King Robert II had been but when they arrived, they found the house beyond repair and despite the luxury of 50,000 acres stretching from the Cairngorms to Lochnagar, they sold the estate to Lord Aberdeen – a descendant of the Gordon family who had once called Balmoral home for three centuries.


Old Balmoral Castle.

In 1830, a new house was built at Balmoral to replace the crumbling mansion the Fifes had been unable to restore and thereafter the estate was leased to the unfortunate Sir Robert Gordon who lived at Balmoral for just 14 years before ignominiously meeting his maker as the result of a poorly boned fish supper [2]. Sir Robert had made extensive changes to the house by the time King George V visited in 1844, yet as caught up in Highland romance as he was even His Majesty could not ignore the obvious – Balmoral Castle was (by the standards of such buildings) a poky, uncomfortable little house with no discernible charm, let alone indoor plumbing. The King remained open minded as John Burnett gave him a tour of the ground floor which was comprised of an entrance hall leading from the carriage porch that gave access to a library, drawing room, billiard room and dining room. Across the gallery was a grand staircase leading up to the first floor which boasted three large bedrooms each with dressing room and anteroom, though there was a visitor’s suite on the ground floor which offered a double bedroom with private drawing room and study thrown in for good measure. Though this may sound quite grand however, the state of the rooms themselves left much to be desired. Peeling wallpaper, flaking paint and smashed windows did little to give the place a cheery atmosphere. The King felt a little dejected and was almost relieved when Downie arrived with ponies for the next leg of the tour – the estate itself.

From the Dee river valley to open mountains, the Balmoral estate is nestled partly in the Cairngorms and partly in Lochnagar with seven hills over 3,000ft providing an abundance of wildlife from the grouse on the moors to the red deer in the Munros. As the King and his party made their way to Loch Muick in the southeast, the King spotted a boat house and a hunting lodge and Downie confirmed that there was ample opportunity not only for fishing and stalking but for farming and cattle-raising too. Cutting their way through the estate, the King was so taken with the landscape that he ordered Burnett, Downie and Phipps just to stand for a time and take it all in – an appreciation that lasted for nearly an hour and a half in a chill wind. Then they moved on to the edge of the estate which had been marked out with pegs and rope to give the King an idea of where his potential investment would end and where the neighbouring estate began.

“What is that little house down there?”, the King called into the wind.

“That is Birkhall, Your Majesty”, Burnett explained, “But that’s stood empty for many a year now”

“Who owns it?”, the King asked.

“Lord Aberdeen”, Downie replied sourly, “But he prefers Abergeldie”.

“Does he indeed?”, George smiled [3].

Back at Crathes Castle, Princess Mary was dozing by the fireside but upon hearing the approach of heavy footsteps, sat bolt upright and pretended she had been wide awake at her embroidery. Through bleary eyes, she caught sight of her nephew and Mr Burnett engaged in hushed conversation.

“How was it dear?”, Mary asked, stifling a yawn, “You look half-frozen! I shall ring for tea; some hot buttered toast will cure all ills”

The King walked over to his aunt and gently kissed her on the cheek.

“Fascinating place”, George smiled, “But the house is very small and quite run down. I shall ask Lord Aberdeen to see me when we return to London…”

The King suddenly looked downcast.

“As I’m afraid we must”, he said somewhat mournfully, “I will confess I have greatly enjoyed my time here. I shall be sad to go”

“Well then”, Mary beamed, “All the more reason to speak with Lord Aberdeen”

The possibility of acquiring a new holiday home in the Highlands enthused the King and made his leaving bearable. On his journey home from Scotland, he spent hours with his head buried in a notebook making doodles of possible renovations to the house he had toured and writing long lists of the most obvious ways to make Balmoral more comfortable. Yet his holiday was over and though his Scottish tour had been a success, he did not relish his first post-vacation audience with the Prime Minister whom he feared may offer bad news. When the King left London, the Leader of the House honoured Sir James’ promise and introduced the Succession to the Crown Act and the Royal House Act to the Commons. The division was to take place on the same day the King arrived back in London and so George could have no idea if the legislation had passed the first hurdle as his carriage rocked him back and forth all the way from St Katharine Dock to Buckingham Palace. But even if the bills had passed, and the Prime Minister seemed certain they would, the King would still be returning to a delicate situation borne of the fallout of his proposed reforms to the monarchy. The Cambridges had by now returned to Hanover, awaiting to hear who would succeed them at Herrenhausen, but they left behind a bad atmosphere that had followed a tense family quarrel and this played on the King’s mind as he prepared to receive the Prime Minister once again.

Sir James quickly reassured the King that both the Succession to the Crown Act and the Royal House Act had passed as expected and now awaited the approval of the House of Lords. He also presented the King with a selection of clippings too, all glowing reports from George’s tour, as well as a silver charger as a gift from the Cabinet as a token of their congratulation for his efforts. The King was greatly cheered by this kind gesture and spent the majority of the audience waxing lyrical about the benefits of the Highland air. He did not however, mention that he had in mind to acquire a property there, feeling that it was far better to see if Lord Aberdeen was open to selling the lease to Balmoral before he introduced the topic at an official level. Instead, the King intended to turn the conversation to the appointment of a new Viceroy in Hanover.

“Of course, I shall have to make the decision quite soon”, George said, pouring Sir James a glass of brandy, “My Uncle wishes to return home at the earliest opportunity and I should like to have the matter settled before my trip to Hanover in August”

“On that point Your Majesty…”, Sir James took a sharp intake of breath and leaned forward a little, “It did occur to me that, with the success of this tour, we might look closer for an end of summer tour than Hanover”

“I don’t follow…”

“Your Majesty’s visit to Scotland won all hearts and revived the sense of loyalty felt for the Crown, and indeed the Union it represents, in all the places where you were seen by the people”, Graham began, “This success was much appreciated by Your Majesty’s government as our small token of thanks indicates, but the Cabinet did wonder in your absence if we might not extend that same approach to the country as a whole. You see Sir, back in 1822 when Your Majesty’s late father conducted a similarly effective tour of Scotland, it was to be followed by a royal progress of England. But alas, only one half of the proposed progress was made. You will be aware Sir that we do we face significant difficulties in the industrial towns, especially in the north, there are elements who wish to increase radical sentiments. These sentiments were equally to be found in Scotland until Your Majesty visited and yet now they are calmed by virtue of the Sovereign's presence. Therefore, I should like to ask if you would consider making a similar tour of England throughout the summer”

The King raised an eyebrow.

“Before I leave for Hanover?”

Graham shifted in his seat nervously.

“Unfortunately Sir, I fear we may have to prioritise a little. Hanover has had the great fortune of hosting Your Majesty on consecutive summers but the people of Lincoln or Manchester for example, have yet to greet their King as they would wish. I would advise too that the situation in the north may decline further given the economic situation we face, I should like to feel that same reassurance I have taken from Your Majesty’s tour of Scotland which no doubt would follow a similar tour of England”

The King shook his head.

“No Sir James”, he said brusquely, sinking into a chair, “It’s just not possible I’m afraid. I have asked the Chancellery at St James’ and the Deputy Earl Marshal to draw up a suitable investiture ceremony for the new Viceroy in Hanover, I must be there when that happens”

There was a brief moment of silence. Sir James looked down at his papers.


“Your Majesty…”, the Prime Minister sighed, “If it is your wish that you should go to Hanover for the investiture of the new Viceroy then I shall of course accept your decision without hesitation. But I feel I am duty bound to inform you that such frequent visits have given rise to criticism”

“What criticism?”, the King scoffed, “I can’t believe that”

“Nonetheless Sir, it exists”, Graham said bluntly, “I cannot forbid you from going to Hanover, I should not wish to do so either. But I must stress to you the difficulties this problem has caused in the past and as I have already explained, there is a greater need for Your Majesty’s presence here this year than there may be elsewhere. If you would consider what I have said and let me know within the week what your decision is, I should be most grateful”

Slightly stunned, George rose to his feet and shook Graham’s hand. He stood in silence for a few minutes until Charlie Phipps walked in to announce the arrival of Lord Aberdeen.

“Is everything alright Sir?”, Phipps asked, noticing that the King wasn’t really paying much attention to him.

“What? Oh fine Charlie, perfectly fine”, he lied, “Send Lord Aberdeen in would you?”

