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we in England regard the person of the Sovereign, and it is because the feeling has become a personai one, and ceased in a great measure to be anything else, that the position of the Queen, which rests on the affection and respect of her people, is such a powerful one. As the feudal and political influence of the Crown has decayed the deeper and stronger sentiment has taken its place, and her pure and blameless life and profound unselfishness have added lustre to her reign and given her a place in the hearts of her people stronger and more enduring than any mere outward appearance of monarchical power.
Wein England, who assume the position of a hard-headed, calculating people, are in reality the most sentimental in the world, and the virtues and qualities we sneer at and depreciate are those which impress and influence us most strongly. It would not be accurate to say that the strength and position of royalty in England is merely a sentiment, and yet it is built up on a foundation of all that is emotional in English life. We are proud of it and glory in it because, though there are blots on its 'scutcheon, the record of the lives of our sovereigns, from the Conquest till now, is that of men who possessed some of the qualities most common to and distinctive of our race, and on the whole their vices and weaknesses were in many cases only the darker side of characters which by their charm, capacity, and personal influence were remarkable. It may seem paradoxical to say that even their vices hardly weakened their position, for where they were the weaknesses of ordinary humanity the common sense and strong feeling of justice so characteristic of English opinion forgave shortcomings which they were fully aware were not the monopoly of the Crown alone. Those days are past and gone, for the "fierce light which beats upon a throne ” makes the position more delicate and difficult and renders it absolutely essential that the personal character and life of the representative of the Crown should be of a high standard ; and in the reign of Queen Victoria that ideal has bcen fully realised. We forbear to speculate on the future which we hope is yet far distant, but when the Prince of Wales is called upon to take her place we are satisfied that he will be a worthy successor. The personal feeling of affection and liking for the Prince is one of the deepest and strongest in England ; his kindness, his amiability and tact, his unfailing willingness to assist by his patronage and personal exertions any worthy cause, have endeared him to his fellow-countrymen, and they know that when the inexorable hand of fate calls him to the throne we
shall have a King in every way worthy of the great traditions of his ancestors, and one of whom it can be truly said he was the kindest, truest, and most loyal of friends.
There is, however, beside the Queen and Prince of Wales one figure which stands pre-eminently out as the centre of devotion and affection of the country, and who, ever since she took the hearts of England by storm thirty years ago, has never ceased to be the idol of the country of her adoption. The position of the Princess of Wales and the strength she has given to the loyalty of the country is the strongest proof of the sentimental foundations on which the structure of monarchical government rests in England. Since the day when she first drove through London to this hour the Princess of Wales has occupied a position unique in its way. Not a very clever woman, and suffering from a physical weakness, though slight, very irritating and wearisome, she has by her grace, her sweetness, and her great beauty endeared herself to the people of England in an indescribable way; and given the strongest proof of how great an influence and power a good woman can exercise over the destinies of her country. Always ready to give sympathy and help, apparently never tired or weary after years of unending ceremonial and incessant calls on her time and strength, a devoted wife and mother, she has embodied all the graces and virtues in which England loves to see her women abound. Last year, when the greatest sorrow that can be borne by a woman, the death of her first-born, fell upon her, the sympathy of the country went out in full to the mother who was drinking that bitter cup, and the knowledge which then became public property, of the deep affection which subsisted between mother and son, only increased the sympathy for the sorrowing woman. Her seclusion was willingly accepted as the natural tribute to her boy's death, but the ringing cheers which greeted her reappearance at Ascot must have told her more eloquently than words how gladly she was welcomed again in her old place, and her return to the world has placed the crowning stone or the great event which amid the clanging of marriage bells and the acclamations of a loyal and united people we have for months been longing and waiting anxiously to see accomplished.
Princess May, who has a great and brilliant future before her, has at the same time a serious and important career. She has had the advantage of great and noble examples, and she has the knowledge that besides being the choice of the Duke of York, she is the choice of the
English people. When affection plays its natural and unchecked part, and when dynastic motives are not of any consideration, a Royal marriage can be one of as pure affection as that of a peasant, though the field of selection is necessarily more limited. Had the Duke of York gone further afield for a wife we should have welcomed her for his sake, but the universal satisfaction would have been more constrained and less spontaneous. In Princess May the country has got what it most desires-viz., an English Princess—one born, bred, brought up, in our country.
If we come to analyse the situation and look at the facts she is no more an English Princess than many others, but in some inexplicable way her mother and the Duke of Cambridge are never regarded in any other light than as an English man and woman. The German eleinent which is so strongly impregnated in other branches of the Royal Family is not associated with her, and we have grown accustomed to hear Princess May called “the English Princess.” Perhaps the absence of any forcign accent, the perfect pronunciation of the letter “R," which 19 not shared by other members of the Royal Family, has lent colour to the idea, but be the causes what they may, the fact remains that in the future Duchess of York the country believes it is to have an English bride, and it is the first instance since the days of James 11, that an Heir to the Throne has chosen his bride in his own country. These among other causes have combined to make the marriage a popular one, while the long-continued affection of the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales for Princess May's parents is a proof that the strong family ties which bind all English families together exist also in thcirs, and that the union is going to add another happy household to the family of which the Queen is the head, each of which is a bright example of English home-life, in its best aspect.
