So Much For The Marriage

‘In August 1797 the Princess of Wales left Carlton House and went to live at Charlton, near Blackheath. As a concession to her feelings as a mother, Lady Elgin and Charlotte were sent to Shrewsbury House, Blackheath, for the summer. The situation must have been difficult for Lady Elgin, who needed all her tact to keep on the right side of both parents-between whom at the end of the year there was yet another crossing of swords.

The Princess of Wales, finding herself freed from the restrictions of Carlton House, began to enjoy herself. She gave parties, and invited anyone who took her fancy: the parties were harmless enough, but the Prince decided that her guests were not, and wrote to the King. In due course King George, though generally on his daughter – in – law’s side, wrote to Lord Cholmondeley asking him to “acquaint the Princess that it was my opinion she could not receive any society but such as the Prince approved of.”

The Princess happened to be at Carlton House (where she still had a suite of rooms) when this letter was delivered to her, and immediately demanded to see the Prince. His Royal Highness was about to mount his horse when a page hurried out with the message. He agreed to meet his wife later that day, and decided to take Lord Cholmondeley with him, whether as witness or a bodyguard it is not certain.

According to his own account, as soon as they entered the Princess’s room she let fly. “Since I have been in this house,” she cried in French, “you have treated me neither as your wife, nor as the mother of your child, nor as the Princess of Wales: and I tell you that from this moment I shall have nothing more to say and that I regard myself as being no longer subject to your orders – or to your rules” – the last word in English.

As she seemed to have stopped, the Prince enquired if that was all that she had to say.

“Yes,” she replied. The Prince bowed and withdrew, and “thus,” he said, “ended the interview.” It also ended any hope of reconciliation.

But the King still set his face against a formal separation.

“You seem,” he said, “to look on your disunion with the Princess as merely of a private nature, and totally put out of sight that as heir apparent of the Crown your marriage is a public act wherein the kingdom is concerned…” The marriage must somehow be held together in the eyes of the world.’

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

caroline and george

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