Tag Archives: george keppel 6th earl of albemarle

Charlotte Meets Her Maternal Uncle

The year 1809 had deprived thirteen-year-old Charlotte of her second ‘adopted parent’. But it also brought her two new friends. The first was a real relation, her uncle William, the new Duke of Brunswick. The bluff but dignified and patient Duke was relieved to have reached London safely, and he never seemed to tire of listening to Charlotte’s lisping chatter.

After the duchy had been overrun, he had assembled seven hundred exiled hussars and dressed them in black uniforms in permanent mourning for his father. With this resolute little corps, he had reconquered the duchy. But the French had returned in strength and driven him out again. Dodging the French whenever he could and fighting them when he had no choice, he had led his men westward to the coast, where a squadron of British warships was waiting to carry them to England. In the years to come the romantic Black Brunswickers were to be among Britain’s most formidable allies in the war against Napoleon.

Like many military men in Europe, and like very few in clean-shaven England, the Duke had a huge moustache. Charlotte adored it. After their first meeting in Blackheath, according to George Keppel, she went back to Warwick House, painted a black moustache on her face and marched up and down in a military manner barking guttural expletives, which she hoped very much sounded like German swear words.

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


Picture: Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by Johann Christian August Schwartz, 1809, Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin


Prince Regent Has An Ambiguous Attitude To His Daughter

Princess Charlotte, in exile at Windsor – ‘Heavens how dul,’ she wrote – had been deeply hurt by her exclusion from the Prince’s party. Her only entertainment had been through the Queen’s kindness’ to be present at the Eton Montem. ‘Not having ever seen the sight before I was much interested in it,’ she said; but her pleasure was marred by the Prince’s inexplicable coldness to her. He ‘hardly spoke to me AT ALL,’ she said, ‘& when he did his manner was so cold that it was very distressing.’

It is difficult to follow the fluctuations of the Regent’s attitude to his daughter. It is possible sometimes to guess the cause of his coldness: that she is irritating to him, through her enthusiasms, her friendships, or her loyalty to her mother. But no doubt there were more subtle causes: at times she may have reminded him of himself (‘in everything she is his very image,’ said Lady Charlotte Bury) – not always a pleasant reminder. On the other hand, some look or mannerism may have recalled to him the Princess Caroline, which was an affront. She was nervous in his presence, and consequently at a disadvantage: her stammer, inherited from himself and at its worst in his company, was maddening to him. She was clever enough to be aware of these things, and tried desperately to counteract them; but all this trying did not make for an easy relationship. Nor did the Prince’s temperament. He could change direction like a weathercock, so that we hear, one day, of his being ‘remarkably kind and attentive’ to his daughter, or even ‘VERY KIND INDEED’, only to be told soon after that ‘he never spoke to me & and when we came to supper he went to bed’.

There was another reason for the Prince’s uncertainty of manner. He preferred, as we have seen, to treat his daughter as a child, and he must have been disconcerted to find that at fifteen Charlotte was, in mind and body, a woman. Those slightly prominent Hanoverian blue eyes, that ‘full but finely shaped bosom’ and ‘voluptuous’ figure, the Regent must have observed with disquiet. Charlotte would have to be kept on a tight rein. The swashbuckling tomboy of George Keppel’s acquaintance was changing rapidly, and although she still strode about showing her ankles and her drawers, she did so now because she knew that she had pretty legs. Like Jane Austen’s Catherine Morland, and at the same age, she ‘curled her hair and longed for balls’ because she wanted to meet young men and be admired.

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

george and charlotte1

The Drawers Are Showing

‘By this time, though they [Charlotte and George Keppel] were good friends, it will be seen that Lady de Clifford had very little control over Charlotte. Lady Glenbervie was shocked by the young Princess’s manners when dining at Kensington Palace. In the drawing-room, Charlotte sat with her legs stretched out in front of her-a boy’s attitude. “My dear Princess Charlotte, you show your drawers!” cried Lady de Clifford (long drawers, in 1812, were a new fashion). Charlotte, without moving, explained that she never showed them except when at her ease. “Yes, my dear, but when you get in or out of a carriage…” “I don’t care if I do.” “Your drawers,” insisted the Dowager, “are too long.” “I don’t think so. The Duchess of Bedford’s are much longer, and they are bordered with Brussels lace.”

