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that they should be expected to co-operate with their colleagues in
the ministry. Moreover, from their habitual attendance upon the
person of the sovereign, they undoubtedly possess means of influence
that ought not to be at the disposal of any persons who are un-
friendly to the party in power.

Fischel, Eng. Const, p. 520; as
corrected by Haydn, Book of Digni-
ties, p. 206 ; Downe, Corresp. George
III. v. 2, p. 420.

P Tomline, Life of Pitt, v. 1, p.
149, n.; Paii. Hist. v. 23, p. 695.
But during Mr. Pitt's administration,
George III. (as he afterwards told
Mr. Rose) ' insisted on having in his
household such persons as he could,

of officers
of house-
hold on
change of

with comfort to himself, associate
with occasionally.' (Rose, Corresp.
v. 2, p. 158.) This is a privilege
which no minister, at any time, would
have thought of denying to his sove-
reign. And see Life of Earl of
Minto, v. 3, p. 337.

q Campbell's Chanc. v. 7, p. 285 ;
May, Const. Hist. v. 1, p. 105.

* See ante, p. 165.



Upon the resignation of the Melbourne ministry in 1839, and
before the difficulty arose between her Majesty and Sir Robert Peel
respecting the ladies of the bedchamber, Lord Melbourne informed
the Queen ' that it had been usual in later times, when an adminis-
tration was changed, to change also the great officers of the house-
hold, and likewise to place at the disposal of the person entrusted
with the formation of a new administration those situations in the
household which were held by members of either House of Parlia-
ment.' 8 In claiming the exercise of this privilege, Sir Robert Peel,
when called upon to form a ministry, assured her Majesty that he
would not press the appointment of any one who was not personally
acceptable to her. At the same time he respectfully urged that, in
view of the throne being filled by a female sovereign, the same
principle should be held to apply to the chief appointments which
were held by the ladies of her Majesty's household, including the
ladies of the bedchamber. This was objected to by the Queen,
who declared that she must reserve to herself the whole of those
appointments, and that it was her pleasure that no change should be
made in the present incumbents. Afterwards, by advice of the
retiring ministers, her Majesty wrote to Sir Robert Peel, stating that
she could not ' consent to adopt a course which she conceived to be
contrary to usage, and which was repugnant to her feelings.' But,
in point of fact, nearly all the ladies of the court were related to the
Whig ministers or to their political adherents, having been selected
by the Melbourne Cabinet when her Majesty's household was first or-
ganised; thus identifying the entire court with the ministry of the day. 4
Under these circumstances it was impossible for Sir Robert Peel
to persevere in the attempt to form a ministry. He therefore wrote
to her Majesty, and stated that it was essential to the success of the
commission with which he had been honoured, ' that he should have
that public proof of her Majesty's entire support and confidence
which would be afforded by the permission to make some changes in
that part of her Majesty's household which her Majesty resolved on
maintaining entirely without change.' The Melbourne ministry
were then reinstated in office, and they at once recorded their opinion
on the point at issue in a minute of council, as follows : ' That for
the purpose of giving to the administration that character of
efficiency and stability, and those marks of the constitutional support
of the crown, which are required to enable it to act usefully to the
public service, it is reasonable that the great offices of the court, and
situations in the household held by members of Parliament, should
be included in the political arrangements made on a change of the
administration ; but they are not of opinion that a similar principle

5 Mir. of 1'arl. 18-'3!>, p. 2411.

1 May, Const. Hist. v. 1. p. 128.


should be applied or extended to the offices held by ladies in her
Majesty's household.' u

But two years afterwards, when it became necessary for the
Queen to apply again to Sir Robert Peel to undertake the formation
of a government, ' no difficulties were raised on the Bedchamber
question.' Through the interposition of Prince Albert, her Majesty
was induced to take a more correct view of her position towards the
incoming ministers upon this question than heretofore, and, by
previous negotiation with Sir R. Peel, the matter was satisfactorily
arranged before the change of ministry took place. Those ladies
of the household only who were near relatives of the outgoing
cabinet ministers retired, the others were permitted to remain. v
' The principle which Sir R. Peel applied to the household has since
been admitted, on all sides, to be constitutional. The offices of
mistress of the robes and ladies of the bedchamber, when held by
ladies connected with the outgoing ministers, have been considered
as included in the ministerial arrangements. But ladies of the
bedchamber belonging to families whose political connection has
been less pronounced, have been suffered to remain in the household,
without objection, on a change of ministry.' w On the accession of
the Derby ministry, in 1866, the ladies of the court remained
unchanged, not having owed their appointments to political influence.
And Lord Torrington continued in office as one of the lords in
waiting, at the personal request of her Majesty. x

