Monday, December 9, 2019

Royal Romances of Today by Kellogg Durland

Part 1: Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain
Chapter 3: Courtship

Much curiosity was exhibited upon the return of King Alfonso to Madrid on the part of his courtiers. Many times and often intimates of the King pressed him indirectly in regard to this great secret, but Don Alfonso preserved a careful silence. Shortly after this visit, the King bought a racing yacht, and, upon its arrival, gave a launching party to inspect his new possession. As yet the yacht had not been named, and the King invited his guests to suggest an appropriate name. Someone suggested that it be named after himself, but the King shook his head at this; then one bolder than the rest slyly suggested that the name of the future Queen of Spain would be appropriate. “Excellent,” said his Majesty, “and now you will please inform me what is the name of the lady?” “Ah, sir,” replied the other, “on that momentous point we are as yet without information.” “Nevertheless,” said the King, “it is a good suggestion,” and forthwith sent instructions that the new yacht be named “Queen X.” The Spanish newspapers quoted the story of the King’s little joke and concluded who the real Queen was to be from the fact that the words were printed in{16} English, a conclusion that was very soon confirmed.
Towards the close of January, following the visit to London, a Chamberlain of the King’s arrived at Biarritz in southern France, near to the border of Spain, and two days later the King, travelling incognito, left his capital for the same frontier, and it immediately became an open secret that the time of the public betrothal was at hand.
The day following the King’s arrival he joined the party of Princess Frederica of Hanover and Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Princess Henry of Battenberg—and Princess Ena. That very afternoon King Alfonso and his future Queen were publicly seen together for the first time in a motor drive along the frontier. The Press of the world was unanimous in its approval of the match, and for the most part stating that it was really a marriage of affection, reasons of State happily harmonising with the impulses of the royal hearts. The courtship which followed was very boy and girl-like according to all intimate accounts. Little gifts were exchanged and the two were constantly in each other’s company, dodging as much as possible public gaze. They strolled many miles together alone and unattended through the parks and woods and, on more than one tree carved interlaced hearts and each other’s initials just like lovers the whole world over.
One day the happy lovers were seen to proceed to a carefully selected spot where two round holes{17} had been freshly dug out of the earth. A gardener stood nearby, apparently awaiting their coming, for in his arms he carried two small fir plants.
“This one is mine,” exclaimed the King, eagerly taking one.
“And this one is mine,” rejoined the Princess.
Each having taken a plant they set about planting them.
“We must plant the trees side by side,” said the King, “so that they may always remind us of these never-to-be-forgotten days.”
The plants were set in place and each taking a spade they began to cover the roots with earth.
The Princess finished her task first, and dropping her spade stood watching the King, laughing merrily all the while. At last the King, pausing for a moment, said:
“There is no doubt about it, I am very awkward! I must put in a month with the engineers!”
That day King Alfonso handed Princess Ena a beautiful heart set with diamonds and rubies, one of the earliest gifts to his bride-to-be.
One day they sped off into the country in the King’s motor car. Alighting just outside of the little village of Cambo they entered the village on foot. Passing a shop where postcards were on sale they went in and selected several of the picture cards to send to King Edward and Queen Maria Cristina, the Queen Mother of Spain. The village shop-keeper did not recognise his distinguished customers and began to question them if they knew{18} when the King and Princess would come to Cambo, which they had not yet visited. King Alfonso and his fiancée, inwardly smiling, made an evasive reply indicating that they knew nothing about the Royal arrangements. After they had gone out the shopkeeper was apprised of the identity of his recent customers and his surprise resulted in his complete bewilderment.
On Friday, the 27th of January, the Princess crossed into Spain for the first time. She and the King were accompanied by her mother, the Marquis of Viana and the Marquis of Villalobar; the party motored over the International Bridge which marks and connects the borders of the two countries and, as the Princess alighted on Spanish soil, the Marquis of Villalobar remarked to the Princess: “Señora we have set foot on Spanish territory,” to which the Princess gave answer: “I am delighted that this moment has arrived; it fills me with joy and never shall I forget the first day on which I trod the soil of Spain.” The English party then proceeded to the Palace of Miramar at San Sebastian, where they were the guests of the Queen Mother.
A San Sebastian newspaper, commenting upon the appearance of Princess Victoria Eugenie said: “She is very beautiful, very elegant, very sympathetic.” These three characteristics indeed are the predominant features of her character. She has beauty, an aristocratic carriage, and her nature ideeply sympathetic.{19}
