Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

GIV: Part 1: Prince of Fools

King George IV
(1820 - 1827)

NB: A Simplified Timeline of George IV's reign can be found by clicking here.

Part One: The Prince of Fools

Haddon Hall is a perfect example of the English country house. Tucked neatly in a bend in the River Wye near Bakewell in Derbyshire, it is acknowledged as one of the most impressive country estates in the county today. Visitors can marvel at Haddon’s exquisite 15th century frescoes or the spectacular 110ft Smythson designed Long Gallery. That is, of course, if they haven’t already been distracted by the Banqueting Hall with its original medieval Dais table, behind which hangs a tapestry gifted by a visiting King Henry VIII; or the walled gardens which have provided herbs and vegetables for the Haddon kitchens since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Unlike other properties of its type which have been transformed into National Trust landmarks, country house hotels or public schools, Haddon remains in the possession of the (albeit extended) Manners family [1]. In days gone by, Haddon was yet another estate in the vast property portfolio of the Dukes of Rutland, first coming into their possession in the 17th century. But whilst the house itself contains many fascinating artifacts relating to Haddon’s long history and the Manners family who still call it home, there is one room in the house which inspires morbid curiosity.

The State Bedroom boasts a four poster Tudor bed with sumptuous draperies. Of all Haddon’s royal guests who have slept in this bed, only one seems to have captured the imagination of visitors to the house; so much so that in 1816, a ferocious looking wrought iron railing was installed to enclose the bed and keep curious callers at a respectful distance. However interesting the tapestries or frescoes in Haddon’s other rooms may be, every visitor seems to want to see the room (and indeed the bed) where the Prince Regent died on the 24th of June 1815.


The State Bedroom at Haddon Hall

Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland, was one of England’s most beautiful hostesses, distinguished in society for her reputation for fine food, comfortable rooms and lavish entertainments. The châtelaine of Belvoir Castle as the wife of John Manners, the 5th Duke of Rutland, Elizabeth had stunned Leicestershire society by selling seven villages surrounding the Castle near Grantham. Much of the estate land was included raising an enormous sum which was ringfenced to fund an extravagant restoration of Belvoir which had stood since the Norman Conquest. James Wyatt[2], "the aristocrat’s architect", had redesigned hundreds of English country houses infusing them with romantic and eccentricity in the Gothic revival style which had become so fashionable. Following Wyatt's design for the improved Castle would cost approximately £120,000 (the equivalent of £9.25 million today) setting Belvoir on course to become one of the most impressive private houses in England.

In stark contrast to the wonders of Belvoir stood Haddon, largely ignored by its owners and rarely used for anything more than a useful overnight bolt hole for the Duke of Rutland on his frequent trips from Leicestershire to Surrey where his world-famous stud, Cheveley Park, was situated. Whilst Haddon was not exactly modern by the standards of 1815, it had one saving grace; country sports. Haddon could offer trout fishing in four rivers that crossed the estate, shooting on the neighbouring moors and hunting with the Meynell which had crossed the estate since 1793.

So it was that in June 1815, the Duke and Duchess of Rutland decided that the interior renovations at Belvoir would make it quite impossible to host even a modest house party comfortably and decided to relocate their guests to Haddon. In a moment of genius, Elizabeth Rutland engaged 22 carpenters known for their work at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to install painted scenery boards in the public rooms where the guests would dine, gamble or dance. Displays of flowers, fruits and tree branches were banked along the walls with candelabra sent from Belvoir to transform the somewhat neglected Haddon for the duration of the party.

Of the 18 invited guests, two stood out. The first was the Duke of York, Prince Frederick, with whom the Duchess had maintained an erratic intimate relationship with for over a decade.[3] The liaison was no great secret in society and was seemingly so openly accepted that upon the Duchess of Rutland’s death, the Gentleman’s Magazine informed its readers solemnly that “a dispatch had been immediately forwarded announcing the afflicting event to His Majesty”. Whilst Elizabeth courted royalty in her boudoir, the Duke of Rutland impressed royalty at his stables. Among his most ardent admirers was the Prince Regent, the second royal guest who would join the house party at Haddon in June 1815.

The Prince Regent had been sworn into office in 1811 when his father, King George III, was finally declared unfit to rule after years of physical and mental instability. Frequent bouts of unpredictable behaviour saw the King retreat to Kew Palace for “treatment” but by 1811 it had become clear that the monarch could no longer carry out his duties. Those at court had expected such a drastic outcome for years but many had also feared it. The dynamic between the King and his eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, had been a constant clash of wills resulting in very public displays of animosity and on one occasion, a physical altercation[4]. The King saw his eldest son and heir as nothing more than a self-righteous indulgent bon vivant with no aptitude for the duties expected of him by the Crown.

This was a view shared not only by the King’s wife, Queen Charlotte, but by many in government, in the church, in high society and (most worryingly for George III) among the wider public. Whilst the King was respected as pious and reserved, academic and studious, his eldest son was regarded as frivolous and ostentatious. It was said that when a courtier announced the arrival of the Prince of Wales one evening, the King scoffed and bellowed “No Prince of Wales he Sir, that man is the Prince of Fools!”

The Prince Regent (as Prince George would become in 1811) seemed not to care about his public image to any serious degree. His pursuit of pleasure was driven by an insatiable appetite for sex, gambling and high spending which continues to promote the image of the Regency period as one of glamour and romance. In reality, millions were stuck in extreme poverty with little hope of improvement in their daily lives. Inconveniently for public figures, steam printing had enabled the mass circulation of printed material in which publishers gleefully shared the latest gossip from court with thinly veiled attacks on the rich and powerful. The Prince Regent and his coterie of mistresses proved the most popular muse.

George's popularity had reached an all time low by 1815. Just six months earlier, his wife Caroline of Brunswick had finally grown tired of being humiliated and ignored and returned to her homeland for a few weeks before taking a tour of Switzerland and Italy. Popular with the people but despised by her husband, she had been forbidden from all but limited contact with her only child, Princess Charlotte of Wales, until she could take no more. Caroline struck a deal with her estranged husband; for an annuity of £35,000, she would leave Britain. The Prince Regent reveled in his new found freedom and with the power the Regency Bill had given him, he felt emboldened in his behaviour. The public however, had never loathed him more.

News of the Duke of Wellington's triumph at Waterloo brought some respite as patriotism surged and celebrations had erupted throughout London when the news came on the 20th that “the little corporal” had finally been smashed once and for all. According to the London Gazette, Major Henry Percy, son of the Duke of Northumberland, was given the task of relaying the news to the Prince Regent. George was dining with friends in London when Percy was said to have “brought in Napoleon’s eagles before the Prince who blessed God, wept for the dead and promoted Percy”. Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, suggested that the Prince Regent might attend a special service of celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Prince declined. He had accepted the invitation to attend the Rutlands house party at Haddon Hall and would begin his journey to Derbyshire the following morning. Lord Liverpool then asked if the Duke of York might deputise for the Prince but York also declined. His excuse was not so self-absorbed as that of the Prince Regent however. He would not be going to Haddon because an attack of gout prevented him from leaving his bed. [5]


Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland

The Prince Regent arrived at Haddon with the Marchioness of Hertford, his mistress de jour. Isabella Ingram-Seymour-Conway had entered the Prince’s affections in 1807 and was still in favour with the Prince even if the rest of his inner circle where a little wary of her. To the Tories, she was “Britain’s Guardian Angel”, known for her cunning and ability to change the Prince Regent’s mind, seemingly on a whim. The Duchess of Rutland had no great affection for the Marchioness but her dyed-in-the-wool Tory husband held no such objections. Accommodated in the State Bedroom, the Prince asked that Isabella be given rooms adjoining his. This proved difficult because the medieval layout of Haddon meant that most guests were forced out into the courtyard with no direct access to the adjoining rooms. His Royal Highness complained bitterly about this upon his arrival, as did Lady Hertford but his personal staff travelling with him had bigger worries in the servant's quarters. One of the Prince’s manservants later remarked that there was “more water on the floor of the bed chamber than in the river running by”.

If the Duchess of Rutland was disappointed in the Duke of York’s absence, she did not show it. Reflecting the victory at Waterloo, she served the finest wines and encouraged the guests to eat more than their fill of the rich food on offer. There were frequent toasts to the King, the Prince Regent and the Duke of Wellington in the Banqueting Hall that night with the Prince said to be “in gay spirits, quite jolly and with no trace of temper or sulking which he was often taken by after drinking brandy”. Well fed and looking forward to a day’s hunting the following morning, the house party broke up at around 3am and the Prince went to his room to be undressed and put to bed.

The following morning, two of the guests did not appear for breakfast. The first, Edward Sacheverell Wilmot-Sitwell, had arrived from neighbouring Stainsby three days earlier. He was acting as the land agent for the Rutlands at Haddon, his own family being gentry in all but name and now living in reduced circumstances. The second was Major General Benjamin Bloomfield, the former Member of Parliament for Plymouth, and Aide-de-Camp to the Prince of Wales. It was around 10.30 in the morning of the 21st of June 1815 that a local doctor, William Pencell, was woken by his wife at their home in the tiny hamlet of Alport. Pencell took a pony and trap to Haddon where he examined the two gentlemen confined to their beds. Both were suffering from colic, he counselled, no doubt the consequences of the banquet the night before. Pencell later said, “I did not like to accuse gentlemen of taking too much strong drink but it was in my mind that both the agent and the Major General could attribute their malaise to that”

Pencell left Haddon and returned home. Meanwhile, the remaining guests, amused by their fellow revelers laid low by excess, set out for a day’s hunting. The ladies remained at the house before being led through a tour of the Elizabeth Walled Garden by the Duchess. The scene was much as it might be at any country house party in the early 19th century until the peace of the garden was broken by the clattering of horses hooves. The Prince Regent had also fallen ill and wished to rest. The Duchess sent a message to Dr Pencell to return to Haddon immediately whilst Lady Hertford dispatched a note to London asking for Sir Gilbert Blane, the Prince’s personal physician to attend him.

