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It was once said of the late King Edward that he "was the King of Diamonds, he had married the Queen of Hearts, and that all his children were trumps."
It is as the queen of hearts, ever beautiful and gracious and full of sympathy for all who suffer and are distressed, that Queen Alexandra takes her place amongst the queens of the world.
She has not accomplished deeds of historic moment, like that famous queen of hearts, Louise of Prussia; she has not figured as the leader of any party or faction, nor, happily, has she been called upon to face the perils which often beset those in Royal positions. No assassin has ever attempted the life of Queen Alexandra. Still, she has not escaped difficult places in life, and has drunk deeply of the cup of sorrow.
Photo by W. & D. Dowry
The great consort of a great king. Queen Alexandra in her coronation Robes
But during the years she has passed in the glare of that "fierce light which beats upon a throne" she has held aloft the torch of womanly virtue and goodness, and many there be in our beloved land who have been inspired by its gleam.
Well might King Edward have said that his life had been blessed by good Women. His cradle Was watched over by a mother of great wisdom and incomparable excellencies; he grew up amongst sisters each of Whom has Worked to make the World better and to lessen human suffering, and his manhood was blessed by a wife of exquisite charm and ideal qualities of heart and mind.
A Dream of Childhood
Some time ago, when sauntering about that glorious deer forest which surrounds the Chateau of Bernstorff, the summer home of Queen Alexandra's childhood, I Was told a charming story which gives the keynote to her life.
The young Princess Alexandra, with her sisters Dagmar and Thyra, and some girl friends, Were picnicking in the forest.
As they sat chatting under the shade of a spreading tree, each agreed to tell what Was her greatest wish in life. One wished for fame, another for wealth, and a third for great position, while another longed for beauty. The fairest of the group sat dreamily silent, and when at length Princess Alexandra spoke, she said:
"I wish above all things to be loved."
Little did she think that the future held for her not only the beautiful wish of her heart, but all the wishes of her companions. Fame, wealth, great position, and beauty - all were destined to be hers, and all have been eclipsed by that supreme gift, the power of inspiring love.
This Was recognised in courtly phrase by William Ewart Gladstone when addressing the House of Commons on a motion relating to the Royal family. After referring to the many excellent qualities of the Princess of Wales - as Queen Alexandra then was - he summed up with the words: "But, above all else, the Princess has permitted the nation to love her."
A Life of Romance
A certain element of romance has always surrounded the career of Queen Alexandra. She was born on December 1st, 1844, at the Gule Palais, Copenhagen, almost within sight of the Sound where the ships of the vikings sailed in days of yore, and where innumerable vessels and white-winged craft pass and repass over the bosom of the still, blue waters.
She was the eldest daughter and second child of Prince Christian of Glucksbun? and
Princess Louise of Hesse, afterwards King and Queen of Denmark. She was reared in great simplicity, and most carefully trained by her soldier-father and her extremely able and talented mother.
The Gule Palais was always open to interesting and artistic people, and in her youth Queen Alexandra met some of the most famous people in the world of art, music, and literature, including Hans Andersen, whose fairy stories were the joy of the merry family of children at the old palais.
When she was nine years old her father was chosen as successor to the childless King of Denmark, and granted the Chateau of Bernstorff as a country residence.
In that lovely home close by the Sound, and surrounded by miles of deer forest, the happiest days of her girlhood were passed.
Amongst all the jewels and splendid gifts which were showered upon her as the bride of the heir to the British throne, none touched her heart more deeply than an offering of some porcelain vases prettily arranged in a basket, with the Danish and English colours, which Was brought to the chateau by a deputation of villagers, as a token of love for their dear Princess.
At sixteen the young princess was confirmed according to the rites of the Lutheran Church, at the Chapel Royal, Copenhagen.
She now began to appear in society, and accounts of her exceeding beauty were Wafted to this country by the wife of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Augustus Paget, then British Minister at Copenhagen. Sir Augustus, it is said, Was the first to suggest in diplomatic circles the suitability of the lovely Danish princess as a bride for the then Prince of Wales.
The Prince, however, saw his future wife's portrait by accident. He was chatting with some young men of his own age, and one of them, who had just become engaged to be married, drew from his pocket a portrait of a young girl, simply dressed in white, a black velvet ribbon around her throat, and her hair smoothed back from the brows, revealing a face of great beauty.
The Prince thought it Was his friend's fiancee, but Was told that it Was the Princess Alexandra of Denmark. A few days later the Prince encountered the same bewitching face in a miniature at the house of the late Duchess of Cambridge, a cousin of the mother of Queen Alexandra.
We know the story of how the meeting of the young people came about. The Prince was travelling abroad, and went to visit the cathedral at Spiers. The Princess Alexandra, also travelling abroad, came with her father to see the wonders of the cathedral at Spiers, and, most appropriately, before the altar, she met her future husband.