Saturday, May 15, 2010

Knocking Up Princesses

George IV gave Henry VIII some good competition in the lard dept, weighing at at round 17 stone (that's 245 lbs) & sporting a 50 in waist.  This is how creaking corsets on men got to be popular b/c Prinny there kept trying to hide his girth.  He invented high collars to hide his double chins & popularized trousers as opposed to breeches as those were looser & more flattering to one of bulkiness.

George IVs coronation portrait

Tho he was supposedly seecrudly married to Maria Fitzherbert, his parental units knew naught of such & frowned at him for yrs to find a nice princess & commence breeding heirs.  Finally the POW agreed to do such in 1794, as he was heavily in debt from all that roistering & w/ a wife came an increase in his allowance.  He was betrothed to a German cuz, Caroline of Brunswick.

contemporary engagement announcement of Caroline of Brunswick to George, Prince of Wales

From the start this did not appear to be an auspiscious match.  It was rumored George's current mistress, Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey, approved of Caroline b/c she knew George would despise her & thus hang w/ the mistress more.  Prinny had a thing for older women.

miniature of Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey
take a moment & imagine Prinny crushing this little stick girl in bed ROFL

Lady Jersey was appointed the chief lady of the bedchamber.  This is not the same Lady Jersey who could getcha vouchers to Almack's in those Regency romances & ruin ya socially if she declined to do so; that was Frances's DIL, Sarah. 

Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey
the dragon of Almack's

The British peeps who went to fetch the intended Princess of Wales on over were appalled at her slovenliness.  Apparently Caroline washed infrequently & would wear the same dirty clothes for days on end.  She also was said to be tactless, spouting off the 1st thing that came into her head w/ little regard for the consequences, & pretty much did as she pleased.  I mean, what's the pt of being royalty if ya can't, huh?  But this behavior, plus the poor hygiene, did not sit well w/ Prinny, who took one look at Caroline & pulled an I LIKE HER NOT!

Unlike Henry VIII, he really really meant it.  He rocked up drunk for the wedding in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.  Caroline was neither amused w/ this, Lady Jersey, or the fact that Prinny was fat & no longer resembled his handsome portraits.  Unlike Henry w/ Anne of Cleves, however, Prinny attempted to do his duty.  He wrote a letter to one of his peeps whinging about it & stating the humungous amts of intestinal fortitude it took to overcome his "disgust & aversion of her person" & said they only did the deed 3x in their 1st 2 days of marriage.  Then he had no more intestinal fortitude left for the job LOL  The POW & his bride maintained separate households from Day 3 onwards.  Luckily Caroline got pregnant from Prinny's paltry efforts & produced a royal infant 9 mos later, to much excitement.

Princess Charlotte

Alas, twas a princess, christened Charlotte Augusta.  Since the Brits had gotten over that whole being ruled over by a wench thing, she was regarded as next in line for the throne after her father.  Peeps nudged Prinny & said aintcha gonna try for a son?  Prinny was all um NO, I wouldn't bang my wife again if you pd me!

Caroline got lots of sympathy from the common peeps b/c Prinny was so publicly nasty to her.  3 days after their daughter was born, he made out a new will where he left Caroline the sum of one shilling & everything else to Mrs Fitzherbert.  His mistress, being in charge of Caroline's household, spied on her for Prinny & was said to open her mail, even, & tell peeps what was in it.  Charlotte was immediately given her own household & George insisted Caroline had to have supervised visitation & no more than an hr a day.  He, however, rarely visited his daughter at all.  Little Charlotte, being the sole legit grandchild, was a great fav natch of Queen Charlotte & King George, who had her over often.  She was said to be very close to her grandfather & distraught when he went permanently whacko.

The POW was frowned at & Caroline regarded as a wronged wife.  Prinny was aghast at how his popularity ratings plummeted merely for liking his wife not.  He was glared at for his extravagant lifestyle during wartime, while Caroline was seen as a mother spitefully denied raising her only child (which was zackly the case) & cheered by the crowds when she went out, as the common folk liked how she'd wave & stop to have a natter w/ them.  Picture Princess Diana, circa 1800 LOL  Caroline was the original People's Princess & Prinny was furious.

