The difference between Georgian and Regency underlinen highlights another change in the zeitgeist- marrying for love was a Regency fashion.
George III had met Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at the alter in a political alliance but enjoyed a happy and stable marriage (in spite of his mother continuing to exert her influence over their lives, creating a rigid kind of courtly etiquette to disguise and excuse her interference).
The Prince of Wales submitted to his arranged marriage with Caroline of Brunswick merely to escape debt, and had previously married a Catholic without seeking his fathers consent. His marriage was (/marriages were) not happy, and in 1814 the Prince was again attempting to find grounds for divorce by public investigations and culminations into his wife’s private life.
The Prince was also at the time arranging a marriage between his only legitimate daughter and William, Prince of Orange. Princess Charlotte had at first (apparently) accepted the engagement – the newspapers of January first, 1814 announce the hopes of the nation for this happy union; in February there are expectations that the nuptials will take place just as soon as the engagement is announced in the House of Commons; in March there are ambassadors coming to arrange settlements and explanations that Charlotte will not inherit the Hanoverian territories as they only go to male heirs; in April the wedding is expected in May, and then June; and in May it is anticipated in July.
By June 20 Mr Whitbread is asking from the floor of the House of Commons if the inquiry into the Princess of Wales household had "put an end to thee intended union; and it was universally believed that the Princess Charlotte of Wales had declined the marriage, on account of the situation of the Princess of Wales" which he then moved "that an humble address be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, praying that his Royal Highness would be graciously pleased to acquaint the House whether there be a treaty of Marriage on foot between her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales and the Prince of Orange." and by the end of the week, it was confirmed that the Prince of Orange’s suit had been declined, with specious reasons given. In the middle of July, the Royal Cornwall Gazette was"sincerely rejoiced to hear, that there is every prospect of the matrimonial negociations between the Princess Charlotte and the Hereditary Prince of Orange being renewed with complete success." but just three days later, we see some very mixed reports, "On Tuesday evening"[12th of June]"His Royal Highness the Prince Regent entered Warwick-House, and without any previous notice, informed the Princess Charlotte that Miss Knight and all her household, as well as all the servants attending upon her, were dismissed – and that her Royal Highness must forthwith take up her residence in Carlton-House, and from thence to Cranford-Lodge, where the Countess dowager of Rosslyn, the Countess of Lichester and two Miss Coates, and Mrs. Campbell, were actually in the next room, in readiness to wait upon her; and this intimation was made in terms of unusual severity, as it was accompanied by a declaration to she was to be under their sole superintendence; and that she was neither to be permitted to receive visits, or letters. In this embarrassing situation, and under the agony of despair, she ran out of Warwick-House, threw herself into a hackney coach, and drove to Connaught-place, the residence of her mother. The Princess of Wales was absent, but a groom was dispatched to Blackheath, to request her immediate return to town. The groom met her Royal Highness on the way, and delivered the Princess Charlottes note, acquainting her with the event; upon which the Princess of Wales drove to the Parliament-House, and eagerly inquired for Mr. Whitbread, who was absent – and for Earl Grey, who had left town several days before...The flight of the Princess from Warwick-House was soon made known to the Prince Regent, at the Duke of York’s, where a great party were assembled. Notice of it was also sent to the Queen, who had a card party, and which she instantly left. " The efforts of all these great people, and many more, achieved the result that "at a little past three o’clock yesterday morning[Wednesday 13th June]her Royal Highness was conveyed to Carlton-House, where she now remains."
The Star (according to The Hull Packet) reaches the dubious conclusion that: "We have great pleasure in stating that, notwithstanding insinuations to the contrary, the interchange of paternal and filial affection between the Prince Regent and the Princess Charlotte continues undiminished by any of the late occurrences."
Of course, there seems to be a general consensus among the public, independent of the assurances of the Palace and the Ministry and the papers that they owned, that the Princess had been grounded and pressured to marry the Prince of Orange for the whole year. The papers noticed signs that life had become more confined for the Princess, that she had not been riding but seen taking the air of Hyde Park in a carriage, for example. Her mother departed for Italy without seeing her child again, the Prince of Orange was made a knight of Bath.
In 1816, two months after the Prince of Orange walked down the aisle in an arranged marriage to Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, youngest sister to Czar Alexander I of Russia, the Princess of Wales succeeded in persuading her father to allow her to marry a suitor of her own choice – the not particularly wealthy or powerful Prince Leopold Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and they were very happily married, much to the satisfaction of the British public and all the newspapers.
It is ironic that Elizabeth is the one who objects to the formal manners of former days – she is the one who would benefit most from the traditional consolidation of family fortunes by arranged marriages to cousins, and she is not only unlovable, but unlikely to find true love in her heart for anything but the title and fortune of a suitor.
The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, June 21, 1814; Issue 13545. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Gale Document Number: R3214370861
Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet & Plymouth Journal (Truro, England), Saturday, July 16, 1814; Issue 577. (1334 words). 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Gale Document Number: R3208119193
The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser (Hull, England), Tuesday, July 19, 1814; Issue 1444. Gale Document Number: BB3205903396