Queen Victoria to King Leopold I of Belgium – 26 March 1861
On Sunday I took leave of those dearly beloved remains1 – a dreadful moment; I had never been near a coffin before, but dreadful and heart rendering as it was, it was so beautifully arranged that it would have pleased her, and most probably she looked down and blessed us – as we poor sorrowing mortals knelt around, overwhelmed with grief! It was covered with wreaths and the carpet strewed with sweet, white flowers. I and our daughters did not go yesterday – it would have been far too much for me – and Albert when he returned, with tearful eyes told me it was well I did not go – so affecting had been the sight – so universal the sympathy.
But oh, dearest Uncle – the loss – the truth of it – which I cannot, do not realise even when I go (as I do daily) to Frogmore – the blank becomes daily worse! I try to be, and very often am, quite resigned – but dearest Uncle, this is a life sorrow. On all festive or mournful occasions, on all family events, her love and sympathy will be so fearfully wanting. Then again, except Albert (who I very often don’t see but very little in the day), I have no human being except our children… and besides, a woman requires woman’s society and sympathy sometimes, as men do men’s. All this, beloved Uncle, will show you that, without dwelling constantly upon it, or moping or becoming morbid, though the blank and the loss to me, in my isolated position especially, is such a dreadful, and such an irreparable one, the worst trials are yet to come. My poor birthday, I can hardly think of it!2