10 OCTOBER 1998, Page 34

A wise father?

Sir: John Vincent's reckless disregard of fact in his review of The Political Conse- quences of Edward VII (Books, 3 October) is really shameful. To suggest that Queen Victoria was not deeply mourned by her subjects ('the populace') only proves that Mr Vincent is not only ignorant of any biography of the Queen, such as that by Lady Longford, but does not even have access to your own back numbers.

King Edward VII had many good quali- ties, but thrift was not among them. Sir Ernest Cassel was a rich friend, but neither rich enough nor friendly enough to replace the Civil List with a view to reducing the burden on the taxpayer.

Mr Vincent says that the King had only two inoffensive children, which compares well with Queen Victoria's nine. Those who believe that the eldest was Jack the Ripper might quarrel with this description, but I am not among them. However, it would be instructive to be told which of the following are the four children wrongly attributed to the King by historians: Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, born 1864; George (King George V), born 1865; Alexander John, born 1871; Louise, Duchess of Fife, born 1867; Princess Victoria, born 1868; Maud, Queen of Norway, born 1869.

Peter Drummond-Murray

6/2 Huntingdon Place, Edinburgh