Tag Archives: frances villiers countess of jersey

The Prince Regent Is Becoming More And More Suspicious

For Charlotte the spring and summer of 1813 were for the most part dreary and sad. The only balls that she attended were in the houses of her father or her uncles, and at all of them the Prince Regent was as paranoid as ever.

At one ball, given by the Duke and Duchess of York, the Prince saw that his daughter was again sitting on a sofa talking to the Duke of Gloucester, for whom, if he only knew it, she did not have ‘the smallest partiality’. He instructed Lady Liverpool to go over and tell her to change places with Lady Bathurst, who was sitting on the other side of her. Instead of obeying, Charlotte stood up and strode out of the room. Later she went back and apologised to the Duke, and she went home, in the words of Cornelia Knight, ‘indignant and hurt at having been watched and worried’.

The Prince was equally suspicious of the Duke of Devonshire, who was certainly very attentive to Charlotte. But, as she told Mercer, he would bestow his attentions somewhere else, where they might at least be appreciated. Sir Henry Halford, who was fast becoming the Prince’s favourite messenger, was sent more than once to admonish the Duchess of Leeds and Miss Knight for not keeping a close enough watch when the Duke of Devonshire was around. And on another occasion he was sent to tell Miss Knight that the Prince was not pleased to learn that she and Charlotte had been seen out in her carriage one morning on the road to Chiswick, where the Duke was giving a breakfast party at his villa – to which Miss Knight pleaded honestly that life at Warwick House was so dull that they had simply gone out to all the fancy carriages drive by.

The Prince even forbade Charlotte to continue sitting for the painter George Sanders at his studio, because while she was there she was exposed to the bad influence of such visitors as Lady Jersey. Both the Duchess of Leeds and Miss Knight insisted defiantly that the pious painter and his studio were beyond reproach. Charlotte was having her portrait painted as a birthday present for her father, and the visitors were only there to see how it was coming on, sometimes at the Prince’s request. But it was to no avail, and since Sanders refused to paint at Warwick House, where the light was as bad as everything else, the birthday present was never finished.

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

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Picture: George Sanders, by Andrew Geddes, (c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation from the page https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/george-sanders-1774-1846/

Zapisz

Zapisz

Mrs Udney

‘Mrs. Udney, on the other hand, was good – looking, ill – tempered and fickle. She was so fond of drink that even Charlotte noticed, and she adored gossip. According to Lord Glenbervie, who heard it from Mrs (by then Lady) Harcourt, she took one of Charlotte’s tutors as a lover. Sadly, however, he was unable to name him. In a letter to his wife, who was one of Lady Jersey’s successors as lady – in – waiting to Charlotte’s mother, he wrote, “She says Mrs Udney had an intrigue with one of the Princess Charlotte’s music or drawing masters – that they used to be lock up together in Mrs Udney’s room, which opened into the Princess’s, and that when any friend or intimate came there, and was going to open the door of communication, the Princess would say: <<You must not to try to go there. Mrs Udney and —— are there, and they always lock themselves in.>>”Although Mrs Udney tried to worm her way into Charlotte’s affection by indulging her, she was never successful. The Princess, who referred to her behind her back as “Mrs Nibs”, was unimpressed by her fondness for drink and her depravity, and she may have had other unrecorded reasons for disliking her as well. But to Lady de Clifford and Dr. Nott, Mrs Udney’s most serious weakness was her fondness for gossip. The drawing rooms of London were buzzing with scandalous stories about Charlotte’s parents, particularly her mother, and there was a real danger that sooner or later Mrs Udney might pass some of them on to her.'[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]’Mrs. Udney was the second sub – governess, and according to that arch – gossip, Lord Glanbervie, she had an intrigue with one of Charlotte’s masters, and they used to lock themselves into Mrs. Udney’s room, which opened out of the Princess’s. Charlotte was well aware of what was going on and would warn people not to interrupt them.

