The Prince of Wales, George, (who would go on to be crowned George IV—son of George III—the Mad King who lost America) loved the finer things in life—fashion, art, architecture, and fine food. He spent every shilling of his allowance on his interests.
And he had a very fine allowance. The Prince received an annual allowance of 60,000 pounds from the Privy Purse and as the Duke of Cornwall (as Prince Charles is now), he received an income of 13, 000 a year from the duchy. Yet, this spoiled, indulged man was in debt for over 600,000 pounds. So, the Prince went to his daddy, the King, who he never enjoyed a good relationship with, but the king refused to pay his bills yet the Prime Minister (a title that didn’t exist at this time and was actually called the First Lord of the Treasury) promised that when the Prince married, his income would increase to 100,000 a year.
Two Princesses were put on the marital block—Princess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, niece to the Prince’s mother, Queen Charlotte. The other was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, niece to George III.
Instead of following his mother’s lead, the Prince listened to his scheming mistress, Lady Jersey, and settled upon Princess Caroline of Brunswick, who the Queen had heard many “unsavory rumors” about her.
“The Brunswicker Princess was said to be coarse and uninhibited. She was said to have had several affairs, one with an Irish officer in her father’s army, and it was known that earlier marriage negotiations had been broken off without reason.”
The Prince must not have heard these tales because he sent James Harris, Baron Malmesbury to Brunswick to escort the Princess to England. The Baron arrived on 20 November 1794. The woman presented to him shocked the man.
“It was clear from the disheveled state of her clothes that no one had helped her to dress and that no one had ever taught her how to do it herself: it was also obvious for other reasons that it was at least several days since she had washed herself.”
However, he described her as “pretty face–not expressive of softness–her figure not graceful–fine eyes-good hand–tolerable teeth but going–fair hair and light eyebrows, good bust…”
Her father, the Duke of Brunswick, informed the baron that she is no fool but that she lacks judgment.”
Princess Caroline was twenty-six years old and couldn’t be described as discreet. “She was over-familiar with everyone, and her conversation was coarse and tactless.” Poor Malmesbury spent his time there teaching the Princess the manners of a Princess and proper behavior.
On 29 December 1794, they left for England but had to head to Hanover because it was too dangerous to continue. For the next six weeks, Malmesbury lived his own version of My Fair Lady teaching Caroline how to behave like an English Princess.
Finally, on 28 March 1795, they boarded the HMS Jupiter and traveled to Gravesend, England then climbed on the royal yacht, Augusta, and sailed to Greenwich, landing on Easter Sunday. No one was there to meet her so she was taken to St. James Palace and remained until her wedding day.
Then came the meeting between the couple. Caroline waved at the crowds from an open window, the Prince of Wales entered.
Malmesbury wrote in his diary. “She very properly, in consequence of my saying it to her it was the right mode of proceeding, attempted to kneel to him. He raised her (gracefully enough), and embraced her, said barely one word, turned round, retired to a distant part of the apartment, and calling me to him, said ‘Harris, I am not well; pray get a glass of brandy.’ I said, ‘Sir, had you not better have a glass of water?’—upon which he much out of humor, said with an oath, ‘No; I will go directly to the Queen,’ and away he went…”
Well, Princess Caroline wasn’t a meek miss. She gaped and said, “My God! Is the Prince always like that?” And even added what many thought, “I think he is very fat, and nothing like as handsome as his portrait.”
That night, the couple dined together. It did nothing to improve their relationship. Caroline still hurt by the Prince’s treatment of her was sarcastic and made it known that she knew of the Prince’s relationship with her lady-in-waiting, Lady Jersey. Malmesbury wrote “The Prince was disgusted and this unfortunate dinner fixed his dislike.
Three days later, Caroline was at the altar of the Chapel Royal dressed in a gown chosen by the queen. An old-fashioned confection of huge hoops, broad ribbons, and big bows wrapped around the outside.
The prince ambled his drunk self to the altar, thanks to the literal support of the Dukes of Bedford and Roxburghe. According to Caroline, now the Princess of Wales, her husband passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him.”
The marriage didn’t improve. Caroline tried to please him but she was dirty and smelled and the Prince voice his displeasure so Caroline just repeated whatever action or word that had displeased him. After three weeks, the couple was living separately. Caroline on the ground floor of Carlton House and the Prince in his luxurious apartment above his wife’s.
Yet, one day short of their ninth month anniversary on 7 January 1796, Princess Charlotte was born into this dysfunctional famil