Friday, January 20, 2012

The Princess and the Staffordshire Farmer - 17 June 1880

When Queen Victoria was about thirteen years of age, she made, with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, a sort of "progress" through the counties of Cheshire, Shopshire, and Staffordshire, remaining as a guest for a day or so at the mansions of the resident nobility.

The day after the arrival of the royal party at Shugborough, the seat of the Earl of Lichfield, a review of the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry (of which the Earl was colonel) was arranged, that the country people might enjoy the honour of seeing their future Queen. The park was thronged with thousands of people, and as the royal carriage moved slowly through the ranks of yeomanry the graceful recognitions of the Princess brought a glow of pleasure to many a manly cheek.

The rustic crowd was kept from intrusion on the carriageway by the iron pailings of the park but it was as impossible to repress their struggles to obtain a good view of the Princess as to silence the hearty cheers, which arose from their loyal throats. One old Staffordshire farmer was very active iv his efforts and just as he had succeeded in forcing his way to the front rank of the throng the Duchess of Kent said quietly to the Princess, Stand up my dear, that you may be better seen.'' As the Princess obeyed the request the old farmer burst into a speech probably such as had never before been heard by royal ears.

Lifting his hat, he exclaimed in broad Staffordshire dialect, "Eh! But thee bee'st a prattie little wench; be a good, little wench, and we’n all love thee." The Princess bowed and smiled, the carriage moved on and doubtless the incident soon passed from the minds of those who heard the homely, hearty wish of the old man; but it has been fulfilled as those can testify who live under the reign of good Queen Victoria, while much of the excellency of the Queen's character may be traced to the influence of a wine and judicious mother.

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