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 Edward VII (1841–1910), by Sir Luke Fildes, 1901–2 Edward VII (1841–1910), by Sir Luke Fildes, 1901–2
Edward VII (1841–1910), king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the British dominions beyond the seas, and emperor of India, was born at Buckingham Palace, London, on 9 November 1841, the first son and second child of the nine children of and . He was named Albert Edward (against the advice of the prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who preferred Edward Albert), and he was commonly known by both names, except in the family, where he was called Bertie. Insistence on the primacy of the name Albert reflected the burden of the queen's expectations which the prince was to carry until 1901, when, on ascending the throne, he declared himself Edward. He was the first heir born to a reigning sovereign since 1762, and the last to be born with privy councillors present to attest his identity (subsequently only the home secretary attended). He was made prince of Wales aged one month and, against the advice of Palmerston, was also styled duke of Saxony in addition to the other usual royal titles (he habitually later travelled abroad semi-incognito as earl of Renfrew or earl of Chester, or, when king, duke of Lancaster). A strong German presence at his christening on 25 January 1842 confirmed the view of the whigs, who saw the court coming under German sway, and attested to the remarkable range of European royal relatives which was to be so important an aspect of the prince's life.


Albert Edward was brought up to be trilingual—in English, German, and French, with a governess for each language—but his best languages in the nursery were German and English; he found German initially the easier of the two. The Baron von Bunsen noted that the royal children ‘all spoke German like their native tongue, even to one another’ (Lee, 2.17). The prince's early days were supervised by Mrs Southey, his nurse, who was soon dismissed, and then by Sarah, Lady Lyttelton, who acted as governess and substitute mother (the queen being frequently pregnant and both Victoria and Albert preferring the Princess Victoria, the prince's elder sister). The prince was slow to learn, fell behind his younger siblings, and soon developed a stammer and a temper. Lady Lyttelton was a relative of William and Catherine Gladstone, whose similarly aged son, William Henry Gladstone, became the prince's playmate. The prince was taught elocution by the actor George Barley, but always had a slight German accent.

In January 1847 the prince's parents set out a detailed plan of education for their children, by which Lady Lyttelton retained a prominent role in Albert Edward's development. Victoria and Albert's intention was to ensure that the future king was as unlike his profligate Hanoverian uncles as possible, and that he was educated to the highest levels of contemporary knowledge: he was to be like Albert, able to talk to politicians and people of letters and science on their own terms. However, his educational development remained halting. On Prince Albert's instruction he was whipped (as were from time to time his sisters). When Albert Edward was six, Henry Birch, formerly a master at Eton, became his tutor and found his pupil difficult to teach. Albert arranged for an examination by George Combe, the phrenologist, who reported that the prince's cranium suggested that ‘strong self-will, at times obstinacy’ would be characteristic (Hibbert, 10). In 1852 Birch, whom the prince liked but who decided on a career in the church, was replaced by Frederick Waymouth Gibbs, a barrister who had been brought up with Leslie Stephen. Gibbs got no better results than Birch. It became apparent that the demanding programme of learning expected by the prince consort was counter-productive: the prince was not unintelligent, but he was not bookish or of intellectual interests. He was, in fact, quite like his mother in several respects, loath though she was to admit it. Indeed Baron Stockmar thought him ‘an exaggerated copy of his mother’ (ibid., 26). His fear of his overbearing father became marked. One consequence of his bad spelling and barely coherent sentence structure was that, even allowing for the destruction of papers by him and after his death, he left less by way of personal writing—letters, memoranda, diaries—than the volumes which characterized both his parents and several of his siblings. (His sketchy youthful diary was kept by parental demand, and though he maintained it until his death the entries are rarely revealing.) Within the family, the prince's position was a further source of insecurity. Victoria was undoubtedly the parents' favourite child, and, among the boys, Alfred, and later Arthur, were preferred; but when erstwhile favourites erred, Albert Edward could be brought forward. Despite Victoria's and Albert's practice of setting their children's faults and virtues off against each other (a trait which became more marked as the queen aged), Albert Edward formed close relationships with his sisters Victoria and Alice; he was profoundly saddened by the latter's early death in 1878.

Alternatives to studying

In 1855 the Princess Victoria was engaged in marriage to the heir to the throne of Prussia, and in 1858 Prince Alfred was sent to sea. The prince of Wales was keen to escape from his educational routine, but his parents were unwilling to admit that their educational plan had failed. The young prince found refuge in alternatives to studying: travel, sport, and the theatre. In August 1855 he visited Paris, part of a state visit to Napoleon III, and fell under the city's spell. A continental tour in 1857 was less fun, for Albert insisted it be for ‘purposes of study’ (Hibbert, 23). At Köningswinter the prince kissed a pretty girl; Willy Gladstone, who was of the party, rather unfairly reported this to his father, then chancellor of the exchequer, who complained (to his wife) of ‘this squalid little debauch’, adding that the:
Prince of Wales has not been educated up to his position. This sort of unworthy little indulgence is the compensation. Kept in childhood beyond his time, he is allowed to make that childhood what it should never be in a Prince, or anyone else, namely wanton. (Magnus, 21)
A further attempt by Gibbs and the Revd Charles Feral Tarver, his Latin tutor and chaplain, to encourage him in the educational routine devised by his parents took the form in 1858 of seclusion with three hand-picked companions at the White Lodge, Richmond Park. Further failure led to Gibbs's dismissal, with Robert Bruce, brother of Lord Elgin, replacing him, but as governor rather than as tutor. With the prince aged seventeen, Victoria and Albert in effect abandoned the attempt to force him into his father's cast of mind.

Oxford, Canada, Cambridge, and the army

The prince was keen to join the army and was disappointed when he was gazetted a lieutenant-colonel (he had hoped to enter by passing the examination). He was created KG in November 1858, in which year he visited Berlin, staying with his sister Victoria, now married to the Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, the noted liberal, with whom the prince formed a good relationship. The prince's education was to be completed by study at Oxford and Cambridge; attendance at these English universities was preceded by cramming at Edinburgh in August 1859 with Lyon Playfair. At Oxford he was prevented—to his irritation—by Prince Albert from living in a college, though he was entered on the books of Christ Church as a nobleman on 17 October 1859, matriculating the same day. Prince Henry (later Henry V) was the only previous prince of Wales to matriculate at Oxford (supposedly in 1398). Albert Edward lived in Frewin Court, listened to lectures, and was tutored by Herbert Fisher of Christ Church. For the first time he enjoyed his studies, doing adequately in his examinations and forming long-term friendships with the Liddell family of Christ Church and others. With Henry Chaplin (already a prominent huntsman and later a tory cabinet minister) and Frederick Johnstone (already a well-known philanderer) he began to break loose from the intellectual and moral parameters which his parents had tried to impose on him. He became a lifelong and famous smoker and developed his enthusiasm for blood sports.

The prince's assiduity at Oxford gained him some respect from his parents, though the queen at this time found her son physically repellent: ‘Bertie … is not at all in good looks; his nose and mouth are too enormous and he pastes his hair down to his head, and wears his clothes frightfully—he really is anything but good looking’ (Fulford, 1.245). Despite this lack of encouragement, growing confidence and maturity were seen during the prince's visit to Canada and the USA in July–November 1860, the first heir to the throne to visit either country. The idea for the visit was Prince Albert's. In Washington and New York, Albert Edward was especially successful in a context where royalty was not necessarily welcome. The tour defined the public role and character of the prince of Wales. He was genial and undidactic. He enjoyed himself and transmitted his good humour. His very absence of intellectual enquiry meant that awkward corners could be easily turned. The prince, moreover, had shown he could play a role different from that of his parents, that of the roving royal ambassador.

On his return, however, Albert Edward somewhat incongruously returned to his studies in Oxford, and then, on 19 January 1861, matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, where J. B. Lightfoot, the biblical scholar, was his chief tutor and he enjoyed lectures from Charles Kingsley. At his father's request—and he was the chancellor of the university—the prince lived at Madingley Hall, outside the town, though rooms in Trinity were surreptitiously put at his disposal. Where Oxford had liberated, Cambridge now rather shackled, despite fun at the amateur dramatic club and hunting. Determined to enter the army, the prince spent the summer of 1861 at army camp at the Curragh, near Dublin. Always keen on uniforms and parades, the prince found the discipline required from a participant excessive, his relative the duke of Cambridge, the commander-in-chief, reporting that he would never make a good professional soldier. At the Curragh he met Nellie Clifden, an actress, smuggled into his tent by his friends. She was indiscreet and the story was soon round London.

