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
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
Spouse Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
(m. 1764; his death 1806)
Issue
More
Augusta, Princess Frederick of Württemberg
Caroline, Queen of the United Kingdom
Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Full name
Augusta Frederica
House Hanover
Father Frederick, Prince of Wales
Mother Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha

Princess Augusta Frederica of Great Britain (31 July 1737 – 23 March 1813) was a granddaughter of George II and the 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, aged 17, by Liotard

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. She was born second in the line of succession.

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.

Augusta was given a careful education. She was not described as a beauty, having protuberant eyes, loose mouth and a long face.[3] In 1761-62, a marriage was discussed between Augusta and the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, but the negotiations was delayed because her mother disliked the House of Brunswick. This obstacle was overcome due to a reason described by Walpole: "Lady Augusta was lively, and much inclined to meddle in the private politics of the Court. As non of her [The Princess's] children but the King, had, or had reason to have, much affection for their mother, she justly apprehended Lady Augusta instilling their disgust on to the Queen. She could not forbid her daughter's frequent visits at Buckingham House, but to prevent ill consequence of them, she often accompanied her thither. This, however, was an attendance and a constraint the Princess of Wales could not support. Her exceeding indolence, her more excessive love of privacy, and the subjection of being frequently with the Queen, whose higher rank was a never ceasing mortification, all concurred to make her resolve, at any rate, to deliver herself of her daughter. To obtain this end, the profusion of favors to the hated House of Brunswick was not though too much. The Hereditary Prince was prevailed to accept Lady Augusta's hand, with four-scour thousand pounds, an annuity of £5.000 a year on Ireland, and three thousand a year on Hanover."[4]

On 16 January 1764, Augusta married Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace. The wedding was followed by a state dinner at Leicester House, congratulations from the House of Parliament, a ball given by the Queen and an opera performance at Covent Garden, before departing from Harwich on the 26th.[5]

Life in Brunswick[edit]

Augusta by Angelica Kauffman, 1767; Royal Collection, London

Augusta never fully adapted to life in Brunswick due to her British patriotism and disregard of all things "east of the Rhine".[3] This attitude did not change with time, and twenty five years after her marriage, she was described as: "wholly English in her tastes, her principles and her manners, to the point that her almost cynical independence makes, with the etiquette of the German courts, the most singular contrast I know".[3] Augusta was not well liked at Brunswick, were her popularity was damaged by the fact that her eldest sons were born with handicaps.

During her first pregnancy in 1764, she returned to Great Britain in the company of Charles to give birth to her first child. During their visit in England, it was noted that the Brunswicks were cheered by the crowds when they showed themselves in public. This, reportedly, exposed them to suspicion at court. During their visit, her sister-in-law Queen Charlotte apparently refused them some honors at court, such as military salutes. This attracted negative publicity toward the hosting royal couple.[6] During the negotiations thirty years later for the marriage of when her daughter to the Prince of Wales, Augusta commented to the British negotiator, Lord Malmesbury, her view that Queen Charlotte disliked both her and her mother because of jealousy dating from the visit of 1764.[7]

Augusta regarded the residence in Brunswick as too simple, and was bored with the scholarly tone of her mother-in-law's court, particularly during the summers, when her spouse was absent at champ.[3] A retreat from court was built for her in Braunschweig, south of Brunswick were she could spent the summer months, constructed by Carl Christoph Wilhelm Fleischer, and called Schloss Richmond to remind her of England. In her retreat, Augusta amused herself spending her days eating heavy luncheons, gossiping and playing cards with her favorites, often receiving English guests.[3]

The marriage was an purely arranged dynastic marriage. However, Augusta was attracted by Charles' handsome looks and initially pleased with him: shortly after the birth of her first daughter, she wrote: "No two people live better together than we do, and I would go through fire and water for him",[3] and it was noted that she seemed to be unaware of his flirtations in London.[3]

In 1771-72, Augusta visited England on the invitation of her mother. On this occasion, she was involved in another 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 on Pall Mall. The queen disagreed with her about etiquette, and refused to let her see her brother the king alone.[8] According to Mr. Walpole, the reason was jealousy on the part of the queen.[8] She attended her mother's deathbed during her second visit to England, and upon her return to Brunswick, extended her period of mourning, which eventually lead to her retirement from participation in court life. When her sister, queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark, was convicted of adultery and exiled to Celle close to Brunswick, Augusta took the habit to regularly visit her on weeks on end, to the disapproval of her spouse and parents-in-law.[3]

In 1777, Augusta announced to Charles that she would retire from court life and representation and devote herself to the upbringing of her children and religious studies under the Bishop of Fürstenberg.[3] The reason was her disapproval of the relationship between Charles and Louise Hertefeld whom he, in contrast to his previous mistress Maria Antonia Branconi, had installed as his official royal mistress at the Brunswick court.[3]

In 1780, Charles succeeded his father as sovereign Duke of Brunswick, and Augusta thus became Duchess consort.

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

Our cousin, the Duke, arrived immediately the next morning. As a noted military man he has won many victories, he is 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 agreeable, highly educated and well respected lady, but by 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 is 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 is 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 town. It was small and pretty with a beautiful little park, all in an English style. 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 one is the only normal one, but also torments his parents by his immoral behavior.[9]

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 to Altona, where she was present with her daughter-in-law Marie of Baden at her dying spouse's side.[10] Her other daughter-in-law, Louise of Orange-Nassau, went to Switzerland with her mother.[11] Because of the advancing French army, Augusta and Marie were advised by the British ambassador to flee, and they left shortly before the death of Charles.

They were invited to Sweden by Marie's brother-in-law King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.[10] Marie accepted the offer and left for Sweden, but Augusta went to Augustenborg, a small town east of Jutland. The Duchess of Brunswick remained there 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 come to London. There she resided at Montague House, at 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[12]
  • 16 January 1764 – 26 March 1780: Her Royal Highness The Hereditary Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, Princess of Hanover
  • 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.[13]

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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fraser, Flora: The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline
  4. ^ Finch, Barbara Clay: Lives of the princesses of Wales. Part III. p. 46
  5. ^ Finch, Barbara Clay: Lives of the princesses of Wales. Part III. p. 47
  6. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte p 58
  7. ^ Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte
  8. ^ a b Fitzgerald, Percy: The Good Queen Charlotte p 85
  9. ^ none, Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta (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)
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ The London Gazette, 17 January 1764
  13. ^ 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