Born on 7th January 1796, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was the daughter of the future King George IV and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Princess Charlotte’s all too short life came to an abrupt end on 6th November 1817, after enduring an excruciating fifty-hour labour which resulted in a stillborn child. Here is the royal tragedy of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales.
Had Princess Charlotte survived she would have succeeded her father as Queen and the face of British history would have changed forever. Tragedy, however, struck Princess Charlotte, her husband Prince Leopold of Belgium, the Royal Family and indeed the country on 6th November 1817.
Princess Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son and soon after her accoucheur, Sir Richard Croft, committed suicide. This series of deaths became known as the ‘Triple Tragedy’.
Grief spread throughout the country like nobody had ever seen before. Many compare the widespread grief after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales with that after the death of Princess Charlotte. Even in Europe, the ramifications were felt with Lord Byron writing in Venice, “The death of Princess Charlotte has been a shock even here and must have been an earthquake at home.”
Sermons were preached across the country in Princess Charlotte’s honour and she was buried, with great ceremony, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
For the country, Charlotte’s death thwarted hopes of a new kind of Monarchy. Princess Charlotte was a popular figure, unlike her father, and was even described as the ‘hope and pride of the people of England’.
The future of the British Monarchy changed on November 6th, 1817. There was no legitimate heir for the 2nd generation and so for the next 20 years, the Crown passed from brother to brother, King George IV to King William IV. While Charlotte was mourned for throughout the country, her death cemented one of the greatest periods of British history, the Victorian Era. Her cousin, Alexandrina Victoria, was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, and the only legitimate Heir.
Queen Victoria ascended the Throne on June 20th, 1837 and the rest, as they say, is history.