Sunday, December 31, 2017

Royal Proposal Etiquette

“By the rules of etiquette, the proposal itself had to come from the young Queen, whose maidenly modesty was somewhat embarrassed at the prospect.” — An illustration from 1840 titled “Leap Year'” shows Queen Victoria proposing to Prince Albert at Windsor Castle in 1839. “Some say that this custom originated in fifth-century Ireland, where St. Patrick allowed women to take the initiative every four years after St. Brigid complained to him that they were having to wait too long for husbands. Others credit a Scottish law enacted in 1288 under the unmarried Queen Margaret, which allowed a maiden “liberty to bespeak ye man she likes” during leap year. The knave who refused to marry her and could not prove his engagement to another was assessed a fine.”
- From “Speak Up: It's Leap Year!”

The courtship of Queen Victoria brings us into a pleasant atmosphere. On Prince Albert's first visit to England, she liked and appreciated him at once, and his tastes agreed with hers. “Every grace had been showered by nature on this charming boy,” says Baron Stockman of him at this time. The Baron judged him critically, calmly and impartially until he finally became his most attached and devoted friend and adviser. Queen Victoria and her cousin, met at first unconscious of the object of their acquaintance, and when the desired impression had been produced, the young Prince, like a second Sir Galahad, was sent away to travel and fit himself by study and careful education for his great position. 

On his return to England the Queen writes: “Albert's beauty is most striking, and he is most amiable and unaffected — in short, fascinating.” The young couple were genuinely in love, and the Queen informed Lord Melbourne that the conquest of her heart was complete. So serious, so dignified, so studious and so excellent a young man would infuse an element of poetry and deep feeling into his love making; but by the rules of etiquette, the proposal itself had to come from the young Queen, whose maidenly modesty was somewhat embarrassed at the prospect. She summoned him to her boudoir, where he found her alone. After some desultory talk due to her shyness, she suddenly said: “Could you forsake your country for me?” The Prince answered by clasping her in his arms in such simple fashion did a young Sovereign, woo and win the husband of her choice. — Los Angeles Herald, 1906


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia