Princess Augusta of Great Britain

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Augusta of Great Britain
Augusta of Great Britain, duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.jpg
Duchess consort of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Tenure 26 March 1780[1] – 10 November 1806
Spouse Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
(m. 1764–1806; his death)
Issue
More
Augusta, Princess Frederick of Württemberg
Caroline, Queen of the United Kingdom
Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Full name
Augusta Frederica
House House of Brunswick
Father Frederick, Prince of Wales
Mother Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
Born (1737-07-31)31 July 1737
St James's Palace, London, England
Died 23 March 1813(1813-03-23) (aged 75)
Hanover Square, London, England
Burial 31 March 1813
St George's Chapel, Windsor, United Kingdom
Augusta by Angelica Kauffman, 1767; Royal Collection, London

Princess Augusta Frederica of Great Britain (31 July 1737 – 23 March 1813) was a granddaughter of George II and only elder sibling of George III. She married into the ducal house of Brunswick, of which she was already a member. Her daughter Caroline was the wife of George IV.

Early life[edit]

Princess Augusta Frederica was born at St. James's Palace, London. Her father was Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King George II and Queen Caroline of Ansbach and her mother was the Princess of Wales, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.

Fifty days later, she was christened at St. James's Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were her paternal grandfather, the King (represented by his Lord Chamberlain, the Duke of Grafton), and her grandmothers, Queen Caroline and the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Gotha (both represented by proxies).[2]

Her third birthday was celebrated by the first public performance of Rule, Britannia! at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire.

She was born second in the line of succession. Augusta was given a careful education and the negotiations about her marriage began in 1761.

Life in Brunswick[edit]

On 16 January 1764, Augusta married Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace.

Augusta regarded the residence in Brunswick as too simple. She returned to Great Britain in 1764 in the company of Charles to give birth to her first child, and took a long time to return to Brunswick after the birth. During their visit in England, it was noted that the Brunswicks was cheered by the crowds when they showed themselves in public. This, reportedly, made them exposed to suspicion in the eyes of the court. During their visit, her sister-in-law Queen Charlotte apparently refused them some honors at court, such as banning salutes to their honor. This attracted negative publicity toward the royal couple.[3] During the negotiations thirty years later, when her daughter was to marry the Prince of Wales, Augusta commented the visit of 1764 to the British negotiator, Lord Malmesbury and stated her view that queen Charlotte disliked both her and her mother because of jealousy.[4]

A new palace was built for her in Zuckerberg south of Brunswick to answer more to her taste, constructed by Carl Christoph Wilhelm Fleischer, and called Schloss Richmond, to remind her of England. When the palace was finished in 1768, Augusta moved there permanently.

The marriage was purely an arranged political marriage and Augusta and Charles regarded each other with mutual indifference. Augusta was indifferent to Charles's affairs with Maria Antonia Branconi and Louise Hertefeld. Her indifference was sometimes seen as arrogance, and it gave rise to rumours and slander. Augusta's popularity was severely damaged by the fact that her eldest sons were born with handicaps.

In 1772, Augusta visited England on the invitation of her mother. On this occasion, she was involved in a conflict with her sister-in-law Queen Charlotte. She was not allowed to live at Carlton House or St. James Palace despite the fact that it was empty at the time, but was forced to live in a small house at Pall Mall. The queen had a conflict with her about etiquette, and refused to let her see her brother the king alone.[5] According to M. Walpole, the reason was jealousy on the part of the queen.[6]

Augusta rarely appeared at the court of Braunschweig because of the dominance of her mother-in-law. When Charles became regent in 1773, her mother-in-law left the court and Augusta filled the position of first lady in the court ceremonies of Brunswick, although she often took short holidays to her personal palace Richmond. In 1780, Charles, already regent for his father, became sovereign duke, and Augusta became duchess consort.

The Swedish Princess Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte described her, as well as her family, at the time of her visit in August, 1799:

