Wishing And Hoping
Now, that Charlotte had chosen the prince for her, she wished to receive her father’s approval and quickly. Her uncle advised her to wait until November when Parliament would sit so another push would be made. Meanwhile, Charlotte was now at Warwick House with even less freedom while Leopold was on the continent with the Russian army to destroy Napoleon’s army.
Soon, Charlotte had a reason to be overjoyed. Napoleon had been defeated and Leopold was safe since the Russians were too far away to participate in the battles of 1815. So, the Princess wrote to the Prime Minister requesting he represent her with her father and to request him to offer her hand in marriage to the Prince. And if her request was denied, she’d remain a spinster and deny all other offers for her hand.
Luckily, a mutual friend Charlotte and Leopold helped the couple exchange letters since it was improper for an unengaged female to write to an unmarried man. Another lucky break for Charlotte, Slender Billy announced engagement to Tsar’s younger sister, Grand Duchess Anne.
On 6 January 1816, Charlotte along with her grandmother, the Queen and two aunts traveled to Brighton. The next day, her twentieth birthday, her father hosted a party for her at the Brighton Pavilion. With her father cornered, Charlotte pressured her father to agree to the marriage. It seems to have worked because Prinny asked about Leopold and liked what he heard so he summoned Leopold to England with a letter from Lord Castlereagh informing him that the Prince Regent intended to offer the princess’s hand.
Only Have Eyes For You
Near the end of February 1816, Leopold landed at Dover. This time the Prince stayed at Clarendon Hotel on Bond Street, where a suite of rooms had been reserved for him. But the poor prince was ill but he still traveled to Brighton to dine with Charlotte, the Queen, and her aunts. Leopold bewitched everyone with his charm, good looks and grace. Queen Charlotte even forged her after dinner game of cards to talk to the Prince.
Yet, it seemed the young royal couple only had eyes for each other. In Charlotte and Leopold: The True Story of The Original People’s Princess, “Charlotte and he were totally absorbed in each other, anxiously reassuring, eagerly planning,…” Later that night, she wrote to her friend, “I find him quite charming, & I go to bed happier than I have ever done yet in my life…I am certainly a most fortunate creature & have to bless God. A Pss. (Princess) never, I believe, set out in life (or married) with such prospects of happiness, real domestic ones like other people. I’m so very grateful at my lot I cannot express it sufficiently to you. All he said was so very charming & so right & so everything in short I could wish.”
Yet, the royal lovebirds were kept apart so the wooing happened through letters since they met occasionally. “As their wedding day approached, they were still as eager and optimistic as they had been when they first dined together in Brighton, but, as Leopold readily admitted, they hardly knew each other any better.”
A Wedding Plan
While the wedding preparation carried on, Leopold learned English though his health hadn’t improved. Leopold also was made “naturalized as a British subject”. The Prince Regent even offered him a dukedom, which Leopold refused. “He acquiesced in everything when the marriage contract was drawn up, and he took no part in the financial discussions.” Parliament provided the royal couple two houses. The London residence, Camelford House, a very unroyal building located on the corner of Park Lane and Oxford Street. Their country residence was in Surrey, which Charlotte though the most beautiful house.” The previous owner, Charles Rose Ellis, had put it up for sale because his wife died in childbirth within its walls. The couple also received a single payment of 60,000 and for living expenses, Leopold was granted 50,000 and Charlotte 10,000.
For the new household, Charlotte settled on “six footmen, not eight as her father suggested, and their state livery was to be a simple green, not gaudy crimson and green like the Prince Regent’s house. She was also loyal and kept on many of the people who had been closest to her at Windsor and Warwick House.”
The Queen ordered Charlotte’s dress from Mrs Triand of Bolton Street even though, a few alterations were required, it didn’t delay the wedding. The Prince Regent’s gout did that.
But the wedding date had been set 2 May 1816.