Charlotte And Her Family

‘In her childhood, Charlotte abounded in good health and ebullient high spirits. She was a beautiful little girl, as may be seen from Lawrence’s portrait of her. Not yet aware of the brooding bitterness and hatred which divided her parents, she found herself the centre of a benevolent world, where her every word received attention, and her pretty ways were greeted with rapture. As we have seen, at one and a half she was already acknowledging the cheers of the crowd and joining in their shouts of ‘Huzza’. When, from a window overlooking the Mall, she saw Canning ride past and raise his hat, she tried to imitate his gesture and tore her muslin cap. The impression one gets from all the early recorded stories of Charlotte is of a happy recklessness, and a warm heart. From the first she singled out her grandpapa as the person she was fondest of: it was a rather touching relationship, doomed to end abruptly with the King’s final withdrawal into the darkness of disease in 1811.

Although her father is accused of neglecting her, there are references to her in his letters which suggest that, by fits and starts, he was a conscientious and even an affectionate parent, and took an interest in her looks. In the summer of 1797 he suddenly decided that Charlotte’s hair should be cut short, as was the fashion then for little girls. It would seem indeed, from Princess Elizabeth’s letter to the Prince, that he cut it himself: “The King and Mama”, she told him, “were delighted with her on Thursday; she…told us of your having cut her hair, and now <<it’s all gone>>.” In a letter to Lady Elgin, the Prince refers to Charlotte as “little crop”, and he was evidently amused by the child complaining to him of the dullness of Weymouth. “Not I think without good reason, for it is horrid dull indeed except to men who like the Camp.”Some three weeks later he wrote to the Countess of Elgin asking her to bring the little girl to the Carlton House. Another summons went out a month later, and the letter ended:”Give her a little kiss from me, & if she could understand I would desire you to tell her that nobody can or shall perform the duties of an affectionate parent by her more conscientiously than me…”‘

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

george and charlotte

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