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Unveiling of the Prince’s Statue at Aberdeen 13 Oct 1863

Thursday, October 13, 1863

I was terribly nervous. Longed not to have to go through this fearful ordeal. Prayed for help, and got up earlier.

A bad morning. The three younger children (except Baby). William of Hesse, [Youngest brother of Prince Louis of Hesse.] and the ladies and gentlemen all gone on. I started sad and lonely, and so strange without my darling, with dear Alice, Lenchen, and Louis. We could not have the carriage open. At Aboyne we met Vicky and Fritz, and both the couples went with me in the railway ; the Princes in Highland dress. I felt bewildered. It poured with rain, unfortunately. To describe the day’s proceedings would be too painful and difficult; but I annex the account. Vicky and Alice were with me, and the long, sad, and terrible procession through the crowded streets of Aberdeen, where all were kindly, but all were silent, was mournful, and as unlike farmer blessed times as could be conceived. Unfortunately it continued pouring. The spot where the Statue is placed is rather small, and on one side close to the bridge, but Marochetti chose it himself.

I got out trembling; and when I had arrived, there was no one to direct me and to say, as formerly, what was to be done. Oh! it was and is too painful, too dreadful!

I received (only handed) the Provost’s address, and Knighted him (the first since all ended) with General Grey’s sword. Then we all stepped on to the uncovered and wet platform directly opposite the Statue, which certainly is low, and rather small for out of doors, but fine and like. Principal Campbell’s prayer was very long—which was trying in the rain—but part of it (since I have read it) is really very good.

I felt very nervous when the Statue was uncovered, but much regretted that when they presented arms there was no salute with the drums, bugles, or the pipes, for the bands below were forbidden to play. I retired almost immediately.

Just below and in front of where we stood were Lohlein, Mayet, Grant, Brown, Cowley, P. Farquharson, D. Stewart; Nestor, [Lohlein, the Prince Consort’s valet. Mayet, the Prince Consort’s second valet, then with Prince Leopold. Cowley, the Prince Consort’s Jager from 1648, pensioned in 1878, formerly in the Blues. Nestor Tirard, the Queen’s hairdresser since 1840.] Ross, and Paterson, whom we had brought with us—and why was my darling not near me? It was dreadfully sad.

Took a little luncheon in a room upstairs with our girls, our footmen serving us. After this we left as we came. Affie met us there, and then took leave at the station, William of Hesse joining him. It was quite fair, provokingly so, when we got to Aboyne. Here we parted, took leave of Vicky and Fritz, and drove back in an open carriage, reaching Balmoral at half-past six. Very tired; thankful it was over, but the recollection of the whole scene, of the whole journey, without my dear Albert, was dreadful! Formerly how we should have dwelt on all!

[The following account of the ceremonial is taken from the “Scotsman” newspaper of October 14, 1863.]

The preparations made at the North-Eastern Station at Aberdeen for the reception of Her Majesty and the Princes, and Princesses were very simple and undemonstrative Two huge flags were suspended across the inside entrance and the floor of the passage leading into the portico at Guild Street was laid with crimson cloth. The following gentlemen were in waiting at the station, and received the royal party on the platform: The Duke of Richmond; the Lord Provost and Magistrates; the Earl of Aberdeen; Lord Saltoun; Sir J. D. H. Elphinstone; Sir Alexander Banner-man, Bart.; Lord Barcaple; Mr. Thomson of Banchory; Colonel Fraser of Castle Fraser: Colonel Fraser, younger, of Castle Fraser; Mr. Leslie of Warthfll, M.P.; Mr. Irvine of Drum, convener of the county; Colonel Farquharson of Invercauld; Sheriff Davidson; John Webster, Esq., and several of the railway directors and officials.

On leaving the station, the procession was formed into the following order, and proceeded by way of Guild Street,. Regent Quay, Marischal Street, Castle Street, and Union Street, to the site of the Memorial:—

Body of Police.
Detachment of Cavalry.
The Convener and Master of Hospital of the Incorporated Trades.
The Principal and Professors of the University of Aberdeen.
The City Architect.
His Grace the Duke of Richmond, the Convener and Sheriff' of the County, and the Committee of Subscribers to the Memorial.
The Lord Provost, and Magistrates, and Town Council.

The Suite in Attendance on Her Majesty and Royal Family Laly Augusta Bruce (in attendance on the Queen).

Countess Hohenthal (in attendance on Crown-Princess Baroness Schenck (in attendance on Princess Louis of Hesse).

Sir George Grey.
The Princes Alfred, Arthur, and Leopold.
Lady Churchill (Lady-in-Waiting).
The Princess Helena.
The Princess Louise.
The Crown-Prince of Prussia.
The Prince Louis of Hesse.
The Princess Louis of Hesse.
The Crown-Princess of Prussia.
Cavalry Escort.

