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Comptroller to the Prince of Wales Despatch Box, 1870
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Comptroller to the Prince of Wales Despatch Box, 1870

Measurements: Overall: 12.5cm (5in) x 38cm (15in) x 27cm (10.5in)

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Green leather over wood, the hinged lid fitted with gilt brass recessed handle between the embossed Prince of Wales’s feathers and the title ‘Comptroller’. The interior lined with dark green velvet and stamped to the inside edge with the maker’s details - Wickwar & Co., 6 Poland Street. Fitted with a working Chubb lock and key.

The post of Comptroller to the Prince of Wales was held between 1862 and 1877 by General Sir William Knollys, a Peninsular War veteran and a close friend of the Prince Albert. Under the beady eye of the widowed Queen Victoria, the role of  Comptroller and Treasurer extended beyond merely managing the Prince of Wales’s personal finances and purchasing Sandringham. For fifteen years Knollys accompanied ‘Bertie’ in his travels abroad and in his visits to foreign courts. The Queen regarded Knollys as 'a species of Mentor … who would be responsible to Me to a great extent for what took place', and tried to hold him to account when the Prince's actions displeased her, as they did when he visited Garibaldi at Stafford House in 1864. Knollys's reports to the Queen conveyed his constant anxiety over the Prince's gambling and morals, and over the intransigent dislike of the Prussians felt by Alexandra, which caused particular difficulties during a visit to Wiesbaden in 1867. Knollys retired as Comptroller in 1877, and was succeeded by the Indian Mutiny hero Major-General Sir Dighton Probyn, V.C., (1833-1924) who held the post until the Prince succeeded as Edward VII in 1901. After the death of Probyn’s wife in 1900 it was believed in court circles that Probyn was on the verge of marrying, his predecessor’s daughter, Charlotte Knollys (then Queen Alexandra's principal lady in waiting), who was deeply attached to him, but he remained a widower. Lt-Col. the Hon. Sir William Carrington (1845-1914) filled the post of Comptroller between 1901 and 1910 for the Prince of Wales, aftewards George V.

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