Prince Albert’s archive reveals marital tiffs over hiring decisions

Final items have been added to an online collection of the consort's private and official papers

A note from Prince Albert ruling out a potential master of Queen Victoria’s royal household because he had a “French mistress” is among the final items to be added to his online collection.

The archive also contains intimate messages between the royal consort and the queen that reveal marital arguments, with Albert writing to tell his wife she lost her “self-control” during one disagreement.

The Prince Albert Digitisation Project is now complete after more than 5,000 items relating to the life and legacy of Victoria’s consort were uploaded to a website dedicated to the man who had a profound influence on his wife and the cultural life of the nation.

They form part of 22,000 documents, prints and photographs from the Royal Archives, the Royal Collection and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, now available to the public online, most for the first time.

Early in his married life, from 1840 to 1861, Albert channelled his energies into reforming the royal household and finances.

Alongside a list of candidates for the role of master of the household he wrote why each was unsuitable.

They included “too young”, “too old", “too useful in the Navy”, “bad temper” and “French mistress”.

Albert’s handwriting cannot be clearly made out so it is not known to whom he is referring in his note about the man with a foreign lover.

The Queen’s consort had a drive for efficiency and improvement that extended beyond the household. Letters record his suggestions for matters ranging from sewerage to the design of military uniforms.

Albert’s personal papers shed light on his relationship with Victoria, as a loving husband and unofficial private secretary, and give snapshots of their married life.

After fights, Albert often communicated his hurt and frustration through scribbled notes to his wife in German, as he was born in what is now Germany.

These were later destroyed by their youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, although not before an unidentified person made photographic copies for the Royal Archives.

“You have again lost your self-control quite unnecessarily," Albert wrote in one.

"I did not say a word that could wound you and I did not begin the conversation, but you have followed me about and continued it from room to room.

“There is no need for me to promise to trust you, for it was not a question of trust but of your fidgety nature, which makes you insist on entering with feverish eagerness into details about orders and wishes which, in the case of a Queen, are commands to whomever they may be given.

"I do my duty towards you even though it means that life is embittered by ‘scenes’, when it should be governed by love and harmony.

“I look upon this with patience as a test that has to be undergone, but you hurt me desperately and at the same time do not help yourself.”

This final tranche of archival material mainly features Albert’s private and official papers and correspondence from 1841 to the year of his death 1861.

It is now part of the website launched in August 2019 to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Updated: September 22nd 2021, 9:51 PM
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