THE INTIMATE LIFE STORY OF KING GEORGE V
Recording the Prince's farewell to the navy, his marriage, and his assumption of the duties of the heir-apparent to the British throne
THE Prince’s three sisters have not so far come much into this narrative, but they influenced the Prince a good deal. He was very fond of them, especially of “Harry,” as Princess Maud—now Queen Maud of Norway—was called, because of her tomboy tricks. During the Prince’s time at sea he heard of his eldest sister Louise’s engagement to the Earl of Fife. Many of the Prince’s fellow-officers shared the opinion of the world in general that the Prince of Wales would not allow his daughter to marry a man who was of an age to be an intimate friend of his own, and was not even of Royal rank. But Prince George knew his father better, and said that he was sure that his sister’s happiness would count more with both his parents than anything else. He remarked that it made him feel quite old to think that his sister was going to be married, for it seemèd so short a time since they had all been children together.
The Prince kept photographs of all his sisters in his cabin, and would often point them out proudly. An American gentleman was once privileged to enter the Prince’s cabin. “How lovely the Princesses are!” he exclaimed when he was shown the photographs. “Yes, you wouldn’t think they were connected with me, would you?” said the Prince with a twinkle in his eye.
The Prince was, like his father, extremely ambitious for his sister “Harry.” He used to write chaffing letters to her from various ports asking her whether she was a Queen yet, adding that he could provide her with such a position if she would be willing to come out and reign over a dusky tribe in the West Indies. It was Princess Maud who, during the Prince’s absence on naval service, looked after his pets, and told him all the news regarding sport. At one time she informed the Prince that she was teaching tricks to his favorite dog. The Prince, who was away in the Mediterranean when he heard the news, wrote at once giving strict injunctions that “Harry” was to leave his dog alone, as he certainly did not want a dog who brought him his morning paper or fetched his walking, stick. King George has altered very little in most things during the years, but he has certainly changed his mind about dogs. His little Cairn, “Snip,” always brings him his morning paper, and is very accomplished in many other tricks.
In 1891 the Prince returned to England. The Prince and Princess of Wales came to meet him, and after spending a few days with them he went to Windsor to see Queen Victoria. “How you have grown!” was the first thing the Queen said to him, after she had kissed him. “The Navy certainly seems to suit you.”
To which the Prince answered: “It does indeed.” During his first weeks in England the Prince was constantly by the Queen’s side, and the old lady and her grandson enjoyed many a joke together.
Soon after this, the Prince was informed that he was now a full-blown commander. It was something to be proud of, for the Prince was young to have obtained such a rank. The first person whom the Prince told of his promotion was his mother, travelling down to Sandringham and entering her boudoir quietly one afternoon.
Ever since his childhood he had always told things to his mother first, and he continued this practice until he was a man, for they remained to the last a very devoted mother and son.
It now seemed that the Prince’s career was settled. He had shown brilliant promise in the profession which he had chosen, and there seemed no reason why he should not carry on with the work that he loved. Alas, it was not to be: a dark cloud was hanging over the Royal Family, and when it had passed, Prince George found that the destiny of his life had altered. He was faced with other duties and other responsibilities, and had to accept an entirely new order of things. A throne, not a battleship, was to be his future sphere.
TN NOVEMBER, 1891, the Prince of Wales quietly celebrated his fiftieth birthday with his two sons at Sandringham. The Princess of Wales was at Livadia with her daughters for the silver wedding of her sister, Princess Dagmar, and the Czarevitch. The two young men and their father spent most of their time shooting, and Prince George appeared to be in the best of health, when suddenly, on November 15, he was taken unwell while out on the marshes. He became rapidly worse, and the Prince of Wales became very anxious. A special train was ordered to convey Prince George and his father to London, and until his wife’s arrival the Prince was assiduous in nursing his son.
I have often heard King George say with deep feeling that he never got to know his father so well as in those early days of his illness. Once the young man asked for his mother, but for the most part he seemed quite contented when his father was in the room. When he was very ill, his eyes followed him about the room, and he could not bear to have him out of his sight. The Prince of Wales was not at all used to a sick-room, but those who saw him during those days of anxiety say that his tenderness and skill were amazing. Father and son drew closer than ever before, and it is not too much to say that it was the Prince’s nursing that helped to pull his son through.
