‘You have again lost your self-control’: Prince Albert’s scathing letters to Queen Victoria revealed

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Prince Albert and Queen Victoria - Roger Fenton/Getty Images
Prince Albert and Queen Victoria - Roger Fenton/Getty Images

Scathing handwritten letters from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria after their arguments can be read by the public for the first time – nearly a century after their daughter tried to destroy them.

The notes, in which Albert tries to have the last word after a dispute, were burned by Princess Beatrice, the couple's youngest daughter, in the Forties to protect their reputations.

But they were saved thanks to an unknown archivist, who made photographic copies for the Royal Archives in order to preserve them, and are among 5,000 documents and photographs uploaded to the internet by the Royal Collection Trust.

The documents also include excerpts from Prince Albert's diaries, letters from his children, the scores for music he composed for his wife and their romantic correspondence.

The letters, from between 1855 and 1861, show Albert admonishing Victoria for her behaviour during arguments and advising that she "can improve herself by being less occupied with herself".

One, translated from German, reads: "You have again lost your self-control quite unnecessarily. I did not say a word which could wound you and I did not begin the conversation, but you have followed me about and continued it from room to room.

The letters, from between 1855 and 1861, show Albert admonishing Victoria for her behaviour during arguments
The letters, from between 1855 and 1861, show Albert admonishing Victoria for her behaviour during arguments

"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 which has to be undergone, but you hurt me desperately and at the same time do not help yourself."

In another, he offers parenting advice, writing: "It is indeed a pity that you find no consolation in the company of your children. The root of the difficulty lies in the mistaken notion that the function of a mother is to be always correcting, scolding, ordering them about and organising their activities.

"It is not possible to be on happy, friendly terms with people you have just been scolding, for it upsets scolder and scolded alike."

A third, in which he appears exasperated by Victoria's suffering, states: "We cannot, unhappily, bear your bodily sufferings for you – you must struggle with them alone… But if you were rather less occupied with yourself (if that is possible) and your feelings (if that is possible) and took more interest in the outside world you would find that the greatest help of all."

The notes were kept by Victoria and rediscovered in the Royal Archives by Princess Beatrice in the Forties when she was translating other documents.

Princess Beatrice wrote to George VI, her great-nephew, asking for permission to burn the letters in the 1940s
Princess Beatrice wrote to George VI, her great-nephew, asking for permission to burn the letters in the 1940s

Having already heavily edited her mother's diaries, the princess wrote to George VI, her great-nephew, asking for permission to burn the letters. The original papers do not survive but are preserved in photographs thanks to the now-unknown archivist.

A total of 22,000 documents, prints and photographs from the Royal Archives, the Royal Collection and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 have now been digitised for the public to read.

The Prince Albert Digitisation Project was supported by Sir Hugh and Lady Stevenson in honour of Sir Hugh's sister, the late Dame Anne Griffiths, a former librarian and archivist to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Other items of interest include Albert's list of suggested candidate for the vacant role of Master of the Household, annotated by him with the reasons why he considered each man unsuitable: "Too old", "too useful in the Navy", "bad temper" and "French mistress".