The Princess Charlotte
After a happy marriage, writes Joanna Richardson, the Heiress Apparent died, three years before her father became King George IV.
At half-past two on the morning of Thursday, November 6th, 1817, Princess Charlotte died. She was twenty-one. She was the only child of the Prince Regent and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick.
Had she lived, she would have been Queen of England; and her husband, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, would not have been the first King of the Belgians, the founder of a dynasty and the Nestor of continental sovereigns. Had she lived, the history of England, and, indeed, of Europe, would have been very different.
She was born on January 7th, 1796: nine months, all but a day, after her parents’ wedding. It had been, from the first, a disastrous marriage.
The Prince of Wales, still in love with Mrs Fitzherbert, had been obliged to contract an official marriage to produce an heir to the Throne and to ensure that Parliament paid his substantial debts. He had chosen to marry his first cousin.