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Skip to content Skip to search. Fraser, Flora. Published London : John Murray, Language English View all editions Prev Next edition 7 of 8. Author Fraser, Flora. Queens -- Great Britain -- Biography.
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Great Britain -- Kings and rulers. Great Britain -- History -- Notes Originally published: London: Macmillan, Formerly CIP. Includes bibliographical references and index. A flurry of imposing addresses from emperors, kings and other sovereign princes of Europe duly greeted Princess Caroline's birth. Indeed, he came from a long line of warriors. In the course of this war, which devastated Europe from to , the Hereditary Prince was attached to the staff of his paternal uncle, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Oels, who was given the British command abroad.
After the war's close in he rejoined the Prussian service and modelled himself on his distinguished uncle, like him clothing his slim and elegant figure on all possible occasions in the Prussian uniform and boots.
Duke Ferdinand was also something of a military hero, as the victor of Minden in William Pitt the Elder had Ferdinand in mind when he wrote in of 'the most sincere, but unimportant homage, which my heart pays to the virtues and genius of the Hereditary Prince. Admiration, and devoted attachment, to the two great Princes, uncle and nephew, are terms synonymous with zeal for the common cause of Europe, of which they are the glorious instrument.
Charles's mother, Duchess Charlotte, was a tiny woman whose ethereal looks belied a steely ambition on behalf of her children. She encouraged her eldest son in his reverence for her brother Frederick. Like him a dedicated child of the Enlightenment, she had arranged for Charles a prodigious course of instruction in the humanities under tutors who included the Abbe Jerusalem, before sending him on a Grand Tour of Europe with the archaeologist Winckelmann as bearleader. The Hereditary Prince more than met her expectations.
He was equally happy at his uncle's palace at Potsdam, near Berlin, drilling with Frederick at the camp, listening to him play the flute or discourse on European literature.
At home in Brunswick life was more fractious. His father the Duke had nearly bankrupted the country through incompetence and prodigality. In the year of Princess Caroline's birth, the Hereditary Prince was forced to negotiate on behalf of his unpopular father with the Provincial Diet, or parliament. Despite being wholly German by blood, she was a foolish English patriot in her hostility to all things east of the Rhine.
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On her marriage in she wrote to her brother the King, giving her first impressions of Germany and recounting 'the odd figures and manners of these people, as for instance the brother in law of Barg [Berg? The Duke and Duchess, the Duke's brother Ferdinand, the Hereditary Prince and Princess and their different households all lodged at the Grauer Hof, a sprawling stone palace with wooden wings added piecemeal around a central courtyard.
Tree-lined allees at the back led past pavilions and flower gardens down to the River Oker, which ringed the city of Brunswick. Across the Bohlweg, the main street at the front, lay the houses of the wool and silk merchants and the cathedral of St Blasius, which Caroline's Guelph ancestor, Henry the Lion, had founded to mark his pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Here also stood a military academy, the Collegium Carolinum, which attracted students from all parts of Germany, and from England too. The Hotel d'Angleterre hosted a weekly club where professors, nobility and burghers met under the presidency of Duke Ferdinand to discuss matters philosophical, literary, intellectual--and Masonic.
Brunswick was the centre of German Freemasonry, and Ferdinand a grand master of the Order. West and south of this prosperous quarter, confined within the loop of the river, lay a hinterland of medieval timbered houses and dark narrow streets, inhabited by more than 20, shopkeepers and others. The townspeople and Court mingled at the Fair, a traditionally merry event which twice a year drew merchants from all over northern Germany to buy and sell wares and where the Court stocked up on provisions, coffee and chocolate.
But the Court's straitened finances, as well as distinction of birth, prevented further intercourse with the general public.
At the Grauer Hof, the ducal households dined in each other's apartments by rote, with an array of foreign visitors, ladies and gentlemen and officials of the Court. In Duchess Charlotte's apartments the greatest state was kept, and the better food and wine. Formal conversation in a circle was the rule before and after dinner, which was held around four in the afternoon. At her own table, her daughter-in-law observed the German habit, ladies ranged on one side facing the gentlemen on the other.