Dr Pencell advised the Duchess to break up her house party immediately. He feared that Mr Wilmot was showing the early symptoms of typhus. It was not an uncommon disease and epidemics had occurred with alarming regularity in England for decades. Yet there was no epidemic at the time and so the Duchess dismissed Pencell, sending a messenger for a different doctor from Bakewell to attend Haddon immediately. At 9.30 in the morning of the 22nd of June, Dr Philip Strudley found the Prince Regent in a stable condition “but with a most definite fever”. He did not agree with Pencell that the mystery ailment was typhus and thought Lady Hertford’s dispatch to London “somewhat premature”.

It took two days for Gilbert Blane to reach Haddon, a horse journey of 14 hours broken by a night’s rest at an inn near Northampton. It was therefore Strudley who attended to the Prince. The Rutlands sent their remaining guests’ home, those remaining at Haddon being those taken already ill, the Prince’s staff, the Marchioness of Hertford and the two local doctors. At 8pm on the 22nd of June, Mr Wilmot died. Major General Bloomfield however showed some signs of improvement. Both Pencell and Strudley were baffled. The latter examined the Prince once more who was, according to Lady Hertford, “half mad with fever, babbling and screaming in a most frightening way”.

News of the Prince’s illness finally reached Buckingham House and Kensington Palace. The King was not informed, his own state of health so precarious that he probably would not have registered the news even if it had been passed on to him. At Kew, Queen Charlotte showed “indifference”. Her Lady of the Bedchamber, the Countess of Cork, later remarked; “Her Majesty seemed totally unmoved; indeed, she made no comment at all. She simply stood up and walked out into the gardens. When I attempted to follow, she waved a hand at me and I fell back, uncertain of what I should be about"

Whilst the Prince Regent’s brothers were all informed immediately, Princess Charlotte was told nothing of her father’s condition. Lord Liverpool asked the Duke of York to remain in London but the Dukes of Clarence and Cumberland set off for Derbyshire attended by the Bishop of London, William Howley, at the Prime Minister’s insistence. Meanwhile, Liverpool asked the Duke of York, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons to attend him at Fife House in Whitehall. The situation now seemed serious and the Prime Minister, with the lack of any real indication of how grave the Prince's condition actually was, sought advice from those at the very top of government.

Lord Eldon, the Lord Chancellor, was asked to consider two very realistic possibilities. The first was what stipulation the Regency Act of 1811 (known as the Care of the King During His Illness Act etc) made should the Prince Regent also succumb to a long period of illness or even die before his father. The second was how the Act might be amended urgently to make new provision for “His Majesty’s care” if the government felt the existing arrangements were not satisfactory. Eldon’s advice was simple. The Regency Act did not require a Council of Regency as required by previous legislation. It had been felt in 1811 that as the Prince Regent was heir apparent, he would assume full powers upon his father’s death. It was clear to Eldon at least that such a council must now be appointed and convened at the earliest opportunity.

To affect this, Eldon suggested that the Prime Minister follow the precedent set in late 1810 for the passage of the Regency Act. Without the Kings consent, the Lord Chancellor had affixed the Great Seal of the Realm to letters patent naming Lords Commissioners. Their resolution (to provide a regent for the King in the person of the Prince of Wales) was not debated by both Houses of Parliament, rather they were simply approved by a majority vote of both houses. The Lords Commissioners, appointed in the name of the King, granted Royal Assent to the 1811 bill which discharged functions in the name of the King to the Prince of Wales and named him regent.[6]

Liverpool proposed that new Lords Commissioners should be appointed and a new bill introduced to parliament the following morning. The Duke of York would succeed his brother as regent until a regency council would be established. Even then, it was agreed that the Duke should act as the head of this council. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Charles Abbott insisted that the Privy Council be consulted before any such appointments were made, something the Duke of York agreed with. Who the Commissioners should be, let alone who should be appointed to the Regency Council, was a matter for another hour. The meeting at Fife House concluded, Liverpool began to receive parliamentarians in groups of four or five to advise them of the ongoing situation. Only now was a bulletin published informing the public that the Prince Regent was seriously ill.

At Kew Palace, Queen Charlotte was informed of the Fife House meeting and elected to return to Buckingham House to consult her son, the Duke of York, personally. Whilst it was no secret that the Queen despised her eldest son, especially given his treatment of her husband and enforcing their separation some years earlier, she doted on the Duke of York. Whilst the Prince Regent was invariably “the son” or “the monster”, the Duke of York was “the baby” or “the beloved one”. The Countess of Cork accompanied Queen Charlotte to Buckingham House where she was attended by her daughters, Princess Augusta Sophia and Princess Elizabeth. Whilst the latter paced nervously and seemed genuinely grieved, Lady Cork noted “something akin to boredom in the Queen, almost as if she simply wished to know one way or the other if her eldest child was dead or alive”.

At the Queen's insistence, no member of the Royal Family was permitted to travel to Derbyshire. But when the royal doctors attending the King forbad any possibility of the Prince Regent being brought to London, Her Majesty relented and agreed that it might be prudent for his elder brothers to travel to Haddon. Whilst nobody dared state the obvious, it was felt better than they be present to accompany the coffin back to London if the worst happened. Meanwhile, Lord Liverpool requested an audience with the Queen to discuss the arrangements laid out at Fife House. For someone frozen out of decision making since her husband’s illness became permanent, the Queen found “a new fortitude and bore all with stillness and calm”.


Queen Charlotte

Blane arrived at Haddon at around 10pm on the 23rd of June. He was briefed on the Prince’s condition by Pencell and Strudley and was then admitted to the State Bedroom. He immediately diagnosed cholera. An inspection of the kitchens, water closets and the eastern courtyard told Blane all he needed to know. Haddon’s neglect had led to pools of stagnant water in which cholera thrived. In his view, “it was a small mercy so few had contracted the disease”. Blane’s report was sent back to London by urgent message. The Prince was administered large doses of calomel and opium but Blane feared the worst. The following morning, the Dukes of Clarence and Cumberland arrived at Haddon with the Bishop of London. The Duke of Clarence asked for Blane’s honest assessment of the outcome; “With regret Sir”, Blane said quietly, “I believe the Prince will die”.

Clarence dispatched another rider to London by stagecoach with two letters; one for the Prime Minister and one for Queen Charlotte.

“Georgie nears the end of his life and I believe we cannot place much hope in the treatment administered by Dr Blane, though I beg you understand that he is a most competent physician and he approaches Geo. [sic] with the utmost care still. I fear we must ready ourselves for the worst and I pray that I may impart more joyful news in the days to come. These sentiments expressed however, I urge the arrangements discussed in London these past nights to be put into place with expediency for regardless of the outcome of this horror, my dear brother can no longer deputise for His Majesty for some time even if his condition improves in the coming days”

By the time the Duke of Clarence’s letter arrived in London, the Prince Regent was dead. He died at 4pm on the 24th of June 1815. Of the six members of the Rutlands’ house party who contracted cholera, only Major General Bloomfield survived though he was left with “permanent sickness” for the rest of his life. Lady Hertford was at the Prince Regent’s bedside in the last hours, something the Bishop of London protested but which the Duke of Cumberland said would bring his brother comfort. The Duke of Rutland sent word to the local constable who rallied volunteers to guard Haddon's gates should public anger paint the Rutlands as responsible for the Prince’s death before the Prince’s body was removed from Haddon and the Rutlands could safely return to Leicestershire.

With no word from London on what should happen next, the Dukes of Clarence and Cumberland took control. A local undertaker who had already collected two bodies from Haddon was called in to dress the Prince and place him in a coffin of English oak. Fearing deterioration of the corpse on the journey, he was covered in blankets on which chunks of ice from the Haddon icehouse were laid and sprinkled liberally with rock salt. The coffin was closed and at 10.30pm when darkness had settled, the royal princes accompanied the coffin in their stagecoaches as it was removed to the church at St James’ Church at Bonsall. Here the coffin waited with the Dukes standing vigil until London sent a reply with further instructions.

At Buckingham House, a flurry of letters arrived within the space of a few hours. The first informed the waiting parties that the Prince had cholera. The last informed them he had died. Queen Charlotte “said little and withdrew with Lord Liverpool, remaining secluded for some time before the Duke of York was summoned to join them”. Word was sent to Kensington Palace to inform other members of the Royal Family of the Prince Regent’s death. Princess Charlotte, until now deliberately kept in ignorance of her father’s illness, was taken into the gardens of the palace by her aunt Princess Augusta Sophia. The young princess broke down and wept. In a letter to Prince Leopold of Saxe Coburg Saalfeld, the young man she had settled to marry against the wishes of her father, she wrote; “I feel quite alone for now I should be no better than an orphaned child. My father is gone and poor dear Mama is kept so far away”. Within the hour, a coach arrived at Kensington to bring the Princess to her grandmother, the Queen, at Buckingham House.

