With the death of Prince Alfred, reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on July 30, 1900, his older brother, Prince Albert-Edward, The Prince of Wales, slipped into a depression over the death of his brother. Six months later would come an even larger and more life changing loss. On January 22, 1901 the Prince of Wales’ mother, Queen Victoria, passed away after a reign of 63 years making him King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
I could find no recording of the grief he must have felt at the time. Was he conflicted? The new king, aged 59, had waited his entire life for this moment. On the one hand it was his mother that died. On the other hand he now could assume the role for which he was born into, which he had been waiting all of his life. I am sure the moment was bitter sweet.
Their relationship, mother and sun, was not easy. Queen Victoria had an almost worshipful view of her Husband, Prince Albert, and had hoped and expected that her son and heir would be a carbon copy of esteemed husband. She was very disappointed in him. In 1861, shortly before his death, Prince Albert confronted his son, the Prince of Wales, after his affair became public.
The Prince of Wales attended manoeuvres in Ireland, during which he conducted a three-day affair with actress, Nellie Clifden. Prince Albert, clealrly ill, was angered and disgusted with his sons behavior and visited Albert-Edward at Cambridge to reprimand him. Two weeks after the visit Albert died on December 14, 1861. Queen Victoria was inconsolable, wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life and blamed her son, Albert-Edward for his father’s death. She wrote to her eldest daughter, Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, “I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder.”
Though relations did improve between mother and son, she was was very relieved when the Prince of Wales recovered from a bout of typhoid (which took the life of Prince Albert) in 1871, but she often refused to give her son proper work as heir to the throne feeling that he was not up to the task.
Upon succeeding to the throne Prince Albert-Edward chose to reign under the name Edward VII, instead of Albert Edward the name his mother had desired him to use. declaring that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone”.
Part IV tomorrow! I promise!!