Entire transcription of Queen Victoria’s diary entry for the 13th December, 1861, the day before Prince Albert died. This is also Victoria’s last diary entry for 1861, because after Albert’s death she was so grief stricken she had no heart for writing until the new year some weeks later. Victoria had written in her diary almost every single day since the age of 13 (her only real gap was when she was seriously ill in 1835), even when her mother died in march 1861.
Consequently to all this, this diary entry is quite possibly her last piece of writing before Albert’s death, the very last insight into her life before the brink of her worst nightmare.
Enquired at 4 & heard my beloved Albert was sleeping quietly & the breathing was no worse. Saw Dr Jenner, who had sat up with him, after 7. He said that from 4 to ½ p. 6 he had been very excited & his pulse rather quick. The respiration had not improved, but otherwise there was no cause for alarm. Went over at 8, but my darling took no notice, though he was not asleep.
Felt very anxious, but Mr Brown was not alarmed. — Took a short drive with the Dss of Atholl & Augusta B. On returning went over to dear Albert, whose breathing I thought very quick & it was made me dreadfully anxious & nervous. Helped him on to the sofa, & he was rolled into the other room, as usual, where he lay, looking out of the window. — In the evening Dr Jenner looked anxious & said my beloved one was not so well, that this quick breathing might lead to congestion of the lungs. He had not remained long on the sofa. Had sat with him a good deal during the afternoon, & got out quite late for a short walk. — There is no doubt that Dr Jenner is very anxious, though he hopes dear Albert will pull through. Oh! how I prayed, that he might be spared to me! — Sat near my darling till 8, when he was very quiet, comfortably warm, & so dear & kind completely like himself. Called Mr Brown in, who found the pulse wonderfully improved, which Dr Jenner confirmed.
Saw Sir J. Clark, who was also hopeful, but said they must give a rather unfavourable bulletin, which could of course be improved, should beloved Albertgo on well. Sir James had to go back to his poor wife, who still so ill, but would return at night. — Dined with Alice & Marie, quite unable to eat anything, & returned to the sick room directly afterwards. Found Mr Brown & Dr. Watson there, who were encouraging. Brandy was being given every ½ hour, but it being essential dear Albert should be kept quiet, they said we should not go up to him, but might remain sitting in the room. Dr Watson, whom I like & who is very kind, said he had seen many infinitely worse cases recover, — “I never despair with fever”. A time of awful anxiety, but still all full of hope. It was a crisis, a struggle of strength. Remained some time & then lay down on the sofa in the next room.
Mr Brown & Dr Watson kept coming in frequently & Dr Watson said: “we have decidedly gained ground within the last 3 hours, — quieter, pulse improving, “breathing decidedly better;” — that the brandy did much good, the breathing being better each time it was taken. Sir H. Holland was also in the house. Dr Watson, as well as MrBrown, were going to sit up & said there was no reason to anticipate anything worse.
source – Queen Victoria’s Journals