Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, originally named Sophie Charlotte was born on May 19, 1744. Queen Charlotte also held the titles of Electress of Hanover and Queen Consort of Hanover.
Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a minute north German dukedom in the Holy Roman Empire.
Queen Charlotte was the youngest daughter of Princess Elizabeth Albertine Saxe-Hildburghausen and Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, otherwise known as Prince of Mirow.
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Queen Charlotte is a descendant of a black branch of the Portuguese royal family; more specifically, Alfonso III and his concubine, Ourana, a black moor.
In the 13th century, Alfonso III seized a town named Faro from the moors. He also demanded that the governor of Faro’s daughter become his concubine. They birthed three children.
Queen Charlotte’s educational studies were centered around language – she spoke French, German and later learned English, natural history and botany. Her education was considered to be commonplace.
At the age of 17, a marriage was arranged between Charlotte and King George III. At the age of 22, King George inherited the throne after the death of his grandfather. King George’s mother thought Charlotte would be a great prospect for marriage due to her naiveté of power structures and the protocols that came with life as a major royal figure. On September 8, 1761, after spending several months at sea travelling from Germany to London, Charlotte and King George wed.
The couple were great connoisseurs of German music. As a gesture of the royal favor, Leopold Mozart published six sonatas composed by Wolfgang, known as Mozart’s Opus 3, that were dedicated to the Queen on January 18, 1765.
On August 12, 1762, the King and Queen welcomed their first child, a son, the Prince of Wales. He would later become King George IV. The King and Queen went on to have 14 more children. 13 lived to adulthood while two died while they were still young.
Fiercely protective of her children, she particularly kept her daughters within close vicinity. Subsequently, some of them married much later in life.
Experiencing strife with her mother-in-law, Queen Charlotte had a challenging time settling into her new post. Queen Charlotte’s activities were heavily monitored and reported back to Princess Augusta, her mother-in-law.
Queen Charlotte had minimal influence on political issues, in which she did in a discrete and passive manner. She was known to be respectful and kind to her workers. She kept herself busy with German affairs.
In 1788, King George III had one of many bouts of mental illness. Though the first outburst was kept from her due to the decision of Princess Agatha, Queen Charlotte knew of the others.
Due to her husband’s sickness, Queen Charlotte isolated herself from King George III; they slept in separate rooms and didn’t share meals together. Queen Charlotte was frightened of King George’s erratic behavior. The King’s sickness profoundly affected Queen Charlotte. She became depressed and withdrew from activities she once enjoyed. The Queen found refuge by moving to a new residence and by tending to her gardens.
With the introduction of new species of plants and flowers, Queen Charlotte became acquainted with unique botany. The South African flower, the Bird of Paradise was renamed Strelitzia reginae in her honor.
Queen Charlotte and Queen Marie Antoinette shared a strong friendship, by writing to each other often. Marie Antoinette confided in Queen Charlotte about the onset of the French Revolution. When Marie Antoinette was executed, Queen Charlotte was understandably disheartened.
In 1811, King George III became permanently ill. Consequently, Queen Charlotte was appointed as his legal guardian. Their son, the Prince Regent assumed royal power. Due to King George’s violent behavior, Queen Charlotte refrained from visiting her husband after 1812.
On November 17, 1818, Queen Charlotte died. King George III died 14 months later. Queen Charlotte was the second longest serving consort in British history; having served 57 years.
Her eldest son, Prince Regent was bestowed with Queen Charlotte’s jewels. All of her other belongings were sold at an auction. Christie’s sold her snuff, furniture and clothing.
Queen Charlotte has numerous honors bestowed upon her post-humously including a statue of her in Queen Square in Bloomsbury, London, and at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.