Telegram on official Post Office form, addressed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, at Sandringham, to Sir Arthur Helps, at Whitehall

Susanna Stephania, Sixth Duchess of Roxburghe (1814-1895)

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Oblong 4to (approx. 8½" x 11"), a retained carbon copy on printed pro-forma Post Office Telegrams stationery; a single vertical fold, and one side mounted into a folding gray paper wrapper. Very good. The Duchess (1814-1895) provides a first-hand report of Queen Victoria, the Princess, and the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (later Edward VII), whose bout with typhoid was at this time so severe it was thought his death was imminent.The message is date-stamped December 11, 1871, and time 6.40. "No change / intense anxiety / much natural strength / let us still hope a nations prayers may be heard / the Queen and Princess not ill / admirably calm" (the virgules inserted for clarity). Queen Victoria's husband, Albert, had himself died from typhoid some years previously. Albert Edward (1841-1910), their son, had long been heir apparent, and would eventually become the longest incumbent in that position in English history. He became King Edward VII in 1901, reigning until 1910. The future king's life was at this point in serious jeopardy, and the nation as well as the royal family was holding its breath and desperately hoping for a recovery that seemed elusive.This telegram was sent in the midst of the grave anxiety of the royal household, by one of Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting, the sixth Duchess of Roxburghe, to a member of Victoria's Privy Council, Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875), who had been editor of Victoria's journal of travels in the Scottish Highlands, published three years earlier. The words "the Queen and Princess not ill" of Roxburghe's telegram reveal the underlying fear that the typhoid might carry off not only the heir apparent but the reigning monarch as well, which would have been a blow of devastating proportions to the royal line. Death was more than a possibility, since at least two persons present with the royal party did in fact die from typhoid: a nobleman who was present, Lord Chesterfield, and Charles Blegg, a stable hand (Giles St. Aubyn, Edward VII: Prince and King, 1979, p. 213). Bookseller Inventory #

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