Past notes: royal weddings
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.