This obituary for Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, appeared in The Times on December 16, 1861.

The Times


The news of the serious illness of the late Prince Consort alarmed and amazed all England on Saturday. To the attentive readers of the Court Circular it was only known that his Royal Highness was slightly indisposed, and the bulletin which on Saturday announced that his illness had taken an unfavourable turn spread dismay and astonishment throughout the country. Then, all at once, the fearful affliction which threatened Her Majesty was seen, and on every side information as to the state of his Royal Highness’s health was sought for with the most intense eagerness. The announcement which we published in our third edition of Saturday, that a change, slightly for the better, had taken place in the illustrious patient’s condition, was welcomed as almost a relief from the state of feverish anxiety under which all had waited for news. Unhappily, this slight improvement, which raised such ardent hopes wherever it was known, proved to be but a precursor of the fatal issue. During Saturday morning—at least in the early part—his Royal Highness undoubtedly seemed better, and, notwithstanding that his condition was in the highest degree precarious, the change, though sudden, was marked, and almost justified the strong hopes which were then entertained that he would recover. This change was but for a short time, and, in fact, but one of those expiring efforts of nature which give delusive hopes to the mourners round so many death-beds. Soon afterwards his Royal Highness again relapsed, and before the evening it became evident that it was only a question of an hour more or less. The Prince sank with alarming rapidity. At 4 the physicians issued a bulletin stating that their patient was then in “a most critical condition,” which was indeed a sad truth, for at that time almost every hope of recovery had passed away. Her Majesty, and the Prince of Wales (who had travelled through the previous night from Cambridge), the Princesses Alice and Helena, and the Prince and Princess of Leiningen, were with their illustrious relative during all this mournful and most trying period. The approach of death from exhaustion was so rapid that all stimulants failed to check the progressive increase of weakness, and the fatal termination was so clearly foreseen that even before 9 o’clock on Saturday evening a telegram was forwarded from Windsor to the city, stating that the Prince Consort was then dying fast. Quietly and without suffering he continued slowly to sink, so slowly that the wrists were pulseless long before the last moment had arrived, when at a few minutes before 11 he ceased to breathe, and all was over. An hour after and the solemn tones of the great bell of St. Paul’s—a bell of evil omen—told all citizens how irreparable has been the loss of their beloved Queen, how great the loss to the country.

During yesterday the intelligence was received everywhere with a feeling so painful that it would really be difficult to exaggerate the amazement and grief manifested. The first fear—a wide, deep, and general fear—was, that the great and keen affliction with which it has pleased Heaven in its wisdom to visit the Royal Family might prove too much for the strength of Her Majesty, and that she herself might sink under her irreparable bereavement. A bulletin, however, posted at Buckingham Palace, stating that the Queen, though overwhelmed with grief, bore her loss with calmness, and had not then suffered in health, was soon known everywhere—such was the eagerness with which news of the Queen at such a heavy time was sought for.

Yesterday intelligence of the national calamity was communicated to the citizens of London, through the Lord Mayor, at the Mansion-house, in the subjoined official letter from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:—

“Whitehall, Dec.15.

“My Lord,—it is with the greatest concern that I inform your Lordship of the death of his Royal Highness the Prince Consort, which took place at Windsor Castle last night at ten minutes to 11 o’clock, to the inexpressible grief of Her Majesty and the Royal family.

“I request your Lordship will give directions for tolling the great bell of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“I have the honour to be Your Lordship’s most obedient servant, The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor. G Grey.”

Again, yesterday afternoon his Lordship received by special messenger the following bulletin, copies of which he immediately caused to be posted on the most conspicuous places in front of the Mansion-house:—

“Windsor Castle, Sunday, Noon, Dec. 15.

“The Queen, although overwhelmed with grief, bears her bereavement with calmness, and has not suffered in health.





This document and the letter of Sir George Grey, a copy of which was likewise posted at the entrance to the Mansion-house, were read with melancholy interest by thousands of the citizens throughout the remainder of the day.

