Today’s Cameo celebrates a very important, but often overlooked, stalwart of the Victorian Age: Vicky’s husband Albert, Prince Consort. As husband to the Queen, and not himself heir to the English throne, he would never bear the title of King of England. However, Prince Albert bears a special place in my heart for his many attributes: lover, man of science, reformer, peacemaker, and family man! All this, and he still agreed to walk six paces behind Victoria when they were in public. Where do the rest of us find such a husband?
|Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort and general dreamboat|
Albert, Prince Consort of the United Kingdom
The many faces of Albert
Paramour: we might look at pictures of the po-faced Queen Victoria and think she was a bit of a cold fish, but history tells us otherwise. In his book, A. N. Wilson notes that Albert made Victoria a very happy woman:
From the first ‘gratifying and bewildering night,’ as she described it to Lord Melbourne, the Queen was crazy about Albert.... as she wrote to her cousin... ‘You cannot imagine how delightful it is to be married. I could not have dreamed that anyone could be so happy in this world as I am.’
Renaissance man: Albert was an impressive musician, speaker of several languages, and well-taught in philosophy and art history. He was also a bit of a dreamboat, if you like pork-chop sideburns (and I do). All the sorts of attributes you need if you are going to be ever-so-close to, but not quite, at the head of an Empire.
Man of Science: An innovator, and interested in modern thought, Albert was a driving force behind the Crystal Palace, built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition. For years, the great glass edifice stood in Hyde Park, hosting marvels from around the world. The public could enter for a small fee (some days as low as one shilling entry).
Albert also forwarded the cause of a knighthood for Charles Darwin, whose book, The Origin of the Species, had impressed the Prince Consort. However, Parliament voted this down on the grounds that Darwin had said they momma be lookin' like a monkey.
Bringer of the Christmas tree: Next December, as you’re trying to vacuum the pine needles out of the carpet, spare a thought for dear old Albie. It was he who brought the Christmas tree tradition to England from his homeland of Saxe-Coburg (in modern-day Germany). Before that, the English had to make do with mistletoe, and wreaths of ivy, and holly sprigs, all of which tended not to get lodged in the rug.
Family Man: In case you’re thinking, “Well, he may have been great in bed/incredibly intelligent/forward thinking, but I bet poor old Vicky never saw him during the daylight hours” – you’d be quite wrong. Prince Albert was all about family: he was an active part of the lives of his nine children. He devised a rigorous six-hour-a-day lesson plan for his eldest son, who would later inherit the throne. (Apparently Albert was beside himself when his eldest daughter, the Princess Royal, moved to Prussia after her marriage to German Emperor Frederick III. Aw, bless him. You can just imagine the father of the bride tearing up, can’t you?)
Flash in the Pan: as if to prove that only the good die young, dear old Albie shuffled off this mortal coil at the tender age of forty-two. This sent poor Victoria into an extended period of mourning, lasting from 1861 to her death in 1901. Yes, apparently he was that good a husband...
Things that are named after Prince Albert
The Victoria and Albert museum in London. It’s the two things all married couples dream about: being joined forever in death, and housing dusty old antiques.
|...melding the two things couples care about most|
Prince Albert piercing. First, let me warn you that searching for this on Google will get you images which are not suitable for work. It involved a piercing through a part of a man’s anatomy that he would normally jealously guard from any sort of puncture or mutilation. Er. That’s all the description I’m really happy to give on a non-restricted blog. There is no real certainty why it was named after Albert; the piercer who popularised the “prince albert” claimed that Prince Albert had such a piercing in order to keep his wild and abundant manhood under control when it was encased in tight-fitting trousers. Is this true? Only Vicky could tell us. However, judging from the information on their love life, I wouldn’t be at all surprised about the “wild and abundant manhood.”
But, surprisingly, not Prince Albert tobacco – the genesis of the old “Prince Albert in a can” joke. The tobacco was actually named after Edward VII, the son of Albert and Victoria. As you say, “Huh? It’s not called Prince Edward in a Can!” let me explain: Victoria’s eldest son was christened Albert Edward, but upon assuming the throne was entitled Edward VII.
|Prince Albert, King Edward - not confusing at all|