Had Brunel not settled upon the path of designing and building bridges, ships and railway lines and stations, the Queen’s much loved consort Prince Albert would have spent time in prison. One has to remember that it was Prince Albert who was the guest of honour when the SS Great Britain steamship was launched from Bristol, England in 1843 amidst glorious scenes.
In a world without Brunel here is the report of what would then have occurred:
From the front page of The Bristol Times & Mirror, July 20, 1843:
PRINCE ALBERT LAUNCHES HIMSELF AT MARQUIS
Gory-ous Scenes in Bristol
Prince Albert, the Queen’s consort, arrived in Bristol yesterday amidst unprecedented scenes. Crowds lined the streets of the city to catch a glimpse of the dashing royal who arrived by coach and immediately announced that they must’ve taken the wrong turning off the Great West Road as he had intended to sample the remedial waters in Bath. He blamed his companion on the trip, the Marquis of Exeter, for the map was his responsibility.
The Prince offered his profuse apologies to the crowd assembled near the harbour and declared that he must dash off again.
Mrs Clarissa Miles stepped forth from the multitude and presented Prince Albert with a bottle of wine as a gift from his wife’s subjects in Bristol. The Prince, looking flustered and eager to take flight, accepted the token of hospitality and, completely unexpectedly, uttered a few oaths in German and then smashed the bottle over the head of the Marquis of Exeter whose stern was facing him. The Marquis collapsed in a heap and was swiftly taken to a nearby marquee where he would have ‘Exetered’ this life, but for the prompt attentions of an apothecary.
The Prince was seized by his guard of honour and escorted to a police station for questioning and, while he just so happened to be there, to open a new wing of cells dedicated to the inebriated. As he was frogmarched away he vehemently protested his innocence, stating that he swung the bottle because he thought there was a ship there.
Upon the Prince’s arrest, his property at Buckingham Palace in London was searched and many items that the Prince and his wife, our dear Queen, state were presented to them on royal visits were taken away. Police believe these items were obtained by dishonest means and have called them ‘The Royal Albert Haul’. These nefarious events have certainly made a big dent in the Prince Consort’s reputation as well as the Marquis of Exeter’s head.
The History Maintenance Commission has also speculated that the prison term the Prince would serve for these crimes would rule him out of conceiving of his brainchild The Great Exhibition of 1851. Unless it became, instead, an exhibition of his paintings produced while serving his custodial sentence at Newgate prison.
The Great Exhibition of 1851
Prince Albert Prisoner Number 74287 cordially invites you to an exhibition of his artwork at Newgate Prison. By Appointment to The Queen.
Paintings Included in this Exhibition:
The Prison Exercise Yard at Dawn
The Prison Exercise Yard at Sunset
The Prison Exercise Yard on a Wet Wednesday Afternoon
A View Through The Cell Bars (of the Prison Exercise Yard)
Prisoner 88788 in the Prison Exercise Yard
Prisoner 60834 in the Prison Exercise Yard
A Panting Painting (Prince Albert on the Treadmill).