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Queen Victoria’s Journal - The funeral of Henry of Battenberg, 5th February 1896

The funeral of Prince Henry of Battenberg, 5th February 1896 Source: MeisterDrucke

“This was a terrible day, but one never to be forgotten! It dawned very dull & dark & unfortunately unlike yesterday, remained dull & dreary, & there was once or twice a little drizzle. — Slept fairly well, but awoke dreading what was before us. — Edward Weimar, Franz Teck & Dolly & Ernest Leiningen had all come yesterday but the 2 last named were on board the Yacht. The others as well as Helen, Tora & Christle are at Osborne Cottage. Alix & the 2 dear girls breakfasted with. Then dear Beatrice came in. She had gone down to the “Alberta” at 9, with Arthur, Louis, Franz Jos, the 2 eldest children & Lenchen. She was calm, but the deepest grief depicted in her poor young face. — Shortly after 12 drove down to Trinity Pier with darling Beatrice, Ena & little Leopold, in a landau & fair. Then were great crowds along the road, which was lined with troops. To attempt properly to describe the whole of the sad proceedings & ceremony, is more than I can do, so I will confine myself to a few particulars, impressions & feelings, & have asked Sir A. Bigge to write an account, the copy of which I annex. At the Pier on either side of the pontoon, stood all the Princes, except the actual Chief Mourners, & we remained on one side, the gun carriage on the other. We had to wait but a short time, when the Blue-Jackets of the “Victoria & Albert” appeared, bearing their precious burden, followed by Louis, Franz Jos & dear little Drino, looking so small & touching. Most easily was the coffin placed on the gun carriage, drawn by 6 horses, & we began slowly to move. There were so many Princes, Representatives & Deputations, such as from the Guardes du Corps, & Liko’s Bulgarian Regt that we could not follow as close as we should have wished.

Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice, 1880s © National Portrait Gallery, London

We heard the Bands beginning to play just beyond the entrance to Trinity Pier, Beethoven’s funeral march with muffled drums, sounding plaintively. They also played the splendid old Chorale, “Jesus meine Zuversicht”, Chopin’s beautiful march, as well as one composed by Miller the Band Master of the Marines. Now & again one heard it louder, & then it died away. The Procession moved along very slowly, & there were constant stoppages. I could only see the top of the gun carriage & the flags which formed the fall. We reached the Church first, by going round by the school. Here all was the same as at the bright wedding on July 23rd 10 years ago, the same covered way & carpet. The Church was lighted, as it was so very dark. We & all the Princesses sat in the Royal Pew, with the Ladies of the Household behind us. The beautiful & touching Prelude by Chopin (the same as had been played at dear Leopold’s funeral) was played on the organ by Sir W. Parratt. Then there was a pause after which, the Procession having reached the Lych Gate, Beatrice & I went to the door & stood just outside to see the coffin borne past, preceded by the Clergy & the St. George’s Chapel Choir chanting the sentences. We resumed our seats & slowly & mournfully the Procession moved up the Church to the Chancel. The Bearers were men of the Scots Guards. The coffin was placed on a high platform in front of the altar, & close to the small Chapel. The Bishop of Winchester performed the service & Mr Clement Smith read the Lesson. The Hymns were: “Sleep thy last Sleep”, “Brief Life is here our portion, the music of the latter specially composed by Tosti, then there was the anthem by Sullivan “Brother thou art gone before” & the Russian (Kieff) Requiem Chant. They were all beautifully sung.

The funeral of Prince Henry of Battenberg, 5th February 1896 Source: MeisterDrucke