On the surface Mrs. Udney was prepossessing, but Charlotte called her Mrs. Nibbs, and never liked her. In her letters she described her as “cros”, as “a great goose”, as “selfish and bad – tempered”, “snappish and sharp”, and declared in 1811, “Contempt is not sufficient for her, for I now dislike and I am disgusted with her…” She suggests too that her sub – governess was fond of drink. When they were staying at Bognor Charlotte wrote, “I strongly suspect that she has taken some balsam (or comforting cordial) to sooth, I presume,…the voices of the little harpies that continually prey upon her inside & make her so cross. She is now gone out to walk; inhaling the pure air of the sea will, I hope, refresh her blow away some of the clowdes that are flying about her noddle.”‘

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

370px-John_Massey_Wright_-_Mrs._Martha_Udney_-_Google_Art_Project
Picture: Mrs. Martha Udney by John Masey Wright, 1801, Yale Center For British Art

Who Cares For The Heiress Presumptive At All?

‘During the first few years of her life, Charlotte saw more of her father than her mother. But it was only just more. The Prince was often away from Carlton House, and when he was there his time with his daughter was always brief. Although he was said to be good with children, he only played with them and he soon tired of it. He devoted much more of his energy to preventing his wife and parents from influencing his daughter than he did to trying to influence her himself.Eventually, however, when the Prince’s affections were restored from Lady Jersey to Mrs Fitzherbert, he decided that he wanted Carlton House to himself again. So his wife was given apartments in Kensington Palace, and his eight-year-old daughter and all her staff were moved into Warwick House, a crumbling old brick building which stood just to the east of Carlton House.From then on, for the rest of her childhood and throughout her youth, Princess Charlotte Augusta, who was fully expected to succeed her father one day as Queen of England, lived in a household of her own, in the company of no one who was not paid to be there.’

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

george fitz and charlotte

Enough Is Enough

‘In December 1798, the Prince, who cannot be considered totally harsh in his attitude, made one more attempt towards a more friendly relationship. He wrote to his wife, now living at Montague House, Blackheath, inviting her to spend winter at Carlton House. She refused. This exchange is reported by Lord Minto, who was at that time in Caroline’s confidence. He wrote to his wife:

“I told her she was wrong [in declining the invitation], and begged her to reflect seriously on any step she might take if similar overtures were renewed, but she said she was a very determined person when once she formed an opinion…that she knew I should think her a very wicked woman, but that I did not know and could not imagine all the circumstances: I might otherwise agree with her…” This was a typical Caroline scene: she loved to make a mystery of her grievances, telling just enough to whet the appetite of her listener, and indicating untold horrors in what she left unsaid. But Lord Minto was right: she should not have refused the Prince’s odder. It was her last chance.

She must have known that Lady Jersey, the original femme fatale, was no longer of any significance: the Prince was tired of her, and was trying to disentangle himself. He was also, with the help of intermediaries, planning to return to his kind, beloved, comforting Maria Fitzherbert. “Fat, fair, forty”, Caroline had called her in her tactless way when she spoke of her to the Prince; but she felt no ill will towards her, and is said to have remarked later that she, Caroline, had committed adultery ut once, with the husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert.

In 1798, although there was no legal separation, the Prince and the Princess lived separate lives. Caroline moved to Blackheath, where she rented from the Duchess of Buccleuch a comparatively small villa, Montague House.’

