Princess Charlotte of Wales

When I write my steampunk stories, they will not be set in Victorian England, but during the reign of Queen Charlotte [1796 – 1817], granddaughter of Queen Charlotte and niece of Queen Charlotte of Württemberg, which I suppose, will be the Charlottean era. I like the sound of that! Read on to learn why Victoria, daughter of King George’s fourth son, became England’s queen.

Charlotte’s life reads like the most lurid of Regency novels–her father being the Regent. Her parents were estranged, and her father cohabited with an actress he was not allowed to marry, until he was overspent and could not keep her and her children.  Charlotte was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died following childbirth at the age of 21, possibly from iatrogenic causes during her pregnancy.

Prince George left most of Charlotte’s care to governesses and servants, but only allowed her limited contact with her mother, Princess Caroline, who eventually left the country. As Charlotte grew to adulthood, her father pressured her to marry William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (later King of the Netherlands), but after initially accepting him, Charlotte soon broke off the match. This resulted in an extended contest of wills between her and her father, and finally the Prince of Wales permitted her to marry Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later King of the Belgians). After a year and a half of happy marriage, Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son.

Charlotte’s death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and a contrast both to her unpopular father  and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. As she had been King George III’s only legitimate grandchild, there was considerable pressure on the King’s unwed sons to marry. King George III’s fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual heir, Queen Victoria.

I would like to explore what might have happened if Charlotte had lived, and what might have become of Victoria, had she not been in line to be Queen, indeed if she would have been born at all. Read more about Charlotte at Wikipedia.

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6 Responses to Princess Charlotte of Wales

  1. Sounds like you have the start of a great novel … write about what might have been if she lived!

  2. vaterrell says:

    This is very interesting and I agree you should write about her life if she had lived and how the people cared about her since she was popular. Thanks for sharing!

    • Her father was not popular because he spent so much money and was seen as a rake. Charlotte was popular for the same reasons as Victoria would later be. She was young and more restrained than her uncles. Her grandfather, George III, was mad, but you can’t unelect a king. You appoint a regent (hence the Regency) and you let him live out his life.

  3. Amy says:

    Have you thought about writing a historical fiction novel about what might have happened if she had lived? Sounds like you’ve got a good start, CharlottE!