After the marriage of the Queen, in 1840, the ap- prince's
pointments to the prince's household were regulated, {^ e ~
by desire of the prince/ upon the principle now es'ab-
lished in that of the Queen's, namely that those appoint-
ments only should be permanent which were held by
men entirely unconnected with politics, while those filled

u Mir. of Parl. 1839, pp. 2415, Eng. Const, p. 234.
2421. After his retirement from x Quardian, July 18, 1866, p. 761.

public life, Lord Melbourne is said to It is usual for the sovereign's choice of

have regretted the stand he took upon persons to serve as lords of the bed-

this question. Quar. Rev. v. 145, p. chamber to be approved of by the

225. prime minister, when the selection is

v Torrens, Life of Melbourne, v. 2, made from friends of the party in

p. 367. power. Grey, Corresp. with William

w May, Const. Hist. v. 1, p .131. IV. v. 1, pp. 26, 32,33,88. Once, in

And Martin, Life of the Prince Con- 1831, the king waived his right of

sort, v. 1, pp. 36, 105. The way in nomination in favour of anyone whom

which the new principle was applied the premier might choose. Ib. p.

to the ladies of the household upon 138.

the change of ministry in 1841 is de- f Torrens, Life of Ld. Melbourne,

scribed in Stockmar's Memoirs, v. 2, v. 2, p. 301.
p. 50. And see Amos, Fifty Years'


by peers or members of the House of Commons should
change with the various changes of the ministry. In
choosing his more intimate and confidential officers, the
prince resolved that ' the selection should be made
without regard to politics,' and should not be exclusively
from either party ; in order that he might be the better
able to adhere to his prudent determination of reso-
lutely keeping himself free from all parties. 2

2. As to the right of the Sovereign to employ a Private


Private Until the reign of George III. none of the English

toThe" 7 m onarchs ever had a private secretary. It naturally
king. formed a part of the duty of the principal secretaries of
state to assist the sovereign in conducting his official
correspondence ; but such were the habits of industry
and attention to the duties of his exalted station which
characterised George III., that it was not until his sight
began to fail that he would permit another person to
assist him in transacting the daily business of the crown.
But in 1805 his Majesty became so blind as to be unable
to read the communications of his ministers. Averse to
remain in London, where his infirmity would be more
exposed to public observation, the king resolved to re-
side at Windsor. This rendered the appointment of a
private secretary absolutely necessary. Accordingly, on
Colonel the recommendation of Mr. Pitt, Colonel Herbert Taylor

Herbert . *

Taylor. was appointed to the office, with a salary of 2,000/. per
annum, which was paid out of funds at the disposal of
the crown, and never came under review in Parliament.
Colonel Taylor discharged the duties of this delicate
and confidential office, until the commencement of the

* Martin's Pr. Consort, v. 1, p. 54. and in regard to the practice respect-
Grey, Early Years of Pr. Consort, pp. ing officers of either the king or queen's
260, 821, 323. See Stockmar's Mem. household in relation to the ministry,
v. 2, p. 23. And see the Duke of Welln.Desp. 3rd S.v. 8, pp. 393-402,
Wellington's views on this question, 469.


Eegency, with such integrity, prudence, and reserve,
as to shield himself from every shadow of complaint.
Nevertheless, the appointment itself was viewed with
disfavour by many leading men in Parliament, who only
refrained from calling it in question from motives of
delicacy towards the afflicted monarch, whose loss of
sight was attributable to his unceasing devotion to his
public duties. 8 When the Prince Eegent was called to
the throne (in December 1810), he appointed his friend
Colonel M'Mahon, who was at the time a member of Colonel
the House of Commons, to be his private secretary and
keeper of the privy purse, with the same salary as his
predecessor, but with the important difference that it
was to be paid by the Treasury, thereby rendering
Colonel M'Mahon a public officer. This transaction
gave rise to an animated discussion in the House of
Commons. After the ' Official Gazette ' had appeared,
announcing the appointment, enquiries were made of
ministers, on March 23, 1812, as to the facts of the
case ; and on April 14, Mr. C. W, Wynn moved for a
copy of the appointment, for the purpose of founding
upon it a resolution of censure, or a declaration of the
inutility of the office. Mr. Wynn urged that the ap-
pointment was wholly unprecedented, except in the
case of Colonel Taylor, which was purely a private
affair, arising out of the king's infirmity ; and that ' it
was a most unconstitutional proceeding to allow the
secrets of the council to pass through a third person,'
thereby subjecting the advice of cabinet ministers to
their sovereign ' to the revision of his private secre-
tary.' Ministers opposed the motion, contending that
the Prince Eegent, who had not been trained to habits
of business like his father, stood m need of the services
of a private secretary to assist him in his private cor-
respondence, and to relieve the heavy manual labour

