Monarchs and their problems

By Aileen Atcheson

When one reads of the troubles of Queen Elizabeth II one can’t but feel sorry for her.

Prince Philip’s long drawn out illness and death must have been the saddest part of her long life. Prince Andrew’s troubles, his having to pay substantial money to the accuser and the publicity attached to this is another cross for her to bear. Charles getting mixed up in further acrimony in relation to unjust dealings is another thorn in her crown. But she must have become accustomed to his undignified behaviour and cruel, callous treatment of his first wife, Diana. Andrew’s alleged fall from grace must be very difficult for her to condone, even though it has not been proven correct.

Yet, he – her favourite offspring – has never been heard to say a word, publicly at least, about his wife. He has coped with her indiscretions admirably.

But royal houses always have had troubles.

People in high places among them have behaved indiscreetly and sometimes dishonestly. Think of King Carol II of Romania and his shabby treatment of his mother, Queen Marie, formerly Princess of Edinburgh. And the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII and his wife, Queen, Ena, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. At least the misdeeds then were not known as publicly as now.

Technology plays such a huge part in their lives nowadays. It means the present royals’ misbehaviours are aired in many countries and in their lifetimes, too. It was only after their deaths, and usually many years afterwards, their misdeeds formerly were known.

Prince William is the third Duke of Cambridge.

The second duke, a grandson of King George II, had many honours heaped on him. At birth he was eighth in line to the British throne. Within two months he had been pushed two places lower by the births of his cousins Princess Victoria of Kent and Prince George of Cumberland three days later. At 11 years old he became a major general in the Hanoverian Army.

For some years he lived in England with King William IV and Queen Adelaide. He was educated for the most part in England. In 1837 the thrones of Britain and Hanover were separated. Salic Law prevented females from becoming queens regnant of Hanover. George’s parents returned to England.

He met his future wife, the actress Louisa Fairbrother, on Victoria’s wedding day. Their two sons, George and Adolphus, were born outside wedlock. Their marriage took place in January 1847. In June 1847 their third son was born. The union was illegal in the state’s eyes, his wife was known as Mrs Fitzgeorge and their sons were called by that surname.

George succeeded his father, was second duke in 1850 and took an active part in the Crimean War. He participated at Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman and Sebastopol. In his early years he established a school for Music and a Staff College. Louisa lived in Mayfair with their three sons while he lived officially at Gloucester House, Piccadilly, a few minutes’ walk away. George had several mistresses. In spite of this, George was bereft when Louisa died. He knew she would not be allowed to be buried in the royal vault at Windsor so he had a mausoleum built at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

The Duke lived for another 14 years, becoming more contrary as the years went on. He was out of touch with most modern ways. When his nephew Prince Andrew of Teck and his wife, Princess Alice visited him in a “new fangled car”, he nearly had a fit.

His funeral in 1904 took place at Westminster Abbey and he lies next to Louisa, their younger sons, Adolphus and Augustus are buried just below them.

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