Tag Archives: King George V

A King’s Foster-Mother: 1910

Mrs Ann Roberts King George V nurse

KING’S NURSE POOR

Foster Mother of George V Living in Dire Poverty.

 LONGS FOR HER OLD HOME

Hopes Sovereign She Mothered Will Provide for Her.

SACRIFICED HER OWN BABE

Daughter Died While She Was in Attendance on Great Britain’s Future Ruler.

 

 Is Living in Poverty.

Special Dispatch to The Star.

PITTSBURG. Pa., September 10. Mrs Ann Roberts, foster-mother of George V, King of England, has been discovered in poverty here. Mrs. Roberts lost one of her own babes through her attendance upon the infant prince. The royal physicians and retainers would not inform her of own child’s Illness for fear the milk with which she was nourishing the future King of England might become feverish and do him harm. Mrs. Roberts at the suggestion of friends, is writing the English sovereign of her condition and asking some recognition at his hands for what she did for him as an infant. Mrs. Roberts Is the mother of Capt. Henry A. Roberts of the Volunteers of America. She is a native of Wales. She has been living for the past several years with her brother, Richard W. Edmunds of Nunnery Hill, North Side. She was a member of the royal household of Great Britain for ten months and three days. Her own child died in the night without her knowing that she had even been ill. Mrs. Roberts is the only woman in the world who ever nursed the King of England,  including his own mother.

Husband a Tradesman.

Mrs. Roberts went from Bethesda, North Wales, when quite a young girl to seek service in London. She was eventually married there. Her husband was a respectable tradesman, residing close to Buckingham Palace. They were happy and prospered. Among their friends were some of the most influential Welsh people in London. Among these was a Mrs. Jones, then of 20 Hills street. Knightsbridge, also a Welsh woman. Mrs. Jones was a great favorite with the late Queen Victoria, under whom she held authority to select and engage all the domestics for the royal nursery. Mrs. Roberts was then a comely young matron, of splendid physique, and in the enjoyment of perfect health and a robust constitution, which had been developed while romping as a girl over the rock-bound and heather-clad hills of her native Wales.

Mrs. Roberts was at that time about to become a mother. She knew, as did all Britain, that the then Princess Alexandra had similar expectations. Mrs Roberts had a dream in which it appeared to her that she had been selected to nurse the expected child of royalty. Within a day or two thereafter, not then knowing the full extent of Mrs. Jones’ authority, Mrs. Roberts called on her and related her strange dream, and told her also of her seemingly impossible ambition. The surprise of Mrs. Roberts may be imagined when Mrs. Jones informed her that if it was her wish she would then and there appoint her to the position, provided, of course, that the royal physicians approved of her choice.

Passed by Royal Physician.

After the birth of her child, a beautiful girl baby. Mrs. Roberts was ordered by a royal messenger to call on Dr. Farr, one of the royal physicians, in Harley street. Mayfair, who, after a thorough examination and many questions as to family history, pronounced Mrs. Roberts to be in every way fitting to become the foster mother of a royal prince. Mrs. Roberts then applied for permission to spend a few days at her old home in Bethesda, in order that she might see her brothers and sisters and visit the graves of her parents. She had intended to leave for Wales the last day of May, 1865, but becoming uneasy lest her services might suddenly be called for, she hesitated, changed her mind, and finally abandoned the trip.

“It was well that I did so,” said Mrs. Roberts, relating the strange story of her entrance upon royal service, “for on the night of June couriers were sent to Bethesda to fetch me at once. Mounted messengers scoured the hills around my old home all of that night in search of me. My people in Wales, who knew nothing of my appointment, were thrown into consternation and terror. Royal couriers implied nothing but terror to them. They probably concluded that their poor Ann had committed some terrible crime.

“All of this time I had remained in London, and the city bulletins had informed me of the state of affairs I reported for duty at 10 o’clock on the morning of June and began immediately to nurse and to mother the little baby prince, George. I had left my own child in the care of an older sister, who was to manage the household and dairy business for my husband while I was away. A few days after my departure my own baby was taken ill. It pined for its mother, but I was not acquainted with the fact. One of the doctors of the royal household called to see her each day. The child died on the eighth day without my even knowing that she had been ill.

Blow a Cruel One.

