The Dutch Toy

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:

A Dutch Toy!!!-Or, a pretty Play-thing for a Young Princess!!! Huzza


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?

The Dutch toy


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.

Miss Endeavouring to excite a glow with her Dutch Play thing-


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?

Wedding of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

On 2nd May 1816, Princess Charlotte of Wales married her soulmate, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield. Robert Huish, in his Memoirs of Her late Royal Highness Charlotte Augusta, Princess of Wales, shares a very detailed account of the event:

The following were the preliminary arrangements for the royal nuptials, the ceremony to be as public as certain circumstances could render it—About fifty of the most distinguished personages to attend, besides the Royal Family, consisting of the Queen,the Prince Regent, the Princesses Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia, the Duchess of York, and the rest of the Royal House. All the members of the cabinet, with their ladies; the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the foreign ambassadors, and no other persons. In one of the crimson state rooms, the cabinet and foreign ministers were to be assembled; in another room, the Queen and the Princesses; in the third, the Prince Regent and his great officers of state.

A grand dinner was to be prepared at Carlton-House, after which the ceremony of the marriage, to take place about nine o’clock, in the state chamber of the palace, where the Prince Regent receives the addresses; the marriage ceremony to be performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards attested with the usual formalities. Her Majesty, the Prince Regent the bride and bridegroom, and the great officers of state, were to return to the council-chamber, when they and the foreign ministers would pay their compliments to the illustrious pair, who were soon afterwards to leave Carlton-House. […]

The wedding dress was a slip of white and silver atlas, worn under a dress of transparent silk net, elegantly embroidered in silver lama, with a border to correspond, tastefully worked in bunches of flowers, to form festoons round the bottom; the sleeves and neck trimmed with a most rich suit of Brussels point lace. The mantua was two yards and a half long, made of rich silver and white atlas, trimmed the same as the dress to correspond. After the ceremony, her Royal Highness was to put on a dress of very rich white silk, trimmed with broad satin trimming at the bottom, at the top of which were two rows of broad Brussels point lace. The sleeves of this dress were short and full, intermixed with point lace, the neck trimmed with point to match. The pelisse which the royal Bride was to travel in, on her Royal Highness leaving Carlton-House for Oatlands, was of rich white satin, lined with sarcenet, and trimmed all round with broad ermine. […]

The jewellery was of the most magnificent description, consisting of a beautiful wreath for the head, composed of rose-buds and leaves, of the most superb brilliants; a necklace of a single row of large brilliants of the finest lustre, with large drop ear-rings to correspond, and a brilliant cestus of great value. Her Royal Highness had also a pearl necklace, and bracelets with diamond clasps, equally splendid. Her Royal Highness’s casket contained other ornaments, consisting of coloured stones, richly encircled with jewels. She had, besides, a rich diamond armlet, presented by the Prince of Coburg Saalfeld. It was computed that the wedding-dress alone cost above £10,000.

The important day at length arrived, looked forward to by many with the most anxious wishes, and by the nation at large with the fondest hopes. Early in the morning, all the streets in the vicinity of the royal residences were crowded with people anxious to obtain a view of the royal bride and bridegroom. But the eager curiosity and anxious desire of the people to see the Prince, with whose person they had hitherto had but few opportunities of being acquainted, constituted the grand and prominent feature of public feeling. The line from Charing-Cross to Carlton House, and those along the Mall in St. James’s Park were fully occupied, and the fineness of the day corresponding with the interest of the occasion, contributed to increase the multitude.

The open space in the Stable Yard, in front of Clarence-House, the residence of the Prince of Coburg Saalfeld, was crowded to excess with well dressed people of all classes. The repeated cheers, and other marks of applause which they expressed, evinced an impatient desire to see his Highness, who, in the most condescending and gentlemanlike manner, frequently complied with their wishes, by coming out upon the balcony and politely bowing to the people, all of whom had a full view of his person. From ten in the morning till five in the afternoon, with the exception of two hours, during which he rode out in his plain green chariot, he made his appearance three or four times in an hour on the balcony of the first floor. […] He was dressed in a blue coat, with a thin buff waistcoat, and grey pantaloons. […]

The Princess Charlotte, who in the morning had sat to Turnerelli for her bust, dressed at Buckingham House; and a few minutes before eight in the evening, she descended the grand stair-case, conducted by the Princess Augusta on her right and Colonel Stephenson on her left, and proceeded to the entrance of the grand hall, where she was met by the Queen. They entered a carriage; the Queen and the Princess Charlotte sat behind; Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth occupied the front, Princesses Mary and Sophia of Gloucester followed in another carriage: they were escorted by a party of life-guards. As may well be imagined, the crowd in the park exceeded all description. Their numerous appearance occasioned the Princess Charlotte to exclaim, “Bless me, what a crowd !” The people cheered her loudly all the way to Carlton-House, but the greatest order and decorum prevailed. The royal ladies entered Carlton-House, through the garden-gate, where they were most affectionately received by His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, at eight o’clock in the evening.

The Prince of Coburg Saalfeld quitted the Duke of Clarence’s house, about half-past eight, with two royal carriages. In the first was Lord James Murray, lord in waiting to his Serene Highness; Colonel Adenbroke, his Serene Highness’s secretary; and Sir Robert Gardner, his Serene Highness’s equerry. In the other carriage was Prince Leopold, accompanied by Baron Just the Saxon minister at this court, and Mr. Chester the assistant master of the ceremonies. When his Highness came out to get into his carriage, great enthusiasm was manifested by the female spectators, whose hearty good wishes were not confined to the waving of handkerchiefs, or other ordinary expressions of congratulation; but proceeded to the homely though sincere declaration of the interest they felt in his hopes and future felicity, by approaching him closely, patting him on the back, and invoking upon him blessings of every description.

Attempts were also made to take off the horses from the Prince’s carriage, and draw him, in the accustomed spirit of English good-will, to Carlton-House. From these attempts, however, the populace were persuaded to desist, though Prince Leopold appeared perfectly ready to allow any indulgence which the joyful feelings of the populace inclined them to require. His Serene Highness received abundant proofs of public regard on his way to Carlton-House, in continual cheerings and congratulations; and, when he passed within the colonnade, the band played God save the King. […] The attendants at Carlton-House, belonging to the royal household, guards, yeomen, footmen, &c, appeared in state costumes, and the great hall was brilliantly illuminated.

The following were the ceremonies within Carlton House:—The Queen and Royal Family, his Highness the Duke of Orleans, and the Prince of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld, were introduced to the Prince Regent, on their arrival, in his Royal Highness’s private closet. The royal servants, &c, lined the apartments from the grand crimson saloon, where the marriage service was afterwards celebrated. The saloon had been prepared and fitted up for the occasion with an elegant temporary altar, suitable to the august ceremony, which was covered with crimson velvet, and placed near one of the fire-places.

The crimson velvet cushions and the splendidly bound prayer-books, &c. were brought from the Chapel Royal, St. James’s, as well as the massy candlesticks, and other church plate from the military chapel at Whitehall. The serjeant of the Chapel-Royal attended also in his office of verger. . The Prince Regent, and all the Royal Family, with his particular attendants, entered the three grand rooms next to the apartment in which the throne was erected. Her Majesty, with the female branches of the Royal Family, and their attendants, were conducted to the next anti-room. Among the attendants, were Lady John Murray and Lady Emily Murray, the cabinet ministers, the foreign ambassadors and envoys; and their ladies also attended by particular invitation, and proceeded to the grand crimson room.

