Tag Archives: caroline&charlotte

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

It is the 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)

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The Whole World Mourns Charlotte

Leopold was never the same again. Almost fifty years later he told his niece Queen Victoria that he had ‘never recovered the feeling of happiness’ that ‘blessed’ his short life with Charlotte. He had always been renowned for his reserve, but, as anyone who had ever been to Claremont knew, there was a warmth beneath it. Now, in his grief, he seemed to be more morose than reserved, and the warmth beneath was replaced for ever by a loveless chill.

On the day of Charlotte’s funeral Stockmar wrote to one of Leopold’s former tutors in Coburg, ‘Life seems already to have lost all value for him, and he is convinced that no feeling of happiness can ever again enter his heart.’

Each day during the week that followed his bereavement, Leopold walked round and round the park in the rain with Dr Short, clutching a miniature of Charlotte in his hand. Late every evening, he went into the bedroom where Charlotte was laying and sat with her for most of the night. In Charlotte’s sitting room, her watch was found on the mantelpiece, and the cloak and bonnet that she had been wearing on her last drive were still hanging on the end of a screen. Leopold gave orders that they were to stay where she had left them.

He was inconsolable and his pain grew greater with almost every visitor. On the day after the deaths the doctors came back to carry out a post mortem, interfering with the bodies of his wife and son in a futile search for a cause of death. Worse, Sir Everard Home, Sergeant Surgeon to the King, came to take out their guts and embalm them.

When the medical men had done their work, the undertakers wrapped the child in linen and put him in a simple open coffin. His little heart, which the doctors had taken out, was put separately into an urn. Then Charlotte, also wrapped in linen, was lifted into her own coffin and covered with blue velvet. Leopold watched, and Mrs Campbell watched Leopold. She described him that evening in a letter to Lady Ilchester. ‘It was grief to look at him. He seemed so heartbroken.’

Even some of the visitors who came to comfort Leopold only added to his misery.The Duchess of York drove over from Oatlands and was so overcome with grief herself that she collapsed in the hall and had to be taken home before she saw him.

The Prince Regent came down and asked to see the bodies. He had left Warwickshire for London soon after he heard that his daughter was in labour, but the rider carrying less welcome news had somehow managed to gallop past his carriage and its escort in the dark. He was back at Carlton House and in bed when the Duke of York came to tell him that his daughter and grandson were dead. His response was uncharacteristically selfless. ‘What is to be done for the poor man?” he said, falling back onto pillow. ‘Great Heaven!’

Leopold gave the Regent a lock of Charlotte’s hair. Next day, the Regent’s sister Princess Mary, who was now Duchess of Gloucester, took the lock, entwined it with a lock from their youngest sister, Princess Amelia, who had died in 1810, and had them made into an eternity ring for him.

The Queen, accompanied by her daughter Princess Elizabeth, was dining with the Mayor and Corporation of Bath when the bad news reached her. She set out at once for Windsor. But back in the castle with her spinster daughters and her sad old husband she was overwhelmed with the sense of helplessness and bitter disappointment. Despair destroyed what was left of her health. It declined rapidly from that moment on. Within a year she was dead.

In Holland the Prince of Orange wept at the news, and out of deference to his grief his Russian Princess ordered the ladies of his court to dress in mourning.

When the news reached Italy, it was said, Lord Byron threw open the windows of his apartment in Venice and let out an anguished scream that was heard echoing down the Grand Canal.

Lady Charlotte Bury, who was also in Italy, summed up the situation precisely in her journal. ‘There is now no object of great interest in the English people, no one great rallying point round which all parties are ready to join… A greater public calamity could not have occurred to us; nor could it have happened at a more unfortunate moment..’

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

As for Caroline, who was living now in a villa on Lake Como, it appears that no one had troubled even to inform her of Charlotte’s death and Charlotte Bury was shocked to hear that the Princess had been left to learn the news ‘through the medium of a common newspaper!’ Lady Charlotte hastened to write and offer her Royal Highness sincere sympathy ‘in this her greatest affliction’ and presently received in return a ‘strangely worded but heartfelt expression of the poor mother’s grief’. ‘I have not only to lament an ever-beloved child’, wrote Caroline, ‘but one most warmly attached friend, and the only one I have had in England! But she is only gone before … and now I trust we shall soon meet in a much better world than the present one.’

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

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

It is the 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)

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

It is the 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)

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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