Tag Archives: kew

Moving To Warwick House

‘The Prince had by now agreed that Princess Charlotte should live at Lower Lodge, Windsor, and be brought up under her grandfather’s direction; but following another vain attempt at reconciliation with his father, he decided after all to keep her in London. A lengthy correspondence throughout 1805 failed to decide upon a permanent plan for the child’s upbringing. This correspondence, which the King insisted must be conducted through Lord Eldon, the Chancellor, was extremely longwinded and there seemed little likehood of the charming scene visualised by Lord Moira – “the Prince holding one hand [of Princess Charlotte] while the King held the other” – coming true. The only conclusion reached by the end of 1805 was that while the Prince was in London his daughter should live at Warwick House, which adjoined Carlton House, and that she should spend the rest of the year at Windsor, where the King insisted that her mother should be allowed to visit her.The King’s growing attachment to Princess Caroline was now being remarked upon. “Whenever he is in town on a Thursday, instead of dining at the Queen’s House or going back to there, he constantly dines with the Princess at Blackheath and returns late in the evening across the country to Kew.” In fact the whole arrangement was unsatisfactory to the Prince, who was outraged when he learned that the £ 5,000 a year allotted to him for Princess Charlotte’s education was now to be deducted if the King took over.As the Prince had enjoyed making lists of Rules for the Nursery, so the King now settled down to make lists of persons whom he considered suitable instructors for his granddaughter. “She must,” he said, “both day and night be constantly under the eyes of responsible persons,’ and one as a vision of the lively child hemmed in by large shadowy figures.’

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

 king george charlotte and the prince of wales

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The King Falls Into Madness Again

It became a cloak and dagger situation. The Prince consulted Charles James Fox, who wrote a few days later of “the desperate attempt that is making to take the Princess from your Royal Highness”, and advised the Prince to remove his daughter immediately from Woolwich to Carlton House. “Where she is now,” he continues, “she cannot be safe. For God’s sake, Sir, let no one persuade you that this is not a matter of the highest importance to you.”

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Elton*, intervened. He advised the Prince to wait till the King returned from Weymouth before taking further action. He warned him of the effect that any drastic measure might have upon the King’s mind. Now, three years after his last illness, the King was giving unmistakable signs that his mind was unbalanced. Although able to dictate letters and deal with state affairs, in his private life he behaved oddly, buying houses and giving extravagant presents. His family watched him with growing alarm. They viewed his increasing kindness to the Princess of Wales with dismay. He conferred upon her the Rangership of Greenwich, and offered to give her Greenwich Park, which she refused. The Prince’s secretary and spy, Colonel McMahon, reported that he received her at Kew because at Windsor “he knew that the Queen and Princesses would be rude to her”. He treated his daughter – in – law with the greatest kindness and affection, but, sadly, his attitude to the Queen worsened, as illness warped his mind. He reverted to the idea which had possessed him in 1788, that his true Queen was the Countess of Pembroke – ‘Queen Esther’. He would like to live with her, he said, in the Great Lodge in Windsor Park; but if she declined his offer, he would transfer it to the Duchess of Rutland. With one or other of these ladies he would “live snug at the Lodge’ while the Queen went to London to hold weekly Drawing Rooms.

It was hoped that sea bathing at Weymouth would restore the King, and although he had to be restrained from riding his horse into church, he seems to have presented his usual benign and friendly countenance to the world, and The Times correspondent, comparing the respectability of Weymouth with the vulgarity of Brighton, reported that ‘the piety, the morality, the decorum of a virtuous Court shed their influence around…”

But on their return from Weymouth, the King and the Queen, at her instigation, began to live apart: she was frightened of him. Whether at Windsor or at Buckingham Palace, she made sure that there would be no question of their sleeping together, and locked the door against her husband. Her temper suffered under the strain: she bullied her daughters and snapped at the King. She sided with the Prince in royal rows.

The King’s position cannot have been happy. He was beginning to go blind, and could not recognize people across a room; yet, to outsiders at least, he appeared in excellent health.

