Tag Archives: Catherine Curzon

The Princess and the Equerry: 1798-1810

Mrs Daffodil is charmed to welcome once again author Catherine Curzon, with an excerpt from her new book Kings of Georgian Britain. We have had the pleasure of Ms. Curzon’s company before, in “A Coronation for the Ages.” She is a royal historian and, among other things, Madame Gilflurt at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. Her theme to-day is the melancholy story of

The Princess and the Equerry

The children of George III and Queen Charlotte were many and their fates were varied. Some lived tragically short lives, some entered scandalous unions and some were never out of the papers. Of course, fun was generally confined to the males whilst for the royal daughters, excitement was a notion that could only be dreamed of. They lived a secluded life at Windsor, serving as companions to their mother as she struggled with the challenges of her husband’s mental disorder.

Princess Amelia was one such cosseted daughter. From her birth in 1783 to her death in 1810, Amelia’s life was wracked by ill health, yet she still found time to embark on the kind of doomed love affair best suited to the pages of romantic fiction. However, there was to be no happy ending.

Princess Amelia was the fifteenth and youngest child of the king and queen. She was born at the Royal Lodge, Windsor just three months after the sad death of 4-year-old Octavius, George’s favourite son, and her birth was a bittersweet time for the family. They soon doted on her and gave her the diminutive nickname, ‘Emily’. George, who was hit hardest of all by the death of his son, transferred his adoration to the newborn and lavished affection and attention on her.

When Amelia was just 5 years old the king suffered his first episode of mental illness. Eventually these periods of sickness grew more frequent until George’s initial plans to take his daughters to Hanover in search of husbands were set aside. Since the king had no desperate wish to see his daughters married off, the princesses remained unbetrothed, drawn into their mother’s secluded, secretive circle. No suitors existed at court so, with little opportunity to meet gentlemen, the girls settled into their domestic niche.

By 1798 Amelia was showing signs of tuberculosis and she was sent to take the air of Weymouth in the company of the Honourable Sir Charles FitzRoy, an equerry more than two decades her senior. During this fateful trip, Amelia and FitzRoy fell in love. They dreamed of marriage but their hopes were dashed when the queen refused to tell her husband of the affair. It meant the end of any marriage plans, yet Amelia would not let go of her dream and she and FitzRoy clung to their love, with the young princess even styling herself as AFR, Amelia FitzRoy.

Recalled to Windsor, Amelia grew increasingly despondent and in 1808 suffered a severe attack of measles. Two years later she took to her bed, wracked by tuberculosis. She knew her time was short and commissioned a mourning ring that would be given to the father who doted on her. She also took pains to ensure that she might make her farewells to the man she loved and, with the help of Amelia’s sisters, FitzRoy was given leave to make visits to Amelia’s bedside. One can only hope that the presence of her love gave Amelia some small comfort during her final days yet it must also have reminded her of what she had lost.

On 2 November 1810, 27-year-old Princess Amelia died. Her final thoughts were for the man she loved and her dying words, related by Princess Mary in a letter to FitzRoy, were, “Tell Charles I die blessing him”. She left him all her worldly possessions, still true to the man whom she had once dreamed of calling husband.

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Many thanks for that affecting story and heartiest congratulations to Catherine on the release of her newest book.

About the Author

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters 18th century at www.madamegilflurt.com. Her work has been featured on HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austens Regency World. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A and spoken at venues including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Lichfield Guildhall, he National Maritime Museum and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

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Buy Links

Pen & Sword: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Kings-of-Georgian-Britain-Hardback/p/12904

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kings-Georgian-Britain-Catherine-Curzon-ebook/dp/B06XRKVVSN/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Georgian-Britain-Catherine-Curzon/dp/1473871220/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491296218&sr=8-1&keywords=kings+of+georgian+britain

About the Book

For over a century of turmoil, upheaval and scandal, Great Britain was a Georgian land.

From the day the German-speaking George I stepped off the boat from Hanover, to the night that George IV, bloated and diseased, breathed his last at Windsor, the four kings presided over a changing nation.

Kings of Georgian Britain offers a fresh perspective on the lives of the four Georges and the events that shaped their characters and reigns. From love affairs to family feuds, political wrangling and beyond, peer behind the pomp and follow these iconic figures from cradle to grave. After all, being a king isn’t always grand parties and jaw-dropping jewels, and sometimes following in a father’s footsteps can be the hardest job around.

Take a trip back in time to meet the wives, mistresses, friends and foes of the men who shaped the nation, and find out what really went on behind closed palace doors. Whether dodging assassins, marrying for money, digging up their ancestors or sparking domestic disputes that echoed down the generations, the kings of Georgian Britain were never short on drama.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Coronation for the Ages: 1821

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Mrs Daffodil is delighted and honoured to welcome a distinguished guest blogger to these pages and joins the entire Empire in applauding Catherine Curzon, royal historian, author of the new book, Life in the Georgian Court, and Madame Gilflurt at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. Her theme to-day is the coronation of George IV.

A Coronation for the Ages

Few kings of the long 18th century are as fabulously divisive as George IV, as I discovered whilst researching Life in the Georgian Court. A spendthrift, gambler, womaniser and lifelong spoiled brat, when it came to flamboyance, nobody could beat him. His finest moment was surely his 1821 coronation, a riot of cash, ceremony and jewels!

