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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

The final illness and death of Prince Albert through Queen Victoria’s letters and journals - 7th December 1861:

Prince Albert in 1855 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

“Sept soundly, hoping to hear that dearest Albert was much better. He had had a good deal of sleep off & on but had been dreadfully restless. I went in at 7 & found him sleeping, but by 8 he was up & sitting in his sitting room, looking very weak & exhausted & not better, complaining of there being no improvement & that he could not make out why this was. He seemed to me a little incoherent, & I felt quite upset. When the Doctors came in, I could not see that they thought him less well, & more feverish. Went back to my room & felt as if my heart must break. May God help me & protect him! I remained in an agony of suspense in my dressing room till D’ Jenner came in & told me, in the kindest, clearest manner, that they had all along been watching Albert’s, state, suspecting fever, but unable to judge what it might be, & how exactly to treat him, till this morning they had found on the lower part of the stomach a slight eruption, which left them no doubt as to what it was, — viz: gastric & bowel fever. The case was quite clear & D’ Jenner said he knew exactly how to treat it, that it was tedious, & that the fever must run its course, of a month! Dating from the beginning of the illness, he considered it to have been from the day Albert went to Sandhurst on the 22nd, or possibly even sooner. He was however not alarmed, there were no bad symptoms, but Albert could not be expected to be better, until the fever left him. It was now well known, which it was not some years ago, that it was an illness, which like scarlet fever had to run its course. He could hardly call it infectious, but still he thought it was wiser for the children not to go in, though he was not sure about Alice. Albert himself was not to know, as he had a horror of fever. We certainly have had cause to dread fever, & what trials have we not had this year! What an awful trial to be deprived for so long of my guide, my support, my all! But God will support me, & I tried to cheer up, remembering how many people have fever & recover. — Saw good Ernest Leiningen, who with Marie & the 2 younger girls, went to Claremont. — Drove with Alice for an hour with the little Sardinian ponies. She is very courageous & tries to keep me up. — While we were at luncheon Sir J. Clark arrived & reassured me very much, though he was surprised & disappointed, as yesterday Albert had seemed to be really improving. — When I went in to see my beloved one, he asked why I was so late – joked when he heard Sir James was not there who “hid himself like the Pagan Deities.” — Very busy & so tired. Talking with Sir C. Phipps, arranging about Despatches & boxes in which he & Gen: Grey help me. Talking with the Doctors & constantly backwards & forwards to see how dear Albert was. — Took a very late short walk with Alice & Ernest. She is most attentive & makes herself very useful. But I seem to be living in a dreadful dream. — Albert lay late on the bed in the bedroom & I sat by him watching him often repressing my tears with difficulty, as I thought of the days of anxiety, even if not of alarm, which were in store for us, — of the dreadful loss this probable long illness would be publicly, as well as privately. Later saw Sir James & D’ Jenner & talked over what could have been the cause of this illness. They thought worry, of which dear Albert had had much of late, & too hard work. That would have to be stopped. — Dear good Augusta Bruce, arrived, I having sent for her, & she came at once. — Dined with Alice, Ernest & Marie, & then went to dear Albert. His pulse was good, & D’ Jenner was going to sit up with him, as well as Lachlein, his valet. —“

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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