Parl. D. v. 22, pp. 121, 342, 361. Jesse, Life of George III. v. 3, p. 439.


whicli the immense amount of public business requiring
the attention of the crown unavoidably entailed. This
office, moreover, was not one of responsibility and would
not encroach upon the province or responsibility of any
minister. Ministers of the crown would still be the legal
and constitutional organs through which all the public
business must be transacted. On a division Mr. Wynn's
motion was negatived, by a majority of 76. The Opposi-
tion, however, determined to renew the attack, on the
special ground that the appointment, unlike that of
Colonel Taylor, had been made a public one. But on
June 15, Lord Castlereagh informed the House that the
Prince Eegent had been pleased to direct that Colonel
M'Mahon's salary should be paid out of his privy purse.
The Opposition then agreed to let the matter drop ; and
Colonel M'Mahon continued to hold the office until his
death, in 1817, b when Sir B. Bloomfield was appointed
private secretary. He was replaced, in 1822, by Sir
Win. Knighton, who retained the office until the king's
death, in 1830.

Office of Colonel M'Mahon was made a privy councillor in 1812, and Sir

king's B Bloomfield in 1817. c But this was afterwards admitted to have
been a mistake, ' for in fact it gave authority and consequence where
confidence to any degree may be placed, but where authority and
consequence ought not to exist.' Accordingly, in 1823, when George
IV. wished to admit Sir W. Knighton into the privy council, it was
opposed by Lord Liverpool (the premier), as being ' most objectionable
in principle and precedent.' His lordship cited the opinion of George
III., ' who understood these matters better than any one,' that the
king's private secretary ' should be put upon exactly the footing of an
under-secretary of state ' a functionary who is ' never a privy coun-
cillor, although necessarily he knows more of the secrets of government
than any cabinet minister, except his principal and the first minister.
These arguments prevailed and the matter was allowed to drop. d

Sir Herbert Taylor, the faithful secretary of George

b Parl. D. v. 23, p. 476 ; Ann. Reg. 140, 141.

1817, p. 147. Sir B. C. Brodie'a d Welln. Desp. 3rd S. v. 2, pp. 103-

Works, v. 1, p. 77. Ed. Rev. v. 136, 105. And see the Duke of Welling-

p. 395. ton's advice to Sir W. Knighton, in

" Haydn, Book of Dignities, pp. Greville Mem. v. 1, p. 73.


III., was reappointed to this office by William IV., in sir
succession to Sir W. Knighton. We have the testimony
of Lord Aberdeen, when prime minister, that no objec-
tion was made to these appointments, notwithstanding
that ' these men must of necessity have known and were
able to have given advice, or to have disclosed every-
thing, if they had thought fit, although neither of them
was a privy councillor.' 6 It is true that on one occasion,
as we have seen, William IV. made his private secretary
the medium of giving expression to his wishes to certain
peers, in regard to their conduct upon a great public
question, in a very irregular manner; 1 but this com-
munication was made with the knowledge and consent
of the prime minister. g

Upon the accession of Queen Victoria (on June 20, Her
1837) it was determined that no private secretary should Majesty's

' . " private

be assigned to her, lest the influence of such an officer secretary.
over a youthful and inexperienced sovereign should
prove prejudicial to the State. But Lord Melbourne,
who was then first minister of the crown, undertook to
act also as her Majesty's private secretary. This was
avowedly a mere temporary arrangement, entered into
in the hope which, happily, was speedily realised
that her Majesty would very soon contract a marriage,
which would enable the duties of private secretary to
be appropriately transferred to her husband. Mean-
while his lordship was assisted in the discharge of this
self-imposed duty by Baron Stockmar, who acted (in-
formally) as her Majesty's private secretary for about
fifteen months after her accession. For upwards of
twenty years after this event the baron proved himself
a devoted friend and wise counsellor to the Queen and
her royal consort. 11 The assumption by the prime

e Hans. D. v. 130, p. 96. And see William IV. v. 2, pp. 439-452.

