Caroline of Brunswick

Caroline of Brunswick

Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort
name = Caroline of Brunswick
title = Queen consort of the United Kingdom and Hanover

imgw = 211
reign = January 29, 1820 – August 7, 1821
spouse = George IV
issue = Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales
royal house = House of Brunswick-Bevern
House of Hanover
full name = Caroline Amalie Elisabeth
titles = "HM" The Queen
"HRH" The Princess of Wales
"HSH" Duchess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
father = Karl William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
mother = Princess Augusta Frederika of Wales
date of birth = birth date|mf=yes|1768|5|17
place of birth = Braunschweig, Holy Roman Empire
date of death = Death date and age|mf=yes|1821|8|7|1768|5|17
place of death = London, England
place of burial = Brunswick Cathedral

Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Caroline Amelia Elizabeth; later Queen Caroline; May 17, 1768 – August 7, 1821) was the wife of George IV of the United Kingdom from 1795, and his queen consort from January 29, 1820 until her death.

Early life

Caroline was born on May 17, 1768 at Braunschweig (Historic English name: "Brunswick") in Germany, daughter of Karl William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Princess Augusta Frederika of Wales, eldest sister of George III.

Troubled marriage

She married the British king's eldest son, her first cousin, on April 8, 1795 at St. James's Palace in London. Her new husband, the future George IV then Prince of Wales, regarded Caroline as unattractive and unhygienic; he also suspected that she was not a virgin when they married. He himself had already secretly married Maria Fitzherbert; however, his marriage to Fitzherbert violated the Royal Marriage Act of 1772 and thus was not legally valid.cite journal | first= Hugh M | author= Shingleton | year=2006 | month=November-December | title= The Tumultous Marriage of The Prince and The Princess of Wales| journal=ACOG Clinical Review | volume=11| number=6 | pages=13–16]

For Caroline's part, she found her husband equally unattractive, and the prince's correspondence reveals that the couple only had sexual intercourse three times during their marriage: twice during the first night, and once the second night. Princess Charlotte Augusta, George's only legitimate child, was born from one of these unions on January 7, 1796. The Prince and Princess of Wales never lived together afterwards, and appeared separately in public, both becoming involved in affairs with other lovers. This earned her the nickname 'The Immoral Queen.'

It was alleged that her marriage was made uncomfortable by George IV's affair with royal courtesan Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey. However, it is more likely that Caroline had little interest in her husband, and thus little interest in whom he might be involved with romantically.

Queen consort

Caroline was prevented from seeing her daughter on a day-to-day basis, and was eventually banished in 1799 to a private residence The Vicarage in Charlton then Montagu House, the home of the Earl of Sandwich, "the pagoda" may have been used as a garden house in Blackheath, where she allegedly had affairs with the politician George Canning and the admiral Sir Sidney Smith.

In 1806, it was rumoured that a child living with her was her son, in which case he would have a right of succession, if his father were the Prince of Wales. A secret investigation was set up, the "Delicate Investigation", but did not prove the allegation, although it showed that her conduct was improper. In 1814, the Princess left the country and went to live abroad, running up large debts throughout Europe and taking other lovers. During this period, the couple's daughter, who had married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, died after giving birth to her only child, a stillborn son. She was notified of the tragedy by a private letter from her grieving son-in-law.Her estranged husband's accession to the Throne in 1820 brought Caroline back to Britain. She had declined monetary offers to stay away. When she arrived in England on June 6, riots broke out in support of her. The King asked his ministers to get rid of her. The Pains and Penalties Bill 1820 was introduced in Parliament in order to strip Caroline of the title of queen consort and dissolve her marriage. It was claimed that Caroline had been involved with a low-born man, Bartolomeo Pergami, on the continent. The bill passed the House of Lords, but was not submitted to the House of Commons as there was little prospect that the Commons would pass it. Caroline indicated that she had indeed committed adultery with one man - the husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert (referring to the King). Caroline was turned away from the coronation on July 21, 1821 at the doors of Westminster Abbey. Despite the King's best attempts, Caroline retained a very strong popularity amongst the masses, and therefore wielded considerable power in spite of his disliking her.

Untimely death

On the night of the coronation, Caroline fell ill, vomiting, with an erratic pulse. She died three weeks later. Even up till her last moments, she was being reported on by a man named Stephen Lushington, who conveyed his insights to the King’s loyal supporter, the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool. Exactly why this deathbed surveillance was carried out remains unclear, and the surviving documentation is patchy in the extreme. The exact cause of her death has never been ascertained, but Caroline was certain that she had been poisoned. Her physicians thought it to be an intestinal obstruction. Caroline, knowing she would die, forbade an autopsy. She died at age 53 on August 7, 1821. She legally remained queen consort of the United Kingdom, but she was buried in her native Brunswick. Her tomb bears the inscription "Here lies Caroline, the Injured Queen of England".

References in popular culture

*Caroline is mentioned in the third series of the BBC comedy "Blackadder", which focused on the time of her future husband's life while he was Prince Regent. Blackadder, the Prince's butler, is searching for a possible wife for the prince, and mentions Caroline of Brunswick as the only one suitable to marry him, but then dismisses her because she "has the worst personality in Germany."
*The story of Caroline's marriage to George and her battle to be recognized as Queen Consort served as the basis for the 1996 BBC docudrama "A Royal Scandal". Susan Lynch played Caroline of Brunswick and Richard E. Grant played George IV.
*"The Secret Wife of King George IV" by Diane Haeger

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

*May 17, 1768 – April 8, 1795: "Her Serene Highness" Duchess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
*April 8, 1795 – January 29, 1820: "Her Royal Highness" The Princess of Wales
*January 29, 1820 – August 7, 1821: "Her Majesty" The Queen

At her death, Caroline's official title was "Her Majesty Caroline", "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen of Hanover, Duchess of Brunswick and Luneburg"



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1=1. Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
2=2. Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick
3=3. Princess Augusta of Great Britain
4=4. Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
5=5. Princess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia
6=6. Frederick, Prince of Wales
7=7. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
8=8. Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
9=9. Duchess Antoinette Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
10=10. Frederick William I of Prussia
11=11. Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
12=12. George II of Great Britain
13=13. Caroline of Ansbach
14=14. Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
15=15. Princess Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst
16=16. Ferdinand Albert I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
17=17. Landgravine Christina Wilhelmina of Hesse-Eschwege
18=18. Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
19=19. Princess Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen
20=20. Frederick I of Prussia
21=21. Sophia Charlotte of Hanover
22=22. George I of Great Britain
23=23. Sophia Dorothea of Celle
24=24. George I of Great Britain (= 22)
25=25. Sophia Dorothea of Celle (= 23)
26=26. Johann Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
27=27. Princess Eleonore of Saxe-Eisenach
28=28. Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
29=29. Princess Magdalena Sibylle of Saxe-Weissenfels
30=30. Karl, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
31=31. Princess Sophie of Saxe-Weissenfels


External links

* [ Pictures of Caroline of Brunswick] from London’s National Portrait Gallery

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