Ernest & Frederica: The “Sinister” Cumberlands

800px-Knight_of_the_Order_of_St_Patrick (1).jpg

Ernest, Duke of Cumberland had an inauspicious recent showing in the PBS series Victoria, but one that actually illustrates a few reputational issues (shall we say?) during his lifetime. Indeed, for all that Queen Victoria’s uncle may seem like a rather dry case study, Ernest’s life, and that of his wife, Frederica, was consistently marked by scandal, not the least of which were rumors of violence (read: murder).

Continue reading “Ernest & Frederica: The “Sinister” Cumberlands”

Scandal, Divorce & Exile: The Legacy of Caroline Matilda

Caroline-Mathildeofwales_denmark.jpg

I said a couple months ago that the “Georges” were as brutal as their Tudor counterparts, which primarily stems from their treatment of the women in their lives. It wasn’t so much the “Georges” themselves, as the time period. The corsets and classical music and horse-drawn carriages may conjure images of “civility,” but really those are only different dressings for a society that still insisted on many of the same benchmarks from its women. Fertility, of course. Fidelity, in public at least. And the hazier expectation that family honor is housed in the “virtue” of its women.

Like Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard in the 16th century, there are a few figures from the 17th and 18th century that scream out the same legacy of near-martyrdom at the altar of family service. One of them is Princess Caroline Matilda, who would serve as queen of Denmark for six years and die disgraced, divorced and alone.

Continue reading “Scandal, Divorce & Exile: The Legacy of Caroline Matilda”

The Worst Couple in Royal History: George IV & Caroline of Brunswick

1024px-Trial_of_Queen_Caroline_by_Sir_George_Hayter.jpg

One theory abounds that the Royal Family is at its most effective when it’s considered dull. If that’s the case then George IV was pretty much a disaster from start to finish, a fact that was solidified by his marriage to his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick at the end of the 18th century. Their union was so scandalous, petty and embarrassing that, honestly, they make the domestic wars of the 1990s seems downright quaint.

Continue reading “The Worst Couple in Royal History: George IV & Caroline of Brunswick”