The Prince with his brother, the Duke of Clarence, had arrived at Culford Hall on a visit, and was then observed to be looking unwell. In the previous month he and his brother had paid a series of visits to Ireland, the last being at Castleboro, Enniscorthy, the delightful home of Lord and Lady Carew. The Princes finished their short stay in Ireland, and left for the home of the Earl and Countess Cadogan. Following this came their return to Sandringham, where Prince George developed enteric fever and bronchial catarrh.
Although very weak, the invalid was able to scold his mother in a whisper for returning from Russia in such a hurry. “You must be so tired, mother; I’m not worth all this trouble,” he said, to which his mother, with brimming eyes, replied: “You know you are worth it to me, Georgie.”
Prince George recovered sufficiently to spend Christmas at Sandringham in the family circle. He was doubly welcome, for it was the first Christmas he had spent at home for several years. He and his father were now close companions, and were often to be seen walking up and down a certain favorite path in the Sandringham grounds, Prince George’s arm lightly linked in that of his father. The Duke of Clarence, as Prince Eddy had become, would sometimes join them, but he would cautiously ask what they were talking about before he did so. If it was “the Navy,” he would laugh and depart, remarking that on that subject at any rate, “two was company—and three none.”
f^N DECEMBER 7,1891, the Duke of Clarence’s engagement to Princess May of Teck was announced. This charming daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck was one of the best beloved of English princesses, and the engagement was very popular. During the next six weeks, the country began preparations for celebrating the coming marriage, and early in January Princess May, with her parents, went to stay at Sandringham for the Duke of Clarence’s birthday. When the day arrived, however, he was too unwell to appear at dinner, having caught cold at the funeral of Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. The doctors who were summoned pronounced the illness to be a serious attack of influenza which rapidly developed into pneumonia.
In the presence of his family, and of her to whom he had been betrothed so recently, the young Duke passed away on January 14. The shock to Queen Victoria and his family—indeed to the whole country—cannot be estimated. As for Prince George, still weak after his recent illness, he was stunned by the tragic suddenness of the event. He could not believe that Prince Eddy was dead. The two brothers had been so closely united in work and play that the separation was terrible and unrealizable. Prince George bore his grief silently, trying to help his mother and father as much as possible during the terrible days between the Duke’s death and his funeral. With a sensitiveness which was characteristic of him he did not intrude on his parents’ sorrow, but his mother would often ask for him, and he would sit and hold her hand silently. The Prince of Wales did not forget how ill Prince George had been, and during the funeral service on January 20, in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, it was noticed how closely-he watched his son.
Shortly afterward, the Duke of Devonshire lent the Prince and Princess of Wales his Eastbourne home, Compton Place. The writer will never forget the pathetic sight of the Royal mourners driving for a mile from the station amid sympathetic silence, between lines of people, many of whom were in tqars as they looked at the pale faces of the Prince and Princess and their children. The change and sea air were beneficial to them after the terrible strain through which they had passed. The Prince of Wales addressed himself to public work as soon as possible, in order to distract his mind from the loss of his elder son. The letters he wrote to friends showed how poignantly he felt the passing of the young Duke on the threshold of marriage.
It was not until after the funeral that Prince George awoke to the fact that he was now heir-apparent to the Throne. He accepted the fact seriously and calmly, as was his wont, although it meant having to give up his naval career, which was a bitter disappointment. The thought that he was stepping into his brother’s shoes was sometimes almost unbearable.
He took his seat in the House of Lords on June 17, 1892, as Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killarney. During the ceremony the new Peer and the Lord Chancellor, the veteran Lord Halsbury, had to bow to each other three times. Much amusement was caused by the Duke’s alert salutation, which had been learnt in the Navy and left the Lord Chancellor fully one bow behind !
To the intense satisfaction of the nation, which had sympathized deeply with Princess May of Teck, her engagement to the Duke of York was announced on May 4, while they were staying with the Duke and Duchess of Fife at Sheen Lodge. The Duke had proposed to his cousin at Sheen Lodge at the end of April, and as soon as Queen Victoria’s ready assent had been given and other state formalities had been met, the press was authorized to publish the news. The Princess had been deeply shocked and grieved at the death of the Duke of Clarence, and this romantic sequel was a real joy to everyone. The love and happiness that shone in Princess May’s eyes, when she made her first public appearance with the Duke of York, were delightful to see. All the world loves a lover, and the Duke of York’s affection for Princess May was both deep and sincere.
Queen Victoria was pleased. She received the shy young bride-elect at Windsor with a grandmotherly kiss, and told her grandson that he ought to think himself a lucky young man.