Nicholas, Pref. to Pro. Privy Coun. h Stockmar's Mem. v. 1, pp. Ixvi.

v. 6, p. 134, n. 383-388. And see Martin's Pr. Con-

f See ante, p. 286. sort, passim. Torrens, Life of Mel-

g See Earl Grey, Corresp. with bourne, v. 2, p. 236. The baron,



minister of such a position towards the Queen, under
any circumstances, was however characterised most
truly by Lord Aberdeen as an ' unconstitutional ' pro-
ceeding; 1 being calculated to impair the free exercise
of the royal judgment, under the plausible pretext
of assisting the sovereign in the performance of her
onerous functions. But we are safe in concluding that
no such intention influenced Lord Melbourne upon this
occasion, and that his sole desire was to afford to his
royal mistress, in her youth and inexperience, the benefit
of his matured acquaintance with the routine of govern-
ment. After her Majesty's marriage with Prince Albert,
his Eoyal Highness, with the sanction of the ministers
of the crown, assumed the duties of the Queen's private
secretary ; although in consideration of his rank and
station he had been made a privy councillor. He was
peculiarly fitted for this office, not merely by his admir-
able personal qualities and high attainments, but from
his position as husband and alter ego of the Queen. 3 He
acquitted himself of the duties which thus devolved
upon him to the admiration of all parties, as well as to
the inestimable benefit of his sovereign and the country.
Subsequent to the great loss which her Majesty sus-
tained in the premature decease of her lamented con-
sort, several gentlemen in succession were appointed
as her private secretary. 1 " Of late years no constitutional

however, w.ns largely imbued with
reactionary ideas, which found expres-
sion in an elaborate dissertation on the
functions of the sovereign in a consti-
tutional government (see Martin's Pr.
Consort, v. 2, pp. 545-557). This
essay, though of considerable merit, is
unsafe and unsound as an exposition of
modern constitutional doctrine. See
Ed. Rev. v. 148, pp. 283-288. See
also Amos, Fifty Years of the Eng.
Const, pp. 318-326. Amos, however,
presses his views on the question too
far. The true constitutional doctrine
of the relation of the sovereign to the

ministers of the crown is that ex-
pressed by Mr. Gladstone, in his
Gleanings, v. ], pp. 203-248. And
see Todd, Parl. Govt. in the Colonies,
c. i.

' Hans. D. v. 130, p. 96.

J Martin's Pr. Consort, v. 1, p. 71 ;
and v. 2, c. 1. Hans. D. v. 130, pp.
97, 105.

k Viz., Sir T. M. Biddulph and Lt -
Gen. the Hon. CharlesGrey. Upon the
death of Gen. Grey, in April 1870,
Col. Ponsonby was gazetted to this


objection has been urged to the continuance of this
office; and it is clear that the great and increasing
amount of routine duty devolving upon an English
sovereign at the present day, as well as a consideration employ a
of the altered position of the crown towards the mem- secretary,
bers of the administration since the establishment of
parliamentary government, alike justify and require the

3. The Constitutional Position of a Prince Consort.

The position of a queen consort has been ascertained Prince
by the laws and customs of the realm. She has her c
own privileges and rights. She has important duties to
perform as head of the court, in maintaining its dignity
and respectability ; and by her example and authority
she is enabled to exercise a direct influence over the
manners of society, and especially of the female portion
of it. But the constitution has assigned no definite
place to the husband of a reigning queen. The only
precedent in modern English history, until the accession
of Queen Victoria, of this peculiar and difficult position
"is that of Prince George of Denmark, the husband of
Queen Anne ; but this prince was destitute of the ability
and strength of character which should have made him
an active and efficient helpmate to his wife and sove-
reign. 1 It was reserved for Prince Albert, by the
rare combination of admirable qualities with which he Character
was endowed, to create for himself a position of pre- ducVof 1 '
eminent usefulness, without trenching in the slightest Prin ce
degree upon the limits within which, as the husband of
his sovereign, he was necessarily confined. Called to
his exalted station at a very early age, he diligently ap-
plied himself to the study of our laws and institutions,
in order that he might be qualified to afford to the
crown efficient aid and counsel in the discharge of its

