Memories of the King Hanover's Court
Extracts from the memoirs of the
Rvd. Allix Wilkinson
Court Chaplain to
His Majesty the King of Hanover
Following are extracts from the memoirs (published in 1887) of the Reverend Allix Wilkinson who had served as the personal Court Chaplain to His Majesty King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover.
On the King's English-influenced
daily dining routine:
“The king was very abstemious. He had his cup of tea and toast in the morning before he got up. At one o'clock he dined, day after day, upon one or at most two mutton chops.
I remember, before the railway was open, when a special courier was sent to England the first week in every month, there was a general order for him to bring the joint of beef, with the underside, cooked at an open English fireplace.
'The Germans spoilt their meat,' the king said, 'in their closed stoves. The sodden stuff" was nothing like English roast beef.'... His Majesty used to dine for a week together upon a slice or two of this cold meat that had been cooked in England. Then at five he received his guests, and took some light ' plat,' perhaps some oysters and some jelly, with a glass or two of champagne. A cup of tea, with a biscuit, in the evening completed the day's repast".
About the wine taster:
"... there is always a servant to taste every bottle of wine that is opened, however many the guests, at a royal fete, for fear of a corked one being served".
On the King of Hanover as a dinner host:
"At large dinners at the palace, say twenty guests and upwards, conversation was free and general, and one talked to one's neighbour openly, as one did anywhere else; and so, with pleasant neighbours, nothing could be more enjoyable than a royal banquet; but, at a small round table, all depended upon the king, and his health, and manner and mood on that day.
As every word could be heard all round, nobody spoke unless the king spoke; and so, if His Majesty was not well, or on the other hand, if His Majesty was well and in spirits, he was sure to take a good lead, and, with all his questions, and anecdotes, and jokes, which His Majesty sincerely loved, particularly if there was (as there was almost sure to be for some one) a spice of banter, all went ' merry as a marriage bell,' except perhaps for the person who was shy, and could not see or take a joke, or became worried and overwhelmed in his answers, in which case he was sure to get deeper into the mud, to the delight of the king, and of course the sympathy of His Majesty's surroundings".
About a Royal Ball:
"One evening there was a grand court and ball at the castle. The ladies were arranged according to their rank, and it was always most amusing to watch them as the old king came down the line. Some stood stiff as pokers, all military attention, and salute, which they had learnt from their husbands; some smiled languishingly, in hopes (generally vain in these cases) of being honoured with a few words from royal lips; some 'grinned horribly a ghastly smile,' in actual terror of the king saying anything to them, which they felt they would not know how to answer; some actually wriggled in their nervousness, and trembled before the great man, who, they knew, could be a great bully if he was in such humour, or bad humour, and saw anything to find fault with ; some bowed down like Turks as the king passed, as if it was a sin to look upon royalty some drew themselves up motionless as statues, or as the large, white porcelain stoves so common in the palace".