Our cousin the Duke arrived immediately the next morning. He has won many victorys as a notable military man, are witty, literal and a pleasant acquaintance but ceremonial beyond description. He is said to be quite strict, but a good father of the nation who attends to the needs of his people. After he left us, I visited the Dowager Duchess, the aunt of my consort. She is an agreable, highly educated and well respected lady, but now so old that she has almost lost her memory. From her I continued to the Duchess, sister to the King of England and a typical English woman. She looked very simple, like a vicar's wife, has I am sure many admirable qualities and are very respectable, but completely lacks manners. She makes the strangest questions without considering how difficult and unpleasant they can be. Both the hereditary princess as well as princess Augusta - sister of the sovereign Duke - came to her while I was there. The former are delightful, mild, lovable, witty and clever, not a beauty but still very pretty. In addition, she is said to be admirably kind to her boring consort. The princess Augusta are full of wit and energy and very amusing. (....) The Duchess and the Princesses followed me to Richmond, the country villa of the Duchess a bit outside of the town. It was small and pretty with a beautiful little park, all after an English pattern. As she had the residence constructed herself, it amuses her to show it to others. (....)The sons of the Ducal couple are somewhat peculiar. The hereditary prince, chubby and fat, almost blind, strange and odd - if not to say an imbecile - attempts to imitate his father but only makes himself artificial and unpleasant. He talks continually, does not know what he says and is in all aspects unbearable. He is accommodating but a poor thing, loves his consort to the point of worship and is completely governed by her. The other son, Prince Georg, is the most ridiculous person imaginable, and so silly that he can never be left alone but is always accompanied by a courtier. The third son is also described as an original. I never saw him, as he served with his regiment. The fourth is the only normal one, but also torments his parents by his imoral behaviour.[7]

Later life[edit]

In 1806, when Prussia declared war on France, the Duke of Brunswick, 71 at the time, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Prussian army. On 14 October of that year, at the Battle of Jena, Napoleon defeated the Prussian army, and, on the same day, at the battle of Auerstadt, the Duke of Brunswick was seriously wounded, dying a few days later. The Duchess of Brunswick, with two of her sons, and a widowed daughter-in-law, fled her ruined palace for Altona, where she was present with her daughter-in-law Marie of Baden at her dying husband's side.[8] Her other daughter-in-law, Louise of Orange-Nassau, left for Switzerland with her mother.[9] Due to the advancing French army, Augusta and Marie were advised by the British ambassador to flee, and they left shortly before her husband's death. They were invited to Sweden by Marie's brother-in-law King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.[8] Marie accepted the offer and left for Sweden, but Augusta left for Augustenborg, a small town east of Jutland. The Duchess of Brunswick remained here, with her niece, Princess Louise Augusta, daughter of her sister Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, until her brother, George III finally relented, in September 1807, and allowed her to move to London. She moved to Montague House, Blackheath, in Greenwich, with her daughter, the Princess of Wales, but soon fell out with her daughter, and purchased the house next door, Brunswick House, as she renamed it. The Duchess of Brunswick lived out her days in Blackheath and died, in 1813, aged 75.

Titles, styles and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 31 July 1737 – 16 January 1764: Her Royal Highness Princess Augusta[10]
  • 16 January 1764 – 26 March 1780: Her Royal Highness The Hereditary Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
  • 26 March 1780 – 10 November 1806: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
  • 10 November 1806 – 23 March 1813: Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Arms[edit]

Augusta was granted use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of five points, the centre bearing a cross gules, the other points each bearing a rose gules.[11]

Ancestors[edit]

Issue[edit]

Together the couple had 7 children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Auguste Caroline Friederike Luise 3 December 1764 27 September 1788 married 1780, Friedrich III, Duke of Württemberg; had issue
Karl Georg August 8 February 1766 20 September 1806 married 1790, Frederika Luise Wilhelmine, Princess of Orange-Nassau; no issue
Caroline Amalie Elisabeth 17 May 1768 7 August 1821 married 1795, George IV of the United Kingdom; had issue
Georg Wilhelm Christian 27 June 1769 16 September 1811 Declared an invalid; Excluded from line of succession
August 18 August 1770 18 December 1822 Declared an invalid; Excluded from line of succession
Friedrich Wilhelm 9 October 1771 16 June 1815 married 1802, Marie Elisabeth Wilhelmine, Princess of Baden; had issue
Amelie Karoline Dorothea Luise 22 November 1772 2 April 1773

Sources[edit]

  • Beckett, William A.: Universal Biography. London: Isaac, 1836.
  • Kwan, Elisabeth E.; Röhrig, Anna E.: Frauen vom Hof der Welfen. Göttingen: MatrixMedia 2006, ISBN 3-932313-17-8, p. 115−126.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Peerage – Charles I, Duke of Brunswick
  2. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings
  3. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte p 58
  4. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte
  5. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte p 85
  6. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte p 85
  7. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1927) [1797-1799]. af Klercker, Cecilia, ed. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VI 1797-1799. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 219–220. OCLC 14111333.  (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  8. ^ a b Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1936) [1800–1806]. af Klercker, Cecilia, ed. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VII 1800-1806. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. p. 471. OCLC 14111333.  (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  9. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1936) [1800–1806]. af Klercker, Cecilia, ed. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VII 1800-1806. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. p. 458. OCLC 14111333.  (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  10. ^ The London Gazette, 17 January 1764
  11. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
German nobility
Preceded by
Philippine Charlotte of Prussia
Duchess consort of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
1780–1806
Vacant
Title next held by
Marie of Baden