Charles Howard, the 11th Duke of Norfolk (1746 – 1815), was a friend of the Prince Regent. The Dukedom also carried with it the hereditary office Earl Marshal of England but he was better known as the Drunken Duke. He was also the Dirty Duke who so hated bathing that his servants waited until he was passed out drunk before attempting to wash him. He was the lord of Arundel Castle which he reconstructed in 1815 for £600,000.
Norfolk could eat several pounds of steak at one meal. He was the leader of the Beef-steak Society which was established to honor English cuisine above French. The 24 members of the exclusive Society could bring a friend to the Saturday evening meeting in Covent Garden then, later, Bedford Coffee House. Prinny was admitted as a 25th member.
Tomorrow, More of Prinny’s Set. Rita Bay
Princess Charlotte, the only child of Prince George (George IV – Prinny) and Princess Caroline, was born in 1796. Until her death in childbirth in 1817 at 21 years old, she was the heir to the British throne. Her father arranged for her to be raised with only occasional visits from her mother whom he hated. Since Prinny was did not pay close attention to her upbringing, the servants allowed the child additional visits with her mother. She was reported to be happy and something of a tomboy, if isolated and not very studious. She was moved from Carleton House so her father could conduct his affairs unencumbered.
In her teens, Charlotte was considered undignified. Without her overbearing father’s knowledge, she pursued attachments that were inappropriate. She defied her father’s ultimatum that she would marry his choice, the heir to the Prince of Orange. She held out for marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a lieutenant-general in the Russian cavalry who was ineligible as a husband. Charlotte ran away to her mother’s home to end her engagement to the Prince of Orange. Her father confined her but she had the English people, some politicians, and her family members to support her. Her mother left the country, never to return until after Charlotte’s death.
Prinny relented and their marriage took place in 1815. The couple was very happy and her pregnancy following a miscarriage was welcomed by the British people. After a normal pregnancy, Charlotte went into labor for three days before delivering a large, stillborn male. During the evening, Charlotte started complaining of cramping, she died shortly after. Leo was devastated. Her physician committed suicide. The public went into deep mourning for the popular Princess who would have been their queen. Worse yet, she was the only legitimate grandchild of the King George III who had 15 children. Eventually, King George’s fourth son, Edward, married and fathered Queen Victoria.
Tomorrow, Prinny’s Friends Rita Bay
Maria Anne Smythe was born in 1756. She was 18 at her first marriage which lasted only three months. She was left destitute because her husband who was sixteen years her senior had not signed his new will and his family failed to provide for her. Her second husband, Thomas Fitzherbert, lasted three years, but Maria had learned and there was both money and a home in Mayfair, London. The twice-widowed beauty entered London society where she caught the eye of Prince George, the heir to the British throne.
The Prince fell madly in love when he first saw her at the opera house. He pursued her relentlessly, demanding that she receive invitations to parties and be seated next to him. She refused him until he attempted suicide. She agreed to marry him and in 1785 they were married at her home by the Prince’s chaplain. The marriage had two legal problems, however. Maria was a twice-widowed Catholic and they had failed to obtain permission to marry. The Royal Marriage Act of 1772 required prior approval by the King and Privy Council. The Act of Settlement would have removed George from the succession for marrying a Catholic.
They moved in highest circles of British society and appeared to be very happy. But heirs to the throne must beget more heirs to the throne and debts must be paid. George bargained to have £600,000 of his debt paid by the Crown and Parliament on the wedding day. In 1794 Maria received a letter informing her that their relationship was over. The following year George entered into disastrous marriage with his first cousin, Caroline of Brunswick. The following year, a few days after the birth of his daughter, Princess Charlotte, he wrote his will leaving everything to Maria – “the wife of my heart and soul.” Years later, they reconciled and were together until their final break when the George became Regent. After the final separation, Maria received £5000 annually until her death. She, of course, had letters and documents to prove their relationship.
Despite the break, on his deathbed George placed her get well card under his head. At his request, he was buried with her miniature around his neck. In his private papers, his family found all the letters that they had exchanged. It was rumored that Maria had at least two children by George who may have had a couple of dozen spread among his many mistresses. Maria moved to Brighton and lived there until her death in 1837 at 80.
Tomorrow, The Trials & Tribulations of Princess Caroline. Rita Bay
George Augustus Frederick; 12 August 1762 – 26 June 1830) the oldest son of George III served as Prince Regent during his father’s relapse into mental illness from 1811 until his accession. For most of his life he had a poor relationship with his father and mother. His relationship with his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was even worse but more on that another day.
Prior to becoming Regent, his extravagant lifestyle offended his parents and the British people. It only got worse. A period encompassing several decades was named after him – The Regency. He was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste. He was instrumental in building the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, remodelled Buckingham Palace, rebuilt Windsor, and founded the National Gallery and King’s College in London.
He was called “the First Gentleman of England,” but his poor family relations, his dissolute lifestyle, his unsanctioned first marriage and extravagance angered the British people. He did not provide leadership during the Napoleonic Wars but relied on Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister. His decisions were influenced by friends and sycophants. Parliament could only control his behavior through the purse strings. The pictures illustrate the weight gain that only increased over the years.
May 5th – 9th The Chocolate and Roses Blog Hop. On May 10th, Prinny’s Wives. Rita Bay