Tag Archives: william pitt the younger

The Princess of Wales Has Friends in High Places

‘The Prince of Wales was bitterly disappointed. His father’s ministers had let him down. Their disapproval was not enough. They had found him no grounds for divorce.His wife, on the other hand, was self – righteously triumphant. During the “Delicate Investigation” the King had not visited her, and he had not invited her to visit him. But now that she had been acquitted by his arbitrary tribunal, she felt that it was his duty to acknowledge her innocence publicly by inviting her to court again. She wrote to the King asking him to receive her, but the King was not so sure that he should. There was much in the report that could not be condoned. So the Princess of Wales decided to write to him again. Since she had not been allowed to present her defence to the committee in Downing Street, she would present it to the King in Windsor instead.With the best but biased legal advice from Spencer Perceval, who had recently resigned the office of Attorney General after the death of Pitt, she laid out her detailed rebuttal of every charge that the Dougleses had brought against her. Her letter, dated 2 October, was so long that it became known sarcastically as “The Book”.

Nine weeks later, when she had received no reply, not even an acknowledgement, the Princess wrote to the King again begging for him to receive her and restore her reputation. At the same time, however, in a barely veiled threat, she arranged to have copies of “The Book” printed.

Nevertheless, it was another seven weeks before the Lord Chancellor’s office informed the Princess that, despite his reservations, the King was now ready to receive her. But week after week went by without any invitation arriving.

Eventually, on 5 March 1807, five months after her first letter, the Princess of Wales lifted the veil from her threat. If she did not receive an invitation within the next week, she would publish “The Book”.’

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

‘”I am a real Brunswick, and do not know what fear is,” the Princess had told Lady Douglas, and now she was fearless in her determination to be accepted once more by the Royal Family. She had her supporters and sympathizers, and some powerful political friends. Lord Eldon, the ex-Lord Chancellor, and Spencer Perceval, later to become Tory Prime Minister, were her advisers, and with their assistance she drew up a document giving a detailed defence of her
conduct, which, under the title of “The Book”, she threatened to publish. On May 18, 1807, it was reported that the Princess of Wales had appeared at the Opera and at the Queen’s Drawing Room. Although greeted with marked frigidity by Queen Charlotte, the Princess had a riotous reception at Covent Garden. She felt that she had won. The Book was withdrawn.’

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

‘By then the gossips in London society had exhausted their imaginations speculating about what “The Delicate Investigation” had discovered and about what might be in “The Book”. To the press and the general public, who knew very little about the Princess of Wales and a great deal that they did not like about her husband, she was a wronged woman who deserved their support. The reputation of the royal family sank even further.

Spencer Perceval believed, and indeed hoped, that publication of “The Book” would bring down the government that had treated the Princess so shoddily. But, as it turned out, there was never any need for publication. A few days later, the coalition government destroyed itself. The Cabinet resigned, bitterly divided over whether or not Roman Catholics should be allowed to sit in Parliament and hold commissions in the army.

The Tories were returned to the office. George Canning became Foreign Secretary and Spencer Perceval became Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Princess of Wales had friends in high places.

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

caroline and spencer perceval

Picture: Caroline of Brunswick and Spencer Perceval

The Affair With Testament (Part 2)

‘Before making any decision, however, he consulted the Privy Council. The spring of 1806 stood at the centre of a great crisis in the history of Europe. Less than six months before the little will was written, Britain’s hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, had died saving his nation from invasion at the battle of Trafalgar. The French army that had been waiting to be carried across the Channel had turned east. Just over a month later the armies of Britain’s allies Austria and Russia had been shattered at Austerlitz. Napoleon was the master of most Europe. At his instigation, King George’s Electorate of Hanover had been given to the Prussians. And on top of all that, Britain’s brilliant Prime Minister, William Pitt, had died heartbroken and exhausted. The coalition that replaced him, known optimistically as ‘the ministry of all the talents’, was negotiating for peace with Napoleon.

Yet at that most desperate moment, some of the men who had been entrusted with the safety of the nation were asked to devote time to discussing the implications of a will written on impulse by a lonely ten – year – old child.