The dispute over where King George V might spend the latter half of his summer was about to take on a new dimension over the next few days. The King called Count von Ompteda to Buckingham Palace to gauge his view on the criticism the Prime Minister had spoken of. But Ompteda misunderstood. Instead of confirming (or denying) that some in smart social circles had taken issue with the King going abroad too often, Ompteda believed that the King had heard the latest from Hanover where several members of the Landtag had banded together to produce a bill demanding reforms to the appointment of a new Viceroy. A group of politicians in Hanover were proposing a special committee to be formed which would produce a list of suitable candidates which could then be proposed to the King for him to choose from. There was a feeling in Hanover that the Duke of Cambridge’s tenure had only been allowed to go on for so long because of a sense of affection the majority there felt for him personally. But Hanover was a very different place in 1844 than it had been in 1811 when the Duke first took up the Viceroyalty. Hanover had its own parliament, a liberal, modern constitution and an active political class which wanted more authority over decisions made affecting their homeland – not less. Rather clumsily, Ompteda then mentioned that some had also voiced opposition to the Royal House Act in Hanover because it gave the impression that “any prince who steps beyond the bounds of respectability in England may adopt a Hanoverian title which suggests that the same standards do not apply there”. The King was outraged at the very suggestion and Ompteda awkwardly left the Palace later that evening feeling he had inadvertently kicked a hornet’s nest. George was now absolutely determined to push on with his plans regardless. He would go to Hanover come hell or high water and face down any suggestion that he did not value Hanover or worse, that he was some kind of absentee tyrant landlord imposing unpopular authority figures on the population. He was also determined to get a new Viceroy in place who would accompany him on his travels.

To this end, the King summoned his cousin the Earl of Armagh to Buckingham Palace. Though His Majesty was loathe to see Prince George leave England, and whilst he had hoped that the Earl and Countess of Armagh would begin to carry out a programme of public duties, Ompteda’s words forced the King once again to put duty before family ties. He formally offered the position of Viceroy to his cousin with a view to taking up the role in August 1844. But there was a small snag. When the King had invited the Armaghs to join him at Crathes, they had been unable to do so because the Countess was unwell. It did not take long before it was confirmed that Princess Auguste was expecting a baby. The intensity of the King’s day suddenly lifted into joyous celebration and an impromptu supper party was held at Buckingham Palace so that His Majesty could congratulate Auguste personally.

Princess Mary was equally delighted, though she joked that the Armaghs should be forbidden from calling their child ‘George’ to avoid further confusion within the ranks of the British Royal Family. After the meal, the King and the Earl of Armagh were reunited in the King’s Study and once again turned their attention to Hanover. Prince George had discussed the matter with his wife and both were in absolute agreement that they were prepared to serve the Crown in any way asked of them but because of the Countess’ pregnancy, the couple felt they should leave sooner rather than later so that they had plenty of time to settle in their new home before Auguste's confinement began. The King saw this as eminently practical, yet he did not wish to bring forward the Earl’s investiture as Viceroy – possibly because he knew if he did, he would lose the justification for ignoring the Prime Minister’s advice to remain in England that summer instead of going to Hanover. However, another justification for his trip, albeit a very personal one, was about to emerge.


Frederica, Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau.

When the invitation for Princess Agnes to travel to England to stay with Frau Wiedl had been extended, the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau gave no indication that she opposed such a trip and seemed to give her blessing (though as ever in her usual stony-faced way). Yet now she protested that it was quite unthinkable and that even with a chaperone, Agnes was far too young and far too immature to be allowed to throw herself into the social whirl of England mid-season. The Duchess forbad Agnes to go unless she herself was invited to accompany her daughter, something Frau Wiedl had wished to avoid. This wasn’t only based in Rosalinde’s dislike of the Duchess (which was universal in such circles) but because she worried that the presence of Princess Agnes’ mother would make it harder for the King to spend quality time alone with the girl he clearly had developed very strong feelings for. Many years later, the Duke of Clarence (1850 – 1934) reflected on Frau Wiedl’s role as matchmaker which has proven quite the hurdle for those historians who insist that George V’s relationship with her was far from platonic. In a letter to his biographer, the elderly Duke wrote “Aunt Rosa was a curious woman to me for she was of course a great beauty in her time and I often wonder why my father never showed the slightest interest in her romantically. But the fact remains he did not. I once asked why she had been so keen to see my Papa remarry. She said it was because Papa was so very sad at the loss of his first wife and that my darling Mama made him so very happy. I appreciate we now live in a very cynical world and that her words may seem trite but I assure you this is what was told to me and I do believe that to have been her only motivation”.

But one does not have to go too far to find a different point on view on the subject. In a letter to her niece, Princess Beatrice, Princess Victoria writes; “Eddo is quite wrong on the subject. Aunt Rosa had nothing whatsoever to do with it! Papa was encouraged to marry again by poor Great Aunt Mary who was always so silly about these things. I do not believe Aunt Rosa pushed him in any direction on that subject – it was not her place to do so when all is said and done – and I know that is quite true that the introduction was made by Cousin Alex Prussia, because he was related in some fashion to the Anhalts. Eddo knows this to be the case for I have discussed it with him long before now so I do not understand why he should be in such a muddle about it all now”. For all her objections however, it does appear that the Duke of Clarence was correct in his assessment. Frau Wiedl wanted the King to find happiness once more and believed he had found it with Princess Agnes. Offering to host Agnes at Radley put distance between the King and Agnes on an official footing in that the court at Windsor would not have been set abuzz with gossip at the Princess’ speedy return so soon after her departure at Christmas which perhaps gives the clearest indication that Wiedl was trying to create an atmosphere in which the King felt comfortable to explore all avenues with his new love interest – including marriage.

This was of course a moot point however for as long as the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau refused to let her daughter go to Radley for the summer. The Anhalts were by no means naïve and naturally they had discussed the fact that the British monarch now seemed to be taking a very keen interest in their eldest daughter. Initially, the Duchess waived the development as a passing fancy. Though she did not consider her daughter to be very attractive, she recognised that she had many other favourable qualities which she could understand a young suitor might find appealing. That said, the Duchess was not particularly welcoming to the idea of King George V as a potential son-in-law. She harboured a grudge (a rather silly one) against the British Royal Family for the “outrageous neglect” they had poured on her late mother, the Duchess of Cumberland. However, there was far more to the situation than that. In reality, the late Duchess of Cumberland had shown very little interest in her children from her first marriage following the death of their father Prince Louis Charles from diphtheria in 1796. Indeed, within two years the Duchess had fallen pregnant outside of marriage following a disastrous liaison with Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. A drunkard and a womanizer, the Prince married Frederica to make a respectable woman of her but as their family grew, his behaviour worsened. So much so that by 1805, he lost his income and Frederica’s brother advised her to petition for divorce. She initially refused but by 1813, she had met the Duke of Cumberland and changed her mind. When the separation took longer than expected however, Prince Frederick William died leaving Frederica to remarry. As she had done with the children of her first marriage, the children of her second were scattered to the wind, boarding with cousins, uncles or aunts, leaving Frederica to pursue other interests – namely in trying to find a way in which she might be accepted by her third husband’s family. [4]

In short, the late Duchess of Cumberland had only ever been treated poorly by the British Royal Family because she had a reputation as a scandalous woman and because she then chose to marry a notorious man in Prince Ernest Augustus, he already being deeply unpopular in England by the time of their wedding. Of course, the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau did not see it that way. She remembered only too well how her godmother, aunt and namesake had been treated by the then Duke of York, Frederica of Prussia being declared mad so that the Duke could have his marriage annulled before his accession, later marrying Louise of Hesse-Kassel, the mother of King George V.

Whilst the rest of the Prussian Royal Family held no grudges about this complicated tangle, the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau most certainly did and though she had accepted the King’s hospitality, she was not at all enthused at the prospect that her daughter may accept his proposal of marriage if the time came. The Duke of Anhalt on the other hand, was more supportive. Secretly he detested the way his wife treated their children with such a dominant and unbending approach and he had always tried to act as peacemaker within his family, finding quiet compromises to placate his wife whilst also giving his children what they wanted. Now he intended to do the same again for whilst he had some reservations about his daughter marrying into the British Royal Family, he genuinely believed that any match between George V and Princess Agnes would be one borne of love and affection – something he wished all his children, perhaps because he had not experienced it in his own marriage.

Yet his wife remained determined. She would not allow her daughter to go to England for the summer and instead, proposed that the Anhalts began to invite eligible princes to Dessau instead in the hope that Agnes might prefer one of them to King George V, thus ending the “absurd Windsor romance” which the Duchess thought “utterly hopeless and in no way advantageous to us”. Princess Agnes was absolutely crushed at the thought that she would not be allowed to go to Radley and spent days weeping as her father seemed once again to bow to his wife’s commands. Indeed, he made it all the worse for Agnes by suggesting that rather than summon eligible princes to Dessau where money was short and entertainments therefore somewhat modest, she should instead be sent on a kind of grand tour of Germany to meet potential suitors on their home turf. The Duchess was delighted. Agnes was devastated.

