From the Darlington & Stockton Times of December 9, 1871

THE D&S Times devoted a deep column of dense type to the health of the Prince of Wales as North Yorkshire was accused of bringing the monarchy – and the heir to the throne – to its knees.

Prince Albert Edward had been a guest at a house party in Scarborough thrown by Lord Londesborough, the town’s former MP and one of the founders of the local football club, in Londesborough Lodge in The Crescent – the lodge is in a fabulous location on the cliff with its gardens falling down towards the beach.

But, it was alleged, at the house party the prince had contracted typhoid which had killed one of his fellow guests, Lord Chesterfield, aged 40. Albert, aged 30, was so badly affected he was taken to Sandringham, in Norfolk, where his mother, Queen Victoria, was told he would succumb imminently.

The D&S’ sister paper, The Northern Echo, reported how in St George’s Church in Northgate, Darlington, the preacher prayed “that the young man, whom we do not hold in very high respect, now stretched on a bed of sickness at Sandringham, may be raised in thought, in character, and in spiritual life, that he may become, as was his father before him, an example of virtue and piety to the nation”.

This strongly worded prayer reflected the national mood. Albert spent his life gambling, hunting, spending and eating and more – he had just been implicated in a high society divorce case where he denied committing adultery. He had grown so large, he was nicknamed “Tum Tum”; he was booed at the races and in the streets, and republicanism was on the rise.

The D&S Times report on the Prince of Wales health 150 years ago

The D&S Times' report on the Prince of Wales' health 150 years ago

And now he was at death’s door, and he could take the reputation of Scarborough, which prided itself as a healthy resort, down with him, so the D&S reported on the town’s PR offensive.

“With respect to the sanitary arrangements at Lord Londesborough’s residence,” said the paper, “an official report has been published stating that the drains both inside and out are in perfect condition and that no foul gases could be generated in them.”

Indeed, Scarborough must have been crawling with sanitary inspectors because the Lancet, the medical journal, had sent up experts of its own who had concluded that the sewers were so bad that a “faint and deadly influence might have pervaded the whole house, or burst out of the closet” used by the Prince himself.

King Edward VII who caught typhoid in Scarborough 150 years ago and nearly died

King Edward VII who caught typhoid in Scarborough 150 years ago and nearly died

“Lord Londesborough’s doctor, Mr George P Dale, FRCS, writes to say that in 20 years’ practice in Scarborough he has not seen 20 cases of typhoid fever,” said the D&S, rebutting the claims.

But God moves in mysterious ways.

As the D&S was reporting 150 years ago this week, the prince was showing tentative signs of pulling through. He overcame the deadly infection and Prime Minister WE Gladstone seized the opportunity to orchestrate a publicity campaign on his behalf and organised a service of thanksgiving for him having survived the Scarborough lurgy on February 27, 1872 at St Paul’s Cathedral. As the prince drove through the streets to the cathedral, he was cheered by the grateful public.

The monarchy had wobbled, but it had pulled through, and nearly 30 years later, such was the longevity of his mother, the Prince of Wales became Edward VII.