At the time appointed for her Majesty to leave the closet, her full attendants were conducted across the grand hall; and also the full attendants upon the Prince Regent, except those in waiting upon the Queen and Prince Regent. The Princess Charlotte and Prince of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld remained in the closet after the procession moved to the suit of rooms towards the altar. […]

When the ceremony was to commence, the Lord Chamberlain returned to the closet, and conducted the Prince of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld to the altar. His Lordship then went again to conduct the Princess Charlotte, and was accompanied by the Duke of Clarence, who conducted his royal niece, leaning upon his arm, to the altar, where she was received by the Prince Regent; his Royal Highness then took his place by the side of the illustrious pair. Behind the Royal Dukes stood the Lord Chancellor, Lords Castlereagh, Sidmouth, and Melville; the Earls of Westmorland, Harrowby, Mulgrave, and Bathurst; Mr. Vansittart, Mr. Bathurst, and Mr. Pole, the Cabinet Ministers.

On the other side of the altar was the Queen, for whom a chair of state was placed. On her right hand, were the Princesses Augusta, Elizabeth, and Mary, the Duchess of York, and her Royal Highness the Princess Sophia of Gloucester, Behind her Majesty were her Lord and Vice Cham berlains, and the Ladies of the Household. On the left of the altar, stood the Royal Dukes of York, Clarence, and Kent, (the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex, and his Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, were not present.) The Archbishop of Canterbury was close to the altar, and behind him the Archbishop of York; the Bishop of London was on the right of the altar, the Bishop of Exeter as Clerk of the Closet, and the Bishop of Salisbury the preceptor of the Princess Charlotte.

The Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, the Foreign Ambassadors, and the great officers of the household, stood in front of die altar at some distance. Two crimson velvet stools were placed in front of the altar. The illustrious personages had all taken their stations by a little after nine o’clock, when the service began. The ceremony was then performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Bishop of London. The Princess Charlotte was given away by her Royal Father the Prince Regent. His Royal Highness appeared in excellent health. He was dressed in regimentals, and wore all his Orders. […]

The Prince of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld wore at the wedding a full British uniform, decorated with the insignia of the new Hanoverian Order of die Guelphs, which was conferred upon him by the Prince Regent at the same time with the Duke of Wellington, Prince Blucher, Marquis of Anglesea, Lord Stewart, Prince Hardenberg, and Prince Metternich. He also wore the emblems of knighthood of Saxony, Austria, Russia, the Netherlands, Prussia, Bavaria, Wertemberg, and Denmark. His Serene Highness wore a magnificent sword and belt, ornamented with diamonds, and studded with various gems.

Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte advanced to the altar with steadiness, and went through the ceremony with a chastened joy, giving the responses with great clearness, so as to be heard distinctly by every person present. Prince Leopold was not heard so distinctly, and exhibited rather more than common diffidence. On the termination of the marriage ceremony, the Princess Charlotte embraced her Father, and went up to the Queen, whose hand she kissed with great respect. She also kissed the Princesses, particularly distinguishing the Princess Mary; she then shook hands with her uncles, and retired arm-in-arm with the Prince her husband.

The ceremony was scarcely concluded, when the brazen throats of the guns on the parade of St. James’s Park, and the battery of the Tower, announced in royal salutes, to the metropolis, the auspicious event. The ladies who attended as bridemaids to the Princess Charlotte, were Lady Charlotte Cholmondeley, Lady Caroline Pratt, Lady Susan Ryder, the Hon. Miss Law, and Miss Manners, daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The royal pair remained but a short time at CarltonHouse after the ceremony was over, and set off about eleven o’clock for Oatlands, where they intended to reside during the honey-moon.

Her Majesty gave directions for bride-cakes, which had been preparing for some time, to be sent to the individuals of the royal establishments at the Queen’s Palace, Windsor, her private establishment at Frogmore and at Kew Palace, amounting in the whole to nearly 500 persons, to commemorate the marriage of her royal grand-daughter. […] It was not, however, only in the metropolis, but in many other parts of England, that the nuptial day of the Princess Charlotte was celebrated by every demonstration of joy. Wherever her influence had been felt, there the smile of congratulation was apparent; and the blessings of the poor and the unfortunate, whom she had assisted, were in secret pronounced upon her.