She was even more horrified to learn that she was to leave for Berlin in a matter of weeks and that she would be chaperoned on this tour by her elderly Great Aunt Caroline, the Dowager Princess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. To Agnes, this would have been the strongest indication yet of just how serious her parents were about finding her a husband in Germany. In the vast majority of cases, aged aunts were engaged to push young princesses in the direction of prospective husbands based on a lifetime of accrued friendships with other dowagers, the whole thing taking place under an illusion of “paying a call” to honour old acquaintanceships. Yet the Duke was not about to marry his eldest daughter off to a minor Prussian prince knowing full well that she was so very much taken with King George V. There was method in his madness and when he put together the schedule for Agnes’ tour, he indicated that no tour would be complete without a visit to the Botanical Gardens at Göttingen.

"Of course, you might consider paying a call on the Viceroy of Hanover about the same time on my behalf, as you will be so close to Herrenhausen..."

Agnes was suddenly very animated and very interested in the Botanical Gardens at Göttingen.

"He won't be there Papa", she corrected him, "The Duke of Cambridge, I mean. There's to be a new Viceroy, the King himself is to oversee the investiture during Hanover Week"

"Really?", the Duke mused, with a wry smile, "You know, I have believed that the gardens at Göttingen should be seen in August..."


[1] Even though this early attempt at economic sanctions ended in a battle, the use of blockades was a go-to for decades to come with varying degrees of success.

[2] In Scotland, Balmoral always refers to the estate and not the house – whereas in England it’s often the other way around. The reason for this is that until Prince Albert built a new house on the estate in the 1850s in the OTL, the owners of the estate were consistently pulling down and putting up new properties but never to the taste of the next occupant. The Balmoral we know today is possibly the longest surviving Balmoral Castle for some 500 years.

[3] Prince Albert had the same idea in the OTL. A BOGOF deal for Balmoral and Birkhall…

[4] There are other contributing factors as to why the British Royal Family never took to the Duchess of Cumberland but this is the best I can offer as a precis without writing reams!
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Great to see that George is determined to give his other kingdom equal care and attention than his english one. Hell will froze before he neglects his subjects in any capacity, be they english or german.

And i love the drama surroinding Georgie and Agnes, nothing will stop the chemestry between them!
GV: Part Three, Chapter Twenty-One: The Truth Will Out
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Twenty-One: The Truth Will Out

At Downing Street, Sir James Graham was becoming increasingly frustrated with the King’s refusal to accept his advice on postponing his trip to Hanover. Whilst under other circumstances the Prime Minister might gleefully welcome a little distance between the King and Whitehall, his objection to the now-annual visits George V was insistent on making to his “other Kingdom” went far beyond the unkind gossip and childish nicknames flung toward the Sovereign in the dining rooms of Belgravia. Britain’s economic position was precarious to say the least and that brought with it the very real possibility of the spectre of food shortages, wage cuts, strikes and riots emerging once again to cause domestic chaos. In reality, Graham wanted the King to make a royal progress of England not because he truly believed the glitter and pomp of such a tour would calm the very real tensions still rising throughout the North but because he stood to gain from it personally. Graham’s private secretary put together a proposed schedule for a royal progress that would take in cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and unusually, included the Prime Minister personally in the itinerary. Supposedly this was to convey an image of stability and focus at a time when the old order was being questioned and yet it appeared from the suggested programme that the King was not be allowed to move unless the Prime Minister was with him. Something was clearly afoot.


Sir James Graham

It would be fair to say that the Prime Minister’s time in office thus far had been almost entirely focused on keeping the ship afloat rather than rocking it too much from side to side. The Tories had, for the most part, offered stability and continuity but they had not risked taking any action which could be deemed too dramatic or controversial. Though they had a 56-seat majority, the internal divisions within the Tory party meant that it had become a stagnant force which was more about maintenance than change because any attempts to do so would undoubtedly see the factions within splinter and force the Prime Minister to turn to opposition parties to deliver his platform – namely the Unionists. The Unionist Party was founded way back in 1830 when disaffected Tories led by the Duke of Newcastle and the Earl of Winchelsea broke away from the Duke of Wellington’s leadership because they ferociously opposed Catholic emancipation and constitutional reform. Their electoral success was moderate to begin with but by 1844, they had secured 66 seats in the House of Commons and whilst they usually voted with the Tory Party, there were certain areas in which the core divisions which had seen the Unionists break away from the Tories were plain for all to see.

This was never more clear than in 1844 when a Private Member’s Bill was introduced to the Commons which aimed to continue the process of Catholic emancipation. The Roman Catholic Penal Acts Repeal Bill sought to abolish an Elizabeth hangover in law that made it a criminal offence to “deny by word, or writing, or otherwise, the supremacy of the King in-any part of the Kingdom” in relation to the Sovereign’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England [1]. The Acts of Supremacy of 1534 had slowly been repealed and replaced over time but British law still demanded that individuals who did not recognise the Monarch as "the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England" be charged with sedition and imprisoned accordingly. Whilst this could be applied to Protestant non-conformists, the act was specifically designed in 1534 to target Roman Catholics for whom a non-negotiable belief was that the Pope in Rome was God’s representative on Earth and no other. There had not been a case brought against a Roman Catholic on these grounds for centuries but the fact it remained on the statute books was enough for some Members of Parliament to call for its repeal. However, this move was not unprovoked.

In 1843, the Graham government passed a new Factory Act which sought to address a worrying report that child workers in factories and mines had been found to display “a weak moral character” and that their habits and language was “the result of a total lack of moral guidance based solely on a great number of children and young persons growing up without any religious, moral or intellectual training”. In his speech to the Commons on this issue, the Prime Minister said he was “shocked and appalled to hear stories of children as young as five years old using the most vulgar language imaginable and young persons as young as seven years old actually smoking tobacco”. Graham’s government promised to instil “order, sobriety and honesty” in these minors and the best way to do it, the Prime Minister insisted, was to introduce a programme of mandated education programmes provided by newly established factory schools under the control of the Church of England and local magistrates for which huge government loans and tax incentives were to be offered for industrial bosses who allowed their child workforce the time away from their work to go to school. As part of the bill, a special clause was included that the default religious education offered in factory schools was to be Anglican but that parents would retain the right to opt their children out of anything specifically Anglican in practise. However, if they did so, the children of non-conformists, Catholics, Jews etc would not be entitled to claim the certificate the factory school issued to prove they had been sufficiently educated. Another part of the Factory Education Bill made it law that factory children could not be employed for the six and a half hours a day allowed (being put on reduced hours of just 4) and that these children were not entitled to the same rate of pay as their Anglican counterparts because they were uncertified. [2]

This quickly came to the attention of Edward Miall, a Congregational minister who in 1841 founded The Nonconformist, a weekly magazine which advocated for disestablishment – the process of dismantling the Church of England from the wider framework of the British state. Such views had long been held in Ireland where the campaign to disestablish the Anglican Church of Ireland began in the mid-18th century. Church reform had been pursued under the Whig government in the 1830s (as it had in England in the revision and reorganisation of the church’s hierarchy) but attempts to redistribute the church's wealth failed and the Anglican Church in Ireland (and the Church of England) both successfully resisted seeing their influence curtailed – much to the irritation of those who were not Anglican and faced all kinds of legal discriminations as a result. For example, rates paid by dissenter churches were substantially higher than those paid by Anglicans. Local authorities were bound by law to provide space for cemeteries where existing ones were full - but they could refuse if the request was not sanctioned by a Bishop…an Anglican Bishop. This discrimination was most obvious in Catholic Churches when it came to the matter of weddings. As the Roman rite was conducted in Latin, any marriage conducted according to this Rite was not considered valid as the service had not been performed in English and thus the vows were not legally binding [3]. Instead, Catholic couples had to register their marriage civilly following their religious marriage – with hefty charges for doing so. The recent schism in the Church of Scotland in 1843 had only served to bring the cause of disestablishment to the fore and Edward Miall was extremely successful in recruiting MPs of all parties to his new “Liberation Society”. [4]

It was in fact a group of MPs on the Tory backbenches who introduced the Roman Catholic Penal Acts Repeal Bill on the grounds that it was discriminatory but also because they claimed it flew in the face of the British commitment to freedom of assembly and worship. With Catholic emancipation in the 1830s, new Roman Catholic churches had sprung up all over England (in August 1844 two were built in Newcastle and Nottingham which would later be elevated to cathedral status and were designed by Augustus Pugin) but Catholics faced difficulties when they emerged into the public arena. For example, churches were reminded by local magistrates that they must not hold public processions to celebrate Corpus Christi or else they would be charged with a breach of the peace. The authority to curtail such activity was derived from the Acts of Supremacy of 1534 and whilst the harshest penalties had been removed, the Roman Catholic Penal Acts Repeal Bill sought to draw a line under the whole matter once and for all, safely allowing for freedom of worship by all faiths.


