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Queen Charlotte

Wife of King George III of England

Princess Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz  was born on May 19, 1744, the eighth child of the Prince of Mirow, Charles Louis Frederick, and his wife, Elisabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In 1752, when she was eight years old, Sophie Charlotte's father died. In August of 1761,Charlotte's brother, Adolf Frederick IV and Sophie Charlotte's dying mother signed her marriage contract with the English King George III of the House of Hanover. At the age of 22, the King had chosen the 17-year-old Strelitz princess as his bride.

When George III first received his young bride on September 9, 1761, at the garden gate of St James's Palace, he was supposedly was shocked by her lack of beauty. It became evident, though, that the pious and modest Strelitz princess soon conquered his heart and willingly submitted to his strong influence over her.

In the first twenty-one years of her marriage Queen Charlotte gave birth to fifteen children, nine sons and six daughters. In contrast to most European Royal houses George III and Charlotte had a harmonious marriage. Charlotte played a prominent, though reticent, role on the stage of European world history. As Queen of England and consort of George III she became an eyewitness of a turbulent age.

On the other hand, during their lifetimes the English court had the reputation of being the dullest in all of Europe because of their notoriously frugal, plain, and pious life-style. Their charities, however, were legend. Hospitals such as the famous Queen's Lying-in Hospital in London which was founded by Charlotte, orphanages, "decayed" musicians, and untold poor families could rely on their patronage. Eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart fulfilled Queen Charlotte's request and dedicated his Opus 3 to her. When her court musician and music teacher Johann Christian Bach died of consumption, she paid for hisfuneraland established a pension for his widow.

In 1788, a shadow fell on the happiness of the Royal family. It became evident that George III had started his slow and violent descent into the madness caused by the inherited malady porphyry. His suffering lasted for thirty years until his death in 1820. The Royal Marriage Act, pushed through Parliament by George III in 1772, placed another heavy burden on his family. It stipulated that none of his descendants could marry before the age of twenty-five without the King's consent, and even then they might only marry Protestant princes or princesses. The result of this rather strange law was that his children sought refuge in secret marriages and illicit love affairs or stayed unmarried. Queen Charlotte's court in later years was also called "The Nunnery."

Her oldest son George, Prince of Wales, finally was named regent in 1812, at the age of fifty and, in 1820, upon the death of his father, ascended the throne as George IV, King of Great Britain and Hanover. The "regency of the person" of the ill king George III remained in the hands of his loyal Queen Charlotte until her death on November 17, 1818, at Kew Palace.



A war date autograph letter signed to her brother written in French. "Sir my brother. It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Your Majesty on the Birth of the Princess, that Rieneyour very lovely wife comes by the assistance of Divine Providence to put the World, and I share with Your Majesty the joy that this event causes you begging the Quite Powerful that it of a aigne from days to days to fill the royal house with all kinds of Benedictions. With my perfect sincerities. Sir my brother, Your good sister, Charlotte. At St. James, 19th February 1779." 

To read more about Queen Charlotte, 1744-1818: A Bilingual Exhibit follow this link .

 To read more about The madness of King George III follow this link.


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