Marriage, Sandringham, and official exclusion

The Clifden episode occurred just as the prince was being prepared for marriage to , daughter of the heir to the Danish throne; the union was largely engineered by his sister Victoria, the crown princess of Prussia, and was one about which Victoria and Albert were extremely cautious, given their pro-Prussian and consequently anti-Danish opinions about German unification. The queen was won over by the absence of suitable alternative spouses and by her view that her son must be settled as soon as possible (the prince consort's health already being in clear decline). The couple met in September 1861 at Speyer and Alexandra's beauty quickly captivated Albert Edward, who had insisted on meeting the princess before agreeing to marry her. However, an engagement had not been decided upon when, with the Clifden affair still simmering, the prince consort died on 14 December 1861, shortly after a visit to Cambridge to discuss both Nellie and Alexandra. The prince of Wales was chief mourner at his father's funeral, which, by custom, his mother did not attend. The queen blamed her son for Albert's final illness, telling her daughter: ‘much as I pity I never can or shall look at him without a shudder’ (letter of 27 Dec 1861; Fulford, 2.30). She wanted him out of the country, and in January 1862 sent him to Palestine and the Near East, from which, having visited Jerusalem, Cairo, and Constantinople, he returned in June 1862. On the death of General Bruce in that month, Sir William Knollys (1797–1883) became the prince's comptroller and treasurer, a post he held until 1877. He was assisted by his son, Sir Francis Knollys (1837–1924), who in due course succeeded his father as the prince's secretary. In September 1862 the prince again met Alexandra, and their engagement was announced on 16 September. They were married in St George's Chapel, Windsor, on 10 March 1863, the scene being recorded in W. P. Frith's painting The Marriage of the Prince of Wales, 1863 (Royal Collection). The short honeymoon was at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

The prince consort's death, the queen's consequent seclusion, and the prince of Wales's marriage marked an important stage in the latter's emergence as the public face of British royalty. On 5 February 1863 he took his seat in the House of Lords, where he occasionally attended and from time to time spoke. He received a civil-list annuity of £10,000, which with the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall gave him an annual income of about £100,000. He set up at Marlborough House in Pall Mall, his London home until he ascended the throne, and he bought Sandringham House in Norfolk from Charles Cowper, Palmerston's stepson. The Waleses first stayed there in March 1864. It soon became a country house as lively as the queen's residences were gloomy. An ample supply of wildfowl, especially pheasants, permitted good sporting house parties, and the prince in the 1860s established himself as a focal point of society. The queen, however, was strongly hostile to the prince's taking on public duties in Britain. She tried to maintain the code of behaviour which Albert had prescribed, which was one in which Albert was the chief male prince. The queen, as Sidney Lee put it, kept her son ‘in permanent in statu pupillari. She claimed to regulate his actions in almost all relations of life’ (DNB). Maintaining a sort of fiction that Albert was alive and active, she forbade the prince's presence on royal commissions and public bodies, and, despite her own almost total seclusion, he was not allowed to represent her at public occasions. The prince's Danish connections and his clear hostility to Prussia's conduct in 1864—‘the conduct of the Prussians and the Austrians is really quite scandalous’, he told Lord Spencer (Hibbert, 76)—placed him in political disagreement with his mother, whom he had further alarmed by travelling specially to London to meet the republican Garibaldi in April 1864. In marked contrast to the privileges accorded to Prince Leopold, who acted as his mother's confidential secretary and was given the keys to the dispatch boxes, the queen did not permit the prince of Wales to see cabinet papers or the foreign and colonial correspondence which came to the monarch and which she scrutinized with a very critical eye. He was given a précis of some of the documents. The queen told him such papers could be seen only by ‘those immediately connected’ with her (Magnus, 81). This exclusion was a private mark of his mother's lasting distrust of her son, one against which he unsuccessfully complained, with occasional help from politicians, particularly Gladstone, for a quarter of a century. Disraeli, especially, regarded Wales as indiscreet, a view that weighed strongly with the queen in the 1870s. Gladstone secretly sent him various documents. In 1886 the prince's friend Lord Rosebery, then foreign secretary, began sending him Foreign Office papers, and from 1892 he was allowed to see reports of cabinet meetings (but not the prime minister's letter to the queen which reported cabinet meetings).

The prince of Wales was thus given no positive royal role by his mother in the 1860s. He developed, not surprisingly, a routine which related little to her interests and was little connected to her physical movements. The queen lived at Windsor and Osborne, with a spell at Balmoral in the autumn. The prince lived in London or at Sandringham, coinciding with his mother during Cowes week in August and Deeside in October. In the spring he visited the Riviera. His routine was thus as close to the seasons of society as his mother's was distant. His absence of royal duties left him as a social icon, a role which, especially in the bohemian world of art, opera, and the theatre, he carried off with some panache, playing an important role in the planning of the Royal Albert Hall and of the Royal College of Music, and supporting the Royal Literary Fund. He moreover took on a number of public duties, including presidency of the Society of Arts (1863) and of the 1851 commissioners (1870), and chairman of the governors of Wellington College (1864).

A royal family

In the course of seven years Princess Alexandra, despite bouts of rheumatic fever, bore six children. The Waleses' first child, , was born on 8 January 1864. He was followed on 3 June 1865 by , in 1867 by , in 1868 by , who did not marry, and in 1869 by (later queen of Norway as wife of Haakon VII); the last, a boy, Alexander John, was born prematurely on 6 April 1871 and died after two days. The queen insisted on Albert Victor's being thus called, and declared that all the prince's descendants should bear the name of either Albert or Victoria. Princess Alexandra's chief delight was the rearing of her children. She was not anti-social, and always cut a splendid figure in public, but deafness and disinclination discouraged frequent attendance at public events. Alexandra enjoyed domesticity and doted on her children. The prince combined an amiable home life—despite their very different lifestyles he and Alexandra accommodated each other—with an increasingly vigorous social round. Impatient and easily bored, he moved restlessly from gambling to music-halls and elsewhere by night, from race meetings to yachting and blood sports by day. Money was soon short. Gladstone, as chancellor of the exchequer, declined to help (partly because a proposal for extra expenditure of public money would entitle the Commons to debate the prince's behaviour, partly because he thought the queen should pay the private debts of her family). The prince grew stout and was known in his circle (though not to his face) as Tum Tum.

Royal unpopularity and its resolution

Concern grew among politicians at the conduct of the prince and absence of a role for him. Disraeli encouraged a successful Irish visit in 1868. When Gladstone succeeded Disraeli as prime minister in December 1868, a plan for the prince, in Ireland and elsewhere, was one of his first concerns. However, in April 1869 Gladstone learned that Sir Charles Mordaunt, bt (1836–1897), threatened to cite the prince as a co-respondent in the case for the divorce of his wife, Harriet Sarah. When the petition was filed in January 1870 Mordaunt did not cite the prince as co-respondent, but he was subpoenaed to appear as a witness, which he did on 13 February 1870. In a seven-minute hearing, he denied he had committed adultery and was not cross-examined. The hearing coincided with general criticism of the very different deportments of both the queen and the prince. The latter was several times booed in public, once on 13 June as he drove from the racecourse at the Ascot summer meeting. For the first time since the Chartists, republicanism was seriously and quite generally discussed. In December 1870 Gladstone brought forward a striking plan: the prince should become viceroy of Ireland, with a royal residence, and act almost as a constitutional monarch there in a reconstituted government structure. A long argument, over two years, ensued between prime minister and queen, with no positive result. The immediate problem of the prince's unpopularity was cured by an accident: in October 1871 he caught typhoid (the disease from which it was popularly thought his father had died) from the drains at Londesborough Lodge. A fellow guest, Lord Chesterfield, died on 1 December and the prince's condition was critical. The family assembled at Sandringham. Alfred Austin, the future poet laureate, wrote:
Flash'd from his bed, the electric tidings came,
He is not better; he is much the same.
The queen was informed that his death was imminent. However, the prince rallied on 11 December, and recovered. Gladstone capitalized on the situation, arranging a thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral on 27 February 1872, which he persuaded the queen to attend. The royal party was cheered through the streets of London, and the bubble of republican feeling burst.

The prince's life continued in what Philip Magnus called ‘its former rut’ (Magnus, 125). Increasingly, however, he played the occasional role of representative of the head of state, as when he received the shah of Persia at Buckingham Palace in 1873 and accompanied him on his British tour. In 1874 he received the tsarevich at a great state banquet on 15 May in Marlborough House, the occasion being designed by Sir Frederick Leighton, with the prince dressed as Charles I, an unfortunate analogy but one which emphasized the passing of republicanism. He carried off such occasions with great aplomb, as he did the four speeches he made when visiting Birmingham on 3 November 1874. He charmed the mayor, Joseph Chamberlain, who had in 1870 moved on the fringe of the republican movement, and who from 1877 frequently visited Marlborough House. After an early catastrophe when he found it difficult to read his speech, the prince always spoke fluently from brief notes, and became known for this ability.

In India, 1875–1876

Keen to develop this quasi-regnal role, the prince in 1874 planned an Indian visit, personally co-ordinating the complex process by which royal and cabinet permission was obtained. The visit was financed by the government of India and a supplementary vote from the Commons of £112,500. The prince and his all-male party of eighteen left on 11 October 1875 (the princess of Wales disappointed at being excluded). They landed at Bombay on 8 November, the day before the prince's thirty-fourth birthday, travelled south to Goa and Ceylon, and then to Calcutta, arriving on 23 December, where a large durbar was held on 1 January 1876. They then went to Benares, Lucknow, Cawnpore, and Delhi. Over a month was spent hunting in the shadow of the Himalayas. The prince set a blistering pace and his appetite for hunting exhausted many of his party. On his first day tiger hunting he shot six tigers. The tour, reported for The Times by W. H. Russell, was in general very successful. The prince's easy manner with persons of all levels of society made a strong impression and went some way to assuage the racial tension prevalent in India. The prince, always hostile to any racial or religious prejudice, was strongly critical of the ‘rude and rough’ manner (Lee, 1.399) by which British political officers dealt with Indians. New instructions were issued by Lord Salisbury, the secretary of state, and at least one resident was recalled.

While the prince was in India, the queen persuaded Disraeli to introduce the Royal Titles Act making the British monarch emperor or empress of India. Her failure to inform her son—he read of the announcement in the newspapers—infuriated him, perhaps more than any of the many slights he felt he had endured from the queen. Also while in India news came of a further divorce case, which involved a bundle of the prince's letters and his friends lords Aylesford and Blandford. The royal party set out for Britain from Bombay on 13 March 1876. From Malta, the prince challenged Lord Randolph Churchill to a duel in France, the latter having strenuously defended his brother, Blandford, against a condemnation by the prince. Diplomacy by various members of the cabinet prevented the duel, but the quarrel with Churchill continued until 1883, when the prince formed a close friendship with Lady Randolph.

