In 1860, Baltimore cheered a Prince of Wales as he passed through

BACK STORY

November 30, 2008|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and crossed a certain historical meridian.

He is now firmly in second place playing the waiting game for the throne that has been occupied by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, since 1952, which currently makes her the third-longest-reigning monarch in English history.

The record for waiting is still held by King William IV, who was 64 when he succeeded his elder brother, George IV, in 1830, who in turn was succeeded upon his death by his 18-year-old niece, Alexandrina Victoria - Queen Victoria - in 1837.

But Charles is edging in on King William IV's historical footnote. He is now older than his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII, who was 59 years and two months old when he ascended the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901.

Got all that? Quiz at 11.

Reporter Simon Heffer, writing several weeks ago in the Telegraph, an English newspaper, offered a little consolation to Charles, who might be wondering if he and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will ever be able to move in and redecorate Buckingham Palace.

"But the lesson of Edward VII suggests that even if Charles must wait another 20 years, he can still be a force of good once he gets there. After all, 80 is the new 60," wrote Heffer.

However, both King Edward and Charles share several lifestyle similarities.

Both were products of very proper parents, enjoyed worldwide popularity, and had a roving eye for the ladies, which certainly caused their mothers pain.

"His great-great grandfather became a reasonably serious man in time; the present Prince was born one. His charitable work, his concern for the environment, his belief in tolerance and the extension of civilization all suit him," wrote Heffer.

While Queen Elizabeth II may or may not be not happy about Charles' divorce and second marriage, Queen Victoria certainly blamed Edward's irresponsible behavior for the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert.

After a scandal erupted involving Edward's dalliance with an Irish actress when he was 19, an angry Prince Albert went to visit his son at Cambridge and caught a cold in the train, which led to his death from typhoid several weeks later in December 1861.

A little-remembered fact is that Edward, who was then Prince of Wales, was the first member of the royal family to visit the United States, and on that journey in 1860, he briefly visited Baltimore.

On the afternoon of Oct. 7, 1860, he arrived on a train from Pittsburgh at the city's now-demolished Calvert Station on North Calvert Street, where a large official party including Mayor Thomas Swann and John W. Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, welcomed the Prince of Wales to the city.

The visit was brief, as the official party escorted the "smooth-shaven young prince with the pink and white complexion of the healthy English boy," wrote a Sun reporter,, who rode in a an open-air barouche through city streets en route to Camden Station where he boarded a special train for Washington.

Crowds lined the streets and it was the first time they were able to glimpse the future English king, who was described by newspapers at the time as "the handsome boy Prince."

"On the way to Camden Station the people swarmed about the vehicle, but the Prince smiled at them brightly and waved in a democratic manner. He was dressed un-ostentatiously and without jewels of any kind," according to a recounting of the visit by The Sun at his death in 1910.

"He allowed himself a thin cane, which he clung to all during his visit."

After visiting President James Buchanan at the White House, the dashing young prince returned to Baltimore the next day on a private B & O train.

Stepping off the train, he was serenaded by a band playing a rousing rendition of "God Save the Queen."

Leaving the station, he traveled by carriage to the Gilmor House in Monument Square, then "the best hotel in the city," observed The Sun.

While he dined privately, Monument Square "filled with a curious crowd, who clapped and cheered until it was announced that the Prince had retired," reported The Sun at the time.

However, later in the evening, the Prince quietly left the hotel and went to "Billy Wilkinson's tenpin alley and rolled tenpins with some of the fashionable youngsters of the city and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly," according to the 1910 newspaper account.

The next morning, the prince left the Gilmor House, and after having a carriage tour of the city, lunched at the home of Mayor Swann at 68 W. Franklin St.

At 1 p.m., he bade farewell to his luncheon guests and boarded the steamcars at the President Street Station for Philadelphia.

"The Prince expressed himself highly pleased with his reception in Baltimore, and more than once remarked that his passage through the city, for quiet respect, exceeded that of any other place since leaving the Queen's dominion," reported The Sun in 1860.

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