Prince Albert, the beloved consort of Queen Victoria, had become an important part of the royal partnership over the course of his marriage. He had superintended and promoted the Great Exhibition of 1852, supported efforts to increase the working age and repeal the Corn Laws, and in the aftermath of the Queen's mother's death in 1861, took on a lot of the royal responsibilities. His health was worsening, however, and he was afflicted with chronic stomach trouble. He became seriously ill in December 1861, and died within days. He was diagnosed at the time with typhoid fever, but more recent research has suggested that he may have been suffering with cancer or Crohn's disease.
Editors. "Death of Prince Albert". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 August 2013
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1701, accessed 23 December 2014.]