No one could guess at that time that the shy young girl would have developed into such a woman as the present Queen, but even at that early age she had a charm of manner and a deep sense of duty which made her a fitting companion for the Duke of York. She was the only daughter of the Duchess of Teck, the popular Princess Mary of an earlier day, and had lived with her mother and father at Kensington Palace during a quiet, tranquil childhood and girlhood. The Duchess of Teck, who was the idol of London crowds, mentions her daughter repeatedly in her diary. “Dear little May,” she says at one time, “grows every day more of a companion, and is as clever and bright a child as possible for her age.”
Princess May early learned the art of cookery and, even as a young girl, her rolls, cakes, and jam puddings were voted perfection by her three brothers. Some of the sympathy and charm which are Queen Mary’s peculiar attraction today are the result of her mother’s care during her early girlhood. One of the reasons the Queen has never become blase is because her mother refused to let her have overmuch pleasure or excitement when she was young.
As a child, Princess May was a great favorite of Queen Victoria, and was allowed to say things which, had they been said by anyone else, would have necessitated a veil being drawn over the scene which would have followed. Once Princess May visited the Queen at Windsor when she was at lunch. The Queen was fond of game and, whenever a particular leg or wing took her fancy, she would take it up in her fingers to eat it. She happened to do this on the day in question, and as the Queen raised the bone to her lips, little Princess May’s voice rang through the room: “Oh, how can you eat with your fingers!”
The Future Queen
Y\ 7"HEN she was about seventeen, she and her '''' parents settled at White Lodge, Richmond Park, and here the young Princess shared many of her mother’s interests, most prominent among them being the Needlework Guild. As is well known, Queen Mary is still an ardent supporter of the Guild, and her daughter, Princess Mary, is also an active worker for it. The Duchess of Teck and her daughter were probably among the first to encourage British industries from the point of view of women. They set the fashion for wearing English silks, Irish poplins, and Scottish tweeds.
Queen Mary has always hated sham in any shape or form; she believes in fair dealing. A little story which shows her straightforward character is the following. When quite young, she was selling at her mother’s stall at a bazaar. A fashionably dressed lady selected an article which was marked 15/6, and offered a sovereign in payment, remarking gushingly that she did not want any change. “That is not my way of doing business,” said the Princess. “I believe in fair dealing. I will not take any more than the price marked.”
Each summer at White Lodge there was a distribution of vegetables to old women, and Princess May and her mother—always great companions—would have merry interchanges. “I shall not recommend you for a stall at Covent Garden, Mother, if you are not quicker,” or, “You will never do for a greengrocer’s wife if you do not attend to business better, May!”
As soon as the engagement was made known, goldenhaired, blue-eyed Princess May and her sailor fiancé went about in public, and pleased everyone who saw them by their obvious happiness. They attended the opening of the Imperial Institute by Queen Victoria soon after the engagement was announced. The young couple tried to keep in the background, but the Queen was very pleased with the betrothal and insisted that they should take their share of the cheering.
Princess May was in her favorite blue, and it was noticeable that the young couple often forgot the crowds around them, so wrapt up were they in each other’s society. The Prince and Princess of Wales welcomed “May” with open arms, and Queen Mary’s love and admiration for Queen Alexandra dated from the very first meeting after betrothal when, as a shy young girl, she was met with outstretched hands and a kiss, and the remark: “I know you will make Georgie happy, my dear.”
"PREPARATIONS now began in earnest for the coming marriage. The Princess of Wales who, since the death of the Duke of Clarence, had led a very quiet, retired life, began to resume her old interest in things and regain some of her old vivacity.
A series of festivities and dinners took place at Marlborough House before the wedding, and on July 4 a wonderful garden party was given in the spacious grounds, to which some 2,000 people were invited to meet Queen Victoria and the Duke of York and his bride. It was a wonderful scene in summer sunshine, and the Duke and Princess May obviously enjoyed it. Princess May was in pink with a large pink hat, and carried a parasol. She was certainly the most beautiful girl there, although the flower of Society was present.