Public duties

The visit to India was Albert Edward's chief political initiative until he ascended the throne. On his return he was welcomed by the award of honorary degrees and freedoms of various cities. The final year of the annual London satire The Coming k—, so critical in its first year (1870), ended its series with the prince ascending the throne to acclaim on his mother's abdication. Politically, the prince was of moderate Liberal inclination. Unlike his mother, he much preferred Gladstone to Disraeli, and sympathized with the former's difficulties with the queen (in 1898 he and his son, later George V, were to act as Gladstone's pallbearers in the face of strong condemnation from Queen Victoria). But the prince strongly supported Disraeli's Near Eastern policy in the late 1870s, and he urged the invasion of Egypt in 1882; he very much hoped to serve in the Egyptian expedition, but his offer was declined by the cabinet. On the other hand, in 1884 the prince had to be dissuaded from voting in the Lords in favour of the Liberal government's Representation of the People Bill (which the Lords rejected). But in 1886 he was strongly Liberal Unionist on the question of Irish home rule.

On Gladstone's invitation the prince became, in April 1881, a trustee of the British Museum; as such he supported Sunday opening and showed a special interest in the natural history collections and their move to South Kensington. In 1884 the prince was a member of Sir Charles Dilke's royal commission on the housing of working classes, the first occasion on which an heir to the throne served on a royal commission (he had already sat on two committees of the House of Lords, on the cattle plague in 1866 and on scarcity of horses in 1873). Initially he attended meetings of the commission assiduously, visiting East End slums incognito, but the death of his brother Prince Leopold and other family matters distracted him; he attended nineteen out of fifty-one meetings. He subsequently invited Henry Broadhurst, the Lib–Lab MP and a fellow commissioner, to Sandringham.

In 1891 the prince's offer to serve on the royal commission on labour relations was rejected by Lord Salisbury, but in 1892 he was appointed by Gladstone to the royal commission on the aged poor, of which Broadhurst and Joseph Arch, the trade unionist and MP, were also members. The prince attended quite regularly and asked well-informed questions of the witnesses. He was also publicly prominent as the chief active host of the guests at the 1887 jubilee of his mother's accession, as he was in 1897. His chief contribution to the jubilee of 1897 was his establishment, with the approval of the queen and the assistance of Sir Henry Charles Burdett, of the Prince of Wales's Hospital Fund for London, in which the prince took a close personal interest. With skilful fund-raising it soon became a vital fund in the prosperity of the London hospitals. In 1902 it was renamed King Edward's Hospital Fund for London (also known as the King's Fund), and in 1906 it was incorporated.

Unlike his father, the prince was an enthusiastic freemason, especially from 1870 onwards. He presided at public occasions. In 1871 he became patron of Free and Accepted Masons in Ireland during his visit there in August 1871. On 28 April 1875 he was installed as grand master of English freemasons, being elected to the office on the resignation of Lord Ripon (who had converted to Roman Catholicism). The prince quite often presided at fund-raising dinners for the masons, on one occasion raising £51,000 in an evening. On ascending the throne he retired as grand master and became protector of English freemasons, following the precedent of George IV. The prince's active sponsorship of freemasonry set a trend for the royal family of the future.

Public scandals

The prince never masked his enthusiasm for beautiful women, though none outshone the beauty of his wife. He carefully confined his serious attention to married women with compliant husbands. He had no embarrassment about his liaison with , whom he met in May 1877 and whose stage career he superintended. She was, in the view of one of his biographers, ‘almost maîtresse en titre’, accompanying the prince to Paris and to the Ascot races. From 1883 , a striking society beauty, was the chief focus of the prince's extra-marital attention. It became known in 1890—it was said that the news came out through the indiscretion of Daisy Brooke, the ‘babbling Brooke’ as she was dubbed—that the prince was present at Tranby Croft, near Hull, at a game of baccarat (illegal in Britain), at which Sir William Gordon-Cumming appeared to be cheating. The baccarat and the cheating outraged different sections of society. Together, they ensured a scandal. Gordon-Cumming brought an action against the five persons who claimed to have witnessed the cheating, and subpoenaed the prince as a witness. The case was heard by Lord Coleridge as lord chief justice from 1 to 9 June 1891. Sir Edward Clarke, the solicitor-general, represented Gordon-Cumming, whom he believed innocent, and was unhelpful to the prince in court. Gordon-Cumming lost the case, was dismissed from the army, and expelled from his clubs. The scandal was worse than the Mordaunt affair, for public tolerance in the 1890s was much narrower than in the 1870s, and the prince was shown up at the trial as, at the least, negligent. Furthermore, Lady River, a pamphlet by Mrs Gerald Paget, which was circulated privately but widely, gave details of the prince's liaison with Lady Brooke and of a quarrel with Lord and Lady Charles Beresford in which Lady Brooke and the prince were involved; it was discussed in Truth and other such journals. About 1894, soon after Lady Brooke became countess of Warwick and after she had begun to make her developing socialism a frequent topic of conversation with the prince, their affair cooled. In 1898 Princess Alexandra—always hitherto distant from Daisy Warwick, perhaps sensing a liaison that was more than the usual dalliance—was reconciled to her.

The prince rode out the scandals of the 1890s. The newspapers never seriously harried him, except when people of his own circle brought him to court, and the British in the 1890s had no general wish to see their future monarch fail.

Nearing the throne: the succession and international affairs

By the 1890s the prince's accession to the throne could not be far off: the jubilee of 1897 was seen as the old queen's apotheosis. The prince had not played a very prominent part in the education of his own children. In 1898 the Commons voted a capital sum of £60,000 and an increase in his annual income of £36,000 per annum to enable him to provide better for them. The eldest son, Prince Eddy, created duke of Clarence and Avondale in May 1890, was much the most problematic. He had his father's vices without his canniness. The prince sent his sons to be naval cadets on HMS Britannia in 1877. George blossomed in the navy; Eddy floundered. If some had from time to time questioned the appropriateness of the prince of Wales's character for that of a monarch, Eddy promised a far more daunting future. In what had become a life of considerable dissipation, Eddy suddenly, in 1890, fell in love with Princess Hélène of Orléans, a Roman Catholic and the daughter of the comte de Paris, pretender to the throne of France. The prince of Wales favoured the match; the princess was willing to join the Church of England; but Lord Salisbury, as prime minister, and the comte de Paris, for religious reasons, vetoed it. In 1891, while the prince was preoccupied with the Tranby Croft affair, Princess Alexandra brought forward Princess Mary of Teck, whose engagement to the duke of Clarence was ended by his death on 14 January 1892, his brother George thus becoming the prince of Wales's heir. The prince of Wales was more grief-stricken by this event than perhaps any other, but he must have soon been relieved at Prince George's much more obvious suitability for the throne. George was quickly engaged and married to Mary of Teck, and in June 1894 and December 1895 the succession was assured by the births of the future Edward VIII and George VI. A decade which started unhappily and uncertainly for the monarchy in fact saw its succession satisfactorily settled for the next fifty years.

In personal terms also, the decade finished well for the prince. In February 1898 he formed two liaisons which lasted the rest of his life. Sister Agnes Keyser, matron of a nursing home for army officers at 17 Grosvenor Crescent, London, was attractive and discreet. She often entertained Albert Edward, both as prince and king, to a plain dinner. first entertained the prince in February 1898; she was soon his mistress, ‘which was intelligible in view of the lady's good looks, vivacity and cleverness’, as Lord Hardinge noted in 1910 (Magnus, 260).

As international relations deteriorated in the 1890s, the prince—one of the most cosmopolitan figures in Britain and related to most European monarchs, but now older than most of them—played an increasingly avuncular role in the European royal social scene, which remained of direct political importance, especially in Russia and Germany. The prince was on poor terms with his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II. His stock comment on him was ‘William the Great needs to learn that he is living at the end of the nineteenth century and not in the Middle Ages’ (Magnus, 209). During the Kaiser's visit to Vienna in 1888 the prince of Wales believed he had been snubbed. Wilhelm complained that the prince treated him as a nephew rather than as an emperor. During the Kaiser's rather successful state visit to Britain in 1889 the prince played an active and diplomatic role, despite the absence of a sufficient apology from the Kaiser for the Vienna episode, and from that point relations were superficially improved. In 1894, on the accession as tsar of Nicholas II, the prince and princess led a successful British mission to St Petersburg, being congratulated by Lord Rosebery, the prime minister, for their patriotic work. Privately the prince thought the new tsar ‘weak as water’ (ibid., 249).

The prince formed the view—rather earlier than many of his compatriots—that Britain was dangerously isolated. He encouraged contacts with Portugal, and during the Venezuela incident between Britain and the USA in December 1895 sent a conciliatory telegram to America regardless of instructions from the prime minister, Lord Salisbury, to remain silent. The prince took especial care with the arrangements for the tsar's visit to Balmoral in 1896, but he was excluded from the talks held between the tsar, the queen, and the British prime minister. He also worked hard to make a success of the Kaiser's visit in November 1899, just after the start of the South African War. During the war the prince increased the number of his official visits. Cautious about foreign opinion, he cancelled his annual trip to the Riviera in 1900, leaving instead to stay with his wife's relatives in Denmark. On his journey thither, on 4 April 1900 in Brussels a Belgian anarchist student named Sipido fired at him through the carriage window. The stationmaster disarmed Sipido and the prince was unhurt. On the latter's return to London huge crowds greeted him, reflecting a popularity which had steadily grown during his mother's last years and was confirmed by popular reaction to the prince's remarkable racing results in 1900.

