December 14, 1861: Death of Prince Albert
Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, died one hundred and fifty years ago. Only 42, he died of typhoid fever, a mass killer in the nineteenth century in crowded cities like London. In November of 1861 he had arisen from what would become his death-bed to tone down a British ultimatum over the seizure of two Confederate diplomats, Mason and Slidell, from a British mail steamer the Trent by the USS San Jacinto, in what has come down in history as the Trent Affair:
“The Queen … should have liked to have seen the expression of a hope [in the message to Seward] that the American captain did not act under instructions, or, if he did that he misapprehended them [and] that the United States government must be fully aware that the British Government could not allow its flag to be insulted, and the security of her mail communications to be placed in jeopardy, and [that] Her Majesty’s Government are unwilling to believe that the United States Government intended wantonly to put an insult upon this country and to add to their many distressing complications by forcing a question of dispute upon us, and that we are therefore glad to believe … that they would spontaneously offer such redress as alone could satisfy this country, viz: the restoration of the unfortunate passengers and a suitable apology.”
Of all the members of the British royal family down through the centuries, I think it is safe to say that none surpassed Prince Albert in his devotion to his duty, as signified by the long hours of hard work he put in each day in the service of his wife and his adopted home land. His last dying act for Great Britain was to preserve the peace between his nation and the US, a signal service to both nations.