The London Gazette was the first printed publication to inform the public of the Prince Regent’s death. It came as a total shock to the people of London given that they had only learned of the Prince’s illness the previous evening. In spite of the widespread animosity felt towards him, London “surprised herself” with shops closing their shutters and with garlands of white carnations and black crepe ribbons appearing on the facades of galleries, churches, museums and other civic buildings. Public houses closed, all theatrical performances were cancelled and crowds (albeit not very large ones) settled in churches or outside the royal residences to express their sorrow at the Prince Regent’s death.

The public mood proved fickle. Perhaps inspired by the newspapers (who were not exactly glowing in their praise in their praise of the deceased prince), it seemed that permission had been given to simply ignore what had happened and carry on with life as usual. Whilst there were signs of public mourning in other areas of the country, the establishment seemed united in its indifference. One London newspaper suggested that the Prince Regent was “mourned as a son of His Majesty the King but not as a great wit, academic or orator for he was undoubtedly none of those things”. Another went so far as to print a spoof obituary notice which closed with the lines; “For were his love of his duty and his people greater than that of his love for his courtesans and silly fashions, more may feel sadness at his loss. As the former was deficient, so too is our grief”. [7]

Nowhere was this more clear than on the route the Prince’s coffin took on it’s way from Derby to Windsor. The procession took two days with stops arranged at Peterborough Cathedral and then at Oxford. The route was lined with a smattering of mourners, mostly elderly women, who stood silently as the cortege moved past them. The Duke of Clarence noted in his diary that “there was genuine grief but I fear Georgie had exhausted the people of their goodwill”. Just outside Windsor, a small demonstration had to be moved on by the local constables. A group of drunken labourers shouted and jeered at the procession and one threw a large rock at the coach carrying the Prince’s coffin.

The Prince’s widow, now the Dowager Princess of Wales, was informed of her husband’s death whilst at her villa at Lake Como. Her response is not recorded but in the same month, she and her household left Italy for Germany. If she made any attempt to return to England for the funeral, it is not documented, though some months later she was invited by her mother-in-law to visit Princess Charlotte. Unlike visits of the recent past, this was unsupervised and mother and daughter were able to build a relationship free of the jealousy that had constrained them during the Prince Regent’s lifetime.


Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

Prince George’s funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on the 2nd July after three days of lying-in state. During this time, members of the public were allowed in to pay their respects to the Prince Regent. There was no great rush but a steady trickle of mourners passed by his coffin, presumably more intrigued by the royal chapel itself or the chance of seeing members of the Royal Family. They were mostly disappointed. Whilst the Prince’s surviving siblings all attended the lying-in-state, they did so hidden from the public behind a screen. The King did not attend; indeed, he was not informed of his eldest son’s death on the strict instructions of the Queen and with the eager approval of his doctors. Queen Charlotte attended only briefly, just after midnight on the 27th. According to the Countess of Cork; “She did not linger, nor did she shed a tear. She laid a small posy of flowers upon the coffin and then withdrew from the chapel”.

Seated in St George’s as his brother’s funeral oration was read, the Duke of York wept openly for a brother he had felt a true affinity with. Despite their differences, they had enjoyed a close friendship. An announcement that evening in the London Gazette confirmed what his fellow mourners in the chapel knew that day but which had been kept confined to the corridors of Whitehall since the Fife House meeting. Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, would succeed his brother as Prince Regent. He was now second in line to the throne after his niece Princess Charlotte but time would soon show Frederick’s future to be far from certain.

[1] Haddon is now leased to the present Duke of Rutland's brother and his wife, Lord Edward Manners.

[2] Wyatt's most famous work was Fonthill Abbey. He died in 1813 but as the redevelopment of Belvoir under the 5th Duke began in 1799, he would have been the ideal candidate to redesign the so-called "fourth castle" even if he never saw the work completed.

[3] This may be gossip I've butterflied for the TL but I found it interesting that this obit of the Duchess from 1825 mentions the Duke of York specifically:

[4] I confess to using Alan Bennett's The Madness of King George for this one!

[5] This allows for the Duke of York to live and the Prince Regent to exit as per the original POD.

[6] I wanted to broaden out the regency a little to lay some groundwork for the next phase of the timeline.

[7] I modeled this on real obituaries of King George IV as the Prince Regent actually became in 1820. They were not exactly obsequious!

[Note] With the Prince Regent out of the way, Princess Charlotte's death in 1817 will push Frederick to the front of the line. George III dies in 1820 making Frederick the new King who honours both his father and late brother by taking the name of George IV. The next installment will deal with the death of Charlotte, the marriages of Frederick's siblings and a butterfly (or two) to give Frederick a new wife ahead of his reign.
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GIV: Part 2: Princess Charlotte, England's Hope
King George IV

Part Two: Princess Charlotte, England's Hope

Prince Frederick Augustus was born on 16th August 1763 at St James’ Palace. The second son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, he was just six months old when he became Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück under the terms of the Peace of Westphalia which stated that the city would alternate between Catholic and Protestant rulers with the Protestant Bishops elected from the cadets of the House of Brunswick-Lüneberg. This gave Frederick a substantial income which he retained until the city was incorporated into Hanover in 1803 during the German mediatization.

Known as “the soldier prince”, the choice of an army career was made for Frederick by his father. Gazetted as a colonel in 1780, Frederick was sent for training and study in Hanover alongside his younger brothers, Prince Edward, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus and Prince Adolphus at Göttingen. His military career saw him join the Grenadier Guards until he was appointed colonel of the Coldstream Guards in 1784. As a General, Frederick led the British contingent of the Coburg army in Flanders during the War of the First Coalition and quickly won the respect of privates and the general staff alike. Indeed, his position as Commander in Chief in 1795 allowed Frederick to introduce long overdue reforms. In the opinion of Sir John Fortescue, the Duke of York (as he became in 1784) had done “more for the army than any one man has done for it in the whole of its history”.

Despite his closeness to the Prince of Wales, Frederick rejected the lavish lifestyle so enjoyed by his elder brother. Considered his parents’ favourite child, Frederick maintained a country residence at Oatlands in Surrey but was seldom there, preferring instead to focus on his work at the British army’s headquarters at Horse Guards. It was not all work, however. Like many of his contemporaries, Frederick was greatly taken by London’s night life and like his elder brother, he had an insatiable appetite for gambling. He was plagued by persistent debt and his household was in a constant state of instability as his income waxed and waned according to his success at the card tables.

There were mistresses too. The most famous was Mary Anne Clark, the wife of a humble stonemason who left him when he went bankrupt. She enjoyed a string of romantic entanglements with prominent married officials until she was introduced to the Duke of York, then still Commander in Chief of the Army. Whilst this was well known in London society, Frederick and Mary’s relationship was not considered remotely scandalous until 1809. Unable to keep Mary in the style to which she had become accustomed, the Duke's mistress turned on the Duke, testifying before the House of Commons that she had sold army commissions with Frederick’s blessing.

The Duke of York was subjected to public mockery and he was forced to resign his post. Mary was cut off and met an ignominious end. Prosecuted for libel in 1813, she was imprisoned for nine months, fleeing to France to escape the public humiliation. She died penniless in Boulogne-Sur-Mer in 1852. Whilst for some Princes, the Clarke scandal might have been ruinous to more than just his career, Frederick’s situation was a little different. Many felt amused at his being duped by Clarke but retained a degree of sympathy because his home life was deemed so miserable. Indeed, it did not take long for the Duke to be reinstated as Commander in Chief and whilst he did take other mistresses (Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland being one of them), Frederick was far more discrete than he had been before.


Frederica, Duchess of York.

Frederick had been married at the age of 28 to his cousin Princess Frederica of Prussia, the daughter of King Frederick William II and Princess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg. On paper, the match was as perfect a union as the King and Queen could have hoped for though it was not without it's problems. Frederica was no great beauty and her mother had been put under house arrest in Germany for causing a public scandal when she tried to elope with her lover. However, this paled in comparison to the scandal that was engulfing the British Royal Family at the time the marriage between Frederick and Frederica was arranged.

The Prince of Wales had illegally married his Catholic mistress Maria Fitzherbert and whilst he had several other brothers to provide the British throne with heirs, they too were more concerned with keeping their mistresses content than touring the continent looking for suitable brides. Frederick was far more pliable to his parents’ demands and also had a greater understanding of the severity of the situation than his siblings. But there were benefits to the union. Not only would it please his father but parliament had promised to pay the Duke of York’s debts if he married. There was also talk of a more generous annuity which would allow for the restoration of Oatlands Park.

This is not to suggest that Frederick married Frederica for purely monetary reasons. Upon being introduced to his future bride, he thought her “not a beauty but not plain, affectionate in nature and really very gentle”. The couple were married to the delight of Frederick’s parents on the 29th of September 1791 at the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin before a second marriage took place at Buckingham House on the 23rd of November. Queen Charlotte wrote to the Queen of Prussia assuring her that “she shall find in me not only a mother but a friend”. The public was equally taken with the new Princess. When touring England in the first year after her marriage, the Duchess of York was widely celebrated and seen as the perfect model of royal duty. Things quickly unravelled.

Though she was described as “clever and well-informed”, the Princess disliked public ceremony which bored her. She enjoyed high society but refused to mix with her siblings-in-law if their mistresses were present. This gave the impression to many that she was haughty or aloof and as time went by, she even frustrated Queen Charlotte who found her daughter-in-law, “more suited to a convent than to a palace”. [1] The strictness of the German court had no doubt rubbed off on Frederica, yet those friends she made in England were gushing in their praise of her despite her grandiosity. Lady Salisbury, wife of James Cecil, the 6th Earl of Salisbury, served as Lady in Waiting to the Duchess of York from 1791 until 1794. In her view, the Duchess was; “a pearl and treasure, dutiful, generous, witty and kindness itself. She displayed no poor trait and was devoted to her household but was always most fond of her animals”.

