Tag Archives: augusta of the united kingdom

The Dutch Marriage Plans

In July 1813, the Prince gave ‘a magnificent breakfast’ in the gardens of Carlton House, to celebrate the Battle of Vittoria. He wrote a glowing letter to Wellington, and sent him what he had himself desired and been denied, a field-marshal’s baton. A fortnight later, after the nine days’ fighting known as the Battle of the Pyrenees, Charlotte was writing to Mercer, ‘Of course I need not tell you that a great victory has been gained by Wellington upon Soult. I write before any particulars have reached me, except that the Prince of Orange has brought the dispatches & was to be in town last night…’ ‘It was a pang,’ she continued, ‘added to the many I have to endure here [at Windsor], as I am sure my miseries will be much added to by the plagues about him…’

Charlotte, at seventeen, was aware that plans were being made for her to marry, and that the Hereditary Prince of Orange was being talked of as a likely suitor. He was at present serving on Wellington’s staff in Spain, but she believed that he had been sent to England with dispatches in order that she might meet him, which she heartily dreaded. She was not averse to the idea of marriage, but she was determined have a say in the choice of her husband: she would not be married off, as her aunt, the Princess Royal, had been – and indeed, as her mother and grandmother had been – to a foreigner whom she had never seen.

Marriage with the Prince of Orange, was, diplomatically, an excellent idea. As Europe began to free itself from the Emperor’s domination, an alliance was planned by the British Government with the liberated Holland and Belgium, under the Dutch Stadholder. A marriage between the English Princess and his son, the Hereditary Prince, would triumphantly seal this alliance.

But for Charlotte there were other considerations: a misguided marriage would, she said, be ‘worse than death’. She wanted to know what the young man was like. Her friend Georgiana Fitzroy told her that the Hereditary Prince was ‘amiable, very agreeable and sensible, adored Lord Wellington, had excellent manners but was not good looking’. This was interesting, but not enough. A month later, Miss Fitzroy, who had walzed with the young man at Oatlands, wrote that he was the best waltzer that ever was, but ‘excessively plain’ and ‘as thin as a needle’. His hair, she said, was ‘excessively plain’ and his teeth, though good, stuck out excessively in front.

Perhaps it would have been better for all concerned if Charlotte had waited for a description from her older and more tactful friend, Mercer Elphinstone.

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

Picture: Portrait of William II of the Netherlands by Nicolaas Pieneman, 1849, current location unknown

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Charlotte Meets Her Other Grandma

‘The Duchess had had a trying life with a melancholy and permanently unfaithful husband: she now dressed entirely in white crepe. There was little love lost between her and her daughter Caroline, who in Brunswick had always treated her with contemptuous rudeness; but from the English Royal Family she received respect and kindness, and from time to time her granddaughter Charlotte was sent to visit her. They grew quite fond of each other, though the old Duchess was not always kind. “You are grown very fat and very much sunburnt,” remarked her grandmother, when Charlotte went to dine with her after returning from the seaside. It was not the most tactful greeting to a young girl beginning to be conscious of her appearance.’

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

charlotte and duchess augusta

The Duchess of Brunswick Returns To England

‘On October 14, 1806, the Duke of Brunswick, Princess Charlotte’s grandfather, was mortally wounded at Auerstadt and his Dukedom seized by Napoleon. The Prince of Wales showed little regret at the loss of his father-in-law. “I cannot help thinking,” he wrote, “that had he survived, & had taken a review of his past political conduct, & of the very disgraceful proposals which he is supposed to have sent to the French tyrant after the complete rout of the Prussian forces under his command, he would & must have suffer’d most grieviously indeed. I cannot therefore say that his death has occasioned me either surprise or much regret.” But there was some anxiety as to the future of the widowed Duchess, Caroline’s mother, who had managed with difficulty to escape from Brunswick to Sweden. Most people thought that she would make for England, and the Duke of Clarence wrote to the Prince of Wales, “If I know the Duchess at all, she will be the least welcome visitor to her wise and virtuous daughter…”

On July 1, 1807, the Duchess of Brunswick landed in England, her native country which she had not seen for forty-three years. Her daughter, Princess Caroline, who now spent much of her time at Kensington Palace, handed over Montague House as a temporary residence for the Duchess, who was received with affection by her brother, King George. Although the Queen and her sister-in-law had always heartily detested each other, a meeting at Buckingham House, at which the Princess of Wales was present, went off successfully, and Princess Elizabeth reported to the Prince that “her reception was most cordial of my mother and they appeared mutually pleased with each other”. “She certainly is a fine old woman,” added Princess Elizabeth… ” but you see when she walks or tries to get into her carriage she is very infirm.”