A Tomboy Princess

In June 1811, Lady Albinia Campbell met the 15 year old Princess Charlotte of Wales, heir to the British throne, at Windsor. Here’s what she thought of the young girl:

Princess Charlotte is here. She is grown and improved in looks, but I do not think her manner dignified, as a Princess’ ought to be, or indeed as I should wish a daughter of mine to behave. She hates her ‘Granny’ as she calls her [Queen Charlotte] loves nobody here except Princess Mary and Sophia, goes swaggering about, and she twangs hands with all the men, is in awe of no one, and glories in her independent way of thinking. Her passion is Horses that and mathematics are the only amusements she has. Her riding is beautiful – no fear of course-gallops and leaps over every ditch like a schoolboy – gave her groom a cut with her whip about the back to-day and told him he was always in the way. This was in good humour though, but it is not acting en Princesse. Frederick FitzClarence* is on a visit to Mrs. [Feilding?] She [Princess Charlotte] is very fond of him, and makes him ride with her every day, to the great annoyance of her Aunts as if the Granny knew it she would be much displeased, and I believe that is her chief reason for wishing it. Her Governess Lady de Clifford, she has not the smallest degree of respect for. I think her clever and she has a great deal of royal wit.

*He was the son of Charlotte’s uncle, the future William IV, and his mistress Mrs Jordan.

Further reading:
The romance of Princess Amelia, daughter of George III by William S. Childe-Pemberton

A Royal Austen Fan

Princess Charlotte of Wales was a fan of Jane Austen, and didn’t even know it. When her uncle, the Duke Of York, lent her a copy of Sense and Sensibility, written by an anonymous lady, he believed, and so did Charlotte, that it was written by a certain Lady Anne Paget. Charlotte loved the book and related to its heroine Marianne:

“‘Sence and Sencibility’ I have just finished reading; it certainly is interesting, & you feel quite one of the company. I think Maryanne & and me are very like in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c, however remain very like.”

Further reading:
Charlotte & Leopold by James Chambers

Lines To A Lady Weeping

George III’s eldest son, the Prince of Wales, had been a Whig until 1811, when the Regency Act, allowing him to rule during the mental illness of his father, became law. At the time the Tories were in power but everyone, knowing his political leanings, expected him to replace the current government with a Whig one, led by William Wyndham Grenville. Much to the Whig’s disappointment, that didn’t happen, and during the years, the Prince became increasingly pro-Tory.

This grieved his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales, who was a fervent Whig. At one dinner the Princess, distressed at hearing her father launch a scathing attack on the Whigs and their leader, burst into tears and left the room. At the time, the Princess saw Lord Byron, who was a known Whig as well, quite a lot. In a poem, published anonymously, the poet recalled the incident thus:

Lines To A Lady Weeping

Weep, daughter of a royal line,
A Sire’s disgrace, a realm’s decay;
Ah! happy if each tear of thine
Could wash a father’s fault away!

Weep–for thy tears are Virtue’s tears­
Auspicious to these suffering isles;
And be each drop in future years
Repaid thee by thy people’s smiles!

Further reading:
Charlotte & Leopold by James Chambers

Cornelia Knight

Born in 1757, Cornelia Knight was the daughter of Sir Joseph Knight, a navy officer knighted by King George III, and his wife, a well-educated and accomplished woman praised for her conversation skills. Cornelia was sent to London College, where she learned several European languages, including Latin. In 1775 Sir Joseph died, leaving only a small income to his wife and daughter. Because of that, they decided to move to Naples, where they took part, in 1798, to the celebrations for Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile. They two women also became good friends with Lord Nelson and the Hamilton.

