Tag Archives: st.james palace

Happy Marriage Anniversary to Charlotte and Leopold!

On this day in 1816 Charlotte and Leopold got married. Let me quote James Chambers’ biography describing the event

The ceremony was short and dignified – except for Charlotte’s slight giggle when Leopold promised to endow her with all his wordly goods. When it was over, Charlotte and Leopold stayed only long enough for the guests to drink their health. Then they left to change. Church bells pealed. Bonfires were lit. Field guns cracked their salute in St James’s Park, and far down river the cannons at the Tower of London boomed.

Picture: 1818 engraving of the 1816 marriage between Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld by Robert Hicks, published by Nuttall, Fisher & Dixon, after William Marshall Craig, National Portrait Gallery

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The Allies Arrive In London

Dutch William seems at this point to have been in love with Charlotte: her attitude to him was friendly, but guarded. Her attitude to the marriage fluctuated. On June 4 she told her mother that ‘everything was fixed for her marriage; that she did not love the Prince of Orange, but that she must be married’. Yet at a previous meeting between mother and daughter only a couple of weeks before, Charlotte had declared that nothing would induce her to marry ‘young Frog’. ‘I think him so ugly that I am sometimes obliged to turn my head away in disgust when he is speaking to me.’

Much as she longed to be married and free from restraint, she insisted that she had not made up her mind. It was true she had bought herself jewels with some of the money sent from Holland for that purpose; it was true she had formally given her consent to the offer of marriage brought by the Dutch envoy; but she did not consider herself committed by what she called these ‘preliminary matters’, which were, she said airily, ‘of very small importance’. She was aware that a number of interesting and personable young princes would be coming to London in the wake of the Allied Sovereigns; and she considered that she should be allowed to have a look round, so to speak, before committing herself.

Fortunately for Charlotte, with the arrival, early in June, of the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia and Prince Metternich representing the Emperor of Austria, every domestic problem, including her marriage, was swept aside in the whirlwind of excitement and triumph which took possession of the country. The victory over Napoleon – falsely believed to be total – was an event to be celebrated by all. Doves of peace and patriotic sentiments adorned public buildings, flags and streamers by day and flares and transparencies by night informed the world that the long war was won. Pulteney’s Hotel sported a banner which announced piously ‘Thanks be to God’, while across the front of Devonshire House the young Duke spelled out the one eloquent word, ‘Peace’.

(…)

It had been planned that the Regent should meet and welcome the Emperor of Russia at Shooter’s Hill, Woolwich, and conduct him to St. James’s Palace after a triumphal drive through the City. But the Tsar upset all these plans. He did not want to stay at St.James’s Palace; he preferred to join his sister at Pulteney’s Hotel, and after his meeting with the Prince Regent he jumped into Count Lieven’s carriage and drove through the waiting crowds without being recognized. The Regent went back to Carlton House, and sent a message to Pulteney’s Hotel, saying he would visit the Emperor there. But as in all his encounters with the Russians, the Regent’s welcome to his victorious Ally was a disaster. The Emperor Alexander and his sister waited for two hours, when another message arrived from the Prince. ‘His Royal Highness has been threatened with annoyance in the street if he shows himself; it is therefore impossible for him to come and see the Emperor.’

It was a lamentable situation. The Russian Emperor drove in Count Lieven’s carriage to Carlton House, where he held a short conversation with his cross, flustered host. It was to be their only private interview. The Tsar, already prejudiced by his sister’s account of the Regent, now found his Ally quite insufferable. ‘A poor prince,’ he commented to Lieven as they drove away.

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

Picture: Tsar Alexander I by George Dawe, 1824, Peterhof

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

Marriage Doomed Before It Even Began

‘Lord Malmesbury’s long and difficult mission was nearly accomplished. Now all that remained for him was to escort the Princess into St. James’s Palace and introduce her to her bridegroom. No one but Malmesbury was present at this historic meeting, and it is through his eyes that we see the dumpy, cocksure girl, into whom he had tried to instil a proper humility and grace of manner, attempting, as she had been taught, to kneel to the Prince. ‘He raised her (gracefully enough), and embraced her, said barely one word, turned round, retired to a distant part of the apartment, and calling me to him, said, “Harris, I am not well; pray get me a glass of brandy.” I said, “Sir, had you not better have a glass of water?” Upon which, he, out of humour, said, with an oath, “No. I will go directly to the Queen;” and away he went.”All Malmesbury’s diplomatic training could not give him words with which to fill that appalling silence. He must at that moment have seen the disaster which lay ahead. Fortunately, the Princess, less sensitive, wished to vent her feelings. “My God,” she cried, “is the Prince always like that?” and added, “I find him very fat, and nothing like as handsome as his portrait.’

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

Lady Jersey Gives The Princess A Hard Time

‘After an hour’s wait, the Princess was met at Greenwich by a small deputation which included Lady Jersey, who had been responsible for the delay by not being ready. Upon arrival at Greenwich she criticized the Princess’ dress, and tried, not very kindly, to make improvements. The Princess, who knew more than Malmesbury thought she knew about Lady Jersey, was not pleased. The party then prepared to set out for St. James’s. There was an altercation, as Lady Jersey announced that she could not sit opposite the Princess, since travelling with her back to the horses made her feel ill. Malmesbury, who by this time had had his fill of Lady Jersey, said that in this case she had better sit with him in the second carriage, and an equerry, Mr. Ashton, should travel with the Princess. “This, of course, settled the business,” said Malmesbury. Lady Jersey sat with her back to the horses, as arranged by the King.’[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

caroline and lady jersey