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Tuesday 6 January 2009

Prince Albert's Unexpressed Sorrow

Considering the effects of our thoughts and emotions on our bodies (one need only think of blushing or having butterflies in the stomach), it's small wonder that long unexpressed emotions have long term effects on health.
As a child, dear, lovely Prince Albert was, according to his biographer, Daphne Bennet, known for his docility and yet his letters reveal the extent of his inner anguish, particularly in relation to the sudden 'disappearance' of his poor mother - banished by her husband for having an affair (regardless of the fact that he had many mistresses). Albert's mother had lavished affection on him, and departed so swiftly from his life when he was so young - only 5 years old. His feelings about that remained unexpressed and surely clouded the whole of his life. What's more, he was a sensitive boy - a musician and artist - growing up with a gruff 'macho' father and brother.
Perhaps it was for this reason that Albert had such a horror of infidelity and, unlike most princes of the day who would have thought nothing of their sons taking mistresses, was shocked to the core when the Prince of Wales had a fling with an actress. Perhaps it was for the reason, too, that Albert was such a devoted father to his children. Above all, though, I cannot help but think how this sadness affected his health. Frequently he suffered from stomach complaints (it is my belief that stomach cancer rather than typhoid killed him), and exhaustion. He wore himself out with his work, it's true, but all that unxpressed sorrow surely took its toll. It's ironic that his daughter, Alice, who was so close to him, was unable to express her sorrow fully at his death, since she was caring for her mother and taking on some of the Queen responsibilities...and then, likewise, Alice was plagued with ill-health to the end of her short life.

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