“I will never forget the hour that I was told that my beautiful child was dead. The cruel news brought me to my knees on the floor of the royal nursery. The splendor of my surroundings appeared to me as so much dross. It seemed to me that I had been turned into a block of cold marble. The loss of my own beautiful child had that effect upon me regarding the little prince that I soon grew almost to believe that he was truly my own child. I was kept in this position just about one year. When my services were no longer required King Edward, then Prince of Wales, sent for me from the nursery to tell me that I had not only won his own esteem, but that of his beautiful Alexandra, and that I was also esteemed and respected by the royal household.

“When I arrived in my own home once more, after nearly a whole year of absence, it was to find that fortune had withdrawn her smiles and that my husband’s business had been ruined. A cattle disease, then raging, had killed nearly all of our good cows, and every penny that we had saved during our time of prospering had been expended in a vain attempt to stem the disastrous flood. On the very afternoon that I arrived a butcher delegated from the cattle commissioners also arrived to kill the last two remaining cows of what had been an excellent dairy. These appalling conditions at home caused me to decide at once to take up nursing as a profession. I immediately arranged to lay out the money I earned In the royal service in a course of nursing and midwifery. In due time I won my diploma in both branches, and nursed among the noble and the great of Great Britain for thirty-five years.”

Nursed Many Notables.

Mrs. Roberts’ old friend, Mrs. Jones, was again able to help her by securing for her the appointment to nurse and foster the first born of the Princess Christian, at Cumberland Lodge. Windsor. Windsor. The popularity of Mrs. Roberts was at once securely established through her connection with the royal nursery. In the years that followed she nursed the Duchess of Abercorn. the Duchess of Iniskillen, the Countess Lutzow, Lady Vivian (now Lady Swansea), the Lady Church and many other among the noble dames of Britain. She has served at Windsor Castle, where to Welsh people of a few centuries ago entrance was far easier than exit; at Marlborough House, Balmoral Castle. Buckingham Palace, Osbourne, Osbourne, Sandringham and Cumberland Lodge in the discharge of her professional duties.

After this long tenure of service Mrs. Roberts at last became so deaf that she did not feel longer competent for the work and declined to take on any new cases. She was then appointed to the Royal Maternities Charities Society, an institution organised by the then Princess Alexandra, now the beloved Dowager Queen of England, and controlled by her and a committee of London ladies. This position Mrs. Roberts held for several years, when, owing to her advanced age and the dangers and hardships of obeying calls In the poorer districts of London at all hours of the night, she resigned of her own accord, the secretary saying to her that she was leaving with an exceptional record of success and that her name should always remain on the roll call of the society. It is a source of great pleasure to Mrs. Roberts now to know that her name remains living and green in the heart of the field wherein she laboured so long and so diligently.

Longs for Native Land.

“Your United States is a great country,”  continued Mrs. Roberts, “but, after all, you will not blame me when I say that I prefer my native land, and it seems to me that there should be a place for me over there. I cannot feel as my brother does here. He has been here for many years: his children have grown up here, and his family and all of his ties are here. But my heart is over there, where now reigns the young prince whom I nursed. Were I over there now I would be entitled to the old folks’ pension, but don’t you think she who nursed the reigning king is entitled to something more than such a pittance? You have possibly read how truly noble and generous the young King of Spain is acting toward his old nurse. He provides for her every comfort, and she is made much of by court and people. Do you think my Prince George would do less for his old nurse? I refuse to believe it.”

Mrs. Roberts wears a heavy gold brooch that was personally presented to her by the then Princess Alexandra upon the occasion of her leaving the royal nursery. The princess told hereupon that occasion that she would be privileged to refer to the little prince, now king as “my boy.” King Edward, then Prince of Wales, presented her at the same time with a heavy gold watch, which she also now has. There is an Inscription on the inside of the back cover which reads: “To Mrs. Roberts, in remembrance of H. R. H. Prince George.”

Has Brooch From Victoria.

She also has another brooch, presented to her by the late Queen Victoria upon the christening of Prince George. On being called to Osborne on another occasion Mrs. Roberts was presented by the queen with two beautiful photographs, with her signature, one of herself and one of the deceased prince consort, informing her at the same time that they were the best photos ever taken of both. These Mrs. Roberts left with a relative on the other side. She says that as poor as she is their weight in gold would not buy them. She did not care to subject them to the hazards of travel. Mrs. Roberts states that when Sir Arthur Bigge is appointed keeper of the privy purse she intends to appeal to him for a statement of her case to the king. She believes that Sir Dighton Probyn, who held this position under the late lamented King Edward, would never allow her protests and supplications to reach his royal master. Mrs. Roberts believes that if her petitions had been presented some action would have been taken on her case long ago. She claims to have some of Sir Probyn’s official letters now in her possession, possession, in which he is alleged to state that nothing could be done for her. Mrs. Roberts gives it as her belief that these are solely the words of a mercenary. She says that King Edward had ever a kind and grateful heart, and was always good to old servitors.

