It was in the same year that the Prince was appointed Head of the Royal Commission which had been formed to encourage the study of the Fine Arts throughout the kingdom. This was work of a kind which he especially loved, and he was now in a position to influence the movement which led to the Great Exhibition of 1851.
[Illustration: Prince Albert F.X. Winterhalter Photo Emery Walker Ltd.]
But all was not plain sailing for the Prince, who was still regarded, if not with dislike, at any rate with some mistrust, as being a foreigner. For a long time yet he felt himself a stranger, the Queen’s husband and nothing more. Still, “all cometh to him who knoweth how to wait,” and he set himself bravely to his uphill task. To use his own words, “I endeavour to be as much use to Victoria as I can,”—this was the keynote of his whole life.
The Prince took sides with neither of the political parties, and first of all by careful economy he lessened the enormous household expenses and proved that it was possible for royalty to live without always being in debt. He established model farms at Osborne and Windsor, introduced different and better breeds of cattle, and even made a profit on the undertaking. He persuaded his wife to give up the late hours which were still usual, and gradually, by kindness and sympathy, won the household staff over to his way of thinking.
The Prince’s life was an extremely full one. Soon after six o’clock was his time for rising. Until nine he read and answered letters. He then looked through all the principal newspapers and gave the Queen a summary of the most important news. He found time also to work and play with his children during his short intervals of leisure. Consultations with ministers, reading and writing dispatches followed, and then a short time was devoted to open-air exercise. After lunch he often accompanied the Queen on a drive. More reading and writing took up his time until dinner, after which there was either a social evening or a visit to a theatre. He was “complete master in his house, and the active centre of an Empire whose power extends to every quarter of the globe. . . . No British Cabinet minister has ever worked so hard during the session of Parliament, and that is saying a good deal, as the Prince Consort did for 21 years. . . . The Prince had no holidays at all, he was always in harness."
[Footnote 1: Miss C.M. Yonge, Life of H.R.H. the Prince Consort.]
Louis Philippe, the first French king who had ever visited this country, except King John, wrote of him: “Oh, he will do wonders; he is so wise; he is not in a hurry; he gains so much by being known. He will always give you good advice. Do not think I say so in flattery. No! No! It is from my heart. He will be like his uncle, equally wise and good. . . . He will be of the greatest use to you, and will keep well at your side if a time of vicissitude should come, such as I hope may never be—but, after all, no one can tell.”