Edward Miall.

For his part, the Prime Minister was minded to give the bill his support and adopt it as government policy. Though he did not care much for Catholics, Graham genuinely believed that every British subject should have the right to practise his religion as he wished but he also pointed out the difficulties the status quo was causing for Magistrates as they were faced with the challenge of interpreting and upholding contradictory laws. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Tory MPs did not agree and were extremely vocal in demanding that the bill should not receive government sponsorship – even though it had been introduced from the Tory backbenches. This may have been prompted by calls from the Whigs to go further in amending the act to allow Catholics to serve as Lord High Chancellors or Lord Lieutenants of Ireland – something Melbury cheekily suggested his MPs take up as a theme because he knew it would throw the Tories into a high state of excitement and anger. He was right.

Within an hour, the debate on the issue had become almost violent. One MP, a Mr Newdegate, gave a speech in which he declared that he had secret knowledge of a Jesuit plot which had caused the bill to be introduced. He reminded the House that it had been the Jesuits who had poisoned Pope Clement III and Pope Clement V, the first because he considered their suppression and the latter because he accomplished it. The Speaker thanked “Mr Oates” for his contribution causing much amusement on the opposition benches – except for where the Unionists sat. In a passionate defence of Mr Newgedate, the Unionist leader in the Commons, Sir Bernard Jallick, declared he would “give the right of toleration to every non-conformist in the land, to Hindustanis, Jews and Mohammedans, before giving it to the Catholics of England”. Needless to say, the bill did not pass but it began a serious debate in Westminster on disestablishment and in Downing Street, served to remind Sir James Graham that he must overcome the divisions in his party before the next general election. [5]

The Prime Minister was also considering how he might present that hard-won united front in a general election campaign and this perhaps explains why he was so insistent that the King must adopt his proposals for a royal progress of England and give up any ideas of going to Hanover in the summer instead. Charlie Phipps offered a compromise for both sides to consider. The King would undertake the tour Graham proposed but Phipps asked that it be divided into two halves. The first leg of the tour would take place from May to July, the King then free to go to Hanover in August. He would not extend his trip in any way and would then return in late September to conclude the last leg of the royal progress in late September, October and November concluding just before the court moved to Windsor for Christmas. When Downing Street suggested that this may not be entirely convenient and would result in much to-ing and fro-ing, Phipps stepped in to remind the Prime Minister’s private secretary that the royal progress of George IV had been arranged to take place in two stages with a holiday scheduled in between and that furthermore, it would prove more convenient (and much more efficient) for the King to conclude the first stage in Hull (from where he could sail aboard the Royal Yacht to Hamburg) and to begin the second stage in Newcastle (where he could arrive aboard the Royal Yacht on his return journey and dive straight into his public duties). But Graham was not convinced and asked for a little more time to consider - then news came from the Foreign Office which convinced him to accept.

After weeks of persuading and cajoling, Austria seemed poised to ratify the Betchworth Declaration. Guizot sent a letter to Betchworth in London to say that their signature was "as good as blotted" but then, at the very last, the Austrian Ambassador was told not to sign after all. It appeared that Metternich was not entirely convinced the Betchworth Declaration would have the impact it's authors hoped given that it would not be a unanimously adopted agreement. Guizot suspected that Metternich's reluctance was more rooted in the idea of Austria casting the deciding vote and risk carrying the blame for upsetting the status quo. Instead, he followed Prussia's lead and gave his full support to the von Bülow proposal to revisit quotas later that year in a council convened with all signatory nations to the Straits Pact in Vienna in September - including Russia. Lord Betchworth was concerned that this would send a clear message to the Russians that the signatories had no intention of honouring their agreement to pursue economic sanctions and that the Pact would quickly become defunct. If that happened, the Russians would take it as a sign that they were free to send as many ships through the Dardanelles as they wished and in that event, the tensions in the Orient were bound to rise once more. But there was another pressing issue which concerned Britain alone and which made an increased Russian presence all the more concerning. Since the British defeat in Afghanistan, King Mohammed had begun squeezing British traders out of Kabul and allowing the Russians greater access instead. This threatened British financial and military interests, especially in the Sindh. The Straits Pact had to hold if Britain stood any chance of beating back Russian expansion and Russian interference in British interests, especially when the British economy seem poised on the brink of collapse.

Betchworth believed that bringing Austria more firmly into the British and French camp against Russia was the only way to tip the balance in the talks. Metternich was not anti-British, indeed he had warm memories of well he had been hosted on a visit to the United Kingdom in 1821 when Austria and Britain found themselves in agreement on Greek independence. So charmed was he that Metternich promised to honour Austria’s financial debts to Britain accrued in the Napoleonic Wars and he even declared that nothing would please him more than “to see the ancient and beloved Anglo-Austrian entente restored”. But much had changed since then and by 1844 he was struggling to maintain the authority he had carefully acquired over the decades. This became even more obvious when he lost his key ally Count Karl von Clam-Martinic at the Conference of State in 1840 and now Metternich, though still widely respected, felt his government was in a state of suspended animation – it existed but it could no longer enforce. Sir James Graham agreed with his Foreign Secretary that Austria may prove herself a useful ally in redressing the balance of things, especially as Metternich was now under pressure to take a firm stance on foreign aggressors who risked Austrian interests. Growing concern at Russian expansionism existed as much in Vienna as in London and both Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary believed that mutual suspicion might be ripe for exploitation. This would take the form of a charm offensive against Prince von Metternich himself and saw Sir James Graham completely about face once more in his attitude to how much of a role the King might play in foreign policy.

We have already seen how Graham loathed the idea of the King as a diplomat and yet we have also seen how he (rather hypocritically) dropped any such opposition when a touch of royal soft-power was beneficial to his own interests. That said, Graham was not ready to dispatch the King to Vienna to meet Prince von Metternich any time soon. Instead, he apologised to Phipps that a "scheduling error" had led him to believe that the King might have to sacrifice his visit to Hanover in exchange for a lengthy tour of England. Phipps was not taken in by this weak excuse but he wrongly assumed he had fought his master's corner well and that Graham had given in because he had no choice but to accept the alternative arrangements Phipps had put forward. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Now, the Prime Minister was not only fully supportive of the King going to Hanover in the summer but he suggested that there was no reason why the King should not extend his stay for a week or so longer as there would still be ample time to conclude the second half of the royal progress tour provided His Majesty was back in England by late September. Phipps thanked the Prime Minister and said that the King would be relieved for not only was he determined to be present in Hanover for the investiture of the new Viceroy, but he also wished to call on his family at Rumpenheim too. Graham's Private Secretary raised his eyebrows as he heard the Prime Minister reply that he thought a visit to the Hesse-Kassels was "a charming idea". The wheels of Sir James' mind were hastily turning.

In his weekly audience with the King at Buckingham Palace later that same day, the Prime Minister prepared himself to conduct a charm offensive. Beaming as he entered the King’s study and bowing low, he handed over a stack of crisp parchment with a red silk ribbon holding the sheaf together.

“It is with great pleasure Your Majesty”, he explained, offering the papers, “That I can now inform you that the House of Lords has given its approval to the Succession to the Crown Act and to the Royal House Act. I hope you will not consider it impudent of me to deliver the bills for Your Majesty’s assent personally and to offer with them the Cabinet’s congratulations on the extremely accomplished way in which you handled this matter to the satisfaction of us all”

George was immediately buoyed and with a spring in his step, took the papers with a smile, wandering over to his desk and affixing his signature to the front pages of both acts, George R.

“On that very matter”, he said, laying down his pen, “I wanted to ask you Sir James…oh…my apologies, do sit down…I have yet to discuss this with anybody else because I should welcome your opinion first….”

“I am honoured Sir”

“Yes…quite”, the King said, Sir James’ obsequiousness slightly beginning to irritate, “The fact is that under the terms of this new legislation, my cousin’s child, that is the Earl of Armagh’s son or daughter, will be born into the Royal House. That is to say, they will carry the style of His or Her Highness and be a Prince or Princess of Hanover”

“Most suitable”, the Prime Minister grinned, “Considering that I understand the child will be born in Hanover?”

The King nodded impatiently, “Yes. The point is, the bills I have just signed do not forbid me from elevating a member of my family in rank, that is to say, I might still issue Letters Patent to extend the use of the style of Royal Highness…”

Sir James listened intently.

“So my question is…how would it be if I issued such Letters Patent to raise the status of my second cousin when he or she arrives?”

The Prime Minister thought for a moment.