Faith in Lloyd George.

“I have served in Sir Arthur Bigge’s family,” Mrs. Roberts states. “He knows me, and I am sure he will desire to help me. The Right Hon. Lloyd George would also interfere in my behalf if I appealed to him. The greatest Welshman of us all would not suffer an old country woman who has served the same crown for which he labors so energetically to be utterly disregarded. There is only one burden to my poor old soul: I want to go back to spend my few remaining years in my native land, and to be allowed to go to my long rest in that sacred old .spot where my father sleeps.”

Mrs. Roberts was treated with every consideration by the royal household. She was several times invited upon the royal carpet. She enjoyed many pleasant chats with the late Queen Victoria. Sometimes, upon receiving Welsh newspapers, newspapers, the queen would send for her from the nursery and request her to read selections from them and to translate them. She would ask Mrs. Roberts to pronounce some Welsh words and sayings, and she would utter them after her, doing it far better. Mrs. Roberts says, than some of the young Welsh Americans whom she has met since being in this country.

Mrs. Roberts saw the queen in her grief for her beloved prince consort. On one occasion she invited Mrs. Roberts to visit the grand mausoleum wherein rests his remains. She gave Mrs. Roberts the golden key which opens the door thereto, and sent her head dresser to accompany her, graciously saying that she would meet her there at a certain time. Mrs. Roberts says she will never forget the hour she spent there with the widowed queen and the mortal remains of the consort and husband whom she had loved so deeply.

Has Met Other Royalties.

“I have been formally presented to the Empress Frederick, mother of the present Emperor of Germany, and also the Grand Duchess of Hess.” continued Mrs. Roberts. Roberts. “and I have many times attended the different ladies of the family to their balls and parties. These royal ladies know very well how to show little marks of esteem to favorite servants. I have had them more than once hand their fans to me to hold while their own ladies in waiting would be at their elbows, and, to their credit be it said. I never saw any of these ladies in waiting evince any sign of displeasure at such marked favors.

“All of Victoria’s children, with the possible exception of Princess Beatrice, were very affable and chatty with servants and dependents. The Princess Beatrice (the youngest) was brought up under somewhat different surroundings from the others. Her good father was taken sick while she was yet a child in arms, and she grew up to be the daily companion of her sorrowing mother. This, I always thought, was the reason for her being more reserved and distant than the other children.

“When I was nursing the Duchess of Abercorn the Princess Alexandra came in person to call on her friend, and was surprised and pleased to find me in attendance. It was our first meeting since my departure from her service. She greeted me warmly and shook hands with me, as would any good woman, and made inquiries as to how I was getting along. I was also all impatience to ask questions regarding the little prince and was tempted to tell her how much I should like to see him. I knew he was by this time quite a boy, big enough to romp and play with his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor.

Paid Visit by Prince.

“On leaving the princess called for me and told me that, if such was my wish, she would arrange with the Canon Dalton, then tutor to the princes, for him to accompany them on an afternoon visit to me in a day or two. They came, and I had my hands full for that afternoon. They romped and blew soap bubbles, as would any pair of ordinary healthy boys, and both had a splendid time, untrammelled by court etiquette and unwatched by tutors.

“The late Prince Albert Victor once asked his royal mother why Prince George was ‘my boy’ any more than himself. He was answered that he would be told when he became a man, and that he was to understand that Mrs. Roberts was his dear friend also, and that she had been very good to him. “When Prince George was elected chancellor of the University of Wales, at Bangor, he caused his private secretary, Sir Arthur Bigge, to send me a letter of invitation to attend the celebration. I had at that time a very important and serious case of nursing on my hands, and so sent my son to represent me. I have always regretted that I was unable to attend, for I lost there an opportunity of meeting the boy whom I love so well.

Welsh Expect Great Things.

“Have you ever stopped to think that the Welsh people have a right to expect great things from the new king? There never was a better time than the present to agitate the question of securing the representation of Wales on the national flag. I firmly believe that he suckled my own love of kin and country with his sustenance. One of the royal doctors told me at one time, when speaking of the honor connected with my distinction, that he never was quite sure which one of us was the most honored. ‘But.’ said he, with a twinkle in his eye, “let us hope that your boy will prove a good and wise man, and that he will inherit the good traits of his Welsh foster mother.’