The York marriage had been hastily arranged to provide an heir to the British throne in the absence of any other. By the time Lady Salisbury left the household at Oatlands, no such heir had arrived. Indeed, the Duchess simply couldn’t seem to conceive leading many to question if the marriage had been consummated at all. The Duke had been devoted to his bride for the first few months but had quickly tired of life at Oatlands. His wife’s running of the household was suited more to the harsh and exacting standards of German court life than the English countryside and by 1792, the Duke rarely visited the Duchess at all. When he did, the nearest they came to spending time with each other was on sporadic walks through the gardens of their estate.

Queen Charlotte initially attempted to mediate, urging Frederica to do more to take an interest in Frederick’s hobbies. She scolded Frederick for not paying enough attention to his wife but by 1794, the Queen’s opinion of her daughter-in-law had changed. In Her Majesty's view, the Duchess of York was “stubborn, obstinate and not at all the docile angelic child we thought her to be”. Frederica responded by becoming more obstinate. She rejected any plans to reconcile with her husband and tt was rumoured that the couple had not been physically intimate for years, if they ever had been at all, gossip which later offered a lifeline to both the Duke and Duchess to escape the monotony of their failed marriage. [2]

With the Prince Regent’s death in 1815, the new Lords Commissioners presented an amendment to the 1811 bill in parliament which allowed for the regency to pass to the Duke of York. Because the Duke was not heir apparent (this being Princess Charlotte of Wales), the amendment made provision for a Regency Council. Parliament approved the resolution, the sudden death of the Prince of Wales leaving little time for debate. The Duke of York was sworn in as Prince Regent at Buckingham House on the 26th of June but insisted he would only take up his duties following the funeral of his elder brother. He also wished to be known as ‘the Duke of York’ and not ‘Prince Regent’, a title he felt best allowed to die with the previous incumbent.

The ‘Council of Regency’ was convened at Kensington Palace in the King’s Drawing Room. Those adopted to the Council included; Queen Charlotte (previously alienated from the regency at the insistence of her eldest son), the Duke of York (acting as President of the Council), the Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Cumberland. For each royal personage, a deputy was appointed from the Privy Council; Lord Aberdeen (for the Queen), Lord Amherst (for the Duke of York), Sir William Adams (for the Duke of Clarence), Hugh Elliot (for the Duke of Kent) and Sir Vicary Gibbs (for the Duke of Cumberland). Lord Beresford, Comptroller of the Household since 1812, was to serve as Secretary to the Council and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon, was to attend regular meetings in the role of “Extraordinary Officer”.

Whilst the Prince Regent assumed many of the day-to-day duties of the monarch carried out by his elder brother, the Council assumed some acts of the royal prerogative such as declarations of war or the signing of peace treaties which required a majority vote. Parliament still retained the lion’s share of power however and many politicians regarded the Council of Regency as little more than a rubber stamp, concerned more with the stability of the Crown than the country. In the first few weeks, it's members seemed to do nothing else but squabble and bicker over endless requests for increases to their allowances to settle extravagant royal expenditure. But the Duke of York displayed positive signs of leadership, deciding that the Council's first priority (after the King's condition) must be to settle his niece's future.


Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold.

Princess Charlotte was 18 years old and had long been determined to marry Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Prince was popular in England, his military service earning him the respect of the middle classes and the establishment was impressed with his royal lineage and ambition. Whilst some were nervous about a foreign prince holding influence over the future Queen, many were moved by the very genuine affection the pair had for each other. The Duke of Wellington was heard to beg the Prince Regent when he refused to allow an engagement; “She will need love Sir, give her that and she shall praise you till the end of her days”. The Prince Regent had other ideas. He wished her to marry the Prince of Orange and though he found Leopold charming, he was not inclined to give up just yet.

In August 1815, the Duke of York met with Princess Charlotte. He asked her if she truly wished to marry Prince Leopold. When she insisted that her feelings toward Leopold were unchanged, the Duke of York replied, "Then my dear, you shall have your prince and may God bless you for it". On the 16th August 1815, the Council of Regency announced the engagement between Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. A bill was to be put before parliament to give Prince Leopold British citizenship and to secure him an annuity. Camelford House on Park Lane was leased as a home for the couple with funds for renovations allocated by parliament the following month. A wedding date was set for the 2nd of May 1816 but Prince Leopold was invited to relocate to Britain so that he might spend time with his future bride and learn “the intricacies of the British court and constitution”.

There were two other outstanding issues to be resolved following the Prince Regent's death. The first was what to do with the Dowager Princess of Wales, recently arrived back in England to comfort her daughter. The Duke of York was well aware of Caroline's popularity with the people and did not wish to subject his niece to any further misery. As a result, Caroline was invited to reside with her daughter as long as she wished. She no longer needed permission to visit England and her annuity was guaranteed. The Duke of York could be content that he had provided well for his future Queen. The state of her inheritance however demanded even more attention.

A few weeks after Charlotte’s marriage, riots broke out in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. High unemployment and rising grain costs only added to the general sense of unrest that had followed the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. On 22nd May 1816, a group of residents in Littleport met at The Globe Inn. Fuelled by alcohol, they began demanding money from wealthier passers by before destroying property. Far from a local altercation, the riot soon spread to Ely where magistrates tried to calm matters by ordering poor relief and fixing a minimum wage. The protestors were undeterred and encouraged by Lord Liverpool, a local militia was formed to put down the riots. At the trial which followed, 19 were sentenced to be transported to the penal colony of New South Wales whilst five were hanged from the gallows at Parnell pits in Ely. A plaque erected near the site read; “May their awful fate be a warning to others”.

It did not prove to be so. By the end of the year, similar riots had broken out in Loughborough as the Luddites attacked bobbinet lace machines which they feared would replace their labours and leave them destitute. In Islington, the revolutionary Spenceans delivered a petition to the Duke of York demanding the aristocracy be abolished, that land be taken into communal ownership in towns and villages and that universal suffrage be introduced to elect a national senate which would replace the Houses of Parliament. When no reply was forthcoming, the Spenceans rioted with the aim of taking the Tower of London and the Bank of England. They made it as far as the Tower but when soldiers refused to hand it over, the rioters dispersed quietly.

As amusing as the latter was to high society, the Duke of York failed to see the humour as the tale was retold over the dinner table. The stresses and strains of his office were exacerbating his existing health conditions. Arthritis, gout, palpitations and fatigue had plagued him since the turn of the decade. The Duke of Wellington recalled how the Duke said sadly; “I shall live to see [Charlotte] proclaimed Queen but I shall not live to see her crowned”. The royal physicians treated the Duke with all kinds of experimental concoctions until it was determined that he should try and take more fresh air away from London. Reluctant to return to Oatlands, the Duke decided to deal with the second outstanding problem left to him by the Prince Regent.

Begun by the Prince of Wales in 1787, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton was initially proposed to be a seaside retreat. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India, plans for the final stage of the Pavilion’s completion had been agreed with the architect John Nash in April 1815 but had stalled following the Prince Regent’s sudden death. For a year, all work had been halted leaving the Pavilion a half-completed eyesore on the seafront. The Duke of York was loathe to increase royal expenditure for such a project but Lord Liverpool seemed confident parliament would vote him the money to finish the Pavilion if they knew it could prove beneficial to the Duke’s health.

Work began on the Pavilion as a long-term retreat for members of the Royal Family on the Sussex coast but as a short-term measure, it was proposed that the Duke might visit Bad Bevenson, a small spa town in Lower Saxony located just half a day’s carriage ride from Hanover. The trip would allow for a period of rest and recuperation coupled with various meetings with officials in Hanover and a few public appearances to increase goodwill among the people there.

Frederick’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge had been resident in Hanover for just a few months following his appointment as Viceroy by the Council of Regency on the advice of the Government. Being a firm admirer of his brother, Frederick welcomed the chance to see him and accepted the need to spend some time away from England. He arrived in Hanover in February 1817 once the celebrations for Christmas had drawn to a close and a safe passage could be arranged for him. Taking the waters at German spa towns was not an uncommon practise for wealthy Europeans and like many fellow travellers, the Duke travelled under an assumed name ‘Lord Guelph’. After three weeks, his health was much improved and he moved on to Herrenhausen Palace refreshed and reinvigorated.

Upon his arrival at Herrenhausen, there was news to cheer him further. Princess Charlotte was expecting a baby. The royal succession would be secured and to celebrate, the Duke of Cambridge held several banquets where toasts were given to the King, Queen and the young Princess and her future child. Perhaps it was this promising news which put the people of Hanover in great spirits for the Duke of York’s visit, nonetheless, he seemed popular wherever he went. He walked freely among the people and in the Old Town, won hearts when he accepted the offer of a stein of beer from a publican. His down to earth approach left a positive impression and when he left, he was presented with various gifts which he insisted be sold and the money given to the local hospital.

Back in London, the Duke of York payed a visit to Marlborough House where Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold had established their household. Charlotte was radiant, her pregnancy now showing and the country devouring the smallest detail of her condition via regular bulletins (official or otherwise) from the newspapers. The presence of her mother had undoubtedly cheered her and Caroline showed no animosity towards the Royal Family in the slightest. But behind the well ordered and happy scene, there had been tragedy that did not bode well for the future.

