By William M. Kuhn (auth.)
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Additional info for Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861–1914
The scene was as unlike the folksy, bourgeois family the papers were describing as possible. The queen's private secretary, Henry Ponsonby, took a dry and detached view of all the activity surrounding the sickbed. He wrote his wife that on a walk outdoors with another member of the Household we were suddenly nearly carried away by a stampede of royalties, headed by the Duke of Cambridge and brought up by Leopold, going as fast as they could. We thought it was a mad bull. ' and we all dashed into the house again and waited behind the door till the road was clear.
The prestige of a privileged order is like the credit of a bank: if you do but discuss whether a bank is bad or good the bank will stop, and so of an aristocracy: if you have to prove that it ought to be obeyed, it will not be obeyed. 30 The prestige of the House of Lords, like that of the monarchy, rested on an irrational basis, on its traditional pre-eminence rather than logical and utilitarian assessments of its value. This was why Bagehot argued that refonn or 'great change must be bad for an assembly which, whether it ought to or not, in fact rests on prestige and not on argument, on history not on reason' Y The third and fourth ways monarchy lent strength to the ruling order show that Bagehot acknowledged the imaginative appeal of the Crown to more than just those at the lowest end of the social scale.
It would be of no use to press her as this was her conviction with regard to the religious part of the subject. Gladstone granted what the queen had said if such 'ceremonials' were 'to be considered merely as vehicles for the expression of the religious feelings of those who are to be the principal actors in them'. But the recent demonstration of public feeling toward the prince had been so extraordinary that 'nothing short of a great public act of this kind can form an adequate answer to it'. Further, he asked the queen whether those 'who are to appear as principal personages' might not forget themselves and think of 'the great religious importance of such an act for the people at large'.