Three articles on the 150th anniversary of the death of Prince Albert, Consort of Queen Victoria
The scene was Windsor Castle.
The date December 14, 1861, 150 years ago this week. The time: 11pm. A piercing shriek broke the silence of that cold, dark night.
It echoed along the castle’s Grand corridor and was followed by the appearance of a woman running. Observers described the woman as looking wild.
Along the corridor she hurried towards the royal nursery. There, bending over a little bed, she lifted into her arms her daughter who was sleeping.
Tenderly, the woman clasped the youngster against her breast.
The child did not wake.
Her mother retraced her steps until she reached her own bedroom where she laid down the little girl on her own bed.
Afterwards she wrapped the child in a man’s long nightshirt.
The distressed woman was Queen Victoria, the sleeping child her youngest daughter, four-and-a-half-year-old Princess Beatrice.
The nightshirt belonged to the Queen’s husband Prince Albert.
Only minutes before, he had died aged only 42 after a short illness. Doctors diagnosed typhoid fever.
The extraordinary letter was written by the grieving monarch 15 months after Albert's death and in it she hopes for her own early death so she can be reunited with him.
Victoria told of her grief in correspondence with 82-year-old Viscount Gough, a respected military figure, who had just lost his wife.
She wrote: "The Queen has heard with much concern of the sad affliction that has befallen Lord Gough and is anxious to express personally her sincere sympathy to him.
"Irreparable as his loss is how blessed to have lived together until the evening of their lives with the comfort and hope of the separation being a short one.
"To the poor Queen this blessing so needful to her has been denied and she can only hope never to live to old age but be allowed to rejoin her beloved great and loyal husband before many years elapse."
Christmas 1861 was an unutterably sad and bleak one in Britain. For the royal family the date 14 December became talismanic thereafter, even more so when Victoria and Albert's second daughter, Alice, died of diphtheria 17 years later, on the very same day as her father.