Racing and other sports

From 1863, aged twenty-one, the prince attended the Derby and most of the classics. From his middle years, racing in Britain and France became his chief sporting passion. From 1880 the Jockey Club at Newmarket, to which he was elected in 1864, provided him with an apartment, and from 1885 he entertained all its members on Derby evening at Marlborough House and, after 1900, at Buckingham Palace. His colours—purple, gold braid, scarlet sleeves, black velvet cap with gold fringe—were first seen at Newmarket in 1877. His first success was Leonidas at Aldershot on 14 April 1880. He soon raced both on the flat and over fences, though always more successfully on the flat. Lord Marcus Beresford was his chief adviser. In 1883 John Porter of Kingclere became his trainer, and in 1885 the prince opened a stud at Sandringham, his mare Perdita II being an important and fecund purchase. From 1893 Richard Marsh at Egerton House, Newmarket, was the prince's and later the king's trainer. From that year the prince was successful, and sometimes very successful, and by a long way the most successful of royal owners in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1896 Persimmon won the Derby and the St Leger, and in 1897 he won the Eclipse Stakes and the Ascot Gold cup. In 1900, the prince's best year, he won the Grand National with Ambush II and, with Diamond Jubilee, the five chief races of those days (the Two Thousand Guineas, the Newmarket Stakes, the Eclipse, the Derby, and the St Leger), a remarkable achievement by any standard, making the prince the leading owner with £29,586 in winning stakes. He bred Persimmon and Diamond Jubilee at the Sandringham stud, both by St Simon out of Perdita II. Diamond Jubilee he sold to an Argentinian breeder; the skeleton of Persimmon (d. 1908 from an accident) was presented to the Natural History Museum. In an era when the Derby was the nation's chief sporting event, and easily the best attended, the prince's successes—so enthusiastically received both by himself and the huge number who backed his horses—easily outweighed the memory of the scandals in which he had been involved.

The prince was an equally enthusiastic sailor, often being on board during his yachts' races. He succeeded his father as commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes in 1863 and from 1874 was commodore of the Royal Thames Yacht Club. His first yacht was Dagmar; he subsequently raced Hildegarde, Formosa, and Aline. In 1892 he built a 300 ton racing cutter, Britannia, which won many races and served as a base when touring in the Mediterranean. The Kaiser treated the Cowes regatta in an increasingly competitive manner, almost as a test of national virility. His new yacht, Meteor II, outclassed Britannia, and the prince of Wales ceased to race in 1897.

The ‘Marlborough House set’

Associated with the prince's racing was the ‘Marlborough House set’, the circle around him who accompanied him on racing and other trips. From the 1870s the set constituted an important focus for London society. It was partly composed of raffish aristocrats, some of whom became publicly well known through the various scandals in which the prince was involved, partly of financiers and merchants, including Nathaniel Rothschild (whose peerage in 1885 was attributed to the prince of Wales), Reuben and Arthur Sassoon, Baron Maurice de Hirsch, Sir Ernest Cassel, Sir Thomas Lipton, Sir Blundell Maple, and Horace Farquhar. That some of these were Jewish attracted unfavourable comment, some of it strongly antisemitic. From an early stage, the prince ‘discovered a special affinity with Jews’ (Magnus, 106). Sir Anthony de Rothschild was the prince's financial adviser until his death in 1876. Other Rothschilds then advised until 1890, when Hirsch, who had met the prince in 1886, became both financial adviser and confidant until he died in 1890. His place was then filled by Cassel, Hirsch's executor, who, especially from 1897, formed a close friendship with the prince which lasted throughout the latter's reign as king. The prince enjoyed the company of rich men—some speculators like Hirsch and Cassel, others cautious financiers like the Rothschilds; some, but by no means all, of these rich men were Jews. He rather enjoyed rows with more traditional members of the British and continental nobility, who affronted the prince by cold-shouldering his friends.

Edward VII

Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901. Her son had not wished for the throne. He had expressed no frustration at his mother's long old age, only at her exclusion of him from the duties and confidences which as a prince of Wales in his fifties he thought it reasonable to expect. He at once announced that he would reign as Edward VII, explaining in an elegant impromptu speech to the privy council that the name Albert could be associated with no one but his father. His long-serving secretary, Sir Francis Knollys, continued in post throughout his reign. The new king was almost sixty, stout and ageing, but very active. His enthusiasm for action, if not channelled, quickly became irritable boredom, and his bonhomie sometimes had a sharp edge. He was the first emperor of India. To the title king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, parliament added ‘and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas’ (1 Edw. VII c. 15). The abandoned suggestion of ‘and of all the Britains [sic] beyond the Seas’ was, however, echoed on the new sovereign's coinage, which included ‘Britt : Omn : Rex’.

The prince's accession to the throne was a striking moment in the history of the British monarchy. Like Pip at the end of the film of Great Expectations (1946), Edward VII tore down the drapes of the Victorian court and let the light flood in. He at once reorganized the royal finances and palaces (including the removal of various busts and plaques to John Brown). His reorganization and refurbishment was aided by an act of 1901 which increased the monarch's annual income to £470,000, which, together with Sir Ernest Cassel's astute investments, made him much wealthier than his mother (taking currency fluctuations into account, Edward VII was the highest paid British monarch). Sir Francis Knollys was able to inform the commission on royal finances in 1901 that, contrary to public rumour, the new king had no debts, and was indeed, Knollys claimed, the first English monarch to ascend the throne in credit (Lee, 2.26).

The king transformed the court, which for forty years had been almost dormant as a force in metropolitan society, for unlike his mother he lived much of the year in London, and entertained or dined out almost every evening. His enthusiasm for his post was not limited to the presentation of the monarchy, skilful though he was at this aspect. Edward VII had an active sense of the royal prerogative. As we shall see, his autonomous actions in foreign policy were remarkable. In domestic politics he sought personally to supervise many aspects of royal affairs, and to this end he recovered into his own hands many offices which under his mother had been delegated, such as the supervision of the royal parks. Especially in the early years of his reign ministers, to their surprise, looked back to Queen Victoria as relatively supine in official affairs.

On 14 February 1901 Edward VII revived the practice of the monarch's personally opening the new session of parliament (a practice dormant since 1886, and performed by Victoria only six times before that). The anti-Roman Catholic declaration, required from a new sovereign on first addressing parliament, offended some contemporaries. The king's attempts to have it changed were initially unsuccessful, and his son George V was required similarly to declaim; but a new form of declaration was adopted by parliament in August 1910.

The king's coronation was arranged for 26 June 1902. Overwork, overweight, and restlessness had already lowered his reserves when in mid-June appendicitis and peritonitis were diagnosed by Sir Francis Lake; the press was informed only that the king was suffering from lumbago. He was with difficulty persuaded to disappoint the assembling crowds and dignitaries by postponing the ceremony and undergoing an operation. The operation was successfully performed on 23 June and the king was well enough to be crowned on 9 August in a shortened ceremony. To try to counter the flow of political honours and to broaden the character of national reward, the king in the spring of 1902 proposed an order of merit, with twenty-four members (and unlimited honorary foreign members), which would mark distinction in the arts, sciences, literature, and the armed forces; the order was instituted by letters patent on 23 June 1902, John Morley and G. F. Watts being among the first members. The king kept appointment to the order in his own hands and appointed some members, for example the controversial figure of Admiral Sir John Fisher, without any consultation.

Political relations, 1901–1905

Shortly after his operation the king accepted, on 11 July 1902, the resignation of Lord Salisbury as prime minister. A. J. Balfour, his successor, was not a natural companion of the king, who found Balfour's intellectual manner off-putting. They shared, however, an interest in the development of the committee of imperial defence and in motor cars (both being in the forefront of motoring), and a hostility to Irish home rule. Balfour's government was soon embroiled in a major dispute over tariff reform, in which the king took a keen interest, deploring the social injustice and danger of taxes on food and proposing on 18 August 1903 (from Marienbad) to the prime minister that the matter be referred to a royal commission. Though the delaying consequences of this would, at least in retrospect, have been welcome to Balfour, it was not, in the political circumstances, a practical suggestion. On 15 September 1903 the king learned that the prime minister's policy was to be that of retaliation, not full-scale tariff reform, but that his cabinet did not, as yet, know this. The king was at Balmoral in September 1903 when Balfour's cabinet disintegrated, and he played no direct part in the crisis. Balfour's announcement of resignations from the cabinet without prior notice to the sovereign considerably irritated the king.

Balfour's premiership was a period of continual political instability which Edward VII found wearing. He played an important part in one of the controversies: army and naval reform. The king took his role as head of the forces seriously. This was manifested in part in his obsession with uniforms and his fury when they were worn incorrectly. But the reform of the forces was a serious matter with important political implications. In 1903, prompted by Lord Esher, the king took up the cause of the introduction of an army board on the model of the Admiralty. Though he won over Lord Roberts, the commander-in-chief, and others, he found St John Brodrick, the war secretary, an opponent; when the cabinet was reshuffled in September 1903, Brodrick was unwillingly moved to the India Office. The king was annoyed when Esher declined to replace Brodrick at the War Office. The king was much impressed by the ability of John Fisher and was converted to his view of naval reform, and defence reform more generally. He supported the Fisher faction of naval reformers and strongly backed the report produced in January 1903 by Esher, Fisher, and Sir George Clarke which led to extensive reforms in the War Office and considerable extensions of the powers and role of the committee of imperial defence. In later years, the king used to monitor the dates of its meetings and complain to the Liberal cabinet when he thought them too infrequent. The king was incensed by an incident in July 1905 when H. O. Arnold-Forster, Brodrick's successor, having made an incautious remark to the Commons' public accounts committee, appeared to make a requirement rather than a request for the king speedily to sign an army order. Balfour offered to ask Arnold-Forster to resign if Esher would take over; the latter again declined.

