“I do not think her manner dignified, as a Princess’s ought to be, or, indeed, as I should wish a daughter of mine to behave.” Lady Albinia Cumberland, Lady of the Bedchamber to the younger princesses, watched Charlotte disapprovingly when she was at Windsor in the summer of 1811. Rather grudgingly she admits that Charlotte’s riding is “beautiful-no fear of course-gallops and leaps over every ditch like a schoolboy…” But she criticizes her swaggering manner (“not at all en princesse”) and her habit of “twanging hands” with all the men. Indeed, from her description it would seem that Charlotte at fifteen was altogether too big for her boots. “She…is in awe of no one and glories in her independent way of thinking…Her passion,” adds Lady Albinia, “is horses.” Horses and dogs were, indeed, important to the young princess. Riding was her chief happiness.
In October 1807, when she was eleven years old, the Prince had given her a pony. ‘You could not have given me anything I so much wished for,’ she wrote, and added, ‘I hope some time or other my dear papa will see me mount my charming little pony.’
She was given permission to ride in the grounds of Carlton House because the doctors said that riding would be beneficial to her health. Berkeley Paget recounts how the Prince boasted of his daughter’s prowess as an equestrienne-‘turning the corners in a gallop, stopping short on the horse’s tail, &c., on which I said “Her Royal Highness must have pretty good nerves, Sir.” “God damn you, isn’t she my daughter?” was the reply. I immediately assented to it, with the strongest assurance that the firmness of his Royal nerves was universally held up as an example.’
One of the few advantages of staying at Windsor, from Charlotte’s point of view, was that she could go for long rides in the Park and Forest. The stables were filled with splendid horses, eating their heads off, and now that the King could no longer enjoy his daily ride, the grooms must have welcomed the spirited young princess who rode so fearlessly and well-even if she did give one of them a cut across the back when he got in her way. ‘This was in good humour, though,’ said Lady Albinia Cumberland kindly.
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]