From Queen Victoria to the Crown Princess of Prussia – Windsor Castle, 18 December 1861
Queen Victoria’s husband had died on 14 December 1861
Bless you for your beautiful letter of Sunday received yesterday! Oh! My poor child indeed, ‘Why may the earth not swallow us up?’ Why not? How am I alive after witnessing what I have done? Oh! I who prayed daily that we might die together and I never survive him! I who felt, when in those blessed arms clasped and held tight in the sacred hours at night, when the world seemed only to be ourselves, but nothing could part us. I felt so very insecure. I always repeated: ‘And God will protect us!’ though trembling always for his safety when he was a moment out of my sight. I never dreamt of the physical possibility of such a calamity – such an awful catastrophe for me – for all. What is to become of us all? Of the unhappy country, of Europe, of all? For you all, the loss of such a father is totally irreparable! I will do all I can to follow out all his wishes – to live for you all and for my duties.
But how I, who leant on him for all and everything – without whom I did nothing, moved not a finger, arranged not a print or photograph, didn’t put on a gown or bonnet if he didn’t approve it shall be able to gon, to live, to move, to help myself in difficult moment? How I shall long to ask his advice! Oh! It is too, too weary! The day – the night (above all the night) is too sad and weary. The days never pass! I try to feel and think that I am living on with him, and that his pure and perfect spirit is guiding me and leading me and inspiring me! But my own dear child, so worthy of him, so like him in mind, my life as I considered it is gone, past, closed! Pleasure, joy – all is for ever gone. Think of Osborne, of the Highlands, of – oh! of Christmas – the 10th of February1 – all, all belong to a precious past which will for ever and ever be engraven on my dreary heart!
But you, his children, his flesh and blood can cheer your wretched mother’s crushed and bruised hart with your tender love and in trying to be like him! One alone (who does his best and feels his loss most deeply) is utterly unlike him and this is a cross.2 Alice3 has behaved and is behaving in a manner which commands the respect and admiration of all, while she is a real support to me. She is quite my right hand. All the others are most tender – Arthur4 (who is so like dearest Papa) touchingly so. Sweet little Beatrice5 comes to lie in my bed every morning which is a comfort. I long so to cling to and clasp a loving being. Oh! How I admired Papa! How in love I was with him! How everything about him was beautiful and precious in my eyes! Oh! How, how I miss all, all! Oh! Oh! The bitterness of this – of this woe!
I saw him twice on Sunday – beautiful as marble – and the features so perfect, though grown very thin. He was surrounded with flowers. I did not go again. I felt I would rather (as I know he wished) keep the impression given of life and health than have this one sad though lovely image imprinted too strongly in my mind! I do hope you will come in two or three weeks; it will be such a blessing then. I shall need your taste to help me in carrying out works to his memory which I shall want his aid to render at all worthy of him! You know his taste. You have inherited it. I chose this morning a spot in Frogmore Garden for a mausoleum for us.