Princess Charlotte of Wales’ story is a tragic one. She was born on 7 January 1796 from a disastrous marriage that deteriorated even more after she was born. She was the daughter of the future George IV and Caroline of Brunswick.
Despite this unfortunate start in life she was raised to be the future Queen of the United Kingdom, as she was to be George’s only child. She was much sought after as a bride, and she was even briefly engaged to the future William II of the Netherlands. She eventually married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Gotha-Saalfeld on 2 May 1816 at Carlton House. Charlotte was greeted by crowds as she departed from Buckingham House. She had five bridesmaids, though perhaps there were meant to be six.
Charlotte’s wedding dress cost £10,000. It is a white and silver slip, covered with transparent silk net embroidered in silver lamé with shells and flowers. The sleeves were trimmed with Brussels lace, and the six-foot train was made with the same material as the slip and was fastened like a cloak with a diamond clasp. For jewellery, she wore a wreath of diamond leaves and roses, a diamond necklace and diamond earrings.
The ceremony was short, and Charlotte giggled when Leopold promised to endow her with all his worldly goods. Charlotte’s wedding dress has been preserved, and it is the oldest dress that Historic Royal Palaces has under its wings. It’s truly gorgeous.
As you may know, Charlotte would tragically die in childbirth on 6 November 1817. Her son was stillborn. They are both buried in St.George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Such a tragic ending for someone would have become Queen Regnant.