Monthly Archives: November 2015

Prince Regent Doesn’t Care About His Legally Wedded Wife Either

‘His other wife, Princess Caroline, sat in Kensington Palace, trying to pass the time during the Regent’s fête, with her friend Miss Berry. All her ladies had gone to Carlton House, and Miss Berry was hard to put to it to keep the Princess amused while they were away. With perambulatings through the gardens, some punishing work by the Princess on the pianoforte, a long-drawn-out meal, and a great deal of reminiscent talk the hours slowly passed, and at last Lady Glenbervie returned, ready to describe in detail the doings at Carlton House. Gold and silver fish, she said, swam in a stream which ran through mossy banks down the centre of the lengthy table with the Prince at its head, presumably just out of range of the splashing fountain that fed the stream. Some of the fish were dead, but that did not deflect from the artistry of the scene, backed by massed flowers and framed by gorgeous hangings of crimson and gold. huge candelabra hung overhead, lighting up the glitter of the Prince’s diamond aigrette and the Garter star on his breast. He was dressed in the scarlet uniform of a Field-Marshal (one of his first acts, on becoming Regent, had been to promote himself to this rank).

caroline and george1

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

Prince Regent Doesn’t Care About ‘His True Wife’ Anymore

‘The Carlton House fête marked the end of Mrs. Fitzherbert’s reign. While Charlotte played Cinderella at Windsor, with no Fairy Godmother to send her to the ball, Maria Fitzherbert tore up her invitation and remained at home. On receiving her card she had written to the Prince to ask at which table she was to sit. He replied that she might sit wherever she chose except at his table, where rank alone regulated the ceremonial. Maria replied hotly that their relationship entitled her to the first place at his table; but she did not press her claim: rather than see her successor, the handsome, elegant Lady Hertford, seated in a place of honour at the Prince’s table, she preferred to stay away. And so the woman whom he had once called ‘my only true and real wife’ withdrew herself from his life for ever.’

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

Mrs. Fitzherbert by Thomas Gaisborough

Picture: Mrs. Fitzherbert by Thomas Gaisborough, 1784, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California, USA

The Prince of Wales Becomes Regent

When that letter was written, at the beginning of June 1811, the atmosphere in Windsor Castle was more likely to have been bitter than dull. The King’s latest bout of insanity had lasted so long that no one now expected him to recover. In January the government had brought in the Regency Bill. On 6 February, while Charlotte rode up and down in the garden, peering through the windows of Carlton House to see what was going on, the Prince of Wales had been formally sworn in as Prince Regent. Charlotte’s father was now nominal head of state, and her grandmother and most of her aunts and uncles were more inclined to feel gloomy than glad about it.

Typically, the Prince Regent decided to celebrate his appointment with an extravagant fête at Carlton House. His excuse was to entertain the exiled pretender to the throne of France, Louis-Philippe, who had actually been living in Twickenham for the last ten years. But the real reason was to mark the opening of what he hoped would be his own splendid reign.

When she heard about it, Charlotte felt sure that she would be invited, that her first ball would be this memorable event. But there was never any chance of that. As Lady Rose Weigall put it:

‘The Regent had reason to fear that her appearance in public would give a fresh stimulus to the widespread feeling in favour of herself and her mother and render him proportionately more unpopular. He was further bent upon avoiding everything which could look like a recognition of her as the heir presumptive to the Crown, probably hoping that by the death of his wife or by a divorce he might hereafter have a son through a second marriage and shut out the daughter of his deserted consort from the throne…For these reasons the Princess Charlotte was regarded as a rival to be suppressed rather than as a future sovereign.’

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

Henry Pierce Bone, George IV, 1840

Picture: George IV (The Prince Regent)