Yesterday afternoon the Rev. Canon Champneys, the preacher at St. Paul’s, made a touching allusion to the great national loss in the course of his sermon, and earnestly commended Her Majesty and the Royal family, in their state of grief and desolation, to the sympathies and prayers of the congregation. The bells of the City churches were tolled at intervals yesterday, and in most of the sermons preached allusions were made to the solemn event. Nor was this manifestation of public feeling confined to the clergymen of the Establishment Church only. At the Roman Catholic, the Jewish, and the Greek churches similar heartfelt prayer and solemn condolences were offered.

At Cambridge, both by reason of the intimate relationship with the University as its Chancellor and the residence of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in the town, the news produced a profound sensation. It did not reach Cambridge yesterday till 10 40 a.m. it then spread with proverbial rapidity, but nevertheless was not so widely known but that in some of the churches of the city the speedy recovery of his Royal Highness was earnestly prayed for. The bells of the University (St. Mary’s) commenced telling, but still the mass of the people were unwilling to believe that the melancholy news was true. In the University Church profound emotion was evident when the officiating minister, the Rev. C. D. Marston, of Caius College, omitted the name of his late Royal Highness from the prayer for the Royal Family, and (as Chancellor) from that for the blessing of the Almighty on “this our body” (i.e., the University), in which prayer the various dignitaries of the University are enumerated.

At Bristol the news of the death of the Prince, although not altogether unlooked for, from the gloomy nature of the telegrams of the preceding day, was received with profound regret by all classes of the citizens. From the pulpits of the various churches and chapels touching reference was made to this national calamity, and sincere prayers were offered for the Royal widow and her fatherless children.

At Reading, about an hour before the church service, the funeral knell at St. Mary’s and St.Giles’s Churches announced to the inhabitants the death of the Prince Consort. At St. Mary’s Church the Bishop of Oxford preached in the evening, and a most touching allusion was made by his Lordship to the melancholy event.

At Warwick the intelligence was first of all communicated to Mr. Justice Willes, who is holding the winter assize there, and who, on receiving the mournful information, expressed his deep sorrow and great regret. The bells of the churches were tolled; and it was not until they heard the tolling of the bells that the inhabitants generally would believe in the truth of the reports. In the evening, at all the places of worship, prayers were offered on behalf of the Queen and Royal family.

At Nottingham the intelligence arrived by telegraph, and was immediately posted up at the Corn-Exchange. All classes, rich and poor, appeared to sympathize with Her Majesty in her sad bereavement.

(From the London Gazette Extraordinary of Sunday, Dec. 15.) WHITEHALL, DEC. 15.

On Saturday night, the 14th inst., at 10 minutes before 11 o’clock, his Royal Highness the Prince Consort departed this life, at Windsor Castle, to the inexpressible grief of Her Majesty and of all the Royal Family.

The Queen, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, their Royal Highnesses the Princess Alice and the Princess Helena, and their Serene Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Leiningen were all present when his Royal Highness expired.

The death of this illustrious Prince will be deeply mourned by all Her Majesty’s faithful and attached subjects as an irreparable loss to Her Majesty, the Royal Family, and the nation.

(From the Court Circular.) WINDSOR CASTLE, DEC. 14.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales arrived at the Castle at 3 o’clock this morning, from Madingly-hall, attended by Major-General the Hon. R. Bruce and Major Teesdale.

His Serene Highness the Prince of Leiningen returned in the forenoon.

Captain Grey has succeeded Major Teesdale as Equerry in Waiting to the Prince of Wales.

The Duke of Cambridge arrived from London early this morning to make inquires after his Royal Highness the Prince Consort. His Royal Highness the Duke de Nemours also called to make inquiries.

The following bulletin of the health of the Prince Consort was issued this morning:—

“His Royal Highness the Prince Consort has had a quieter night, and there is some mitigation of the severity of the symptoms.





