HC Deb 07 June 1866 vol 183 cc2038-41

Queen's Message [5th June] considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Queen's Message read.


In pursuance of an Order made upon a former day, I rise to submit a proposal to the Committee with a view to a further provision for the Princess Mary of Cambridge upon the occasion of her marriage. The character of the Princess is one happily well known both to the public at large and to many persons Members of this House and Members of the other House of Parliament, who have been permitted to live in habits of intercourse with her illustrious family; and I am very happy to think that, as far as experience has enabled the people of this country to form a judgment respecting the illustrious person to whom she is about to be united in marriage, that judgment is not less favourable. Prince Teck is by no means unknown to many of us. This is not the first occasion of his appearance among us; and wherever he has been known, I may say without fear of contradiction, the impression made by the qualities of his mind is eminently satisfactory. The subject of a further provision for the Princess Mary of Cambridge, in the event of the Princess forming a matrimonial connection, was brought under the notice of Lord Palmerston during the last autumn—at the period which nearly coincided with the dissolution of Parliament. The settlement made on the Princess Mary at a former period was a settlement of the sum of £3,000 a year; but Lord Palmerston was strongly of opinion that such a sum could hardly be regarded as adequate for the due support of the Princess in the marriage state, unless it should be her fortune to be united with some one possessed of great wealth. That opinion of Lord Palmerston, formed by him in his capacity as head of the Government, was communicated by him to the family of the illustrious Princess, and it is a circumstance which I doubt not the House will take into its consideration. With respect to incomes granted—freely and liberally granted—by Parliament to members of the Royal Family, I venture again to remind the House that these illustrious personages are not so free as we are, that they do not enjoy the same degree of liberty as we do, with respect to the manner in which they live and the appearance they are called to present to the public. If any of us finds that the scale of his expenditure bears an inconvenient relation to his means, there is comparatively little difficulty in contracting it. But the members of the Royal Family are felt to be in a peculiar sense, I may almost say the property, certainly the subjects of the deepest concern and interest to the nation; and the nation would feel that it was itself disparaged unless the members of that Family residing within its limits—where there was no cause connected with their own conduct to account for the deficiency—were enabled to maintain a certain appearance and a certain dignity of station. That is an important consideration which I hope will also weigh with the House. Now, Sir, it has been an eminently satisfactory circumstance upon several occasions on which communications more or less analogous to these have been made to Parliament during recent years, that the person who has been responsible for submitting it has uniformly been able to state that the marriages formed in the British Royal Family during our recollection have been marriages not founded upon political considerations, nor upon any secondary or conventional rule, but marriages rooted in that depth and strength of personal attachment, which is the only true foundation and which affords the only solid prospect of domestic felicity. There has been no case, I believe, in which that statement could be made with more undoubted confidence than the case which it is now my duty to submit to the decision of the Committee. I think the House will also be disposed to recollect that the branch of the Royal Family to which the Princess Mary belongs, though not numerous in itself, is strongly united by ties of affection. Both as sister and as child the Princess is deeply attached to those whose domestic happiness this circumstance so nearly concerns, and under the arrangement now contemplated, it affords them the greatest pleasure and satisfaction that they are not likely to be deprived of her society—that her lot and that of her husband will still be cast in this country, so that the union of family which the public heretofore has been accustomed to rejoice in will be continued. Nor can we, on an occasion of this kind, refrain from calling to mind that good, benevolent, and kindly Prince, the late Duke of Cambridge, who endeared himself to all classes of the community, not only by his genial manners, and Royal courtesy, but by the deep and unfeigned interest which he took and testified by his liberality, in every design calculated to promote the welfare of his countrymen. The Committee, probably, will not think it necessary to examine minutely the cases in which at former periods the House was invited, after once having considered the provision to be made for a member of the Royal Family, to make an addition to that provision. There is indeed one instance which it may be expedient to refer to—that of the Princess Sophia of Gloucester in 1806—where the provision which had formerly been fixed at a smaller sum was, upon the proposal of Lord Henry Petty (afterwards Lord Lansdowne), then Chancellor of the Exchequer, enlarged to the sum which it is our intention to propose on the present occasion—that is to say, to a provision of £5,000 a year. The Princess Mary of Cambridge is already in possession of an annuity for life of £3,000, and the proposal I have to make is that £2,000 a year be added to that sum. And, Sir, I beg the Committee to observe that, in making that proposal, we do not at all desire—on the contrary, we should deprecate—any attempt to bind the future liberality of the House in other cases. We think it best to present this claim to the House as a whole. It is upon the consideration of the entire circumstances that Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that such a demonstration of the liberality of Parliament might be fairly and justly made. And we should by no means wish it to be considered that any general rule was to be established whereby in the event of marriage and residence in England—whatever the other circumstances of the case might be—a ground was to be laid for a new application to Parliament, after an arrangement had once been made for the illustrious person affected. We deprecate all inferences of that nature which may be drawn from the present proposal. It is on a general view of the circumstances of the case that we are of opinion that the provision we now propose is a liberal, yet a moderate and just, provision, and one, therefore, which we can ask not only with propriety, but with confidence, from the vote of the House of Commons. These, briefly stated, are the grounds upon which I will place in your hands, Sir, a Motion to the effect that on this most happy occasion—as I am certain all Members of this House will feel it to be—an annual sum of £2,000 be granted to Her Majesty as an annuity settled on Her Royal Highness the Princess Mary of Cambridge.


I rise to second the proposition; and from the manner in which it has been received by the Committee I feel sure that the House takes a deep interest in the happiness of the Princess, and gladly avails itself of the opportunity to express its very best wishes for the happiness of the auspicious union.


said, that having enjoyed an opportunity during his recent residence at Vienna of observing the feelings with which Prince Teck was regarded in his own country, he hoped a word from him would not be considered misplaced. He had the satisfaction of testifying that the Prince of Teck was distinguished by intellectual and moral qualities, by character and by conduct, which commanded for him the sincere respect and goodwill of every one by whom he was known. He begged to offer his sincere congratulations to the Princess Mary upon the approaching event, and to the illustrious family which she was about to join.

Resolved, That the annual sum of Two Thousand Pounds be granted to Her Majesty, out of the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, the said Annuity to be settled on Her Royal Highness the Princess Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth, younger daughter of His late Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, for her life, in such manner as Her Majesty shall think proper, and to commence from the date of the Marriage of Her Royal Highness with his Serene Highness Francis Paul Louis Alexander, Prince of Teck; such Annuity to be in addition to the Annuity now enjoyed by Her Royal Highness under the Act of the thirteenth and fourteenth years of Her present Majesty, cap. 77.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.