Monthly Archives: August 2015

Friendship With George Keppel (4)

‘It is difficult to relate the wise maturity of this letter to the harum-scarum behaviour of Charlotte when she was freed from the restrains of Warwick House – “like a bird escaped from a cage”, as George Keppel puts it.

His parents, Lord and Lady Albemarle, had a house in the rural suburb of Earl’s Court, with a garden of about two acres. On Sundays, Charlotte sometimes spent the day there, generally driving in Lady de Clifford’s carriage; but once she went in her own. The scarlet liveries attracted the crowd, who surged round the entrance gates, hoping for the sight of the Princess.

“I told her,” said George Keppel, “how desirous the people were to have a sight of her. <<They shall have that pleasure,>> was the reply.” Charlotte ran quickly out of the garden gate into the road, and made her way to the back of the crowd, pushing and peering, and seeming more anxious than anyone to get a sight of the Princess.

Eventually, tired of this joke, she left the crowd and made her way to the stables, where she saddled Lord Albemarle’s hack, seized a groom’s heavy riding whip, and followed by George, led the horse through an underground passage to the garden. “She now,” said George, “told me to mount. I nothing loth obeyed.”

But before the unlucky boy could grab the reins or get his feet into the stirrups, “she gave the horse a tremendous cut with the whip on the hindquarters. Off set the animal at full gallop, I on his back, or rather his neck, holding on by the mane and roaring lustily”.

At full tilt, horse and rider galloped through the gardens, George clinging on for dear life, till they stumbled on to a flower bed in front of the drawing – room windows, and in this conspicuous place the horse kicked up his heels, tossing poor George, roaring louder than ever, over his head. The family came running, and George, picking himself up with difficulty, saw Charlotte, hot and breathless, emerging from the bushes. She had meant, she said, to stop the horse before it and its rider came into view. As it was, she was obliged to stand up to “a tremendous scolding” from Lady de Clifford, which, according to George, she “took coolly enough”.’

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


Friendship With George Keppel (3)

But although she sometimes pummelled him, she became a good friend. She made him sandwiches , to supplement his school meals; she gave him handsome presents: a watch, and a pony; and she lent him small sums of money when he was broke, improving the occasion with good advice.

‘My dear Keppel,

‘You know me well enough to suppose that I will never refuse you a thing when there is no harm in it. But though I send you the money I must still give you a little reprimand. You will, I hope, dear boy, love me as well Tho’ I do sometimes find fault with you. You will, if you go on asking for money and spending it in so quick a manner, get such a habit of that when you grow up you will be a very extravagant man, and get into debt.

‘Your grandmamma de Clifford allows me £10 a month. But though I spend it I take care never to go further than my sum will allow. Now, dear George, if you do the same, you will never want for money.

‘If you call at Warwick House, my porter, Mr. Moore, will give you half a guinea…

‘I remain, dear George,
‘Your very sincere and affectionate

(quotation marks are presented in the same manner as they appear in the book)

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

George Keppel 6thEarlOfAlbemarle

Picture: George Keppel 6th Earl of Albemarle

Friendship With George Keppel (2)

‘At twelve years old, Charlotte was in danger of becoming something of an oddity. She had, when she chose, a dazzling charm, but she often indulged in wild and hoydenish behaviour. The clearest picture of her at this time comes from a contemporary, George Keppel, who was Lady de Clifford’s grandson, and a Westminster schoolboy. “Her complexion was rather pale,” he says, and this is borne out in a later description by Lady Charlotte Bury. “Her skin,” she says, “is white, but not a transparent white; there is little or no shade in her face.” “She had blue eyes,” Keppel tells us, “and that peculiarly blonde hair which was characteristic rather of her German than of her English descent.” With her blue eyes and curly golden hair, and her pale, opaque skin her appearance must have been charming, like a fairy-tale heroine. But did not see herself in that role. “She was an excellent actress,” said George Keppel; “one of her fancies was to ape the manner of a man.” She did an excellent imitation of the Bishop – his mannerisms and gestures. Evidently she liked to think of herself as a tough masculine character, and in certain moods, to pretend that she was one. “She would double her fists,” said Keppel, “and assume an attitude of defence that would have done credit to a professed pugilist.” But defence soon turned into attack, and the unfortunate George, unable as a gentleman to hit back, was obliged to receive a series of hard punches from the boxing Princess.
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

Charlotte Drives Like Crazy

‘This holiday was a success, and the following year a house was taken for Princess Charlotte and her establishment at Bognor. Here, she enjoyed a surprising amount of freedom. Huish describes her “tripping down to Richardson’s the baker’s, about the time when she knew his buns were ready”. Devouring the delicious hot buns, she would sit and chat to the baker about his business, seeming deeply interested in all he had to tell her. She then stepped into her carriage, “drawn by her beautiful grey poneys”, and, accompanied by Lady de Clifford, would herself take reins and drive off at top speed, turning into a very bumpy field, where the carriage swayed and jolted perilously, and Lady de Clifford shrieked. “Nothing like exercise, my lady”, cried Charlotte. “Nothing like exercise!”‘

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