George III: Marriage -- Queen Charlotte

Figure 1.--This portait by Allan Ramsey accordig to the Royal Collection Trust is 'the closest any British artist gets to the elegance, subtlety and precision of French portraiture and the best candidate to represent portrait painting in the Age of Enlightenment.' Ramsey was King George III's favorite artist. The portrait is undated, butwas painted about 1765. Queen Charlotte is shown seated at an English spinnet (a piano-like instrument). Place on the instrument is a work-box and a copy of John Lockeís 'Some Thoughts Concerning Education' (1693). And leaning against it is a port-folio of drawings. Queen Charlotte holds Prince Frederick, later Duke of York (1763-1827). At her knee stands Prince George, Prince of Wales (later George IV, 1762-1830), with a bow to emphasize that he is a boy. Behind him in the dark is a military drum. Both boys are wear dresses because theyare too young to be breeched yet. Unusually, the Queen and princes were painted on three separate pieces of canvas which have been joined together. It is not clear why, but is believed that Prince George grew and changed so qmuchwhile Rmsey was working on the portrait that he had to change what he had first painted.

George fell in love with Sarah Lennox, a descendent of Charles II, but the Earl of Bute persuaded him to bring the relationship to and end and instead arranged for him to marry a German princess, Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz (1744-1818). She was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a branch of the Portuguese Royal House. During their marriage Queen Charlotte gave birth to 15 children. It may seem strange for an English monarch to marry a German woman, but there were multiple reasons. It was not until the 20th century that Germany became the major threat to Britain. For much of English/British history, it was France that was the great threat. At the time Germany was not yet united. This meant that there was a large number of Germn states and royal families, including most of European Protestant monrchies. A Protestant marriage was required by Act of Parliament. And George himself was partially German. The Hannovarians were a German royal family. George III was actually the first member of his family who was not more German than English. Sophie Charlotte was the eighth child of the Prince of Mirow, Charles Louis Frederick, and his wife, Elisabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Her fatherdied when she wa 8 years old In 1752, when she was eight years old, Sophie Charlotte's father died. As princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Sophie Charlotte was descended from an African branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Six hereditary lines can be traced from the Princess back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa. She married George III (1761), shortly after he became king. The ceremony took place at the Chapel Royal in St Jamesís Palace, London. She was 17 years old at the time. Queen Charlotte was not an educated woman, but she was both intelligent and interested in science. She was an important patroness of the arts. She was especially interested in botony and played a major role in the expansion of Kew Gardens. She had real problens with her mother-in-law. The royal couple had 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood--an unuual number at the time. She was extremely distressed by her husband's discent into madness. She continued to play a major role at court even after her husband became ermently impired, largely beause her son, the fiture George IV became estraigned from his wife.


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Created: 10:03 AM 2/27/2017
Last updated: 10:03 AM 2/27/2017