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

george fitz and caroline

Exchange of Letters

‘Caroline was not one to suffer silently, or to accept her situation without a struggle. Two months after Princess Charlotte’s christening she wrote the first of what proved to be a series of letters to the Prince, complaining of Lady Jersey’s presence and demanding her removal. This correspondence shows that both parties had a strong sense of theatre, and both were inclined to overact (…) On April 30, the Prince, in a calm and judicial frame of mind, wrote the letter which is often quoted as sounding the death knell of the marriage. “Our inclinations are not in our power, nor should either of us be held answerable to the other because nature has not made us suitable to each other…Tranquil and comfortable society is, however, in our power; let our intercourse, therefore, be restricted to that…” After receiving this, Caroline composed a letter to the King, enclosing the correspondence with her husband, as far it had gone (it continued all through May) and imploring his protection for herself and her child. The Prince also wrote to his father. In this letter he suggests that the Princess has been deliberately slandering him, publishing abroad all sorts of wild stories of his brutality of manner and behaviour towards her. He puts the full blame for the estrangement upon his wife (…) The quarrel now moved from a domestic to a national level. The King, determined to save the marriage, deliberated before replying. He had read in the papers that the Princess of Wales had received a rapturous reception at the Opera. He believed that his son had written in the heat of the moment, after hearing of the Princess’s triumph: he urged him to review the situation in a calmer state of mind (…) The Prince turned in desperation to his mother, imploring her to take his part. The Princess, he said, had stirred up a conspiracy against him (…) Letters between the Prince and his parents, interspersed with letters from Caroline to the King, continued all through June, the Prince convincing himself that Caroline was trying, by political intrigue, to overthrow the monarchy. He became obsessed by this idea, and thoughts of the French Revolution – always in the back of his mind – urged him to warn the King of what might happen (…) But little progress was made in any direction, except that at the end of the month Lady Jersey agreed at last to retire from the Princess’s service. In a letter charged with venomous disrespect, she sent her resignation.’

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

Caroline and George

Bad Fairy At The Christening

‘On Thursday, February 11 the baby was christened in the great drawing-room of St. James Palace. Lady Dashwood, who was hard up, was given a dress for the occasion, made of satin covered in lace. The baby was also covered in lace, and her cradle, cushion and lace-trimmed sheet were given by the Queen. “I regret”, she wrote to her son, “that my finances will not allow me to offer more.”

Charlotte Augusta were the names bestowed upon the child, after her two grandmothers, who were also her godmothers. Her dotting grand-papa, King George, stood godfather, and it must have seemed, as she lay in her lace-trimmed cradle, surrounded by beaming royal countenances, that an auspicious future lay ahead of this fortunate infant.

But one bad fairy was there in the background, although it was Charlotte’s mother rather than Charlotte who was affected by her presence. As far as Caroline was concerned, Lady Jersey was always there, smiling, cool, perfectly dressed, entirely sure of herself (…) basking in the Prince’s favour, Lady Jersey made it her business to humiliate his wife whenever she could. It cannot have been difficult: Caroline was gauche, unversed in etiquette, stumbling in her English and apt when nervous to blurt out tactless comments and opinions, or to make coarse jokes, all of which were noted by Lady Jersey and relayed to the Prince.’

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

st james palace

Picture: St. James Palace, London, UK

Bitter Honeymoon

‘Thereafter the relationship continued as it had begun. For all that the Princess was amiable and eager to please, there was no denying that she was slovenly and she smelt. The Prince displayed his displeasure at every opportunity, and the hurt Princess hit back each time by exaggerating whatever she had done to displease him.Within three weeks of their wedding they were no longer living together as man and wife. At night the Princess retired to her own small apartments on the ground floor of Carlton House, and the Prince went to his much more splendid apartments above them.

Then came the development that really did fix the Prince’s dislike for ever. He had married for money, and now he learned that, far from increasing his disposable income, his marriage had actually diminished it.

Pitt went further than he had promised. He persuaded Parliament to raise the allowances from the privy purse to as much as £125,000 a year. But the House of Commons also ruled that for the next nine years £65,000 of this, together with all the income from the Duchy of Cornwall, was to be set aside to pay off the Prince’s debts. In real terms therefore his annual income had been reduced from £73,000 to £60,000; on top of that he now had the added expense of paying his wife’ establishment.

The Prince’s distaste was embittered by resentment. He ignored his wife as much as he could by day as well as by night. On the pretext that he could no longer pay for them, he removed most of the chairs from her private dining room and took back the pearl bracelets that he had given her on their wedding day – although he then gave them to Lady Jersey, who wore them publicly in her presence.

His displays of displeasure became increasingly cruel, and the Princess no longer felt strong enough to meet them all with defiance. Sometimes they reduced her to tears. As one witness, Lady Sheffield, wrote, she lost her “lively spirits”, and in their place her mood became one of “melancholy and anxiety”.’

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

William Pitt the Younger

Portrait: William Pitt, 1759-1806 Mezzotint, 1799 Library of Congress