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SHERLOCK HOLMES HAD a deep respect for Queen Victoria. Though he didn’t boast about it, he applied his consulting detective skills more than once in the Queen’s service. Occasionally, he came to the aid of other royals too, including a Prince of the Church as well as European monarchs.
Here are tidbits gleaned from several sources about Holmes and Various Royals.
Queen Victoria. In “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” Watson refers to Queen Victoria as “a certain gracious lady.” Holmes is given an emerald tie pin by her for his efforts in solving the matter.
Until recently, Victoria had been the longest-reigning British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II broke this record on December 11, 2020.
Chris Redmond discussed the Victoria/Holmes relationship in “Monarchs in the Sherlock Holmes Stories.” Along with Victoria, he cites George III, who reigned during the American Revolution, as figuring in the Canon “with that memorable line in ‘The Noble Bachelor’ about ‘the folly of a monarch in far-gone years.’ ”
Tantalizingly enough, Redmond also posed a challenge: “At least nine other British or English monarchs are also mentioned in the Canon: William I, William II, Edward I, James I, Charles I, Charles II, Anne, George II, and George IV. We have a prize from the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere Grab-Bag of Gifts (IHOSE GBG) for anyone who can name the stories in which these nine monarchs appear.”
The Pockmarked Wall at 221B. Queen Victoria remains the sole British monarch honored with a revolver-shot-pockmarked V.R. (for Victoria Regina) on the wall of 221B Baker Street. Indeed, Sherlock Holmes put the royal monogram there.
A Kingly Scandal. On March 20, 1888, Holmes is visited by a masked gentleman who initially claims to be Count von Kramm, soon revealing himself as Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ornstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and hereditary King of Bohemia.
Thus begins “A Scandal in Bohemia,” in which Holmes frees the royal of an earlier romantic entanglement with American opera singer Irene Adler. Pronounced I-re-nie, she joins the Holmesian Canon as the woman. Indeed, might she be the mother of Nero Wolfe? And who is the father, Sherlock or his brother Mycroft?
The Bohemian King reappears, albeit indirectly, in another Sherlockian royal service.
The King of Scandinavia. Joakim Eklund and Joakim Nivre of the Swedish Pathological Society give scholarly attention to “Sherlock Holmes and the King of Scandinavia.” In the “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor,” Holmes advises Lord St. Simon that “My last client of the sort was a king…. The King of Scandinavia.”
But which king? During Holmes’ times, there were two kingdoms in Scandinavia: the Kingdom of Denmark and the United Kingdom of Sweden and Norway. Eklund and Nivre write, “… it seems we may conclude that the King of Scandinavia was in fact the King of Sweden and Norway, viz. Oskar II.”
There’s still a mystery here, though: In the scandal already cited, the King of Bohemia says to Holmes, “I am about to be married…. To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, second daughter of the King of Scandinavia.”
However, Oskar II had four sons—and no daughters. As Eklund and Nivre write, perhaps “… the phrase ‘King of Scandinavia’ was used by the Good Doctor to conceal the real identity of the persons concerned and not to refer to a historical individual.”
Prince of the Church. We’re on rather more firm Canonical grounds with Holmes’ service to His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes comments, “I was exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the Vatican cameos, and in my anxiety to oblige the Pope I lost touch with several interesting English cases.”
There was also a pre-nup squabble between Queen Victoria and His Holiness, but enough is enough already. ds