As had been anticipated, the Duchess of Teck decided that the trousseau should be made in the British Isles. “I am determined,” she wrote, “that all the silk shall come from England, all the flannel from Wales, all the tweeds from Scotland, and every yard of lace and poplin from Ireland.” It was indeed a wonderful trousseau. The lingerie was covered with the finest and most delicate embroidery, and the whole of it was in excellent taste. The gowns chosen by the young bride were all in soft shades, and blue was a favorite color, just as it is with Princess Mary today. The bridal gown was woven at Spitalfields, and was of silver and white brocade, with a design of roses, shamrock, and thistle. The bridal veil was of Honiton lace, and was the actual one which was worn by the Duchess of Teck herself in 1866. „
The Royal Wedding
"XTOT for a long time had London seen such a pageant as that of the marriage of the Duke of York and Princess May, at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s, on July 6, 1893. For several days before the event, people had promenaded the route to see the decorations, and on the morning of the wedding, London was like a vast flower garden with roses and may blossom. St. James Street was a specially beautiful sight, with its lavish floral decoration and flags. Crowds waited in the streets all night, and by ten o’clock every building and thoroughfare on the route was packed with people. It was a glorious morning; the sunshine made the scene, with so many flowers, like fairyland. “Is it possible that your staid London can get so excited?” one foreign notability, whom I met during the wedding, remarked after witnessing the enthusiasm of the crowds. No more popular wedding had ever taken place in London. Both the bride and bridegroom were British, and both satisfied one’s natural love of romance.
Soon after eleven o’clock, guests began to arrive at St. James’s Palace. It is not in any way a palatial residence. In fact, when more than a century ago Christian VII of Denmark came to woo Caroline Matilda, sister of George III, he exclaimed scornfully: “It is not fit to lodge a Christian in!” But the Palace has a charm all its own—the charm of antiquity. Its old walls listened to the wooing of Anne Boleyn, and resounded to the hunting-horn of Henry VIII. Its chapel has been the scene of many brilliant ceremonies, and it was here that Queen Victoria plighted her troth.
Queen Victoria had arrived from Windsor at Buckingham Palace in time for the garden party at Marlborough House. By mistake, on the day of the wedding, her procession arrived first, instead of last, at the Chapel Royal. However, when the abashed gentlemen of the household apologized, the Queen only smiled and replied: “It has been so amusing to watch the people come in.”
The Ten Princesses
\/ERY beautiful was the entrance of ^ the bride between her father, the Duke of Teck, and her eldest brother, Prince Adolphus. Her white satin train was carried by ten princesses: the Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales; the Princesses Victoria, Alexandra, and Beatrix of Edinburgh; the Princesses Margaret and Patricia of Connaught; Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Alice of Albany, and Princess Ena of Battenberg. They wore white satin dresses, trimmed with silver Buckinghamshire lace, and carried bouquets of white York roses tied with silver. Each wore a bracelet enamelled with the rose of York, the gift of the bridegroom. The Duke of York, very upright and looking young and handsome, stood at the foot of the altar with his father and his uncle, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was very nervous—rather more nervous than his bride—but he looked very happy nevertheless. After the singing of “Father of Life Everlasting,” the ceremony proceeded, and at its conclusion came the salute of 101 guns, while the strains of “O perfect love” filled the chapel. During the final prayer a stream of sunlight poured through one of the stainedglass windows on to the youthful bride and bridegroom, who were kneeling together. It was an augury of a happy life, and the succeeding years have seen it fulfilled.
Among those present were the mothers of both the bride and bridegroom, the late Emperor of Russia, then the Czarevitch, the King and Queen of Denmark, and Prince and Princess Henry of Prussia. On the return to Buckingham Palace, the Duke and Duchess of York received a tremendous ovation from the crowd. Although the Duchess bowed smilingly from side to side, it could be seen that she was beginning to feel the nervous strain. It was only natural she should feel it after the quiet life she had led. Her great will power, however, kept her up, and few people suspected that she was really near breaking down with emotion. Queen Victoria and the Duchess of Teck drove together, and were received with wild enthusiasm by the crowd. The Princess of Wales and her mother, the Queen of Denmark, both wore white gowns, the Princess’s being trimmed with silver. They, too, passed through the cheering people, bowing and smiling. Before they had left St. James’s Palace, the Duke and Duchess of York had signed the marriage register, to which also Queen Victoria affixed her name.
After the wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace—a wonderful spectacle with the gorgeous display of gold plate— the seven-tiered wedding cake was cut. Then Queen Victoria presented the bridal pair to the loyal crowd, taking her place beside them on the balcony of the Palace. It was seen that the young bride slipped her hand into her husband’s hand when she saw that sea of upturned faces, and that he drew her close to him. Soon afterward, the young couple started for York Cottage, Sandringham, where the honeymoon was to be spent. Showers of slippers and confetti fell upon the happy pair as they took their seats. Forgotten were the pomp and dignity of Royalty. The Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales, with cousins and nephews, put their dignity of station into the background. The Royal ladies followed suit— the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Teck keeping near each other and wiping the tears that would come to their eyes. Some of the Royal party ran in front of the carriage, some at the sides, and some at the rear; none cared when they stepped into small puddles of the lately watered ground. Thus, to the accompaniment of laughter and tears, Princess May, smiling gladly into the eyes of her gallant young husband, left to start the first phase of her married life.
