Past notes: royal wed­dings

BBC History Magazine - - Contents - Stafford­shire Sen­tinel 15 May 1874

The1870s show­case the height of Vic­to­rian deca­dence, as Bri­tish so­ci­ety was cap­ti­vated by the sto­ries of ‘Fanny and Stella – the Men Who Dress as Women’, and Cora Pearl, the London Cock­ney Queen, who now ruled the demi­monde in Paris. The press’s fas­ci­na­tion with scan­dal and ru­mour from high so­ci­ety grew with ev­ery visit by for­eign kings and queens. In 1874, the Stafford­shire Sen­tinel re­ported a “very funny ac­ci­dent” from Dover, where it was well known that the Rus­sian tsar, Alexan­der II, had lost his ships’s pilot.

En route to Eng­land, the im­pe­rial ves­sel had ac­ci­den­tally be­come stuck in the mud, and the tsar was ex­tremely an­noyed at the time it had taken for it to be re­floated. On reach­ing Dover, it was said that the Rus­sian pilot had dis­ap­peared. He had not gone over­board, and the tsar’s staff and crew were at a loss as to where he was. It was ru­moured that, fear­ful of the tsar’s dire dis­plea­sure, he de­cided to es­cape, choos­ing rather the risk of poverty in Eng­land to the cer­tainty of im­pris­on­ment when he re­turned to Rus­sia an in­com­pe­tent pilot.

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