Political relations, 1905–1908

On 4 December 1905 Arthur Balfour and his cabinet resigned. The king thought this ‘unnecessary and a mistake. The formation of a new Govt. will give trouble in many ways, and I presume I shall have to send for Sir H. C.-B.’ (Magnus, 346). The king sent for Campbell-Bannerman, who kissed hands on 5 December, successfully formed a cabinet (against Balfour's hopes), and won a striking victory in the general election held in January 1906. Campbell-Bannerman was in fact the first official prime minister, for by a royal warrant of 20 March 1905 the office was formally recognized when Balfour's successor was appointed, its holder taking fourth place in precedence after the royal family. Some have seen this as a diminution of royal prerogative, but recognition of the fact that the United Kingdom had a prime minister did no more than record a position which had been apparent for half a century or more.

The king worked through Knollys to ensure that the Liberal Imperialists joined the cabinet. Campbell-Bannerman, who declined the king's suggestion that he take a peerage on account of his health, was five years older than the king and in some respects almost a comrade. They both spent much time at German spas and each had a boisterous sense of humour. But the prime minister was a sturdy radical and declined to require Liberals who expressed political views disliked by the court to apologize. On the personal side, however, the king got on well with John Burns, sometimes seen as a socialist. Despite a disagreement on the number of peers to be created following the change of government, the king formed a close bond on meeting Campbell-Bannerman in August 1906 at Marienbad, to the extent of personally arranging the funeral of Lady Campbell-Bannerman when she died there during their holiday. The prime minister never recovered from his wife's death, and the absence of information from him on the cabinet's decisions became a matter of complaint on the part of the king (the prime minister was still expected to write personally to the king about cabinet and parliamentary decisions and progress). In 1906 the Education Bill foreshadowed much that was to be characteristic about the 1906 parliament: the Lords were intent on frustrating the Liberal majority in the Commons; the king made a sustained effort in November and December 1906 to play the role of mediator, but was unable to prevent the Lords' destruction of the bill. The king agreed with much of the Unionist case, but thought the Lords' action foolhardy; he resented both sides for having, as he saw it, in their different ways brought the crown into politics. In 1907 several bills were similarly treated, including the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill, the latter leading to a difference between the king and the cabinet as to whether the king's speech proroguing parliament should express regret that the measure had failed to pass into law; an impasse developed, solved by complete omission of the contentious paragraph.

The king was suspicious of Liberal policy towards South Africa. He complained both at the absence of consultation with him on the ending of employment of Chinese indentured labour in South Africa and at the rapidity of the decision. He felt that he received inadequate advice from the cabinet when the Cullinan diamond was offered to him by the Transvaal—a gift that caused significant dissent there. (The diamond was eventually graciously accepted: the uncut stone weighed almost 3026 carats; when cut, it substantially added to the value of the crown jewels.) Edward VII strongly supported the principle of federation in South Africa, but he disliked the appointment of Herbert Gladstone as first governor-general (he had also disliked his home secretaryship) and unsuccessfully tried to get Asquith to find an alternative.

Style and the leisure pursuits of a monarch

Edward VII saw that style was critical to public perception of a modern monarchy. He followed a punctual pattern of life, partly designed to prevent his becoming bored. After spending the first part of the year in London for the opening of parliament and the season, he would visit France—usually Biarritz and its Hôtel du Palais—in March, and then cruise in the Mediterranean. During his reign he often travelled abroad as duke of Lancaster. In the summer the king spent each weekend at Sandringham, at a friend's house, or at his private apartments in the Jockey Club at Newmarket. In June he moved to Windsor Castle for the races at Ascot, then to the duke of Richmond's for Goodwood races in July. He was at Cowes for the regatta in August, and then at Hotel Weimar in Marienbad (while the queen was in Denmark with her relatives); the rest of the summer was passed in a combination of visits to friends with houses near relevant racecourses and staying in Scottish houses, but with only a shortish spell at Balmoral. Autumn saw the king much at Sandringham. He travelled chiefly by train, but increasingly also in one of his fleet of claret-coloured cars. He had a passion for the new form of transport and did much to popularize it; he took especial pride in fast driving and would instruct his chauffeur to pursue and overtake. On the Brighton road he liked to exceed 60 m.p.h. (three times the speed limit). The king remained, despite his vast size, an active sportsman: he was an occasional golfer; he kept goal in ice-hockey matches at Sandringham; and he was always an enthusiastic shot. He always attended church on Sunday morning, but for the rest of the day he relaxed the previously strict Sabbatarianism of the court, deliberately trying to introduce a continental view of Sundays. In the evening, the king enjoyed the new game of bridge (Mrs Keppel, an excellent player, being his usual partner) as well as his customary pursuits. He did not patronize the arts, except the theatre, and he liked paintings to be strictly representational. His taste in art was uncharacteristically old-fashioned. His vast appetite was legendary, and he ate a full meal at breakfast, luncheon, tea, dinner (normally twelve courses), and supper. He drank moderately, but usually smoked twelve enormous cigars and twenty cigarettes a day.

The court was thus the epitome of conspicuous consumption, and in this it set the tone of the British propertied classes in the Edwardian period, as it quickly came to be known. The apotheosis of the king's sporting life occurred on 26 May 1909 when his Minoru, ridden by Herbert Jones, won the Derby at 4–1 by half a head. He remains the only monarch to have won the race, and his victory occasioned a vast demonstration of public enthusiasm.

The king's close attention to dress and punctuality was legendary; he reprimanded incorrect dress or wrongly worn decorations without deference to rank or diplomacy, and complained bitterly and vocally when a servant, friend, politician—or the habitually unpunctual queen—was late. He was himself fairly conservative in his dress, attempting to delay the decline of the frock coat and to revive the fashion of knee breeches with evening dress. As prince of Wales he had popularized the modern dinner jacket with black tie, and as king his wearing of a tweed suit at Goodwood and a Norfolk jacket made them fashionable. From necessity he customarily wore the bottom button of his waistcoat undone and was followed in this in Britain and the empire but not on the continent or in the USA. His wearing of the Homburg felt hat on leisure occasions led to a marked change in the headgear of his male subjects, as, to a lesser degree, did his wearing of Tyrolean hats. However, his practice of creasing his trousers at the side rather than the front did not produce frequent emulation.

Scotland, Wales, and Ireland

The title of Edward VII not surprisingly occasioned protest in Scotland, where he was the first Edward to hold the throne, the first three English Edwards having been excluded from Scotland by battle. His ordinal was commonly omitted in Scotland, even by the Church of Scotland in loyal addresses. Following the coronation, the king and queen made a cruise in Victoria and Albert, during which they visited Wales, the Isle of Man, and the west coast of Scotland; following the usual stay at Balmoral, the royal party went south via A. J. Balfour's house near Edinburgh. Even so, this was not an official tour of the non-English countries of the United Kingdom mainland and the king's attentions to Wales and Scotland were never more than routine.

The king and queen visited Ireland in July–August 1903, despite the refusal of the Dublin corporation to present the usual loyal address. He visited Maynooth College, went to Belfast, and toured parts of Ireland by motor car. In April–May 1904 he was again in Ireland, on a private visit, staying with the duke of Devonshire at Lismore and attending Punchestown and Leopardstown races. He also visited Dublin. On 10 July 1907 the king and queen opened at Dublin the International Exhibition. The king was not a home-ruler, and his reign came too late for a revival of the various initiatives for a form of dual monarchy which he and Gladstone had unsuccessfully proposed in the 1870s.

The king and foreign policy: the tour of 1903

No British monarch of recent times came to the throne better equipped to play a constructive role in foreign affairs. The king was well travelled and well connected. He was accustomed to spend part of each year in Germany and France, and as king he continued to do so. He could speak in public in French and German. At his accession the rulers of Germany, Russia, Greece, and Portugal were his close relatives, and the circle widened when in October 1905 Prince Charles of Denmark (his son-in-law, married to his youngest daughter, Maud) was elected king of Norway as Haakon VII, and in May 1906 his niece Princess Ena married Alfonso XIII, king of Spain. The king's easy public manner made him a natural ambassador, though his ministers, accustomed perhaps to Victoria's hostility to public engagements, were slow to take advantage of this.

Edward VII's reign began just as British foreign policy began a wide-ranging and critical readjustment. Isolated during the South African War and nervous about strategic over-extension, Lord Lansdowne (who succeeded Lord Salisbury as foreign secretary in 1900) negotiated an agreement (normally referred to as an alliance) with Japan, signed on 30 January 1902, which markedly reduced Britain's over-extension in the Indian and Pacific oceans. This end of isolation concurred with the policy advocated by the king when prince of Wales, and he supported its negotiation, making helpful suggestions about not offending Germany at the time of the agreement's publication (Gooch and Temperley, 2.121). When the French objected to the agreement, the king minuted a dispatch: ‘It shows more than ever the necessity of an agreement with Japan which naturally interferes with Russia's views and possible action’ (ibid., 2.136). As the possibility of an alliance with Germany markedly diminished after the abortive negotiations in 1900, the Foreign Office turned instead to a settlement of imperial differences with France, hitherto seen by Britain as her most probable opponent, should there be a war in Europe.

