Why was Princess Charlotte important?

Princess Charlotte was the daughter of George IV and the granddaughter of George III

As the only legitimate heir to the throne, Princess Charlotte was crucial to the future of the British monarchy. After her death in 1817, there was a palpable danger that the Georgian era would come to an abrupt end.

Happy families

For years, the Georgian royal dynasty had made careful preparations to secure their reign by producing large families. George II had nine children, while George III sired 15 children in total.

The large family of George III
The family of George III

This cautious planning was nullified by the unruly Prince Regent and his brothers. From this fifth generation of Georgians, only one legitimate child was produced: Princess Charlotte. 

The hope of Britain

Much like Queen Victoria would, the possibility of Charlotte as queen represented the hope of much-needed stability and peace after the tumultuous reign of George III. Charlotte’s reputation as the "Hope of Britain" was bolstered by her marriage to Prince Leopold and the promise of a healthy royal child. But hope was shattered with the unexpected death of Charlotte and her stillborn son in 1817. Within 24 hours, two generations of royal British heirs vanished, leaving the future of the monarchy in grave uncertainty.

A royal marriage race

This lamentable incident sent the British royal family into a panic as their grip on the throne began to slip away. The Dukes of Clarence, Kent and Cambridge quickly reacted to the new circumstances, abandoning their mistresses and quickly remarrying other European royals in an attempt to guarantee the future of the Georgian monarchy. It was this "royal marriage race" that led to the birth of Queen Victoria and therefore a new period of history, whose effect on the culture, tastes and morals of Britain can still be felt today.

The young Queen Victoria and her parents
The young Queen Victoria and her parents

Marking 200 years

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Princess Charlotte. Delve into the story of the forgotten daughter of England with our series of web articles and events.