Lady de Clifford had to admit defeat.

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

charlotte and lady de clifford

Friendship With George Keppel (4)

‘It is difficult to relate the wise maturity of this letter to the harum-scarum behaviour of Charlotte when she was freed from the restrains of Warwick House – “like a bird escaped from a cage”, as George Keppel puts it.

His parents, Lord and Lady Albemarle, had a house in the rural suburb of Earl’s Court, with a garden of about two acres. On Sundays, Charlotte sometimes spent the day there, generally driving in Lady de Clifford’s carriage; but once she went in her own. The scarlet liveries attracted the crowd, who surged round the entrance gates, hoping for the sight of the Princess.

“I told her,” said George Keppel, “how desirous the people were to have a sight of her. <<They shall have that pleasure,>> was the reply.” Charlotte ran quickly out of the garden gate into the road, and made her way to the back of the crowd, pushing and peering, and seeming more anxious than anyone to get a sight of the Princess.

Eventually, tired of this joke, she left the crowd and made her way to the stables, where she saddled Lord Albemarle’s hack, seized a groom’s heavy riding whip, and followed by George, led the horse through an underground passage to the garden. “She now,” said George, “told me to mount. I nothing loth obeyed.”

But before the unlucky boy could grab the reins or get his feet into the stirrups, “she gave the horse a tremendous cut with the whip on the hindquarters. Off set the animal at full gallop, I on his back, or rather his neck, holding on by the mane and roaring lustily”.

At full tilt, horse and rider galloped through the gardens, George clinging on for dear life, till they stumbled on to a flower bed in front of the drawing – room windows, and in this conspicuous place the horse kicked up his heels, tossing poor George, roaring louder than ever, over his head. The family came running, and George, picking himself up with difficulty, saw Charlotte, hot and breathless, emerging from the bushes. She had meant, she said, to stop the horse before it and its rider came into view. As it was, she was obliged to stand up to “a tremendous scolding” from Lady de Clifford, which, according to George, she “took coolly enough”.’

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


Friendship With George Keppel (3)

But although she sometimes pummelled him, she became a good friend. She made him sandwiches , to supplement his school meals; she gave him handsome presents: a watch, and a pony; and she lent him small sums of money when he was broke, improving the occasion with good advice.

‘My dear Keppel,

‘You know me well enough to suppose that I will never refuse you a thing when there is no harm in it. But though I send you the money I must still give you a little reprimand. You will, I hope, dear boy, love me as well Tho’ I do sometimes find fault with you. You will, if you go on asking for money and spending it in so quick a manner, get such a habit of that when you grow up you will be a very extravagant man, and get into debt.

‘Your grandmamma de Clifford allows me £10 a month. But though I spend it I take care never to go further than my sum will allow. Now, dear George, if you do the same, you will never want for money.

‘If you call at Warwick House, my porter, Mr. Moore, will give you half a guinea…

‘I remain, dear George,
‘Your very sincere and affectionate

(quotation marks are presented in the same manner as they appear in the book)

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

George Keppel 6thEarlOfAlbemarle

Picture: George Keppel 6th Earl of Albemarle

Friendship With George Keppel (2)

