Our next Object Highlight is very different from the previous choices and shows a very interesting and inspiring story. This weeks choice is brought to you by Nikki, our Exhibitions and Collections Officer.
‘An address to a much loved Queen, unravels a truly remarkable tale.
Caroline’s Father was the ruler of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in Germany, and her mother, Princess Augusta, was the sister of George III. In 1794, Caroline was engaged to her first-cousin and George III’s eldest son and heir George, Prince of Wales. Caroline’s relationship with George IV was soon in trouble, not only had they never met before marriage but he was still in love with Maria Fitzherbert who he had already illegally wed. George had only agreed to marry Caroline to help raise his allowance, and therefore lower his debts. Caroline was often described as unclean, too ready to speak her mind and not suitable to rule as Queen. However, the public disagreed and as her popularity grew, Georges’ declined.
Although a seemingly loveless marriage, the pair had a child. Shortly after Charlotte’s birth, George and Caroline separated and her access to her daughter became restricted. Caroline’s maternal instincts led her to adopt several children during her lifetime, to try and fill the void left by the ever growing visitation restrictions to her own child. By 1806, rumours that Caroline had taken lovers and that the adopted children were in fact illegitimate children led to an investigation into her private life. Although the investigation concluded that there was “no foundation” to the rumours. Caroline’s access to her Charlotte was even more restricted. In time George IV became King but was desperate to ensure Caroline would not be his Queen, George hated her and insisted on a divorce, which she refused. A legal divorce was possible but difficult to obtain. George attempted to divorce her by introducing the ‘Pains and Penalties Bill’ to Parliament, but Caroline was so popular with the masses, that it was withdrawn by the government.
In July 1821, Caroline was barred from the coronation on the orders of her husband, so was never officially crowned. The address is so fantastic as it celebrates Trowbridge’s love for the Queen, the acquittal of the ‘Pains and Penalties Bill’ and is more proof that Caroline was wildly popular with the public, who sympathised with her and despised her husband for his immoral behaviour. I particularly love the procession description which includes over 100 men ‘carrying white sticks’, 10 horses and a silk banner which we also have in the museum collection. As well as the (likely hugely overestimated) claim that there were 10,000 spectator to the parade!’