1 Ed Rev. v. 115, p. 211.


Prince onerous functions. His marriage to Queen Victoria
took place on February 10, 1840. On March 5, the
Queen conferred upon Prince Albert place and prece-
dence next to herself, and on September 11 following,
seven months after his marriage, and a few days after
the completion of his twenty-first year, he was intro-
duced, by her Majesty's command, to the Privy Council,
and took his seat at the board, which he never after-
wards failed to attend.

In tlanuary 1840, a Bill was introduced into the House of Lords
for the naturalisation of Prince Albert, which rapidly became law.
This Bill originally contained a clause to give the prince rank next
after the Queen ' in Parliament or elsewhere.' But being objected to
by the Duke of Wellington, who then led the Opposition in the
House of Lords, the clause was withdrawn ; and the opportunity
was lost of regulating the precise rank and position of a prince
consort by Act of Parliament. It was afterwards determined, with
the concurrence of the leaders of both parties, to give the prince
precedence next to the Queen by the exercise of the royal preroga-
tive ; a settlement of the question which was less satisfactory and
conclusive than if it had been definitively fixed by statute."

His royal highness was not a member of the House
of Peers, and had therefore no place formally assigned
to him for the public expression of his personal opinions
upon political questions. In this respect his position
was analogous to that of the Queen herself. As the
consort of his sovereign, he was in fact her alter ego ;
and it was in this capacity, not merely from his being a
member of the Privy Council, that he was constitution-
ally empowered to attend at every conference between
the Queen and her ministers. Generally present at
such times, he always took part in the discussions with
tact, ability, and discretion. It was not until July 2,
1857, that the title and dignity of prince consort were
granted to him by royal letters patent. p

m Grey, Early Years of Pr. Consort, Ld. Chief Justice Campbell, in

pp. 263, 286. Torrens, Life of Ld. Hans. D. v. 130, p. 105. Stockmar's

Melbourne, v. 2, p. 321. Mem. v. 2, pp. 492-498.

" Ib. pp. 32*5-327. And see Mar- r So early as 1S41, the Queen ex-
tin's Pr. Consort, v. 1, pp. 01, 93. pressed her desire that the title of


As we have already seen, the prince, with the ex-
press sanction of the ministers of the crown, assumed
the duties of the Queen's private secretary, and in that
capacity was permitted to peruse all public despatches
that were laid before the Queen, and all the confidential
communications of minister s. q His memoranda upon
such occasions were sent to the prime minister, and
contributed very materially to shape the policy of
government. Upon his retirement from office in 1841,
Lord Melbourne took occasion to congratulate her
Majesty upon ' the inestimable advantage she possessed
in being able to avail herself of the advice and assistance
of her royal consort,' and asserted his conviction that
she could not do better ' than to have recourse to him
when it was needed, and to rely upon him with confi-
dence.' r Subsequently, Sir E. Peel and Lord Aberdeen
endorsed these assurances, and declared that the prince,
by his official relations to the Queen, was enabled to
assume the place and influence to which he was pro-
perly entitled. 3

In a work which was published, after his decease, His place
-by express permission of the Queen, we have Prince anddufc y-
Albert's own definition of his place and duties. He says
the position of ' the consort and confidential adviser
and assistant of a female sovereign ' ' is a most peculiar
and delicate one. Whilst a female sovereign has a great
many disadvantages in comparison with a king, yet if
she is married, and her husband understands and does
his duty, her position, on the other hand, has many
compensating advantages, and, in the long run, will be
found even to be stronger than that of a male sovereign.
But this requires that the husband should entirely sink
his own individual existence in that of his wife ; that he

king consort should be conferred Martin's Pr. Consort, v. 1, p. 257.
upon the prince, but after consulting q Ib. p. 95. r Ib. p. 117.

her ministers this idea was abandoned. Ib. p. 149.


Prince should aim at no power by himself or for himself;
should shun all ostentation, assume no separate respon-
sibility before the public, but make his position entirely
a part of hers ; fill up every gap which, as a woman,
she would naturally leave in the exercise of her regal

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