‘At twelve years old, Charlotte was in danger of becoming something of an oddity. She had, when she chose, a dazzling charm, but she often indulged in wild and hoydenish behaviour. The clearest picture of her at this time comes from a contemporary, George Keppel, who was Lady de Clifford’s grandson, and a Westminster schoolboy. “Her complexion was rather pale,” he says, and this is borne out in a later description by Lady Charlotte Bury. “Her skin,” she says, “is white, but not a transparent white; there is little or no shade in her face.” “She had blue eyes,” Keppel tells us, “and that peculiarly blonde hair which was characteristic rather of her German than of her English descent.” With her blue eyes and curly golden hair, and her pale, opaque skin her appearance must have been charming, like a fairy-tale heroine. But did not see herself in that role. “She was an excellent actress,” said George Keppel; “one of her fancies was to ape the manner of a man.” She did an excellent imitation of the Bishop – his mannerisms and gestures. Evidently she liked to think of herself as a tough masculine character, and in certain moods, to pretend that she was one. “She would double her fists,” said Keppel, “and assume an attitude of defence that would have done credit to a professed pugilist.” But defence soon turned into attack, and the unfortunate George, unable as a gentleman to hit back, was obliged to receive a series of hard punches from the boxing Princess.
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter

‘[Lady de Clifford] was not in overall command of Princess Charlotte’s education. That was a responsability for a man, a preceptor; at the instigation of the King, the office had been given to the Rt Rev. Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter. Fisher was a favourite at Windsor Castle. He had been tutor to the Duke of Kent, Chaplain to the King, Clerk of the Closet and Canon of Windsor. He was sincerely pious and a connoisseur of painting and drawing. But he was pompous, humourless, dogmatic, wilful and absurdly old – fashioned. In the manner of a generation that had mostly died out towards the end of the eighteenth century, he still wore a wig and spoke affectedly. When referring to himself, which he did often, he pronounced the word bishop “bishup”, emphasising the last syllable. Within weeks of meeting him, nine – year – old Charlotte had nicknamed him “the Great UP”.

Lady de Clifford and the Prince of Wales were convinced that the King had appointed the Bishop to act as a spy and report back on everything that was happening at Warwick House. Delegating the duties of his distant diocese to his archdeacon, he called there regularly, sometimes as often as twice a week, and when he did he was almost always critical.

He argued constantly with Lady de Clifford about what Charlotte should be learning and how it should be taught to her. Their debates were heated, acrimonious and noisy, even in the presence of the Princess. But when that happened, Charlotte used to mock the Bishop behind his back, burdening Lady de Clifford with the added strain of trying to keep a straight face.

According to George Keppel, Charlotte had inherited her father’s talents for acting and mimicry. While the Bishop pontificated, she stood behind him jutting out her lower lip, waving her arms and generally ridiculing his expressions and mannerisms in an exaggerated mime.’

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


Picture: Portrait of John Fisher by William Daniell, 1793

Friendship With George Keppel (1)

‘At Carlton House, Charlotte’s only playmate had been Annie Barnard, the orphaned niece of her father’s coachman. Annie lived with her uncle and his wife above the stables and played with the Princess every day. She even dined with her, and for a few months they did their lessons together. But the move to Warwick House, beyond the safety of the stable-yard gates, was enough to separate them.As a replacement for Annie, Lady de Clifford introduced the Princess to one of her grandsons, the Hon. George Keppel, who was three years younger than she was. George was a pupil nearby at Westminster School. He was brought round regularly in a coach to play with Charlotte at Warwick House – and to supplement his meagre school diet in the kitchens – and sometimes, appropriately chaperoned, she went round to visit him at the school.Over forty years later, after he had succeeded his brother as Earl of Albemarle, George wrote a memoir which contains many of the most endearing anecdotes about the childhood of the Princess with “blue eyes”, “peculiarly blond hair” and “beautifully shaped” hands and feet. Among all the usual stories about fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears, he described an afternoon when Charlotte, who was visiting his parents’ house in Earl’s Court, crept out through a side gate and joined in at the back of a crowd that had assembled outside the main gate in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Princess.

He also recorded an afternoon when he and Charlotte helped out in the kitchen at Warwick House. As a result of their efforts, Lady de Clifford was served a mutton chop that was so heavily dressed and over – peppered that she summoned the servants in fury. But he did not record whether the incident was an intentional prank or merely the result of childish over – enthusiasm.’

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

George Keppel 6thEarlOfAlbemarle

Picture: George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle (1799-1891) by an unknown author