For years the new king had been planning this moment, determined that when his day finally came, it would be the greatest Europe had ever seen. He envisioned a themed event with guests dressed in Elizabethan or Jacobean costume and true to form, there was to be no expense spared. After all, the world needed to know that nobody did good old showing off anything like as well as him. Parliament stumped up over £100,000 for the festivities, adding a further £138,000 received from France under the terms of a financial indemnity[1] and across the country, a day of celebrations was declared.

“[George wore] a black hat with a monstrous plume of ostrich feathers, out of the midst of which rose a black heron’s plume. His Majesty seemed very much oppressed with the weight of his robes. The train was of enormous length and breadth. It was of crimson velvet adorned with large golden stars, and a broad golden border.”[2]

Ever fabulous, George’s togs cost £24,000, the train stretching for twenty seven feet and requiring the attention of eight pages just to lift it. Never one to shirk on luxury, he commissioned a new crown containing over 12,000 diamonds that were on hire from Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Unfortunately, George grew somewhat fond of his rented diamonds and did his best to hang onto them, only returning them to the jewellers once Parliament rejected his requests for the country to purchase them on his behalf[3].

At the head of the Coronation procession came Miss Fellowes, the King’s herbwoman, and her six attendants, scattering flowers and sweet-smelling herbs in a traditional ceremony to ward off plague and pestilence. The procession that followed included the Officers of State who carried the iconic orb, sceptre, crown and sword, bishops bearing chalice, bible and paten and, of course, the star of the show. George made a splendid sight in his robes, followed by the Barons of the Cinque Ports who carried the Coronation Canopy. Bringing up the considerable rear were the assembled peers of the realm and other dignitaries, with hired prizefighters playing the role of pages throughout the procession just in case trouble came calling.

The monumental procession eventually wound its way through the crowds to Westminster Abbey where George was subject to the traditional and ancient ceremony. The summer day was stifling and George wilted under the weight of his robes, appearing “distressed almost to fainting”[4]. When the crown was placed on his head, Britain could finally celebrate the coronation of George IV, with the Abbey erupting in a spontaneous huzzah that both surprised and delighted the king.

The procession then made it way back to Westminster Hall amid cheering crowds. We all know that George liked his food and the coronation banquet was testament to this, consisting as it did of well over a thousand dishes and tens of thousands of pounds of meat alone. The king thanked the assembled guests and did them “the honour of drinking their health and that of his good people”[5]. It was a night to remember as hundreds of male guests tucked into a vast array of delicacies, whilst the ladies and children were herded into viewing galleries to watch the fun!

Finally the newly-crowned George IV departed for Carlton House with the people of London joining a fête in Hyde Park, where fireworks were let off throughout the evening. The day had been a flamboyant, excessive triumph and parties went on late into the summer night as the people of the realm celebrated the crowning of the new monarch.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

About the Author

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian and blogs on all matters 18th century at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

Her work has featured by publications including BBC History ExtraAll About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austens Regency World. She has also provided additional material for the sell-out theatrical show, An Evening with Jane Austen, will she will introduce at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, in September (tickets are available here).

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

Her book, Life in the Georgian Court, is available now from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Book Depository and all good bookshops!

About Life in the Georgian Court

As the glittering Hanoverian court gives birth to the British Georgian era, a golden age of royalty dawns in Europe. Houses rise and fall, births, marriages and scandals change the course of history and in France, Revolution stalks the land.

Peep behind the shutters of the opulent court of the doomed Bourbons, the absolutist powerhouse of Romanov Russia and the epoch-defining family whose kings gave their name to the era, the House of Hanover.

Behind the pomp and ceremony were men and women born into worlds of immense privilege, yet beneath the powdered wigs and robes of state were real people living lives of romance, tragedy, intrigue and eccentricity. Take a journey into the private lives of very public figures and learn of arranged marriages that turned to love or hate and scandals that rocked polite society.

Here the former wife of a king spends three decades in lonely captivity, Prinny makes scandalous eyes at the toast of the London stage and Marie Antoinette begins her last, terrible journey through Paris as her son sits alone in a forgotten prison cell.

Life in the Georgian Court is a privileged peek into the glamorous, tragic and iconic courts of the Georgian world, where even a king could take nothing for granted.

Bibliography

Anonymous. George III: His Court and Family, Vol I. London: Henry Colburn and Co, 1821.

Baker, Kenneth. George IV: A Life in Caricature. London: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Black, Jeremy. The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty. London: Hambledon and London, 2007.

David, Saul. Prince of Pleasure. New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Hadlow, Janice. The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians. London: William Collins, 2014.

Hetherington Fitzgerald, Percy. The Life of George the Fourth. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1881.

Huish, Robert. Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, 1830.

Irvine, Valerie. The Kings Wife: George IV and Mrs Fitzherbert. London: Hambledon, 2007.

Lloyd, Hannibal Evans. George IV: Memoirs of His Life and Reign, Interspersed with Numerous Personal Anecdotes. London: Treuttel and Würtz, 1830.

Smith, EA. George IV. Bury St Edmunds: St Edmundsbury Press, 1999.

Spencer, Sarah. Correspondence of Sarah Spencer Lady Lyttelton 1787-1870. London: John Murray, 1912.

[1] This is the equivalent of £9.5million in modern money.

[2] Gossip, Giles (1828). Coronation Anecdotes. London: Robert Jennings, pp.291-2.

[3] George had to make do with a gilt bronze cast of his sumptuous new crown, acquired at a cost of £38.

[4] Huish, Robert (1830). Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, p.216.

[5] La Belle Assemblée: Vol XXIV, 1821. London: J Green, p.45.

Many thanks, Catherine—and Mrs Daffodil’s best congratulations on your new book! Do be careful of those Furies…