As there were so many children of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg, I’ve decided to split them between the sons and daughters. This post won’t contain George IV and William IV, as they need posts of their own being British kings.
All but two of the sons of George III and Charlotte survived childhood. By this point, medicine was advancing. After all, George’s grandmother Caroline had helped pave the way for the smallpox vaccine as we know it today. Here’s a look at seven out of nine sons of the couple.
Princes Frederick and Edward: Sons Never to Be King
George IV was the eldest son of George and Charlotte, but William IV was not the second. Between them, Charlotte gave birth to Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. He would never be king, dying three years before his elder brother.
Frederick Augustus was named after his grandfather and was born at St. James’ Palace on August 16, 1763. At just six months old he was made the Prince-Bishop of Osnabruck and invested as Knight of the Garter in 1771. He never had much control over his life, though. His father made him follow a career in the army, and he lived in Hanover for six years to study at the University of Gottingen (he wasn’t the only brother to do this). By November 1784 he was the Coldstream Guards colonel and shortly after created the Duke of York and Albany; two titles usually given to the second son of a reigning monarch but not automatically inherited.
Unfortunately, his military career was not entirely successful. As Commander-in-Chief, he faced a number of disasters during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. Part of his unsuccessful events included the withdrawing from the campaign, giving up the prisoners, due to signing the Convention of Alkmaar. The nursery rhyme The Grand Old Duke of York was written due to Frederick’s poor campaigns; not Richard, Duke of York that many people believe it was written after.
Before the poor campaigns, Frederick married Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia. They had no children and it was not a happy marriage, separating shortly after. Frederick died at Rutland House on January 5, 1827. He suffered from dropsy and cardiovascular disease. He is now buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Prince Edward followed his three brothers and a sister, born on November 2, 1767. Despite having an older sister, he was fourth in line of succession and named after his uncle. Like Frederick, Edward was pushed into a military career by his father. He would have joined him and his younger brothers at the University of Gottingen, but his uncle, the Duke of York, suggested against it. Edward did eventually go to Hanover for study, but completed it in Geneva.
Edward was nothing like his older brother when it came to initial military success. Going AWOL, he was sent to Gibraltar in disgrace. With the heat too much for him, he requested to go to Quebec, Canada instead, which is where he was sent in 1791; getting there in time to see the Constitutional Act proclaimed. From there, he did enjoy a successful military career, with one very successful campaign in the West Indies.
After falling from his horse towards the end of the 18th century, he returned home and was made the Duke of Kent and Strethearn. He also became the Comander-in-Chief of British forces in North America, and sailed back to Canada in 1799, returning a year later.
Expecting the appointment of Lord Lietenant of Ireland, he was initially disappointed to be made the Governor of Gibraltar. His main order was to restore the discipline among the troops, many of who were regularly drunk. The problem for Edward was that he was too harsh, and it led to mutiny. After getting reports of the mutiny, he was called back home but refused to leave until his successor arrived.
Edward remained unmarried for much of his life. He did have mistresses, though. However, the line of succession started to look uncertain when Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales died in November 1817. His older brothers were estranged from their wives, and there were no legitimate grandchildren of George III. Edward had to marry to help secure the royal succession, and he was rushed to marry Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who had already had two children from a previous marriage. They did have one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, better known as Queen Victoria. It was Edward who did successfully secure the line of succession for his family.
Edward died before his older brothers on January 23, 1820 of pneumonia. His father followed six days later, and it was less than a year after the birth of Victoria. He was buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
King of Hanover: Ernest Augustus I
The fifth of the sons of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz became the King of Hanover. Ernest Augustus was born on June 5, 1771 and was viewed as an unlikely monarch at the time. It was due to a similar semi-Salic law to Britain in Hanover that Ernest became the Hanoverian king; women born before him could not take the throne if there was a male descendent. Even daughters of legitimate older sons would not inherit it (hence just being similar to the British line of succession).
Like his brothers, he was educated in Hanover and sent there for military training. He was disfigured during the war against France, but it did not stop his marriage to Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz being successful and happy. It was Ernest Augustus who had the only legitimate heir to the throne after his brothers before the birth of Alexandrina Victoria. Unfortunately, Charlotte, Princess of Wales, died in childbirth and Ernest had had no other children.
Rumors spread that Ernest wanted to murder Princess Victoria. She would be the next British monarch after her uncle William IV. However, with his death, Ernest succeeded as King of Hanover, and he moved there, becoming the first ruler since George I to do so. During his reign, he sparked controversy when he dismissed seven professors from Gottingen University, because they refused to take their oaths of allegiance to the new king. The professors included fairy tale legends the Brothers Grimm. Three of the professors, including JaCob Grimm, were forced to leave Hanover, but were invited to return in Ernest’s final years.
