An Angry Queen
In recent years, the Privy Council had ceased to be a place for genteel discussions of matters of state. The new Queen had ideas … and strong views. To the more traditional of her advisers this was not often welcome.
For the moment, her anger was on Lord Raglan. As so often, others in the room relaxed, if she had found her victim for the day then maybe they were safe?
'So … My Lord … why does the Tsar want to build such a rail network?'
'Ummhh, well … so he can travel from St Petersburg to Moscow?''
'Fool, you … you complete dolt. Not that one … this, and this and now we hear it has reached here'
Queen Victoria forced herself to appear calm. Turning to a younger man in the uniform of the Engineers she asked
'You ..., you look like a man with real knowledge. Tell me how long would it take the Russians to march an army from St Petersburg to the Caucasus?'
Major James Estcourt looked up from his papers .. surprised to be singled out.
'Your Majesty … I would guess 8, maybe 9 months. And they may have to halt for winter if they included heavy artillery and supply wagons. So it could easily take more than a year'.
'And if they had a railway from St Petersburg to Tiblisi?'
'Weeks … a matter of a few weeks … Your Majesty'.
Victoria turned back to Raglan.
'Now do you understand … this is no longer the age of Napoleon. I want this rail line destroyed'
She turned to a man, the only civilian in the room, dressed in sombre clothes who sat at the back of the room.
'See to it, use this agent you seem to have such a trust in'.
Sitting back in her chair, she seemed more at ease.
'Now is there anything other than Russia for us to discuss?'
Lord Raglan was perhaps too keen to push the conversation to safer ground.
'Well your majesty … there is the question of the new uniform buttons for the Corps of Engineers. I believe the designs were sent to you a week ago'.
At this Victoria lost what little remained of her patience. She slammed shut the file in front of her and stood up.
'Tell me … my Lord … why does the Tsar spend his money on trains and ammunition plants? Why are the Russians raising reserve battalions? Why are they trying to consolidate their position in the northern Pacific?
Please' … and at this her voice lowered menacingly … 'tell me how your new buttons will make any difference? … My entire Empire is at risk … and you worry about buttons. Are you really nothing but a seamstress?'
At this she swept out. Only the civilian seemed to feel that real progress had been made.
As they filed out, the senior military officers were complaining about the level of interference in matters 'unsuitable for women'. As she walked back to her rooms, Victoria reminded herself that she had killed more people than Raglan . But despite this, she remained cautious about sacking him, murder is one thing, directing a war might just be something different
 Possibly true, before the Crimean War he had never commanded troops in the field despite his close links to Wellington.