rT"'HERE was naturally great excitement at Sandringham as soon as the villagers and tenantry heard that the honeymoon was to be spent at York Cottage. A charming story is told of the Duchess of York’s first act of kindness after she was married—one which was to be the first of a long sequence. As she came out of the station, and was about to step into the carriage, followed by her husband, amid the cheers and admiring glances of the villagers, a little girl broke through the crowd, carrying a few rather bedraggled buttercups in her hand. With wide, upturned eyes, she handed them to the Duchess. The child’s mother dragged her back, red and ashamed, but Princess May stopped, saying: “Oh, may I have them, please? I love buttercups so much.” The child’s face as she handed the faded flowers to the object of her adoration was wonderful to behold.
At the lodge gates all the tenants had gathered to see the.bride. The Duke and Duchess, for the benefit of the people, decided to walk from the gates to York Cottage—a little act of graciousness which was much appreciated. At the back of the crowd the Duchess saw a boy lying in a spinal chair, vainly trying to get a glimpse of her. Walking up to him, and standing where he could see her plainly, she said softly: “I do hope you will soon be better,” after which she made her way to the house.
’ I '0 THOSE who, like myself, were privileged to see something of the early years of the Duke and Duchess’s married life, the memory must ever abide as of one of the happiest marriages that have ever taken place.
Both Duke and Duchess grew to love York Cottage, and were very glad that they had decided on it and not on Appleton Hall, a choice of either having been offered them by the Prince of Wales before their marriage.
The little house was enlarged, redecorated, and a billiard room built on. “George must have his billiards,” his wife remarked laughingly, when she was discussing the new room. “He loves playing with those little balls.” “And I shall make you love playing with them too!” laughed the Duke. And he did, for both became expert billiard players, and I have often watched an exciting match between them, sometimes ending in a triumph for the Duchess. The King’s enjoyment of a game of billiards has continued to this day. On one occasion he visited some naval dockyards, and in the evening entered a billiard room for a quiet game.
When the marker was told that the Duke of York was to be one of the players, his self-possession forsook him altogether. Creeping up to an officer who was present, he cried in a whisper loud enough to be heard distinctly by the Royal visitor: “Excuse me, sir, do I call ’im ‘Yer Royal Tghness’ or ‘Spot’?”
At York Cottage, the Duke of York became boyish Prince George again. He was so young and eager, in spite of his twenty-eight years. He did not look his age when he was at home, although, when engaged on State duties, a mantle of age seemed to fall upon him like a cloak.
People who did not know him in his home thought him almost too grave and serious for his age.
Sea days were gone, if not forgotten, and the Duke and Duchess, after a few quiet months of respite, began to pay a series of official visits. The first notable one was to Edinburgh, which welcomed the Duke and Duchess with open arms.
The Duke was a little surprised at the enthusiasm and remarked on the fact to his host. “They’re not so much seeing a Duke and Duchess,” was the reply, “as a happy lad and lassie.”
Birth of an Heir
TAN JUNE 23, 1894, a son and heir was born to the Duke and Duchess of York at White Lodge, Richmond, the home of the Duchess’s parents. I had known how much the Duke wanted a son, for he made no secret of his longing, and his joy at the news was very great. He walked up and down the room, saying again and again: “I am glad, I am glad!” In those first few minutes of his joy, he thought of the fascinating things he would be able to teach this son of his. It showed how very near the Navy always was in his thoughts when he murmured soon afterward: “I must teach him to love the sea.”
The important news of the birth of another direct heir to the throne was received with great satisfaction by the whole nation. The Duke and Duchess of York were overwhelmed with messages from all parts of the world. All the foreign Courts sent their good wishes, and flowers and presents began to arrive in great numbers.
Queen Victoria was delighted. The Court Circular recorded that “Her Majesty received, shortly after dinner, the joyful news of the birth.” The Times, in a leading article, drew attention to the fact that never before in our history had the reigning Sovereign seen three male descendants in the direct line of inheritance. The Queen’s delight in her great-grandson was certainly augmented by this remarkable record, one more added to the unique record of her long reign.
