Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Regency's Duke of Cambridge

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Duke of Cambridge 1806

Loretta reports:

Having recently reported on the present Duke of Sussex and the previous holder of that title, I thought it made sense to look at the man who last held Prince William’s title, Duke of Cambridge.

As in Prince Harry’s case, Prince Adolphus Frederick, the previous Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), lived during the Regency and Victorian eras, and his life shows some parallels to Prince William’s. Prince Adolphus served in the military, was generally well-liked—including by his father, George III, who wasn’t crazy about his older sons. This royal duke, too, married a beautiful young woman, and had three children

With the death of the Princess Charlotte in 1817, he, like his other brothers, was obliged to find a wife. Of the royal dukes, Peter Pindar wrote:
Agog are all, both old and young
    Warmed with desire to be prolific
And prompt with resolution strong
    To fight in Hyman’s war terrific.
Within two weeks of his niece’s death, he sent a marriage proposal to the Princess Augusta, the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel’s youngest daughter. She was twenty years old and  beautiful.

“This was the first of the three Royal marriages since Princess Charlotte married Prince Leopold that roused the romantic enthusiasm of the British public* ... “The Duke and Duchess had only to show themselves to be loudly cheered. The first Sunday after their arrival in England they were recognized strolling together in Hyde Park, and were at once surrounded and jostled by a large crowd, cheering and yelling ... On another occasion they were recognized in their carriage outside the famous City jewelers, Rundle and Bridge, and a great crowd came yelling round them, so that it was twenty minutes before their coachman dared move.”
Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, 1818
Their first son, born in March 1819, was christened George, and was in line for the throne until Victoria was born, a few months later.
“And if the English public had good reason to be satisfied with the marriage, so had the Duke of Cambridge. He wrote of himself when he was first married: ‘I really believe that on the surface of the globe there does not exist so happy a Being as myself ... and Heaven grant that I may be deserving of it and not forfeit my happiness by any misconduct.’”
He became rather eccentric in later life—among other things, having gone deaf, he sat in front of the church and kept up a running, plainly audible, commentary—and was on very bad terms with Queen Victoria during her early years on the throne. But in a time of rampant anti-Semitism, he remained sympathetic to Jews. He was the only one of George III’s sons who lived within his income. “He was certainly most generous with his time, and equally generous with his money to an almost incredible number of charitable causes.”

Quotations and other information from Roger Fulford’s Royal Dukes.

*Let’s just say that the other couples were rather less attractive.
Images: E. Harding, Duke of Cambridge 1806; Sir William Beechey, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, 1818.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Barbara S. Andrews said...

He is also Queen Elizabeth's great great (I think) grandfather through his granddaughter Princess Victoria Mary who married George V.

Lucy said...

One has to hope that they continued to be happy together. If so, both were very fortunate.

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket