Hanover Queen: Victoria

19th century England was to see a new Monarch on the English Throne, one who would rule her empire for sixty-three years, and the last of the House of Hanover.

Alexandrina Victoria was born on the 24th May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London, making her first sounds as she entered this world.  Her father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strasthearn, and he was the fourth son of King George III who reigned from (1760-1820), and her German mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Victoria was christened on the 24th June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury; Charles Manners-Sutton in a private ceremony.  She was baptised Alexandrina after Emperor Alexander I of Russia, one of her godparents and Victoria after her mother.

Her early years were met with tragedy when her father Prince Edward the Duke of Kent died on the 23rd January 1820. And six days later her grandfather, King George III died on the 29th January 1820.

At the time of her birth Victoria was fifth in succession to the English throne.  Her father Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent died in 1820, having three older brothers who themselves were in line to the throne.

After the Death of Edward, Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Kent, and her daughter resided at apartments in Kensington Palace.

Victoria showed she had a flare for drawing and painting, and was educated at home by her governess Louise Lehzen, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.

Her mother the Duchess hired the services of John Conroy to run the household, and it has been suggested he may have been her lover, but there is no official evidence to the fact, and the two of them ran Victoria’s life for her.  They chose who she could meet with, making her highly dependent upon them.

In the year 1811, King George III’s mental illness made him unfit to rule in the latter years of his life, and his eldest son became Prince Regent, and in 1820 he became King George IV upon his father’s death.

He married the Princess Caroline of Brunswick in 1795, and she only gave him one child which died at birth.  He tried unsuccessfully to divorce her on the grounds of adultery, but shortly after his appointment to King of England, she died in 1821, leaving no heirs to the English throne.

Technically he was a bigamist at the time, for he had secretly married Mrs Fitzherbert a Roman Catholic in 1785.

He had actually broken the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which still stands to this day.  Any member of the Royal Family under the age of 25 requires the reigning monarch’s approval, and over 25 approvals by the Privy Council.

On the 15th July 1830, King George IV died, and William IV became the new king aged 64.  He made no secret of the fact, that he distrusted the Duchess of Kent.  He knew she and John Conroy had designs on creating a “Regency” and the Duchess would act as a Regent, much like the situation between George III and his son George IV.  This could only happen if King William IV died before Victoria reached the age of 18.

Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany died in 1827, one of King George III’s other sons, with King George dying in 1830, made William IV our next King, with Victoria being his successor.

William IV received the title; “Duke of Clarence” and from 1791-1811 set up home with his mistress Dorothy Bland an Irish actress, and they had ten children, all who bore the surname “Fitzclarence.”

With the death of his brother, ascended to the English Throne: King William IV of England, aged 64 and was crowned on 8th September 1831 at Westminster Abbey.

In 1811 William IV had married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, eager to produce legitimate heirs to the English Throne, but that was not to be, they had four children of which none lived past infancy.

Alexandrina Victoria was 18 on the 24th May 1837 and King William IV died on the 20th June 1837, and went to his grave, knowing Victoria would become Queen and foiled the Duchess from creating a Regency.

Even though Victoria was Queen, law stated she had to live within her mother’s household.  The young Queen had her moved to remote apartments within Kensington Palace, and banned John Conroy from her presence.  Yet, he still remained part of her mother’s household.

Victoria was tormented by her presence, and marriage was the only way she could be free of her mother.  So on the 10th February 1840, she married Prince Albert in the Chapel Royal of St.James Palace in London.

Within days the Duchess of Kent was moved from the palace to Ingestre House in Belgrave Square, and later was given Clarence and Frogmore House.

Victoria’s important political adviser in her early years was Lord Melbourne, as well as her companion, a position which was taken over by Prince Albert her husband.

Aged just eighteen when the young Victoria came to the throne, it must have seemed a daunting thought to her, she being the new ruler of England.  This was what she had been prepared for…

Alexandrina Victoria ascended to the English throne on the 20th June 1837, and was crowned Queen Victoria of England on the 28th June 1838 at Westminster Abbey.

On the 10th February 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were to have nine children, and most were married into other Royal Families across Europe, creating descendants all the way back to Queen Victoria herself.

Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901) married Frederick III Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia.

Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX King of Denmark.

Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse.

Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha(1844-1900) married Grand Duchess Marie daughter of Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.

Helena (1846-1923) married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.

Louise (1848-1939) married John Campbell the 9th Duke of Argyll.

Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850-1942) married Princess Louise of Prussia.

Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884) married Helen of Waldeck – Pyrmont.

Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) married Henry of Battenburg.

When Europe was split apart by the First World War (1914-1918), it would see descendants of Victoria and Albert take up arms against each other.

Personal tragedy was to strike Queen Victoria down in 1861, when Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince consort and her devoted partner for 21 years died, ripping her heart out, and sending her into mourning for many years.  From that day forth she only ever wore black.

If we look at the history timeline through the ages:

Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925). 

One of their five children, became George V (1865-1936) married Mary of Tech (1867-1953).

One of their six children, became Edward VIII King of England in 1936, as the eldest child, a time honoured custom, and chose to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson.

So the next in line stepped forward, George VI (1895-1952) and married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002).

One of their two children, became Queen Elizabeth II our current Queen.

Queen Victoria’s daughter Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV of Hesse (1837-1892)

One of their two children Victoria of Hesse (1863-1950) marries Louis of Battenburg, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1921).

One of their three children, Alice of Battenburg (1885-1967) marries Andrew of Greece (1882-1944).

Their only child is Philip Duke of Edinburgh who married Elizabeth II our current Queen.

As we can see both are descendants of Queen Victoria, and the timeline ever expands with each new birth.

In the early years, she learnt to rely on two men for guidance; Lord Melbourne, who was more like a father figure to her, like the father she never had, and her husband Prince Albert whom she married in 1840.  These two men taught her how to rule the country, what powers she had and what was controlled by Parliament.  This would help her understand her people, and create an Empire to be proud of, one for future generations.

One of her first acts that took place a few years after her marriage was to be the first reigning monarch, to ride upon the train as used by the public.  Newspapers covered the journey with pictures, spread across the papers pages.

Her husband Albert will always be remembered as one with a vision, for he took an active role in the arts, science, trade and industry.  What he will be most remembered for is the Great Exhibition of 1851, and how through his own endeavours, England was projected as a thriving country across the world.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, between them had nine children.  In 1845 they purchased Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was given to the nation by Edward VII, her son, and Prince Albert purchased Balmoral upon which was built a neo-Gothic styled castle for the family.

Victoria’s life fell apart in 1861, when her husband Albert died aged 42.  She lost a devoted partner and friend, one she could trust with state affairs.  She was never seen wearing anything but black, during the rest of her reign, she was in a permanent state of mourning.

From the 1860’s to the mid-1870’s, Victoria carried her state duties from behind closed doors.  It was with the help of Benjamin Disraeli, she gradually resumed her public duties, many of which had been undertaken on her behalf by her son; Edward VII.

During her reign Queen Victoria became the target of seven unsuccessful assassinations attempts on her life. One of those took place in 1840, when Edward Oxford fired two shots at the young Queen, whilst riding in her open carriage with Prince Albert, near Buckingham Palace.  Stunned onlookers seized the gunman, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  Victoria just brushed herself down, and continued her ride amongst her people, which increased her popularity.

The Victoria Cross was introduced in 1857 to honour acts of bravery during the Crimean War.

In 1864, Queen Victoria stepped in to avert a second Franco-German war, with a letter to the German Emperor, whose son had married her daughter.  What it is to have family connections in the right place.

The Indian Mutiny of 1857 saw the Indian Government transferred to that of the Crown, with the Governor General becoming the Viceroy of India.  Then in 1877, Victoria became Empress of India under the Royal Titles Act by Disraeli’s government.

Political power was taken away from the crown, and she could not be involved in the Second Reform Act of 1867 and the Representation of the Peoples Act of 1884, where householders with land valued at £10.00 or more were entitled to the vote.

With the Sovereign power slowly reclining, she proved if one could master political understanding of politics, one could exert influence, as she demonstrated in her mediation between the Lords and Commons.  In the Irish Church Disestablishment Act of 1869 and Reform Act of 1884.  Often she was forced to pass her opinions in private only.

She favoured ways to improve the way of life for the poor; housing, education, hospitals, a subject close to her late husband’s heart.

On the 22nd January 1901, after a reign of almost 64 years, Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  She was buried at Windsor Castle alongside her husband Prince Albert in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum, built for their final resting place.

“Farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again.”  These words were inscribed above the Mausoleums door.

After her death, a memorial statue was placed in front of Buckingham Palace, depicting a great Queen; Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who reigned from (1837-1901).

Wife of King William IV: Adelaide of Saxe-Meinigen

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was born on the 13th August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany to parents, George the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and Luise Eleonore.

Prince William, Duke of Clarence married Princess Adelaide on the 11th July 1818 at Kew Palace.

The marriage had been arranged, following the death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1817, leaving no heir to the throne.  William had been informed by Parliament, to marry and produce an heir, and they would resolve his gambling debts.

On that same day, William’s younger brother Edward, Duke of Kent married Victoria, the Dowager Princess of Leiningen at a combined wedding ceremony.

Princess William and Princess Adelaide, were devoted to each other, but their love was not to produce any children who survived past infancy.

King George IV died on the 26th June 1830 and Prince William became King William IV along with his wife Queen Adelaide of England at their coronation on the 8th September 1831.

The British people liked their new Queen, she was modest and charitable, donating much of her household income to charity.

William and Adelaide treated Victoria niece of William and heiress presumptive to the English throne.

William and Victoria’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent, kept Victoria away from court as much as possible.  She had other ideas, prompted by Sir John Conroy, hoping William died before Victoria, they would become the power behind the throne… creating a Regency.

William and the Duchess of Kent didn’t get on, and that’s putting it mildly.

William at his birthday banquet, made a speech, proclaiming it was his intention to live long enough to see Victoria reach the age to rule, thus preventing the Duchess of Kent creating a Regency.

On the 24th May 1837, Victoria reached the age of 18, and on the 20th June 1837 King William IV died from heart failure in the presence of his wife and Queen at Windsor Castle.  He was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor on the 18th July.

Queen Adelaide left court following William’s death, and moved to Witley Court in Worcestershire.

In 1840 she became godmother to Queen Victoria’s first child; Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise.  In 1849 she laid the foundation stone of the Church of St.John the Evangelist, where the east window was dedicated to her.

On the 2nd December 1849, Queen Adelaide died at Bentley Priory in London.

Her final letter containing her funeral arrangements:

“I die in all humility.  We are alike before the throne of God, and I request therefore that my mortal remains be conveyed to the grave without pomp or state… to have as private and quiet funeral as possible.  I particularly desire not to be laid out in state… I die in peace and wished to be carried to the fount in peace, and free from the vanities and pomp of this world.”

Queen Adelaide was buried beside her husband King William IV at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Wife of King George IV: Caroline of Brunswick

Caroline the Princess of Brunswick was born on the 17th May 1768 in Brunswick, Germany to parents Charles William, the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and Princess Augusta of Great Britain, sister of George III.

In 1794, Princess Caroline and George Augustus Frederick were engaged.  On the 8th April 1795, they were married at the Chapel Royal, St.James Palace.

On his wedding night, George was so drunk, that he fell into the bedroom grate, and Caroline out of disgust left him there.

Neither liked the other, but for George it meant, Parliament would clear his debts and increase his allowance.

In fact the marriage was illegal, as George had married Maria Fitzherbert in secret, violating the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

Caroline bore George a legitimate child; Princess Charlotte Augusta at Carlton House on the 7th January 1796.  George replied by making a new will, leaving all his property to my wife; Maria Fitzherbert, and to Caroline the sum of one shilling.

George rejected his wife, and sent her a note, informing her she could do what she liked, as he had no intentions of having any relations with her again.

Caroline, wife of the future King of England, took it to mean she was free to do as she liked.

Rejected by her husband, she moved to Blackheath, and was given to sexual dancing in front of her guests.

In 1806, rumours abounded, that William Austin a four year-old boy, who lived with her, was her son, and the father was her footman.  A Royal Commission; “Delicate Investigation” was to prove the rumour was without substance.

In 1814, Caroline left England, much to the delight of George.  In Geneva she danced naked to the waist, and whilst in Naples, became the mistress of King Joachim, brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte.

In January of 1820, King George III died, and was succeeded by George IV her husband, making her Queen.

The English government offered her the sum of £50,000 to stay out of England, and not claim her rightful place as Queen.  She rejected the offer, returning to England and took up residence in Hammersmith, she would prove an embarrassment to George and Parliament.

On the 17th August 1820, she was summoned to appear before the House of Lords, an attempt by George to dissolve the marriage.  After 52 days the divorce case was dropped.  Could it have been Lord Brougham her defence lawyer, or the fact she was popular with the English people, which led to the case being dropped.

King George’s coronation took place on the 29th April 1821.  The Prime Minister informed Caroline, she would play no active part.

On the day of the coronation, when Caroline arrived at the doors of Westminster Abbey, they were firmly shut in her face.

On the 7th August 1821 Caroline died at her home, and was buried at Brunswick Cathedral.  The words inscribed upon her coffin: “CAROLINE THE INJURED QUEEN OF ENGLAND.”

Wife of King George III: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on the 19th May 1744 at Untere, Schloss in Mirow, to parents Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

When she was eight, her father died and he was succeeded by her half-brother, Adolphus Frederick as the new Duke.

King George III had succeeded his grandfather George II as the King of England.  Young George needed a wife, and Charlotte the German princess appealed to him; raised in a small northern duchy.  She spoke no English, but learnt quickly.

On the 8th September 1761, King George III of England and Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz were married.  She bore George fifteen children, and they had a happy marriage.

George, the Prince of Wales (1762-1830)

Prince Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany (1762-1827)

Prince William, the Duke of Clarence (1765-1837)

Charlotte, Princess Royal (1766-1828)

Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent (1767-1820)

Princess Augusta Sophia (1768-1840)

Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840)

Prince Ernst, the Duke of Cumberland (1771-1851)

Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex (1773-1843)

Prince Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850)

Princess Mary, the Duchess of Gloucester ( 1776-1857)

Princess Sophia (1777-1848)

Prince Octavius (1779-1783)

Prince Alfred (1780-1782)

Princess Amelia (1783-1810)

On the 22nd September 1761, George was crowned King George III of England, along with his new wife; Queen Charlotte at Westminster Abbey.

Charlotte was a keen botanist, and George gave her Richmond Lodge and its estate to her as part of their marriage settlement.  She designed this retreat, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage within its grounds, which is now in Kew gardens.

In 1762, George purchased Buckingham House, as a private retreat for Charlotte, and it became known as The Queens House.  We know it as Buckingham Palace.

George and Charlotte were music connoisseurs.  On the 19th May 1765, the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played for them and selected friends at court.

By 1778, the newly constructed Queens Lodge at Windsor became the main home of the family.  George enjoyed deer hunting in the park and Charlotte was responsible for the interior of the lodge.

In 1788, Charlotte became distressed at the first episode of George’s illness.  As George’s insanity increased, Charlotte sank into bouts of depression and hardly appeared in public.

The French Revolution of 1789, had shocked Charlotte, and the execution of Marie Antoinette, and the events that followed.  She who had befriended Marie, through their love of music and the arts as they wrote to each other, but never met in person.  She felt they knew each other well, through their words.

Relief was at hand, when in 1792, she planned the gardens and interior decorations of her new residence; Frogmore House in Windsor Park.

Charlotte became George’s legal guardian from 1811, as the insanity got progressively worse, possibly too much for her to bear.  For June of 1812, was the last time she visited him, before her death in 1818.

Queen Charlotte died on the 17th November 1818 at Kew Palace in the presence of her son Prince Regent; George, the Prince of Wales.  On the 2nd December 1818 she was buried in the royal vault of St.George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Wife of King George II: Caroline of Ansbach

Caroline of Ansbach was born on the 1st March 1683, to parents John Frederick, the Margrave of Bandenburg-Ansbach and Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach.

In 1686, her father died, and her life would change; Caroline along with her younger brother William Frederick, moved to Dresden with their mother, where she married the Elector of Saxony.  The marriage was short lived, and Eleanor died in 1696.

Caroline and William returned to Ansbach, and lived with half-brother, George Frederick II, the Margrave of Ansbach.

Caroline was placed with new guardians; Frederick, the Elector of Brandenburg and Sophia Charlotte his wife, the daughter of the Electoress, Sophia of Hanover and sister of George, Elector of Hanover, and future King George I of England.

In 1701, Frederick the Elector of Brandenburg and Sophia Charlotte, became King and Queen of Prussia.  Caroline was exposed to a new life, in the Prussian court; an intellectual environment.

Sophia Charlotte died in 1705, and that same year Caroline was considered for the wife of the future Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor.  An offer she rejected, as she would have to renounce her Protestant faith.

In June of 1705, George Augustus was put under pressure to marry, and produce an Hanoverian heir.  His father had a rough time with his own wife, so let his son choose his own wife.

George Augustus visited the royal court at Ansbach, to see Caroline, and found an attractive and intelligent young woman, and the feelings were mutual.  On the 22nd August 1705, George and Caroline were married at the Palace Chapel at Herrenhausen in Hanover.

She bore George the following children:

Frederick, Prince of Wales

Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Princess Amelia

Princess Caroline

Prince George William

Prince William, Duke of Cumberland

Mary, Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel

Louisa, Queen of Denmark and Norway

Caroline’s father-in-law, the Elector of Hanover, ascended to the English throne, as King George I in 1714.  George Augustus and Caroline along with two of their daughters, re-located in England.  Prince Frederick remained in Hanover as a figurehead representing the House of Hanover.  George was invested as the Prince of Wales and Caroline as the Princess of Wales.

George an Caroline made an effort to learn the English language, Politics through Parliament and its customs, whilst George I favoured the German styled court.  This resulted in two courts, one run by King George I and the other by the Prince of Wales.

In November of 1717, the tense relationship between father and son; George I and the Prince of Wales, came to a head, with the baptism of their son, George William.  An argument erupted over the choice of godparents, leading to the house arrest of the Prince and Princess of Wales at St.James Palace, and their children placed under the King’s care.  He went a step further, refusing them any contact with their children.

In February of 1718, Prince George William died, and the Prince and Princess of Wales laid the blame of his death, firmly at the feet of King George I.

Caroline, the Princess of Wales got interested in politics, working with Robert Walpole.

Caroline helped to popularise the practice of immunisation.  Six convicts due to be executed, underwent the process of immunisation, and followed up by six orphan children, against the smallpox disease.  The trial was a success, and her own children were immunised.

King George I died on the 11th June 1727.  George II and Caroline were crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 11th October 1727.  In 1728, their son Frederick, arrived in England, and resented his parents, leaving him to grow up in Hanover.

Frederick had mistresses, large debts and loved gambling.  Opposed his father’s political beliefs, and expected to receive more power over the government.

In June of 1737, Frederick informed his parents that his wife; Augusta of Saxe-Gotha was with child, and due in October.  In July when she went into labour, removed her from Hampton Court Palace to St.James Palace where she gave birth.  (According to tradition, royal births are witnessed by the royal family).

As Queen Caroline’s life was slipping away, her husband King George II slept in a cot by her bed, during her final days.

On the 20th November 1737, Queen Caroline died, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Caroline was mourned by her people, and when King George II died on the 25th October 1760, he was buried by her side on matching coffins.  They were devoted to each other in life, and till the end…

Wife of King George I: Sophia Dorothea of Celle

Sophia Dorothea of Celle was born on the 15th September 1666, to parents George William, the Duke of Brunswick, Luneburg and his mistress, an exiled French Protestant aristocrat; Eleanore d’Esmier d’Olbreuse.  She in fact, was an illegitimate love child.

In 1674 her mother Eleanore became the Duchess of Wilhelmsburg, Sophia became legitimised, and in 1676 her parents were married.

George and Sophia were both insulted by the match, but this marriage wasn’t about their wishes, their feelings, for they were pawns in the creation of uniting adjoining realms.

On the 22nd November 1682, Sophia Dorothea married her cousin, George Louis in the Chapel of Celle Castle, under protest.  You would have thought this should have been a time of joy, but for them it was the opposite.

Sophia Dorothea was often reprimanded for her lack of etiquette she showed at court, by her mother-in-law.

There was little love shown to each other, but the marriage did produce two offspring; George August (1683) who would become George II and Sophia Dorothea (1686).

George Louis neglected his new wife, and took a mistress; Melusina von Schulenburg.

An unhappy Sophia, had an affair with Phillip von Konigsmarch, a Swedish count in 1690.  George Louis questioned his wife over the alleged affair in 1692, and she pointed out, he had a mistress.  George attacked his wife in response, and her attendants had to pull the pair apart, before George strangled her.

Sophia and Konigsmarck made plans to elope, but their plans were thwarted by Countess Platen, mistress to Ernst Augustus, Sophia’s father-in-law.

Ernst Augustus ordered the arrest of Konigsmarck, to avoid a scandal.  One guard was injured and Konigsmarck was killed.  His body was hidden, under the floor of Leine Palace, covered in quicklime.  Sophia was placed under house arrest.

George Louis divorced Sophia Dorothea on the grounds of malicious desertion, and she was sent to Ahlden Castle.  She lost her right to see or have any contact with her children.

From April to September of 1700, she was moved from Ahlden to Celle during a French invasion of the Brunswick duchies, then returned to Ahlden Castle.

Sophia Dorothea died on the 13th November 1726, and was interred in the family crypt in the Old Church of Celle in May 1727.

Sophia Dorothea had inherited her mother’s estate; Eleanore d’Esmier d’Olbreuse upon her death in 1722, and left it to her children.

George destroyed the will, and appropriated the property for himself, and ordered all personal effects belonging to Sophia Dorothea to be burnt after her death.