Tag Archives: caroline&charlotte

Happy Birthday Princess Charlotte!

It is the 221st anniversary of Princess Charlotte’s birth today! As always on this occasion let me quote the letter which the baby’s father, the Prince of Wales, sent to his mother Queen Charlotte.

‘(…) The Princess, after a terrible hard labour for above twelve hours, is this instant brought to bed of an immense girl, and I assure you notwithstanding we might have wish’d for a boy, I receive her with all the affection possible, and bow with due defference and resignation to the decrees of Providence (…)’

(an extract from the Prince of Wales’ letter to his mother Queen Charlotte taken from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden)

May you have you have your biography published soon as a birthday present, Your Royal Highness!

princess charlotte by thomas lawrence 1817

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Jan, 7th 1796 – Princess Charlotte Is Born

Happy 219th Birthday to Princess Charlotte!

She was born in the morning of January 7, 1796 at Carlton House in London.

This is what the Prince of Wales, child’s father, wrote in a letter to his mother:

‘(…) The Princess, after a terrible hard labour for above twelve hours, is this instant brought to bed of an immense girl, and I assure you notwithstanding we might have wish’d for a boy, I receive her with all the affection possible, and bow with due defference and resignation to the decrees of Providence (…)’

an extract from the Prince of Wales’ letter to his mother Queen Charlotte taken from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden

Charlotte as a child - detail

Interrupted Journey

‘They left for England on 29 December. On orders from London, they took the shortest route, expecting to meet up with the British squadron which, they were told, would be waiting for them off the coast of Holland. But when they came close to the Dutch border Malmesbury received a letter from General Harcourt, who had replaced the Duke of York as commander of the British army. Harcourt warned himthat it was too dangerous to continue. The British were still retreating. If he tried to reach the coast now, he would have to pass through the French lines to do it. Despite the Princess’s insistence that she was a Brunswicker and not afraid, Malmesbury took her back as far as Osnabruck, where they waited eagerly for news of a reversal of fortune of the allies.

But the news, when it came, towards the end of the month, was not what they wanted to hear. The French were now in control of Holland, and they were already so sure of keeping control that they were preparing to make radical changes (…) The British army was withdrawing across the north – eastern border. Recognising that its mission was now futile, the British naval squadron that had been waiting for the Princess had turned about and sailed for home. (…) Malmesbury took Princess Caroline back to Hanover, and for the next six weeks, in the exemplary decorum of the Hanoverian court, he continued to teach her how the English expected a princess to behave.

At last, when the thaw came, they headed north, accompanied by Mrs Harcourt, the wife of the British commander, who had agreed to attend the Princess on the journey. On 28 March they boarded a frigate, HMS Jupiter, off Cuxhaven at the mouth of the river Elbe. They were safe. Britannia still ruled the waves. The waters around them were crowded with British warships. A few days earlier, twenty miles to the south, the British force had been evacuated from Bremerhaven.

When they reached Gravesend Malmesbury, Mrs Harcourt and Princess Caroline transferred from HMS Jupiter to the royal yacht, Augusta, and sailed up the Thames in her. They arrived at Greenwich, as expected, at noon on Easter Sunday.

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

‘The morning of Wednesday 1 April 1795 found the naval squadron escorting Caroline of Brunswick to England for her marriage to the Prince of Wales fogbound in the North Sea about eight leagues offshore between Orfordness and Yarmouth. It was not until the early hours of Friday 3 April – Good Friday -that the weather cleared, and Commodore Jack Payne was able to get the frigate Jupiter under way again and sail on down the coast before a brisk east – south – east wind, passing Harwich at eleven o’clock. That night was spent at anchor off the Nore, and on Saturday the flotilla entered the Thames estuary, reaching Gravesend at two in the afternoon. The river banks were lined with spectators, the day was fine and “the whole prospect most beautiful” – at least according to the account of James Harris, Earl of Malmesbury, on board the Jupiter.

Lord Malmesbury, who had had the task of fetching the bride from Germany plus the anxiety of conveying her across a corner of Europe currently under threat of attack by the conquering armies of revolutionary France, was understandably euphoric in anticipation of being able to deliver his charge safely into the arms of her groom, but the long – termprospects for the success of the union were not encouraging.’