Of Princess May, we may say at once, we know a great deal and yet very little. True, she has been with us all her life and has grown up in our midst, but circumstances have prevented her taking a very prominent place till three years ago, when the idea first took shape that she might be our future Queen. The very ignorance which we profess is perhaps her greatest recommendation, for in her home lise, in its simple surroundings, she has had the best training that can be given to a woman called to the career before her, Never rich enough to be extravagant, obliged to subordinate her wishes to those with whom she lived, she is unselfish and thoughtful in
a marked degrec. As an only daughter and sister she possesses in an unstinted degree the love and devotion of her parents and brothers, whose affection for her is truly unbounded, for the admiration of brothers for a pretty and charming sister is nowhere seen to a greater extent than at White Lodge. In all family discussions and differences (and where do they not arise ?) she has always been the peacemaker, and her calm sweet temper has carried her through the storms that assail every woman in her life, and her evident self-control and power of reserve must give her influence.
Of her personal appearance one need say nothing. She is an Englishwoman of the truest type, with all the sweet freshness of an English girl, and if her beauty were less, the calmness and dignity of her manner would always give her great distinction.
But in a country where beauty is appreciated and where it adds much to the influence and power of women, Princess May's charms will not be thrown away, but will give her a position of her own, second only to that of her still youthful mother-in-law.
In writing of the private life of a woman, however much she may be considered public property, one must touch but lightly and carefully. Not much can be said without indiscretion, but of the gifts which are the best tests of a person's character one may truly say that Princess May has a lion's share. Sympathetic and kind-hearted, full of tender pity for suffering, energetic and active, industrious, and ever anxious to help in any good cause in which her assistance is sought, she will in her new position have ample opportunities of utilising all the good qualities she possesses to an unlimited degree. As a companion she is pleasant, with plenty to say and a great sense of fun. She has read a great deal, and is a good linguist and musician. Her books are her great delight and enjoyment, and her little boudoir gives good evidence of how sound and varied have been her literary pursuits. In common with all the Royal Family she has a wonderful memory for faces, and her knowledge and recollection of things is remarkable, and when she acts as cicerone (as she often does) to visitors at White Lodge nothing is more amusing and interesting than her description of the pictures and objects of interest with which the house abounds. To see her in her own home, which she loves so fondly, surrounded by her own people, with her books, her work, her flowers, and the countless interests of a happy English girl, is to see the Princess May at her best, and in realising that picture we have the best guarantee that the country can ask for the goodness and virtues of its future Queen. The affection of her servants, the gratitude of the poor, and the respect and love with which she is regarded by all her neighbours and friends, is a proof of the sweetness of her nature and of her goodness.
While the influence of woman must always be greatest in her own home, which is the sphere where all the good qualities of her heart and disposition have full sway, in the case of Princess May the stronger qualities of her character will have an important influence on those with whom she comes in contact, and on the development which must follow when she takes her true position much of the success and happiness of her life will depend. Strength and decision of character we know she possesses, and a high sense of duty, great rectitude, and strong affections. Her natural reserve with strangers, verging on great shyness, has prevented many people from knowing her well, and she is therefore less likely to be influenced except by those on whose judgment, experience, and affection she can depend. Her very quick insight into characteroften candidly expressed-proves that she is not likely to be imposed on by inferior mediocrities, and in her choice of friends she has always shown discretion and wisdom. Her position, which, no doubt, has up till now been a very trying one, has fitted her excellently for her future, and when once she assumes the assured one of the Duchess of York the distrust of herself (which may we say ?—she sometimes allows to extend to other people) will disappear, and the sense of security she will experience must alter the whole aspect from which she views life. Perhaps, deep down in her heart, and hardly expressed, lies the feeling that a simpler life, with less of splendour and responsibility, would have been her choice, for her nature is essentially a simple one; but if irksome, and not her ideal, she will always do her duty thoroughly and conscientiously. In many ways she and the Duke have the feeling in common that had they been consulted, the life of an English gentleman and gentlewoman, with its smaller but still important interests, would have been their choice, for neither by training nor disposition were they intended for the place they are called on to fill; and the publicity, as well as the intolerable curiosity, of modern life has destroyed all possibility of seclusion and privacy in those of public characters. To people of the disposition of Princess May and the Duke of York such a penalty to pay for greatness is severe, but it is the price exacted from those in their position.
In every marriage the centre of interest is the bride, and one tries in imagination to picture what the future life of the girl-Princess we all