“The doctor was an old man at that time, and a wise and good one, but at that time it was not for him or myself to see that Prince George, who was the second in ‘advance right’ claim, would ascend the throne. But since the death of his elder brother I have often found myself repeating the old doctor’s words, ‘Let us hope that he will be a good man and a wise one.’

“Often, while holding him in my arms, and thinking of the beautiful child I had sacrificed for him, I would wonder over the possibility of his succeeding to the throne, and would pray God to bless him with a kind and loving heart, so that, when the time came, if fate ordained it so, he would prove a tower of strength and a blessing, not only to his own subjects, subjects, but to the wide, wide world. His, wise and great father, and his saintly grandmother have already given us proof what England’s monarchs can do for the welfare of the world, and I feel like prophesying that King George will follow in their footsteps, with the good of mankind in its entirety as the motive principle of his actions. May God bless him.”

Evening Star [Washing DC] 11 September 1910: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Roberts is a good deal more charitable to her former employers than Mrs Daffodil would have been. Gold brooches and watches, no matter how heavy or suitably inscribed, are, indeed, dross, when it comes to the death of Mrs Robert’s daughter and the doctors’ odious decision (based on the mistaken belief in “maternal influence”) not to tell Mrs Roberts that the tiny infant was ill and pining for her mother. It is possible that the child was ill with a disease untreatable at the time, such as diphtheria, even had her mother been able to nourish her, but at least Mrs Roberts would have been there to hold the child in her last moments. For the Royal physicians, the phrase “special place in Hell” springs to mind.

In the interests of space, Mrs Daffodil will omit her trenchant remarks on the “favour” shown to Mrs Roberts by the ladies who condescended to hand her their fans to hold.

Captain Henry Roberts, Mrs Roberts’s son was incensed at the headlines about Mrs. Roberts living in poverty and issued a corrective statement:

“I was absolutely dumbfounded at receiving a clipping from some Rochester papers saying that Mrs. Ann Roberts, royal nurse, was found here in poverty…As to her being in poverty, she has always paid her own expenses, and has jewels and other gifts to her from royalty. Immediatley upon her arrival here she deposited a good sum of money and jewels in my care until she needs them. In fact, she wants us to purchase some property and make a permant home here, but we decline to do that, as she is very fond of old England and often speaks of returning there after a while.”

He stated that he gave the true version of the story to an editor who interviewed his mother, but that “distortions of the facts have since appeared in several papers.” Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester NY] 8 July 1910: p. 15

Still, Mrs Roberts’s story did come to the eye of the proper authorities and her story has something of a happy ending:

A few weeks ago Mrs. Roberts sailed again for England, and upon her arrival at London she was called upon by a representative of King George, who stated, that he had been sent to learn what could be done for her comfort. She informed him that it was her desire to have a little home of her own among the hills of her own native Wales, in Carnavonshire, and preferably on the Penrhyn estate. Lord Penrhyn was instructed to find a cottage for this purpose and to have it fitted up with all the necessary comforts and she was also told that a substantial annuity was to be settled on her. Word has already been received by her relatives in this country that Mrs. Roberts is comfortably provided for for her remaining years. Bennington [VT] Banner 13 December 1910: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Kings Who Have Seen Ghosts: 1911

The Flying Dutchman, Charles Temple Dix. http://www.wikigallery.org/

The Flying Dutchman, Charles Temple Dix. http://www.wikigallery.org/

SPECTRE SEEING RULERS.

Living Kings Who Have Seen Phantom Apparitions.

(By EX-ATTACHE in the New Orleans “Times-Democrat.”)

King George is the only living ruler who can boast of having actually seen the spectral ship known as the “Flying Dutchman.” Indeed, there is no record of any anointed of the Lord having ever seen it in the past, although some of them were, like him, sailors by profession.

George, it may be recalled, as a midshipman made a tour of the world on board the warship Bacchante with his elder brother, the late Duke of Clarence, and the story of the voyage, as recorded in the diaries of the young princes, was published some time afterwards in a book entitled “The Cruise of the Bacchante.” In it is to be found the following paragraph taken from George’s diary:

“At 4 a.m. the Flying Dutchman crossed our bows. A strange red light, as of a phantom ship, all aglow, in the midst of which light the masts, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief as it came up on the port bow.”

