Friday, December 9, 2011

The Bequests of Queen Charlotte,
Consort of George III

Portrait by Stroehling 1807
On November 17, 1818, her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Charlotte, wife and consort of King George III for fifty-seven years, died aged seventy-four. She was buried at the Royal Chapel of St. George, Windsor, on the 2nd of December.

The previous day her Will was proved in Doctors' Commons. Lord Arden and General Taylor were the executors and also Trustees for property left to Princesses Elizabeth and Mary. General Taylor had written the will for the Queen on November 16; the witnesses were Sir Francis Millman and Sir Henry Halford--both attending physicians.

The Queen's will directs that her debts and legacies be paid from her personal property, said to be under £140,000.
Her Majesty states her property to consist of a real estate in New Windsor, called the Lower Lodge, and of personals of various description; those of the greatest value being her jewels,...
The unmarried Princess Augusta Sophia was given "the house and ground at Frogmore, and the Shawe establishment", and all its household appurtenances. The Princess Sophia, her youngest daughter, was given the property in New Windsor.

Her books, plate, house linen, china, pictures, drawings, prints, all articles of ornamental furniture, and all other valuables and personals, she directs to be divided in equal shares, according to a valuation to be made, amongst her four younger daughters.
In the end all this material, even her clothes and her snuff, was sold by Chrisitie's auction house, from May to August 1819. It is to be hoped that her daughters did indeed receive the money from the sale, at least.

Certain personal property that Charlotte had brought with her to England from Mecklenburg-Strelitz was directed to be sent back to the senior branch of that House. She also directed that the jewels which the King presented to her should be given to the House of Hanover "as an heir-loom" should George not recover or long survive her.

Her jewels comprised three categories:
1. Those which the King purchased for £50,000 and presented to her

2. Those presented to her by the Nawab [nabob] of Arcot.

3. Those purchased by herself or being presents made on birthdays or other occasions.
Queen Charlotte directed that the Arcot diamonds were to be sold and the proceeds divided amongst the four youngest daughters. The rest of the jewels were to be apportioned equally to the four princesses.
Two of the Arcot diamonds

There was, however, a problem in implementing the will with regard to the jewels--the Prince Regent appropriated them all.

The Arcot diamonds ended up in a crown made especially for him as George IV. They were not recovered and sold, along with the other jewelry, until 1837. It was only then that the terms of Queen Charlotte's will were fully executed, in the year of the accession of her granddaughter Victoria.  

The King of Hanover had eventually to sue for the jewels that Queen Charlotte had intended for his House. They were not handed over until the reign of Queen Victoria. Some of Charlotte's possessions may be viewed at the Royal Collection

Charlotte's opal ring
My main source of information for this post comes from the Annual Register of 1818--Chronicle section, for December. In that article, at least, no mention is made of any bequests to her seven surviving sons. Only the six daughters of Charlotte and George are recipients of legacies. Interesting....

'Til next time,


Source: The Annual Register for 1818 is available free for download from Google Books.


Anne Gallagher said...

Isn't that interesting she left nothing to her sons. And fie on George for stealing her diamonds.

I recently found The Regent's Daughter by Jean Plaidy. Was wondering if you'd read it.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I'll have to look for that book. Jean Plaidy was a terrific writer; I wasn't aware she had written about Princess Charlotte. Thanks for the suggestion!