Monday, January 19, 2009

Queen dying, according to Osborne staff

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January 19, 1901 

 A local rumor, "purveyed by Osborne House employees," declares that Queen Victoria "lies at death's door." There is no official confirmation of this, but the Prince of Wales has received "authority to act in Her Majesty's stead, and there thus been created a practical, though not Constitutional, regency." The Prince of Wales now has the power of signing State documents. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Louise, and other members of the royal family are at the Queen's bedside. Lord Salisbury remains in "telephonic communication" with Osborne House. 

The Prince of Wales will go to London today, and with his son, the Duke of York will meet with Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser is Victoria's eldest grandchild. Whether he travels on to Osborne will depend on the outcome of his meeting with the Prince of Wales. Official bulletins "may safely be described as optimistic," although the bulletins are accepted as "merely official evasions of fact." The Queen "lies helpless and almost speechless in her bed" at Osborne House. She is surrounded by every comfort. The Queen has received fruits and flowers and has "all the accessories of modern medicine." It has been said by those best qualified to judge that the Queen's deteriorating condition has been precipitated "by intense worry over the losses by the British troops in South Africa."

 Privately, she had told court officials that "another war would kill her." 

According to a Reuter's telegram, Queen Victoria "was most seriously ill" last fall at Balmoral. Although it appeared that she "was then almost dying." Her illness had not been made public "because of the rigorous etiquette which she imposes alike upon her family and attendants prevented her condition being even spoken of as dangerous." The present stroke that the queen has suffered is certainly a sequel to what happened at Balmoral.

Although Victoria has become "a mere shadow of her former self," she would never admit that she was ill. The "Queen Victoria tradition and etiquette decree that she is never ill; and so, with dogged determination, she fought off the ravages that worry over the Boer war, the deaths in her own family, and her increasing years have brought upon her." Despite the bulletins, "nothing official is obtainable," but no one connected with Osborne House believes that the Queen "can survive this attack."

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