Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Etiquette and a Royal Wild Heir


Famous for his philandering and partying, Prince Albert, or “Dirtie Bertie” as he was nicknamed, spent much of his time in France and had affairs with the most famous Parisian actresses, courtesans and can-can dancers of the day. Victoria was not amused! –“It is impossible to blame the Queen if she takes deeper and more serious view of the responsibilities of His Royal Highness than His Royal Highness does himself. To her, at any rate, Windsor Castle is not only the home of the English Monarchy, it is the home of a multitude of august and sacred memories. To the Prince of Wales, unaccompanied by the compliant friends of his heart, Windsor would certainly be intolerable, even during the Ascot week. Excitement and society have become necessities of his nature, with which he can submit to an extraordinary amount of fatigue, without which his whole nature seems to instantly collapse...


Why Queen Victoria Declined to Invite Her Son, Albert, to Visit Windsor
At an age at which the most thoughtless and frivolous of men have a higher notion of obligation than a rigid and mechanical compliance with the dictates of conventional etiquette; when they choose their companions and regulate their ways of life in deference to other considerations than those of personal enjoyment. 

“The Prince of Wales has recently visited the Queen at Osborne, where he took up his residence in the cottage which established custom has consecrated for his use. Her Majesty's subjects may perhaps, feel disposed to ask themselves whether the time has not yet arrived when the heir-apparent should be lodged beneath a royal roof when he happens to be temporarily sojourning at a less distance from the capital than the Isle of Wight— why, in fact, when he is in the immediate neighborhood of Windsor during the Ascot week, Windsor Castle should not receive him, instead of the house –which, as matters are, it is his custom to engage within convenient distance of the course. 


“Certainly, it would be gratifying, not only to the Royal borough of Windsor itself, but to the whole nation, if the King of England that is to be, were to be installed for some days once in the year, as the chief tenent of the ancestral and traditional home of the British Sovereign. The Queen, however, has her reasons for declining to place the Castle at the Prince's disposal ; and it is not difficult to conjecture what those reasons are. As it happens, we are not justified in thinking that the day has yet come when Her Majesty will take a different view of the matter. The point, therefore, now to consider is the course which, things being as they are, the Queen would, with due regard to expediency, adopt.

“It would be idle to pretend to deny that there is any doubt why 
Windsor Castle knows so little of its future proprietor, and in the extremely difficult business the Queen has displayed nothing less or more than that sound judgment and admirable feeling which she never fails to exhibit when she is left to be the arbiter of her own actions. The Prince of Wales is now of an age at which the most thoughtless and frivolous of men have usually contracted some higher notion of obligation than a rigid and mechanical compliance with the dictates of conventional etiquette ; when they have higher ideals of duty than to refrain, if they refrain at all, from indulging the momentary whim because such indulgences would be a violation of the proprieties of an exalted existence ; when they choose their companions and regulate their ways of life in deference to other considerations than those of personal enjoyment. 


“In three months from to-day, the Prince of Wales will have entered upon his thirty-sixth year, and, with the sole exceptions that he has learnt something more about the mysteries of Court etiquette, that he has enlarged his notions of his personal irresponsibility, and that he has become the master of a manner which cannot fail to charm all who are brought into contact with him, he is precisely the same man that he was before he attained his majority subject to the same influences, regulated by the same motives, ready to go through enormous sacrifice of time and comfort to please the public, but unwilling to realize or act upon the truth, that certain petty and irksome responsibilities are the inseparable penalty which he must pay for his position, and must therefore claim his diligent submission. That, it may be said, is a hard lot, and no doubt it is — very hard indeed. The only thing is, that it is inevitable. Even a Prince of Wales is impotent to alter facts, and he must, perforce, accept the situation.

“It is impossible to blame the Queen if she takes deeper and more serious view of the responsibilities of His Royal Highness than His Royal Highness does himself. To her, at any rate, Windsor Castle is not only the home of the English Monarchy, it is the home of a multitude of august and sacred memories. To the Prince of Wales, unaccompanied by the compliant friends of his heart, Windsor would certainly be intolerable, even during the Ascot week. Excitement and society have become necessities of his nature, with which he can submit to an extraordinary amount of fatigue, without which his whole nature seems to instantly collapse. When the Prince of Wales shall have become Albert Edward of England, if years have not even brought the philosophic mind, no one will be able to gainsay him the companionship of his choice. The responsibility will rest absolutely upon himself. 


“At present tbe humors and amenities which would certainly characterize a week at Windsor spent by a young man who is not King of England, and who has merely the best chance of becoming King of England, with his customary satellites, could not be matter that would concern the Prince of Wales alone. The Queen, therefore, is, from her point of view, entirely justified in the course which she adopts. At the same time, it may be impossible that the effects of throwing Windsor Castle open to the Prince of Wales would be beneficial to himself ; and if they were beneficial, they would certainly be gratifying to the English people.” –From the London World, 1876

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