Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Happy Marriage- Though Brief: Charlotte and Leopold

Charlotte of Wales
Charlotte of Wales came from a highly dysfunctional family- certainly not one of happily-ever-after romance. Her grandfather, George III, though happily married and the father of fifteen children, had only one legitimate grandchild, Charlotte, for all the years of her life. She was the daughter of his heir, who became Prince Regent and then George IV. Of her paternal aunts, only one was ever allowed to marry. Her paternal uncles had mistresses and illegitimate children. Charlotte grew up second in line to the throne after her father.

Caroline, Princess of Wales and Charlotte
The prince, of course, had to provide an heir and so married Caroline of Brunswick. When she arrived to meet him, he was immediately disgusted with her and showed up at their wedding drunk. She conceived very soon thereafter, gave birth nine months after the wedding and before long was unwelcome in her husband's life. She was sent off to her own house. Their daughter Charlotte also had her own house with her own household as a child. Charlotte grew up rebellious and without the graces expected of a princess. However, she was highly popular with the people. They loved her. Being the only heir to the throne in her generation, the government was duly concerned that she be married and have children. They suggested she marry William of Orange, and though she did not like him, at her father's urging she agreed. Before long, however, she was interested in the King of Prussia's nephew, Prince Frederick, and spent some time with him. She insisted on breaking her engagement. When her father learned that she was seeing a man, he dismissed her household and secluded her at Windsor Park. Her engagement with William was broken, and Frederick ended their relationship as well. Charlotte had met Leopold when she met Frederick. She now turned her attentions in his direction. Though her father at first rejected him, Leopold was just the man for Charlotte. He was the younger son of a prince, pursued a military career in which he distinguished himself and had considerable diplomatic skills. Best of all, he was able to tame her and create a happy home.

Carlton House, The Crimson State Room
Charlotte and Leopold were married in splendor according to her father's wishes at Carlton House in the Crimson State Room. A temporary altar was set up in the room with a crimson velvet cloth. Other elegant items were brought in. Charlotte dressed in silver lame' with point Brussels lace. Leopold, now a British Fieldmarshal, wore an embroidered uniform. Their happiness was not to last long. Charlotte miscarried a couple of times, and then conceived again. After moving to their country home, Charlotte carried a child who was expected to become her heir. The nation rejoiced. Doctors put her on a strict regimen- blood-letting and severe dieting. By the time she was in labor, Charlotte was greatly weakened, and her son was stillborn. Charlotte died thereafter. England lost two future monarchs in one birth. And now there were none in her generation, and no married family likely to produce an heir. The nation grieved hugely much like they did when Diana, Princess of Wales died. Charlotte's uncles left their mistresses to marry princesses and produce an heir. At last, George III, now deceased, had another granddaughter, Victoria, who became queen for many years.

Charlotte and Leopold as well as a fictional uncle of Charlotte are a part of the story The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by Debra Brown.

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