Prince Albert had directed Victoria away from the overt partisanship of her early years but his ambitious plans for the Crown’s part in government and for his part as consort had embroiled the monarchy in political controversy, especially in 1853–4. The Queen’s widowed seclusion was seen to be further reducing the sovereign’s political power. The Times argued that this was unbalancing the constitution. The ‘special relationship’ between Disraeli and the Queen during the former’s ministry of 1874–80 has traditionally been depicted as a great turning-point in royal popularity. The disapproval of Albert strongly expressed in the reception of his biography further undermines the common historical judgement that he was the father of the modern constitutional monarchy. The final years of the reign brought both a revival of partisan political dispute around the monarchy and a renewal of concern about the Crown’s political role.