Great letters from The Times

A book entitled The Times Great Letters has just been published by Times Books. It contains a wide range of letters drawn from the newspaper’s famous daily letters page over the last century. Alistair Lexden is represented in the collection by a letter which was originally published on 25 October 2011, following an odd report that members of the Royal Family might become monarchs of some of the Queen’s other realms, such as Australia and Canada. This is the letter as it appears in the book:

Sir, the separation of the crown of Hanover from that of the United Kingdom on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 (report, Oct 15, and letter, Oct 20) would not provide a happy precedent for any division of the monarch’s realms today.

A bitter controversy over the ownership of some of the finest jewels in the royal collection soured Anglo-Hanoverian relations for 20 years. After two lengthy commissions of inquiry Queen Victoria was forced to hand over some of her favourite pieces, leaving her “desperately annoyed”. She was prohibited from buying the distinctive Hanoverian cream and black horses which had drawn the royal coaches on state occasions since 1714. Her uncle, the King of Hanover, who was extremely unpopular in England, infuriated her by demanding precedence over the Prince Consort. That led to unseemly scenes at a royal wedding when the Hanoverian king nearly fell over after “a slight push” from Prince Albert. He was caught and led away by force by the Lord Chamberlain “fuming with ire”. Could members of the Royal Family today avoid similar wrangling if the Queen’s realms were split ?

The writer is the historian of the Conservative Party