Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom

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For other persons known as Princess Amelia, see Princess Amelia (disambiguation).
Princess Amelia
Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom (1).jpg
House House of Hanover
Father George III
Mother Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Born (1783-08-07)7 August 1783
Royal Lodge, Windsor
Died 2 November 1810(1810-11-02) (aged 27)
Augusta Lodge, Windsor
Burial 13 November 1810
St George's Chapel, Windsor

Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom (7 August 1783 – 2 November 1810) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the youngest daughter and child of King George III of the United Kingdom and his queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Early life[edit]

Princess Amelia in 1785

Princess Amelia was born on 7 August 1783, at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, the youngest of George III and Queen Charlotte's fifteen children as well as the only of her siblings born at Windsor Castle.[1][2] It is often said that she was her father's favourite, and accordingly, he affectionately called her, "Emily". She was born after the early deaths of her two elder brothers: Octavius (23 February 1779 - 3 May 1783) and Alfred (22 September 1780 - 20 August 1782).[3] The death of these two princes left a gap of almost six years between Amelia and her nearest surviving sibling, Princess Sophia. She was twenty-one years younger than her eldest sibling George and nearly seventeen years younger than her eldest sister Charlotte.[4] As the daughter of the monarch, she was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Amelia from birth.

Amelia was christened at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace by John Moore, The Archbishop of Canterbury, on 17 September 1783. Her godparents were The Prince of Wales (Amelia's eldest brother), The Princess Royal (her eldest sister), and The Princess Augusta Sophia (her second eldest sister).[5][4] She was the fifteenth sibling christened there.[4]

Coming so soon after the death of Octavius and shortly before the end of the war between Great Britain and the United States, Amelia's birth was felt to be a beginning of a new period of hope, and much was expected of her, even from birth.[6] "Our littlest sister is without exception one of the prettiest children I have ever seen," her oldest sister wrote to Prince William when Amelia was only a month old.[4] She was expected to be as beautiful, charming, and winning as Octavius, her father's previous favorite child, had been.[4] As a result of her two brothers' deaths, Amelia was considered as her father's favourite.[7][8]

From an early age, Amelia was conscious of her rank. A popular tale relates that when the famous tragedian, Sarah Siddons, expressed a desire to kiss the beautiful baby, Amelia "...instantly held her little hand out to be kissed, so early had she learnt the lessons of Royalty."[9] When Amelia was three, Fanny Burney, the Queen's Keeper of the Robes, commented that the princess could be "decorous and dignified when called upon to act en princess to any strangers, as if conscious of her high rank, and the importance of condescendingly sustaining it." Burney even dubbed her "the little idol". As the youngest of the thirteen surviving children, Amelia was grouped with her sisters Mary and Sophia, and spent most of her time with them, living in various royal residences. From the beginning, the three younger princesses did not receive as much parental attention as their elder sisters had, and spent a good deal of time away from the King and Queen, communicating with them mostly by letter.

It seems that the three youngest princesses were much wilder than their elder sisters, as evidenced by their behavior when they sat for a portrait in 1785. In 1770, Zoffany had been able to paint the King, the Queen, and all six eldest children with little difficulty. In 1785, however, Copley had so much difficulty getting the dogs, birds, and especially the three royal children to sit still, that he never painted another portrait.[10] Compared to the carefully planned education that Charlotte, Augusta, and Elizabeth had been given, the education given to Mary, Sophia, and Amelia was based solely on what had come before. Amelia was only five years old when her father suffered his first bout of madness. As a consequence of her father's declining health, she never experienced the closeness and affection that had characterized the family during her elder sisters' early years.[11]

The Three Youngest Princesses, by John Singleton Copley, 1785 (Amelia is the baby)

Adulthood[edit]

Prior to 1788, King George had told his daughters that he would take them to Hanover and find them suitable husbands[12] despite misgivings he had, which stemmed from his sisters' own unhappy marriages.[13] He remarked, "I cannot deny that I have never wished to see any of them marry: I am happy in their company, and do not in the least want a separation."[14] However, the King suffered his first bout of madness that year, when Amelia was aged five. Further lapses into insanity occurred in 1801 and 1804, thus forestalling talk of marriage for his daughters. The question of matrimony was rarely raised; Queen Charlotte feared that the subject, which had always discomforted the King, would push him back into insanity. Furthermore the queen, strained from her husband's illness, wanted the princesses to remain close to her.[8][14][15]

Amelia and her sisters, Charlotte, Augusta Sophia, Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia were over-protected and isolated, which restricted them meeting eligible suitors of their own age.[8]

Illness[edit]

In 1798 Princess Amelia developed a pain in the joint of her knee, and was sent to the large seaside town of Worthing for recovery. She wrote to her father, "Certainly the vapour and warm sea bath are of use and therefore I hope that I shall be able to assure you that I am better."[16] The following year Amelia temporarily recovered enough to join her family at Weymouth, where she doted upon her niece Princess Charlotte of Wales.[17] Throughout her life Amelia was often in poor health; at the age of fifteen, she started to suffer the early symptoms of what turned out to be tuberculosis.[8]

In 1801 the princess was sent for a seaside cure at Weymouth to improve her health.[8] Among those staying with her was the Hon. Charles FitzRoy, an equerry 21 years older than herself, and the son of Charles FitzRoy, 1st Baron Southampton.[18][19] Amelia fell in love with the equerry, desiring to marry him.[8] The Queen was told of the affair by a servant, but turned a blind eye. It was hoped that such discretion would prevent the King from discovering the liaison, which may have risked sending him into one of the bouts of mental illness to which he was becoming increasingly prone. Though she never gave up hope of marrying him,[8] Amelia knew she could not legally marry FitzRoy due to the provisions of the Royal Marriages Act passed by her father's Parliament (at least until she reached the age of 25, after which she could receive permission by assent of the Privy Council).[citation needed] She would later tell her brother Frederick that she considered herself to be married, taking the initials A. F. R. (Amelia FitzRoy).[8]

In 1808, Amelia had a severe attack of measles and the depressed atmosphere at home with her mother in Windsor made her even more miserable. The anxious King George decided to send Amelia to Weymouth accompanied by her sister Mary. Her health was improved only a little, but she found comfort in quietly resting. In 1809 she could occasionally take short walks in the garden. This improvement was but temporary, however, and in August 1810 her sufferings grew sharper, whilst in October of that year she was seized with St. Anthony's fire (erysipelas), which cut off all hope and confined her to her bed on the 25th. The king summoned his daughter's physicians to him at seven o'clock every morning and three or four other times during the day, questioning them minutely as to her condition. She lingered a few days more, waited upon to the last by her favourite and devoted sister, the Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh.[20] Her 2 November death occurred on her brother Edward's birthday.[21]

The dying princess had a mourning ring made for the king, composed of a lock of her hair, under crystal, set round with diamonds. He purportedly burst into tears upon receiving it.[22] Otherwise, her will dictated all her possessions be given to Charles FitzRoy.[19] Amelia was buried in the royal vault in St George's Chapel, Windsor.[22][23] Her eldest brother, later George IV, was her godfather and is reputed to have requested her death mask.

Death and aftermath[edit]

After Amelia's death, George Villiers, the King's bailiff, and younger brother of Thomas Villiers, 2nd Earl of Clarendon, attempted to blackmail the King and Queen with letters belonging to Amelia, after the disappearance of £280,000 in his control.[24] Villiers was father of later diplomat and statesman George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon.

