During the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, when a job needed to be done in the palace, a requisition in due form would need to be submitted to the proper department as the Duchess of Sutherland, Queen Victoria’s first Mistress of Robes, soon discovered. Two rooms at St. James’s Palace were allocated to the Duchess for the official use of herself and her staff and to house the Queen’s state robes. But when the Duchess of Sutherland was shown her two rooms, she found them completely empty. Politely, the Duchess wrote to the Lord Chamberlain, requesting chairs, tables, rugs, fire irons, a clothespress, a clotheshorse, a chest of drawers, a mirror, and locks on the doors. The request was surely modest, and the Duchess was not only an important state officer but a lady of ancient birth, vast wealth, and great beauty with long experience at court, but she got nowhere at first. The Lord Chamberlain replied within two days with equal politeness that the matters addressed by Her Grace in her most recent communication lay outside his jurisdiction. No wonder the official name for an application to a governmental department was a “craving”! Because of these archaic measures, Prince Albert went to work to reform the workings of the Palace–no easy task!
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918