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

220px-Augusta_of_Great_Britain,_duchess_of_Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Portrait: Augusta of Great Britain, duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by Johann Georg Ziesenis, third quarter of 18th century

Charlotte’s Family: Augusta Frederica of Great Britain

CHARLOTTE’S MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER

Augusta Frederike von Hannover

Augusta Frederica of Great Britain (31 August 1737 – 23 March 1813), daughter of Frederick Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, an elder sister of George III, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1764 – 1806), Charlotte’s maternal grandmother

‘Her mother, Princess Augusta, was George III’s sister, a stupid, gossiping woman, who had been obliged for thirty years to put up with the presence at Court of her husband’s handsome mistress’

(an extract from Thea Holme’s ‘Prinny’s Daughter. A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales)

Picture: an anonymous portrait painted circa 1763

Charlotte’s Family: Caroline of Brunswick

CHARLOTTE’S MOTHER

CarolineOfBrunswick1795

Caroline Amelia Elizabeth (17 May 1768 – 7 August 1821), daughter of Charles William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and his wife Princess Augusta of the United Kingdom; Princess of Brunswick (1768 – 1821), Princess of Wales (1796 – 1820), Queen Consort of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1820 – 1830) and of Hanover (1820 – 1830), Charlotte’s mother

‘Caroline was the Prince of Wales’s [original spelling] first cousin; there was insanity in her family, and she at times behaved in a wild, freakish way which was disturbing. Forbidden, at sixteen, to go to a ball, she pretended, convincingly, to be in the throes of pregnancy; but on the arrival of the accoucheur, Caroline sprang out of bed, wiped the deathly make – up from her face, and screamed with laughter. “Now, Madam”, she demanded of her mother, ‘will you keep me another time from a ball?’ She behaved like a spoilt child, but she was not loved, and somehow she was not loveable. She was obsessed with sex, and had to be closely watched: both her parents were baffled by her behaviour. It seems odd that these facts about her character were not investigated, and that there was never any thought of looking into her medical history, before she was invited to become the Prince’s wife, and the mother of a future monarch. The King’s word was enough: she was his niece, and would learn to be docile, with such an example before her as her mother-in-law. Queen Charlotte said little: she had never liked the Princess Augusta, Carolines mother; moreover she had heard disturbing rumours about the young princess. But she kept them to herself, refusing to interfere. It was not an auspicious beginning.’

An extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter. A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales by Thea Holme

Engraving: Caroline in 1795, shortly before her marriage to the future George IV

Shock On The Brunswick Court

‘So a heartbroken but dignified Mrs Fitzherbert retired to a beautiful villa by the Thames at Twickenham, Marble Hill, and the greatest British diplomat of the age, James Harris, who had been created Baron Malmesbury six years earlier, was instructed to go to Brunswick and escort Princess Caroline to England.

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Two Cousins

‘Once it was agreed that the Prince was free to marry, the next step was to find him a bride. There were two candidates, both of whom were his cousins. One was Princess Louise of Mecklenburg – Strelitz, whose father was the brother of his mother, Queen Charlotte. The other was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, whose mother was a sister of his father, the King.The Queen was enthusiastically in favour of Princess Louise*, not only because Louise was her niece and reputedly the better looking, but also because, like many other people at court, she had heard too many unsavoury rumours about Princess Caroline. The Brunswicker Princess was said to be coarse and uninhibited. She was said to have had several affairs, one with an Irish officer in her father’s army, and it was known that earlier marriage negotiations had been broken off without reason.’
[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

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