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Lady de Clifford

Charlotte’s governess, Lady Elgin, has been asked to resign just before the move. Her only known offence had been to take Charlotte to visit her grandfather, the interfering old King. But she had done so without first obtaining permission from her father, and that had been more than enough to infuriate him (…)

In place of Lady Elgin, Charlotte’s father appointed the Dowager Lady de Clifford, a dignified but barely graceful Irish woman, who was well past fifty years old. She had lived for some time at the Palace of Versailles before the French Revolution; and the Prince, who, despite his many faults, was justifiably renowned for his deportment, hoped in vain that she might be able to imbue his daughter with some of the qualities of that most elegant of courts.

Charlotte was a temperamental tomboy, and Lady de Clifford was too good natured to discipline her effectively. Every time she tried to be strict, the Princess was more than a match for her. Charlotte might not have wanted to behave like a princess, but she was all too well aware that she was one, and she used the fact whenever it suited her.

On one occasion, when she burst merrily into a room, Lady de Clifford attempted to scold. “My dear Princess”, she said, “that is not civil; you should always shut the door after you when you come into a room”.

“Not I indeed”, said Charlotte. “If you want the door shut, ring the bell.”

Neither took their battles at heart, however. The antagonists were soon fond of each other, and Lady de Clifford did everything she could to make Charlotte’s life less lonely.

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

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Picture: Sophia, mrs Edward Southwell, later Lady de Clifford (1743-1828) by Joshua Reynolds, 1766, Sotheby’s

Charlotte’s Family: Frederick Duke of York

CHARLOTTE’S PATERNAL UNCLE

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Frederick Augustus (16 August 1763 – 5 January 1827), second son of George III of the United Kingdom and Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Stirlitz, the Duke of York and Albany (1784 – 1827), Commander-in-Chief of the British army during The Napoleonic Wars who reorganised and modernised the army significantly, an heir presumptive to the throne of the United Kingdom and Hanover after his niece’s sudden death, Charlotte’s paternal uncle.

Picture: Portrait of Frederick, Duke of York in Garter Robes by Joshua Reynolds, 1788 (Royal Collection)

Royal Nursery: Lady Dashwood

‘The nursery establishement was headed by Lady Dashwood, who had been Lady of the Bedchamber to the King’s daughters. She was a charming, gentle character; “I never saw anybody,’ wrote Princess Elizabeth to the Prince, “more truly anxious to fulfill conscientiously the situation in which you have been so very very good as to place her.” She was probably too conscientious, for after six months she became ill, worn out by the difficulties of a job, which, as well as keeping a careful watch over the health of the baby princess, involved diplomacy, tact and strict attention to Court etiquette. She had to remember, for instance, that the nurse, important as she was for the provision of nourishment, might never, owing to her lowly station, be in the same room with the King and Queen; and also to bear in mind that Buckingham House could be icy cold, even in July. “I beg her Royal Highness may be covered up entirely,’ she wrote to her assistant, “as the wind on the staircase…is very great.’

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

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Picture: Mary, Lady Dashwood and her son Henry by Joshua Reynolds

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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