‘Princess Charlotte was born on the morning of January 7, 1796 at Carlton House, London. Everybody was relieved when the infant finally made its appearance; but the midwife, a man, called Underwood, was disappointed to find it was a girl. Had it been a boy he would have received £700, the traditional gift for the birth of a prince: £100 from each of the principal Officers of State present (in an adjoining room) at the event.
The Prince of Wales, the child’s father, had also waited, sleepless, throughout the previous evening and night, and thankfully acknowledged her arrival. Wiping the sweat and tears from his face (he was an emotional man), he sat down to write to his mother, Queen Charlotte.
‘The Princess, after a terrible hard labour for above twelve hours, in this instant brought to bed of an immense girl (…) I assure you notwithstanding we might have wished for a boy, I receive her with all the affection possible, and bow with due defference and resignation to the decrees of Providence.’
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]
Picture: a detail from the portait by Thomas Lawrence