The following year, Cornelia’s mother died too. The Hamiltons and Lord Nelson thus decided to ask her to accompany them back to England. Once back in England, Cornelia settled independently, although she continued to visit her friends. She also wrote a lot and soon gained the reputation of a learned author. Among her works are Flaminius (an epistolary romance in Rome – 1792) A Description of Latium, or La Campagna di Roma (with her own etchings – 1805), and Translations from the German in Prose and Verse (1812). She also wrote a journal and an autobiography, which was incomplete at the time of her death. But while she was alive, she was very discreet.

In 1805, she was appointed companion to Queen Charlotte on the recommendation of another of her ladies, the novelist Fanny Burney, and, in 1812, she held the same position in the household of her granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales. Cornelia, who was nicknamed The Chevalier by Charlotte, became a close friend and confidant of the young Princess. Cornelia felt very sorry for Charlotte. Her father, the Prince of Wales, knowing her daughter was much more loved and popular than him, kept a close eye on her, had spies in her household (and expected Cornelia to be one too) and didn’t want her to have her own establishment until she married.

“Every consideration,” Cornelia wrote, “was to be sacrificed to the plan of keeping the Princess Charlotte as long as possible a child; and, consequently, whoever belonged to her was to be thought a nurse or a preceptress”. But Cornelia wasn’t the right sort of person for such a job. Loyal to the Princess, she did everything she could to help her and thwart her father’s plan. For instance, when the Morning Chronicle wrote that she had been appointed sub-governess, she insisted they rectified the mistake and announced her role as lady-companion instead. And when she accompanied the Princess in public, she always acted as she was was in attendance rather than in charge.

In 1814, The Prince of Wales decided to dismiss Charlotte’s entire household. Among other things, he had discovered that the Prince August of Prussia had been paying court to Charlotte at her house, and that Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg had visited her too. Cornelia had insisted that Prince Leopold had behaved properly, and defended Prince August too. Cornelia had actually helped Charlotte meet with August, even leaving them completely alone, as she hoped he would marry Charlotte.

The Prince of Wales, instead, wanted her to marry the Prince of Orange, whom Charlotte disliked, and was determined to keep her daughter under even closer confinement. So, everyone had to go. Charlotte and Cornelia kept writing to each other though and, after the Princess married Prince Leopold, Miss Knight visited the couple frequently. Unfortunately, the Princess would die in childbirth, leaving her family, friends and the whole country devastated.

After she had lost her job as companion to Princess Charlotte, Cordelia took up teaching to help pay the bills. She taught the young Massimo Taparelli, the Marquis d’Azeglio (an Italian writer, painter and politician) English,science, literature, and fine arts. Cornelia spent the last 20 years of her life abroad, and died in Paris on 17 December 1837.

Further reading:
Autobiography of Miss Cornelia Knight
Charlotte & Leopold by James Chambers

Princess Charlotte Of Wales Turns Down The Hereditary Prince Of Orange

Charlotte, Princess of Wales, was one of the few lucky royal ladies to have married for love. But before she tied the knot with her beloved Prince Leopold, she had been briefly engaged to William, Hereditary Prince Of Orange. That marriage, however, was arranged for political reasons. William’s father had been contemplating an alliance with Britain since 1807. Napoleon had kicked him off the throne, giving it to his brother Louis, and he knew that, without help, he would never get it back. The British had a lot to gain from the match too: Holland laid between Britain and Hanover (then ruled by the same king), and an alliance would have made their country stronger. Plus, combining the British Navy with the Dutch fleet would have made Britain invincible on the sea.

So, Prince William was duly dispatched to Oxford to get an English education, and in 1811 he entered the British army. But by the spring of 1813 things were changing. Napoleon’s luck turned and he was eventually defeated. The exiled monarchs regained their thrones, but the project of a marriage between the Hereditary Prince of Orange and Princess Charlotte didn’t vanish. Holland, a new buffer state between France and Prussia, was created to maintain peace in Europe. The British, hoping to influence its politics, still pushed for the marriage.

