I am delighted to welcome Joanne Major and Sarah Murden as my guests today.
|Sarah and Joanne|
They are also joint hosts of the blog, 'All Things Georgian', where they publish twice weekly with a wide remit of writing about ‘anything and everything’ connected to the Georgian era. Expect everything from extra and exclusive information relating to their biographies to articles about false bums and tums (fashion victims are nothing new!) and local murder mysteries. If it grabs their attention, then they hope it will interest their readers too. Nothing is off limits!
Guest Blog - A Highly Unsuitable Marriage
|Augusta, Duchess of Brunswick |
with her son
by Angelica Kauffmann, 1767
In 1794, despite being his first cousin, Caroline was chosen to be the bride of the dissipated George, Prince of Wales; heavily in debt, he agreed to marry in return for an increased allowance. The choice of suitable Protestant princesses was limited and the prince’s lover, Frances, Countess of Jersey, encouraged his suit for the hand of Caroline of Brunswick, knowing full well that the two would be ill-matched. James Harris, Baron Malmesbury (later the 1st Earl of Malmesbury) was despatched to Brunswick to escort Princess Caroline to her new life in England.
|Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821) |
when Princess of Wales
Almost a week later, Malmesbury recorded that, ‘Princess Caroline improves on acquaintance, is gay and cheerful, with good sense’ but, worried by her lack of tact and tendency to talk too much and too indiscreetly, he set about ‘coaching’ the princess, fearing her education inadequate to her new position. The Duke of Brunswick’s opinion of his daughter was that ‘she's not stupid, but she has no judgement - she was raised sharply, and it was necessary.’
The Princess Augusta was not known for her tact, nor for keeping her tongue still and had happily regaled Malmesbury with anecdotes about her royal relations. Caroline was made in the same mould but her particular fondness was for matchmaking.
|Blankenburg, Brunswick Duchy|
by Johann Heinrich Bleuler
'Princess Caroline very missish at supper. I much fear these habits are irrecoverably rooted in her – she is naturally curious, and a gossip – she is quick and observing, and she has a silly pride of finding out everything – she thinks herself particularly acute in discovering likings, and this leads her at times to the most improper remarks and conversation.'
|Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821), |
in her wedding dress.
'On these points I endeavoured, as far as was possible for a man, to inculcate the necessity of great and nice attention to every part of dress, as well as to what was hid, as to what was seen. (I knew she wore coarse petticoats, coarse shifts, and thread stockings, and these never well washed, or changed often enough.) I observed that a long toilette was necessary, and gave her no credit for boasting that hers was a “short” one.'
Despite all this, Caroline was charming company; Malmesbury noted that ‘she improves very much on closer acquaintance – cheerful, and loves laughing.’ But poor Caroline faced a losing battle at the outset. She had an exuberant personality but had led a sequestered existence; just when she saw a chance to enjoy herself she was being told to rein herself in. George III wrote to his sister saying he hoped his niece would not have too much vivacity, and would lead a sedentary and withdrawn life. With Lady Jersey meddling behind the scenes back in England, desperate to keep the Prince of Wales’ affections, it was no surprise that the marriage was to prove a disaster.
|A miniature of Caroline.|
The scheming Lady Jersey was to be the new Princess of Wales’ Lady of the Bedchamber and was there to meet Caroline when she stepped off the royal yacht at Greenwich on 5th April 1795. Instantly, Lady Jersey set about humiliating her new mistress, criticising her clothes and insisting, against royal protocol, on sitting facing forwards in the carriage she was to share with Caroline, claiming she felt sick travelling backwards. Lord Malmesbury was having none of it and took Lady Jersey into his own carriage while Caroline travelled with Mrs Hervey Aston (a Woman of the Bedchamber who dutifully accepted her allotted position in the carriage) to the Duke of Cumberland’s apartments at St James where she was to meet her new husband for the first time. As the Prince of Wales entered the room, Caroline sank into a curtsey from which George raised her, before leaning in to embrace his bride-to-be. And then he left, quite abruptly. At dinner that evening, Lord Malmesbury was outraged by Caroline’s behaviour (it would seem that the princess had the measure of Lady Jersey by this time).
[Caroline] was flippant, rattling, affecting raillery and wit, and throwing out coarse vulgar hints about Lady [Jersey] who was present, and though mute, le diable n’en perdait rien. The Prince was evidently disgusted, and this unfortunate dinner fixed his dislike, which, when left to herself, the Princess had not the talent to remove; but, by still observing the same giddy manners and attempts at cleverness and coarse sarcasm, increased it till it became positive hatred.
|The Marriage of George IV (1762-1830) |
when Prince of Wales by Henry Singleton, 1795
|Her Royal Highness Caroline, |
Princess of Wales and the Princess Charlotte,
engraving by Colnaghi, 1799
Diaries and Correspondence of James Harries, First Earl of Malmesbury, volume III, London, 1844
The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline, Flora Fraser, Macmillan, 1996
Augusta, Duchess of Brunswick with her son by Angelica Kauffmann, 1767. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Blankenburg, Brunswick Duchy by Johann Heinrich Bleuler. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
The Marriage of George IV (1762-1830) when Prince of Wales by Henry Singleton, 1795. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Queen Caroline (1768-1821), when Princess of Wales, miniature by Philip Jean, 1795. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821) when Princess of Wales by Gainsborough Dupont, 1795/6. The Princess is depicted in her wedding dress, wearing a miniature of her husband on her breast. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821), Queen of George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1798. Victoria and Albert Museum
Her Royal Highness Caroline, Princess of Wales and the Princess Charlotte, engraving by Colnaghi, 1799. Biblioteca Nacional de España