However, Augusta chose to ignore the finer points of etiquette and would advance patriotically on any English visitor, before he had finished his bow, with hands outstretched. After dinner, she sometimes gave what she dubbed a concert, at which music was performed while the company played cards for hours at a time, or a casino an undress ball followed by a supper.
The Hereditary Princess was a true Hanoverian, with protuberant eyes, loose mouth and long face. In the early years of her marriage she considered herself blessed in her handsome husband. The summer months, however, when the Prince went to camp, were dreary. Augusta was not entertained by the scholars and men of letters--Lessing, the German dramatist, among them--whom the Duchess attracted to Brunswick with positions at Court.
The Prince, understanding his wife's reluctance to be left with the 'old people',11 built her a retreat from the rigours of Court life, a pavilion above the River Oker a mile from Brunswick, and named it Little Richmond, after the fashionable clutch of villas on the banks of the Thames. Princess Caroline, later in life, painted a watercolour of this haven, showing the pavilion and wooded hill, and a herdsman pasturing cows and sheep by the river beneath, with a windmill and the towers and spires of Brunswick in the background.
There was also Antoinettensruh, a pleasant country mansion ringed by beechwoods near Wolfenbuttel, the fine medieval city seven miles from Brunswick and anciently the capital of the Duchy. Here, in the summer after Princess Caroline's birth, the Hereditary Princess took the baby, an English wet-nurse, Mrs Ward, and the two elder children.
Augusta amused herself by eating heavy luncheons and dinners, playing cards and gossiping in undress and slippers with her Brunswick ladies.
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Three more children were born--George, Augustus and Frederick William known as William in , and But the parttern of Augusta's days, her dissatisfaction with Court life and her satisfaction with her husband did not alter, nor did her husband's forbearance. The six children in their youth were a source more of anxiety than of pleasure to their parents.
When Prince Charles the eldest boy was afflicted with cramps at the age of three, his mother wrote: 'It's really frightful to see what he endures I cannot stay in the room when he crimes [screams] Augusta continued to delight in entertaining English visitors.
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She wrote of Lord Beauchamp to her brother, 'my younger daughter [Caroline, then four years old] think it's you who's here and she always calls him the King of England'. The Hereditary Princess had taken some pleasure in in the misdemeanours of her husband's sister, Elizabeth, Princess of Prussia, as confirming her poor opinion of the German royal houses.
Frederick the Great had locked Elizabeth up after she refused to live with 'that stinking man', her husband. In the same year, their brother William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, revealed that in he had secretly married Maria, Countess of Waldegrave, who was illegitimate. This revelation followed the June Royal Marriages Act, an unpopular measure which the King pushed through Parliament after his youngest brother, the Duke of Cumberland, had married Mrs Anne Horton without notifying him in advance.
The new Duchess's father was a well-known reprobate. Still more lamentable, her sister Miss Elizabeth Luttrell, who took up residence with the Cumberlands, was described somewhat unusually as a 'roue', who 'governed the family with a high hand, marshalled the gaming table, gathered round her the men, and led the way in ridiculing the King and Queen'.
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Eventually she brought her strange life to an end by swallowing poison. In an attempt to avoid further such connections, the Act provided that future marriages of descendants of King George II which had not received the sovereign's consent would be void. Although the Act expressly excluded the issue of princesses who married into foreign families, Augusta highly approved of it, going so far as to treat her children as subject to it.
In addition she refused to stand godmother to the Gloucesters' child, Princess Sophia Matilda. Augusta was more charitable to her sister Caroline Matilda, who was given sanctuary by their brother King George III first at Goerde, then at the moated castle of Celle in his Electorate of Hanover, close to Brunswick.
He hoped that 'by mildness, she will be brought back to the amiable character she had before being perverted by a wicked and contemptible Court'.