Too bad no one had bothered to tell the intended bride and groom. Charlotte, however, suspected it. Too many rumours were flying around for it not to be true. The Princess had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, she knew that her mother detested the Orange family, but on the other, she declared she was prepared to give him a chance and judge for herself whether she could be happy with him.

After all, he may offer a chance to change her life for the better and get some freedom. Her father still treated her like a child and she was sick of it. But when the prince was summoned to London, Charlotte declined to attend any event where she might meet him. She was curious enough to ask about him, though. She was told that he was very thin and plain, but danced well and behaved like a gentleman. After a month, the prince left without being introduced to Charlotte. They were both relieved.

But the plan wasn’t dropped. On 14 October, Charlotte was asked what she thought about the Hereditary Prince of Orange. She replied that she would never marry him, and much preferred the Duke of Gloucester, a nephew of King George III, instead, hoping this would scare them into renouncing the affair. When news reached the Prince Regent, Charlotte’s father, he was furious. Charlotte, though, kept playing for time. But time was running out. The Hereditary Prince of Orange was coming to England again. The Prince Regent, changed tactics. He started being nicer to his daughter, in an attempt to influence her into marrying Prince William.

But eventually, it was Charlotte’s duty, and the realization that the marriage was in her country’s interest, that convinced her to give the prince a chance. She would finally meet him at a dinner party on 11 December. That morning, the Prince Regent came to her house and put extra pressure on her, telling her that after the dinner, she was to give him an answer “one way or the other”. Charlotte, dressed in a beautiful violet satin gown trimmed with black lace, arrived at the dinner party pale and agitated. She sat down next to Prince William, and, despite her misgivings, had a lovely time.

She later wrote to her friend Mercer: “He struck me as very plain, but he was so lively and animated that it quite went off… It is really singular how much we agreed together in allmost everything.” Once the dinner was over, the Prince Regent approached his daughter to get his answer. Although Charlotte didn’t commit, she said that she had liked “his manner very well, as much as I have seen of it”. The Prince Regent took that as a yes and, summoning Prince William, he joined his hand with Charlotte’s and gave them his blessing. It was too late now to turn back.

The engagement was, however, to be kept secret for the time being. The Prince was allowed to visit his betrothed and the very next day, went to her house. Left alone with her (but with the door open for propriety’s sake) he already made her cry. Charlotte was distraught at learning she was expected to spend two to three months a year in Holland. As the future Queen of England, she didn’t feel she could do that. Besides, she loved her own country and had no desire to leave it. The Prince was sympathetic and promised her that maybe she would be required to spend only two or three weeks in Holland after all, and that she could take all the ladies she wanted with her. This made her feel a little better. After much discussion, though, Charlotte had her way: the marriage contract, which she signed on 10 June, stipulated that she would never have to leave England against her will.

Charlotte, however, still had reservations about her engagement. She was mad at her father for having trapped her that night, leaving her with no choice. The Radicals Whigs were against the marriage too. For years they had embarrassed the Prince Regent and his government by exposing the cruel way in which Princess Caroline, Charlotte’s mother, was treated (she was banned from court and was allowed to see her daughter only for a very few short hours every now and then) and didn’t want to lose this political weapon. So, they warned the young princess that if she married, her mother wouldn’t have a reason to remain in England anymore. Her husband may even bribe her to go. And with Caroline out of the way, support for her in England would wane, and the Prince Regent would be able to divorce her quietly and remarry. His new wife may then give him a son, which would inherit the crown in her place. It was thus her duty not to marry.

