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Monday 5 November 2012

A Visit from King Louis Philippe

In October 1844 King Louis Philippe of France visited Queen Victoria & Prince Albert at Windsor. The Queen had written to her dear friend, Louise, Queen of the Belgians, the daughter of Louis Philippe, to ask if her father had any special requirements. This reply is rather touching not only because it reveals a good deal about the King’s character and shows the concern his family had for him, but also because it shows how little things change. This letter could have been written today (almost!) to anyone expecting a visit from an elderly relative!
My dearly beloved Victoria,
....I have not much to say about my father’s lodging habits and likings. My father is one of the beings most easy to please, satisfy and accommodate. His eventful life has used him to everything, and makes any kinds of arrangements acceptable to him. There is only one thing he cannot easily do, it is to be ready very early. He means notwithstanding, to try to come to your breakfast but you must insist upon his not doing it. It would disturb him in all his habits and be bad for him, as he would certainly eat – a thing he is not to do in the mornings. He generally takes hardly what may be called a breakfast. You must not tell him that I wrote you this but you must manage it with Montpensier [Louise’s youngest brother, Antoine], and kindly order for him a bowl of chicken broth. It is the only thing he takes generally in the morning and between his meals.I have also no observation to make but I have told Montpensier to speak openly to Albert whenever he thought something ought to be done for my father, or might hurt him and inconvenience him, and you may consult him when you are in doubt. He is entrusted with all the recommendations of my mother, for my father is naturally so imprudent and so little accustomed to caution and care that he must be watched to prevent his catching a cold or doing what may be injurious to him. About his rooms – a hard bed and a large table for his papers are all that he requires. He generally sleeps on a horsehair mattress with a plank of wood under it; but any kind of bed will do if it isn’t too soft. His liking will be to be at your command and do all you like. You know he can take a great deal of exercise and all will interest and delight him to see, as to do: this is not a compliment but a mere fact. His only wish is that you should not go out of your way for him and change your habits on his account....
You have no notion of the satisfaction it gives him and how delighted he will be to see you again and to be once more in England....
Yours most devotedly,

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