Unbeknown to the general public, Princess Charlotte had suffered two miscarriages since her marriage and the royal doctors were determined not to allow this pregnancy to end in tragedy. Charlotte was starved of food and regularly bled, much to the protestations of Baron Stockmar, Prince Leopold’s confidante and personal physician. Stockmar could see that something was clearly amiss in the treatment of the Princess but he was also well aware that (the English attitude to foreigners being what it was), if anything went wrong he would make the perfect scapegoat.

Determined to avoid this fate, he urged the English doctors to allow the Princess to eat more and insisted that bleeding her would have serious consequences for the health of mother and child. When they refused to listen, he begged Prince Leopold to intervene. The Prince could not dissuade them either. Stockmar reasoned with Princess Caroline that her daughter was being made seriously ill. He urged her to speak to Queen Charlotte to demand better treatment but Caroline, fearful of being denied access to her daughter again, said nothing.


Henry Howard's 'The Apotheosis of Princess Charlotte of Wales'

The so-called “lowering treatment” was maintained until November. On 4th November 1817, the Duke of York was informed that his niece was in labour at Marlborough House. Accompanied by the Queen, the Dowager Princess of Wales, Princess Augusta Sophia and the Duke of Clarence, the royal party assembled in a sitting room near to the Princess’ bedroom where they could hear her agonising and exhausting screams for relief. With tensions running high, Queen Charlotte took Caroline into the gardens to ease her anxieties. Later that evening, the birth said to be imminent, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived to “witness” the royal arrival, a peculiar tradition designed to avoid the swapping of a newly arrived prince with a foundling child.

The labour continued throughout the night and well into the next day, the royal party now exhausted and seriously concerned for the Princess’ condition. At 9pm on the 5th of November, the Princess was finally delivered of a son. He was born dead. The ladies present consoled the Princess. It was not unusual and she was still very young, just 21 years old in fact. There would be plenty of future opportunities and she should not feel too disappointed. Exhausted, the Princess sobbed until she was hysterical. Her doctors began plying her with wine to “fortify her blood”. At around midnight, the Princess began screaming for Baron Stockmar. When he entered the room, Charlotte cried out; “They have made me tipsy!”

Stockmar saw the Princess in a horrifying state of distress, clearly unwell and obviously being neglected. He withdrew to recall the Queen and the Duke of York back to Marlborough House whilst Prince Leopold roused the Dowager Princess of Wales. Charlotte wailed “Stocky! Stocky!” but as he returned to the room to console her that her mother was en route, the death rattle came to her throat. She tossed herself violently from side to side, drew up her legs and then, it was over. Princess Charlotte was dead. Upon entering the room, Prince Leopold fell to his knees in shock. The Princess’ mother screamed so loudly it was said that it could be heard for miles. Stockmar put on his topcoat and left for Buckingham House to inform the Queen.

[1] I cannot find any mention of how the relationship between the Duchess of York and Queen Charlotte developed, however it's important to the TL that Charlotte becomes frustrated with Frederica for what comes later.

[2] This will allow the marriage between the Yorks to be dissolved as quickly as possible with as little scandal as possible. In the OTL of course, they remained married until Frederica's death even though they had little to no contact from around 1795 onwards.

[Note] This installment is mostly background but there's a few subtle changes in place from the OTL to lay the foundations for the next installment. With Charlotte dead, Frederick will now be King if he outlives his father King George III. He'll be put under increasing pressure to put his wife aside and make a new marriage as his siblings rush around Europe trying to secure their own brides to produce an heir.
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GIV: Part 3: The Price of Madness
King George IV

Part 3: The Price of Madness

Following Princess Charlotte’s sudden death in November 1817, the Council of Regency met to discuss two major problems the British Royal Family faced. The first was a looming succession crisis. Though George III and Queen Charlotte had twelve surviving legitimate children, they had no legitimate grandchildren. Of their twelve children, only three were married; the Duke of York (to Princess Frederica of Prussia), the Duke of Cumberland (to Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz) and Princess Mary (to her first cousin Prince William Frederick, the son of her uncle the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh). None of these marriages had resulted in children and it was now abundantly clear that the royal princes would have to step up quickly and "do their duty".

The second issue was not only a personal problem for the Duke of York but threatened to cast a shadow over his reign the moment it began. Effectively separated from his wife since 1795, Queen Charlotte had tried to convince the Duchess of York to reconcile with her husband and to return to court to support him as regent. When the Duke became King, he would (the Queen insisted) rely on his consort just as much as George III had relied on Charlotte. But as things stood, the Duchess of York was refusing to leave Oatlands where she had created her own court from her household staff and her menagerie of pets.

Lord Liverpool sweetened the pot for the unmarried royal princes by offering to raise their income and pay their debts if and when they got married. At Kew Palace, Queen Charlotte leapt into action as matchmaker, trawling her own family tree for suitable brides. But the Duke of York's situation was a little more complex. At 55 years old, the Duke had a myriad of minor health problems brought about his excessive eating. Overweight and constantly tired through overwork, his intention before the Prince Regent's death was to maintain the status quo. The Duchess was happy at Oatlands and the Duke was content at his London residence, occasionally kept company by the Duchess of Rutland. But since 1815, the Duke had been forced to cut all ties with Elizabeth Rutland, many in society placing the blame for the Prince Regent's death at her door.

The Duke agreed with his mother that as King, he would require a consort who was willing to undertake the public duties Queen Charlotte had made a part of the role. Not only that but the King and Queen were supposed to project an image of the model couple, a living rule for others to follow in their own marriages. Reluctantly, he traveled to Oatlands for Christmas where he put the reality of the situation to his wife. If she were willing to reconcile with him, he would ensure that her duties were few and that she could spend as much time at Oatlands as possible. The couple would tackle their future role as friends, not lovers, and every effort would be made to keep the Duchess happy and comfortable. Frederica declined. She either wished to stay at Oatlands permanently or be sent back to Germany. She would consider nothing else. [1]


Oatlands, the home of the Duke and Duchess of York.

Somewhat dejected, Frederick returned to London to discuss the matter with his mother. For the Queen, there was only one solution; the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York must be dissolved. Lord Liverpool was less enthusiastic. The Duchess of York was popular with the general public and a royal divorce would pose a number of constitutional problems. Firstly, the divorce bill would have to go before parliament if the Duke wished to divorce with a view to taking a new wife in the future. There was no guarantee that such a bill would be passed and intimate details of the York's private life would form the basis of a debate that could last months. Secondly, whilst there was no law preventing a divorced person from becoming King, the Archbishop of Canterbury was hardly likely to look kindly on a head of the church who had stepped outside of the church's teachings on marriage. He may even refuse to crown them King.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon, was consulted on the "York question" in January 1818. Whilst he made no judgement on the rights and wrongs of putting the Duchess of York aside, he offered a glimmer of hope in resolving the situation. In 1793, the Duke of Sussex married Lady Augusta Murray, daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunmore. Despite two wedding ceremonies (one in Rome and another in London), the marriage contravened the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 and was dissolved; not by parliament but by the Court of Arches, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Church of England. The marriage had simply been annulled on the grounds that both ceremonies had been performed outside of the law and were thus, illegal.

This provided a precedent which Lord Eldon felt could be adapted slightly to fit the needs of the day. Whilst there was no question that the Duke and Duchess of York were legally married, an annulment could be provided by the Court of Arches for other reasons. To obtain a declaration of A vincula matrimonii from the Arches Court, a husband needed to prove either that the marriage had not been consummated within two years, that his wife was "frigid" (that is, his wife had deserted her husband or shown no willingness to reconcile) or that his wife was a lunatic. Such grounds were ripe for argument and appeal but if one could be proven, the ecclesiastical court would declare the marriage to be annulled, both parties would be free to remarry and, in the Duke of York's case, there could be no constitutional or religious barriers to his accession and coronation.

On 10 January 1818, the Duke of York and Queen Charlotte met with the Bishop of London, William Howley, and the Dean of Windsor, Henry Hobart. The latter was specifically invited by the Queen on the grounds that as the clergyman most familiar with members of the Royal Family, he would be regarded as a reliable source of information. In reality, Hobart was renowned for his lack of tact and sensitivity, and the Queen was hoping that he may help in securing the desired outcome. [2] Also present was the Duke’s personal physician, Andrew Halliday, who had treated both the Duke and Duchess for many years. The Duchess of York meanwhile was at Oatlands inspecting her latest acquisition for her farm; two Irish Moiled cows.

The Bishop of London made the situation as plain as possible. The Duke had not expressed a wish to annul his marriage before, what had changed now that required the immediate attention of the Court of Arches? The Duke replied, "Because my wife refuses to reconcile Sir and the King must have a wife who has the will to serve the country as he does". The Bishop seemed placated by this, enough to introduce the question of grounds. After a long and rambling explanation of the whys and wherefores, he asked if the marriage had been consummated. Rumours [3] had circulated for years that it had not and this had been given as a reason by the Duke of York's supporters during the Clarke scandal as to why he had been so indulgent of his mistress. The Duke said that it had not. Andrew Halliday interjected that it may be difficult to prove this without subjecting both the Duke and Duchess to the humiliation of medical examinations. The Bishop moved on.

"And is the Duchess unwilling to reconcile with you?"

"She is"

"She refuses to reside with you, even to receive you?"