Her death is partly credited to the decline in her father's health which resulted in his insanity[23][25][26] and the subsequent invocation of the Regency Act of 1811.[citation needed] According to his doctor Dr. Willis, the king would later cry "in a wild, monotonous, delirious way, 'Oh Emily [Princess Amelia], why won't you save your father? I hate all the physicians..."[27] Another of King George's delusions included the belief that a healthy Amelia was only staying in Hanover with a large family of her own, where she would "never grow older and always be well."[28]

Amelia has been described as a beautiful, slender girl with ruby lips and auburn hair. Reportedly she was the "most turbulent and tempestuous of all the Princesses". However, she is also said to have been gentle, unselfish and highly intelligent. These qualities led her sister-in-law Princess Caroline, who was known to despise her in-laws, to call Amelia the "most amiable of the bunch". Amelia was a favorite of both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex, who called her a "lovely creature". Amelia adored the former and once told him that she had always loved him better than her other brothers. He for his part loved her perhaps more than he did his other sisters (with the possible exception of Princess Mary) and was devastated when she died. So deeply affected was he by her death that after her funeral, he could never again sleep in a room that was not lit by several wax candles. He also burst into tears at the mention of her name more than three years after her demise.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 7 August 1783 – 2 November 1810: Her Royal Highness The Princess Amelia

Arms[edit]

As of 1789, as a daughter of the sovereign, Amelia had use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a rose gules, the outer points each bearing a heart gules.[29]

Ancestors[edit]

See also[edit]

British Royalty
House of Hanover
Quarterly, I and IV Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or; II Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules; III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent; overall an escutcheon tierced per pale and per chevron, I Gules two lions passant guardant Or, II Or a semy of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure, III Gules a horse courant Argent, the whole inescutcheon surmounted by crown
George III
George IV
Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
William IV
Charlotte, Princess Royal and Queen of Württemberg
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Princess Augusta Sophia
Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg
Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge
Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Princess Sophia
Prince Octavius
Prince Alfred
Princess Amelia
Grandchildren
Charlotte, Princess Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Princess Charlotte of Clarence
Princess Elizabeth of Clarence
Victoria
George V of Hanover
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge
Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck
Great-grandchildren
Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover
Princess Frederica, Baroness von Pawel-Rammingen
Princess Marie of Hanover
Great-great-grandchildren
Marie Louise, Princess Maximilan of Baden
Prince George William of Hanover
Alexandra, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Princess Olga of Hanover
Prince Christian of Hanover
Ernest Augustus, Prince of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick
Great-great-great-grandchildren
Ernest Augustus, Prince of Hanover and Hereditary Prince of Brunswick
Prince George William of Hanover
Frederica, Queen of the Hellenes

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fraser 2004, p. 78.
  2. ^ Weir 2008, p. 300.
  3. ^ Fraser 2004, pp. 76-78.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fraser 2004, p. 79.
  5. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings
  6. ^ Fraser 2004, pp. 78-79.
  7. ^ Panton 2011, p. 45.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Purdue 2004.
  9. ^ Fraser 2004, p. 87.
  10. ^ Fraser 2004, p. 93.
  11. ^ Princesses, Flora Fraser
  12. ^ Black 2006, p. 157.
  13. ^ Robinson, David (2 October 2004). "The Princess diaries". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Schiff, Stacy (24 April 2005). "'Princesses': All the King's Girls". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  15. ^ Black 2006, p. 156.
  16. ^ Fraser 2004, p. 182.
  17. ^ Fraser 2004, p. 184.
  18. ^ Panton 2011, pp. 45-46.
  19. ^ a b Hibbert 2000, p. 398.
  20. ^  Humphreys, Jennett (1885). "Amelia". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 366. 
  21. ^ Willson 1907, p. 550.
  22. ^ a b Hibbert 2000, p. 396.
  23. ^ a b Panton 2011, p. 46.
  24. ^ Roberts, Jane (1997). Royal landscape: the gardens and parks of Windsor. Yale University Press. pp. 289–290. 
  25. ^ Hibbert 2000, pp. 396-397.
  26. ^ Willson 1907, p. 549.
  27. ^ Hibbert 2000, p. 278.
  28. ^ Hibbert 2000, p. 400.
  29. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]