Saturday, November 17, 2012
Never Expected to be a Royal Bride...
She wasn't the type you'd expect to be considered as a royal bride. As a matter of fact, she herself---May---never expected the summons from Queen Victoria. May's mother was a cousin of the Queen's...and she had met the formidable Queen many times...but...why was the Queen asking her to come to Balmoral? There was no point in speculating. May packed for the trip and her brother, Dolly, would accompany her.
Once at Balmoral, Queen Victoria's favorite Scottish retreat, May was summoned to meet the Queen. The elderly Queen proposed that May agree to marry Prince Eddy, her eldest grandson. May listened, quiet. Eddie was odd in his ways, but a decent boy. She kept her eyes fixed on the Queens, knowing that she must say YES....she could not say no. And in agreeing to this, she would one day be Queen of England herself. She did not think about Eddy as a man.....no, she thought about her duty. She did not think about producing heirs, again, she thought about her duty to England. What a priviledge this was...having an audience with the Queen herself and being asked to agree to this arranged marriage. Certainly the Queen had thought it all out. May, the Queen said, had the bearing and countenance to be Eddy's wife and she would quite suitable in all ways. Yes, May was in shock. She thought ...in the back of her head...Dolly was right, she has asked me to agree to be a royal bride....May---Princess Mary of Teck, hid her smile. But even though she supressed her smile, she could feel anxieties mounting within her. She was told a secret. Prince Eddy would propose to her over or near the Christmas holidays, and she should accept the invitation to Sandringham for the holidays from the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Eddy's parents. The Queen kissed her hands, and May bowed deeply.
"Your Majesty, I will do as you wish," she said.
"Good Child, you are the sweetest of girls, brought up so very well. I have told my eldest daughter of my feelings for you...I feel you are perfection for our dear Eddy...."
Back in her room at Balmoral, she realized she was cold. There was always a draft in the castle, no matter what the time of year. She covered herself in a blanket. Wasn't it true that there were whispsers that Eddy, her Eddy, was the Jack the Ripper? Oh, it just couldn't be. He couldnt do such things. They must be all wrong -- it was all rumours. No, she thought...Cant be true. Although these rumours were meant to be kept from her, she had managed to hear a bit about it. Eddy is a bit odd, but a sweet gentleman...loving and caring, she thought firmly. He had never been anything other than proper with her, displaying the very best manners. Both of the Prince and Princess of Wales son's had been nothing than extremely pleasant to her and her family. She pushed her uneasy thoughts aside. All would be well. Soon she would see Dolly and tell him in confidence of the news....for now she would take a brief nap....
Near Christmas, she was summonded to Sandringham with her parents. There was much excitement. May remained composed, while her plump mother, Mary Adelaide, cooed with her excitement than was really inappropriate.
"Mama, let's wait until he asks for my hand. He may or may not," said May, in a tone which was made her seem older than her years.
"May, dear, he will ask. Why else are we being summoned? The Queen told you to expect as much."
May leanned into her mother and whispered, "Eddy may have changed his mind. Perhaps he doesnt agree with his Grandmamma....."
But later, Eddy asked May to follow him to a boudoir. He took her warm hand in hers, and May knew what was coming next. It felt so wonderful to have him hold her hand so very softly. His hand was large, but his skin was rougher than hers. She trembled. Eddy asked if she would agree to become his wife. May agreed quickly, saying, "Yes!! Yes!!" Eddy then took both of her hands and kissed them.. He smiled broadly and May---who did not smile often---returned his smile warmly and broadly. He squeezed her hands.
"May, dearest, I will make you the happiest of women. I promise to do my best. We shall keep this between ourselves until we get the Queen's blessing. Is that all right with you, my dear?" he asked.
May looked at the Duke of Clarence, heir to the Throne of England. "Yes, Sir, anything you wish."
"Dearest, do not call me Sir when we are alone. Eddy or Edward is allright."
"Thank you Eddy. We will do as you wish."
Eddy kissed her hands again. May was enjoying this far too much. She loved the way he held her hands She was caught up in the moment. She was not quite sure she loved him, yet, none of that mattered now.
"Darling, I hope you dream of us tonight. It is late. Let me have them escort you to your room and we shall speak tomorrow?"
"Yes, Eddy, I think I should retire. As you wish,"
Eddy let go of her hands. "Sleep well."
Back in her room, for the first time in her life, May danced around her room. It was true! He loved her enough to marry her! The wedding would need to be planned---she would finally have a real home of her own--- and there would be no money worries. Her family was always in arrears.....never having quite enough and soon that would change when she was the third most important lady in the land....
The engagement was announced on December 7th, the day that May returned to London. There were cheers, for her!! She could feel the change in the air. Oh, there had been cheers for her and her family in the past...but not like this! People were screaming her name, wishing her luck, Everyone wanted to see their future princess. Later that day there was a lunch at Marlborough House, the home of the Prince and Princess of Wales...and later, the Queen made a trip to London. Everyone was offering her congratulations....the lights were on at Marlborough House and there was much activity and visitors. All of this was for May and Eddie. May was supremely happy.
The wedding day was chosen----February 27, 1892. They would reside in apartments in St. James Palace in London, after their marriage. There was so much to be done, and May and her family were filled with excitement. Not everything was perfect---there were issues with the family and some jealousies and not everyone was happy about the betrothal----yet, May took all this in stride, remaining stoid, focused, and deeply excited.
During the cold winter of 1982, in the beginning of January, May traveled to Sandringham, having a very bad cold. Once she arrived, she realized that practically everyone was sick there. Prince George, Eddy's brother, was getting over thypoid, and, like most of Britian, influenza was rampant. The Princess of Wales had sniffles and her daughter was tucked away in bed, ill. Eddy's 28th birthday was coming up...on January 8th. Right before his birthday, he felt unwell. Clearly, May could see his was not well. His brother took his temperature and sent him to bed. May sat in his room. But in the days ahead he became worse. Dr's were called and they said his lungs were inflamed. Soon he became delirious. Messages were sent to the Queen, who was profusely worried, but her son Bertie forbade her to make the trip to visit. George and May watched Eddy, from behind a screen in his room..
In the days to come, he shouted, thrashed.... and his fingernails turned blue. The dr's feared the worst, and the family was summonded....May stood behind the screen and took turns leaving so that other relatives could visit. If....If.....Eddy died....what would become of her?? Oh, she shouldnt be thinking of herself. Chastising herself, she began to pray. The Dr's were doing everything they could....he would survive....wouldn't he?
He was Heir Presumptive to the Throne of England....God would protect him....she felt sure of that. But, what if she was wrong?