Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 5 Minutes

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George IIICharlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife and mother of kings. As the wife of George III, she had to deal with a once strong man develop a debilitating mental and physical illness, and it certainly wasn’t easy for her. She died before she got to see two of her sons become Kings of Great Britain.

Very little from the Georgian period interests me. I’m really not sure what it is about this time period, but I find some of it dull. George III’s reign is different, though. I’ve enjoyed learning more about him, in spite of his mental illness. I’d like to do more research into him and Charlotte after this.

Maybe this 5 Minute History post will make you want to learn more.

The Early Life of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Born on May 19, 1744, Charlotte was the youngest daughter in her family. She came from a small duchy in the north of German, part of the Holy Roman Empire. The benefit was that she and her husband spoke the same language. However, reports say that her education was “very mediocre,” and there may have been some who didn’t view her as worthy of the title queen. Considering some of the queens before her, this shouldn’t really have been a problem.

George III was unmarried at the time of his succession. George II, his grandfather, had died suddenly and George was forced to quickly find a wife. He needed to secure the throne for his family. With previous discussions with other countries falling flat, George turned his attention to north German duchy. The benefit for George was that Princess Charlotte, who was 17 at the time, would have little knowledge of power politics. There was no risk of her trying to rule for him or meddle in his affair.

She didn’t speak any English either, which made it difficult to interact with people at Court. George had been lucky that his parents ensured he spoke both English and German. That didn’t stop the teenager from learning her new home language.

Arriving in England on September 7, 1761, Charlotte never got to meet her husband before the wedding. The next day she was taken to the Chapel Royal and found herself the new British queen consort. Her coronation was a joint one with her husband just weeks later.

Queen Charlotte Gives Birth to a Son

Henry VIII would be jealous…within weeks, Queen Charlotte was pregnant with her and George’s first of 15 children and on August 12, 1762 she gave birth to a boy, named George after his father and great-grandfather. He would later become George IV of Great Britain, but was styled the Prince of Wales.

Around the same time, the couple moved to Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace, originally used as a private retreat for Charlotte. It was known as The Queen’s House at the time, and the rest of their 15 children were born here.

Despite never meeting and Charlotte not being a beauty according to chroniclers, the two had a happy marriage. George was extremely loyal, never taking a mistress, and Charlotte was loving and caring.

Charlotte was a family person. She loved her children but also loved their attendants and her own. She was always warm, friendly and inviting whenever they were around. They couldn’t help when George first struggled with his mental illness in 1788.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Cares for George III

The Strangest Family: George III and Charlotte

Image from Amazon

Charlotte was terrified when George first suffered from his mental and physical illness. She had never expected or experienced such a thing, and she started to fear for her own status and life. The dark times appeared, and soon Charlotte found herself become more and more bad tempered and depressed. The things she once loved, like attending concerts, was something she refused to do now. Even her relationships with her own children were strained. I’m not going to judge. It must have been difficult having this illness come out of nowhere and fear the future because of it. 

The only thing she could do was try to avoid the whole topic. She would plan her gardens and the decorations for new residences. It was her escape from the reality of her new world.

As France lost its monarchy, Charlotte felt even more strained. She and Marie Antoinette of France had been extremely close, despite their 11-year age gap. They had shared interests, and regularly communicated through letters; despite never meeting. In 1789, the monarchy fell in France and soon Marie Antoinette was executed. Shocked and overwhelmed, Charlotte realized that this could happen to her own family, especially with George’s mental illness.

Due to George’s erratic behavior because of his illness, Charlotte refused to visit him often. She was, however, placed with him in her care and she did remain supportive. They never saw each other again from 1812 until her death six years later.

The Death of Queen Charlotte

Charlotte died without her husband nearby. He didn’t even understand that she had died due to his mental capabilities diminished so much. She wasn’t alone, though. George, Prince of Wales, held her hand as she took her last breaths at Kew Palace on November 17, 1818. Between May and August 1819, most of her belongings were sold. The only thing her eldest son claimed was her jewels.

Charlotte does live as the second-longest reigning consort in British history. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg and the current consort, is the only person to surpass her.

Portrait of Charlotte in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz#/media/File:Allan_Ramsay_-_Queen_Charlotte_(Royal_Collection).png)


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