Before her marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heiress to the British throne was betrothed to Prince William, the Hereditary Prince Of Orange. That was an union the Princess, much to her father’s chagrin, had never been too keen on. Both her mother’s hatred for the Orange family, and her reluctance to leave England and live abroad, even for a few months a year, eventually prompted her to end the engagement.
Of course these events were closely observed by the satirists of the time, who had a field day (or year) with it. Here are a few of the satirical prints making fun of the whole thing:
Sitting under a canopy, Princess Charlotte is pulling the strings on a jointed puppet representing the Prince of Orange in military dress, holding a flag inscribed “Orange Boven”. Across her knees rests a miniature portrait of a man, inscribed “Fitz Mo” (the rest of the name is illegible). At her feet lies an open book inscribed “Clarence’s Dream”. In the garden, we can see a fountain, with water spurting from a cupid seated on a swan. Is Charlotte serious about the Prince of Orange, or is she just toying with him?
Princess Charlotte is raising a whip to lash a top spinning on the floor, on which sits the Prince of Orange smoking a pipe. In his pocket, he carries a piece of paper inscribed “Contract”. The Princess says: “Take this for Ma! and this for Pa!—and this! and this! for myself, you ugly thing you!—”
From the open door, we can see the leg and arm of the concealed Prince Regent, Charlotte’s father. He’s holding a birch-rod tied with orange ribbon, and, with a threatening voice, says: “If you don’t find pleasure in whipping the Top, I shall whip the Bottom!”
Behind Charlotte, there’s a piano, on which lies a copy of “School for Wives”, a comedy by Hugh Kelly, and an open music-book, inscribed with the words and music of a song:
“An Obstinate Daughter’s the plague of you [sic] life
No rest can you take tho your rid of your Wife
At twenty she laughs at the duty you taught her
Oh! what a plague is an obstinate Daughter.”
On the wall, hangs a portrait of Cupid. He’s standing on his head on a terrestrial globe, in the country of Holland, aiming his arrows at England.
Printed one month after the previous print, Miss Endeavouring to excite a glow with her Dutch Play thing depicts Charlotte, still with a whip in her hand, standing over and pointing at the “Dutch Toy”, who is falling forward. The Prince of Orange is still smoking and carrying the contract in his pocket, but he’s now resigned he’s never going to marry Charlotte. Between his knees, he holds a bottle.
The Princess says: “There, I have kept it up a long while you may send it away now, I am tired of it, Mother has got some better play things for me.” The Regent replies, “What are you tired already? Take another spell at it, or give me the whip.” But Charlotte refuses: “No, No, you may take the Top, but I’ll Keep the Whip.”
At the Regent’s feet lies an open book titled The Way to Teaze him a Play in V acts’. On the wall hangs another portrait of Cupid. This time the god of love, who has dropped his bow and broken arrows, is resting his head on a large orange inscribed “Orange Boven”.
What do you think of these prints?