Leaves from the Journal
Unveiling of the Statue of the Prince Consort at Edinburgh 17 Aug
Holyrood, August 17,
How often she came to Edinburgh for a few days on her way to and
from Abergeldie, and how much she always liked it!
We arrived yesterday morning at Edinburgh at eight oclock. Had had
a good night. Unfortunately the weather was misty, and even a little
rain fell. No distance could well be seen. Dear Arthur came to
breakfast (always in uniform). [Arthur was attended by
Lieutenant-Colonel Pickard, R.H.A., who had been with him since
1867. He entered the Queens service 1st January, 1878, as
Groom-in-Waiting, and became Assistant Privy Purse and Assistant
Private Secretary in October 1878. He was a charming, amiable
person, much devoted to Arthur and to me. He died at the age of
forty of consumption at Cannes, March 1, 18S0, deeply regretted by
us and by all who knew him.] At eleven o'clock went and sat out till
half-past twelve, under an umbrella and with screens, on the side of
the Abbey facing Arthurs Seat. Wrote and signed, Brown always
helping to dry the signatures.
Read also in the papers a very nice account given in the Courant
of what passed yesterday. Many interruptions. The day improving.
Crowds flocking into the town, troops marching, bands playingjust
as when any great event takes place in London.
The last time that my dearest Albert ever appeared in public was in
Edinburgh on October 23 , only six weeks before the end of
all, when he laid the first stone of the new Post Office, and I
looked out of the window to see him drive off in state, or rather in
dress, London carriages, and the children went to see the ceremony.
It was in Edinburgh, too, that dearest Mama appeared for the last
time in publicbeing with me at the Volunteer Review in i860, which
was the first time she had driven with me in public for twenty
Dear Arthur could not come to luncheon, as he was on duty. At
half-past three we started in three carriages: Beatrice, Leopold,
and I in the third; Brown (in full dress) and Collins behind;
Leopold in the Highland dress; dear Arthur, commanding the full
Sovereigns escort of the 7th Hussars, riding next to me.
We drove out to the rightby Abbey Hill, the Regent Road, Princes
Street, then turning into St. Andrew Square, along George Street to
Charlotte Square. Enormous crowds everywhere clustering upon the
Calton Hill and round and upon all the high monuments. The
decorations were beautiful along the streets and on the houses,
Venetian masts with festoons of flags on either side of Princes
Street and St. Andrew Street. St. Andrew Square also was beautifully
decorated, and the few inscriptions were very touching and
appropriate. The day was quite fair, though dull (which, however,
under the circumstances, was better than a very scorching sun like
yesterday) and heavy, and not clear as to distance. The crowd, which
was all along most hearty and enthusiastic, was densest at Charlotte
Square. The Duke of Buccleuch received us, and the Royal Archers
kept the ground.
We walked up to a dais handsomely arranged, where I stood between
Beatrice and Leopold (who were a little behind me). Dear Arthurs
sense of duty was so great, that he would not dismount and stand
near me, but remained with the escort which he commanded, and which
waited near our carriage. The ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Cross (Home
Secretary), etc., standing behind them; the Committee, with the Duke
of Buccleuch at their head, below. A large enclosure railed off was
full of spectators, including all the highest and principal people,
the Duchesses of Athole and Roxburghe, the Dowager Lady Ruthven, Sir
Thomas Riddulph, etc.; and our maids also were there, but I saw none
The ceremony began by a short prayer (which was somewhat disturbed
by a great noise made by the crowd) offered up by Dr. Milligan, one
of the Deans of the Chapel Royal. Then my dearest Alberts Chorale,
with words like a National Anthem, was beautifully sung by a choir,
accompanied by the band of the 79th, led by Professor H. Oakeley,
Ms. Doc. and Professor of Music in the University of Edinburgh. The
Duke of Buccleuch then presented the Executive Committee, of which
he himself is Chairman, and which consisted of Sir J. McNeill, G.C.B.,
Sir William Gibson Craig, Sir Daniel McNee, Dr. Lyon Playfair, and
Mr William Walker. After this, the Duke of Buccleuch read a very
pretty address, in which, besides my beloved Husband, dear Mama was
alluded to, and I read a reply.
Mr. Cross then declared that I wished the Statue (an equestrian one)
to be unveiled, which was done most successfully, without a hitch.
The effect of the monument as a whole, with the groups at the angles
of the pedestal, is very good. The Coburg March was played, and its
well-known strains [This March was always played for dear Albert,
and was originally composed for our grand-uncie, Field-Marshal
Prince Francis Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saaifeld.] ever bring back dear
and sweet memories.
Mr. Steell, the sculptor, was presented, and this was followed by
the singing of another beautiful chorale, with touching words and
music, the latter composed by Professor Oakeley, who is a wonderful
musician, and plays beautifully on the organ. We then, followed by
our own suite, the Committee, and Mr. Steell, walked round the
statue and examined the groups of bas-reliefs. The three sculptors
who had executed the groups were also presented. Brown followed us
round, having stood behind us the whole time. He was delighted with
We drove back by South Charlotte Street and Princes Street. The
horses of the Yeomanry and even some of the Hussars were very
restive, and kept plunging and whirling round upon our horses. One
of the Hussars, in particular, got in between our horses, and nearly
caused an accident. We got back by ten minutes to five oclock.
We looked out of the window to see Arthur ride off, and then I
knighted Mr. Steell, who looked very happy. He has now long white
hairsuch a kind, good man! I also knighted Professor Oakeley, who
is still very lame, having met with a dreadful accident in
Switzerland some years ago. His mother was a Murray (daughter of
Lord Charles Murray Aynsley) and sister to the mother of Mrs.
Drummond of Megginch, and his sister married an uncle of Fanny
Drummond. Dear Augusta Stanley took much interest in him.
I had a large dinner in the old dining-room below, where I had not
dined since my darling Alberts time in 1861. I sat in the middle,
opposite to where I used to sit. The party consisted of Arthur, who
led me in and sat near me, and Leopold and Beatrice, all our people,
the Duke of Buccleuch (who sat near me) and Lady Mary Scott, Lord
Lothian (the Dukes son-in-law), Lord Dalkeith, young Lord Elgin,
Lord Rosebery, the Dowager Lady Dunmore and Lady Adine Murray, Lord
and Lady Elphinstone, Sir John and Lady Emma McNeill, Mr. Cross, the
Honourable B. Primrose, Major-General J. N. Stuart, and Colonel Hale
of the 7th Hussars (Colonel of dear Arthurs regiment). The band of
the 7th Hussars played during dinner, and Ross played during
dessert. Brown [It was hard for him to have to appear on such a
festive occasion, having lost his much-loved mother only a fortnight
before; but his sense of duty ever went before every feeling of
self.] waited on me.
Every one seemed pleased, and talked of the great success of the
day. Mr. Cross was delighted. I remained talking some little time in
the drawing-room, and then went upstairs and looked with Beatrice
out of the window at the rockets. Such a noise in the streets and
from the trains!
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