“Well Your Majesty”, he said contemplatively, “I should advise against it. The birth of His Royal Highness’ child is important…not just because it delights the entire country…but because it will be the first time the new laws we have introduced will take effect. It is of course within your authority to grant the style of Royal Highness should you see fit but I should counsel against it. You see Sir, you have now set a new established framework for the monarchy to protect it. But you have also set a precedent, in law, whereby only those members of your family who are expected to carry out public duties as members of the Royal Family are entitled to the royal style. Why not wait a while Your Majesty? Give the new legislation time to settle. And as the child grows, if the path for it’s future is clearly to play a public role, the style could then be given for an 18th or 21st birthday? I should hate to see any doubts cast as to the sincerity of the bills parliament has just passed and I do believe Your Majesty would be wise to allow some time for the full effect to be made clear”

The King sighed.

“You’re quite right”, he said sadly, “I just wanted to make a gesture before George and Guste vanish off to Hanover. I shall miss him, you know. He’s been more like a brother in the last few years than a cousin”

The Prime Minister smiled warmly.

“But it should cheer you Sir that we have finally come to an arrangement on the investiture for the new Viceroy. You shall, after all, be able to see him sworn in at Herrenhausen”

George grinned.

“Speaking of which, what’s all this about me going to some old railway in Wiesbaden? Phipps couldn’t make head nor tail of it”

“Ah yes, allow me to explain Your Majesty…”, the Prime Minister replied. The wheels continued to turn in his mind.

As circumstances would dictate, the Earl and Countess of Armagh’s child was not technically the first to come under the new regulations governing the use of titles, styles and succession rights in the Royal Family. That (possibly dubious) honour fell to the first child born to the Earl of Tipperary and Franziska Fritz when they welcomed a daughter in the first week of May 1844. The Cambridges had been told that their daughter-in-law was expecting and their son had hoped that his parents may ask to receive him (and his wife and new-born daughter) before they left Hanover forever. Word was sent to Herrenhausen from Erfurt that Franziska had given birth but no reply came. Whilst the birth came after the introduction of the so-called King’s Laws, neither the Succession to the Crown Act nor the Royal House Act were applied retroactively and in short, the child was not entitled to any form of style, rank or title – even that of an Earl’s daughter – because she was considered to be illegitimate under English law. [6]

In Erfurt however, the little girl was considered to be legitimate because her parent’s marriage had been deemed valid (though unequal). The problem was that the Earl of Tipperary had no surname to give her, having none of his own [7]. He had used Cambridge temporarily but had been asked to cease doing so by his father’s solicitor, the surname ‘Cambridge’ appearing on its own being the privilege of the Duke and not his son and heir. But neither did the Earl wish to register his daughter under her mother’s maiden name, thereby giving further suggestion to the outside world that she was illegitimate. Instead, George Cambridge determined that from 1844 onwards, he would adopt the surname von Hanover and thus his daughter was entered into the parish register as Marie Augusta von Hanover. She was baptised Catholic according to her mother's wishes, had no royal godparents and would not meet a single member of her father’s family until she was 16 years old when in 1860 she was invited to Cambridge Cottage at Kew to meet her grandmother. The invitation did not extend to Franziska Fritz.


The Earl of Tipperary.

When news of Marie Augusta’s birth reached the King, he was not best pleased. For his cousin to have adopted the surname ‘of Hanover’ seemed a churlish misuse of the new ‘of Hanover’ titles George V had created for his descendants. It fell to Frau Wiedl to cheer the King and break his tantrum on the subject, taking him to the opera at Covent Garden and then back to her home in Bloomsbury for a private supper. They were accompanied by Princess Mary (who kept declaring how young and gay she felt at the prospect of being in such a bohemian part of town as Bloomsbury), the Earl of Armagh and Charlie Phipps, though Frau Wiedl discretely extended an invitation to Lord Melbury to join them for supper and cards after the opera. The evening progressed perfectly with the King’s mood thoroughly lifted by the spirit of the occasion. He was delighted to be reunited with his old chum Lord Melbury too, their chances to meet informally severely curtailed by his new position as Leader of the Opposition. But the King did not broach the subject of politics at all, save for a quip when he lost a hand of cards to Melbury and declared upon handing over the winnings; “Well I must say, that’s not very loyal of you is it?”.

As the evening wore on, Melbury and the King walked outside onto the terrace to smoke, Princess Mary affecting a dramatic coughing fit replete with the exaggerated waving of hands anytime anybody lit a cigar or pipe in her presence.

“Don’t think I’m prying Foxy but…I hear you’re seeing rather a lot of the Lyttleton girl these days”

Lord Melbury chuckled.

“Caroline is twenty-eight Sir, hardly a girl any longer”

The King shrugged.

“Well her father was an absolute bounder”, he replied haughtily, “I never met him of course but you ask Aunt Mary for her opinion on the fellow. Stand well back when you do”

Lord Melbury had been courting the Honourable Caroline Lyttleton, the daughter of William Lyttleton, 3rd Baron, who hailed from the influential Whig family and who had seriously clashed with the Royal Family in 1808 when he suggested that the then Duke of York and Albany, Commander in Chief of the Forces, had corrupted members of parliament by offering them bribes to vote in favour of his continuing in that position when it was discovered that the Duke had been selling commissions arranged by his mistress Mary Anne Clarke. The Duke was acquitted but he still had to resign a post he had adored and never forgave Lyttleton for accusing him of bribery. In studying his father’s life and times, George V had decided to inherit the grudge against the family and news that Lyttleton’s daughter may be in the running to become the new Viscountess Melbury was not a prospect he relished. Caroline's potential husband stood silently for a moment on the terrace, looking nervously at his feet. [8]

“Sir, I…I have something to say to you which may be a little delicate…”

The King looked surprised.

“Oh really Foxy, you marry who you damn well please, I was only teasing”

“No Sir, it’s something I’ve debated discussing with you all evening but I really must do so now. In the strictest confidence of course”

The King puffed on his cigar and nodded; “You know me Foxy, silent as the tomb when required. More’s the pity”.

Lord Melbury looked up toward the King. He was suddenly very serious.

“I feel it my duty to tell you Sir that you are being taken advantage of by the Prime Minister”

The King almost cringed. He pretended to shudder a little at the cold night air and made to go back inside.

“Sir please, as your friend I must speak”, Melbury explained calmly, “It is my understanding that Graham is to declare an early general election”

“As his is right”

“But only after he has accompanied Your Majesty on your tour of the north. Did you not wonder Sir why there are no visits in the South or in Wales? Every single destination has been chosen so that the Prime Minister might appear in public with you and gather public support in the areas he needs it most before he calls the election immediately after to gain the benefit”

Suddenly it was the King who was very serious.

“But that can’t be right…the destinations were chosen so that I might go to Hanover and still carry out the tour”

“With respect Sir, that is not true”, Melbury continued, “You are only being allowed to go to Hanover at all because the Prime Minister wishes to convene a meeting between Lord Betchworth and Prince Metternich at Wiesbaden ahead of the quota talks in Vienna”

“How do you know about that?”

“In the same way as I know that the Prime Minister is using you as an electioneering prop”

The King’s face was growing redder by the moment. Melbury was gripped by the very real possibility that he had overstepped the boundaries of his friendship with the Sovereign and that he was about to feel the painful consequences of doing so. Instead, the King silently made to go inside. Just before he did, he turned back a little and looked Melbury dead in the eye.

“Thankyou my friend”, he said sincerely holding out his hand to shake Melbury’s, “I shan’t forget this. And I shan’t take it either”.


[1] An OTL bill which was introduced again in 1847 when it was not adopted by the government in 1844.

[2] Graham actually introduced this when he was Home Secretary but everything else here is taken from the OTL to suit our purposes.

[3] Amazingly, this is still in place today in the OTL.

[4] It didn’t adopt this name in the OTL until 1853 but the perspective of the writing makes sense to refer to it by it’s more well-known moniker.

[5] Mr Newdegate’s comments are taken from Hansard – he really did suggest this bill was the work of evil Jesuits poised to take over England. Immediately I thought of Titus Oates, hence Mr Speaker’s comments here which did not appear in the OTL. Bernard Jallick is new to us and did not exist in the OTL but by now we’d see a new crop of Unionist MPs and new front runners in that party carrying the banner – however his comments here are taken from Hansard too and were originally given by a Tory MP named Finch.

[6] Though even if George Cambridge had waited until after 1844 to marry Fritz, Marie Augusta would not have been eligible to become a member of the Royal House as he married a Roman Catholic.

[7] The British Royal Family did not acquire a surname until 1917 in the OTL.

[8] In the OTL, Melbury (William Fox-Strangways) did not have a liaison with Caroline Lyttleton who died a spinster and he didn’t marry until 1857. Here his career demands a marriage and so I’ve found one I think suitable from a political and social point of view.

Double helpings today, the first in a long time, as it's been a busy week and I've a packed weekend ahead.

