The row over Prince Charles in Canada reminded me of the role of the Royal Family in personifying those timeless traditions which comprise the spine of British culture. One of these great Royal traditions, which has continued right down to the present generations, is buggering the valet.
31 May should be a national holiday in celebration of this great tradition. We should call it Bugger the Valet day. On 31 May 1810 Ernest Duke of Cumberland, fifth son of George III, was buggering his valet Neale. While Cumberland was fully engaged, another servant named Sellis impertinently entered the room. Naturally the Duke, having ordered Sellis to wait and be spoken to, took out his sword and ran Sellis through seven times. Sellis remained impertinent, and even after being stabbed the first time, had the temerity to grab a candlestick and hit the Duke hard on the face, inflicting a disfiguring wound. This of course is described in official histories (and I see on Wikipedia) as having been received in the Napoleonic Wars.
Over the years, seven journalists were imprisoned for publishing an account of Sellis’ death. The Duke failed to pay Neale the money he had promised him to lie that Sellis had attacked the Duke, and subsequently Neale talked rather a lot. The first journalist imprisoned, Henry White, died of disease contracted in prison. Henry White deserves to be remembered.
Cumberland was to marry a woman very widely believed across the German speaking world to be herself a murderess, Princess Frederica of Mecklenburg Strelitz, whose two earlier husbands had died, the second particularly unexpectedly and conveniently.
During the reign of King William IV, Cumberland was second in line to the throne after Victoria. Victoria’s widowed mother, the Duchess of Kent, was shagging her Private Secretary, Sir John Conroy. Actually every summer in Victoria’s teens they did their shagging in Townley House, which I can see now from my study window.
Ten months of the year they lived in Kensington Palace, and Conroy put Victoria into seclusion. Conroy was hated – he was far too middle class to be shagging a Duchess. There was a successful film by that awful far right “Lord” Julian Fellowes a few years ago called The Young Victoria. Conroy was portrayed as a caricature villain, and conventional historians have accepted the monarchist line that his seclusion of Victoria was to maximize his own influence of control.
What Conroy himself said, and is almost never published, was that he was keeping Victoria under very close guard because he was terrified she would be poisoned or otherwise murdered by the heir to the throne after her, her uncle Cumberland, and his wife. Where this is ever mentioned by historians, it is to ridicule it as a crazy pretext.
In fact Cumberland was a murderer, and Frederica very probably was too. Conroy was absolutely right to protect Victoria from Cumberland. What the establishment would not admit then or now was that there was a very real reason for Conroy to apprehend this danger. Ernest Duke of Cumberland had killed Sellis. His wife Frederica was reputed throughout Europe to have poisoned her second husband in order to marry Ernest and gain the possibility of becoming Queen of England. Only Victoria stood between them and the throne, in an age of high mortality.
When William IV died, Victoria became Queen but as a female could not inherit the other Kingdom of Hanover. Cumberland therefore became King Ernest of Hanover. He abolished parliament and persecuted those regarded as liberal, including the Brothers Grimm who he dismissed from their University posts.
Ahh, our beloved Royal family! Remember – 31 May is Bugger the Valet Day.