Caroline of Brunswick
b.17 May 1768 Braunschweig, Germany
d.7 Aug 1821
m. 16 JAN 1764
Facts and Events
Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Caroline Amelia Elizabeth; 17 May 1768 – 7 August 1821), the wife of King George IV, was Queen of the United Kingdom from 29 January 1820 until her death. Between 1795 and 1820, she was Princess of Wales.
Her father was the ruler of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in modern-day Germany, and her mother, Princess Augusta, was the sister of George III. In 1794, she was engaged to George III's eldest son and heir apparent, George, Prince of Wales, although they had never met and George was already married illegally to Maria Fitzherbert. George and Caroline married the following year, and nine months later Caroline had a child, Princess Charlotte of Wales.
Shortly after Charlotte's birth, George and Caroline separated. By 1806, rumours that Caroline had taken lovers and had an illegitimate child led to an investigation into her private life. The dignitaries who led the investigation concluded that there was "no foundation" to the rumours, but Caroline's access to her daughter was restricted.
In 1814, Caroline left England and moved to Italy, where she employed Bartolomeo Pergami as a servant. Pergami soon became Caroline's closest companion, and it was widely assumed that they were lovers. In 1817, Caroline was devastated when her daughter Charlotte died in childbirth; she heard the news from a passing courier as George had refused to write and tell her. He was determined to divorce Caroline, and set up a second investigation to collect evidence of her adultery.
In 1820, George became King of the United Kingdom and Hanover, and Caroline returned to Britain to assert her position as Queen. She became the figurehead of a popular reform movement that opposed the unpopular George. On the basis of the evidence collected against her, George attempted to divorce her by introducing the Pains and Penalties Bill to Parliament, but George and the bill were so unpopular, and Caroline so popular with the masses, that it was withdrawn by the government. The following year, in July 1821, Caroline fell ill after she was barred from the coronation on the orders of her husband. She died three weeks later, and her body was buried in her native Brunswick.