“Windsor Castle, Saturday, 9 a.m., Dec. 14, 1861.”

A Telegram was despatched at 10h. 40m. a.m. of the state of his Royal Highness:—


“There is a slight change for the better in the Prince this morning.”

In the afternoon the following bulletin was issued:—


“His Royal Highness the Prince Consort is in a most critical state.





The bulletin announcing the decease of the Prince Consort was as follows:—


“His Royal Highness the Prince Consort became rapidly weaker during the evening and expired without suffering at ten minutes before 11 o’clock.





The following bulletin of the state of the Queen’s health was exhibited yesterday at Buckingham Palace:—


“The Queen, although overwhelmed with grief, bears her bereavement with calmness, and has not suffered in health.





Among the members of the Diplomatic Corps and the nobility and gentry who called yesterday at Buckingham Palace to make inquiries after the health of Her Majesty the Queen were—the Russian Ambassador and Baroness Brunow, the Turkish Ambassador and Madame Musurus, the Danish Minister, the Swedish and Norwegian Minister, the Portuguese Minister, the French Ambassador and the Countess de Flahault, the Greek Minister and Madame Tricoupi, the United States’ Minister and Mrs. Adams; Mr. Wilson, Secretary, and Mr. Moran, Second Secretary of the Legation; the Italian Minister, the Brazilian Minister and Madame Moreira the Austrian Ambassador and Countess Apponyi, the Netherlands Minister, the Bavarian Minister and Baroness Cetto, Secretary Sir George and Lady Grey, Viscount and Viscountess Torrington, Mr. Phillips, Lord Harris, the Hon. Mortimer and Mrs. Sackville West, the Duchess Dowager of Somerset, Sir J. South, the Lord Chief Justice and Lady Erle, Sir J. and Lady Emerson–Tennent, the Hon. C. Gore and the Countess of Kerry, Admiral and Mrs. Bowles, Mr and Mrs. H. and Miss Hope Reeve, the Chaplain–General, the Dowager Lady Clinton, the Earl and Countess of Airlie, Mr. and Mrs. Merivale, the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, Sir J. and Lady J. Walsh, Mr. E. Marjoribanks, Sir Hamilton and Lady Seymour the Dowager Viscountess and the Hon. Miss Hardinge, the Dean of Westminster and Mrs. Trench, Sir J. Romilly, Lord and Lady Elcho, the Dowager Countess of Lichfield, Sir Benjamin and Miss Brodie, Colonel and Mrs. F. Paget, Viscount Maynard, Lady Caroline and Miss Lascelles, Mr. C. Greville, Sir C. Douglas, M.P., Mr. Du Pasquier, the Countess of Fife, Lieutenant–General Sir F. and Lady Smith, the Earl of Lucan, Lord Suffield, Mr. A. Biddulph, Lord Dynevor, Mr. and Mrs. H. Addington, the Earl and Countess of Cork, the Countess Dowager of Jersey, the Earl of Clanwilliam, Sir R. and Lady Murchison, Lord and Lady Monteagle, Mr. and Lady C. Schreiber, Sir Fitzroy Kelly, Sir R. and Lady Mayne, the Earl and Countess Grey, Colonel the Hon. A. and Mrs. Liddell, the Countess of Falmouth, General Sir G. Bowles, Mr. and Lady E. Walsh, General Sir H. and Lady Ross, Captain the Hon. J. and Mrs. Denman, Sir Benjamin and Lady Hawes, Sir J. and Lady E. Ferguson, Viscount and Viscountess Bury, Viscount Chelsea, Lieutenant-General and Lady Mary Fox, Mr. and Mrs. H. Rich, Lady G. Fane, together with numerous others.


His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge arrived early this morning, and remains at the Castle.

Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Cambridge arrived from Kew to make inquiries.


In consequence of the melancholy event of the death of his Royal Highness the Prince Consort, the theatres will be closed this evening, and again on the evening of the funeral.

Source: The Times []