This encounter of the Bacchante with the phantom ship took place in the southern latitudes of the Atlantic, and, although this uncanny apparition, so

DREADED BY SEAFARING MEN,

is held to presage death and disaster to those who set eyes thereon, yet nothing untoward seems to have happened to mar the success of the remainder of the cruise of the warship bearing on board the two princes, one of whom is now Great Britain’s King.

That the Flying Dutchman should have been seen by George and his brother, as well as by all the officers and men of the watch of the Bacchante, and the apparition made a matter of official record in the ship’s log, is a remarkable circumstance. For it is, perhaps, not one in a thousand of the vessels that sail the southern extremity of Africa, from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean or vice versa, who can boast of having seen the craft, which, according to some, is commanded by the Dutchman, Van der Decken, and according to others by a German noble of the ancient and historic house of Van Falkenberg.

There are three other kings now living who share with King George the distinction of having witnessed spectral apparitions—namely King Frederick of Denmark, King Gustav of Sweden, and King Haakon of Norway. The experiences of the three monarchs in question occurred at Stockholm some eighteen or twenty years ago, when the then Crown Prince of Denmark, now King Frederick, was paying a visit with his wife and children to the late King Oscar. The present Queen of Denmark, at that time crown princess, is a Swedish princess and a niece of Oscar.

One day during the stay of the Danish royalties King Frederick, who is perhaps the most level-headed and matter-of-fact of now-reigning sovereigns, happened to enter a room for the purpose of getting some article which he had forgotten there earlier in the day, but backed out of it, pale and trembling, declaring it was full of armed men who had forced him to retire. He added that they were

ARRAYED IN COSTUMES OF LONG AGO.

On another occasion Prince Charles (now King Haakon) was writing letters in a saloon illuminated by lamps and a number of wax candles, when, suddenly raising his eyes from the paper, he caught sight of a man arrayed in eighteenth century costume, standing at the other side of the table and gazing fixedly at him. Prince Charles jumped up from his seat, with the intention of starting round the table and throwing himself upon the intruder, who, retreating to the wall, vanished from sight.

Nor was this all. On the last night of the stay of the Danish visitors, the then crown prince and crown princess of Denmark were seated at a table with King Oscar and his eldest son (now King Gustav) playing whist. The expression on the Swedish Crown Prince’s face suddenly attracted the attention of the other players. He had become as pale as death. His cards had dropped from his hands and his eyes protruded even more than usual as he gazed into vacancy.

King Oscar, thinking his son had become ill, seized him by the shoulders with the object of rousing him, whereupon Crown Prince Gustav exclaimed that he had caught sight of the blood-stained apparition of some unknown person standing at the other side of the table, and that it afterwards had

GLIDED OUT THROUGH THE WALL.

Of course all this may sound ridiculous and childish to ordinary people who do not believe in the supernatural. But even they would experience an uncanny feeling if forced by circumstances to reside in a house which had been the scene of a suicide or murder. Of all the royal palaces of Europe, there is none that has been the scene of so many tragedies as that of Stockholm. Its foundations, more than one thousand years old, may be said to be literally sodden with blood. To such an extent has it always had the reputation, even in former centuries, of being haunted, that it has been twice entirely razed to the foundations and reconstructed, with the object of dislodging the supposed ghosts.

Star, 5 August 1911: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One wonders if persons of royal blood haunt and are haunted more frequently than commoners. Mrs Daffodil has previously written about the apparitions of Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Jane Seymour, Queen Catherine Howard, Mary, Queen of Scots, wailing of death from the Tower of London, Queen Draga’s ghost, and a haunted Danish royal castle, which gives a fuller account of King Frederick’s vision.  The files of the Society for Psychical Research are bulging with tales of many other royal apparitions including the White Lady of the Hohenzollerns, who terrified the superstitious Kaiser, and the many haunted royal palaces in Britain and Scotland. The stories from Glamis Castle alone (the home of the late Queen Mother) would fill a substantial volume. Mrs Daffodil has heard modern-day “ghost-hunters” say that their talent for “seeing ghosts” runs in their family. Perhaps Queen Victoria, the “Grandmother of Europe,” passed along something more than the haemophiliac gene to her progeny.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Christmas Presents Given by Royalty: 1910

 

Early 20th-century carnelian frog, similar to the one mentioned in the story. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2008/imperial-and-royal-presents-l08911/lot.91.html

