Queen Victorias first council - Kensington Palace June 20 1837
The year 1837, except for the death of the old King and the accession of the young Queen, was a tolerably insignificant year. It was on June 20 that the King died. He was buried on the evening of July 9 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor; on the 10th the Queen dissolved Parliament; on the 13th she went to Buckingham Palace; and on November 9 she visited the City, where they gave her a magnificent banquet, served in Guildhall at half past five, the Lord Mayor and City magnates humbly taking their modest meal at a lower table.
The coronation of her majesty Queen Victoria
Her majesty leaving Buckingham Palace on the morning of the coronation
Her majesty leaving her private apartments in Westminster Abbey
The procession approaching Westminster Abbey
Marshall Soult's State Carriage
Her majesty’s State Carriage
In the dawn of June 20th, 1837, immediately after the death of King William IV., the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain left Windsor for Kensington, to convey the tidings to his late Majesty’s successor. They reached the Palace about five o’clock in the morning, and knocked, rang, and beat at the doors several times before they could obtain admission. When at length the porter was aroused, the visitors were shown into one of the lower rooms, where a long time passed without any attention being paid them. Growing impatient, they rang the bell, and desired that the attendant on the Princess Victoria might be sent to inform her Royal Highness that they requested an audience on business of importance. Another long delay ensued, and again the bell was rung, that some explanation might be given of the difficulty which appeared to exist. On the Princess’s attendant making her appearance, she declared that her Royal Highness was in so sweet a sleep that she could not venture to disturb her. It was now evident that stronger measures must be taken, and one of the visitors said, “We have come on business of State to the Queen, and even her sleep must give way to that.” The attendant disappeared, and a few minutes afterwards the young sovereign came into the room in a loose white robe and shawl, her fair hair falling over her shoulders, her feet in slippers, her eyes dim with tears, but her aspect perfectly calm and dignified
The Royal Arms
William IV. was a man of very moderate abilities; but a certain simplicity and geniality of character had secured for him the regard and respect of the people, and had carried him through the revolutionary epoch of the Reform Bill with no great loss of popularity, even at a time when he was supposed to be unfriendly to the measure. For the last two years he had ceased to take any interest in the political tendencies of the day, while discharging the routine duties of his high office with conscientious regularity.
One little thing marred the universality. The Duchess of Kent was not present at the coronation, neither was the Princess Victoria. It was an open secret that the King and the Duchess were not on friendly terms, but it was thought very bad taste on her part not to be present.
The Duchess is saying to the weeping Princess, "Say no more about the Coronation, child. I have my particular reasons for not going to it."
During the procession to the Abbey the weather was fine, and the sight a brilliant one; but, soon after one o'clock, a very heavy rain descended; the wind, too, blew with great violence, and occasioned rattling and tearing among the canvas canopies of the newly erected stands. It ceased for a short time, between two and three, when it broke out afresh, and was particularly lively when the ceremony was over, at half-past three. It quite spoilt the return procession, some of the carriages driving straight away, and those that fell into `rank` had their windows up. The general public were in sorry plight, as we see in the accompanying illustration—
Great fun was made of this meagre spectacle, as we may see by the satirical sketch, by H. B., entitled, "Going to a Half-Crownation," where the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex are shown in a hack cab, the King and Queen in a hackney coach, on the box of which sits Lord Chancellor Brougham, bearing the great seal; whilst the omnibus behind contains the Fitzclarences, the King's family by Mrs. Jordan. The peers and peeresses are on foot; first, Lord Grey carrying the Sword of State, then Lord and Lady Durham, and last, Lady Grey. The gentleman on horseback is Mr. Lee, High Bailiff of Westminster.
By one of those accidents in history that personify and precipitate catastrophes, the ruler of Germany, the emperor William II, embodied the new education of his people and the Hohenzollern tradition in the completest form. He came to the throne in 1888 at the age of twenty-nine; his father, Frederick III, had succeeded his grandfather, William I, in the March, to die in the June of that year. William II was the grandson of Queen Victoria on his mother’s side, but his temperament showed no traces of the liberal German tradition that distinguished the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family. His head was full of the frothy stuff of the new imperialism. He signalized his accession by an address to his army and navy; his address to his people followed three days later. A high note of contempt for democracy was sounded: “The soldier and the army, not parliamentary majorities, have welded together the German Empire. My trust is placed in the army.” So the patient work of the German schoolmasters was disowned, and the Hohenzollern declared himself triumphant.
Prussian affairs were then very much in the hands of a minister of the seventeenth-century type, Von Bismarck (count in 1865, prince in 1871), and he saw brilliant opportunities in this trouble. He became the champion of the German nationality in these duchies—it must be remembered that the King of Prussia had refused to undertake this rôle for democratic Germany in 1848—and he persuaded Austria to side with Prussia in a military intervention. Denmark had no chance against these Great Powers; she was easily beaten and obliged to relinquish the duchies. Then Bismarck picked a quarrel with Austria for the possession of these two small states. So he brought about a needless and fratricidal war of Germans for the greater glory of Prussia and the ascendancy of the Hohenzollern dynasty in Germany. German writers of a romantic turn of mind represent Bismarck as a great statesman planning the unity of Germany; but indeed he was doing nothing of the kind.
Prince Albert at the age of 20
From a miniature by Sir W Ross