4.10.12

Her Majesty Departs Dublin

Thursday, 26 April, 1900 - Dublin, Ireland

Today with much relief (and perhaps a little sadness) Dublin bid farewell to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The whole thing has been a bit like a stuffy but very wealthy aunt showing up on your doorstep and wanting to stay for a couple of weeks. You dare not turn her out and do your best to please her.

This time Her Majesty exited Dublin a bit more quietly than she entered. Instead of the parade through town, she took the train from Kingsbridge station just outside Phoenix Park down to Kingstown. When Her Majesty’s carriage arrived at the station from Viceregal Lodge, Princesses Beatrice and Helena were the first to exit. Her Majesty then got out leaning on her cane and her Indian servant, Abdul Karim. I had the feeling the large man fought the urge to just pick the tiny woman up like a child and set her down on the platform, but that would not have been dignified. He hovers over her like she was his own mother.



Kingsbridge Railway Station
Looking well, Queen Victoria wore a corsage made of green shamrocks, the symbol of Ireland. Despite being under five foot and frail with age, Her Majesty still can emit serenity and strength. She was greeted by several dignitaries, including the Mayor and his wife; Mr. Joshua Pim, Chairman of the Great Southern & Western Railway; and Mr. Frederic Pim, Chairman of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway. (I’m assuming the two Pims are related.) Her Majesty bowed to them and said “I am very sorry to leave Ireland. I have had a very pleasant time.”

An hour later I watched the Royal Yacht disappear over the horizon followed by a flotilla of battleships as the Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India returned to England. The Lord Mayor seemed relieved that everything had gone well. The Queen had a lovely visit and no one had tried to assassinate her. And she left him a very nice present--a knighthood.

Viceregal Lodge in Phoenix Park where Her Majesty stayed
Her Majesty’s visit has stirred up strong emotions among the citizens of Dublin. On one end, patriotism for Unionists and on the other, resentment among Separatists. Queen Victoria has been blamed for poverty and prejudice. She made a point of acknowledging Catholics and the poor this visit, trying to make them feel they too belong.

The truth is the most powerful woman in the world has very little power. It’s the Prime Minister and the Parliament that really run the show. Victoria is nothing more than a figurehead raised in an ivory tower. However she has been closer to her people and their problems than any of her predecessors, thanks to Prince Albert. The Victorians wanted both a middle-class wife and mother as well as a larger-than-life demigoddess. Victoria did her best to pull them both off. I think we should give the little lady and little credit.

 
In 1904, King Edward VII will visit Dublin to unveil this memorial to his mum, created by Irish sculptor, John Hughes. After the Irish Independence, all statues of British kings will be gleefully blown-up, except for this one. Instead the old girl will be shipped off to Sydney, Australia where she will be given a good home.

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