Did George III’s Daughter Have an Illegitimate Son?

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The short answer is “yes.” Princess Sophia was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on November 3, 1777. It was an easy birth – or, as Charlotte later put it, “I was taken ill and delivered in the space of fifteen minutes.” Her father wasn’t present as he was then deeply enmeshed in the crisis of the American Revolution. By March, France and Britain had broken off diplomatic relations and the war wasn’t going particularly well – even so, Sophia was allocated funds during the Parliamentary session after birth to be paid out when she married or her father died, whichever came first.

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The Almost Queen: Sophia of the Palatinate

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And so we turn now to one of my faves, Sophia of the Palatinate, a woman who, had she lived only a few weeks longer, would have succeeded Queen Anne on the throne. It is because of her that the House of Hanover was founded and she’s the line’s true matriarch, making her a direct ancestor to the current queen and the rest of today’s Royal Family.

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The Accession of George II & Caroline of Ansbach

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In June 1727, 13 years into his reign, George I cheerfully left England for Hanover, grateful as always for any excuse to leave the British behind for the order and privacy of his beloved Electorate. While abroad he was planning a trip to Berlin to see his daughter, the Queen of Prussia, where he was working to finalize a marriage between his grandson, the Crown Prince, and his eldest granddaughter, Princess Anne. He was also going to see his eldest grandson, Prince Frederick, the sole representative of the Royal Family still living in Hanover since George ascended the British throne.

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The Extraordinary Case of George I’s Wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle

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The story of George I’s marriage to Sophia Dorothea of Celle sounds like the plot of fiction, or at the very least, as though it’s from another time. It’s a strange, barbaric tale, one which gave Great Britain its second ever divorced monarch. Unlike Henry VIII, George I never remarried, but he did found the House of Hanover. Sophia Dorothea would never be crowned queen, but her son would become George II and she is a direct ancestor of every British monarch since.

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The One Who Got Away: Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg

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George III was famously disinclined to let his daughters marry thanks to the marital follies of his siblings. And while that feeling may have been spearheaded by George, it was supported by his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, particularly after George began showing signs of mental illness. Of the couple’s six daughters, only three married, but of those three, only one married before she was middle-aged. That daughter was the eldest: Charlotte, the Princess Royal.

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Prince William & the Walpole Bastard

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In the middle of all the conversation about what an unlikely choice Meghan Markle is for the British Royal Family let’s take a moment to remember the time George III’s younger brother married the illegitimate daughter of a shop girl. Notably, the marriage was one of the liaisons that prompted the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, a fairly useless piece of legislation that didn’t do anyone much good.

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The Truth-Loving Princess Caroline

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In the autumn of 1714 Princess Caroline of Great Britain traveled from Herrenhausen in Hanover to her new home at St. James’s Palace in London. A few months before, her grandfather had been installed as King George I and her parents, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, were eager to begin their new British life. She joined her two older sisters, Anne and Amelia, in the nursery there, making appearances around London as people came out to cheer the three little girls. The only person missing was their older brother, Frederick, who was left behind as the family’s representative in Hanover.

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When the Germans Arrived in Britain

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On Sunday, we examined the religious friction that defined the Stuarts, finally prompting the Glorious Revolution. The story ends with the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and the end of the Stuart line, but it’s worth zooming in on this time and examining how extraordinary the beginning the House of Hanover truly was. Echoes of it, further cemented by anti-German sentiment in the 20th century, can still be heard today in how we talk about the House of Windsor and its members, from Prince Philip joining the British Royal Family in 1947 to Earl Spencer’s eulogy of his sister in 1997. So, here’s what happened.

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The Example of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen

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If there was ever a woman you could forget was queen of the United Kingdom, meet Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. Wife of William IV and queen consort for a mere seven years, it’s easy to overlook her role in the British Royal Family if for no other reason than it’s easy to forget her husband’s reign. Even so, Adelaide was an inherently decent woman and if the House of Hanover had had the good fortune to be blessed with more of her ilk, there would have been by far less scandal in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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