[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]

Combat Naval Vaisseau Français Le Triton Contre Vaisseau Anglais Le Jupiter et la Frégate la Médée près de Lisbonne 20 octobre 1778

Picture: The Battle between French ship and English frigates ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Medusa’ near Lisobon on 20th October 1778 by Naval battle off the coast of Lisbon, 20 October 1778. The French vessel Triton against the British ships HMS Jupiter and the frigate Medea by Pierre-Julien Gilbert

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 Scheming Ladies

‘According to other sources, any of his brothers, or anyone else who had been in Germany recently, could have told the Prince of Wales that the Brunswick Princess had the reputation of being “very loose”; but although he must surely have heard the gossip he appears to have paid no attention. He did not even make any of the usual discreet enquiries regarding the lady’s personal appearance, character, and habits. In fact, he seems to have spent considerably less time and trouble over his choice of a wife than he would have done over a pair of boots or a new waistcoat. Nor is it clear why Caroline should have been so immediately and obstinately preferred to every other possible candidate. It later occurred to Lord Malmesbury that she may have been put into the Prince’shead by the Duke of Clarence out of spite, “with a view to plague the Duke and Duchess of York whom he hates…well knowing that the Princess Caroline and the Duchess of York dislike each other, and that this match would be particularly unpleasant to her and the Duke”. But if this was so, then the Duke of York gave no hint of any displeasure in his congratulatory note to his elder brother. The Princess, he wrote, was “a very fine girl and in every respct in my opinion a very proper match for you. That you may be completely happy with her, is my most hearty wish.”‘

[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]

‘But the woman who had the most influence over the Prince of Wales, Lady Jersey, was equally enthusiastic in her support for Princess Caroline. Lady Jersey had managed to replace Mrs Fitzherbert in the Prince’s bed, but she had not succeeded in replacing her in his heart. Now that good fortune had come to her aid and removed Mrs Fitzherbert from the stage altogether, Lady Jersey was determined to ensure that the next wife should be the least formidable rival; if only half the stories were true, Princess Caroline was certainly that.

Naturally the Prince was persuaded by Lady Jersey. Yet even after he had plumped for Princess Caroline, his mother made no secret of her continuing disapproval. From all that she was saying, it was obvious that she was going to make her daughter-in-law’s life as difficult as she could – and she clearly realized what Lady Jersey was up to. Applying the old adage “my enemy ‘s enemy is my friend”, she invited Lady Jersey to visit her regularly at Windsor. She lobbied everyone at court on Lady Jersey’s behalf, recommending her for a position in the Prince’s new household. In the end she succeeded. At the insistence of the mischievous old Queen, her son’s mistress was appointed to serve as lady-in-waiting to his wife.’

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

Frances Lady Jersey

Picture: portrait of Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey (1753-1821) by Daniel Gardner

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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Restrictions Imposed By Royal Marriages Act

By the terms of his father’s Royal Marriages Act, princes of the Blood Royal could only marry with the King’s consent, which really meant they could only marry respectable German princesses, who were also Protestant. This was very limiting. George III’s seven sons had the greatest difficulty in keeping within the law, and most of them did not try: it was simpler, as the Dukes of Clarence and Kent discovered, to take a mistress and stick to her. But it did not help the succession.

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

‘George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son and heir apparent of George III, King of England, was thirty – two old and, on paper at any rate, the most eligible bachelor in the western world. His attitude towards matrimony, however, had always been disappointingly negative. Indeed, some ten years earlier he had sworn that he would never marry. He had “settled it with Frederick” – Duke of York and his next and favourite brother – that Frederick would marry and that crown would descend to his children. But Frederick’s wifehad turned out to be barren, and other princes were now all either comfortably suited with mistresses, or for other reasons unwilling or unable to do their duty by the family. George III’s plain sturdy little Queen (she had been Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Strelitz) had survived no fewer than fifteen pregnancies nd successfully reared seven sons and five daughters, but the remarkable fact remained that by 1795 there were still no grandchildren – or at least no grandchildren born on the right side of the blanket. It was not, however, concern for the future of the Hanoverian succession which had finally propelled the Prince of Wales towards the altar – it was stern financial necessity.

[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]

Royal Marriages Act