By 1794/1795 the eldest son of King George III, The Prince of Wales was drowning in an ever deepening pool of uncontrollable debt and much to his annoyance Parliament would not grant him an increased income to alleviate his self-inflicted problem.
The only way to extract any more money from the exchequer was to get married. The responsbilities of marriage would require larger amounts of money, as the Prince would have additional expenses relating to a wife and future children.
The fact that in December 1785 the Prince had already emotionally blackmailed and hoodwinked the Catholic widow Maria Fitzherbert into an illegal marriage did not trouble his elastic morals.
Despite Queen Charlotte’s misgivings about her character, the princess chosen was King George III’s niece Caroline of Brunswick and although she made her way to England in good faith the marriage was to implode within days of the couple’s first meeting.
The Princess’s escort, Harris Malemsbury became immediately aware that the Princess did not pay any attention to her personal hygienic. Knowing his master’s fastidious attention to his own hygiene and dress, he delicately advised her about thorough and regular washing. He also recommended she change her coarse petticoats and other undergarments regularly. It seems Caroline took only temporary notice of his guidance and quickly returned to her slovenly ways.
On 5 April 1795 the couple came face to face at St James’s Palace. The Prince was repulsed from the very first physical contact. He raised her from her curtsey, embraced her and then immediately retreated to the far end of the room and said to Malmesbury ‘Harris, I am not well; pray get me a glass of brandy’. He then changed his mind and immediately left to visit his mother the Queen. Caroline was similarly unarmored and spoke in French to Malmesbury ‘ My God…I think he’s very fat and he’s nothing like as handsome as his portrait.’
The actually wedding three days later on 8 April was a farce. The Prince was clearly drunk and his father the King had to intervene to get his son through the ceremony. As for the wedding night, the Prince claimed later he was only able to have relations with her twice that night and that she showed signs of ‘not being a novice’. For her part Caroline confirmed this version, apart from the slur on her virginity, only adding that after the sex her new husband spent the whole night asleep in the grate, the worse for drink.
Regardless of thier disinclination to one another they managed to complete the act once more the next night and by good fortune the Princess became pregnant. Nine months later Caroline gave birth to ‘an immense girl’ who was named Charlotte after her paternal Grandmother.
However the relationship quickly unravelled completely, aided initially by the Prince’s unscrupulous mistress Lady Jersey. They then spent the following years flinging futile acrimonious accusations and counter accusations at one another.
Much like today it was their young daughter Princess Charlotte who bore the brunt of their continuous and bitter public feud. The Prince tried to bar Caroline any access to her daughter and he himself controlled his child’s household, but seen very little of her.