The Duke explained that he held no animosity for his wife, indeed, it was his hope that after the annulment of their marriage, she should continue to live at Oatlands and he would care for her as "a brother cares for a sister". Again, the Bishop moved on. When asked if he thought his wife “displayed signs of lunacy”, the Duke replied; “It is hard for one who sees only her finest qualities to reach such a conclusion. She is certainly very childlike and her personality lacks progress"

Halliday put the situation far more bluntly. In his view, the Duchess' refusal to attend court, her eccentric way of running Oatlands and her fondness for animals over people had led to a "self-enforced seclusion" that could only "weaken the state of the mind". Halliday felt that the Duchess was suffering from "a stunted personality, a personality that seems best suited to a child. This would explain why the Duchess has no great desire to reconcile or to serve her husband or country as any other well minded woman would". Hobart added that he had not seen the Duchess for some time but that in his opinion, the Duchess was "not a dangerous lunatic" but she was "without doubt feeble brained". The Bishop of London gave his verdict. If the Duchess was brought to London before the Arches Court and if the court found her to be displaying signs of madness, an annulment may be granted. The Duke asked if the officials of the court could not visit her at Oatlands where the Duchess was more comfortable. The Bishop agreed.

Lady Salisbury was present when the proctors of the Court of Arches arrived at Oatlands. She described the scene later in her diary;

"They asked her the most peculiar questions, such as if she had ever conversed with her animals on topics of the day or indeed, if the animals of the farm had conversed with her. They asked her about God and if she believed herself to be Christ and so many other nonsenses that the whole display was quite insulting. When they left, Halliday remained behind and said that she had answered the questions well. But he would not tell her the reason for the proctors' visit and Her Royal Highness kept asking, 'But who were those gentlemen?', to which Halliday kept repeating 'They are doctors Ma'am'. The Duchess laughed and replied, 'Such funny little doctors with their funny little questions. I did not think them very good at their work"

Unfortunately for the Duchess of York, the proctors were very good at their work indeed. By the time they returned to London, the House of Commons had been informed by Lord Eldon that the Duke of York was seeking an annulment to his marriage. Newspapers and parliamentarians were predictably skeptical. If the Duke of York had genuine concerns for the Duchess' mental state, if the marriage had indeed never be consummated, surely His Royal Highness would have sought a resolution years ago? In response, the Lord Chancellor told the Commons; "The Duke has acted most generously these last ten years, had his position remained unchanged then he would have continued to provide for the Duchess of York without hesitation or complaint. But we must look to the future and the role the Duke may play therein. He seeks only to ready himself for the heavy burden of kingship should it come, and to protect his wife who seems to suffering a great deal from the events of recent months".


Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor.

The Court of Arches informed the Lord Chancellor that it may take many weeks for them to reach a conclusion. In the meantime, the Duke of York traveled to Oatlands to explain the situation to his wife. Lady Salisbury recalled; "It was all handled with as much kindness as it could be, indeed, though I wanted to dislike the Duke for his treatment of the Duchess, I could not for he was so very gentle with her". Frederick promised that whatever the outcome, Frederica could stay at Oatlands for as long as she liked. She would not be sent back to Germany and she could, if she wished, remarry in England without fear of retaliation or humiliation. Further to this, the Duchess would be given an annuity of £30,000 which would double to £60,000 when the Duke of York became King. She would be welcome at court if she wished to attend and her household staff and ladies in waiting would be free to stay in her employ with any costs met by the Crown. The Duchess replied mournfully; "So this is the price of madness Sir?"

In public, the Duke faced hostility for the first time since the Clarke scandal. His carriage was booed in the street and the newspapers did not hold back in printing critiques. The most prominent came from Brownlow North, the Bishop of Winchester. Whilst he did not mention the Yorks by name, there was little doubt as to who his sermon was aimed at. "Can one image Christ deserting those most in need, especially those who had previously displayed nothing but companionship and love?", he asked, "Such a lack of compassion is expected in those who turn their back on Christian teaching but for those who must be bound to it by virtue of their station in life, the example they set must always be Christ-like. To cut loose a father, mother, brother, or indeed a wife, who through no personal flaw or fault, finds that they are in need of greater care than in years past, shows a weakness of character but most importantly, a weakness of faith".

With the mood turning against him, the Duke of York was quickly advised to head to Coburg. His younger brother, the Duke of Kent, was to marry Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (the sister of Princess Charlotte's widower, Prince Leopold) at a ceremony held at Schloss Ehrenburg on the 29th May. The Court of Arches was asked to give their resolution to the York case before the Duke returned. Queen Charlotte hoped that the arrival of a new princess in England would change the narrative and give the people something else to focus on. As the Duke left England, the Court of Arches asked Andrew Halliday for his final assessment of the Duchess of York's health.

He delivered the coup de grace those in favour of the annulment had hoped for. Addressing the Proctors, Halliday said; "The Duchess of York is a gentle and kind soul, indeed, I agree with the assessment of others in the field that she is very childlike. She enjoys somewhat immature pursuits and interests, her condition would not cause concern in the average spectator, they might merely consider her naivety and innocence to be endearing. But if Her Royal Highness has disassociated from reality, if she cannot function as an adult, then we must ask if the Duchess can realistically have ever performed her duties not only as a wife but as a member of the Royal Family. I would suggest this is the cause of her self-imposed seclusion at Oatlands. I will admit that she is not prone to violent displays, I could not, would not, counsel confinement but gentlemen...would we be failing our duty of care towards the Duchess of York if we did not release her from a clearly unhappy marriage that may have affected her mind to bring her to the state we find her in today? There is clearly evidence of diminished responsibility and I believe that if the Duchess is not released from the burden of expectation which could be placed upon her in the future, she may suffer a complete and total nervous collapse"

One of the Proctors, clearly still skeptical, asked; "That being the case Dr Halliday, do you find Her Royal Highness to be suffering from lunacy or not Sir?"

Halliday replied, "She would undoubtedly become a lunatic if the marriage is allowed to continue longer. Of that I am certain"


Frederica, Duchess of York and Albany.

The Court of Arches adjourned. They deliberated for three days before returning a conclusion by which time, the Duke of York had left England for Coburg. The result was therefore dispatched by special messenger. The day after the Duke of Kent’s marriage to Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Court of Arches officially annulled the marriage between the Duke and Duchess of York on the grounds of the Duchess’ lunacy. It was widely suggested that the court had not believed for a second that the marriage had not been consummated in the 27 years it had lasted but on the grounds of lunacy, they had found the Duchess “nervously indisposed to a significant degree”. Perhaps out of kindness for Frederica, the Proctors made clear that whilst the annulment was given on the grounds of lunacy; “it was a fear for her future state of health which prompted this decision, not the current state of her nerves which, though enough to convince us that the marriage should be dissolved, does not warrant urgency of care for Her Royal Highness”.

With the news of their annulment made public, the Duke experienced a frosty welcome on his return to England from Coburg. Accompanying his brother and new sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, to London from Dover, there was some booing and jeering but most seemed more interested in catching a glimpse of the new Duchess of Kent. Frederick himself believed he was right to dissolve his marriage in favour of a wife who could help him with the task that would ultimately be his. Nonetheless, he visited Oatlands far more regularly than he had during his marriage to Frederica and consistently sent gifts to ensure his former wife was comfortable, which some attributed to guilt. He honoured his promise and allowed Frederica to remain at Oatlands until her death in 1820.

The Duke was now free to marry again and with a flurry of marriage ceremonies taking place during the summer of 1818, Queen Charlotte wasted no time in dispatching invitations to her relations in Germany hoping that a suitable bride would present herself as quickly as possible. She understood that the only advantage she could offer a future daughter-in-law was the allure of a crown. Whatever the truth of the situation affecting his first marriage, unkind gossip in the royal houses of Europe suggested all kinds of drawbacks; the Duke was impotent, he was disloyal and had grown bored of his last wife, there was even a suggestion that he was at death’s door and any bride would be a widow within the year. Whilst the annulment had been easier to obtain than anybody assumed it might be, finding a future Queen might prove harder than anybody had imagined.

[1] In the OTL, the Yorks stayed married (though stayed separated) until 1820 when the Duchess died. I think it's realistic that Frederick would need a wife who would carry out the duties of Queen consort (few as they were at this time) and by butterflying (slightly) Frederica's stubbornness, this lays the path clear to get the Duke a new wife for the start of his reign.

[2] When Victoria gave birth to the future King Edward VII in November 1841 in the OTL, Hobart congratulated her on "thus saving us from the incredible curse of a female succession" - o_O

[3] See Part 2!

[Note] I was really unsure of how to arrange Frederica's exit. At first I thought of keeping the Yorks married until 1820 when Frederica died. The Duke (As King) would then be free to remarry. But in this TL, there'd be a sense of urgency given the POD removes both the Prince Regent and Princess Charlotte. I also considered something along the lines of the Pains and Penalties Bill 1820 but again, it seemed too late. By then, Victoria would have been born and would there be any need for the Duke to remarry even when he was ultimately widowed in 1820?
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Gone Fishin'
... two major problems the British Royal Family faced. The first was a looming succession crisis ...​

But there wouldn't have been a succession crisis per se, as the line of succession was both quite clear and quite lengthy at this point in time.

Even when you run through Fredericks brothers and sisters, it would then land on the Duke of Gloucester and his sister, then the Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel and his brother, the Wurttemburgs, the Dowager Queen herself, and eventually the Queen of Denmark Norway.

True, Charlotte/George desired the succession to remain with the line of George III rather than for it to pass to a cousin.
But there wouldn't have been a succession crisis per se, as the line of succession was both quite clear and quite lengthy at this point in time.

Even when you run through Fredericks brothers and sisters, it would then land on the Duke of Gloucester and his sister, then the Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel and his brother, the Wurttemburgs, the Dowager Queen herself, and eventually the Queen of Denmark Norway.

