Before there was Diana, there was Alexandra.
As a child I had a wild adoration for Queen Alexandra (then, of course, Princess of Wales), whom I thought the most beautiful person I had ever seen in my life, and I dare say that I was not far wrong. When I was taken to Marlborough House, I remembered and treasured up every single word she said to me.
Many years after, in 1885, [Prince] Edward and [Princess] Alexandra paid us a visit at Barons’ Court. During that visit a little episode occurred which is worth recording. On the Sunday, the Princess ….. inspected the Sunday School children before Morning Service. At luncheon the Rector of the parish told us that one of the Sunday scholars, a little girl, had been taken ill with congestion of the lungs a few days earlier. The child’s disappointment at having missed seeing the Princess was terrible. Desperately ill as she was, she kept on harping on her lost opportunity.
After luncheon the Princess drew my sister-in-law …. on one side, and inquired where the sick child lived. Upon being told that it was about four miles off, the Princess asked whether it would not be possible to get a pony-cart from the stables and drive there, as she would like to see the little girl. I myself brought a pony-cart round to the door, and the Princess and my sister-in-law having got in, we three started off alone, the Princess driving. When we reached the cottage where the child lived, H.R.H. went straight up to the little girl’s room, and stayed talking to her for an hour, to the child’s immense joy. Two days later the little girl died, but she had been made very happy meanwhile.
A little thing perhaps; but there are not many people in Queen Alexandra’s position who would have taken an eight-mile drive in an open cart on a stormy and rainy April afternoon in order to avoid disappointing a dying child, of whose very existence she had been unaware that morning.
‘The Days Before Yesterday’, Lord Frederic Hamilton, Hodder and Stoughton, London. 1920.