A Regency Princess

It’s 1811 and George III is mad and his son, George has gone from the Prince of Wales to the Prince Regent. And George did as George loved to do—he decided to throw a grand fête at Carlton House. As the invites went out, Charlotte waited for her own to appear on her table. She waited in vain. Public favor and attention couldn’t be ripped off the Prince Regent and set upon his daughter or worse, her mother. Charlotte wasn’t his daughter and heir but his rival. Yet, the people expected her attendance at the June 5 occasion. The public favored the young princess and the Prince Regent believed a glimpse of Charlotte would increase the unpopularity even more than it was. According to one lady, the Prince Regent was “avoiding everything which could look like a recognition of her as the heir presumptive to the crown.”

If she had attended, society would have seen the young Princess changed. Now, fifteen-years-old, Charlotte was described as “…grown and improved in looks.” Charlotte was described as “very graceful” as well as “forward, dogmatic on all subjects, puckish about horses, and full of exclamations very like swearing.” Even in a letter, Charlotte wrote, she described her temperament as Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. This young lady also was very aware of her political position. She was a Whig who was “sincere, committed, and above all radical.” 

Life As Before

Sadly, for the lively Charlotte, life continued much as it had before, being watched by her father’s household spies and hidden away from the outside but for few moments of freedom. In November when she visited Oatlands and experienced her first whirlwind of society. Two balls were given and even her father was in attendance. He welcomed her with great joy and warmth then, proceeded to ignore her until she was learning the dance entitled Highland Flurry, the Prince Regent forced himself into the instruction. 

The Princess’s social world was expanding beyond her rooms. At the end of the year, the Prince Regent opened Parliament and invited his daughter. The only reason he issued the offer was because otherwise her absence would reflect badly on him. On his return to Carlton House, the crowds chanted, “Down with the Regent” while Charlotte received cheers and shouts of her name. That must have riled the narcissistic Prinny.

In February 1812, she attended the opera and with youthful enthusiasm, she waved at everyone she knew. So, people that was improper but most loved her freshness. And her open demeanor endeared her even more to the people. 

Freedom Delayed

January 1813, the Princess turned seventeen and her gift was a new governess. At this age, the proper protocol was for her to have ladies-in-waiting. When she raised her objections, her father responded with “Depend upon it, as long as I live you shall never have an establishment, unless you marry.” Her only route to freedom started at a church’s aisle. 

At least, Charlotte began to have more of a social life even attending the February 5, 1813 ball at Carlton House. She had hoped to dance with the Duke of Devonshire. She had enjoyed his company when she met him before and even got the shy duke (who was deaf so isolated himself) to “talk a great deal.” Instead, she danced with her uncles and older men but she was free of her apartments. 

While all this was happening, the nation was at war—The Peninsula War—and she was still dealing with the war between her parents. Her mother’s letter to her father was published by the Morning Chronicle, which stated the curtailment of the visits with her daughter. This letter started The Delicate Investigation. This hoopla had Charlotte all but locked away since it wouldn’t be proper for her to be seen and her social life only included events that occurred in her father or uncle’s homes or strolls or drives in her carriage. The Prince Regent even prohibited Charlotte from  sitting for a painting. 

Meanwhile, the Prince Regent was seeking to arrange a marriage between Charlotte and the Hereditary Prince of Orange. 

But love would come for the Princess. 

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The Jane Austen Novel that Matters

July 18, 2017 is the bicentennial anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I have read her books, seen the movies and read her letters. She has inspired me to write Regency and learn about the royal navy and even imagine strolling the streets of Bath. I have numerous copies of her novels.

But there is one book that twists my heart with a mere mention of its title and that is Persuasion. Jane’s last novel, which was published after her death in December 1817.

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen for two reasons. The first reason I love this book is its theme–a second chance at love and the second reason is the dishy, perfect hero Captain Fredrick Wentworth.

No doubt, you must have read the novel (if you are reading this, it is likely that you are a Jane Austen fan) so I will not go into the plot. With Fredrick’s return and Anne’s family’s fortunes dwindling, both Anne and Fredrick now have a chance for second love. Their love has never died after a denial and eight long years. As I read Jane’s words, I cannot stop from imagining Fredrick out at sea, heartbroken and carrying that pain. And when he returns he is now a man of fortune and gets the chance to show Anne what she denied.

We all have wanted to do that and some have had the chance to do it. And Fredrick does what many have done and acted as if he is not pained by the sight of her. Though, he is unaware that she too had been tormented by what could have been.

Captain Wentworth leaving Anne the love letter.

When Fredrick learns Anne still loves him, he takes his chance. And oh, the way he declares it, tears fill my eyes and my throat closes up and my bottom lip shakes.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan–Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?–I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.–Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in 

F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never. 

Reading this novel, I feel the love between Fredrick and Anne as well as the longing. These emotions seep from the ink and soak into my skin and fill me. I can’t stop myself and must always hug it to my heart.

Then I can’t help but wonder–As Jane neared death, did she yearn for a second chance at love? She must have. We all do.