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Prince Albert

Copy letter regarding the Chancellorship of Cambridge University

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In 1847 the death of the Chancellor of Cambridge University created an opening for Prince Albert to take a further step into public life. The Vice-Chancellor approached the Prince, saying that all the colleges were supportive of his candidature. Unfortunately, this overstated the situation considerably. The 2nd Earl of Powis, an alumnus of St John's College and a high Tory, also put his name forward, and refused to back down in favour of his princely rival. Thus Prince Albert found himself unexpectedly at the centre of a contest for the chancellorship, a contest which encapsulated conservatism versus progress, for his interest in science was well-known. Since Powis was well-funded and fought an effective campaign, the final result of the election was remarkably close, Prince Albert winning by 953 votes to 837.

This letter is a copy of Prince Albert's rather grudging acceptance of the chancellorship. He expresses his discomfort at the situation in which he had found himself, with a majority, but hardly a resounding mandate.