Early 20th-century carnelian frog, similar to the one mentioned in the story. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2008/imperial-and-royal-presents-l08911/lot.91.html

Christmas Presents Given by Royalty

Although many people nowadays affect to despise the good old custom of giving presents at Christmas time, the members of the royal family of England show no sympathy with the new fad. Indeed present-giving seems likely to always continue a leading feature of the royal Christmas, for both the King and the Queen are great upholders of the custom, and their Majesties are kept busy for several weeks before the festive season making a careful selection of Christmas presents form the many novelties sent for their inspection by the tradespeople of London and Windsor. These are brought to Buckingham Palace and arranged on tables in the reception-rooms, which resemble nothing so much as smart bazaars by the time all the goods are laid out, each marked in plain figures that leave no doubt as to their exact price. The King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most of the members of the royal family make the majority of their Christmas purchases in this manner, although some of the younger royalties are to be met in the West End shops buying their Christmas gifts like all the rest of the world.

The late King favoured jewelry and novelties in the form of tie-pins, studs, enamelled buttons, jewelled cigar and cigarette holders, walking-sticks, snuff-cases, and rare editions of valuable books for giving to friends and relations at Christmas time; while his Majesty’s public and private bounty to retainers was wide-reaching. The King’s Christmas doles (given by the lord High Almoner at the Royal Almony, St. James’ Palace, each Christmas, and known as the minor bounty, and the Royal Gate Alms) provided for no less than a thousand old people chosen by clergymen all over England and Wales.

QUEEN’S GIFTS OF OLD LACE

The Queen gives beautiful embroidery, old lace, fans and costly Russian enamels to her friends as gifts; and apropos of this, a story is told concerning an agate frog of small dimensions with diamond eyes given to a lady by her Majesty a little while ago. A friend having admired it, the recipient ordered a replica to be made, and, to her horror and surprise, got a bill for eighty-eight guineas for the trifle.

Of great interest are the special gifts designed by her Majesty for old friends, these take the form of ivory and tortoise-shell crochet and knitting pins, surmounted with a diamond and enamelled crown, while below is an A in diamonds.

Snapshots taken by her Majesty, mounted and inscribed with the Queen’s autograph and Christmas greetings, are other favourite presents. To the cottagers and servants at Sandringham her Majesty is especially generous, giving the children on the estate scarlet cloaks and toys, while the servants receive black silk dresses and books from their royal mistress. Perhaps the most carefully-chosen of all the Queen’s Christmas presents are the toys destined for her little grandchildren. These are presented on Christmas afternoon, off the Queen’s own Christmas tree, the gifts being handed to her Majesty by a gentleman-in-waiting, and the Queen bestowing every one herself. Nor are these the only little ones who receive toys from her Majesty at Christmas.

During the weeks preceding Christmas Day royal omnibuses are often to be seen outside the various hospitals, while royal footmen deliver great packages of gifts bearing a label inscribed in her Majesty’s own handwriting: “Toys from Queen Alexandra, for the little children at the hospital.”

The Princess of Wales also gives largely to hospitals, her Christmas gifts taking the form of quantities of linen, also clothes of her own making and toys from her children’s nursery. Like the Duchess of Argyll, the Princess favors artistic Christmas gifts, and buys quantities of rich embroideries, carvings, pottery, water colors and enamels for distribution.

Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 25 December 1910: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: As is often the way when the American press reports on the activities of royalty, certain inaccuracies have crept in. King Edward VII had died on 6 May 1910, so he is correctly referred to as “the late King.” However, at the date of this printing, there was no Prince and Princess of Wales to shop at the Buckingham Palace bazaar. Edward, who became Prince of Wales on 23 June 1910 was unmarried. Given the context of the article, it is apparent that the Prince and Princess of Wales are actually King George V and Queen Mary. One suspects that this was an article written during the lifetime of King Edward VII and slightly touched up for a later printing, carelessly leaving in the outmoded information.

What is accurate is the royal fondness for bijoux novelties such as tie-pins and cigarette cases and carved hardstone animals from the house of Fabergé, although that distinguished atelier is not mentioned by name. Queen Alexandra commissioned Fabergé to create hardstone portraits of some of the King’s favourite animals at Sandringham. Queen Mary was even more of an enthusiast for Fabergé’s trifles in enamel and gemstones. See this link for information and photographs about the Royal Trust Collection of Fabergé.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.