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Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7


The Coronation - The Queen's claim to be Crowned with the King rejected - Coronation of George IV. - The Ceremonial.
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The queen wrote a bold, firm hand, indicating decision of character, forming the letter " R." for " Regina" with a flourish. She never did this so proudly as when she was presented with the copy of the bill of pains and penalties; signing a protest against it, she exclaimed, as she flung clown the pea, " Queen, in spite of them! " She remained queen, indeed, at the end of the trial, because the bill had been abandoned; but the carrying of the third reading, by however small a majority, was regarded by the government as tantamount to a condemnation, and it was solely out of respect to the excited feeling of the public, and the dangers which menaced the throne, that they did not proceed to extremities against her. She was queen, it is true, but only in name, without the position and consideration which the title should have brought with it. She made an effort, before the parliament was prorogued, to obtain a palace for her residence, and a suitable provision for her support, which had been refused on the part of the king, when an application had been made on her behalf through lord Liverpool. She was informed, however, that the allowance which had been previously made would be continued until parliament should again meet for the dispatch of business. Her solicitor-general, Mr. Denman, went to the house with a message from her majesty, which it was pre-determined that he should not deliver. The speaker had obtained his cue, the chancellor was on the alert, and while Mr. Denman stood with the document in his hand, the usher of the black rod appeared, summoning the members to hear the royal speech in the house of lords. By this manoeuvre she was prevented from making her request to the commons. She left nothing undone for the purpose of keeping up her credit with the public, and maintaining her prestige. She had loudly protested her innocence of the things laid to her charge, and, as a solemn declaration of this fact, she went to receive the communion at Hammersmith church. In the first lesson for the day, Isaiah lix., there was a verse which many persons thought applicable to her case: - " Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter."

It was arranged that the coronation should take place early in the summer of 1821, and the queen was resolved to claim the right of being crowned with the king. She could hardly have hoped to succeed in this, but her claims were put forth in a memorial complaining that directions had not been given for the coronation of the queen, as had been accustomed on the like occasions, and stating that she claimed, as of right, to celebrate the ceremony of her royal coronation, and to preserve as well her majesty's said right as the lawful right and inheritance of others of his majesty's subjects.

The claims set forth in this petition were enforced by the members of the opposition in the house of commons, taking advantage of the proceedings on the duke of Clarence's annuity bill. Ministers laid down the position that it was only by favour her majesty could be crowned, and that favour they could not advise their royal master to confer. After the presentation of various memorials on the part of the queen, to which no satisfactory answers were given, there was a meeting of the privy council, when, in compliance with the prayer of her majesty's memorial, which was read, it was agreed that she should be heard by counsel. Mr. Brougham then rose, and stated that he had applied to see the " Liber Regalis," and that the dean and chapter of Westminster refused access to it, except by order of the highest authority, viz., that of the king, which tad not been obtained. The lord chancellor stated that the book might be sent for, and, in the meantime, Mr. Brougham might proceed with his argument, derived from other sources. He then addressed the privy council at great length on her majesty's right, passing in review the history of coronations, from the Saxon times down. The result of his inquiries on the subject is given by lord Eldon in a letter to his daughter, the lion. Mrs. Bankes, as follows: -

" I have been at the privy council all the morning, hearing Brougham argue the claim of the queen to be crowned. His argument seemed to most there to prove the very reverse of any such claim, as a right. She claims to be crowned with the king on the same day, and at the same place. William the Conqueror's queen was crowned two years after he was crowned; Henry I.'s queen, ditto; Stephen's queen, ditto; Richard I.'s queen crowned abroad; John's queen not crowned with him, but alone; Henry III.'s queen not with him, but afterwards alone; Edward III.'s queen crowned alone; Henry IV.'s queen not crowned with him, but alone; Henry V.'s ditto; Henry VI.'s queen not crowned with him, but alone; Henry VII.'s queen crowned long after him; Henry VIII. - some of his queens crowned, some not crowned; Charles I. - his queen not crowned at all; Charles II. - his queen not crowned at all; George II.'s queen, or George I.'s, I am not sure which, not crowned at all."

