By Chuck Springston
A first lady and a queen united in shared grief
     After President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, Mary Todd Lincoln received a letter from another widow who wanted to “express my deep and heartfelt sympathy with you under the shocking circumstances of your present dreadful misfortune.”

     The letter came from England, and the widow was Queen Victoria.  “No one can better appreciate than I can ,” she wrote,  “what your suffering must be.”
     The queen was still grieving over the loss of her own “beloved husband,”  Prince Albert, on Dec. 14, 1861. He was 42. The prince was diagnosed with typhoid fever, although recent analyses have suggested there may have been another cause, perhaps stomach cancer.
     Queen Victoria, born May 24, 1819, was 42 years old when Albert died. Mary Todd Lincoln, only about five months older (born Dec. 13, 1818), was 46 years old when the president died.
     Lincoln had been shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on Good Friday. He died in a house across the street at 7:22 a.m., April 15. He was 56.
     Queen Victoria—who  had ascended to the throne June 20, 1837, with the death of her uncle, William IV – married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a first cousin, on Feb. 10, 1840. The Lincolns were married Nov. 4, 1842. Queen Victoria lost her husband after 21 years of marriage; Mary Todd Lincoln after 22 years.
     The queen died Jan. 22, 1901, at age 81. The former first lady died July 16, 1882, at age 63.
     Below is the text of Queen Victoria’s April 29, 1865, letter to Mary Todd Lincoln. The spelling, capitalization and punctuation have been modernized.     

     Dear Madam,

     Though a stranger to you I cannot remain silent when so terrible a calamity has fallen upon you and your country, and most personally express my deep and heartfelt sympathy with you under the shocking circumstances of your present dreadful misfortunes.
     No one can better appreciate than I can, who am myself utterly brokenhearted by the loss of my own beloved husband, who was the light of my life—my stay—my all—what your sufferings must be; and I earnestly pray that you may be supported by Him to whom alone the sorely stricken can look for comfort, in this hour of heavy affliction.
     With the renewed expression of true sympathy, I remain, dear madam, your sincere friend.




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