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My personal introduction to Queen Victoria was due to the circumstance of my being chosen by Her Majesty to be the biographer of the Prince Consort. The obvious difficulties of that task, to which I looked forward with grave apprehension, could not have been successfully overcome but for the personal confidence early reposed in me by the Queen, which led not only to her placing unreservedly at my disposal the very complete collections made by the Prince Consort of confidential State and Other papers connected with Her Majesty's reign, but also to the frank communication of such personal details as, while they illustrated the character of the Prince, threw the strongest light upon that of the Queen herself. After my book was completed, the same confidential relations continued. This gave me such unusual opportunity of observing Her Majesty's qualities of mind and heart, that I am tempted to place on record so much of what I saw as may without impropriety be told. What she was as a Sovereign will be for historians to tell; it is only of the woman as she became revealed to me that I would speak, using, where I may, her own words, as I find them in looking back upon the very voluminous correspondence with which I was honoured through many years. The endearing qualities of the Queen have been acknowledged by all who knew her. They secured for her what might be truly called the affectionate devotion of the men and women of her Court. I belonged to the outer world, but by no one were these qualities more warmly felt than by myself; for to the end, when the work which first brought me into contact with Her Majesty had long been completed, her gracious kindness and trust were vouchsafed to me with a constancy that knew no shade of change.

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