Caroline of Brunswick, 1804

B/c access was restricted to her own child, Caroline made a habit of picking up stray kidlets & adopting them, having at one pt about 8 or 9 of em hanging round the house.  Prinny's peeps started rumormongering that Caroline was a terrible slut & mayhap one or more of these orphan brats were really her bastards.  So Prinny set up a seecrud commission to investigate, hoping he could prove it & get a nice divorce.  Incompatibility hadn't been invented as grounds yet & while he himself was a notorious adulterer, his wife wasn't filing on it.  Natch the seecrudness was leaked to the press, but it gained Prinny naught as all the kidlets had mums who were present & accounted for & could prove parentage of Caroline's growing brood.  Even author Jane Austen stuck her nose in & said she would support the princess "because she is a woman & I hate her husband" ROFL  That's the last time you'll hear Scarlet chortle over Jane Austen as methinks she's vastly overrated & I don't get this whole Darcy fascination thingy.

Once George IIIs madness made his eldest son the Prince Regent, Caroline wasn't able to visit Charlotte, now 14, at all.  After Waterloo, once the continent was a nice place to visit again, Caroline negotiated herself a nice allowance & left the country, traveling round & settling finally in Italy.  There were rumors that the majordomo of her household was also her BF.  George Gordon, Lord Byron, who hung out w/ her, certainly thunk they were lovers, but they were discreet if they were b/c again, no adultery score for Prinny.

Meanwhile, 19 yo Charlotte, who was also very popular w/ peeps & a patron of Byron & Mozart, was married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg Saalfield.

Princess Charlotte & Prince Leopold

This took place at her father's primary residence of Carlton House in May 1816.

contemporary drawing of Carlton House
tres Palladian

Within a yr it was announced the new royal couple were expecting HUZZAH!  All eyes were on their residence of Claremont House awaiting the outcome.  Charlotte's water broke & started FIFTY HOURS OF LABOR OW OW OW.  Turned out the royal infant was a transverse lie.  This is never good, not even in modern times where we got stuff.  Kidlets generally pop out headfirst.  Occasionally ya get the irritant like Scarlet's 2nd DS what decides to pop out arse over teakettle OW OW OW breech is NOT fun.  But a transverse lie is impossible to pop out w/o a) a C-section or b) doctors greasing up, sticking their whole arm up in ya, & attempting to turn the kid around.  This is b/c it's lying sideways in the uterus & therefore way too wide to slither into the birth canal.  Finally they got it turned & it stayed turned this time (see, they dunno any better LOL & keep moving on ya sometimes) b/c by now twas demised & Charlotte's ginormous 9 lb son OW was stillborn.  5 hrs later Charlotte herself had the demises from a slow leak hemorrhage.  You're bound to break sumfin after such an ordeal, I'm sure.

This was a tragedy of Diana-like proportions for the House of Hanover, not only b/c Charlotte was much-loved, but b/c NONE of George IIIs lg family of kidlets had produced ANY legit offspring, save for poor demised Charlotte there.  There weren't even any Stuarts left to call back & offer a throne.  The Duke of York, the 2nd son, was sans offspring (not to mention estranged from his duchess as well), as were the married princesses.  Prinny & Caroline weren't going to be copulating anytime soon & he had no grounds for divorce to get a fresh bride.  Ernst Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland & the 5th son, had married at age 44 a widowed cuz, 36 yo Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, about a yr b4 Charlotte & Leopold got hitched, but had no brats as of yet even tho she had 8 of em by her 1st DH.  Eventually they had one son, George, but Ernst had allllll those brothers ahead of him in the throne queue.

Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland & later King of Hanover

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Duchess of Cumberland & later Queen of Hanover

So Charlotte's demise was followed by a spate of royal weddings in a race to get an heir.  1st Princess Mary, tho she was already 40, married her cuz the Duke of Gloucester.  Nuffin.  Then 50 yo Edward, Duke of Kent, the 4th son, also married a widow w/ 2 kids, Prince Leopold's older sister, 31 yo Victoria.  Reckon the bros had an eye out for proven breeders LOL  They had one daughter, christened Alexandrina Victoria, b4 Edward demised of pneumonia a mere 6 days prior to George IIIs demise; the baby was just 9 mos old.

Edward, Duke of Kent

Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield, Duchess of Kent

Just 3 days after the Kent nuptials, Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the 7th son, married Augusta of Hesse-Cassel.  He was 43 & she was 21, & they had 3 children, George, Augusta, & Mary Adelaide.

Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge

Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, Duchess of Cambridge

The 6th son, Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, had married Lady Augusta Murray sans permission, which violated the Royal Marriages Act, so their pair of royal brats, also Augustus & Augusta, were out of the throne line b/c of that.  I'd imagine there was a lot of "What?  Who?" going on in that household w/ everyone's name being the same ROFL

Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex

The 3rd son, William, Duke of Clarence & Lord High Admiral, had spent 20 happy yrs living in sin w/ his actress mistress, Dorothy Jordan, by whom he had 10 little FitzClarence bastards; a descendent would be the last British Governor-General of Australia.  Certainly there was naught wrong w/ William's little swimmers even if he was 53.

