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Charlotte In The Eyes of Contemporary People

Charlotte, at seventeen, was attractive, but too fat. She had been aware of this disadvantage for some time, and had made jokes about it, describing herself packing up for the sea-side, ‘Figure to yourself my quizzical figure puffing over a trunk this hot weather.’ In winter, it was worse, when the weather was too bad to go out riding. ‘I really am afraid you will be shocked to see me grown so fat,’ she wrote to Mercer in 1811, confessing that it was entirely due to lack of exercise. She hated walking for walking’s sake (so did Queen Victoria as a girl); she had ‘no one to waltz with to play at billiards, or any of the gymnastic games wh. I should much delight in’. Evidently her circulation suffered too. ‘I feel the cold most amazingly,’ she said, ‘& begin to think that a warm pelisse would not be a disagreeable thing.’ In the winter of 1812-13 she had a heavy cold and cough, and lost her ‘apitite’. ‘Sir Henry’s prescriptions do not make me thin,’ she said crossly, ‘and do me no good.’

After her dismal sojourn at Lower Lodge she described herself as being ‘a great deal thinner’, but this did not last. Lady Charlotte Bury, who had been a beauty and was critical, said that her figure was ‘of that full round shape which is now in its prime’, but added that the princess disfigured herself by having her bodices cut so short, which made her look as if she had no waist. Her legs and feet, she admitted, were very pretty; but ‘her Royal Highness knows that they are so, and wears extremely short petticoats’.

This critical lady gave it as her opinion a few months later that ‘her figure is already gone, and will soon be precisely like her mother’s: in short, it is the very picture of her, and not in miniature.

This was unkind, and inaccurate. While the Princess of Wales had a large head, a short neck and a protuberant bosom, her daughter’s head was small and her neck long and graceful: she was broad-shouldered and full-breasted, but the upper part of her body was well-proportioned.

Evidently, from another critical description, she was too broad in the beam. This account, written a year later by Catherine, Grand-Duchess of Oldenberg to her brother the Tsar, gives a very clear portrait of the young princess, whom she calls the most interesting member of the family.

‘A little smaller than myself (the Grand-Duchess was tall) ‘well covered, especially-and too much-about the hips; white, fresh and appetising as possible, with fine arms, pretty feet, large light blue lively eyes, altho’ upon occasion they get the fixed stare of the House of Brunswick. She is blonde, has a handsome nose, a delicious mouth and fine teeth; a few tiny marks of the small pox, but scarcely visible…’

But the Duchess could not get over Charlotte’s manners. ‘So extraordinary that they take one’s breath away. I assure you I’m not exaggerating. She walks up to any man, young or old, especially to the older men, takes them by the hand, and shakes it with all her strength, and she seems to have plenty to spare. When she walks, she bounces, and steps with such vigour that one does not know where to look because her clothes are so tight-fitting and do not come down below the thick of the calf, so that at every motion it seems as tho’ she were going to show her knee. She looks like a boy, or rather a ragamuffin. I really am telling you nothing but the strictest truth. She is ravishing, and it is a crime to have allowed her to acquire such habits.

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

charlotte augusta by joseph lee 1814

Zapisz

Charlotte’s Family: Edward Duke of Kent

CHARLOTTE’S PATERNAL UNCLE

493px-Edward,_Duke_of_Kent_and_Strathearn_by_Sir_William_Beechey

Edward Augustus (2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820), fourth son of George III of the United Kingdom and Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Stirlitz, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1799 – 1827), General and commander-in-chief of British forces in North America and the Governor of Gibraltar, father of Queen Victoria, Charlotte’s paternal uncle.

Picture: Portrait of Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, by Sir William Beechey, 1814 (National Portrait Galllery)

‘Miss Charlotte and Miss Annie’

‘At two years old, Charlotte made a friend nearer her own age. Anne, or Nancy, Barnard was the orphaned niece of Thomas Deacon, the Prince’s coachman at Carlton House, and lived over the stables with her aunt and uncle. She was nearly two years older than Charlotte, and the little girls played together with their dolls and toys. “Sometimes,” said Anne in later life, “the Princess took me round the waist and danced round the garden with me…For three months we learned out lessons together.” Anne would present herself at nine o’clock each morning, and the little girls dined together, and were together all day. Who was the enlightened person who permitted this friendship? Perhaps the Prince, who used to pat Nancy on the head when he visited the stables, decided that she might be a good friend for his daughter: the fact that they learned their lessons together suggests a plan from on high. However this may be, the friendship brought out Charlotte’s best qualities, her warm – heartedness, her generosity and her loyalty. “The Princess,” said Anne, “hadn’t a bit of pride. She used to say we were Miss Charlotte and Miss Annie.”

This is in marked contrast to the attitude of Charlotte’s cousin, Princess Victoria, some twenty years later. A little girl, Lady Jane Ellison, was brought to play with her. “I may call you Jane,” said the future Queen Victoria, hastily removing all her toys, “but you must not call me Victoria.”

When Charlotte left Carlton House she gave “Miss Annie” a keepsake – a small wax doll with bright blue eyes, known to the little girls as “the great doll’s baby”. This plaything, with its well-worn waxen face, is now in the archives of the London Museum. It is about twelve inches long, dressed in a white muslin gown, with a straw bonnet trimmed with pale blue satin; and with it is Anne Barnard’s account of her friendship with the Princess, which endured to the end of Charlotte’s life.’

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

wax

Picture: a 19th century wax doll http://dollmusem.blogspot.com/2013/06/wax-dolls-back-to-19th-century-and-our.html