‘They left for England on 29 December. On orders from London, they took the shortest route, expecting to meet up with the British squadron which, they were told, would be waiting for them off the coast of Holland. But when they came close to the Dutch border Malmesbury received a letter from General Harcourt, who had replaced the Duke of York as commander of the British army. Harcourt warned himthat it was too dangerous to continue. The British were still retreating. If he tried to reach the coast now, he would have to pass through the French lines to do it. Despite the Princess’s insistence that she was a Brunswicker and not afraid, Malmesbury took her back as far as Osnabruck, where they waited eagerly for news of a reversal of fortune of the allies.
But the news, when it came, towards the end of the month, was not what they wanted to hear. The French were now in control of Holland, and they were already so sure of keeping control that they were preparing to make radical changes (…) The British army was withdrawing across the north – eastern border. Recognising that its mission was now futile, the British naval squadron that had been waiting for the Princess had turned about and sailed for home. (…) Malmesbury took Princess Caroline back to Hanover, and for the next six weeks, in the exemplary decorum of the Hanoverian court, he continued to teach her how the English expected a princess to behave.
At last, when the thaw came, they headed north, accompanied by Mrs Harcourt, the wife of the British commander, who had agreed to attend the Princess on the journey. On 28 March they boarded a frigate, HMS Jupiter, off Cuxhaven at the mouth of the river Elbe. They were safe. Britannia still ruled the waves. The waters around them were crowded with British warships. A few days earlier, twenty miles to the south, the British force had been evacuated from Bremerhaven.
When they reached Gravesend Malmesbury, Mrs Harcourt and Princess Caroline transferred from HMS Jupiter to the royal yacht, Augusta, and sailed up the Thames in her. They arrived at Greenwich, as expected, at noon on Easter Sunday.
[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]
‘The morning of Wednesday 1 April 1795 found the naval squadron escorting Caroline of Brunswick to England for her marriage to the Prince of Wales fogbound in the North Sea about eight leagues offshore between Orfordness and Yarmouth. It was not until the early hours of Friday 3 April – Good Friday -that the weather cleared, and Commodore Jack Payne was able to get the frigate Jupiter under way again and sail on down the coast before a brisk east – south – east wind, passing Harwich at eleven o’clock. That night was spent at anchor off the Nore, and on Saturday the flotilla entered the Thames estuary, reaching Gravesend at two in the afternoon. The river banks were lined with spectators, the day was fine and “the whole prospect most beautiful” – at least according to the account of James Harris, Earl of Malmesbury, on board the Jupiter.
Lord Malmesbury, who had had the task of fetching the bride from Germany plus the anxiety of conveying her across a corner of Europe currently under threat of attack by the conquering armies of revolutionary France, was understandably euphoric in anticipation of being able to deliver his charge safely into the arms of her groom, but the long – termprospects for the success of the union were not encouraging.’
[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]
Picture: The Battle between French ship and English frigates ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Medusa’ near Lisobon on 20th October 1778 by Naval battle off the coast of Lisbon, 20 October 1778. The French vessel Triton against the British ships HMS Jupiter and the frigate Medea by Pierre-Julien Gilbert