Bitter Honeymoon

‘Thereafter the relationship continued as it had begun. For all that the Princess was amiable and eager to please, there was no denying that she was slovenly and she smelt. The Prince displayed his displeasure at every opportunity, and the hurt Princess hit back each time by exaggerating whatever she had done to displease him.Within three weeks of their wedding they were no longer living together as man and wife. At night the Princess retired to her own small apartments on the ground floor of Carlton House, and the Prince went to his much more splendid apartments above them.

Then came the development that really did fix the Prince’s dislike for ever. He had married for money, and now he learned that, far from increasing his disposable income, his marriage had actually diminished it.

Pitt went further than he had promised. He persuaded Parliament to raise the allowances from the privy purse to as much as £125,000 a year. But the House of Commons also ruled that for the next nine years £65,000 of this, together with all the income from the Duchy of Cornwall, was to be set aside to pay off the Prince’s debts. In real terms therefore his annual income had been reduced from £73,000 to £60,000; on top of that he now had the added expense of paying his wife’ establishment.

The Prince’s distaste was embittered by resentment. He ignored his wife as much as he could by day as well as by night. On the pretext that he could no longer pay for them, he removed most of the chairs from her private dining room and took back the pearl bracelets that he had given her on their wedding day – although he then gave them to Lady Jersey, who wore them publicly in her presence.

His displays of displeasure became increasingly cruel, and the Princess no longer felt strong enough to meet them all with defiance. Sometimes they reduced her to tears. As one witness, Lady Sheffield, wrote, she lost her “lively spirits”, and in their place her mood became one of “melancholy and anxiety”.’

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

William Pitt the Younger

Portrait: William Pitt, 1759-1806 Mezzotint, 1799 Library of Congress

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