Monthly Archives: April 2014

Already Married?

There was still one small problem, however. By his own admission, His Royal Highness was already married. Nine years earlier, when he was only twenty – three, he had been secretly married to an older woman, a beautiful widow called Maria Fitzherbert. When the King and his Cabinet recovered from the initial shock of this news, they learned to their relief that it was not the impediment it might have been. In the opinion of the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General, and with the reluctant concurrence of the Archbishop of Cantenbury, the marriage was undoubtedly null and void. Since Mrs Fitzherbert was a Roman Catholic it was forbidden by the Bill of Rights of 1689 and the Act of Settlement of 1700, and since the Prince had married without his father’s permission, it was also in breach of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers
Portrait of Mrs Maria Fitzherbert, wife of George IV
Picture: Portrait of Maria Fitzherbert by an unknown artist

 

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Restrictions Imposed By Royal Marriages Act

By the terms of his father’s Royal Marriages Act, princes of the Blood Royal could only marry with the King’s consent, which really meant they could only marry respectable German princesses, who were also Protestant. This was very limiting. George III’s seven sons had the greatest difficulty in keeping within the law, and most of them did not try: it was simpler, as the Dukes of Clarence and Kent discovered, to take a mistress and stick to her. But it did not help the succession.

[extract from Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales by Thea Holme]

‘George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son and heir apparent of George III, King of England, was thirty – two old and, on paper at any rate, the most eligible bachelor in the western world. His attitude towards matrimony, however, had always been disappointingly negative. Indeed, some ten years earlier he had sworn that he would never marry. He had “settled it with Frederick” – Duke of York and his next and favourite brother – that Frederick would marry and that crown would descend to his children. But Frederick’s wifehad turned out to be barren, and other princes were now all either comfortably suited with mistresses, or for other reasons unwilling or unable to do their duty by the family. George III’s plain sturdy little Queen (she had been Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Strelitz) had survived no fewer than fifteen pregnancies nd successfully reared seven sons and five daughters, but the remarkable fact remained that by 1795 there were still no grandchildren – or at least no grandchildren born on the right side of the blanket. It was not, however, concern for the future of the Hanoverian succession which had finally propelled the Prince of Wales towards the altar – it was stern financial necessity.

[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]

Royal Marriages Act

Marriage For Money

Charlotte’s father only married her mother for money – not because Princess Caroline of Brunswick was rich, but because the Prime Minister, William Pitt, had told him that, when he married, the government would raise his income. The increase was intended to cover the cost of an appropriately enlarged household, but to the Prince it was an opportunity to continue his notorious extravagance (…) A suitable marriage was the Prince’s only hope.The promised increase would raise his allowance from the privy purse to 100, 000 pounds a year. Although, in itself, even this would not be enough to support all his extravagance, it would at least enable him to start making annual payments to some of his creditors, and that in turn might encourage others to lend him more. He was unmoved when he was told that it was his duty to get married and provide the kingdom with an heir. But when he was told that a marriage would bring in more money, he agreed at once.

 

(extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers)

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Introduction

‘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 vindicative little rivalries. The leaders of the opposition had manipulated her in their political manoeuvering. Worst of all, her own parents, whom she hardly ever saw, had used her as the principal pawn in their embarassingly public squabbles’

(extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers)

Princess Charlotte of Wales by Dawe_(1817)