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QUEEN CHARLOTTE (1744-1818) “ Plain Food and a Plain Wife"-Princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklen

burg-Strelitz_Her appearance Her letter to the King of Prussia, It is much admired by George III—Her marriage to George IIIThe Coronation-A moral proclamation-Economies in the Royal Household—Lord Talbot and John Wilkes—The strict etiquette of the Court-Lampoons-Mrs. Siddons—"Peter Pindar"_The Ladies of the Bedchamber—The Queen's dull life-Her children—The Queen's day–Her jealousy of the King's relations—The Duchess of Brunswick=The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York—The struggle between the Queen and the Prince for the Regency-Her anger with her eldest son-Her death.

Give me a royal niche—it is my due
The virtuousest King the world ever knew.

I, through a decent reputable life,
Was constant to plain food and a plain wife.


plain wife " was the Princess Charlotte Sophia, younger daughter of Charles Louis, Duke of Miroir, second son of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Lord Harcourt said that as a bride-she was then seventeen years old-she had a charming complexion, very pretty eye, and a good figure. Walpole, however, gave a less flattering description. Her person was small and very lean, not well made, her face pale and homely, her nose somewhat flat and mouth very large. Her hair, however, was of a fine brown, and her countenance pleasing." As the years passed her want of personal charm became less noticeable, and Colonel Disbrowe, her Chamberlain, remarked one day, "I do think the bloom of her ugliness is going off.”

There is a story that George's attention was drawn to the young Princess Charlotte when he saw a copy of a letter that she wrote to the King of Prussia :


“May it please your Majesty, I am at a loss whether I should congratulate or condole with you on your late victory over Marshal Daun, November 3, 1760, since the same success which has covered you with laurels, has overspread the country of Mecklenburg with desolation. I know, Sire, that it seems unbecoming my sex, in this age of vicious refinement, to feel for one's country, to lament the horrors of war, or wish for the return of peace. I know you may think it more properly my province to study the arts of pleasing, or to inspect subjects of a more domestic nature; but, however unbecoming it may be in me, I cannot resist the desire of interceding for this unhappy people. It was but a few years ago that this territory wore the most pleasing appearance; the country was cultivated, the peasants looked cheerful, and the towns abounded with riches and festivity. What an alteration at present from such a charming scene ! I am not an expert at description, nor can my fancy add any horrors to the picture ; but surely even conquerors would weep at the hideous prospects now before me. The whole country, my dear country, lies one frightful waste, presenting only objects to excite terror, pity, and despair. The business of the

, . husbandman and shepherd are discontinued. The husbandman and shepherd are become soldiers themselves, and help to ravage the soil they formerly cultivated. The towns are inhabited only by old men and women and children; perhaps here and there a warrior, by wounds or loss of limbs, rendered unfit for service, left at his door; his little children

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hang round him, ask an history of every wound, and grow themselves soldiers, before they find strength for the field. But this were nothing, did we not feel the alternate insolence of either army as it happens to advance or retreat, in pursuing the operations of the campaign. It is impossible to express the confusion, even those who call themselves our friends create ; even those from whom we might expect redress oppress with new calamities. From your justice, therefore, it is we hope relief. To you even women and children complain, whose humanity stoops to the meanest petition, and whose power is capable of repressing the greatest injustice.”

“This is the lady,” George III is said to have exclaimed to Lord Hertford after reading this letter, “whom I shall select for my Consort-here are lasting beauties -the man who has any mind may feast and not be satisfied. If the disposition of the Princess but equals her refined sense, I shall be the happiest man, as I hope, with my people's concurrence, to be the greatest monarch in Europe."

The marriage took place on September 7, 1761.

A fortnight later came the Coronation. In connection with that ceremony so many blunders were made that the Earl Marshal, Lord Effingham, felt it incumbent upon him to apologise to the King, which he did in the following unfortunate terms: “It is true, Sir, there has been some neglect, but I have taken care that the next coronation shall be regulated in the exactest manner possible.”

The Court was dull to a degree that kept all away who had not for some reason or other to be in attendance. George had caused to be issued a proclamation

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" for the encouragement of piety and virtue, and for preventing and punishing of vice, profaneness, and immorality,” which proclamation was especially commended to the notice of “judges, mayors, sheriffs, justices of the peace, and all other over officers and ministers, both ecclesiastical and civil.” Special stress was laid on the observance of the Sabbath Day, on which it was enjoined upon “all our loving subjects of whatever degree or quality soever” to abstain from dice, cards, or any game whatsoever. To set an example, George abolished the Sunday drawing-rooms, and would not even countenance an informal reception.

Drastic economies were enforced in the Household, and not without reason, but this was turned against the King, who was charged with meanness. Lord Talbot, the Lord Steward, was responsible for the changes. “I much admire many of his lordship's new regulations, especially those for the royal kitchen," Wilkes wrote in the North Briton. “I approve of the discharge of so many turnspits and cooks, who were grown of little use. It was high time to put an end to that too great indulgence in eating and drinking, which went by the name of Old English Hospitality, when the House of Commons had granted a poor, niggardly Civil List of only £800,000.

If these and other attacks were inspired by partisan spirit, it is not to be denied that the splendour of the Court was wholly laid aside, except for a few hours on the Royal Birthday or an occasional drawing-room.

Rarely during the first twenty years after his accession did the King join in any scene of public amusement, if we except the diversions of the theatre,” Wraxall has written. “ It was even an unusual event for His Majesty to sit at table with any of his courtiers or nobility."

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