To anyone who knew the truth, their judgement cannot have been encouraging. They agreed that Mrs Campbell was responsible.

Mrs Campbell was asked to resign, and Dr Nott, overwhelmed with remorse and frustration, took to his bed and stayed there for several weeks. Charlotte was told only that Mrs Campbell had resigned on grounds of ill health. She wrote in her misery to George’s mother, Lady Albemarle:

“Poor dear Mrs. Campbell is going away, for her health is so bad. If you have any regard to me, you will write to her and try to console her. Do it if you love me. I lose great deal when she leaves me. Indeed she is a charming woman, that is far above Mrs. Udney, for the more I see of Mrs. Campbell, the more I love [her], but Mrs. Udney I still continue to dislike. When you come to town I wish to have a conversation with you about her…You have no idea how unhappy I am.”

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Picture: A portrait of Charlotte as a child http://www.pinterest.com/pin/554153929121829364/

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

Bitter Honeymoon

‘Thereafter the relationship continued as it had begun. For all that the Princess was amiable and eager to please, there was no denying that she was slovenly and she smelt. The Prince displayed his displeasure at every opportunity, and the hurt Princess hit back each time by exaggerating whatever she had done to displease him.Within three weeks of their wedding they were no longer living together as man and wife. At night the Princess retired to her own small apartments on the ground floor of Carlton House, and the Prince went to his much more splendid apartments above them.

Then came the development that really did fix the Prince’s dislike for ever. He had married for money, and now he learned that, far from increasing his disposable income, his marriage had actually diminished it.

Pitt went further than he had promised. He persuaded Parliament to raise the allowances from the privy purse to as much as £125,000 a year. But the House of Commons also ruled that for the next nine years £65,000 of this, together with all the income from the Duchy of Cornwall, was to be set aside to pay off the Prince’s debts. In real terms therefore his annual income had been reduced from £73,000 to £60,000; on top of that he now had the added expense of paying his wife’ establishment.

The Prince’s distaste was embittered by resentment. He ignored his wife as much as he could by day as well as by night. On the pretext that he could no longer pay for them, he removed most of the chairs from her private dining room and took back the pearl bracelets that he had given her on their wedding day – although he then gave them to Lady Jersey, who wore them publicly in her presence.

His displays of displeasure became increasingly cruel, and the Princess no longer felt strong enough to meet them all with defiance. Sometimes they reduced her to tears. As one witness, Lady Sheffield, wrote, she lost her “lively spirits”, and in their place her mood became one of “melancholy and anxiety”.’

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

William Pitt the Younger

Portrait: William Pitt, 1759-1806 Mezzotint, 1799 Library of Congress

Two Cousins

‘Once it was agreed that the Prince was free to marry, the next step was to find him a bride. There were two candidates, both of whom were his cousins. One was Princess Louise of Mecklenburg – Strelitz, whose father was the brother of his mother, Queen Charlotte. The other was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, whose mother was a sister of his father, the King.The Queen was enthusiastically in favour of Princess Louise*, not only because Louise was her niece and reputedly the better looking, but also because, like many other people at court, she had heard too many unsavoury rumours about Princess Caroline. The Brunswicker Princess was said to be coarse and uninhibited. She was said to have had several affairs, one with an Irish officer in her father’s army, and it was known that earlier marriage negotiations had been broken off without reason.’
[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

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Marriage For Money

Charlotte’s father only married her mother for money – not because Princess Caroline of Brunswick was rich, but because the Prime Minister, William Pitt, had told him that, when he married, the government would raise his income. The increase was intended to cover the cost of an appropriately enlarged household, but to the Prince it was an opportunity to continue his notorious extravagance (…) A suitable marriage was the Prince’s only hope.The promised increase would raise his allowance from the privy purse to 100, 000 pounds a year. Although, in itself, even this would not be enough to support all his extravagance, it would at least enable him to start making annual payments to some of his creditors, and that in turn might encourage others to lend him more. He was unmoved when he was told that it was his duty to get married and provide the kingdom with an heir. But when he was told that a marriage would bring in more money, he agreed at once.

 

(extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers)

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