Tag Archives: gilbert elliot earl of minto

Charlotte Misses Her Father A Lot

‘”She is received at Court,” Lord Minto’s son, Gilbert Elliot, told his father, “and they have been able to keep her quiet without insisting upon anything impossible or unreasonable, so that I hope that subject is at rest for ever…”

But he was wrong. While Caroline lived, the subject of her behaviour was never for long at rest. The King, suffering from rapidly increasing blindness, groped uncertainly towards his wayward daughter-in-law, hoping for signs of affectionate remorse. But affection and remorse were two emotions never experienced by Princess Caroline. Her attitude to her daughter Charlotte was always lacking in warmth of feeling, but Charlotte was by nature affectionate, and sensitive to affection. During the long-drawn out Delicate Investigation, she was cut off from all intercourse with her mother and it is significant that in November 19806, while it was dragging to its conclusion, she turned to her father for comfort.

“Forgive me, my dearest papa, for writing to you when you have so much business, but I saw you so unwell last night that I could not help writing to enquire how you are. Believe me, my dearest papa, that my whole aim is to gain your regard and affection; if I should lose that, I shall be destitute of everything in this world most dear to me; but I trust that that will never happen. Oh how I wish I could see more of you! but I hope I shall in time. I am sensible how irksome it must be to you to see me, feeling I can be no companion to you to amuse you when in health and spirits, & am too young to soothe you when in affliction. Believe me I am always truly happy when I do see you, & that whether absent ot present I am, my dearest papa, your ever affectionate & dutiful daughter.”

The wording of this letter may owe something to Lady de Clifford; but the sentiments expressed give a sad picture of a lonely child, written perhaps after one of those meetings with her father, which later were [not] so frequent, when his mind was on other things and Charlotte was ignored.’

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

george and charlotte

Lady Elgin Doesn’t Like Princess of Wales And Charlotte Loves Performing

‘Charlotte, aged two, paid regular visits to her mother in Blackheath, but spent most of her time at Carlton House, where she occasionally saw her father. In March, she went to stay at Windsor, and the King gave her “a very large rocking horse”. She was overjoyed, and her aunts wished that the Prince had been there “to see her dear little countenance”. Lady Elgin, whom Charlotte called Eggy, was firm, kind and good, and tried to teach the child to love both her parents equally. This cannot have been easy, Lady Elgin did not approve of the Princess of Wales or her effect on Charlotte, and was tempted to cut short their visits to her. Lord Minto, who was often at Blackheath, wrote, “The child comes only when Lady Elgin chooses; she was there yesterday, and was led about by Lady Elgin in a leading – string; though she seems stout and able to trot without help.” He saw her again and told his wife that she was ‘one of the finest and pleasantest children I even saw…remarkably good and governable”. He may have changed his mind after his next visit. On this occasion, the Princess of Wales, giving a spirited performance of a fond mother, “romped about on the carpet” with her little girl, after which the ladies played on the pianoforte and the excited little girl danced, “which she likes as well as possible.” Charlotte, who was not yet three, then sang “God save the King”, followed by “Hearts of Oak”, and after this it is not surprising to learn that there was a scene: Charlotte screamed and stamped, and everybody scolded her. Miss Garth (who had returned on the departure of Miss Hayman) then said rather feebly, “You have been so very naughty I don’t know what we must do to you.””You must s’oot me,” said Charlotte, who had watched soldiers drilling at Weymouth.”‘
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

charlotte caroline and lady elgin

Miss Hayman Leaves

‘When Charlotte was one and a half she went to Weymouth with the King and the Queen and their daughters. Princess Elizabeth wrote to the Prince of Wales:”I must tell you an anecdote of Charlotte which has amused me much. When she goes to bed she always says, <<Bless papa, mamma, Charlotte and friends,>> but having been crueley [sic] bit by fleas the forgoing night, instead of ‘friends’ she introduced ‘fleas’ into her prayer. Lady Elgin being told of it said we must make her say ‘friends’; Miss Hayman with much humour answered, <<Why, Madam, you know we pray for our enemies & surely the fleas are [the] only ones H.R.H. has, so she is perfectly right.”It seems a pity that cheerful, jolly Miss Hayman did not remain with Charlotte; but she queered her own pitch by becoming too friendly with the Princess of Wales. The Princess took a fancy to her, and asked if Miss Hayman might be allowed to look after her accounts in her spare time. This produced an explosion from the Prince.

“The Sub-Governess is a person whose constant attendance must be such as will entirely preclude every other occupation…And as the welfare of my child, from the affection I bear to her, & not for the sake of worldly applause” (a hit at the Princess’s exhibitionism) “will ever be the constant object of my most vigilant care, I never shall relax in the smallest degree from that attention to her which I feel to be the true duty of a parent.”

Miss Hayman had no choice but to resign. Lord Minto, who was friendly with the Princess of Wales, wrote to his wife: “Miss Hayman has just been dismissed by the Prince because, being uncommonly agreeable and sensible, the Princess liked her company.”

So it was: you could not be a friend of the Princess and work for the Prince. Miss Hayman became Caroline’s Privy Purse, and shared her banishment from Court. But Princess Charlotte continued to enjoy her friendship.’

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

Princess_Elizabeth_(1770-1840)

Portrait: Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom (1770 – 1840) by Willam Beechay, Royal Collection

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