Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, died one hundred and fifty years ago. Only 42, he died of typhoid fever, a mass killer in the nineteenth century in crowded cities like London. In November of 1861 he had arisen from what would become his death-bed to tone down a British ultimatum over the seizure of two Confederate diplomats, Mason and Slidell, from a British mail steamer the Trent by the USS San Jacinto, in what has come down in history as the Trent Affair: (more…)
There is a wonderful scene in the movie The Shootist, John Wayne’s last film, in which the character he portrays, John B. Books, reads about the death of Queen Victoria. He obviously admires the Queen, and the audience quickly sees that her death symbolizes the death of the Nineteenth Century, the marvelous and adventurous era shared by the Queen and Books, and that Books realizes that his time has ended, just as his life is about to end. The Shootist of course is even more poignant in retrospect as it marked the passing of the classic western and is a fitting coda to the film career of Mr. Wayne.
Throughout the Nineteenth Century, Victoria symbolized the British Empire for most Americans. She helped soften the traditional hostility felt by most Americans towards the Empire. Her husband Prince Albert, in almost his dying act, helped in averting war between Great Britain and the US over the Trent Affair in 1861 by softening what would have been a very belligerent British ultimatum over the Union seizure from a British ship of Confederate emissaries: (more…)