The Coronation of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
(public domain)

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen married the future King William IV of the United Kingdom on 11 July 1818. They were then known as the Duke and Duchess of Clarence. On 26 June 1830, William succeeded his brother King George IV as King.

Their coronation was set for 8 September 1831, which was an exceptionally fine day. Queen Adelaide made a very good impression on everyone. The Duchess of Dino commented, “The Queen is the only person who escapes criticism, everyone says she was perfect, and they are right.”1

The Duchess of Gordon carried Queen Adelaide’s train, and she was attended by Lady Georgina Bathurst, Lady Mary Pelham, Lady Sophia Cust, Lady Teresa Fox-Strangways, Lady Theodosia Brabazon and Lady Georgina Grey. Her ladies-in-waiting were the Countess Brownlow and the Marchioness of Westmeath. Madame von Bülow wrote, “My interest was naturally centred in the Queen, and I was very happy to see her so generally admired and appearing to such an advantage. Though she is in reality not too good-looking, she appeared so on that day undeniably, for the beauty lay in something beyond mere outward loveliness. It was the beauty of her soul that seem to shine out from and impress itself upon her whole person. Her bearing was full of dignity, repose, and characteristic grace; she seemed deeply moved, and it was clear that her heartfelt devotion raised her above all the outward surroundings. When I saw her on the Tuesday before the Coronation, she spoke to me of this quite simply and naturally, saying she had often noticed it in herself before, and that she hoped it would again be so, particularly during the Communion service.”2

King William and Queen Adelaide arrived at Westminster Abbey at 11 o’clock on the dot in the Gold State Coach. William was dressed in the uniform of an admiral, while Adelaide was dressed in a white and gold gown. Adelaide wore Mary of Modena’s diadem for the coronation, but she refused to wear her crown, and a new one was made for her using jewels that had belonged to Queen Charlotte. Despite this, the bill for the jewels came to a mere £1,453 19s 8d, which was far less than the estimated £15,000.

Queen Adelaide’s crown was later emptied of its jewels and was never worn again. (public domain)

King William IV had insisted on economising, and this included the furnishing being used in the Abbey. Several state chairs were borrowed from St James’s Palace and the House of Lords. 3 The banquet in Westminster Hall had also been removed from the program. Queen Adelaide did order a lace handkerchief of sprigs from Honiton laceworks to carry at the coronation. She later also ordered a robe of Honiton sprigs.4

The coronation also raised some serious questions as to the precedence of King William’s illegitimate children, and the Duchess of Kent (mother of the future Queen Victoria) was so dissatisfied with the arrangements that she refused to attend, as she would not allow her daughter, the heiress presumptive to the throne, to go either. She refused with the excuse that it would hurt Princess Victoria’s health to leave the Isle of Wight.

King William had cared very little about having a coronation at all, and it was later summarised with the words, “The coronation went off well, and whereas nobody was satisfied before,e it everybody was after it. No events of consequence.”5

  1. The life and times of Queen Adelaide by Mary Frances Sandars p.180
  2. The life and times of Queen Adelaide by Mary Frances Sandars p.180-181
  3. Coronation: a history of kingship and the British monarchy by Roy C. Strong p.383-384
  4. The life of and times of Queen Adelaide by Mary F. Sandars p.114-115
  5. King William IV by Philip Ziegler p.215

About Moniek Bloks 2734 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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