Prince Albert’s online archive reveals marital tiffs and his frank views

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A note from Prince Albert ruling out a potential master of Queen Victoria’s royal household because he had a “French mistress” is among the final items to be added to his online collection.

The archive also contains intimate messages between the prince and the Queen that reveal marital arguments, with Albert writing to tell his wife she lost her “self-control” during one disagreement.

The Prince Albert Digitisation Project is now complete after more than 5,000 items relating to the life and legacy of Victoria’s consort were uploaded to a website dedicated to the man who had a profound influence on his wife and the cultural life of the nation.

Royalty – Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria’s married life is featured in the Prince Albert online archive. PA

They form part of a 22,000-strong resource of documents, prints and photographs from the Royal Archives, the Royal Collection and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, now available to the public online, the majority for the first time.

Early in his married life Albert channelled his energies into reforming the royal household and finances, and alongside a list of candidates for the role of master of the household he wrote reasons why each was unsuitable.

They ranged from “too young”, “too old’ and “too useful in the Navy” to “bad temper” and “French mistress”.

Albert’s handwriting cannot be clearly made out so it is not known whom the prince is referring to in his note about the man with a foreign lover.

The Queen’s consort had a drive for efficiency and improvement that extended beyond the household, and letters record the prince’s suggestions for the improvement of everything from sewage utilisation to the design of military uniforms.

Prince Albert’s handwritten note listing the unsuitability of the candidates for master of the household. : Royal Archives / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021
Prince Albert’s handwritten note listing the unsuitability of the candidates for master of the household. : Royal Archives / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

Albert’s personal papers shed light on his relationship with Victoria, both as a loving husband, unofficial private secretary and give snapshots of their married life.

In the aftermath of rows, Albert often communicated his hurt and frustration through scribbled notes to his wife in German, as he was born in what is now Germany.

These were later destroyed by their youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, though not before an unknown individual made photographic copies for the Royal Archives.

In one Albert wrote: “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.”

“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.”

This final tranche of archival material mainly features Albert’s private and official papers and correspondence from 1841 to the year of his death 1861, and are now part of the website launched in August 2019 to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.

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