Charlotte used this as an excuse to get out of her engagement. She summoned Prince William to her house and told him that she would marry him only if her mother would always be a welcome visitor in their home, a condition she knew he would never accept. He begged her to reconsider, and left. That night, she sent him a letter telling him that “from recent circumstances that have occurred I am fully convinced my interest is materially connected with that of my mother… After what has passed upon this subject this morning between us (which was much too conclusive to require further explanation) I must consider our engagement to be totally and for ever at an end. I leave the explanation of this affair to be made by you to the Prince…”

Prince William refused to tell the news to the Prince Regent so Charlotte had to write to him herself. She did so, blaming her ex-fiancé for the breakup: “He told me that our duties were divided, that our respective interests were in our different countries… Such an avowal was sufficient at once to prove to me Domestick happiness was out of the question.” But that wasn’t the end of it. The Prince Regent still tried to force his daughter to marry Prince William. He treated her harshly, dismissed her ladies and confined her home, keeping her in isolation as much as possible. Charlotte had to run to her mother’s house, hoping to live with her.

Princess Caroline had other ideas. She wanted to travel on the continent instead than staying at home with her daughter. Eventually, Charlotte was prevailed upon to go back to her own home, but not before writing down a declaration that said “if ever there should be an announcement of such a match, it must be understood to be without her consent and against her will”. Then, six copies were made. She signed them all and gave them to the people present. That wasn’t enough to deter the Prince Regent either and Charlotte was starting to despair that nothing would make him back down.

She would eventually be released by the Hereditary Prince of Orange. Realizing that Charlotte wouldn’t have him, he had become engaged to the Grand Duchess Anne, the Tsar’s youngest daughter. In the meantime, Charlotte had met her soulmate, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Soon, they too would be married.

Further reading:
Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People’s Princess by James Chambers

A Naughty Little Princess

George Thomas Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, was a childhood friend of the unfortunate Princess Charlotte of Wales. He was actually chosen as a playmate for the princess by her governess, who was also his grandmother, Lady De Clifford. In his memoirs, Fifty Years Of My Life, he recalls a few anecdotes from their childhood:

On Saturdays I was generally the guest of the Princess. The Sundays she used to spend either at Lady de Clifford’s villa at Paddington, or at my father’s house at Earl’s Court, Brompton.

Once outside her own gates, the Princess was like a bird escaped from a cage, or rather, like Sir Boyle Eoche’s bird “in two places at once.” Into whatsoever house she entered she would fly from top to bottom, one moment in the garret, and almost in the same moment in the kitchen.

Mrs. Durham, to whom the Princess Charlotte so frequently alludes in her letters, was at this time cook to my grandmother. She was such an artiste in her business that the Prince of Wales, who occasionally honoured Lady de Clifford with his company at dinner, used to flatter her by asking her how she could afford to keep a man-cook. One day, however, at the hour of luncheon, things went ill; the Dowager’s bell rang violently: the mutton-chop was so ill dressed and so well peppered as to be uneatable. On inquiry it was discovered that the good old lady’s royal charge had acted as cook, and her favourite grandson as scullery-maid.

I have a living witness to this mutton-chop scene in the person of my kinsman, Dr. Thomas Gamier, Dean of Winchester, who was on a visit to Lady de Clifford that same morning. He assures me, through my sister, Lady Caroline Gamier, that I said, ” A pretty Queen you’ll make ! ” I do not remember this flippant speech, but the frank, hearty manner of the Princess made it difficult for her young associates to preserve that decorum due to her station. […]

Warwick House was so short a distance from my school that in the summer months I frequently made it “a skip out of bounds.” I fear there was too much of “cupboard love” in these visits, for I was blessed with an excellent appetite, and Mother Grant’s food was execrable. The Princess, aware of this, used to bring me sandwiches of her own making. I once fancied that I must needs have a sharer in the good fare. So I took with me my chief crony, Robert Tyrwhitt, a gentleman whose name, in more recent times, has been frequently before the public as Chief Magistrate of Bow Street. My quondam sodalis is still living, and well remembers the joint adventure I am about to record.