Mr. Denman addressed the council on the same subject. They were answered by the attorney-general and the solicitor-general at great length. The council, after sitting for three days, adjourned to consider their decision. The greatest interest was excited by this discussion. The records were brought from the Tower: the "Liber Regalis" and other ancient volumes. The doors continued closed, and strangers were not allowed to remain in the adjoining rooms and passages. The following official decision was given after some delay: - " The lords of the committee, in obedience to your majesty's said order of reference, have heard her majesty's attorney and solicitor-general in support of her majesty's said claim, and having also heard the observations of your majesty's attorney and solicitor-general thereupon, their lordships do agree humbly to report to your majesty their opinions, that as it appears to them that the queens consort of this realm are not entitled of right to be crowned at any time, her majesty the queen is not entitled as of right to be crowned at the time specified in her majesty's memorials. His majesty, having taken the said report into consideration, has been pleased, by and with the advice of the privy council, to approve thereof."

The date of this document is the 10th of July. On the following day the queen wrote to lord Sidmouth as follows: - " Brandenburgh House, July 11th, 1821. - My lord, - I have received your lordship's letter of yesterday to lord Hood, conveying to me the report of the committee of council, on my memorial to the king in council, claiming my right to be crowned, and as I find the committee positively denies that right which I have claimed, and which all queens consort have enjoyed - without one exception, arising from the will of the sovereign - I consider it necessary to inform your lordship that it is my intention to be present at the ceremony on the 19 th, the day fixed for his majesty's coronation, and I therefore demand that a suitable place may be appointed for me. Signed, Caroline R." She received an answer without a signature, beginning " Madam," stating that it was not his majesty's pleasure to comply with the application contained in her letter, and referring her to a previous communication from lord Liverpool, in which lie stated that his majesty having determined that the queen should form no part of the ceremonial of his coronation, it was therefore his royal pleasure that she should not attend the ceremony. The letter being without signature, she wrote that she regarded it as anonymous, and of no effect. It was then sent back to her with the signature affixed. She was resolved not to be put off with this rebuff. Lord Hood wrote to the duke of Norfolk, as earl marshal of England, informing him that it was her intention to be at Westminster Abbey at half-past eight o'clock on the morning of the 19th, and requesting him to have persons in attendance to conduct her to her seat. The duke referred her to the acting earl marshal, lord Howard of Effingham, who informed the queen that he could not comply with her commands. She then wrote a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, expressing her desire to be crowned on some subsequent day before the arrangements were done away with, so that there might be no additional expense. The archbishop replied that he could not stir a step in the matter without orders from his sovereign.

Thus baffled in all her efforts, the courageous woman addressed a letter " to the king's most excellent majesty," commencing " Caroline R.," and headed, " The protest and remonstrance of Caroline, queen of Gt. Britain and Ireland, affirming and maintaining that by the laws, usages, and customs of this realm, from time immemorial, the queens consort ought of right to be crowned at the same time with the king's majesty." This protest is written with great spirit. After some preliminary remarks, she thus alludes to the decision of the privy council: - "But the queen can j>lace no confidence in that judgment, when she recollects that the principal individuals by whom it has been produced were formerly her successful defenders; that their opinions have varied with their interests, and that they have since become the most active and powerful of her persecutors. Still less can she confide in it, when her majesty calls to mind that the leading members of that council, when in the service of your majesty's royal father, reported, in the most solemn form, that documents reflecting upon her majesty were satisfactorily disproved as to the most important parts, and that the remainder wras undeserving of credit. Under this declared conviction, they strongly recommended to your royal father to bestow his favour upon the queen, then princess of Wales, though in opposition to your majesty's declared wishes. But when your majesty had assumed the kingly power, these same advisers, in another minute of council, recanted their former judgment, and referred to and adopted these very same documents as a justification of one of your majesty's harshest measures towards the queen - the separation of her majesty from her affectionate and only child! " She then proceeds to set forth her claims in the following terms: - " The queen, like your majesty, descended from a long race of kings, was the daughter of a sovereign house, connected by the ties of blood with the most illustrious families in Europe; and her not unequal alliance with your majesty was formed in full confidence that the faith of the king and the people was equally pledged to secure to her all those honours and rights which had been enjoyed by her royal predecessors. In that alliance her majesty believed that She exchanged the protection of her family for that of a royal husband and of a free and noble-minded nation. From your majesty the queen has experienced only the bitterest disappointment of every hope she had indulged. In the attachment of the people she has found that powerful and decided protection which has ever been her steady support and her unfailing consolation. Submission from a subject to injuries of a private nature may be matter of expedience; from a wife it may be matter of necessity *, but it never can be the duty of a queen to acquiesce in the infringement of those rights which belong to her constitutional character."