Hopefully this will move us along and introduce some interesting new themes before we return next week. As ever many thanks for reading and if you're celebrating Thanksgiving, I wish you a very peaceful and happy holiday.
Pretty interesting developments, hopefully the situation in UK will stablize and George can make a name for himself as a diplomat in his own right.
For whatever reason, Nessa’s mother is giving me real Queen of hearts vibes( minus an enthusiasm for chopping off heads). I think the end of Sir James’s ministry is in sight. If he goes, I think a good choice for the next prime minister would be Lord Derby. He seems pretty chill and I think he would let George get involved in diplomacy.
I worry that George V doing too much diplomacy could set a bad president should the next monarch be less diplomatic.

Yeah, I could see that. But, I wouldn’t think that parliament would let a King get as much power as Kings used to have back in the Middle Ages.
It's an interesting dynamic to explore, especially if the election goes the other way and the King's chum becomes PM. George might assume that means he can play a bigger role in foreign affairs which has become quite a passion of his but as you both rightly say, there's limits to just how far the King can go - we shall see how George copes with that in the near future!
For whatever reason, Nessa’s mother is giving me real Queen of hearts vibes( minus an enthusiasm for chopping off heads). I think the end of Sir James’s ministry is in sight. If he goes, I think a good choice for the next prime minister would be Lord Derby. He seems pretty chill and I think he would let George get involved in diplomacy.
Excuse the double post, I meant to include this in my last reply but the quote system wouldn't have it!

I love your assessment of the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau. Royalty was especially good at bearing grudges around this time and as someone else put it before, you essentially have a handful of families ruling the roost in Europe at this time so once perceived slight quickly became spread until one side of the family tree took against the other - and didn't always remember why. Frederica isn't the easiest woman in the world in our TL - though much like our Dowager Queen, I'm sure the real one was perfectly charming.
With apologies for a lack of updates last week but I changed my ISP and that meant a week with no internet access as one switched to the other. But finally I have the new set up and a reliable connection again so I can get back into the swing of things with Crown Imperial this week. Many thanks for your patience!
GV: Part Three, Chapter Twenty-Two: The Great Decline
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Twenty Two: The Great Decline
Just as Sir James Graham became Prime Minister in a period known to history as the ‘Winter of Discontent’, so in the latter half of his term the United Kingdom entered what was to become known as ‘The Great Decline’. This is not a phase in British history that can be defined by specific dates; indeed it was arguably caused by an accumulation of problems facing the United Kingdom and a growing divide in society that went beyond the usual class rivalries. The result of these two key factors was a feeling of national uncertainty, a sense of growing anxiety that Britain was fast approaching a precipice and so ‘the Great Decline’ is now understood to define a sentiment rather than one particular historic event. This feeling had been present for some time making itself known at the extreme by the outbreak of riots or strikes but nobody seemed to regard any of the issues the United Kingdom faced in 1844 as a collective “decline” until the Spring of that year in which Henry Pepys, Bishop of Worcester, gave a sermon which was so popular and which resonated so widely that his words were printed in separate half-penny supplement to newspapers, copies of which were bought by the thousands in the space of just a few days. Pepys’ sermon contains the first documented use of the phrase “the Great Decline” and predictably, he applied it in the context of church politics both addressing the rise of the Liberationists who wanted to see the Church of England disestablished from the state and the Tractarians who wanted to see the Church of England take more inspiration in practical worship and doctrine from Rome [1]. In his sermon, Pepys identifies both as “weakening and destructive forces which have combined to produce this great decline in Britain’s moral character”. But pretty soon after his address was given and widely shared, the Great Decline came to represent something way beyond the divisions in the Church of England.


Henry Pepys.

In London, there was a great tradition of the public engaging with politics not through the written word (though the literacy rate in England had risen to well over 60% by 1844) but through gathering to hear addresses given at venues throughout the city which were usually free to an interested public. In this way, movements such as the Abolitionists or the Chartists gathered support for their cause to varying degrees of success but if one could step back into the debating chambers of London in 1844, the phrase seemingly used by every speaker representing a myriad of causes was “the Great Decline”. Perhaps because it had its origins in church, it took on a sober and serious aspect but when it crossed into the political arena, it also acquired the dangerous – even the threatening – particularly when it came to one party in parliament: the Unionists. For their leader in the Commons, Sir Bernard Jallick, the ‘Great Decline’ was the perfect slogan to adopt and to infuse with a sense of urgency and chaos, a kind of diagnosis of all society’s ills which had a clear cause and an obvious treatment. Whether it be the rise in unemployment or food prices, Britain’s diminished interests abroad or the interruption to industry through strike again at home, growing tensions in Ireland or the new radical attacks on the established church, Jallick proclaimed the Great Decline was the result of four years of Tory failures that could only be put right by ousting them from government and replacing them with Britain’s first Unionist administration. The Tories saw this as nothing more than hapless rhetoric but they failed to appreciate just how much the phrase (and Jallick’s use of it) had resonated with the wider public. [2]

This was particularly important as Britain faced continuing economic struggles. Investors became increasingly nervous to take risks on new ventures both at home and in the colonies as the idea that Britain was on the verge of some kind of collapse took hold. The general population embraced the idea of a great decline but they now began to fear what may come after. The spectre of the French Revolution reared its head and satirists and serious political commentators alike began to forge links between what was happening in the United Kingdom and what had happened in France in the years proceeding the ‘Reign of Terror’ [3]. This was mostly sensationalist and such commentary was prone to false equivalency but the idea that Britain was heading toward chaos and ruin became so deeply ingrained in the public mindset that the general mood became one of heightened sensitivity to anything symptomatic of ‘the Great Decline’. But a tangible by-product was an increased presence of social unrest with the Chartists just as keen as the Unionists to trade on this idea of a nation in freefall. William Gladstone privately predicted that, whilst he did not agree with the premise of the Great Decline, “the public mood shall only worsen if we do not grasp this dangerous narrative and shake it to death”.

Yet the Prime Minister seemed totally unmoved by the phenomena of the Great Decline. He had privately committed himself in Cabinet to calling an early general election because he feared a poor winter would trounce any chance of victory if the government’s mandate was allowed to reach its legislated end. Whilst men like Disraeli warned that a harsh winter “might lend legitimacy to the existence of a great decline” thus diminishing healthy Tory returns in a general election, others suggested that such pessimism was itself destructive to Tory chances and that Graham should allow the mandate to run to its deadline of March 1845. Some backbenchers became increasingly nervous whilst others made contingency plans for a life outside of the Commons. Others had already been swept up by talk of decline and had privately made an agreement with Sir Bernard Jallick to defect to the Unionists the moment a general election campaign began. It is therefore understandable that Sir James would wish to present himself to the people as a stabilising force, a statesman respected and trusted by the establishment and a fair more reliable hand at the tiller than his Whig or Unionist opponents. It is also perhaps logical that he would wish to use every available advantage in the lead up to the general election campaign (as yet unannounced) including accompanying the King on several key visits which formed the latter half of the first stage of the 1844 Royal Progress.

It must be recognised that the Royal Progress of 1844 did not capture the public imagination as previous tours had. When George IV undertook his own progress in the early 1820s, there as a genuine sense of excitement and anticipation in towns and cities along the proposed route but George IV was not setting out into a country fixated on the idea of impending social collapse. In many ways, the Prime Minister was being entirely genuine in proposing the tour as a remedy to this prevailing atmosphere of cynicism and gloom but it cannot be ignored that the cities in which he intended to join the royal party on tour were mostly Tory/Whig marginals. Whilst it was not unusual for the Prime Minister, or indeed any other member of the Cabinet, to join the Sovereign on such a progress, Lord Melbury’s discussion with the King had heightened George V’s sensitivities to exactly why his Prime Minister had been so adamant that the tour must go ahead – especially as the King himself did not feel the tour would be particularly successful. This said, he had also doubted if his tour of Scotland would have any real benefit to it and most agreed that he had been wrong to express such misgivings in the aftermath of what had, in reality, been a productive tour for the King in terms of how the Crown was received and recognised. Despite this and following his meeting with Lord Melbury at Frau Wiedl’s home in Bloomsbury, the King became absolutely determined to keep the Prime Minister as far away from his tour as possible. This would not be easy but in a sign that George was maturing into his role, he kept his temper and was wise enough not to confront the Prime Minister directly on the matter – at least initially. He could hardly present the facts at hand to Sir James and explain that they had been passed to him in a private social setting by the Leader of the Opposition. Such a revelation would only serve to raise questions about his own impartiality once more.


Charlie Phipps.

