The young Prince determined from the first to master both national and European politics, for it must always be remembered that as he was a foreigner everything in this country was for some time strange to him. In addition to being his wife’s right hand he took a leading part in all movements which might help to improve the education and conditions of life of the people. His fine training and sympathetic nature enabled him, little by little, to be the means of helping on important reforms. In addition to this, both he and his wife found time to work at drawing and music, which they studied together under the best masters. Throughout the Queen’s correspondence one reads of his devotion to her both as husband and helpmate.
The times were hard; discontent with poverty and bad trade kept the nation ill at ease, and, as is always the case, there were many who did their best to stir up riot. As a consequence, possibly, of this unrest, attempts were made on the Queen’s life, once in 1840 and twice in 1841.
The relief and joy felt by the whole nation at their young Queen’s lucky escapes from death by an assassin’s hand are expressed in the following lines by an anonymous author:—
God saved the Queen—all
This crowning joy fills every mind!
She sits within the nation’s heart,
An angel shrined.
The assassin’s hand
the steel enclosed,
He poised his ruthless hand on high—
But God in mercy interposed
His shadow for her panoply.
Then let ten thousand lyres
Let paeans ring o’er sea and land—
The Almighty hath our Sovereign kept
Within the hollow of His hand!
In July 1840, it was considered necessary to appoint a Regent in case of the Queen’s death. A Bill for this purpose was brought in and passed, naming the Prince as Regent. This pleased the Queen, for it was a clear proof of the golden opinions the Prince had won everywhere since his marriage, and it was passed, as she herself said, entirely on account of his noble character. At an earlier period it is certain, as Lord Melbourne assured her, that Parliament would not have passed such a Bill.
The Queen was soon to lose her chief adviser and friend, for in June 1841 Parliament dissolved and the Whigs were not returned to power. Lord Melbourne could, however, resign with an easy mind, for he himself recognized how valuable a counsellor the Queen now possessed in her husband. After handing his resignation to the Queen, he wrote to her: “Lord Melbourne has formed the highest opinion of His Royal Highness’s judgment, temper, and discretion, and he cannot but feel a great consolation and security in the reflection that he leaves Your Majesty in a situation in which Your Majesty has the inestimable advantage of such advice and assistance.” The Queen was exceedingly proud of these words of praise, coming as they did unasked from a minister of such long experience.