White Lodge had been connected by telephone with the post-office at East Sheen, so that the Home Secretary, whose presence on the occasion of the birth of an heir to the throne is obligatory, could be summoned without delay. Mr. Asquith, later Lord Oxford and Asquith, was then Home Secretary, and he arrived at White Lodge before the birth occurred. I well remember the Duke’s greeting. “Well, Mr. Asquith, you have got here in time, anyway,” he said, trying hard to look cheerful, but in reality extremely worried and anxious.
The Queen’s Visit
TAN JUNE 26, Queen Victoria decided to pay a visit to White Lodge. Those who were at Richmond on that day remember the tremendous rush which was made to get ready the decorations in the streets. The aged Queen, who journeyed by special train from Windsor, was accompanied by the Czarevitch, Princess Alix of Hesse, later the Czarina, Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg, and Prince Leiningen.
The call at White Lodge lasted one hour, during which time the three-daysold baby regarded his great-grandmother with awestruck, tearless eyes. After this, the Queen returned through the crowded streets of loyal Richmond, looking very proud and pleased.
The great decision as to the names the child should bear was not made until several days later. So many relatives had to be considered, and great care had to be exercised that no one was offended. It was decided finally that the Prince should lie christened Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. It was a good choice, for it commemorated the Prince’s grandfather, his two greatgrandfathers, the late Prince Consort, King Christian of Denmark, and the patron saints of the four parts of the United Kingdom.
The christening took place on July 16, but before the ceremony two little events took place—the Duke of York held his son in his arms, and the Prince of Wales arrived and was delighted when his ittle grandson curled baby fingers round his own. The christening was held in the drawing-room of White Lodge. It was a very quiet ceremony, attended almost exclusively by members of the Royal Family. The Archbishop of Canterbury officiated, and Queen Victoria herself handed her great-grandson to him, and acted as one of the sponsors. The water used at the service was brought from the River Jordan, and the golden bowl was the same one in which Edward VII, and indeed most of Queen Victoria’s descendants, had been baptized. It was part of the Regalia from the Tower, and was brought down specially for the occasion. The Archbishop was assisted by the Bishop of Rochester and the Rev. the Hon. E. Carr-Glyn. Besides Queen Victoria, the little Prince’s sponsors were his mother and father, the Czarevitch, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Teck, and the King and Queen of Denmark. The baby wore the robe in which all Queen Victoria’s children and British grandchildren had been baptized. It was of white satin and Honiton lace, and the carrying-cloak was made of the veil worn by Queen Victoria at her marriage. This was edged with ribbon and mounted on white silk.
Queen Victoria gave the baby Prince the cradle which had held her own children. The cradle was on rockers, and was made of finely-carved wood; a charming miniature was painted of the child in this cradle, and this is a treasured possession of Queen Mary. Queen Victoria expressed a wish for a family group, and a portrait was painted called “Four Generations,” with Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the infant Prince. Besides this painting, many photographs were taken, for Queen Victoria’s love of photography was great. Her favorite photograph was that of the little Prince seated in his high chair, one chubby hand holding a spoon stretched out. It looked for all the world like Oliver Twist asking for more! This was taken when he was two years old.
The little Prince was called “David”, from the first, chiefly on account of the sad memories connected with the name “Eddy.” He was the most healthy little fellow, and his two grandmothers rivalled one another in petting him. An amusing incident took place when the baby was quite small. We were in the middle of tea at York Cottage, and David had been brought down by his nurse to “get used to company,” as his mother put it. Suddenly the Duke’s little terrier, who was very jealous, rushed forward and started barking furiously at the baby. Little David set his face for a tremendous howl, but evidently thought better of it and, rather amazingly, started to coo with delight. “Thank goodness he’s a sportsman,” ejaculated the Duke. His gold watch-chain, and the big gold watch attached to it, were a constant source of delight to “Baby David.”
This first grandson was a source of infinite delight to the Duchess of Teck during the last three years of her life, and he was often taken to stay at Richmond. David, like any other baby, knew who spoiled him, and he could certainly twist his grandmother round his little finger. When the Duchess died in 1897, there was laid on her coffin a cross of lilies of the valley which bore this inscription: “In memory of davs at White Lodge. Most dear Grandmama, from little David, Bertie, and Baby.”
Who can say when the first bond of sympathy arose between grandfather and tiny grandson? During very early days, I think. The Prince of Wales hardly ever spoke to the baby: he just sat and looked at him, and David would show off all his baby tricks to perfection. “He never smiled like that to anyone else,” his mother once remarked, and it was true. Little David showed a side of his character to his grandfather which he showed to no one else.