Father Does Not Care and Mother Shows Off

‘On the King’s birthday Miss Hayman took Charlotte to see her grandparents at Buckingham House. The Princess of Wales was not invited, which evidently puzzled Miss Hayman; but we may understand the reason from her next sentence – “The Prince of Wales was there.” Charlotte, she adds, “seemed to know him from the rest extremely well.” But it was her grandpapa who took her in his arms and carried her into another room, provoking some tears. “However, she soon recovered her good humour, and played with her grandpapa on the carpet a long while. All seemed to dote on her,” adds Miss Hayman, “and even the Prince played with her.”This was an honour. The Prince could be at his most charming with children, but Miss Hayman was disappointed at his apparent lack of interest in his daughter.”The Prince’s time for seeing the child,” she wrote, “is when dressing or at breakfast;” but he had not been near the nursery for a long time, nor had he sent for little Charlotte or asked to see her. As a father, he was a disappointment, and to Miss Hayman something of an enigma. “I do not often know whether he is at home or abroad,” she writes. As yet she did not understand the bitterness which divided Charlotte’s parents, and she innocently describes her return from Buckingham House with her little charge: “We drove twice up and down the park in returning from the Queen’s House to show her to the crowd assembled there, and she huzzaed and kissed her hand the whole time, and the people looked extremely delighted, running with the coach all the way. This evening she has been doing the same from the window for a full hour to a great mob and all the procession of mail coaches.”

These exhibitions, organized by the Princess of Wales, were anathema to the Prince and to his family. His eldest sister, the Princess Royal, who in April 1797 had married the Hereditary Prince of Wurtemberg, wrote from Germany:

“I regret much the weakness of the mother, in making a plaything of the child, and not reflecting that she is a Princess, and not an actress”.’

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

king george charlotte and princess royal

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