Charlotte Augusta: The People’s Princess

The lone child of the Prince of Wales and his utterly unwanted wife resided above her parent’s apartments in the nursery of Carlton House. When Charlotte was a year old, her mother moved out of Carlton House and to a place five miles away in Blackheath.

Charlotte, Princess Of Wales

Not that either parent could be describe as tentative yet, she saw more of her father than her mother since she lived at Carlton House, the Prince’s residence though his attendance there was spotty at best. Charlotte’s staff raised her. When she was an eight-year-girl, Charlotte left behind that place and moved into Warwick House. With this move as well, the staff that had been with her since her first days were replaced. Warwick House was east of Carlton House and nothing more than a crumbling old brick building.

Her new governess was dowager Lady de Clifford. This fifty plus woman was in charge of the “…temperamental tomboy…” The good-natured woman couldn’t discipline her effectively since the princess who may not behave as a princess yet she knew her position and used it to her benefit. Like children everywhere still do.

Nevertheless, the two ladies grew fond of each other and Lady de Clifford did all to make Charlotte’s life less lonely. She had one of her grandsons, the Honorable George Keppe befriend her, a friendship that would last through her lifetime. These two kids got up to much trouble. Later in Keppe’s life when he became the Earl of Albemarle, he wrote a memoir of their childhood. In his memoir, he shared stories which include stories of “..fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears.” He even shared the time that when Charlotte and George visited his parents at their home named Earl’s Court. She slipped through a side gate and joined in the back of the crowd that had gathered outside the house to see the princess.

Yet, it was all fun. Children especially Princess’s must be educated. That task fell to Retired Reverend Dr. John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter. The man had tutored the Duke of Kent and had a long list of court positions. “He was sincerely pious and a connoisseur of painting and drawing. But he was pompous, homourless, dogmatic, willful and absurdly old-fashioned.” The man “…still wore a wig and spoke affectedly.” That man pronounced bishop as “bishup”. At nine, Charlotte graced him with the nickname “the Great UP.”

Charlotte, described as blue-eyed and with peculiarly blonde hair with beautifully shaped hands and feet, had a great talent for acting and mimicry. So, when Lady de Clifford and the “Great Up” argued about Charlotte’s lessons, the Princess would stand behind the bishop and mock him. Lady de Clifford struggled to hold back her laughter while trying to best the man. She would stand behind him, “…jutting out her lower lip, waving her arms and generally ridiculing his expressions and mannerisms in an exaggerated mime.”

This young Princess was educated in religious studies, English, Latin, ancient history, and religious instruction as well as reading, writing, French, German, modern history, and music, dancing, drawing, and writing. For her excellent education, the young princess was much like other children. If in trouble, she wasn’t about a little lie to get out of trouble or her studies.

In 1806, Charlotte saw one of her household writing and asked her what she was doing and was told that she was making her will. The Princess declared that she would too. She left many of her belonging to various staff and her birds to a Mrs. Gagrin and her dog or dogs to Mrs. Anna Hatton, her chambermaid.

In 1809, Charlotte’s tutor was replaced because Dr. Nott, tutor to the Princess had written to Princess Caroline. And no pleading save him, the man who was an “adoptive parent” and Charlotte wrote, “If we never meet again, keep for me your regard and affection.”

Yet, she met another who would love her–the Duke of Brunswick, her uncle William. He is describe as “bluff but dignified and patient.” The loving uncle listened to Charlotte’s “lisping chatter” and never tired of hearing it. The princess loved him so that she returned home and “painted a black moustache on her face and marched up and down in military manner barking guttural expletives, which she hoped very much sounded like German swear words.” Just like her uncle.

Also came the Honorable Margaret Mercer Elphinstone, a companion and confidante for the Princess.

As she grew older, Charlotte learned that she would have to be careful in deed and word, whether written or spoken. Now fifteen, her life would change. In January 1811, the government presented the Regency Bill. On February 6, the Prince of Wales was sworn in as Prince Regent.

The Regency began.

A Rotten Wedding

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.

Caroline of Brunswick


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