It is easy to forget that, once upon a time in this country, disease was rife and illnesses that can be easily treated now, could kill. On 14th December 1861, Queen Victoria’s consort, the beloved husband and father to her children, Prince Albert, died at Windsor Castle in the Blue Room of Typhoid fever after months of illness including stomach pains.
Today diagnosis and treatments still carry a 10-30% risk of death in developing countries where the cost of treatment and poor sanitation are major factors in causing this bacterial disease to kill.
Within Victorian London, within the poor slum areas, such diseases were common and easily transmitted due to poor cramped living conditions. Due to the fact that Albert had better access to doctors, medicine and more sophisticated sanitation, as well as the fact that he had been unwell for about 18 months prior to his death, some historians have revised their opinion about the cause of Alberts deaths. Other suggestions include Crohn’s disease, renal failure and cancer.
Regardless of he cause of Alberts premature death, the impact of his loss was felt both personally and nationally. Victoria and Albert were rare in royal marriages; theirs was one of love and lust rather a marriage to suit diplomatic purposes. The pair were in passionately in love; it is said that they loved and fought with a passion that comes from true love.
Therefore it is not surprising that Alberts death would affect Victoria deeply. Victoria went into deep mourning and retreated from her public life dressing in black for the rest of her long life. Gradually Victoria did resume her public duties without her beloved Albert but she was still evidently in mourning.
Although he died young, Albert achieved much. As consort he would act as regent for Victoria through her many pregnancies. His love of science and the arts can be seen in the success of the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in which he played a major role. He also helped establish the many cultural centres within South Kensington including The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum and Science Museum. South Kensington would later be nicknamed Albertopolis. He would further be honoured after his death by giving his name to the Royal Albert Hall, the home of that most British of institutions the Proms and having the Albert Memorial erected in his honour nearby.
It is I think fair to say that Britain and Victoria would loose one of the most intelligent and industrious of consorts upon Alberts death in 1861.