Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV of the United Kingdom, is my favourite historical figure. Since the moment I first read about her, I have been impressed by how mature and wise she was. She became an intelligent, open-minded and sympathetic young woman even though she lived in the uneasy times of Napoleonic wars, no-one really cared for her, political leaders wanted to influence her with their views and her own parents were battling with each other using her as a pawn. Still she was natural, spontaneous, confident and merry. She was determined to marry the man she wanted and managed to convince her stubborn father to this idea. If not the fact that she died much too early, I’m sure she would become a witty and sensible monarch. And perhaps the biggest paradox is that had she lived long enough to inherit the throne, Queen Victoria and the world as we see it now would have never come to life…
So if you want to find out more about this amazing lady, please visit the blog. I am not a historian so I don’t write the posts myself and just quote the books about Charlotte. Yet reading the narrative you won’t believe it’s history, not a TV series.
More about her:
Princess Charlotte of Wales (Charlotte Augusta; 7 January 1796 – 6 November 1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died following childbirth at the age of 21.
Charlotte’s parents disliked each other from before their pre-arranged marriage and soon separated. Prince George left most of Charlotte’s care to governesses and servants, but only allowed her limited contact with Princess Caroline, who eventually left the country. As Charlotte grew to adulthood, her father pressured her to marry William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (later King of the Netherlands), but after initially accepting him, Charlotte soon broke off the match. This resulted in an extended contest of wills between her and her father, and finally the Prince of Wales permitted her to marry Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later King of the Belgians). After a year and a half of happy marriage, Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son.
Charlotte’s death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and a contrast both to her unpopular father and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. As she had been King George III’s only legitimate grandchild, there was considerable pressure on the King’s unwed sons to marry. King George III’s fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual heir, Queen Victoria.
an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers
‘She would have behaved well’, said the Duke of Wellington, ‘her death is one of the most serious misfortunes the country has ever met with’. For Charlotte to have grown up worthy of the Duke of Wellington’s compliment was nearly a miracle. She had emerged confident and merry from a childhood that would have turned almost anyone else into a suspicious recluse. She had never known the security of family life. Instead, her little world, like the great world beyond it, had been a world of conflict and duplicity. From the days she was born until the day she was married, she had seldom been anything but a victim. Her tutors and governesses had misrepresented her whenever it suited them in the course of their vindictive little rivalries. The leaders of the opposition had manipulated her in their political manoeuvring. Worst of all, her own parents, whom she hardly ever saw, had used her as the principal pawn in their embarrassingly public squabbles’
an extract from the back flap of Thea Holme’s biography of Charlotte
‘Princess Charlotte’s real importance came with her death – if she had lived, Queen Victoria would never have reigned, indeed she would never have existed – but this does not detract from the fascination of Charlotte’s life.’