Princess Charlotte Augusta (1796-1817)


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Princess Charlotte Augusta (1796-1817)

Princess Charlotte

Princess Charlotte was born at Carlton House, London, on 7 January 1796. She was the only daughter of George, prince of Wales (George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Before her birth differences between her parents had widened to an irreparable breach, and a formal separation was agreed upon when she was a few months old. The effect of this was to hand her over to the care of governesses, particularly Lady Elgin, who, until 1804, acted as the medium of communication between her and her parents.

According to those who knew her as a girl, she was bright and intelligent, very merry, but ‘pepper-hot, too.’ Her home was Carlton House, the town residence of the Prince of Wales. In 1805 she was removed to the Lower Lodge, Windsor. For reasons probably connected with his alienation from his wife, the Prince of Wales avoided acknowledging his daughter as heir presumptive; and Queen Charlotte sided with him in concluding that the best training for a girl of the princess's high spirit was seclusion. The establishment of the regency in 1811 confirmed the regent's estrangement from his daughter, and offered further opportunity for ignoring her.

In December 1813 Princess Charlotte became engaged to William, hereditary prince of Orange. Having served under Wellington, and been educated in England, he was eligible as a husband but his residence in Holland, owing to his father's return from exile to the throne, became a necessity. This attracted the Prince Regent to the match but it was not welcome to the princess herself. Her sympathy for her mother was distasteful to her father, and he was anxious to get rid of her. She wanted to live in England. She expressed her desire that the marriage treaty should contain a clause to the effect that she should never be obliged to leave England against her will. To Prince William she stated even yet more plainly that the sense of duty which attached her to England was ‘such as to make even a short absence inconvenient and painful,’ and finding that she could not carry her point, she broke off her engagement. It was renewed under fresh conditions, but a want of real sympathy between the pair ultimately put an end to it in 1814.

The spring of 1816 brought another suitor, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who proposed to Charlotte and was accepted. He had many good qualities in addition to good looks and the wedding took place on 2 May 1816 at Carlton House. It seemed to promise a future of unmixed happiness. Claremont was bought for a country residence, and Marlborough House was prepared as their home in town. The princess spent most of her brief but cloudless wedded life at Claremont. On 5 November 1817 she gave birth to a stillborn son, dying herself a few hours later. The nation received the news of her death with an outburst of grief which is well expressed in the school-book jingle

Never was sorrow more sincere
Than that which flowed round Charlotte's bier.

She was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor on 19 November 1817.

Recently I was sent photographs of a triangular shaped medallion with a dragon and the words "Princess Charlotte of Wales" on the bottom. I would be grateful for information from anyone who has any knowledge of this item of jewellery.

medallion medallion back

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Last modified 5 January, 2011

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