The Queen described her betrothal as follows: “At half-past twelve I sent for Albert. He came to the closet, where I was alone, and after a few minutes I said to him that I thought he would be aware why I wished him to come, and that it would make me happy if he would consent to what I wished, namely, to marry me. There was no hesitation on his part, but the offer was received with the greatest demonstrations of kindness and affection. . . . I told him I was quite unworthy of him. . . . He said he would be very happy to spend his life with me.”
She wrote to her uncle: “I love him more than I can say, and I shall do everything in my power to render the sacrifice he has made (for a sacrifice in my opinion it is) as small as I can.”
In the following November the news was made public, but it was not received with any great enthusiasm, as a German alliance was unpopular. There were other suitors for the Queen’s hand, and the majority would have preferred one of her English cousins to have been chosen.
On February 10, 1840, the marriage was solemnized at the Chapel Royal, St James’s. The Queen was described by those who saw her as looking extremely happy, and to her uncle she wrote of her delight at seeing the huge crowds which lined the streets to see the procession pass. “God grant that I may be the happy person, the most happy person, to make this dearest, blessed being happy and contented! What is in my power to make him happy, I will do.”
After four short days the Queen and her husband returned to London, and from this time onward the Prince acted as his wife’s secretary, attending to every little detail of the mass of correspondence and State documents which grew larger with every succeeding year.
All the letters received by the Queen during the course of a long and busy life-time were carefully preserved, and at her death they amounted to no fewer than five or six hundred large bound volumes. They include letters from crowned heads of Europe, from her ministers of State, from her children, and from her friends and relations.
All these the Queen read and answered. She was thus at all times fully aware of everything that was happening both at home and abroad, and in her great Empire, an Empire which was destined to grow greater and greater in power and extent during her reign. Day by day, year in, year out, without a single break, this immense correspondence arrived. Ministers resigned and ministers were appointed, but there was neither halt nor rest. Truly ‘the burden of Empire’ is heavy for those who bear it.