Born – 17th May 1768 Died – 7th August 1821 Father – Charles William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel (1780 – 1806) Mother – Augusta of Great Britain Spouse – m. 1795, sep. 1796 – King George IV (1762 – 1830) Children – Charlotte (1796 – 1817)
1768 (17th May)
Caroline of Brunswick was born Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, to Charles William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and Augusta, sister of King George III at Braunschweig in Germany.
Caroline began her education. She was educated by governesses and received basic tuition. She was not academic but loved music and could speak English and French.
Caroline’s father made Louise Hertefeld his official mistress, a move which was resented by Caroline’s mother. Caroline was often used as a pawn between her parents which made her life difficult.
Countess Eleonore von Munster became her governess and Caroline developed a close relationship with her. She was not allowed to meet any boys or men and was usually confined to her rooms when the family were entertaining. She deeply resented this seclusion.
1790 (14th October)
Caroline attended the wedding of her elder brother Karl. She was allowed to dance at the wedding reception, but only with male family members.
Caroline was allowed to ride and she frequently stopped at the houses of local peasants. Around this time she fell in love with a man, possibly an Irish officer who lived in Brunswick, but was not allowed to marry him due to his low status. There was also a rumour that she became pregnant around this time.
Arrangements were made for Caroline to marry Prince George of Great Britain, heir to the throne. George had accumulated substantial debts and his father refused to pay off the debts unless he married Caroline. George reluctantly agreed because he needed the increased allowance the marriage would bring.
1794 (20th November)
Lord Malmesbury arrived in Brunswick. He had been sent by King George III to escort Caroline to Britain. On meeting Caroline, Malmesbury felt that she was not a suitable bride for Prince George since she was loud and brash, indiscreet and had body odour due to lack of personal hygiene. He kept his thoughts to himself.
1795 (5th April)
Caroline arrived at Greenwich. She was met by George’s mistress, Frances Villiers, who George had appointed Lady of the Bedchamber.
1795 (7th April)
Caroline met Prince George for the first time and was dismayed to find that he looked nothing like his portrait.
1795 (8th April)
George married Caroline of Brunswick at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London. Some sources state that George was drunk during the service and drank even more at the reception afterwards.
George continued his relationship with Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey.
George and Caroline of Brunswick, who was pregnant, began living separately at Carlton House.
1796 (7th January)
A daughter, Charlotte Augusta, was born to George and Caroline of Brunswick at Carlton House.
1796 (10th January)
George was so unhappy with the marriage that he made a will in which he left his wife one shilling and everything else to Maria FitzHerbert, the woman with whom he had gone through a marriage ceremony in 1785 but since the marriage contravened the terms of the Royal Marriages Act and the Test Act it was deemed invalid.
George wrote to Caroline suggesting that they both live separate lives.
Francis Villiers resigned as Caroline’s Lady of the Bedchamber.
Caroline began to adopt a number of poor children and place them with foster parents.
Caroline moved to The Vicarage in Charlton, London where she was able to live as she pleased. She frequently visited her daughter who was cared for by a governess and team of staff.
Caroline adopted a baby boy, William Austin, who was cared for in her own home.
Caroline fell out with her neighbours, Sir John and Lady Douglas, who then accused Caroline of being unfaithful to George and argued that William Austin was in fact Caroline’s son.
The Delicate Investigation
A secret commission made investigations into the claims made by Sir John and Lady Douglas in 1804. After interviewing Caroline and her staff they found no evidence that William Austin was Caroline’s son. During this time George restricted his wife’s access to her daughter and made all decisions regarding her care and upbringing. However, when George was absent nursery staff gave Caroline access to her daughter.
1806 (14th October)
Caroline’s father was killed fighting against Napoleon. Following his death, Caroline’s mother and brother fled to Britain.
George was made Regent after his father, George III, suffered a bout of insanity that did not respond to treatment.
1811 (5th February)
This act passed most royal duties to George who was given the title Prince Regent. George took little part in government being happy to leave government to Parliament.
1811 (after 5th February)
George further restricted Caroline’s access to her daughter. She also became more socially isolated as contemporaries favoured George rather than her.
Caroline moved to Connaught House, Bayswater, London. She enlisted the support of Whig politician, Henry Brougham to help ensure access to her daughter was maintained. George was furious and put about the rumours denounced by the Delicate Investigation of 1806. However, most people saw Caroline as the injured party.
1814 (12th July)
Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte arrived at Bayswater where she told her mother that she had run away due to increased restrictions on her movements. Caroline persuaded her daughter to return to her father.
1814 (8th August)
After negotiating a yearly allowance, Caroline of Brunswick, left Britain and went to Brunswick in Germany.
1814 (23rd August)
Caroline left Brunswick and headed south to Italy.
Caroline bought Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy.
Caroline took a six-month Mediterranean cruise with the head of her household, Bartolomeo Pergami who was married. It was soon rumoured that they were lovers.
1816 (2nd May)
Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte, married Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
Caroline sold Villa d’Este to pay off her debts. She bought Villa Caprile near Pesaro where she lived with Pergami and his mother, brother and daughter.
1817 (6th November)
Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte, died giving birth to a stillborn son. George refused to write to tell Caroline and Charlotte’s husband was too upset to write. Caroline found out by chance when the courier taking the news to the Pope passed through Pesaro.
Determined to divorce his wife, George sent a commission to Italy to find evidence of Caroline’s adultery. Caroline was concerned and stated that she would never admit to adultery. She would, however, agree to a formal separation.
1820 (29th January)
King George III died and Caroline’s husband became King George IV. Caroline was now technically Queen of Great Britain.
Caroline travelled to St Omer in France and it was rumoured that she would return to England. The British government offered to increase her yearly allowance if she remained on the continent but she turned their offer down.
1820 (5th June)
Caroline returned to Britain where she was popularly received. George became more determined than ever to get his divorce.
Pains and Penalties Bill
This bill, to end the marriage of Caroline and George and to strip Caroline of the title of Queen was debated in Parliament where it passed the House of Lords but was not put to the House of Commons because it was believed it would fail to pass. Despite the bill, Caroline remained popular with the people.
1821 (19th July)
George was crowned King George IV at Westminster Abbey. Despite being advised to stay away, Caroline tried to enter the Abbey and made a scene before finally accepting defeat. Her behaviour at the doors of the Abbey lost her much support.
1821 (19th July)
Caroline was taken ill with a stomach upset in the evening.
1821 (early August)
Caroline’s illness was worsening and she believed that she was being poisoned. However, it is more likely that she had a bowel obstruction or cancer.
1821 (7th August)
Caroline died at Brandenburg House, Hammersmith.
Published Jan 28, 2019 @ 1:25 pm – Updated – Aug 7, 2020 @ 9:33 am
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2019 – 2020). Caroline of Brunswick 1768 – 1821. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/caroline-of-brunswick-1768-1821. Last accessed October 30th, 2020