Fortunately for His Majesty, his Private Secretary was now about to prove his worth as an essential figure at George V’s court. Charlie Phipps was not only a staunch monarchist well-situated in his role as the King’s right-hand man but he was extremely fond of George personally. We have already seen how Phipps battled against those who tried to alienate the King or reduce his opportunities to showcase his talents. He had clashed with Sir James Graham before and thus felt no inclination to try and find a compromise when the true nature of the Prime Minister’s objectives with the King’s royal progress were made clear to the Royal Household. With the Crown, as ever, his top priority, Phipps now set about finding a pretext which would make it impossible for Sir James to accompany the King on his tour whilst also making it appear that the change of heart was an organic decision made by the Prime Minister’s Office and not in any way a response to a command from the Palace.

Until this time, the press had been kept well away from the Palace and there were no official channels through which the monarchy liaised with Fleet Street beyond announcements made by the Lord Chamberlain. Naturally the press had its own sources beyond the Palace gates but it was highly unusual for press barons to be invited in to discuss a situation or even to assist the monarchy in directing public opinion [4]. For the most part, newspapers were deferential in their reporting on members of the Royal Family unless there was a real sense of public scandal they could exploit without being seen to have instigated but this was not purely based in a sense of loyalty to the Crown. Rather, the men who owned the newspapers were often peers or wealthy high society figures who wanted to advance themselves further which in the 1840s meant attending court and ingratiating oneself with the Royal Family. It would prove impossible to do so if a press baron printed a story considered unfair, exploitative or even critical of the institution they were obligated to impress. For his part, George V was wary of the popular press and his misgivings only intensified in later years as the press became more boisterous in it’s reports on the private lives of members of his own family. When he was introduced to a newspaper owner in the late 1870s, George remarked loudly, “Oh yes, you’re that devil who publishes lies about my son”. [5]

Yet in 1844, the press proved useful to the Crown as Charlie Phipps sought to use it to the monarchy’s advantage. To achieve this, he approached John Browne Bell, the founder and editor in chief of the News of the World first published in October the previous year. The cheapest newspaper of it’s time, it quickly became the most wide-read as a result and was aimed directly at the working classes. The political class did not value the News of the World’s commentary in any serious way, partly because it was not designed for their readership but also because much of its source material came from vice prosecutions with such lurid and salacious detail that the middle classes considered the newspaper to be “a most unsuitable publication”. This posed a problem for Bell who wanted his newspaper to be taken seriously among the likes of the Times or the London Illustrated News but he faced difficulty in securing sources in parliament and beyond so that his copy was reduced to reporting the news after it had appeared first in other publications. Phipps knew Bell to be an ambitious figure (he had donated large sums to most political parties in the hopes of obtaining a peerage) and thus arranged a private supper with him to work Bell’s ambition to the Royal Household’s advantage. Over a light meal of cold partridge and champagne, Phipps asked Bell if he had heard the rumours swirling about Westminster that there was an early general election in the offing. Bell confirmed that he had.

“Oh dear”, Phipps said, feigning disappointment, “I fear that really will upset the King most dreadfully”

“Why should that upset the King?”, Bell asked, falling into Phipps’s trap with enthusiasm.

“The Prime Minister intends to join His Majesty at the tail end of his royal progress before the King leaves for Hanover”, Phipps explained with a twinkle in his eye, “It will cause great upset to the arrangements if the schedule has to be amended in some way at this late stage”

“Amended how?”, Bell pressed Phipps. Phipps gave a wry smile.

“The Crown cannot meet with the political in such a way”, Phipps explained, “His Majesty considers that to be sacrosanct. If the Prime Minister were to insist on joining the royal party on the progress, it may well bring about criticism that Sir James might regard his presence to be advantageous to any forthcoming election campaign…and that would never do”

Bell grinned. He had his story.

A few days later, the News of the World shocked the political elite by suggesting that the Prime Minister was planning a snap general election and that he had inveigled himself to be included on four of the eight stops on the King’s forthcoming tour to “be seen in the King’s presence thus allowing the Prime Minister to bolster his fading popularity with the electorate”. Downing Street rejected the claims as “scurrilous nonsense”, pointing out to critics that the News of the World’s reputation was built on the titillating and the spurious. But it did not take long before backbench MPs raised the matter in the Commons which saw Bell’s story trickle into more reputable newspapers. Phipps was therefore able to take the matter to Downing Street and ask directly if they considered the Prime Minister’s presence alongside the King on his royal progress to be appropriate. Number 10 insisted that it would be. Now it fell to George himself to settle the matter once and for all at his weekly audience with Sir James.

As the Prime Minister entered the King’s Study that evening, he no doubt had rehearsed very carefully what he intended to say. Yet he was not to be given a chance. The audience began with the usual list of recently approved Orders-in-Council and new bills introduced to the House of Commons. This part of the audience was always conducted with the Prime Minister standing as it was considered a formal expression of the relationship between the Sovereign and his government. When this was concluded, the King motioned for Sir James to take a seat and more informal subjects could be explored. Only on this occasion, George did not invite the Prime Minister to take a seat when he had finished presenting the new bills and instead, the King stood opposite before he began pacing slowly before his desk.

“And that is all?”

“That is all Your Majesty”, Graham replied with a smile, “We are most confident that Bank Charter Act will do much to improve the economic situation and by creating a ratio between the gold reserves held in the Bank of England and the banknotes issued from that aforesaid institution, we might look ahead to the budget of 1845 with more confidence than might have otherwise been considered” [6]

The King did not return the Prime Minister’s smile. And he still did not invite Sir James to take a seat.

“Prime Minister…”, he began, “I should like to make it clear that I do not believe one word of that nonsense which appeared in the newspaper yesterday morning”

“Thankyou Sir”, Graham bowed his head politely, “The unhappy by-product of a free press. Inconvenient but inevitable”

“Quite”, the King replied, “That being said, I feel we must tread lightly so that we do not appear to…inadvertently of course…give any credence to Mr Bell’s allegations”

“Your Majesty?”

“Of course, I know it will be very disappointing for you after all your hard work in putting this tour together but I do feel we must not fall into a trap laid for us by the press"

“Sir, I-“

“Though naturally I believe we must display to the public that our constitutional relationship is unaffected by this sort of idle gossip”, the King pressed on, ignoring Graham’s protests, “Which is why I believe the best course of action would be for us to part ways on this tour until the very last, shall we say, until our usual audience? I thought we might meet aboard the Yacht before I leave for Hanover?”

Graham bristled slightly.

“Your Majesty, I really must protest-“

“It is admirable that you wish to support me in this”, the King snapped, his voice now flecked with steel as he moved towards the Prime Minister, his eyes never once releasing Graham from his glare, “But I really must insist on this occasion that we proceed as I have advised for you have often taken the opportunity to remind me of my constitutional role and now I remind you that part of that role is to counsel and advise my ministers, advice which I do not expect to be acted upon but which I urge should neither be ignored…”

Graham was almost ashen faced. He nodded quickly.

“Of course Your Majesty”, he said, his voice breaking a little.

“Then I believe we are finished”, the King replied, pressing the bell stop on his desk, the door opening to allow Phipps to enter and retrieve a shell-shocked Sir James from the King’s Study. In his later years, Sir James Graham included no mention of this audience in his memoirs but he perhaps hints at it. In one passage reflecting on the 1844 General Election, its causes and it’s planning, Graham writes “It must always be remembered that in England, the Prime Minister may indeed lead a government but it is never truly his government for that authority belongs to the Crown alone and in my dealings with that most noble institution at this time, I saw the very best example of Kingship in a Sovereign who not only understood this special constitutional arrangement but who upheld it soberly and wisely to the benefit of all concerned”.

Just two days after their rather awkward meeting at Buckingham Palace, the King extended a consolation prize to Sir James by inviting him to join the court at Windsor. The highlight of this particular visit was a costume ball held on Tuesday the 23rd of April 1844 to celebrate St George’s Day. Earlier that morning, the Lord Chamberlain issued two announcements, the first officially appointing the Earl of Armagh as the new Viceroy of Hanover and the second listing the new appointments to the Order of the Garter. These included Henry Vane, 2nd Duke of Cleveland, Edward Herbert, the 2nd Earl of Powis and the Earl of Armagh. The latter’s appointment to the Garter as a ‘Royal Knight’ honoured the tradition established by King George III in 1786 whereby he could grant his many sons the Garter without them counting toward the limit of 24 companions. Prince George was especially moved to be awarded this honour and nobody was left in any doubt that the Cumberland heir had completely rehabilitated his family’s reputation – save for his father’s ongoing legal battles with regard to Queen Charlotte’s diamonds – and that the King wished to express his personal affection for his cousin before the Earl of Armagh left England to take up his new duties in Hanover.