In November 1902 the king was reluctantly persuaded to entertain the Kaiser at Sandringham. The visit did not go well, the king being heard to exclaim, ‘Thank God, he's gone’ as his nephew departed (Magnus, 307). The king then personally planned a state visit to a number of European countries, to take place in the spring of 1903, in the form of a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Victoria and Albert. This was to be the first state visit abroad by a British monarch since 1855. Edward VII saw it as a personal initiative and initially correspondence was carried on in complete secret, with even the queen, the king's secretary, and the cabinet kept in ignorance. Sir Edmund Monson, ambassador in Paris, told the Foreign Office that he believed the king had a direct and secret means of communication with President Loubet of France. The king refused to be accompanied on the visit by a cabinet minister or a Foreign Office adviser (the usual form, even on a non-state visit abroad), save Charles Hardinge (1858–1944), an under-secretary (Hardinge was upgraded to minister-plenipotentiary for the duration of the visit and accompanied the king on all his subsequent diplomatic forays). The visit to Portugal, Gibraltar, and Malta in April 1903 went well. The king's plan was to return via France; he had agreed to the cabinet's advice not to visit the pope in Rome. Many of the details of the tour were improvised as it proceeded; the king, to Sir Frederick Ponsonby's amazement, ‘himself made the arrangements and supervised every detail’ (ibid., 308). Despite the cabinet's strongly expressed injunction the king hoped to visit Rome, especially when he heard that British Roman Catholics would be offended if he did not. A row by telegraph between the king and the prime minister ensued, the upshot of which was that the king visited the pope informally on 29 April during his state visit to the kingdom of Italy, the first occasion on which a British or English sovereign had ever visited the pope in Rome (as prince of Wales the king had three times visited Pius IX).

The king returned via Paris—the essential purpose of his tour—where he arrived, accompanied by Sir Edmund Monson, the British ambassador, on 1 May 1903. The cabinet, already rather shaken by the row over the Vatican visit, would probably have preferred the king not to go. Although behind the scenes British and French officials were working towards what became the Anglo-French entente of 8 April 1904, relations between the officials anticipated rather than reflected cordiality between the two states. In 1889 the British government had not recognized the celebrations marking the centenary of the French Revolution. Following the Fashoda incident in 1898, the prince of Wales (as he then was) had been hissed in the streets of Paris in 1899. In 1900 he had cancelled his annual visit to the Riviera and had declined, despite the urgings of Lord Salisbury, to attend the Universal Exhibition in Paris that year. In 1903 the crowds were initially muted. The king carried off, unperturbed, several tricky moments. The audience at the Théâtre Français seemed uncertain. During the interval the king walked in the foyer; spotting Mlle Jeanne Granier, an actress whom he knew, he kissed her hand, remarking in French ‘Mademoiselle, I remember applauding you in London where you represented all the grace and spirit of France.’ The gesture and words went round Paris and the visit became a triumph. The king easily maintained monarchic dignity while acknowledging a republican setting. Eyre Crowe wrote in his famous Foreign Office memorandum of 1 January 1907 that the fact that the gradual evolution of good Franco-British relations, which was the best the Foreign Office could expect, ‘declared itself with unexpected rapidity and unmistakable emphasis was without doubt due, in the first place, to the initiative and tactful perseverance of the King, warmly recognised and applauded on both sides of the Channel’ (Gooch and Temperley, 3.398). On 6 July 1903 President Loubet and Delcassé, the French minister for foreign affairs, were, in turn, the king's guests, staying at St James's Palace. The king balanced the entente by a visit to the Kaiser at Kiel on 29 June 1904. He went on his yacht, Victoria and Albert, accompanied by a naval escort; the visit had been requested for Berlin, but the Kaiser wished to show his uncle the growing German navy. The king's laughter at the Kaiser's alarm at the ‘yellow peril’ was not well received, and the visit confirmed a cooling in Anglo-German relations following the entente.

The visit to Paris in 1903 was the political culmination of the king's life. It was a high-risk, personal initiative. It could have done harm if it had failed; it probably did some good, though perhaps not as much as the strongly anti-German Eyre Crowe suggested. Where his mother had intervened in diplomacy forcefully against ministers but almost wholly behind the scenes, Edward VII's interventions, pushed through against unwilling ministers, were public and risky. His son, George V, was canny enough to see their dangers; his grandson, Edward VIII, was not. The king's initiatives were popularly assumed to be more influential than they were, a view given some substance by J. Holland Rose in his lectures The Origins of the War (1915), which A. J. Balfour privately deplored as ‘a foolish piece of gossip … so far as I remember, during the year which you and I were his Ministers, he never made an important suggestion of any sort on large questions of policy’ (Balfour to Lansdowne, 11 Jan 1915; Newton, 293). Balfour underestimated the king, for his 1903 visit was a policy in itself.

Russia and Germany

The king followed it up by stimulating the interest of Aleksandr Izvolsky, Russian foreign minister from 1906, whom he met in Copenhagen in April 1904, in an Anglo-Russian understanding. In his prompt action—almost immediately after the signing of the French entente—the king was at least abreast, and perhaps ahead, of Foreign Office thinking, and he further encouraged the extension of the entente to Russia by strongly urging the appointment of Hardinge as Russian ambassador; Hardinge arrived in Russia in May 1904. In August 1904 (against Lansdowne's initial advice) the king sent Prince Louis of Battenberg to Russia for the christening of the Tsarevich Alexei, at which the prince had fruitful discussions with the tsar. In that year, the king's comments on the Anglo-Japanese agreement were poorly informed and required correction by the foreign secretary.

The king continued his sometimes unexpected interventions. In 1905 he made Admiral Togo, who had sunk the Russian fleet, a member of the Order of Merit, and he encouraged his son-in-law, Prince Charles of Denmark, to stand for election to the throne of Norway (though the British government was strictly neutral). An abrasive letter to the Kaiser, when the latter suggested a visit to Hamburg for a reconciliation, though hardly without provocation, gave the excuse for extensive displays of German grievance. These were to a degree palliated during the Kaiser's state visit to Britain in November 1907, which the king had helped to plan during his customary visit to Germany in August. As usual, he gave very close personal attention to the plans for the visit, which included a notable lunch at Windsor on 17 November with twenty-four royal persons present, showing the king as the central and reconciling force among European royalties, ‘the Uncle of Europe’. The visit was felt by both the British and German courts to have cleared the air. Following it, the Kaiser stayed at Highcliffe Castle, where his conversation with Colonel Stuart-Wortley was noted down and published a year later in the Daily Telegraph (28 October 1908).

Edward VII used his relationship to the Russian court to soften its cautious attitude towards an entente with Britain. The tsar found his bonhomie hard to take, and the Kaiser with some success encouraged his cousin in the view that Edward VII was an ‘arch-intriguer and arch-mischief maker’. The king declined to visit Russia in 1906, favouring the Duma which the tsar so disliked, but the Foreign Office felt that his assistance had been important in the making of the entente. Following the signing of the entente, the king planned to make a state visit in June 1908 to the tsar at Reval. News of the visit provoked British Labour and radical-Liberal hostility to what seemed like British acceptance of tsarist atrocities; a motion critical of the government was defeated by 225 votes to 59 on 4 June. Keir Hardie's comments on the king were ruled out of order by the speaker. By withdrawing invitations to Hardie, Victor Grayson, and Arthur Ponsonby to attend a royal garden party the king prolonged the affair. Ponsonby, a Liberal and the son of Victoria's secretary, made an apology, but the Labour Party, seeing the king's action as an attempt to influence the course of debates in the Commons, kept the question in the public eye, Hardie stating that he would in future attend no further royal functions. This was a rare lapse in Edward VII's handling of domestic questions and his irritability, usually kept under control with respect to public affairs, may have been increased by a bronchial condition.

The visit to Russia in June 1908 was, even so, in general regarded as a considerable success. The king, however, disconcerted his government by acting upon a memorandum from Lord Rothschild and his brothers on the persecution of Russian Jews to the extent of prodding Sir Arthur Nicolson, ambassador to Russia, to raise the question with P. A. Stolypin, the Russian chief minister. The king did not go beyond this, which upset Rothschild, but he was more forthright in response to a request for his friend Sir Ernest Cassel, who wished assistance in floating a new Russian loan: ‘I rather fancy that the king did ask the Emperor to receive Cassel if he goes to Russia, and emphasised the fact of his being a Privy Counsellor’, Hardinge told Knollys (13 June 1904; Magnus, 407). This initiative soon got out, giving the Kaiser the opportunity to describe his uncle as nothing but ‘a jobber in stocks and shares’ (ibid.). In other respects, the king's diplomacy charmed his nephew the tsar. Seizing the moment, he made Nicholas II an admiral of the (British) fleet, an unconstitutional act which disturbed the cabinet but consolidated the success of the visit. Its very success increased German fears of encirclement by the three entente powers, and in August 1908 the visit to Russia was balanced by a visit to Germany, during which a meeting at Friedrischof on 11 August 1908 pleased the Kaiser, the king shrewdly leaving to Hardinge the raising of the contentious subject of the German naval building programme. On 28 October the Daily Telegraph published the Kaiser's interview, relaying his views of a year previously. His reported enthusiasm for good relations with the United Kingdom caused a storm in Germany and suspicion in Britain. The Kaiser then balanced his remarks through an interview with W. B. Hale of the New York World, in which he was reported as saying that Edward VII was personally corrupt and his court rotten. The Kaiser repudiated the report, but the king was thrown into a further fit of depression, telling Knollys: ‘I know the E[mperor] hates me, and never loses an opportunity of saying so (behind my back) whilst I have always been civil and nice to him’ (25 Nov 1908; ibid., 401).

