1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caroline Amelia Augusta

CAROLINE AMELIA AUGUSTA (1768–1821), queen of George IV. of Great Britain, second daughter of Charles William Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, was born on the 17th of May 1768. She was brought up with great strictness, and her education did not fit her well for her subsequent station in life. In 1795 she was married to the then prince of Wales (see George IV.), who disliked her and separated from her after the birth of a daughter in January 1796. The princess resided at Blackheath; and as she was thought to have been badly treated by her profligate husband, the sympathies of the people were strongly in her favour. About 1806 reports reflecting on her conduct were circulated so openly that it was deemed necessary for a commission to inquire into the circumstances. The princess was acquitted of any serious fault, but various improprieties in her conduct were pointed out and censured. In 1814 she left England and travelled on the continent, residing principally in Italy. On the accession of George in 1820, orders were given that the English ambassadors should prevent the recognition of the princess as queen at any foreign court. Her name also was formally omitted from the liturgy. These acts stirred up a strong feeling in favour of the princess among the English people generally, and she at once made arrangements for returning to England and claiming her rights. She rejected a proposal that she should receive an annuity of £50,000 a year on condition of renouncing her title and remaining abroad. Further efforts at compromise proved unavailing; Caroline arrived in England on the 6th of June, and one month later a bill to dissolve her marriage with the king on the ground of adultery was brought into the House of Lords. The trial began on the 17th of August 1820, and on the 10th of November the bill, after passing the third reading, was abandoned. The public excitement had been intense, the boldness of the queen’s counsel, Brougham and Denman, unparalleled, and the ministers felt that the smallness of their majority was virtual defeat. The queen was allowed to assume her title, but she was refused admittance to Westminster Hall on the coronation day, July 19, 1821. Mortification at this event seems to have hastened her death, which took place on the 7th of August of the same year.

See A Queen of Indiscretions, the Tragedy of Caroline of Brunswick, Queen of England, translated by F. Chapman from the Italian of Graziano Paolo Clerici (London, 1907), with numerous portraits, &c. Of contemporary authorities the Creevy Papers (1905) throw the most interesting sidelights on the subject.