Tag Archives: william IV king of the united kingdom (duke of clarence)

Family Politics

The year 1812 started propitiously for Charlotte. On January 7, her sixteenth birthday was handsomely acknowledged by the Family, and the Prince not only gave her, for the first time, a birthday present, but held a dinner party for her at Carlton House. ‘I think you will say, wonders never end,’ she said, reporting this to Mercer. The party consisted of her uncles York, Clarence and Cumberland, the Queen, a brace of princesses, Augusta and Mary (the Regent’s favourites), and was presided over by the Regent, ‘in so good a humour that they spoke of it with surprise’.

Before dinner their gracious host conducted them over ‘the whole of Carlton House’ showing off his latest acquisitions of paintings and furniture; and then they sat down amid ‘much joking and good humour’ to a splendid repast. Unfortunately Charlotte had to dine with her mother at Blackheath immediately afterwards, and so was unable to do full justice to the vast and delectable meal, at the end of which the Prince, oozing with amiability, toasted his mother in a large bumper. He does not appear to have toasted his daughter, whose birthday it was, but ‘I am never so happy,’ he said, ‘as when in the bosom of my family. I trust we may very often meet again in this way…and that your Majesty will do me the honour of frequently presiding at this board…’

‘I was thunderstruck,’ said Charlotte. But she found this excessive affection for his mother a disconcerting portent. Every change of mood, each wind that blew within the Royal Family, had its meaning: Charlotte was by now familiar with the signs. There were reasons, she felt certain, for this sudden attack of filial piety. ‘The Queen has quite got master of the Prince,’ she had observed a week earlier, and now she endorsed it, adding, ‘I know [it] is not a good sign with regard to his measures in Government&politics.’ ‘The Prince,’ she told Mercer, ‘is quite governed by his mother and the Manchester Square folks.’ These were the Hertfords, staunch Tories. Charlotte was not alone in her fears. ‘From now on,’ wrote Lord Holland, ‘the Prince was charged by the Whigs with ingratitude and perfidy. We all encouraged every species of satire against him and his mistress.’ The cartoonists licked their pencils: the print shops, said Charlotte, were full of ‘scurrilous caricatures’.

The Royal Family were beginning to regard Princess Charlotte as someone to be reckoned with: she held strong views and aired them freely. ‘Fortunately’, wrote Princess Mary in 1812, ‘Charlotte is not at all afraid of the Queen, as she runs on from subject to subject and into all her jokes with the Q., just as she does with us, and stands over Queen’s chair & yesterday afternoon kept the Queen laughing from eight o’clock until 10.’ Though they were to cross the swords in the future, the time came when Queen Charlotte developed a respect for her granddaughter and namesake and became her champion.

The young Princess was critical of what she called the Royal Menagerie, and commented shrewdly, if not always kindly, upon their characters. ‘No family,’ she asserted, ‘was ever composed of such odd people: and there have happened such extraordinary things, that in any other family…are never herd of before.’

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

queen_charlotte_by_sir_thomas_lawrence_1789

Picture: Portrait of Queen Charlotte by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1789, National Gallery

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

Charlotte Races With George FitzClarence

At Windsor, and also in London, the Barracks provided, if only at a distance, far more attractive society. And in October 1811, Captain George FitzClarence, the eldest son of the Duke of Clarence by the actress Mrs. Jordan, arrived in London from Portugal, as dashing a young officer as a girl could wish to see. Unfortunately, he was about to join the Prince’s Regiment at Brighton, and after some rides together at Windsor, which scandalized her aunts, Charlotte was obliged to say goodbye to her handsome cousin.

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

A few days earlier, on 11 October, she had written to Mercer, ‘George FitzClarence is arrived from Portugal; I saw him the very day he arrived in town, much grown & looking very well. At present he is in town but joins the Prince’s regiment at Brighton soon. He told me the troops were in good spirits, but that the French were 20 thousand stronger than us.’

Tall, dark and handsome Captain George FitzClarence was Charlotte’s illegitimate cousin. His father was her uncle William, Duke of Clarence – the future King William IV. His mother was Mrs Jordan, the most popular and admired actress on the London stage. Two years older than Charlotte, he was an officer in her father’s regiment, the 10th, which was now designated hussars and dressed even more extravagantly than before.

But George’s commission was no sinecure. He had seen action and had already demonstrated the qualities that would one day earn him the earldom of Munster and the exalted rank of Major-General. At the age of only fifteen he had joined the little British army in Portugal. Since then, commanded by Arthur Wellesley, who had been rewarded for his success with the title of Viscount Wellington, that army had chased the French back into Spain and was now advancing after them; George had served with it all the way. Only five months before his regiment returned to England, he had been captured by the French while lying wounded on the battlefield of Fuentes de Onoro, and had escaped a few days later when his wounds were only half healed.