The king's relations with the Kaiser were never broken off, but what had been a reasonably cordial façade became much more difficult to sustain. The episode occurred as a reciprocal state visit by the king to Berlin was being planned: ‘The Foreign Office to gain their object will not care a pin what humiliation I have to put up with’, the king told Knollys (ibid.). The visit, undertaken at a time when Anglo-German relations were markedly in decline, was made in February 1909. During it the king was, uniquely, accompanied by a cabinet minister, Lord Crewe, as well as by Hardinge. The visit began well, but on 10 February the king suffered a seizure during a lunch at the British embassy and the subsequent programme was curtailed. This was his last state visit.

A royal foreign policy?

Edward VII was a significant but not a determining force in the making and maintenance of the ententes. All the major European powers save France had monarchs directly responsible for their countries' foreign policy. In such a context Edward VII's role as head of state and uncle of the rulers of Germany and Russia was ambivalent. He was seen in Germany as the architect of anti-German encirclement and of the policy of British entente with France and Russia. This credited Edward VII with more power than he either exercised or desired. He realized, however, much better than either the Conservative or the Liberal cabinets with which he worked, that the context of the times, and especially the character of German and Russian policy making, expected the active intervention of the British head of state and that, as long as his views accorded with those of his cabinets, he could encourage the evolution of foreign policy at both the symbolic and the familial level. Like the British governments of the time, he had no defined ‘anti-German’ position but, like them, he hedged his bets for as long as he could, trying to balance the entente by resuscitating when possible the former friendship with Germany. His irritation with the Kaiser made the latter task difficult and the tradition of personal diplomacy, so effective elsewhere, was, especially after 1907, a disadvantage in Anglo-German relations. It was also the case that the king energetically encouraged the promotion in the Foreign Office and in the embassies of members of the ‘Hardinge gang’—the group of diplomatists associated with Charles Hardinge, including Sir Francis Bertie and Sir Arthur Nicolson, many of whom were strongly anti-German. He intervened with the Russian government on several occasions to preserve the position of Izvolsky as foreign secretary, and with the Austrian government to keep Albert Mensdorff as ambassador in London. And he was as capable as his mother of a rebuke to a cabinet minister, though he lacked that studious attention to detail which made her so hard to fob off.

Domestic affairs, 1908–1909

When Campbell-Bannerman resigned on 5 April 1908, the king incurred much adverse comment by not returning to Britain from Biarritz, thereby requiring H. H. Asquith to journey through France to kiss hands. It was a discourtesy more characteristic of Queen Victoria than Edward VII. Relations with Campbell-Bannerman had been personally good, despite the king's various complaints. Those with Asquith were much stiffer. The king thought Asquith ‘deficient in manners but in nothing else’ (Magnus, 421). He shared with Asquith a hostility to female suffrage—an open question in the cabinet—but he increasingly differed from him and the Liberal government on many aspects of domestic policy. However, he also thought the Unionists' ready use of their hereditary majority in the House of Lords to be a tactical error. On 12 October 1908, with Asquith's approval, he summoned Lord Lansdowne and warned him of the dangers to the Lords of excessive obstruction. The Lords threw out the Licensing Bill on 27 November, as they had already in that session mangled the third Liberal Education Bill of the parliament. The danger for the king was apparent: the Unionist peers, and indeed the Unionist Party as a whole, claimed that the non-elected elements of the constitution—the king and the House of Lords—in some way better represented the interests of the United Kingdom than its elected representatives. But in practice their view of the constitution set aside the king, even though in the hierarchy of the non-elected he was clearly first. For all the secret meetings and conferences, the Unionist leaders, when it came to the point, set the House of Lords above the king. None of his many initiatives to encourage the Unionists to caution and discretion succeeded. But this Unionist intransigence was not fully apparent in 1908. It was then clear that Unionist Lords would not heed him on a second-order bill—would they be more temperate on a really major measure? The question was quickly posed by Lloyd George's budget of 1909, and answered when the Lords rejected the consequent Finance Bill in November 1909. The king strongly disliked the government's financial proposals and wrote to Asquith to ask ‘whether in framing the Budget the Cabinet took into consideration the possible (but the King hopes improbable) event of a European War’; he believed the income tax was already so high as to be potentially disastrous for landowners (Lee, 2.664). He also from the start of the Liberal government in 1905 regarded Lloyd George's comments on the behaviour of the Lords as unhelpful, and several times complained to Campbell-Bannerman about them. In 1909–10 he felt Lloyd George's speeches made it difficult for the Lords to avoid rejecting the budget, and he complained to Asquith about the chancellor's speeches at Limehouse and Newcastle.

The Lords, the Commons, and the king

Even so, the king saw the rejection of the budget by the Lords as a serious mistake. Apart from its more general significance, it placed Edward VII in an extremely awkward position. Clearly ill, the king could not avoid playing an active role in the finding of a solution. It was one of those rare moments when a constitutional monarch had to do more than receive and respond to advice. The king knew of Unionist intentions from a memorandum (2 October 1909) for him written by Lord Cawdor. He discussed this with Asquith, and by agreement with the prime minister attempted to gain assent to a compromise, to which end he summoned Balfour and Lansdowne, the Unionist leaders, on 12 October 1909. He was unsuccessful in persuading them to change course, and the budget was rejected on 30 November 1909. The king agreed to Asquith's request for a dissolution, and a general election was held in the second half of January 1910. The king granted the dissolution without any request from Asquith as to his agreement to create peers should the circumstances require it. But many inferred from Asquith's speech on 10 December inaugurating the government's electoral campaign that such an agreement had been sought and granted. The Liberals had in fact raised such a question with Knollys, but the king's secretary had thought it better not to inform his master of it. Knollys believed that it would be better for the king to abdicate than create peers, a view echoed by the king, who in the winter of 1909–10 discussed the subject of abdication with close friends. The king did not threaten his cabinet with abdication but he did clarify his position by telling Asquith, through their respective secretaries, that ‘the King had come to the conclusion that he would not be justified in creating new peers (say 300) until after a second general election and that he, Lord K[nollys], thought that you [Asquith] should know of this now’, but that Asquith should keep it to himself (memorandum of 15 Dec 1909; Spender and Asquith, 1.261). The king followed this up on 30 January by expounding to Lord Crewe, the colonial secretary and lord privy seal, his self-devised plan to reform the Lords by restricting the voting rights of peers to 100, fifty of whom would be party nominees. After the election, which produced a stalemate between the Liberals and the Unionists but a substantial government coalition majority of about 124, the cabinet on 11 February told the king it had no immediate plans to request exercise of the royal prerogative. Asquith informed the Commons of this on 21 February, the day the king with the queen opened parliament; it was the king's last state appearance.

The king tried without success to persuade the Unionists not to vote in the Commons against the reintroduced Finance Bill. On 6 March, accompanied by Mrs Keppel, he left for Biarritz, but on 7 March he caught a cold at the theatre in Paris. On reaching Biarritz on 9 March, where he stayed at the Hôtel du Palais, with Mrs Keppel as usual in Sir Ernest Cassel's Villa Eugènie, he collapsed. The next day marked the forty-seventh wedding anniversary of the king and queen. Recovering somewhat, the king, with Asquith's agreement, remained in Biarritz to convalesce. The Finance Bill was at last passed by the Lords, and on 14 April the Parliament Bill to modify their powers was introduced. Asquith had been strongly criticized by members of his own party and by his coalition partners for not pressing earlier for a royal guarantee to create peers; in his speech introducing the bill he stated the need to pass the bill ‘in this Parliament’, thereby ignoring the king's earlier demand for a second election.

It was soon clear that the Parliament Bill would be the occasion of further, and probably even more intense, constitutional conflict. A meeting at Lambeth Palace was organized by the archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson, on 27 April 1910, with the king's advisers and A. J. Balfour present as leader of the Unionist Party. An agreement was reached as to Balfour's course of action should the government resign if the king rejected its advice to create peers. This was a meeting potentially perilous to the monarchy, for to plan with the opposition on the assumption that the king would reject his government's advice on a major constitutional question was to contradict the central assumption of constitutional monarchy. The decline in the king's health was not reported and he incurred considerable criticism for, as it was seen, lingering at Biarritz at such a moment of constitutional tension. Moreover, he was ill served by his advisers during his absence, the chief of whom—Knollys and Esher—risked placing the crown in a major confrontation with the House of Commons by their view that the acceptance by the king of the wishes of the majority of the Commons was a last resort to be avoided perhaps even by abdication. Asquith had protected the king by not earlier making a definite request for a guarantee to create peers; the king rather grudgingly recognized this, but his advisers did not.

Death and funeral

On 27 April 1910 Edward VII returned from Biarritz to Buckingham Palace. He was still active, seeing ministers and, on 29 April, attending Wagner's Siegfried at Covent Garden. On 30 April he went to Sandringham, catching another cold. On 2 May he wrote the last (and unusual) entry in his long diary: ‘The King dines alone.’ The queen, alerted to his physical decline, returned from a visit to Corfu on 5 May. Now confined to an armchair, the king was visited by relays of friends including Mrs Keppel, whom he did not recognize and who had hysterics (the queen is said to have shaken hands with her as she arrived). The prince of Wales told his father that his horse, Witch of Air, had won the 4.15 at Kempton Park: ‘Yes, I have heard of it. I am very glad’ remarked the king in his last cogent utterance. Edward VII died at 11.45 p.m. on Friday 6 May 1910 at Buckingham Palace. His body lay in state in Westminster Hall from 17 to 19 May, viewed by about a quarter of a million persons. Vast crowds watched the funeral procession as a gun carriage—followed by the king's charger and Caesar, his scruffy fox terrier, and then George V, the German emperor, and eight kings—bore the coffin to Paddington Station. It was the last great roll call of monarchic Europe. The king's body was buried in the vault beneath St George's Chapel at Windsor on 20 May, by the side of his eldest son, the duke of Clarence, and not in his parents' mausoleum at Frogmore.