True, Charlotte/George desired the succession to remain with the line of George III rather than for it to pass to a cousin.
I'm glad you picked up on that because initially I didn't use this phrasing. To me, it wasn't a crisis, it was just inconvenient and as you say, would have to travel down the line a little bit. But then I decided to check how "official" sources describe it and weirdly, the websites of the House of Commons/National Portrait Gallery/Historic Royal Palaces etc go with "succession crisis". So for that reason, I went with that phrasing but I agree, it is a tad melodramatic and not really all that accurate.
GIV: Part 4: The Old Goat and the Shepherdess
King George IV

Part 4: The Old Goat and the Shepherdess

The Summer of 1818 saw four royal weddings but this was not accompanied by months of public celebrations in the streets of London. The royal marriage rush was seen by some as being indecorous or even distasteful. People spoke unkindly of “new imports from Germany” and were generally indifferent to the ceremonies held behind closed doors at Buckingham House. The first of these was the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to her much-longed for lover, Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg. Queen Charlotte wept throughout, opposed from the start but later relenting, fearful that her daughter would move to Germany and never return. The other ceremonies took place on the continent but in July there was a double celebration at Kew. In a joint ceremony, the Duke of Clarence married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen whilst the Duke of Kent took the opportunity for a second ceremony, having already married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in Coburg.


Victoria, Duchess of Kent.

With the glut of nuptials concluded, the Queen turned her attention to the Duke of York. Whilst the Duke saw no great rush to the finish line considering his brothers had now done their duty (and paid off their debts in the process), the Queen wished to get the matter of the Duke of York’s marriage settled. Whilst the royal guests for the London weddings were restricted to close family members, the Queen examined any eligible princess in attendance and ordered them to visit her at Kew where they were subjected to an interrogation. Whilst there were some prospective candidates who pleased the Queen, it quickly became apparent that Frederick's brothers had beaten him to the chase by snapping up the last remaining eligible princesses in Europe.

A cartoon was published in the non-conformist Liberal newspaper the Manchester Observer depicting the Duke’s younger brothers arm in arm with their wives across a finish line with a bloated and panting York trailing behind. A similar sketch appeared in The Observer (the London edition) which showed the Duke being offered a series of pigs dressed in bridal gowns by his mother, whilst behind him stood a crowd of beauties selling roses from baskets. It accompanied an opinion piece which asked; "Why can Her Majesty, the orchestrator of this flurry of royal nuptials, not see the beauty in her own garden? It appears that a Prince in need of a wife may only find his treasure in the castles and palaces beyond the Kingdom and not from within".

This was more than a commentary on the nationality of the new intake of royal duchesses, though it was highlighted as "a curious thing that a family so determined to prove it has abandoned its foreign roots clings ever closer to them on the question of suitable royal brides". Its main theme was to address something many people had come to realise (and dislike) in recent years; Queen Charlotte's restoration at court after the Prince Regent's death had left her with a taste for power. Why could the Duke of York not find his own bride? And why was the Queen, apparently now ailing, still a member of the Council of Regency? It caught the public mood well. It became commonplace for Queen Charlotte to be met with booing when she travelled, indeed on one occasion she responded to the crowd with a short address, complaining that it was "deeply hurtful to be treated in such a way after such long service".

The Duke of York had hoped to find his own bride, he even had sympathy with the view that the public would welcome an English wife drawn from the daughters of the English peerage. However, the Duke was also realistic and appreciated that the Queen saw it as an important part of her duties to arrange marriages for her children. He also seemed to be aware of his own shortcomings. In a letter written to his sister, Princess Elizabeth, Frederick wrote: "I see myself as Mama's favourites see me; a fat old goat with a crown as his only advantage". Elizabeth replied with a pencil sketch of a huge goat wearing a crown and holding an ear trumpet. She captioned it, "The kindest old goat in the Kingdom, whom I love so very dearly".

The Duke’s sister, Princess Augusta, and his new sister-in-law, the Duchess of Kent had their own ideas about whom Frederick should marry. For Augusta, there was a very obvious choice far closer to home than Germany; Princess Sophia of Gloucester. In her 40s (and thus assumed to be past childbearing age), Sophia was the daughter of the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh and had been considered as a potential bride for the Duke of Clarence. Indeed, Prince William had favoured a match with Sophia which Queen Charlotte had tried to arrange just a few years earlier. But Sophia turned William down.

Augusta was certain that "a match between Freddie and Sophia would be one forged in long friendship that would undoubtedly be a success" but when news of this reached Queen Charlotte at Kew, she admonished Augusta for interfering. She also forbad any discussion of Sophia as a potential bride. "If she did not want my son William, she will not have my son Freddie", the Queen snapped at the Countess of Cork. Years later when Princess Sophia was told she had been overlooked as a potential bride for the Duke of York on the orders of the Queen, Sophia laughed and said, "Then God bless the memory of dear Aunt Charlotte!".


Kew Palace.

The Duchess of Kent, now a regular visitor to Kew, had her own candidate in mind. She proposed her niece, Duchess Marie of Württemberg [1]. Marie was the daughter of the Duchess of Kent’s sister Antoinette and her husband Duke Alexander. Raised at Schloss Fantaisie in Bayreuth, Marie now lived at Jelgava in modern-day Latvia where her father was serving as the Military Governor of Belorussia. Marie was present at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent in Coburg and now, the Duchess relayed Marie’s many advantages to her mother-in-law. The Queen was unconvinced, the Duke of York even less so. Marie was just 19 years old and whilst there was a large age gap between the recently married Duke and Duchess of Clarence (William was 53, his wife was 26), both the Queen and the Duke of York felt Marie “little more than a child”. The Duchess was rebuked for taking an interest in “family matters” by the Queen and Marie was cast out of the running.

In the Queen’s view, there was only one candidate worth considering. In June 1818, the Duke of Cambridge married Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel. Born and raised at Rumpenheim Castle in Offenbach am Main, Hesse, Augusta was a great-granddaughter of King George II, her grandmother being George II’s daughter Mary. Augusta’s new husband was therefore her second cousin. Her pedigree was exemplary, her uncle being recently “upgraded” with a much-desired upward notch in hierarchy in 1803 when he became the Elector of Hesse. Augusta had recently acquired other links to the British Royal Family too. Her sister Marie married the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen Charlotte's nephew, the previous year. The entire Hesse-Kassel family had attended Augusta's wedding to the Duke of Cambridge at Rumpenheim in May 1818 but Augusta's sister Luise had missed out on the celebrations because of a head cold caught whilst out riding in the rain. After much pleading, Luise was allowed to travel to London with her new brother-in-law and sister so that she could attend their second wedding at Buckingham House. [2]

Luise was lodged not with her sister but with the Queen at Kew. Uncomfortably cramped and very much “on approval”, Queen Charlotte thought Princess Luise “gentle in manner, pretty of face and uninterested in the political or philosophical”. The Princess, like her sister, was a good Lutheran and had been raised somewhat modestly with no great taste for luxury or lavish entertainments. She had a reasonable command of English which could no doubt be improved but the Queen found her taste in clothes “quite ugly and in need of attention”. Luise was just 24 years old and had no idea why the Queen was taking such a keen interest in her.

It remains unclear as to when the Duke of York and Princess Luise first met during that visit but it is said that they danced together at the ball held at Buckingham House to celebrate the Cambridges wedding. The Countess of Cork recalled; “The Princess was very enthusiastic about everything, she professed to finding England very beautiful and said that London was far more exciting than Rumpenheim. The Queen kept her at her side all evening, allowing her only to dance occasionally and always with the Duke of Cambridge or the Duke of York. The poor princess grew a little tired and irritable at this which did not impress the Queen at all”.


Princess Luise of Hesse-Kassel.

The Cambridges finally wrestled Luise free of the Queen after the wedding. Even then, the Queen suggested that as the Cambridges would not return to Hanover until August, Luise should remain with her sister in London until such a time as Luise could be safely accompanied back to Germany with the Duke and Duchess. In the interim, the Queen wasted little time in arranging meetings between the Duke of York and Princess Luise. For her part, the Princess found the Duke of York, “very kind and very interesting, with many stories that are most amusing or informative. He is an old man but a generous one and his main interest seems to be in everything military”. She wrote to her father in the first week of August; “The Duke of York took me to see Windsor which is a very impressive place but quite cold and not very happy. He made it all quite interesting. He will be King soon because his father is unwell. I did not meet His Majesty because of that.”

At this stage in time, the Duke seemed somewhat indifferent to Luise. He liked her company but the only talk of marriage between the couple was at Kew where Queen Charlotte wondered why nobody had made the first move towards an engagement yet. When Luise left England, she said she would like to return one day but was also full of talk about seeing Hanover. “Nobody could really be sure of her feelings”, the Countess of Cork said later. Upon returning to Hanover, the Duchess of Cambridge found that she was expecting a child. By the end of the month, the Duchess of Clarence and the Duchess of Kent were also confirmed to be pregnant. This was undoubtedly happy news but it made the Duke of York question if he really needed to marry again.

His brother, the Duke of Sussex, warned him that the annulment of his first marriage had been accepted on the premise that he wished an able and dutiful second wife to assist him during his reign as King. Not to honour this might revive gossip that he was simply bored of Frederica of Prussia and wanted to put her aside. Queen Charlotte was also determined not to let Luise slip through her fingers. If he wouldn’t propose to Luise, there were very few options left and who could tell if Luise might not catch someone else’s interest in Hanover? The Queen put her foot down. The Duke had a month to consider Luise. If he would not take her, he must take the next candidate the Queen put forward without argument or delay.