George was on leave, and he was so taken with his royal cousin that he went out as often as he could to ride beside her carriage when she took the air in the parks of London or Windsor.

In Windsor in particular, Lady de Clifford had always dreaded these daily excursions. The Princess often took the reins herself, and would frequently leave the track and drive hard at every bump in the ground, rejoicing in Lady de Clifford’s discomfort as she bounced around in terror. But now there was a different cause to dread, even though it made Charlotte’s conduct more sedate. In an age that judged so much by appearances, it was unseemly for a young lady to be chatting to the same officer beside her carriage day after day, just as it was unseemly for her to be seen sitting alone on a sofa with the same gentleman for any length of time.

Lady de Clifford felt that it was her duty to report the matter to the Prince Regent, although she assured him, justifiably, that the relationship was entirely innocent.

It should have been a relief to her therefore when, after only six weeks, George FitzClarence rejoined his regiment in Brighton. But by then she was obliged to report that there was another illegitimate cousin riding devotedly beside the carriage in his place.

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

220px-1st_Earl_of_Munster

Picture: George FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794-1842) engraved by Richard Austin Artlett after the painting of Thomas Phillips, 1839, National Portrait Gallery

Charlotte’s Family: William IV

CHARLOTTE’S PATERNAL UNCLE

392px-William_IV

William Henry (21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837), third son of George III of the United Kingdom and Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Stirlitz, the Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (1789 – 1830), King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover as William IV (1830 – 1837), Charlotte’s paternal uncle.

Picture: Portrait of William IV of the United Kingdom by Martin Archer Shee, 1833 (Royal Collection)

Embarrassing Marriage Ceremony

‘But there was no going back. Three days later Princess Caroline waited for her groom at the altar of the Royal Chapel, swaying precariously in an enormous, old – fashioned wedding dress with huge hoops inside it and broad ribbons with preposterously big bows wrapped around the outside – it had been chosen for her by the Queen. Earlier this morning, the Prince had sent one of his brothers, the Duke of Clarence, to tell Mrs Fitzherbert that she was the only woman he would ever love. By the time he reached the chapel, it was obvious to everyone that this time no one kept him from his brandy. He tottered reluctantly up the aisle, supported in every sense of the word by the Dukes of Bedford and Roxburghe.The day ended in a manner that might have been expected. According to the new Princess of Wales, her husband “passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him”.'[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

‘The ceremony was conducted by Dr. Moore, Archbishop of Cantenbury, who succeeded in adding to the Prince’s misery by making a lengthy pause after “if either of you know of any cause or impediment”, laying down his prayer book and fixing first the King and then the Prince with a piercing eye. The Prince, already in a highly emotional state, shed tears. One onlooker, Lady Maria Stuart, observed that he looked like death. Another, Lord Malmesbury, noticed that after the ceremony, the bridegroom, though civil and gracious, was “certainly unhappy; and as a proof of it, he manifestly had recourse to wine or spirits”. This was borne out later by the bride, who declared that the Prince spent their wedding night on the floor, with his head in the grate. It was not till morning that sobriety returned sufficiently for him to perform the actions expected of him as a bridegroom.’

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

 

Picture comes from the site http://hibiscus-sinensis.com/regency/weddingdress.htm

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.

Continue reading

Restrictions Imposed By Royal Marriages Act

By the terms of his father’s Royal Marriages Act, princes of the Blood Royal could only marry with the King’s consent, which really meant they could only marry respectable German princesses, who were also Protestant. This was very limiting. George III’s seven sons had the greatest difficulty in keeping within the law, and most of them did not try: it was simpler, as the Dukes of Clarence and Kent discovered, to take a mistress and stick to her. But it did not help the succession.

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

‘George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son and heir apparent of George III, King of England, was thirty – two old and, on paper at any rate, the most eligible bachelor in the western world. His attitude towards matrimony, however, had always been disappointingly negative. Indeed, some ten years earlier he had sworn that he would never marry. He had “settled it with Frederick” – Duke of York and his next and favourite brother – that Frederick would marry and that crown would descend to his children. But Frederick’s wifehad turned out to be barren, and other princes were now all either comfortably suited with mistresses, or for other reasons unwilling or unable to do their duty by the family. George III’s plain sturdy little Queen (she had been Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Strelitz) had survived no fewer than fifteen pregnancies nd successfully reared seven sons and five daughters, but the remarkable fact remained that by 1795 there were still no grandchildren – or at least no grandchildren born on the right side of the blanket. It was not, however, concern for the future of the Hanoverian succession which had finally propelled the Prince of Wales towards the altar – it was stern financial necessity.

[an extract from ‘Caroline&Charlotte’ by Alison Plowden]

Royal Marriages Act