Lady of the Bedchamber

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Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle, Lady of the Bedchamber to queen Henrietta Maria.

The Lady of the Bedchamber is the title of a lady-in-waiting holding the official position of personal attendant on a British queen or princess. The position is traditionally held by a female member of a noble family. They are ranked between the First Lady of the Bedchamber and the Women of the Bedchamber. They are also styled Gentlewoman of Her Majesty's Bedchamber.

The equivalent title and office has historically been used in most European royal courts (Dutch: Dames du Palais; French: dames or Dame de Palais; German: Hofstaatsdame or Palastdame; Italian: Dame di Corte; Russian: Hofdame or Statsdame; Spanish: dueña de honor; Swedish: statsfru).

History[edit]

In the Middle Ages, Margaret of France, Queen of England is noted to have had seven ladies of the bedchamber: the three married ones were called Dominæ and the four unmarried ones were known as maids of honour.[1] Their task was simply to act as the companions (see lady's companion) and personal attendants to the royal woman.

In a description from 1728, the task of the Ladies of the Bedchamber was to act as the go-between for the queen and the Women of the Bedchamber, who had the task to wait upon the queen by helping her wash, dress and undress, and so forth.[2] A Woman of the Bedchamber worked independently from a Lady of the Bedchamber and did not take orders from her. However, if a Lady of the Bedchamber was present, a Woman of the Bedchamber would always defer to her.[2] If a Lady of the Bedchamber was present when a Woman of the Bedchamber arrived to dress the queen, for example, she would not dress the queen herself, but instead give the garments to the Lady of the Bedchamber, who in turn helped the queen put it on. The procedure was the same in other issues.[2]

The post of a Lady of the Bedchamber was considered prestigious, and the appointments have therefore been subjected to controversies. Queen Anne appointed Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough to this position; the Duchess was widely considered an influential royal favourite. In 1839, concerns that Queen Victoria was determined to surround herself with wives of Whig politicians led to the Bedchamber crisis, preventing the installation of a Tory government under Robert Peel.

List of Ladies of the Bedchamber to the Queens of England[edit]

This is an incomplete list of those who have served as Lady of the Bedchamber in the British Royal Household.

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth I, 1558–1603[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Anne of Denmark, 1603–1619[edit]

Anne of Denmark was Queen Consort to James I of England.

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Henrietta Maria of France, 1625–1649[3][edit]

Henrietta Maria was Queen Consort to Charles I of England.

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Catherine of Braganza, 1662–1692[edit]

Catherine of Braganza was Queen Consort to Charles II of England

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Mary of Modena, 1673–1688[edit]

Mary of Modena was Queen Consort to James II of England

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Mary II of England, 1689–1694[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Anne, 1702–1714[edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Caroline of Ansbach, 1714–1737[4][5][edit]

Caroline of Ansbach was Queen Consort to George II of Great Britain

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, 1736–1772[6][edit]

Princess Augusta was the wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 1761–1818[7][edit]

Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz was Queen Consort to King George III of Great Britain

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Caroline of Brunswick, 1795-1821[edit]

Caroline of Brunswick was the wife of George, Prince of Wales, Prince Regent and from 1820 Queen Consort to George IV of Great Britain. They separated in 1796 and she died in 1821.

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, 1830–1837[9][edit]

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was Queen Consort to William IV of the United Kingdom

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Victoria, 1837–1901[10][edit]

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Alexandra of Denmark, 1901–1925[edit]

Alexandra of Denmark was Queen Consort to Edward VII of the United Kingdom

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Mary of Teck, 1901–1953[edit]

Mary of Teck was Queen Consort to George V of the United Kingdom

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 1937–2002[edit]

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was Queen Consort to George VI of the United Kingdom

Ladies of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth II, 1953–present[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thoms, William J. (1844). The Book of the Court: Exhibiting the History, Duties, and Privileges of the English Nobility and Gentry. Particularly of the Great Officers of State and Members of the Royal Household (2nd ed.). London: H. G. Bohn. p. 349. 
  2. ^ a b c Bucholz, R. O., ed. (2006). "The bedchamber: Women of the Bedchamber 1702-1714". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837. London: University of London. pp. 24–25. Retrieved 17 August 2016 – via British History Online. 
  3. ^ Neale, John Preston (1847). The Mansions of England: Or, Picturesque Delineations of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen. 1. London: M.A. Nattali. p. 321. 
  4. ^ "Household of Princess Caroline 1714-27". Institute of Historical Research. 
  5. ^ "Household of Queen Caroline 1727-37". Institute of Historical Research. 
  6. ^ "Household of Princess Augusta 1736-72". Institute of Historical Research. 
  7. ^ "Household of Queen Charlotte 1761-1818". Institute of Historical Research. 
  8. ^ a b c d The Lady's Magazine Or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex ..., Volume 26. p. 157. 
  9. ^ "Household of Queen Adelaide 1830-37". Institute of Historical Research. 
  10. ^ "Household of Queen Victoria". Institute of Historical Research. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "No. 27292". The London Gazette. 8 March 1901. p. 1648. 

External links[edit]