As of today, we have officially covered all six of George III’s daughters! Our current subject, Elizabeth, fell right in the middle of the Georgian princesses and made up the youngest of the elder trio.
Like all the daughters of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Princess Mary’s life was a little bit tragic and a little bit mundane. Born in April 1776, Mary was the first of her parents’ children to arrive in the middle of the American Revolution. Ten other children preceded her in the royal nursery, but few of them would be able to match Mary in confidence or spirit, both of which may very well have stemmed from the fact she was early on considered the most attractive of her siblings.
As all bets indicate that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they marry this May, it seems as good a time as any to look at the last prince to hold this title and the two rather memorable marriages he made. To-date this title has only had one creation, though its second has garnered speculation for years. There was discussion when the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, became engaged that the title would be bestowed on him at his wedding, and it came up again in the lead up to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, but the best intel has always said it was long ago set aside as Harry’s.
Before George IV married Caroline of Brunswick and embarked on one of the most disastrous and humiliating royal matches in British history, he took another wife, one of his own choosing. The problem was that she was Catholic, and not of the Stuart variety, but rather a nice Englishwoman who was only noble adjacent. Neither her social position nor her financial situation made her a viable contender for a royal marriage, and the prince who fell in love with her was none other than the heir to the throne.
Princess Augusta bears the dubious honor of being George III’s most beautiful daughter, but that’s not exactly a high standard. She was born on November 8, 1768, the sixth child and second daughter of George and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her birth is famous for the anecdote that her father was enormously eager for another daughter after four boys and when the waiting physician said, “I think, sir, whoever sees those lovely princes above stairs must be glad to have another,” the King was none too pleased.
“Dr. Hunter,” replied George, “I did not think I could have been angry with you, but I am; and I say, however see that lovely child the Princess Royal above stairs must wish to have the fellow with her.”
Today is the 200th anniversary of the day Princess Charlotte of Wales died, changing the trajectory of British history and ushering Queen Victoria not only to the throne, but into existence. When I was younger and first becoming interested in the history of the British Royal Family, Princess Charlotte was one of my favorite figures. There’s something rather stunning about her story – from her likability in the face of her family’s unpopularity to her parents’ disastrous marriage to her own seemingly happy ending that was tragically cut short. Charlotte was born to become yet another one of the UK’s queen regnant and her death led to another. There are interesting parallels between Charlotte and Queen Victoria: both were headstrong women in leadership, both married men from Coburg and both were only children who grew up unnaturally alone. It seems fitting somehow that if history intended for Charlotte to be replaced then it was by another Hanoverian woman.
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.
Oh, to be a son of George III – all of the perks, none of the restrictions. Unfortunately, there were a few other key characteristics missing and few from this batch of men particularly distinguished themselves as industrious, ambitious or responsible.
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.
On August 8, 1814, the Princess of Wales left England and didn’t return until June 5, 1820 as the queen of the United Kingdom and Hanover. It was an extraordinary set of circumstances that made it both tenable and palatable for the heir to the throne’s wife to live abroad. Indeed, it was a set up so appealing to her husband that he took measures to block her from ever returning.
As laid out in more detail here, the marriage of George IV and Caroline of Brunswick was a disaster through and through. Sometimes comical, other times tragic, it remains a particularly damning example of arranged marriages gone wrong and an indictment of the bumper lanes put on royal unions per the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Today, however, we’re going to zoom in on this nearly six-year period of Caroline’s exile the best we can because it was an unprecedented set of circumstances and one that has never been repeated.