The procession wound its way along the densely packed streets amid the deepest silence of the assemblage, everybody seeming to be animated by a desiie to abstain from any popular demonstrations that might be distasteful to Her Majesty. On reaching the Northern Club buildings, Her Majesty, accompanied by the Trince and Princesses, Sir Charles Phipps; [Keeper of the Privy Purse, who died February 24, 1860, to my great regret, for he was truly devoted and attached to the dear Prince and me, with whom he had been for twenty years,] Lord Charles Fitzroy, Major-General Hood, Dr. Jenner, General Grey, and the ladies and gentlemen of the suite, passed from their carriages into the lobby, and thence into the billiard room, a handsome lofty room, which forms a half oval at the end towards Union Terrace. The Lord Provost there presented the following address to Her Majesty :—

To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.

The humble Address of Her Majesty’s loyal and dutiful subjects, the contributors to the erection in Aberdeen of a Memorial Statue of His Royal Highness the Prince-Consort.

May it please your Majesty,

We, your Majesty’s most loyal and dutiful subjects, the contributors to the erection in Aberdeen of a Memorial Statue of His Royal Highness the Prince-Consort, humbly beg leave to approach your Majesty with the expression of our devoted attachment to your Majesty’s person and government.

We are enabled this day to bring to completion the work which we undertook in sorrowing and grateful remembrance of that illustrious Prince, whose removal by the inscrutable will of Providence we, in common with all your Majesty’s subjects, can never cease to deplore.

No memorial is necessary to preserve the name of one who adorned the highest station of the land by the brightest display of intellectual and moral greatness, as well as the purest and most enlightened zeal for the public good; whose memory is revered throughout the world, as that of few Princes has ever been ; and whose example will ever be cherished as a most precious inheritance by this great nation. Yet, in this part of the United Kingdom, which was honoured by the annual presence of the illustrious Prince, and in this city, which a few years ago was signally favoured by the exertion of his great talents as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, an earnest desire pervaded all ranks to give permanent expression to the pro. found reverence and affection he had inspired.

How inadequate for such a purpose the memorial we have erected must be, we ourselves most deeply feel. But that your Majesty should have on this occasion graciously come forth again to receive the public homage of your loyal and devoted people, we regard as a ground of heartfelt thankfulness; and viewing it as a proof that your Majesty approves the humble but sincere tribute of our sorrow, we shall ever be grateful for the exertion which your Majesty has made to afford us this proof.

That Almighty God, the source of all strength, may comfort your Majesty’s heart, prospering all your Majesty’s designs and efforts for your people’s good ; that He may bestow His choicest favours on your royal offspring, and continue to your devoted subjects for many years the blessings of your Majesty’s reign, is our earnest and constant prayer.

In name of the Contributors,

Alex. Anderson, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Chairman of the Committee of Contributors.
Aberdeen, October 13, 1863,

On receiving the address, Her Majesty handed the following reply to the Lord Provost :—

Your loyal and affectionate address has deeply touched me, and I thank you for it from my heart.

It was with feelings which I fail in seeking words to express that I determined to attend here to-day to witness the inaugurating of the statue which will record to future times the love and respect of the people of this county and city for my great and beloved husband. But I could not reconcile it to myself to remain at Balmoral while such a tribute was being paid to his memory without making an exertion to assure you personally of the deep and heartfelt sense I entertain of your kindness and affection ; and at the same time proclaim in public the unbounded reverence and admiration and the devoted love that fill my heart for him whose loss must throw' a lasting gloom over all my future life.

Never can I forget the circumstances to which you so feelingly alluded —that it was in this city he delivered his remarkable address on the British Association a very few years ago; and that in this county we had for so many years been in the habit of spending some of the happiest days of our lives.

After the Queen’s reply had been handed to the Lord Provost, Sir George Grey commanded his Lordship to kneel, when Her Majesty, taking a sword from Sir George, touched the Provost on each shoulder and said—“Rise, Sir Alexander Anderson.” This ceremony concluded, the Queen and the whole of the royal party then proceeded to the platform, Her Majesty’s appearance on which was the signal for the multitude gathered outside to uncover their heads. Her Majesty, who appeared to be deeply melancholy and much depressed, though calm and collected, advanced to the front of the platform, while the Princes, who were all dressed in Royal Stewart tartan, and the Princesses, who wore blue silk dresses, white bonnets, and dark grey cloaks, took up a position immediately behind her. The proceedings were opened with a prayer by Principal Campbell, who spoke for about ten minutes, the assemblage standing uncovered in the rain, which was falling heavily at the time. During the time the learned Principal was engaged in prayer, Her Majesty more than once betrayed manifest and well-justified signs of impatience at the length of the oration. At the conclusion of the prayer, a signal was given, the bunting which had concealed the statue was hoisted to the top of a flagstaff, and the ceremony was complete.

Her Majesty, having scanned the statue narrowly, bowed to the assemblage and retired from the platform, followed by the royal party. After the illustrious company had lunched in the club, the procession was reformed and proceeded the same way as it came to the Scottish North-Eastern Station in Guild Street. Her Majesty left Aberdeen about three o’clock.

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