‘At Carlton House, Charlotte’s only playmate had been Annie Barnard, the orphaned niece of her father’s coachman. Annie lived with her uncle and his wife above the stables and played with the Princess every day. She even dined with her, and for a few months they did their lessons together. But the move to Warwick House, beyond the safety of the stable-yard gates, was enough to separate them.As a replacement for Annie, Lady de Clifford introduced the Princess to one of her grandsons, the Hon. George Keppel, who was three years younger than she was. George was a pupil nearby at Westminster School. He was brought round regularly in a coach to play with Charlotte at Warwick House – and to supplement his meagre school diet in the kitchens – and sometimes, appropriately chaperoned, she went round to visit him at the school.
Over forty years later, after he had succeeded his brother as Earl of Albemarle, George wrote a memoir which contains many of the most endearing anecdotes about the childhood of the Princess with “blue eyes”, “peculiarly blond hair” and “beautifully shaped” hands and feet. Among all the usual stories about fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears, he described an afternoon when Charlotte, who was visiting his parents’ house in Earl’s Court, crept out through a side gate and joined in at the back of a crowd that had assembled outside the main gate in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Princess.
He also recorded an afternoon when he and Charlotte helped out in the kitchen at Warwick House. As a result of their efforts, Lady de Clifford was served a mutton chop that was so heavily dressed and over – peppered that she summoned the servants in fury. But he did not record whether the incident was an intentional prank or merely the result of childish over – enthusiasm.’
[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]
Picture: George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle (1799-1891) by an unknown author