As I was a privileged person at Warwick House, I passed with my companion unquestioned by the porter’s lodge, and through a small door which opened from the court-yard into the garden. The Princess greeted us with a hearty welcome. In the garden was a swing, into which Princess Charlotte stepped, and I set it in motion. Unfortunately it came in contact with Bob Tyrwhitt’s mouth and knocked him over. He forthwith set up a hideous howl. Out came subgoverness, page, dressers, and footmen. Before they reached us, the Princess had descended from the swing, had assumed an air of offended dignity, and was found lecturing me on the extreme impropriety of my conduct in bringing a boy into her garden without her privity and consent. The marvel is how she or I could either of us keep our countenance.

Further reading:
Fifty years of my life by George Thomas, Earl Of Albermarle

Princess Charlotte’s Will

Princess Charlotte of Wales was only 10 years old when she made her will. No, the princess wasn’t ill. She simply chanced to walk into a room where Mrs Campbell, one of her sub-governesses, was sitting at a table, writing her will. Charlotte then decided to make hers too. Here it is:

I make my will. First I leave all my best books, and all my books, to the Rev. Mr. Nott*.
Secondly, to Mrs. Campbell my three watches and half my jewels.
Thirdly, I beg Mr. Nott, whatever money he finds me in possession of, to distribute to the poor, and all my money I leave to the poor to them. I leave with Mr. Nott all my papers which he knows of, and I beg him to burn those which he sealed up. I beg the Prayer Book which Lady Elgin* gave me may be given to the Bishop of Exeter*, and the Bible Lady Elgin gave me may be given to him also. Also all my playthings the Miss Fishers are to have. And lastly, concerning Mrs. Gagarin* and Mrs. Louis*, I beg that they may be very handsomly paid, and that they may have a house. Lady de Clifford* the rest of my jewels, except those that are most valuable, and those I beg my father and mother, the Prince and Princess of Wales, to take. Nothing to Mrs. Udney*, for reasons. I have done my will, and trust that after I am dead a great deal may be done for Mr. Nott. I hope the King will make him a Bishop.


March, 1806.
My birds to Mrs. Gagarin and my dog or dogs to Mrs. Anna Hatton my chambermaid.

Later, on Mr. Nott’s suggestion, Charlotte decided to leave something to Mrs Udney, whom she greatly disliked, something too. However, this innocent will, made on the spur of the moment, got Mrs Campbell fired. The Prince of Wales, Charlotte’s father, believed it was written under the influence of the sub-governess and asked her to resign. To Charlotte, who was very attached to her, was told she quit for health reasons.

*Rev. Mr. Nott: Charlotte’s chaplain and preceptor
*Lady Elgin: Charlotte’s governess
*Bishop of Exeter: he was hired to teach Charlotte religion
*Mrs Gagarin: Charlotte’s dresser
*Mrs Louis: Charlotte’s personal maid
*Lady de Clifford: she replaced Lady Elgin as Charlotte’s governess
*Mrs Udney: one of Charlotte’s sub-governesses

Further reading:
Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People’s Princess by James Chambers

Princess Charlotte Of Wales Imitates Her Uncle

In his memoirs, Fifty Years Of My Life, George Thomas Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, and a childhood friend of Princess Charlotte of Wales, recalls how the young girl used to imitate her maternal uncle, the German Duke Of Brunswick:

It was not long after his return that I met the Duke at Warwick House a sad and somewhat stern-looking man with sunken eyes and bushy eyebrows, and, what was then seldom seen in England, a pair of mustaches. The demeanour of the uncle and niece were the very opposites. His, sedate and silent; hers, impulsive and voluble. He seemed well satisfied to be a listener, and to be much interested in the Princess’s lively and careless prattle. On her part she almost worshipped him. Once, after a visit from the Duke, she improvised a mustache, swaggered up and down the room, then making a sudden stop, with arms akimbo, she uttered some German expletives which would probably have hardly borne a translation, and thus sought to give you her conception of
a ” Black Bruiiswicker!”

Further reading:
Fifty years of my life by George Thomas, Earl Of Albermarle