The Socialite: Edward, Duke of York

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While George III is most famous for his “madness,” he was in fact better-renowned in his younger days for being almost annoyingly upright and fastidious. He married responsibly, embraced a quiet family life, and was usually quite horrified when scandal touched any of his relations. Unfortunately for him that happened rather frequently, and while his children’s exploits are more famous, his siblings also gave him a run for his money. We’ve discussed before his younger sister, Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark & Norway, as well as his brother, William, Duke of Gloucester and his marriage to Maria Walpole, but today we’re going to turn to the eldest of his younger brothers, Edward, Duke of York.

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George II & Caroline of Ansbach’s Hatred for Their Eldest Son

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Few dynamics within the Royal Family are as strange as that between the monarch and heir. Never was this more abundantly clear than when George I came over from Germany in 1714 and established the House of Hanover. From that day on, a reliable tension has nearly always existed and arguably strains of it have been felt as late as the 20th century. To-date, the most chilling example of it has to be the relationship between George II and Caroline of Ansbach with their eldest son, Frederick, the Prince of Wales.

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Scandal, Divorce & Exile: The Legacy of Caroline Matilda

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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.

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Always a Princess, Never a Queen: Augusta of Saxe-Gotha

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Let’s take a moment to pity poor Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, because she didn’t have an easy go of it. Married to the Prince of Wales as a teenager, she was wildly under-prepared for marriage into the British Royal Family, particularly when it was as fractured as it was in the reign of King George II. She had little way of knowing that her new husband was the black sheep of the family, or that her own growing family would become a thorn in the side of her in-laws. Even less could she have foretold that her husband would die prematurely, removing the possibility of ever becoming queen, while leaving her with the weighty responsibility of raising the future king in a foreign country.

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