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
Picture: Portrait of Maria Fitzherbert by an unknown artist