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I recently purchased the 1818 edition of this book, The Life of Princess Charlotte, and I thought you might be interested to see some scans form it.

Frontispiece of “The Life of Princess Charlotte” 1818

Princes Charlotte was, of course, the ill-fated only legitimate child of the Prince Regent, below,

The Prince Regent from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, below.

The Princess of Wales from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

A fan of Jane Austen’s works, she loved Sense and Sensibility. In 1812, when she read the novel, she would have been 16 years old. According to the evidence in her letters by 1st January 1812, she had” heard much” of the novel. By the  22nd January she had got a copy of the novel and had devoured it:

‘“Sence and Sencibility” (sic-jfw) I have just fin- ished reading; it certainly is interesting, & you feel quite one of the company. I think Maryanne (sic-jfw) & me are very like in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c, however remain very like. I must say it interested me much.’

Princess Charlotte and the first page of “The Life of the Princess Charlotte”

(See page 26, and note 6 thereto of The Letters of Princess Charlotte, 1811–1817, (1949) edited by A.Aspinall )

In 1816 she married Prince Leopold , shown below,

Prince Leopold from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Their first meeting is shown in this imagined plate from the book:

The First Interview from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

They married on the 2nd May 1816, and the scene is also captured in the book, again an imaginary scene as the engraver would not have been present:

The Solemnization of the Marriage from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Their future seemed assured, with the couple settling into a quiet life away from the court at Claremont in Surrey.

Claremont from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Unhappily Princess Charlotte  died, in childbirth, in 1817. Her baby son was still-born. This plate from the book shows her funeral procession at Windsor:

The Funeral Procession from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Her death saw an outpouring of grief that was probably unprecedented in English history-and was unrepeated untill the somewhat hysterical scenes that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Commemorative items -jugs,plates,figurines etc showing images of  Princess Charlotte were sold in their thoudsands.This book was published as a result of the communal grief…and probably a desire to cash in on the situation. The reason for all this upset? With her death and that of her son, the succession to the English throne was no longer secure. As her parents were violently estranged there was no hope that they would produce another child, a direct heir. The King,  poor George III, shown below, had such poor health that he lived in seclusion at Windsor, blind, deaf and mentally disturbed.

George III from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Charlotte’s death saw the beginning of a rather unseemly scramble amongst The Prince Regent’s brothers to marry and provide a legitimate replacement for poor Charlotte and her son. Princess Victoria, the daughter of the Duke of Duchess of Kent  was the first child to be produced and survive in this unseemly contest. She was born on the 24th May 1819, and became the heiress presumptive to the throne. She, of course, became Queen after the death of her uncle, King William IV in 1837.

The book is really a very poorly written article, proving that habits regarding commemorative books have  changed very little over the years( You will understand what I mean if you have tried to read any of the commemorative books produced for the Diamond Jubilee, or last year’s Royal Wedding) However, it’s an interesting piece of social history and I’ve always want to have a copy; this was the first I’ve found I could afford. If you would like to read the whole of the book, it is available as an e-book on Google BooksGo here to read it. The description of Princess Charlotte’s wedding  and funeral are fascinating, and are probably based on newspaper reports of the time.A lot of the descriptions of the Princess are sugared to the max. The speculations as to who might inherit the throne on the death of the Prince Regent.,especially the calculations on page 565-6 regarding life spans of the candidates, are fascinating. The Odes and Laments published in her honour are, to be truthful, overblown and laughable. You have been warned.

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