Edward VII in perspective

Despite the brevity of his reign, Edward VII gave his name to an epoch which symbolized an escape from Victorianism. In this, the king was at one with his people and, indeed, led the emancipation with glee. Subsequently ‘Edwardian’ came to signify, nostalgically, the golden years of the propertied classes before the catastrophe of the First World War, but at the time it rather symbolized energy, change, and a certain brashness and vulgarity, which were on the whole welcomed rather than deplored.

Edward VII encouraged all of these. His lifestyle presupposed a strong popular acceptance of monarchy. The press, so ready to pillory Sir Charles Dilke, C. S. Parnell, and Oscar Wilde, made almost nothing of the king's mistresses. Mrs Keppel was often invited to functions at which Queen Alexandra was also present, this being the best way of ensuring his good temper; the queen bore this with outward serenity. When on his last trip to Biarritz in 1910 the king travelled openly, as usual, with Mrs Keppel, this was noted but not complained of. (When Sidney Lee in his memoir in the Dictionary of National Biography (1912) mildly remarked that during the constitutional crisis of 1910 the king ‘was spending his annual spring holiday at Biarritz, where his time was mainly devoted to cheerful recreation’, there was a flurry of protests from royal advisers (Bodl. Oxf., MS Don. c. 186).) The king's mistresses were discreet and after his death destroyed most of his letters to them; an exception was Lady Warwick, who in 1914, hard up and in debt, attempted via Frank Harris and Arthur du Cros to extract £100,000 from George V in exchange for silence; she failed, though her debts were indirectly relieved (Aronson, 265). The mistresses acted in line with the court, for lords Esher and Knollys obeyed the instruction in the king's will to destroy all his private and personal correspondences, the king having already superintended the burning of some of his correspondence as prince of Wales, in addition to parts of his mother's correspondence; moreover, all Queen Alexandra's papers were destroyed, in line with her wishes, though she died intestate (Magnus, Appendix).

Edward VII openly enjoyed being king. He appeared to act from enthusiasm rather than duty. His keenness for uniforms, decorations, and ceremonial caught one aspect of the public mood. His state portrait by Sir Luke Fildes (1901–2) with the king in his coronation robes, in a pose echoing Holbein's Henry VIII, epitomized the king's view of one aspect of himself: it presents imperial power and majesty more assertively than any royal portrait since 1830. Sir Arthur Cope's portrait (1907) of the king in his Garter robes is equally florid. This showy relish of monarchy died with Edward VII. Another, rather different, aspect of his view of royal life—his enthusiasm for the squirearchic life of Sandringham, with its tweeds and county style—was an important bequest to his son, George V, through whom it became the dominant strain of twentieth-century British royalty.

In Edward VII's hands the royal prerogative continued to be actively employed. In some respects, especially with his foreign initiatives, the king had almost as vigorous a view of the use of the prerogative as his father. He was as ready as his mother to try to affect the appointment of ministers and ambassadors, though he lacked a similar diligence in church appointments. The king stood much more in the political centre than his mother had done and he thus enabled the maintenance of monarchic popularity, though both the general elections of his reign were won by Liberal, even radical, majorities. There was no significant republican movement in the Edwardian era. The burgeoning Labour Party, though not enthusiastic, was not, as were its continental equivalents, anti-monarchic in principle, and it was only occasionally so in practice. Edward VII's influence, The Times noted, was ‘not the same as that exercised by Queen Victoria but in some respects it was almost the stronger of the two’ (7 May 1910). The king could look from his deathbed with a good deal of satisfaction at the condition in which he left the monarchy.

Even so, Edward VII was fortunate in the moment of his death. Well-meaning with respect to compromise over the constitutional conflict which characterized the final years of his reign, his inability to control the Unionists, his willingness to allow his conservatively minded advisers a rather free hand, and his caution about seeing that his elected government's will prevailed placed him in a potentially very awkward position, as George V quickly found. The conflict was not, of course, of his making, but it is hard to see that a solution of it on terms acceptable to Edward VII could have been forthcoming.

H. C. G. Matthew


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F. Grant, group portrait, oils, 1842, Royal Collection · E. Landseer, group portrait, oils, 1842, Royal Collection · W. C. Ross, miniature, 1846, Royal Collection · M. Thornycroft, marble bust, 1846, Royal Collection · F. X. Winterhalter, group portrait, oils, 1846, Royal Collection · F. X. Winterhalter, four oil paintings, 1846–64, Royal Collection · N. N. Burnard, marble bust, 1847, Royal Polytechnic Society, Cornwall · E. Landseer, group portrait, oils, 1847 (The Queen sketching at Loch Laggan with the prince of Wales and the princess royal), Royal Collection · M. Thornycroft, statuette, 1847, Royal Collection · H. Watkins, albumen print, 1850–59, NPG · J. Barrett, oils, 1856, NPG · E. M. Ward, pencil drawing, 1857, Royal Collection · G. Richmond, pastel drawing, 1858, NPG · coloured lithograph, c.1860, NG Ire. · W. Gordon, oils, 1862, Examination Schools, Oxford · W. P. Frith, group portrait, oils, 1863 (The marriage of the prince of Wales, 1863), Royal Collection · H. N. O'Neil, oils, 1864, NPG · E. Detaille, group portrait, oils, 1865, Royal Collection · J. C. Horsley, group portrait, oils, 1865 (Queen Victoria and her children), RSA · M. Noble, marble bust, 1868, Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire · J. E. Boehm, bronze equestrian statuette, c.1872, Royal Collection · G. F. Watts, chalk drawing, c.1874, NPG · J. E. Boehm, marble bust, c.1875, Royal Collection · Count Gleichen, marble bust, 1875, Royal Collection · H. von Angeli, group portrait, oils, 1876, Royal Collection · L. Desanges, oils, 1877, United Grand Lodge of England · F. Holl, oils, 1884, Middle Temple, London · L. Tuxen, group portrait, oils, 1884, National Historical Museum, Fredericksborg, Denmark · Count Gleichen, marble bust, c.1885, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool · F. Holl, oils, 1887, Trinity House, London · L. Tuxen, group portrait, oils, 1887 (The royal family at the time of the jubilee), Royal Collection · Count Gleichen, statue, 1891, Royal College of Music, London · A. Stuart-Wortley, oils, c.1893, Carlton Club, London · W. Q. Orchardson, group portrait, oils, 1897 (The four generations), Royal Agricultural Society, London · Chancellor of Dublin, print, 1899, NPG · M. Beerbohm, drawing, 1900, Princeton University Library · S. March, bronze bust, 1901, NPG · L. Fildes, oils, 1901–2, Royal Collection [see illus.] · L. Fildes, oils, second version, 1902, NPG · J. Gilbert, double portrait, oils, c.1902 (with Queen Alexandra), Royal Collection · G. W. de Saulles, bronze medal, 1902 (Coronation 9 Aug 1902) · J. H. F. Bacon, oils, 1903, NPG · E. A. Abbey, group portrait, oils, 1904 (The coronation of King Edward VII, 1902), Royal Collection · A. de Meyer, platinotype, 1904, NPG · L. Fildes, oils, 1905, RCP Lond. · H. Speed, oils, c.1905, Belfast corporation · F. Roe, pencil drawing, 1905–6, NPG · C. Forbes, oils, c.1906, Houses of Parliament, Ottawa · P. T. Cole, oils, 1907, NPG · A. S. Cope, oils, 1907, Broadlands, Hampshire · Mrs M. A. Barnett, watercolour, 1908, NPG · P. T. Cole, oils, 1908, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth · attrib. W. & D. Downey, platinum print, 1908, NPG · M. Beerbohm, drawing, 1909, FM Cam. · E. J. Poynter, oils, 1909, RA · L. Tuxen, oils, 1909, National Historical Museum, Frederiksborg, Denmark · J. S. Sargent, charcoal, 1910, Royal Collection · A. Drury, marble statue, exh. RA 1912, U. Birm. · B. Mackennal, bronze statue, c.1912–1914, Waterloo Place, London · P. B. Baker, statue, c.1913, Huddersfield · H. S. Gamley, plaster bust, 1916, Scot. NPG · W. G. John, statue, 1916, Liverpool · M. Beerbohm, drawing, 1921, AM Oxf. · W. Hensel, drawing, c.1943, National Gallerie, Berlin · Ape [C. Pellegrini], caricatures, NPG · J. E. Boehm, marble statue, junction of Fleet Street and Strand, London · J. Cassidy, statue, Whitworth Park, Manchester · G. Hayter, group portrait, oils (The christening of the prince of Wales in St George's Chapel, 1842), Royal Collection · J. Mahoney, group portrait, watercolour, NG Ire. · J. Simpson, colour print, Scot. NPG · Spy [L. Ward], caricatures, NPG · J. Steel, plaster bust, Scot. NPG · H. Weigall, oils, Wellington College, Berkshire · photographs, NPG · photographs, U. Texas, Gernsheim collection · photographs, NPG · prints, BM, NPG, Royal Collection