Author(s): Martyn Downer
Sir Howard Elphinstone, dashing military hero of the Crimean War, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1858 aged just twenty-nine. Handpicked by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to be governor to their third son, Prince Arthur, Elphinstone made an uncertain beginning at court, settling uncomfortably within its aristocratic cliques and clashing frequently with the impassioned Queen. But after Albert's death in 1861, Elphinstone became not only a surrogate father to Arthur, but also Victoria's most trusted confidant. Like their mother, the royal children turned increasingly to Elphinstone for help and advice, none more so than Princess Victoria, later Empress of Germany, who embroiled him in her dangerous scheming against the Prussian court.Elphinstone's diaries and his prolific correspondence with the Queen shed remarkable new light on her complex personality and on life inside her court. His story portrays in vivid and affecting detail the bitter rivalries and series of tragedies which rocked the palace during the years of the Queen's long seclusion following Albert's death.