Saturday, March 6, 2010

princess Charlotte

Cartoon: ‘A Dutch toy or a pretty Plaything for a young Princess’ (1814)

Princess Charlotte (1796-1817) was the only child of King George IV of England. In December 1813 the engagement of Charlotte to prince Willem, the royal Dutch heir, was announced. In March 1814 a treaty was signed dealing with the succession of the thrones; the eldest son would become king of England, the younger son the monarch of The Netherlands. If there would be only one son then the brother of Willem, prince Frederik, would become the Dutch monarch.

But Charlotte, known for her capriciousness, didn’t like the prospect of being on the continent for long times. In June 1814 she wrote to inform Willem that she considered their engagement  ‘to be totally and for ever at an end’.
Cartoon: ‘The Dutch Apollo’ (1814)

In 1816 she married prince Leopold. In 1817 she died after having given birth to a stillborn son the day before, resulting in a nationwide mourning. The attending physician later shot himself.

Without a direct heir to the thrown (all of King George's sisters were too old to have children, and all of his brothers were without child), a mad dash towards matrimony by four of Charlotte's bachelor uncles began. Eventually one of them produced a heir: the future Queen Victoria.

As consolation for his loss, Leopold was made the first king of the Belgians in 1831. Willem married the Russian daughter of the Tsar, Anna Paulowna, in 1816. Since Anna had refused a marriage proposal of Napoleon, and since her brother Tsar Alexander was one of the most important rulers of Europe, this wasn't such a bad catch at all.

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