Prince Albert Memorandum 1

Prince Albert, 11th October 1853

“I had a long interview [this morning] with Sir James Graham [who was in the Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty] .. and told him that Lord Aberdeen’s last letter to the Queen … made us very uneasy. It was evident that Lord Aberdeen was, against his better judgment, consenting to a course of policy which he inwardly condemned, that his desire to maintain unanimity at the Cabinet led to concessions which by degrees altered the whole character of the policy, while he held out no hope of being able permanently to secure agreement.

“I described the Queen’s position as a very painful one. Here were decisions taken by the Cabinet, perhaps even acted upon, involving the most momentous consequences, without her previous concurrence or even the means for her to judge of the propriety or impropriety of course to be adopted, with evidence that the Minister, in whose judgment the Queen placed her chief reliance, disapproved of it.

“The position was morally and constitutionally a wrong one. The Queen ought to have the whole policy in spirit and ultimate tendency developed before her to give her deliberate sanction to it, knowing what it involved her in abroad and at home. She might now be involved in war, of which the consequences could not be calculated, chiefly by the desire of Lord Aberdeen to keep his Cabinet together; this might then break down, and the Queen would be left without an efficient Government, and a war on her hands.

“Lord Aberdeen renounced one of his chief sources of strength in the Cabinet, by not making it apparent that he requires the sanction of the Crown to the course proposed by the Cabinet, and has to justify his advice by argument before it can be adopted, and that it does not suffice to come to a decision at the table of the Cabinet.

“Sir James Graham perfectly coincided with this view and offered to go up to Town immediately. The Queen wrote the letter to Lord Aberdeen … which Sir James takes up with him. He shall arrive at Windsor on Friday (14th), and Lord Aberdeen is to have an Audience on Saturday. Sir James will tell him that the Queen wants his deliberate opinion on what course is best to be followed, and that the course once adopted should be steadily and uninterruptedly pursued.”