Search this blog

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Queen Charlotte (1744-1818)

Queen Charlotte
from La Belle AssemblĂ©e (1806)
Profile

Queen Charlotte (19 May 1744 - 17 November 1818) was the wife of George III. She was a keen botanist and helped develop the gardens at Kew.

Marriage to George III

Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on 19 May 1744.  On 8 September 1761, she married King George III of England, just a few hours after meeting him for the first time. The Princess was not generally thought handsome, but was gracious and devoted to her husband. The couple enjoyed many happy years together with a mutual love of the outdoors and a preference for austere living.

Queen Charlotte from Memoirs of HM Sophia   Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz    by William Marshall Craig (1818)
Queen Charlotte from Memoirs of HM Sophia
 Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz
  by William Marshall Craig (1818)
Kew Gardens

Charlotte was a patroness of the arts and a keen amateur botanist. George III gave Richmond Lodge and estate to Queen Charlotte in 1761 as part of their marriage settlement, and, during the 1770s, she developed a retreat, known today as Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, within the grounds of what is now Kew Gardens, as a picnic place for her family.

Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew Gardens
Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew Gardens

It was situated near a paddock known as the New Menagerie which housed exotic animals including buffaloes, the first kangaroos to arrive in England and a quagga, a now extinct animal similar to a zebra. Charlotte was instructed in botany by Sir James Edward Smith and in botanical illustration by Francis Bauer and Margaret Meen.

The Chinese pagoda, Kew Gardens
George III's illness

After 1804, however, as her husband’s health deteriorated, she grew fat and unpleasant, unable to cope with her husband’s illness, and growing afraid to be left alone with him. She died on 17 November 1818, outlived by her sick husband, and was buried in the royal vault of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 2 December 1818.

The chair in which Queen Charlotte died, in her bedroom in Kew Palace
The children of George III and Queen Charlotte

The royal couple had fifteen children:
1. George, Prince of Wales (1762-1830). Became King George IV on his father’s death in 1820.
3. Prince William, Duke of Clarence (1765-1837). Became King William IV on the death of his brother George in 1830.
4. Charlotte, Princess Royal (1766-1828).
5. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1767-1820). Father to Queen Victoria.
6. Princess Augusta Sophia (1768-1840).
7. Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840).
8. Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland (1771-1851). Became King of Hanover in 1837.
12. Princess Sophia (1777-1848). It is believed that she had an illegitimate child by the King’s equerry, Thomas Garth, in Weymouth in 1800.
13. Prince Octavius (1779-1783). Died in infancy.
14. Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Died in infancy.
15. Princess Amelia (1783-1810). Favourite child of George III. Her death in 1810 plunged her father into a deep melancholy which led to a bout of insanity from which he never recovered.

Sources used include:
Chedzoy, Alan, Seaside Sovereign - King George III at Weymouth, (2003)
Fry, Plantagenet Somerset, The Kings & Queens of England & Scotland, (1990)
Watson, J. Steven, Oxford History of England: The Reign of George III 1760-1815, (1960)

Kew, History and Heritage, Kew Gardens' website

All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

22 comments:

  1. Well researched and written thank you

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, that bedroom IS to die for!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Looking at Queen Charlotte's bedroom brought to mind again something that I have always wondered about. The rooms in these palaces and great homes are always so beautifully decorated. Who did the decorating? Were the furniture designers also responsible for the interior designs? Did the King have a personal decorator for all his homes? Or did the architect designate certain styles to be used?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that George IV had a lot of say in the decoration of the homes that he built and lived in, but I am not sure whether George III had that level of involvement. I am afraid that I do not know who was responsible for the internal decoration at Kew Palace.

      Delete
  4. I have been studing history on queen Charlotte which was a black woman and when I search the web you find few pictures that shows her real colors then when you look back at the kids she gave birth to you only find on the web kids with blue eyes and blond hair she gave birth to 15 kids I know being of color some of those kids would have had different looks . Then when you go back and research the kids that blood line is still in royalty places put we never here about thier mother and what gets me the most is how they try and get rid of this woman true colors sad but in the end God reveals all true things and my name is Charlotte and I disliked my name because my great grand mother work

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many people have speculated about Queen Charlotte's ancestry and the question has been raised as to whether her skin was black. One of the most difficult things about Georgians is that there no photographs and so people can only be judged on how they were painted, which, of course, might not be true to life.

      However, there are many reasons why it is extremely unlikely that Queen Charlotte was black and I would recommend Laura Purcell's blog which goes into the subject in further detail: The (not) Black Queen

      Delete
    2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/queen-charlotte-sophia-223361

      There is a true life portrait on the BBC site and the portrait is displayed at Oxford University. She was a Moor and looked nothing like the portrait you've chosen for your site.

      Delete
    3. She was black on her mothers side, she was Portuguese mulatto, plenty of info on the net.

      Delete
  5. Queen Charlotte looks like me and a great deal of my cousins. We are mixed West Indian, Black, Native American, French and Irish. We have light colored eyes and and blonde and red hair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How interesting. Maybe you are related in some way!

      Delete
  6. I have been researching Queen Charlotte and according to this her husband, King George the third died before Charlotte. However, also on this website it is mentioned that King George died in 1820 whereas Charlotte died in 1818. This suggests that this information is wrong in some way...I'm confused. Care to explain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How very odd - I think that the book you are reading must be wrong! Queen Charlotte died in November 1818 more than a year before her husband George III who died in January 1820.

      Delete
  7. i think princess diana elizabeth charlotte would have been ideal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that Charlotte is a great name for the new royal baby. :)

      Delete
  8. I have just found your website and I think it is tremendous. You have such knowledge and access to more details than most of us. Now that we have a new royal Charlotte our interest has been aroused in her earlier relatives. The Princess of Cambridge { Mary Adelaide ] also has a very interesting story and I am searching for her history. Many of us in Canada are keen royalists and we pass on our information and articles about the royalty. Will keep in touch. Lois Smith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comments. Mary Adelaide is a little after my time period, but I have blogged about Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, here: http://www.regencyhistory.net/2015/07/princess-augusta-duchess-of-cambridge.html

      Delete
    2. I think you are wrong about North Carolina being named after Queen Charlotte
      Carolina is taken from the Latin word for Charles (Carolus), honoring King Charles I of England (who made the original land grant in 1629).

      North Carolina was formed in 1729 when the Carolina colony was divided in two. North Carolina became the 12th state in November of 1789.

      Delete
  9. Very interesting subject! From my study of the royal family which goes back many year Queen Charlotte indeed was of mixed heritage(mulatto). Much is written about this,probably the most information you can find is there in the British library/museum. In the US of A Charlotte , North Carolina is named after her.

    ReplyDelete
  10. All the sources say she was born in May. Now I am reading in a newspaper of January 1806 about her birth-day anniversary on 19th January, and who turned out for it. Why, one wonders, this discrepancy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is something I want to look into. Something Andrew (my husband) read the other day suggested that they may have celebrated 'official' birthdays like the Queen does today, but I need to do some more research to prove whether this was so or not.

      Delete
  11. that's interesting if so, I didn't know they did so this early. It was in the Morning Advertiser

    ReplyDelete
  12. My Word... She was continuously pregnant.... Her body must have been strong to bear so many children!

    ReplyDelete