CAROLINE (1683–1737), wife of George II., king of Great Britain and Ireland, was a daughter of John Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (d. 1686). Born at Ansbach on the 1st of March 1683, the princess passed her youth mainly at Dresden and Berlin, where she enjoyed the close friendship of Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick I. of Prussia; she married George Augustus, electoral prince of Hanover, in September 1705. The early years of her married life were spent in Hanover. She took a continual interest in the approaching accession of the Hanoverian dynasty to the British throne, was on very friendly terms with the old electress Sophia, and corresponded with Leibnitz, whose acquaintance she had made in Berlin. In October 1714 Caroline followed her husband and her father-in-law, now King George I., to London. As princess of Wales she was accessible and popular, and took the first place at court, filling a difficult position with tact and success. When the quarrel between the prince of Wales and his father was attaining serious proportions, Caroline naturally took the part of her husband, and matters reached a climax in 1717. Driven from court, ostracized by the king, deprived even of the custody of their children, the prince and princess took up their residence in London at Leicester House, and in the country at Richmond. They managed, however, to surround themselves with a distinguished circle; Caroline had a certain taste for literature, and among their attendants and visitors were Lord Chesterfield, Pope, Gay, Lord Hervey and his wife, the beautiful Mary Lepel. A formal reconciliation with George I. took place in 1720. In October 1727 George II. and his queen were crowned. During the rest of her life Queen Caroline’s influence in English politics was very chiefly exercised in support of Sir Robert Walpole; she kept this minister in power, and in control of church patronage. She was exceedingly tolerant, and the bishops appointed by her were remarkable rather for learning than for orthodoxy. During the king’s absences from England she was regent of the kingdom on four occasions. On the whole, Caroline’s relations with her husband, to whom she bore eight children, were satisfactory. A clever and patient woman, she was very complaisant towards the king, flattering his vanity and acknowledging his mistresses, and she retained her influence over him to the end. She died on the 20th of November 1737.
Caroline appears in Scott’s Heart of Midlothian; see also Lord Hervey, Memoirs of the Reign of George II., ed. by J. W. Croker (1884); W. H. Wilkins, Caroline the Illustrious (1904); and A. D. Greenwood, Lives of the Hanoverian Queens of England, vol. i. (1909).