William, Duke of Clarence, in naval dress uniform

actress Dorothy Jordan

After seeing all his sibs rush to the altar, William decided he needed to get in on this race for the heir, as barring a miracle he would succeed bro George as king if Mad Dad ever demised.  Augusta of Hesse-Cassel spurned his proposal b/c he didn't come over in person but sent his bro Adolphus instead, & as ya saw, she apparently liked him better & married the Duke of Cambridge.  Undaunted, William finally got an OK out of 25 yo Adelaide of Saxe-Meningen, being the last of the Hanoverian tribe to get hitched.

Adelaide of Saxe-Meningen, Duchess of Clarence

Adelaide was unfussed w/ his passel of bastards underfoot, always a plus in a wife LOL  Their 1st child, Charlotte Augusta for her deceased cuz, only lived a day, & their 2nd, Elizabeth Georgiana, demised at barely 3 mos old.  Apparently William's little swimmers ceased firing after that b/c that was a mere 4 yrs into the marriage.  Despite the lack of legit brats & the age difference (plus the ginormous fortune it cost to pension off Mrs Jordan), the Clarences were said to have an affectionate marriage.

Lest we forget Prinny in all this wedding & bedding LOL, now king, he was all about the pomp & pageantry, throwing himself the bestest coronation ever & spending lots of groats to do it.

Caroline came dashing back to GB to assume her place as queen, but George said pffft & had all the Westminster Abbey doors guarded w/ strict orders not to let her in & ruin his speshul moment.  Banging on the doors didn't help none & at one pt Caroline was threatened by a member of the king's bodyguard w/ his bayonet.  Caroline was publicly humiliated & peeps were outraged on her behalf.  There were riots, even, & DH decided ENOUGH OF HER SHITE! & that he was gonna get a divorce posthaste.

Queen Caroline, 1820

This was known as the Trial of Queen Caroline & Parliament had to hear DHs evidence of DWs alleged adultery w/ her Italian BF.  Caroline joked that she'd committed adultery once, w/ Mrs Fitzherbert's husband LOL  The House of Lords approved of the evidence & said OK you can get divorced, but Caroline had so much support from the lower classes that the divorce bill failed to pass the House of Commons.  George was apoplectic when he heard.  And you thunk Charles & Diana had a rough marriage ROFL

He didn't have to wait long to be rid of her, as Caroline got the sicks & began chugging milk of magnesia like it was going out of style.  Historians think she may have had stomach cancer or an intestinal obstruction.  Natch the usual poison rumors began to circulate.  Whatever twas Caroline had, she was demised in less than 2 mos after the 1st symptom hit.  Sounds more like pancreatic or liver cancer to me b/c those are sometimes right quick even nowadays, but I ain't no doctor, I just like to speculate on demises LOL

George gave order that her funeral procession was NOT to go thru London, but there was more rioting & more outraged peeps & pretty soon there was brick-throwing & namecalling & shots fired & the dude in charge of it all said SCREW THIS & let the common folk steer Caroline's cortege wherever they pleased.  The king fired him after but meh he was prolly happy not to get kilt by the pissed-off Londoners.

George IV only got to be king for 10 yrs & didn't do much of anything save eat, drink, & be merry once he no longer had a wife he loathed.  He got even fatter & was mocked in the press.  By then political cartoons had been invented & he was the subject of many unflattering ones b/c of his personal habits. 

contemporary cartoon giving George IV the mocks
note the knife & fork as his family crest PMSL

There were rumors he was an opium-eater; this would be a peep addicted to laudanum, which is that stuff they're always dosing peeps w/ in novels as a pain-killer or sleep aid.  That whole India & China trade thing was booming, no thanks to the king.  He suffered from gout, cataracts, hardening of the arteries, & towards the end he spent entire days lollygagging in bed trying to catch his breath.  I'm gonna diagnose him w/ congestive heart failure, whatcha think?

George demised at Windsor in the middle of the night of June 26, 1830, after a spectacular career of having fun & doing nothing much of importance.....

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That's the best and most fun summary of a kingship I've ever read. Now I had heard that Caroline was a right bad girl of the regency period but here you present the People's Princess version. That's quite interesting. Thank you. :)