This first visit of Princess Ena to Spain was necessarily of brief duration and, pending the arrangements of State for the marriage, the King was obliged to return to Madrid while his fiancée proceeded to Paris, there to prepare her trousseau. Don Alfonso designated his own Chamberlain—the Marquis of Villalobar—to accompany her to the French capital and there to wait attendance upon her. Simultaneously with her arrival in Paris, Don Alfonso remembered that the Princess had no automobile in France, so he telegraphed to his Chamberlain to hire one immediately for his fiancée’s use. The Chamberlain telegraphed back to the King that there was not a car to be hired in Paris good enough for the Princess, whereupon Don Alfonso wired instructions for a Panhard car to be purchased and sent the next morning to the hotel where the Princess was staying.
The King went at this time to pay an official visit to his province of Valencia and wrote to the astonished Chamberlain beheld the largest orange tree he had ever seen, the branches bowed with ripe fruit!
While the necessary preparations were in progress for the Royal Wedding, King Alfonso visited his betrothed at her home in the Isle of Wight. This visit, which lasted three weeks, was regarded as strictly private and during these three weeks the Royal wooing progressed under idyllic conditions. It was a period of country walks and drives, simple picnic parties, private entertainment and family dinner parties. During this visit at Osborne Cottage, the King and Princess planted a tree in commemoration of their betrothal, and during this time also His Majesty took his first lessons in the ancient Scottish game of golf, at which he later became most proficient. Their seclusion was only intruded upon by the most necessary of formal functions—a visit of respect by the Spanish Ambassador to London, by the Commander of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and certain other dignitaries whom etiquette obliged to wait upon the King. Don Alfonso lived up to his reputation of being the surest shot in Spain when on one day the Isle of Wight Gun Club held an exhibition shoot, the first prize of which was won by the visiting sovereign, who broke eight clay birds out of ten in a high wind.
Toward the close of the visit the Royal party proceeded to London for a short stay at Bucking{21}ham Palace. During the few days spent in London, Don Alfonso and his fiancée shopped together publicly in the streets of London, attended several theatrical performances and visited Madame Tussaud’s wax works where were brand new wax models of himself and his wife to be. On the 4th of May Don Alfonso returned to his own country. On Thursday, the 24th of the same month, Princess Victoria Eugenie set out for the land where she was henceforth to live as Queen.
She travelled from England via Dover and Calais. A friend who met her on her landing upon French soil remarked how sad she seemed, whereupon she replied: “It is nothing—I cannot help feeling moved when I think that I am leaving the country where I have spent so many happy days, to go toward the unknown.” That night she slept not at all. Her emotions held full sway. She passed over in sweet reverie the scenes of her sheltered girlhood in the Island home and in the charming Highlands of Scotland; and then she fondly remembered the letter her father wrote her years and years before, the only letter she had ever had from him whom she had loved so dearly, in which he had told her that one day she would come to the fair land where he was tarrying for a night—and that she would be happy there.
When first I saw Princess Ena—several years later, when she was Queen Victoria Eugenie—she had this same wistful, sorrowful expression. As I gazed into her calm eyes I instantly appreciated{22} the great depth of feeling and beauty of nature which lay beneath the tranquil expression of her lovely features. I had been with Señor Torres, the able and amiable confidential secretary of the King, in the Royal Palace at Madrid. As I left him and tried to thread my way quite alone through the intricate maze of palace halls toward the court, I came suddenly and unexpectedly upon the King and Queen. Her Majesty was in deep black, for it was but a day or two after the death of her beloved Uncle King Edward VII of England. Her usually bright face and rosy cheeks were ashen white, and her countenance bore a saddened look which commanded sympathy. Her fair hair was soft and golden against her mourning garb and despite her grief there was dignity and majesty in her carriage. Perhaps the lines which shadowed her pale face had not come solely with her latest suffering, for in the interim of years—few as they were—more than one sore trial had been hers. Indeed, during the few short days that elapsed between her crossing the frontier of Spain and her reception into the Royal Palace as bride and Queen there occurred her baptism of blood which was to try her beyond anything she had yet endured and which was to test to the uttermost the qualities which above all others are essential to queenship.
Princess Ena came to her throne through tragic and dramatic scenes, and the spirit which she manifested in the midst of trying and harrowing cir{23}cumstances convinced the Spanish people for good and all that their King had not erred in wooing the golden-haired Princess from the little Isle just off the coast of Southern England. She proved at once that she is of the stuff of which great queens are made—and that she is indeed a born mother of kings.{24}

No comments:

Post a Comment

Royal Romances of Today by Kellogg Durland

Part 1: Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain Chapter 4: A Royal Wedding The  train which carried Princess Ena across France toward her unk...