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Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

From Academic Kids

Princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (May 19, 1744 - November 17, 1818) was the queen consort of King George III.

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Charlotte.jpg
Coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay, National Portrait Gallery


Contents

Birth, youth, and marriage

Charlotte was the youngest daughter of Charles Louis Frederick, Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz-Mirow (23 February, 1707 - 5 June, 1752) and his wife, Elizabeth Albertine, Princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen and Duchess of Saxony (4 August, 1713 - 29 June, 1761).

She was a granddaughter of Adolf Friedrich II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (October 19, 1658 - May 12, 1708) by his third wife, Christiane Emilie Antonie, Princess of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (March, 1681 - November 1, 1751). Her father's elder half brother reigned from 1708 to 1753 as Adolf Friedrich III.

Charlotte's brother Adolf Friedrich IV of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (reigned 1752 - 1794) and her widowed mother actively negotiated for a prominent marriage for the young princess. At the age of 17, Charlotte was selected as the bride of the young King George, though she was not his first choice. He had already flirted with several young women considered unsuitable by his mother, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and by his political advisors. He also was rumored to have married a young Quaker woman named Hannah Lightfoot, though all later claims to prove this marriage were deemed unfounded and the purported supporting documents discovered to be forgeries.

Princess Charlotte arrived in Britain in 1761, and the couple were married at the Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace, London, on September 8 of that year.

Despite not having been her husband's first choice of bride, and having been treated with a general lack of sympathy by his mother, Charlotte's marriage was a happy one, and the king was apparently never unfaithful to her. In the course of their marriage, they had fifteen children, all but two — Octavius and Alfred — of whom survived into adulthood.

Issue

NameBirthDeathNotes
HM King George IV12 August 176226 June 1830married 1795, Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; had issue
HRH The Prince Frederick, Duke of York16 August 17635 January 1827married 1791, Princess Frederica of Prussia; no issue
HM King William IV21 August 176520 June 1837married 1818, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen; had issue. Also had ten illegitimate children by the actress Dorothy Jordan.
HRH The Princess Charlotte, Princess Royal29 September 17666 October 1828married 1797, Frederick, King of Württemberg; no issue
HRH The Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent2 November 176723 January 1820married 1818, Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; had issue (HM Queen Victoria)
HRH The Princess Augusta Sophia8 November 176822 September 1840 
HRH The Princess Elizabeth22 May 177010 January 1840married 1818, Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg; no issue
Ernest Augustus I, King of Hanover5 June 177118 November 1851married 1815, Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; had issue
HRH The Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex27 January 177321 April 1843(1) married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, The Lady Augusta Murray; had issue; marriage annulled 1794
(2) married 1831, The Lady Cecilia Buggins; no issue
HRH The Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge24 February 17748 July 1850married 1818, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel; had issue
HRH The Princess Mary25 April 177630 April 1857married 1816, HRH Prince William, Duke of Gloucester; no issue
HRH The Princess Sophia3 November 177727 May 1848 never married; had an illegitimate son by General Sir Thomas Garth
HRH The Prince Octavius of Great Britain23 February 17793 May 1783 
HRH The Prince Alfred22 September 178020 August 1782 
HRH The Princess Amelia7 August 17832 November 1810 


Interests and patronage

Queen Charlotte was keenly interested in the fine arts and supported Johann Sebastian Bach, who was her music teacher. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then aged eight, dedicated his Opus 3 to her, at her request. The queen also founded orphanages and a hospital for expectant mothers.

In 2004, the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace staged an exhibition illustrating George and Charlotte's enthusiastic arts patronage, which was particularly enlightened when compared to previous Hanover monarchs and compared favorably to the adventuresome tastes of the king's father, Frederick, Prince of Wales. Among the royal couple's favored craftsmen and artists were the cabinetmaker William Vile, silversmith Thomas Heming, the landscape designer Capability Brown, and the German painter Johan Zoffany, who frequently painted the king and queen and their children in charmingly informal scenes, such as a portrait of Queen Charlotte and her children as she sat at her dressing table.

The queen also was a well-educated amateur botanist and helped establish what is today Kew Gardens.

The education of women was a great importance to the queen, and she saw to it that her daughters were better educated that the usual young women of the day.

Husband's illness

After the onset of his illness, then misunderstood as madness, George III was placed in the care of his wife, who could not bring herself to visit him very often, due to his erratic behavior and occasional violent reactions. However, Charlotte remained supportive of her husband as his mental illness, now believed to be porphyria, worsened in old age.

Death

The queen died in the presence of her eldest son, the Prince Regent, who was holding her hand as she sat in an armchair at the family's country retreat, Dutch House in Surrey (now known as Kew Palace). She was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Her husband died two years later.

Modern ancestral studies

In recent years, Charlotte's distant ancestry has become of interest to some scholars of the African diaspora. The queen's biographer Olwen Hedley stated that Queen Charlotte's personal physician, Christian Friedrich, Baron von Stockmar, described his patient as having "true mulatto features" ("ein wahres Mulattengesicht"), presumably meaning that she appeared to have some African blood in his opinion. In support of this comment, some researchers have noted that Queen Charlotte was a descendant, through as few as three and as many as six lines, of Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Portuguese noblewoman who lived in the 15th century. Castro was a descendant of the 12th-century Portuguese monarch Alfonso III and his mistress, Mourana Gil -- who has various been described as African, Moorish or Berber -- and eventually became an ancestor of most northern European royals, including George III. Critics of this research, however, argue that Castro's distant perch in the queen's family tree makes any presumed African, Moorish, or Berber ancestry highly negligible, and no different from that held by any other member of a German princely house at that time. However, Charlotte, to date, is the most prominent of Castro's descendants to have been described by contemporaries as having what they believed were negroid features, features that were much commented on during her youth and caricaturized by contemporary cartoonists.

Named in her honor

External links and references

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