Another of her Majesty's pastimes is chess, and it may be remembered that she was a
Patron of the Ladies' International chess
Congress held a few years ago. In addition, she was a keen student. A great reader, she her early affection for the works of
Owen Meredith, while she is mistress of at least five languages, and is an excellent pianist.
The marriage of Princess Maud and Prince Charles of Denmark, who. it might be mentioned, is three years younger than his v was a popular and romantic match. There was at first strong opposition on the part of Queen Alexandra, who objected to the marriage of cousins, while it is an open secret that the Queen of Denmark had set her heart on the marriage of her second son to Queen Wilhelmina of Holland.
On more than one occasion, too, it was rumoured that the prospective crown of an heir-apparent had been laid at the feet of Princess Maud, and more than one minor potentate would have been glad to remain in England as the accepted wooer of the King's youngest daughter. Years ago it was whispered that she hoped to make such a marriage as would enable her to live in England, but these rumours ceased when her engagement to Prince Charles of Denmark was announced on October 28, 1895. As a matter of fact, Princess Maud had fallen in love with her cousin four years previously; but, for the reasons already stated, consent to the marriage had been withheld. True love triumphed in the end, however, and on July 22, 1896, when she was twenty-six years of age, Princess Maud was married in the chapel of Buckingham Palace.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Benson, performed the ceremony, and he has left the following account of it in his diary:
" Married the Princess Maud to Prince Charles of Denmark. The brightest of the princesses, and almost as young as when I confirmed her. He is a tall, gallant-looking sailor. Hope he will make her happy."
King Haakon is no mere carpet sailor. He is a practical seaman, and his naval training dates back to the time when, as a small boy of fourteen, with his sea clothes in a canvas bag slung over his shoulder, he presented himself, at the old receiving ship, Dronning Louise, in the Copenhagen dockyard, as a midshipman in the Danish Navy.
When the newcomer was challenged by a tall marine with "Who goes there? " Mr. Wisby, who was senior middy on the ship, tells us, "the boy stared, and dropped his bag, which would have fallen overboard if the marine had not caught it." The little fellow was so frightened at his gruff reception that he could not answer a word; and it was some time before the sentry could elicit his name, Carl, and his number. "Officer on guard," at last said the marine in disgust to Mr. Wisby, "I report a skinny little enemy outside, who's only got a name in front, and a poor one, too, and none behind. He doesn't know anything, and he looks it fore and aft."
At the time of his wedding, Prince Charles was an hon. lieutenant in the British Navy, and has since been promoted to the rank of commander. He is also lieut.-colonel of the King's Own Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry. Indeed, he is almost as much an Englishman as a Dane, having passed much time in this country, both prior to and after his marriage.
An interesting fact concerning the wedding of the King and Queen of Norway is that amongst the host of valuable presents given to them was the wedding-ring, made of pure Welsh gold, presented by the members of the Gorsedd National Eisteddfod. The presentation was made by the late venerable Archdruid. Another interesting gift was the beautiful service of silver plate, chosen by the Princess herself, and subscribed for by the people of Norfolk, the county in which she had lived nearly all her life.
Very enthusiastic was the greeting accorded the Royal couple when they made their entry into Copenhagen on December 21, 1896. His sailor duties, however, often took Prince Charles away from home, and in consequence Princess Maud spent the greater part of each year in London and at Appleton Hall.
Here it was that her only child, Prince Alexander, re-named Prince Olaf on the accession of his father to the throne of Norway, was born on July 2, 1903, seven years after their marriage. Needless to say, the advent of their little son proved a great delight to his Royal parents. And they have been equally delighted at the warm welcome accorded to the little prince by the people of Norway. Indeed, the Norwegians took him to their hearts the moment they saw him on the day of the King's arrival. With his fair hair, dancing blue eyes, delicate colouring, and engaging manners, he quickly appealed to the affections of his father's subjects, for he is a typical Norwegian child.
"I declare," said King Haakon, some time ago, "that I could never have believed that a child could have so conquered the hearts of people. I often say to the queen, Prince Olaf seems Norwegian by instinct. He absolutely loves the national flag. He loves the snow, and he learned immediately how to handle his little sledge. He has had nothing to learn in order to become Crown Prince. He had only to let himself be loved by the people and by everybody. For his father it is a more complicated business. They have to teach me my trade day by day."
It may be remembered that such was the prince's popularity in Norway that at one time an imposing bodyguard of four policemen and two soldiers formed an escort round the royal perambulator, in order to protect him from the overwhelming oscu-latory attentions of the ladies.
The boy prince's nursery is crowded with gifts from his future subjects. The day after his arrival the children of Christiania subscribed 1 1/2d. each to buy him a fur costume, and they afterwards presented him with a magnificent bear rug, a gigantic rocking horse, and a suite of bedroom furniture painted rose and white in Norwegian style. Like most modern Royal children, Prince Olaf has an English nurse. His mother, however, is his constant companion. She is his favourite playmate and mentor. Many happy hours do they spend in the nursery together. For Queen Maud still retains her dislike of the pomp and ceremony characteristic of many European Courts, and which, in many cases, denies Royal mothers the privilege of becoming more than a mother in name to their children.
As a matter of fact, it is quite probable that Queen Maud would have declined to accept the duties of queenship had it not been for the thought of her son; for, by so doing, she would have deprived him of a kingly inheritance. In speaking of Prince Olaf as the heir to the Norwegian throne, few people realise his importance as a member of the British Royal Family. He twelfth in the line of succession to the British throne, for between him and the King of England are only King George's children, the Duchess of Fife and her two daughters, Princess Victoria, and Queen Maud.
Life in the Royal palace at Chris-t i a ni a is very simple. The Royal household is small - the Queen herself has only three personal at-tendants - and very often one may see her Majesty pouring out afternoon tea to her guests, while King Haakon provides conversation for the ladies.
A Contrast in Homes
The palace is an imposing building, towering high over Christiania on a lofty hill. The Royal apartments are on the first floor, and attached to the King's private study is a fine billiard-room, where Queen Maud often indulges in a game with her husband. The state rooms are in the central part of the palace, Prince Olaf's rooms, consisting of three apartments, being in the western wing.
The grandeur and size of the palace forms a striking contrast to the forme r residences of their Majesties - the flat near the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, and Appleton Hall.
But, although Queen Maud now shares a throne and a palace instead of living quietly and unostentatiously in a Copenhagen flat or an English country house, she still retains that simplicity of disposition and unaffected charm which won for her the hearts of the English people, and which are securing for her enduring popularity democratic Norway.
The King and Queen of Norway, with their son. Prince Olaf. The little Prince is in every way a typical Norwegian child, and is the idol of the nation
Photo, W. S. Stuart