The Duchess of Cambridge used her confinement as an excuse to keep her sister in Hanover. At Herrenhausen, she kept Luise away from handsome young officers and visiting eligible princes were told that Luise had a fever or that she was out riding if they came to call. She tried her best to prepare Luise who was still a little naïve at the plans being made for her at Kew. The Duke of York was not against the idea of marrying Luise but he did find her “a little immature and very skittish”. Nonetheless, he wrote to her asking if she had enjoyed her stay in England and casually mentioned that he may be visiting Hanover in the coming weeks and hoped to see her there.

But the Duke’s visit to Hanover was delayed. In October 1818, Queen Charlotte showed signs of decline and her doctors feared her heart had been compromised by a series of small strokes. She was confined to her rooms at Kew, the Duke visiting her daily. The Countess of Cork’s memoirs do not mention if the marriage issue was discussed, though later historians have suggested that the Queen practically commanded Frederick to propose at the earliest opportunity. She begged him to go to Hanover at once but he refused to leave her bedside. In a final letter to her son, Queen Charlotte wrote: “You know that I am low in spirits and the matter at hand causes me great worry and concern. Please do not linger in your approach for if you do, I fear you will find yourself without a better prospect. I do believe we are of one mind, that we both appreciate how important this matter is and I only ask that you seriously consider your position and make arrangements to go to Hanover at once”.

Though she did not know it, the Queen might have been cheered to learn that the Duke of York had begun a regular correspondence with Luise. Their letters do not reveal a blossoming romance, indeed they read more as a light-hearted, friendly exchange between acquaintances. He tells her of a military parade he has recently attended; she speaks of the ponies she has just acquired as a gift from her father. Their topics of conversation strayed no further than the weather or the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge, expecting her first child in just a few months. But one letter gives an indication that the Duke had, even before Queen Charlotte’s death, decided to propose marriage. On the 2nd of November, he wrote; “I am greatly looking forward to seeing you at Herrenhausen, I have thought much about you in these last days and hope you see that I hold you in very high esteem”.

On the 17th of November 1818, Queen Charlotte died at Kew. Sitting in a chair, the Duke of York sat next to her and held her hand. She had been lucid until the end, very weak but losing none of her faculties. The day before her death, she dictated her will to her husband's secretary, Sir Herbert Taylor. In another possible indication that the marriage had been discussed at this late stage, the Queen’s will instructed that her jewels be bequeathed first to her husband, unless he remained in his state of insanity, in which case the jewels were to be given to the future Duchess of York. Luise was not included by name, however. If the Duke of York did not marry, the jewels would become heirlooms of the House of Hanover. The Queen’s funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on the 2nd December 1818 so as to allow the Dukes of Cambridge and Cumberland to return to England in time. Her husband, King George III, was not told of his wife's death.

It was decided that the Duke of York would return to Hanover with his brother Prince Adolphus and propose to Princess Luise after Christmas. The Duchess of Cambridge used the festivities to prepare her sister for what was to come. She wrote to her father; “I took Luise into the gardens and told her that the Duke of York was coming to Herrenhausen soon and that he had it in mind to propose to her. She did not seem surprised by this but neither did she show any signs of disappointment or resistance to the idea. I believe she likes him and that she sees the importance of such a match. It is quite impossible to determine her true feelings which I know would make you, dearest Papa, feel so much more certain about things”.

Landgrave Frederick wrote immediately to the Duke of Cambridge. If the Duke of York was to propose marriage to Princess Luise, Frederick would rather it happen at Rumpenheim but the Duchess of Cambridge was now in confinement ahead of giving birth and could not travel. The Landgrave decided he would go to Herrenhausen instead. Whilst he had been kept informed of the interest of the Duke of York in his daughter, Frederick had not been asked directly for his views, no doubt because such a declaration of interest was not in the Duke of York’s mind until recently. Any animosity the Landgrave might have felt about this however quickly dissipated. Upon their arrival in Hanover at the end of January 1819, the Duke of York expressed an interest in visiting Rumpenheim. By the time he returned to Herrenhausen, the Duchess of Cambridge may have given birth and he could be present for the baptism before returning to England. The Landgrave later wrote to his daughter Augusta; “That he showed such respect and consideration cheered me greatly and I confess to enjoying his company a great deal”. His wife, Princess Caroline, felt differently. She wept the moment she laid eyes on the Duke of York, already unhappy at the match between Princess Augusta and the Duke of Cambridge.

“But he is an old man!”, she protested.

“An old man who will soon be King of England”, her husband noted.


Schloss Rumpenheim.

In the days the Duke of York spent at Rumpenheim, nobody discussed the idea of marriage too loudly. They certainly didn’t speak of love. It was rare enough in royal marriages, regarded as a happy accident if it developed in the years that followed a wedding, but not essential when matching dynasty to dynasty. But in a romantic move, on the 14th of February, St Valentine’s Day, the Duke of York took Luise for a walk. Standing on the bank of the River Main which ran beside Rumpenheim, he proposed. Luise accepted.

The engagement was only celebrated within the family with letters dispatched to the siblings of the couple to inform them of the happy news. The Duke of York still required the permission of the Council of Regency and had to inform the British government of his intentions. The couple proposed to return to Hanover for the Duchess of Cambridge’s impending delivery before going to England where the Princess would be temporarily housed at Kew until the wedding. This meant that any announcement made before their return would see the engagement celebrated in Hanover before it could be celebrated in London, something the Duke of York was keen to avoid.

Nonetheless, the families of the future bride and groom did their best to celebrate privately. Letters of congratulation poured in for them but one pleased the Duke of York more than any other, so much so that he kept it in his desk for the rest of his life. It was a sketch from his sister Elizabeth. This time, the old goat stood with a farmer's daughter, the two holding hands and smiling with crowns on their heads. It was captioned, "The old goat and the shepherdess".

[1] In the OTL, Marie didn't marry until she was 33, becoming the 2nd wife of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, becoming the step-mother of Prince Albert.

[2] In the OTL, Luise remained unmarried until 1833 when she married a General in the Hanoverian Cavalry, Graf George von der Decken.
so frederick has found himself a new bride! excellent!
Finding him one wasn't easy but in the balance, weighing up the marriages his brothers made and the preferences the Queen had her for daughters in-law, Luise seemed to the most likely option for this TL. Of course, the new Duchess of York being the age she is, it's not unthinkable that Frederick might now provide his own son and heir...;)
Finding him one wasn't easy but in the balance, weighing up the marriages his brothers made and the preferences the Queen had her for daughters in-law, Luise seemed to the most likely option for this TL. Of course, the new Duchess of York being the age she is, it's not unthinkable that Frederick might now provide his own son and heir...;)
You are still calling him Duke of York but that is not anymore Frederick’s proper title as he has automatically received the Dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay in the moment in which Charlotte and her child died


Gone Fishin'
You are still calling him Duke of York but that is not anymore Frederick’s proper title as he has automatically received the Dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay in the moment in which Charlotte and her child died

Well, technically he would also be the Duke of York as well as the Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, and Frederick may have a predilection to continue using York, in the same way he rejected the title Prince Regent as well
Well, technically he would also be the Duke of York as well as the Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, and Frederick may have a predilection to continue using York, in the same way he rejected the title Prince Regent as well
This is what I decided to go to with, I felt that as he had refused to use the title of Prince Regent he would also decline the opportunity to use the Cornwall title too. But it does get a mention in the next instalment dealing with a pre-marriage crisis in his finances.
You are still calling him Duke of York but that is not anymore Frederick’s proper title as he has automatically received the Dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay in the moment in which Charlotte and her child died
Indeed, tho I should point out it's not because Charlotte held the title but because he's now oldest living son and heir apparent to the reigning monarch.
This is what I decided to go to with, I felt that as he had refused to use the title of Prince Regent he would also decline the opportunity to use the Cornwall title too. But it does get a mention in the next instalment dealing with a pre-marriage crisis in his finances.
If he now has the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, shouldn't he be in a much better financial situation?


Gone Fishin'
If he now has the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, shouldn't he be in a much better financial situation?

Bear in mind George III had to bribe OTL George IV to marry in order to pay off his debts, so he might be in a much better position but it still isn't necessarily going to get him out of whichever hole he has found himself in, especially given the 30,000 annuity promised to Frederica Charlotte of Prussia upon the annulment.
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Bear in mind George III had to bribe OTL George IV to marry in order to pay off his debts, so he might be in a much better position but it still isn't necessarily going to get him out of whichever hole he has found himself in, especially given the 30,000 annuity promised to Frederica Charlotte of Prussia upon the annulment.
Very much this. Also, the Duke of York had a serious gambling addiction. Almost every home he ever owned (bar Oatlands) in the OTL was sold to pay his gambling debts and yet every time, he managed to drop himself back into financial ruin pretty quickly. Whilst all of his brothers had the same love of the card table, Frederick was definitely the worst afflicted by his addiction. For my TL, I've worked on the principal that the Duchy of Cornwall revenues would only give him more to play with - thus more to lose.
This is what I decided to go to with, I felt that as he had refused to use the title of Prince Regent he would also decline the opportunity to use the Cornwall title too. But it does get a mention in the next instalment dealing with a pre-marriage crisis in his finances.
He can refute the Prince Regent title (and maybe would never created as Prince of Wales) BUT Cornwall is his own highest title and need to be acknowledged so his style must become Duke of Cornwall and York
He can refute the Prince Regent title (and maybe would never created as Prince of Wales) BUT Cornwall is his own highest title and need to be acknowledged so his style must become Duke of Cornwall and York
In full and by highest titles (I think): Duke of Cornwall, of Rothesay, (and) of York and Albany.