On November 18, 1851, Ernest Augustus died after a month-long illness. Hanover mourned him greatly, but Britain very little. The Times had even refused to include the black border that was customary with the death of a royal. He was buried at the Herrenhausen Gardens, Hanover.
The Younger Surviving Sons of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz: Augustus Frederick and Adolphus
After Ernest, there were two more boys born to George and Charlotte. On January 27, 1773, Augustus Frederick was born at Buckingham House. Initially being tutored at home, he joined his brothers in Hanover. However, he did not join the military due to his asthma. Instead, he initially considered joining the Church of England. Due to being the sixth son, there was little to worry about with the line of succession; at least, that’s what his parents would have believed.
Augustus married Lady Augusta Murray secretly on April 4, 1793 in Rome. When they returned, they secretly married again in December. The king never consented to either wedding ceremony and the marriage was annulled due to the Royal Marriages Act 1772. That did not stop Augustus living with his former bride until 1801. They did have children together, and Lady Augusta retained custody when they separated.
He later took on mistresses, before marrying for a second time, again without permission from his father, to Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin. Despite Augustus being the Duke of Sussex by now, his new wife was never known as the Duchess of Sussex. Instead, she was created the Duchess of Inverness, which was a title she owned in her own right. The two never had children together.
Augustus never got a state funeral after his death in 1843, despite being Queen Victoria’s favorite uncle. This was at his own request, a request that was not ignored unlike some previous monarchs would have chosen. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery opposite his sister Sophia.
Prince Adolphus followed his brother a year later, born on February 24, 1774. He was the youngest son to survive childhood and followed his brothers for education and military training in Hanover. His military career was a successful one, and he gained positions his brothers never did.
It seemed that his career was more important, especially with being the seventh son. It was only when Princess Charlotte died in 1817 that the question of succession came about. His older brothers were either unmarried or had not had children of their own. It also didn’t help that William IV had failed to marry, and he had to marry first. Once he did, his younger brothers were able to search for wives, and Adolphus married Princess Augusta of Hessel-Cassel and they had three children together. While none would become British monarchs in their own right, their youngest Mary would become the wife of George V of British, Mary to Teck.
On July 8, 1850 Adolphus died at Cambridge House. He was originally buried at St. Anne’s Church, Kew but was later moved to St. George’s Chapel with his brothers.
Sons Not to Survive Childhood: Octavius and Alfred
The last two sons of George III and Charlotte did not survive childhood. Born on February 23, 1779, Octavius was the 13th child of the royal couple. He was named from the Latin for eight, due to being the eighth son.
Since he was so young, George III found his favorite boy. He was affectionate and indulgent, and he regularly saw him on evenings to play with him.
He was 19-months-old when he became a big brother, but three years later found himself as the baby of the family again. It was clear with the death of Alfred that Octavius was the favorite. The king commented how he would have died had it been him.
George’s nightmare came true six months later when Octavius and his sister Sophia were taken to Kew Palace. They were inoculated against smallpox, a vaccine their great-grandmother had helped develop, but Octavius became extremely ill from it. Two days later, on May 3, 1783 he died. He was the last British royal family member to die due to the disease
Originally buried at Westminster Abbey without the household mourning (as was tradition for children under 14), he was moved to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor in 1820. The king was devastated and stopped an artist from working on a royal family painting, until he realized that the painter was working on Octavius.
During King George’s bouts of madness, he regularly spoke to Octavius and his younger brother Alfred. At one point, Octavius had been dead for five years but George had conversations with him.
The last son of George and Charlotte, Alfred, was born on September 22, 1780 at Windsor Castle. Two years later, he was inoculated against smallpox, but like his older brother he suffered from side effects. While living in Deal to try and use the sea air to help him improve, he failed to recover. In August 1782, he was moved back to Windsor and doctors determined he had just weeks to live. Problems with his chest and fevers led to Alfred dying on August 20, a month before his second birthday.
Losing Alfred—the baby of the family—was devastating for the king and queen. He was buried at Westminster Abbey and later moved to St. George’s Chapel under orders from George IV. He was the first of the 15 children of George and Charlotte to die, and was the only child never to be an older sibling while alive, despite the royal couple having another child afterwards.
Looking at the article, I’m really glad I chose to separate the daughters and sons of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. This certainly proves that being a royal does not necessarily mean success and longevity. I really encourage more reading into these children of George III and Charlotte. There is so much detail that I’ve missed out in the military careers specifically to ensure a post in my 5 Minute History series.
Image of Prince Edward: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Edward,_Duke_of_Kent_and_Strathearn#/media/File:Edward,_Duke_of_Kent_and_Strathearn_by_Sir_William_Beechey.jpg
Image of Prince Octavius: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Octavius_of_Great_Britain#/media/File:Octavius_of_Great_Britain_-_West_1783.jpg
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.