The Armaghs left for Herrenhausen not long after St George’s Day, both wishing to settle into their new residence well before the Countess was due to give birth to the couple’s first child even though the Earl’s tenure as Viceroy was not officially due to begin until August. Neither were too intimidated by the prospect of this new chapter in their lives, though the Countess secretly worried that her husband’s disability may prove a barrier to his success. Their arrival in Hanover was kept deliberately low-key, the formal welcome postponed until August when, in the King’s presence, the Earl was formally invested as Viceroy. The Countess hoped that this head start in Hanover would allow the couple to learn as much as possible from the Cambridges in their last few months in office, yet that took a back seat as the Duke and Duchess seemed totally preoccupied with their retirement plans. The Duchess spent her days wandering the palace at Herrenhausen with a handful of red ribbons which she tied around vases, pinned below pictures or draped across furniture to denote that these were personal possessions she expected to be shipped back to England to find a new home at Cambridge Cottage at Kew. The Duke too was distracted in trying to secure the continued services of his household, very few of whom were prepared to leave Germany and begin a new life in England.


The Countess of Armagh.

But that Spring also saw news reach the Cambridges which distressed the Duchess in particular and made her less than amenable company. She had been told through an old friend at the court in Neustrelitz that Hereditary Grand Duchess Augusta had privately received her brother, the Earl of Tipperary. The Cambridges were not moved by the arrival of their first grandchild that May and were resolute in their decision not to receive their son ever again. The fact that Augusta had done so enraged the Duchess who felt that this policy could only be maintained if the Cambridges were united on the issue and she wrote a stern letter to her daughter in Neustrelitz demanding that she never repeat the meeting. But the Duchess also fired off a strongly worded note to her sister, the Grand Duchess Marie, berating her for not keeping a close eye on Augusta as she stepped into her new role. This did not go down well with the Strelitzes who were under enough pressure themselves. Around this time, their daughter Caroline returned to Neustrelitz supposedly for a spring holiday. She had married the Crown Prince of Denmark in 1841 but the marriage had proven to be a total disaster with Frederick loathe to give up his many mistresses and excessive lifestyle of drinking and gambling. As a result, Caroline had withdrawn to Rosenborg Castle for a time but eventually, she could bear no more of her husband’s outrageous behaviour and shockingly, she announced to her parents in May 1844 that she had no intention of returning to Denmark. [7]

The Strelitzes knew that the marriage had not been a successful one – the lack of any children stood as proof of that – but the idea that Caroline would simply abandon it was unthinkable. The Crown Prince’s first marriage had ended in divorce after just a few years and the Strelitzes certainly did not wish to see history repeat itself. Attempting to head off the crisis, Grand Duke George invited his solicitor to the palace to discuss the matter. In asking Caroline for her account of why the marriage had failed, the Grand Duke was horrified to hear his daughter speak openly of her husband’s neglect in favour of his male companion, Carl Berling, the publisher and owner of the newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Berling had arrived at Amalienborg well before Caroline and was an essential part of the Crown Prince’s household, yet Caroline could not reconcile herself to the fact that she was to play second fiddle to her husband’s close male companion. When she had finished explaining her position to her father, the Grand Duke ordered the family solicitor to pursue divorce proceedings and promised Caroline that she would never have to return to Denmark. Her marriage was eventually dissolved in 1846 and she would never speak of it again.

Back at Windsor on St George’s Day 1844, those present included two new faces at court, invited for the very first time to the interest of the chattering courtier class; Sir Bernard Jallick, 8th Baronet and his wife Lady Harriet made their royal debut at the costume ball and were added to a list of guests by Charlie Phipps. This was perhaps yet another move to assert the political neutrality of the Crown in light of recent events, though on a personal level the King had little time for the couple whom he nicknamed “Small and Tall”, a reference to Sir Bernard Jallick’s infamously low height at just 5ft, made even more obvious by his wife who stood a foot and two inches taller. The Jallicks were landed gentry and found court life rather stuffy and dull. Unlike many of their counterparts, they could not boast a large country estate or fashionable London townhouse and lived in a former rectory in Sir Bernard’s constituency of Chippenham. Sir Bernard had been elected to parliament in 1838 as a Unionist but had previously stood (unsuccessfully) as a Tory in two other marginal constituencies in previous elections. As a Unionist, he had carved out a niche for himself in politics becoming Lord Winchelsea’s counterpart in the Commons with the press making much of this meteoric rise in a relatively short space of time.

Whilst the political establishment didn’t take Jallick very seriously, he was a popular public figure known for his dramatic oratory but even Sir Bernard had to admit that he had only won his seat because his opponent, Joseph Neeld, had derailed his own campaign through public scandal. Neeld’s marriage to Lady Caroline Ashley Cooper (daughter of the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury) collapsed and the pair engaged in a series of prolonged and very public legal battles which exposed his adulterous relationship with a French governess that had resulted in an illegitimate daughter. “Chippenham was not Jallick’s success”, Sir Robert Peel opined, “But Neeld’s failure”. By including the Jallicks at Windsor alongside the Prime Minister and Lord Melbury, the King was sending a message that all political parties enjoyed his hospitality without preference – yet the press took their presence in quite a different way. For the first time, the Unionist Party was recognised officially at court whereas before even it’s most senior members from the House of Lords found themselves ostracised as the establishment took the view that they were somehow dishonourable from breaking away from the Tory party almost a decade earlier. Sir James Graham’s interactions with Sir Bernard Jallick had thus far been limited to clashes across the despatch box, though it must be remembered that the Unionists usually voted with the Tory party in the Division Lobby. Certainly this was in the Prime Minister’s mind going forward into the 1844 general election campaign and as the King set off for Oxford on the first stop of his royal progress (without the Prime Minister), Sir James invited Sir Bernard and Lady Jallick to Downing Street for a private, informal dinner party which was mostly comprised of the Grahams closest (non-political) friends. Graham’s motivation became crystal clear in the weeks that followed as he tried to find common ground with Sir Bernard.

The Tory election campaign was likely to face certain inescapable drawbacks. The incumbent party of government often suffered simply because it was in power and people wished to protest or object to the status quo. The narrative of the Great Decline was likely to be hard to overcome but also, the advantage of calling an early election had been lost the moment other parties heard that the country would go to the ballot before the end of the year because both the Whigs and the Unionists could begin planning their own campaigns at the same time as the Tory campaign was in its infancy. In devising this campaign, the Tory party had identified a key problem that posed a serious risk to their re-election – in Tory/Whig marginals, seats were likely to be lost purely because the Unionists split the conservative vote allowing the liberal candidate to take the constituency. What the Prime Minister had in mind was to conclude a kind of unofficial pact with Sir Bernard to put pressure on the local associations who selected parliamentary candidates to stand these would-be MPs down in such marginals, thus keeping the conservative vote in tact and the seat out of Whig hands. As a concession, Sir James would send word to his local associations to do the same in certain seats which the Tories were likely to lose anyway, thus boosting the Unionist presence in the Commons by ten or more seats.

Jallick was amenable to such a proposal though he warned Sir James that the Unionist campaign was likely to be focused on a theme of the Tory party having mismanaged the nation’s affairs for too long. However, much of the Unionist ire was again to be directed toward the Whigs, now firmly in the grip of Lord Melbury (“the architect of our failure at Bala Hissar”) and Lord Russell (“the best and truest friend of the Chartist”). Sir James accepted this as part of the rough and tumble of politics, yet he had overlooked one important factor; Jallick was very much subservient to Lord Winchelsea and though he could see the benefits of such an arrangement, his superior in the Unionist Party did not. In his 1957 book The Unionists: A History, Richard Brown suggests that Lord Winchelsea had become far too arrogant at this time and truly believed that his party (which had admittedly increased it’s numbers in the Commons at every general election since 1834) stood every chance of snatching Tory seats en masse without allowing a Whig advantage because “the Whig is no more than a radical by another name". Jallick saw this as a tired strategy and one that had failed to pay any real dividends in previous elections but he could not argue with his paymaster and after days of exploring all possible concessions with the Prime Minister, Jallick could only repeat what Lord Winchelsea had said – there would be no such arrangement and that every seat, whether Whig or Tory, was regarded as a potential Unionist triumph.

For Graham, the strategy he had pursued up until now was quickly unravelling and there were now serious concerns in government that the days of Tory rule may fast be coming to an end.


[1] This is a generalisation of the aims of both groups but we will be exploring this in more depth in a future instalment.

[2] In much the same way as something like Brexit suddenly emerged to become part of everyday lexicon and spark a national debate, so here the Great Decline does much the same.

[3] Possibly because it had taken place in living memory, the Victorians of the OTL always looked to the French Revolution as the crisis on the horizon. It terrified many that something similar could happen in the UK and when looking at the rise of the Chartists, you see the French Revolution used by those opposed to Chartist reforms as what might happen if “radicals” were allowed to have their way.

[4] Quite the contrast with today…

[5] Hold that thought for a while!

[6] The Charter Act was introduced in the OTL around this time for much the same reasons as here.

[7] As in the OTL.