This protest was dated " Queen's house, July 17th." On the 10th of that month, in the commons, Mr. Hume had said, on a motion for adjournment, he thought the house ought not to separate without expressing some opinion upon the manner in which the queen was treated by the ministers. He would ask whether it was their intention to persevere in the course of persecution towards her. If he knew any thing of the spirit and character of her majesty, he believed that she would go to the coronation. If her determination to be present at the ceremony should cause any interruption of the public peace, ministers must impute it to their own conduct. For his own part, he was anxious to take all possible means to prevent so dangerous a consequence, and he therefore now gave notice of an address to the king, that he might be pleased to take measures to provide for the peace and tranquillity of the capital, in consequence of her majesty's resolution to attend the coronation. Mr. Butter worth hoped that she would not be so ill-advised as to interfere with the august ceremonial. Mr. Alderman Wood said that she would act under no suggestions but those of her own dignified mind. Her majesty had the spirit to protect her rights, and to maintain the dignity with which the laws and the constitution had invested her. " Was it decorous or manly," he asked, " or consistent in that honourable member to talk of ' the little credit which her majesty may still have left in the country,' when, if he were to poll his constituents, he would find ninety-nine out of a hundred indignant at the wrongs her majesty had sustained, and firm supporters of her cause? "

On the 11th Mr. Hume brought forward his motion- He differed from the decision of the privy council, and declared his conviction that the queen had just as good a right to be crowned as the king, and that her exclusion would be regarded by the country as most oppressive. He advised the government nob to allow her majesty to be further degraded. Mr. Hume had not commenced the reading of his resolution ere the black rod was heard at the door, and before he had concluded he was called to order by the speaker. The government determined to make the most formidable preparations for the preservation of the peace, and for putting down a riot, should it occur. Troops were seen directing their march from all quarters to the metropolis, and there was not a village in the vicinity which did not display the plumed helmet. George IV., always excessively fond of show and pomp, " regardless of expense," was resolved that the ceremonial of his coronation should outshine anything in history. The nation entered heartily into the spirit of the royal jubilee, and the metropolis was full of excitement. As early as one o'clock on the morning of the 19th, Westminster, the seenę of this magnificent pageant, presented a dazzling spectacle. Even at that early hour, those who were fortunate enough to obtain places were proceeding to occupy them. From Charing Cross two streams of carriages extended, one to the abbey and the other to Westminster Hall. The streets were crowded with foot passengers eager to secure seats on the platforms erected along the way, or some standing-place. All distinctions of rank were lost in the throng of eager expectants; judges, bishops, peers, commanders, wealthy citizens, richly-dressed ladies, all mingled in the moving masses that converged towards the great centre of attraction. The king slept during the night in the speaker's apartments, that he might be ready for the ceremony in the morning, the lord great chamberlain standing all night at one side of his chamber, and the usher of the black rod at the other.

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Pictures for Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7

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