Exchange of Letters

‘Caroline was not one to suffer silently, or to accept her situation without a struggle. Two months after Princess Charlotte’s christening she wrote the first of what proved to be a series of letters to the Prince, complaining of Lady Jersey’s presence and demanding her removal. This correspondence shows that both parties had a strong sense of theatre, and both were inclined to overact (…) On April 30, the Prince, in a calm and judicial frame of mind, wrote the letter which is often quoted as sounding the death knell of the marriage. “Our inclinations are not in our power, nor should either of us be held answerable to the other because nature has not made us suitable to each other…Tranquil and comfortable society is, however, in our power; let our intercourse, therefore, be restricted to that…” After receiving this, Caroline composed a letter to the King, enclosing the correspondence with her husband, as far it had gone (it continued all through May) and imploring his protection for herself and her child. The Prince also wrote to his father. In this letter he suggests that the Princess has been deliberately slandering him, publishing abroad all sorts of wild stories of his brutality of manner and behaviour towards her. He puts the full blame for the estrangement upon his wife (…) The quarrel now moved from a domestic to a national level. The King, determined to save the marriage, deliberated before replying. He had read in the papers that the Princess of Wales had received a rapturous reception at the Opera. He believed that his son had written in the heat of the moment, after hearing of the Princess’s triumph: he urged him to review the situation in a calmer state of mind (…) The Prince turned in desperation to his mother, imploring her to take his part. The Princess, he said, had stirred up a conspiracy against him (…) Letters between the Prince and his parents, interspersed with letters from Caroline to the King, continued all through June, the Prince convincing himself that Caroline was trying, by political intrigue, to overthrow the monarchy. He became obsessed by this idea, and thoughts of the French Revolution – always in the back of his mind – urged him to warn the King of what might happen (…) But little progress was made in any direction, except that at the end of the month Lady Jersey agreed at last to retire from the Princess’s service. In a letter charged with venomous disrespect, she sent her resignation.’

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

Caroline and George


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