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Caroline of Ansbach was more formally known as Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Being the wife of George II of Britain, she was also the queen consort and grandmother of the next king George III. She would never get to see her grandson on the throne, though, dying before her husband.
I’ve done very little research into Caroline before, but I have loved learning this part to share with you now. Out of all the Georgian monarchs and individuals, this is one that I really want to learn more about.
The Early Life of Caroline of Ansbach
Caroline was born on March 1, 1683, into the Brandenburg-Ansbach family. Despite having wealthy parents, she was orphaned when she was young and was moved to the Prussian Court to be cared for by her guardians, King Frederick and Queen Sophia Charlotte. She quickly learned all about being a noblewoman, and it arguably helped her win the love of many people when she came to Great Britain.
This was a woman who many men wanted, too. It was George Augustus who won her heart, and she wasn’t supposed to know who he was at the time. He had come to Prussian under the guise of just a nobleman. George’s idea was so that he could inspect Caroline; to determine if she was a good enough bride. It soon turned out that he fell for her because of her “good character.”
Caroline was a smart woman. She was never reportedly fooled by George’s disguise, but seemed to go along with it. Maybe it was this that George found alluring.
Caroline Marries George Augustus of Hanover
The two married on August 22, 1705, shortly after Caroline arrived in Hanover. It took less than a year for her to fall pregnant with their first son, Prince Frederick. He would never become king, dying before his father, but it would be his son who would become George III of Great Britain.
Caroline and George were happily married, according to reports. They were devoted to each other, and clearly in love. In fact, Caroline’s death devastated George later in life. He also worried when, shortly after Frederick’s birth, Caroline contracted smallpox and fell seriously ill. That illness led to pneumonia. While Frederick was kept away, George remained by his wife’s side; risking infection. He even caught smallpox and was lucky to survive it himself.
It was a clear sign that he loved her. And over the years after this, they had three more children in Hanover, Anne, Amelia and Caroline (named after her mother).
Despite being in a happy marriage, George did have mistresses. This was considered customary at the time, but Caroline was never jealous. He was very open about the identities of his mistresses, including Henrietta Howard and Amalie von Wallmoden. While her husband took lovers, Caroline never did. She remained faithful to her husband until the end. She even wanted her husband’s mistresses to be ladies-in-waiting, believing somewhat in the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
It seems that Caroline was also very close to her husband’s family. Dowager Electress Sophia, George’s grandmother, died in Caroline’s arms. Sophia didn’t like her daughter-in-law, but it could be assumed that she liked her granddaughter-in-law.
Caroline of Ansbach Becomes Princess of Wales
When Queen Anne died and Caroline’s father-in-law became King of Great Britain, Caroline found herself as Princess of Wales. Her husband sailed to England with his father, but Caroline stayed in Hanover for just over a year. She and her three daughters sailed in October 1715, leaving Frederick behind. It was the one and only sea voyage Caroline would ever take.
It wasn’t all positive for Caroline, despite being the first woman in 200 years to receive the title Princess of Wales. Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII, was the previous woman. With this title and Sophia Dorothea of Celle no longer George I’s wife, Caroline was the highest ranking woman. Unfortunately, problems between her husband and father-in-law led to Caroline being forced out of her home at St. James’ Palace. She and George Augustus lived in Leicester House without their children.
That didn’t stop the parents from seeing their children. Caroline made a secret visit, fainting at the time. By January of 1718, Caroline was allowed unrestricted visits, and she was given unconditional access with her husband when their infant son Prince George William fell seriously ill. The baby died shortly after, and Caroline suffered a miscarriage shortly afterwards. She and George did have three more children afterwards.
Problems between her husband and father-in-law grew worse over time. Caroline tried to convince her husband to give into some of his father’s demands and reconcile with him. She desperately wanted to see her three eldest daughters. However, nothing happened, and it wouldn’t be until later that she would get her daughters back under her care.
Helping to Push Medicine Forward
During the 1700s, inoculations were introduced. The medicine was still in the early stages, but Caroline wanted to be at the forefront of it. She helped to make variolation popular during the time, and encouraged six prisoners to receive it rather than the death sentence. Six orphans were also given the treatments during testing, and all 12 people survived. Caroline then went on to have some of her own children vaccinated against smallpox. It was a positive sign for Great Britain, and put Caroline in an even more positive light.
By 1727, Caroline became Queen Consort of Great Britain after the death of her father-in-law, crowned alongside her husband on October 11. One of her actions was to encourage her husband to
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keep Prime Minister Walpole in his position. It turned out to be a good idea at the time, but eventually George would dismiss the man and choose his own.
She was extremely influential when it came to her husband’s policies. Many of her own beliefs were extremely liberal, and included freedom of speech for Members of the Parliament and freedom of the press. That didn’t help her family life.
Like her husband’s battle with his father, her son soon ended up in a battle against his own father. Unfortunately, Caroline was also pulled into this. Frederick, now Prince of Wales, came to England in 1728. He had debts and mistresses of his own, and opposed the beliefs of his father. Things turned worse when Caroline was made regent by the Regency Act 1728 rather than Frederick while George was visiting Hanover.
The decision to make Caroline regent was positive for Great Britain. She had managed to help defuse a diplomatic incident with Portugal and negotiated the Treaty of Seville. However, she never did get reform to the penal system, which was something she really wanted.
The Death of Caroline of Ansbach
Mother and son became even more estranged over the years. Both were just as stubborn as each other when it came to decisions.
It didn’t help that Caroline was seriously ill during her final years. She had gout in her feet and an umbilical hernia from 1724. During a formal reception on November 9, 1737, she suffered a sudden pain and had to leave. Despite operations, she never recovered and knew she was going to die. One of her final requests was for her husband to remarry, but he made it clear that it would never happen.
After a burst bowel on November 17, she died three days later. The next month she was buried at Westminster Abbey, later joined by her husband.
I'm Alexandria Ingham, and am a work at home mommy and full-time freelance writer. Writing has always been a passion from a young age, but it was only in 2009 that I decided to use it to make money online. Since then, I've managed to make a career out of it and don't regret it. While history and weight loss are two of my favorite topics, I love writing about absolutely anything and even have fictional pieces in the works.