“Our good King,” wrote Lord Henley, who often saw him at Windsor, “continues mind and body, the sight excepted, better than I have seen him for years…This morning I met him in the Park at ten o’clock and rode with him until a quarter past one. He was cheerful, and we had more than one of his hearty laughs, which I have not heard before for some time.”

This was, indeed, the general impression. At the King’s request “that horrible doctor* had been dismissed, and he believed himself, at sixty – six, fit and well.

*Dr. Samuel Foart Simmons, Physician to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics.He was called in in 1804 when the King refused to see Dr. Willis; brought his assistants and put the King in a strait – jacket. He was with difficulty persuaded to go, at the insistence of the Prince of Wales.

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

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 * Correct spelling: ‘Eldon’. More about him here.

An Unexpected Invitation To The Windsor Castle

‘”The formation of character” in Hannah More’s opinion, “is the grand object to be accomplished,” and here Lady Elgin would have agreed: the character of her “dear precious charge” was her constant preoccupation. Charlotte was emotional, affectionate, but strong – willed; moreover, she was highly strung and we hear of her being “nervous from the weather”. As Lady Elgin knew, she was also affected by the circumstances of her life; in particular, the highly charged atmosphere in which the Princess of Wales lived. In August 1804, Lady Elgin wrote from Shrewsbury Lodge, where she and Charlotte were staying for the summer, describing an unexpected visit from the Princess of Wales.

“On Sunday [August 19] her Royal Highness arrived in great spirits here calling from her carriage that she had great news to tell us, & desired us to guess what would give us the greatest pleasure. Princess Charlotte immediately exclaimed, <<Going to Windsor.>> <<Not just that,>> reply’d her Royal Highness, <<but you are going to Kew, to see their Majesties, &the King has wrote me to desire I would tell you to come in order to take leave of you and me>> (addressing Princess Charlotte) <<before he goes to Weymouth.>>”

“The Princess”, said Lady Elgin, “continued in high spirits and staid to luncheon.” But the Dowager grew more and more uneasy. It was very odd, this verbal message from the King, no word from the Queen, or from one of the princesses. She had never taken Charlotte to see her grandparents without a written invitation; and she began to fear that for some reason the Queen was angry with her.

The Princess offered to take them in her carriage, but Lady Elgin insisted that they should go separately, as Charlotte had better be kept quiet: she was already “agitated from her joy”. When they arrived, “the dear good King” received them with the greatest kindness, and took them into the dining – room. “I was quite stupefied,” wrote the poor worried lady, “when his Majesty said he was alone, and that he came merely to see the Princess of Wales and the dear little girl before he went to Weymouth.” The Princess of Wales the arrived, and the King took her into another room, leaving Lady Elgin trembling with agitation at the appalling breach of etiquette – to visit the King without the Queen’s command, or even knowledge. “I really never was in such a state,” she said; but she revived a little when the party sat down to dinner. The King ate heartily of pudding and dumpling, and insisted upon making the coffee himself.

As Lady Elgin was aware, the King had been seriously ill in 1801, another bout of the strange and frightening malady that affected his mind. This time the illness had been short – lived, but although his bodily health was good, he continued to become quickly excited or depressed, or to indulge in freakish impulses.

She felt now that there was something strange and unnatural in this summons. “I have got you, all to myself,” he said to Charlotte, embracing her fervently and, turning ti Lady Elgin, he added, “The Prince has given up the child to me, but it is not settled.” So nervous was she of the possible consequences of this unauthorized visit that she immediately wrote a full account of it to the Prince. He had been trying to negotiate a reconciliation with his father; but now he forgot everything in the drama of the moment. The King was planning to capture Princess Charlotte and return her to her mother, he believed. The Princess of Wales was trying to insinuate herself into the King’s favour, and must at all costs be thwarted. He told Lady Elgin to keep a close guard on Princess Charlotte; not to part with her “on any account or under any pretence whatsoever”.


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

charlotte caroline lady elgin and the king