THE death on December 14, 1861, of Queen Victoria’s husband (and cousin) Prince Albert, The Prince Consort, was as traumatic as that of Princess Diana in 1997.

The shock was also worsened by the workaholic Albert appearing, at just 42, to be in the prime of life.

Officially he succumbed to typhoid, but, as there were no reports of the contagion near Windsor where he died, modern medical opinion suggests that he might have suffered from cancer.

No one knew this and only two days before he died The Westmorland Gazette reported that The Prince was ‘suffering from a debilitating disorder accompanied by fever’.

Albert died late on a Saturday night so that the unexpected event was not generally known in Kendal until Monday, when there was a profound sensation of great regret.

The flags on the Church and Town Hall were hung half mast and the ‘muffled peals made known the mournful tidings further’.

On the funeral day, December 23 (normally one of the busiest trading days of the year) shops throughout the district were closed.

In Kendal, Ulverston and Bowness, civic processions to the memorial services were accompanied by volunteer soldiers and town bands playing the ‘Death March in Saul’.

At Heversham and Burton Churches the altars and pulpits were draped in black crepe.

Albert was gone but, out of sympathy for the stricken Queen, municipal authorities competed to make sure he was not forgotten.

Soon, London was graced by its Albert Memorial, Royal Albert Hall and the Albert embankment.

Albert streets were added to many town maps, including those of Kendal, Grange-over-Sands and Morecambe, while Queen’s Square Windermere got an Albert Hotel just as, fictitiously, East Enders got an Albert Square with a Queen Vic pub.

Uniquely, and by modern standards tastelessly, Lancaster named a new hospital for mentally disabled people ‘The Royal Albert Institution for Idiots’.

Yet Albert’s name was not immortalised as he and Victoria had wished. Thus their son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales became singly Edward VII.

Similarly, his grandson who before his accession, was Prince Albert, Duke of York (or ‘Bertie’ in ‘The King’s Speech’) reigned as George VI.

Moreover his daughter, our present Queen, did not revive the title of Prince Consort for her husband (and cousin) although both Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are both great-great grandchildren of Victoria and Albert.