Cornelia Knight was waiting up for her when Charlotte returned to Warwick House. The Princess told her everything. She was now engaged to the young Prince of Orange. Miss Knight was astonished. ‘I could only remark’, she wrote years later, ‘that she had gained a great victory over herself’.
But Charlotte was already coming to terms with what had happened. ‘No, you would not say so if you were to see him’, she said. ‘He is by no means as disagreeable as I expected.’
Next day Miss Knight did get to see him. He came to call accompanied by Lord Bathurst. She was not over-impressed. ‘I thought him particularly plain and sickly in his look, his figure very slender, his manner rather hearty and boyish, but not unpleasant in a young soldier.’
On the day after that the young Prince came again, this time accompanied by Charlotte’s father. Tactfully, the Regent allowed the young couple to be alone together, although, for the sake of propriety, he and Miss Knight sat by the fire in the next room with the door open, so that they could see them.
The Regent told ‘the Chevalier’ that for the time being the betrothal was to be kept secret, and he then began to describe his plans for the marriage.
Suddenly they were both brought to their feet by the sound of Charlotte bursting into ‘a violent fit of sobs and hysterical tears’.
The Regent had no idea what was happening. ‘What!’ he said. ‘Is he taking his leave?’
‘Not yet’, said Charlotte, and then added that she was going to her room.
Tactful again, the Regent told the ladies that he and the Hereditary Prince were now late for a banquet and then hurriedly led him away.
When they were gone, Miss Knight asked Charlotte what was wrong, and she was not too surprised by the answer.
The Dutch Prince had just told the Princess that, when they were married, she would have to spend two or three months of every year in Holland.
[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]