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of the very large powers which it proposed to confer on the Queen, of which the House had no previous notice. Lord Brougham opposed the clause in question on the ground that the power to fix the Prince's rank, according to constitutional precedent, rested not with the Crown, but with Parliament; and he further contended that if the measure passed the anomaly might arise that the Prince, supposing him to survive the Queen without issue, might take precedence of the Prince of Wales. The general result of the discussions and opposition was that when the Bill went into committee on the 3rd of February, its object was confined to that expressed in the title, the naturalisation of the Prince, the question of precedence being left to be dealt with by the exercise of the Royal prerogative. On the 5th of March following, letters patent were issued, which declared that the Prince should thenceforth upon all occasions, and in 6 all meetings, except when otherwise provided by Art 6 of Parliament, have, hold, and enjoy place, pre-emi6 nence and precedence, next to Her Majesty. It was not till the 2nd of July, 1857, that the title and dignity of Prince Consort were granted to him by Royal letters patent. Mr. Martin relates that at the prorogation of Parliament on the 11th of August, 1840, the Duke of Sussex and others were disposed to question the right of the Prince to occupy the place beside the Queen both in the House of Lords and on the way there. The Prince occupied, however, in the House then, as on all future occasions, the seat next the throne; and the Duke of Wellington, speaking to the Queen a few days afterwards, said “I told you it was quite right. Let the
· Life of the Prince Consort, vol. i. pp. 58-63.
Precedence of the Prince Consort. 241 Queen put the Prince where she likes, and settle it herself,—that is the best way.'!
The question of the title of the Prince again came under discussion in the year 1845, when a paragraph suddenly appeared in one of the daily papers to the effect that the title of King Consort was about to be conferred upon the Prince, and it was added : “This
will, we presume, be preliminary to a demand for an • increased grant.' On being questioned in the House of Commons by Mr. Peter Borthwick, on the 17th of February, as to the truth of the rumour, Sir Rokert Peel said that the paragraph was wholly without foundation. It appears, however, from Mr. Theodore Martin's Life, and in a passage which cannot have been written without the distinct acquiescence of Her Majesty, that, as far back as 1841, Her Majesty had wished that the title of King Consort should be conferred upon the Prince. Mr. Martin cites the language of the Queen's published Journal for the 28th of December, 1841: “He ought to
be and is above me in everything really, and therefore * I wish that he should be equal in rank to me;' and goes on as follows: Unknown to the Prince, she had 'fully canvassed the subject with Baron Stockmar. She ' found him, however, strongly opposed to the sugges' tion; and, by Her Majesty's desire, he took means to • ascertain the opinions of Sir Robert Peel and Lord ' Aberdeen. They both concurred in the conclusion be
had himself arrived at. In common with himself, they • felt how desirable it was to have a clear recognition of • the status of the Prince. But although there was o nothing in the Constitution expressly against such a
• title, a King Consort without joint sovereignty would • be a novelty, and no provision for such a condition of * things existed in the Constitution. It was therefore • decided to abandon the project, and to leave to time 6 and circumstance to suggest some solution of the • difficulty, when the Prince should be better known by • the nation, and the general current of opinion should `justify some decided action.''
In a letter to Baron Stockmar, dated the 9th of March, 1845, the Prince alludes to the newspaper rumour and the question put in the House of Commons by Mr. Borthwick. He says, in the course of the letter, that the subject had not been discussed at Court, but that Sir Robert Peel had been startled, and was afraid that the authority cited by the newspaper had emanated from the Court. The Prince says further that he had seized the opportunity to discuss the question with Sir Robert Peel thoroughly, and the upshot * was, that it is power and not titles which are esteemed • here, that the public are inclined to attach ridicule to
everything of the sort, that there is a lack of good precedents, that there are great constitutional diffi• culties,' and the like.
Looking back upon the whole of this discussion from a time at which the rivalries of political parties have changed their objects and directions, and at which personal jealousies and misunderstandings, as directed against the Prince Consort, are almost forgotten, it is to be regretted that Parliament did not in the Naturalisation Bill assume the right of definitely assigning the rank and precedence of the Prince, instead of affording
· Life of the Prince Consort, vol. i. p. 257.
Note by the Queen.
a precedent in favour of an extension of the Royal prerogative. The ambiguous position of the Prince could not in any way reduce his political influence, while, by tending to drive him into greater obscurity behind the Throne, it might have diminished his sense of public responsibility. The position of the Prince in the eyes of foreigners was also a legitimate matter of Parliamentary concern; and when it is remembered how many international differences and even wars have arisen from uncertainties in the matter of etiquette, no pains ought to have been spared in abating narrow political prejudices and enmities, for the sake of conferring on the Prince an intelligible and substantial dignity as nearly equivalent to that of the Queen as was possible in the nature of things. The following note,' which Mr. Martin appends as a memorandum by the
Queen, May, 1856,' is a sufficient comment on the personal and international inconvenience resulting from the want of courage and energy displayed by Parliament, and the successive Governments of the day, in respect of ascertaining the true position of the Prince Consort. • When I first married, we had much difficulty on the subject, much bad feeling was shown, several members of the Royal Family showed bad grace in giving precedence to the Prince, and the late King of Hanover positively resisted doing so. ... When the Queen was abroad, the Prince's position was always a subject of negotiation and vexation ; the position accorded to him the Queen always had to acknowledge as a grace and favour bestowed on her by the Sovereigns she visited. While, in 1856, the Emperor of the French
Life of the Prince Consort, vol. i. pp. 61, 62 note.
treated the Prince as a Royal personage, his uncle • declined to come to Paris, because he would not give • precedence to the Prince; and on the Rhine, in 1815, " the King of Prussia would not give the place to the • Queen's husband, which common civility required, • because of the presence of an Archduke, the third son • of an uncle of the reigning Emperor of Austria, who * would not give the pas, and whom the King would
not offend. The only legal position in Europe, ac• cording to international law, which the husband of • the Queen of England enjoyed, was that of a younger
brother of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and this merely • because the English law did not know of him. This • is derogatory to the dignity of the Crown of England.'
The constitutional position of the Prince Consort had some light thrown upon it by the offer which was made to him at different times of the office of Commander-in-Chief, and by the attitude which, after giving the matter careful deliberation, he finally adopted towards the proposition. Such an offer,—proceeding, as it did, from the Duke of Wellington, a man at once in possession of an almost unprecedented amount of personal popularity, and with special experience in administrative government,-naturally compelled the Prince to review in a spirit of the most anxious self-criticism the true and ideal position occupied by the Prince Consort towards the occupant of the Throne. The fact that the Queen is the recognised head of the army, and yet that, through the medium of financial control, of the passing of the annual Mutiny Act, and of the general supervision of the Executive Government, the army is directly subjected to Parliament, cannot but render the position of the Commander-in-Chief one in