14th December has a strange place in the comparatively recent life of our British Royal Family and Britain itself.
The Victorian era had two very distinctive ‘lives’ – the one during Prince Albert’s life and the one after his death at 10.45 on the evening of Saturday 14th December 1861. Inside the family there was a withdrawal into sadness and relative privacy while outside Britain grew, invented and progressed.
On the 34th anniversary of the death of Prince Albert – Saturday 14th December 1895 – a great grandson of Queen Victoria was born in York Cottage, a house in the grounds of the Sandringham Estate. That child would be baptised Albert Frederick Arthur George and he would – as we discovered three days ago in the story of King Edward VIII – become King George 6th and the father of our present Queen.
57 years after Prince Albert’s death – on Saturday 14th December 1918 – women of Britain were allowed to vote in a general election for the first time. This was the first election to be held after the passing of the ‘Representation of the People Act 1918’ which had opened up voting for any woman – provided she was over 30 years of age AND met a property qualification. This was also the first General Elections in which all men over the age of 21 could vote. Up to then General Election voting had spread over two or more days but, to complete a trio of 14th December ‘firsts’; this date saw the first General Election where voting took place on a single day.
Many miles from Britain on Thursday 14th December 1911 a Norwegian by the name of Roald Amundsen, with his expedition, became the first to reach the South Pole – just 35 days before an Englishman – Captain Scot and his team – arrived at the same spot.