My darling child was much affected, but very brave. At the “Committal” part of the service, the coffin, was noiselessly placed by the bearers, in a temporary stone sarcophagus in the Chapel. Directly afterwards, the first volley of musketry was fired by our beloved one’s Isle of Wight Volunteer Regt, & was repeated 3 times, the drums rolling each time between. Then all was over & we slowly & sadly left the Church, taking poor little Drino with us in the carriage. Got back at ¼ to 3. — Lunched alone with Alix upstairs & then went downstairs to receive Pce Albert of Prussia, whom William had sent to represent him, his 3 gentlemen, the Deputation from the Gardes du Corps, represented by Ct W. Hohenau, Pce Albert of Holstein Glücksburg & Count Lynar, Baron Reischach, sent by Vicky, & the Deputation of the Bulgarian Regt, consisting of 2 Officers. After this Edward Weimar & Franz Teck came in, – all very kind. – Later took a short drive in the grounds with Harriet P. – Dear Beatrice came in after tea & read me some beautiful verses, which had been sent her. — Dined with Alix, Louis & Franz Jos. -Soon after 12 the wharf at Trinity Pier presented a striking scene, for thither had assembled all the Royal Princes, Representatives & those Naval & Military friends & Officials invited to the Funeral. Besides the Gd Duke of Hesse, Pce Albert of Prussia & his staff, there were the Ambassador of Italy, the Minrs of Portugal & Denmark, a deputation from the Prussian Gardes du Corps, & from the Prince’s Bulgarian Regt also the Military Attaches of the Embassies. One especially was there in this distinguished crowd, to whom all hearts must have gone out, the little Prince, the chief of Chief Mourners clinging to the hand of his Uncle Pce Louis of Battenberg. Shortly before 12.30, the hoisting of the Royal Standard announced the approach of the Queen with the Princess & H.R.H.’s daughter & 2nd son Pce Leopold, in a closed carriage.

The funeral of Prince Henry of Battenberg, 5th February 1896 Source: MeisterDrucke

Standing outside the covered way which leads to the “Alberta” one was almost startled by the sound of a muffled tread, which slowly approached nearer & nearer. What was it which thus broke the silence & raised all hands in respectful salute? Was it not the signal of the landing once more, but alas! for the last time, of the beloved Governor & Captain of the Island. Borne by a party of Royal Yachtsmen, the coffin enveloped in the Union Jack & Hessian standard, was placed on a gun carriage, drawn by 6 horses. On it lay the insignias of the Order of the Garter, the busby & sword, & 2 wreaths placed by the Queen & Princess. Slowly to the sound of Beethoven’s beautiful march, the procession moved forward. In rear of the gun carriage followed the Prince’s coachman leading “Norah”, the favourite charger & hunter, never more to be ridden over fence & furrow, Capt: Gubbins, the able & trusted Skipper of the “Sheila”, Butcher, the faithful valet & friend, who had tenderly nursed his Master to the end, – the Chief Mourners Relatives & Representatives, & then came the Queen & the widowed Princess, whose joint presence filled all hearts with emotion, the living centre of interest in this pageant of sorrow. On leaving the wharf H.M.’s carriage was joined by those of the Princesses. Following them walked the Foreign Attachès, Gentlemen in Waiting, Lords of the Admiralty, Commander in Chief & Head Quarter Staff & finally Deputations from various Representative Bodies in the Island. Among these would be some who will ever remember Pce Henry, not only as their Governor, but as one who brought dignity & status to that Office: some who knew him as their Colonel, ever ready to devote his best energies to the interests of the Regiment: others in whose memories he will live as a cheery brother sportsman in the hunting-field, – as a keen yachtsman, who since his first connection with the Island had become a proficient sailor, & by all regarded as a friend. Thus to the sound of alternate Bands, Pipes & roll of muffled drums, the mournful train gradually moved along, the steep road proficient sailor, & by all regarded as a friend. Thus to the sound of alternate Bands, Pipes & roll of muffled drums, the mournful train gradually moved along, the steep road lined by blue jackets & soldiers.

The funeral of Prince Henry of Battenberg, 5th February 1896 Source: Prints and Ephemera

From the churches the bells were tolling, further away boomed the solemn minute guns, under a leaden sky, slowly, slowly homewards! There must have been some comparing the passing incidents with those of nearly 11 years ago. Then warm July sun, merry sounds, bright uniforms, a young bride & bridegroom, – now, gloom of February, hushed voices, sombre cloaks, a bereft widow. Many of the same faces, – the same artist, sketching rapidly in the identical book in which remain souvenirs of the marriage, – the same church. The fields along the road were crowded with people. Within a few minutes of 2 o’clock the gun carriage had reached the Lych gate of Whippingham Church & the massed Bands in an adjoining field, played the Chorale “Jesus meine Zuversicht”. Beyond them 300 Riflemen of the Princess’s Regt who later fired the volley as a salute to their Chief. The music of brass & reed gives way to that of Choristers. Already the sweet refined voices of the St. George’s Choir are chanting the opening sentences as we watch this last stage in the lone journey of the weary traveller, who starting amidst African forest & swamp & surf, traversing thousands of ocean miles is now borne by the flower of British soldiery back to that same country church from which, not alone, but as a happy wedded man, he had started on the first stage of his English life- "

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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