"The Princess Royal I think the most sensible agreeable woman I ever saw, but in my opinion far from pretty." - Lady Mary Coke.
Charlotte Augusta Matilda (29th September 1766 - Present) is the current possessor of the substantive title "Princess Royal", a ceremonial title customarily (but not automatically) awarded by a British monarch to his/her eldest daughter. She is the eldest daughter and fourth child born to King George III of the United Kingdom and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Charlotte Augusta Matilda was born at Buckingham House or The Queen's House, as it was commonly known, in Westminster, London, on the 29th September 1766 to King George III of the United Kingdom and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was christened "Charlotte Augusta Matilda" on October 27, 1766, at St James’s Palace in London by Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were: King Christian VII of Denmark, her first cousin once removed, Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark, her paternal aunt, spouse of the latter, and Princess Louisa, her paternal aunt.
Queen Charlotte, an advocate of vaccination and the encouragement of medical science, had both Charlotte and Prince William inoculated against smallpox on 12 December 1768.
Charlotte was placed in the care of Lady Charlotte Finch, her governess who served the Royal Family for over 30 years. Her existence and living conditions came to be nicknamed: "The Nunnery." She'd be awakened at dawn, ate and dinned plain food and were never allowed to move out from the gaze of Queen Charlotte. Walking couldn't even be done alone, she was made to accompany another sibling.Charlotte ate breakfast with their parents at 8 o'clock and then settled down to receive her education which was superintended by Lady Charlotte Finch.
Charlotte had a thoroughly modern education: geography, English, grammar, music, needlework, dancing, and art, under the tutelage of Sir Thomas Gainsborough (FRSA) and Benjamin West (PRA). Since French was the official language in every European court, Charlotte was given a Frenchwoman, Mlle. Julie Krohme, to be her tutor, in order that she should have no accent. Charlotte had an excellent memory, loved history, and had a passion for languages.
Charlotte attended her first ball on January 18th, 1782 where she was to dance her first dance, a minuet, with her elder brother, the Prince of Wales. It all turned into an embarrassing faux pas. The hem of her petticoat became entangled with her shoe buckle, which upon attempting to prize free inevitably flung away. An awkward silence followed as the music halted while Charlotte recovered the runaway shoe. The incident wouldn't be forgotten. A popular verse was penned to commemorate the event:
The Princess lost her shoe,
Her Highness hopp’d,
The fiddlers stopp’d,
Not knowing what to do.
On the 22nd June, 1789, Charlotte was pronounced "Princess Royal", the third to bear the title. The title had been invented in 1642 when Queen Henrietta Maria, daughter of King Henri IV, wanted to imitate the way in which the eldest daughter of the King of France was styled: "Madame Royale." Charlottes's youth was very sheltered and was spent most of her time in the company of her parents and sisters. George III didn't allow his extensive breed of daughters to marry, at the age when most princesses would marry.
Personality and Appearance
Charlotte, like Queen Charlotte was reserved and an introvert which made her appear arrogant and remote. She was something of an organizer and was given the daunting task of keeping her unmarried/hormonal/sexually frustrated sisters in check, a task which made her unpopular with them since she was inclined to create spin and tattle-tale. She was very insecure about her appearance and role within the family unit, hating to be teased about her weight and overcome with the idea that her mother did not love her as much as her sisters. She would describe herself as "absolutely a slave" rather than a daughter and constantly complained about the Queen's violent moods and outbreaks of temper. Charlotte did suffer from a stammer that an attendant attempted to help correct and overcome.
Charlotte was the most unattractive daughter. She was constantly compared to Princess Augusta-Sophia, only two years her junior. When Augusta was a month old, Lady Mary Coke called her "the most beautiful baby I have ever seen" while Charlotte was penned away as being "very plain". In the succeeding years, Charlotte would be re-evaluated by Lady Coke, who now described her as: "the most sensible agreeable child I ever saw, but in my opinion far from pretty" while Augusta was still "rather pretty" (It must be stressed that a reemerging pattern within the documentation of Royalty and their appearance was the common adulation and exaggeration of the person's virtue when beauty was evidently non-existent.)
Titles, Styles, Honours & Arms
Titles and Styles
- 29 September 1766 – 22 June 1789: Her Royal Highness The Princess Charlotte
- 22 June 1789 – 18 May 1797: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal
- "Princess Royal" was practically in use from the moment of birth in September 1766.
As a daughter of the sovereign, Charlotte had use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a rose gules, the outer points each bearing a cross gules.