, , , , , , , , ,

Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (November 30, 1719 – 8 February 8, 1772) was Princess of Wales by marriage to Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, son and heir of King George II of Great Britain. She never became queen consort, as Frederick Louis predeceased his father in 1751. Augusta’s eldest son succeeded her father-in-law as King George III in 1760. After her spouse died, Augusta was presumptive regent of Great Britain in the event of a regency until her son reached majority in 1756.

Early life

Princess Augusta was born in Gotha to Friedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676–1732) and Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1679–1740). Her paternal grandfather was Friedrich I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.

In 1736, it was proposed that she marry 29-year-old Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II of Great Britain and his queen consort Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Originally, Frederick Louis intended to marry the eldest daughter of the King Friedrich Wilhelm I in Prussia.

A marriage alliance between Great Britain and Prussia had been an ambition for many years. However, when George II suggested that his eldest son would marry Louisa Ulrika of Prussia the eldest (unmarried) daughter of the King Friedrich Wilhelm I in Prussia, while George II’s second (unmarried) daughter, Amelia, would marry the eldest son of the Prussian king, future Friedrich II the Great, and King Friedrich Wilhelm I in Prussia demanded that his eldest son should likewise marry the eldest (unmarried) daughter, Anne, of the King of Great Britain, and George II refused to agree to this demand.

Princess Louisa Ulrika of Prussia ended up marying Adolf Fredrik, King of Sweden. Princess Amelia of Great Britain remained unmarried, while her sister Princess Anne married Willem IV, Prince of Orange. Friedrich II the Great of Prussia marriage Duchess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern, daughter of Duke Ferdinand Albert II Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and his cousin Duchess Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1733. Elisabeth was the niece of Empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.

Around the time the Prussian plan was cancelled, there were rumours that Frederick Louis might marry Lady Diana Spencer, granddaughter of the Duchess of Marlborough, and that such a marriage had been proposed when he visited the duchess’s lodge at Richmond. Queen Caroline felt a need to arrange a marriage for her son quickly, in order to preempt any possibility of such a mésalliance. She therefore suggested to the king that, when he next visited Hanover, he should also visit Saxe-Gotha and view the princesses there.

The king did so, and informed the queen that he considered Augusta suitable. When the matter was broached with Frederick, he simply replied that he would accept any bride his father decided was suitable for him. His attitude arose from a desire to obtain an additional allowance from Parliament to be financially independent of his father.

Augusta did not speak French or English, and it was suggested that she be given lessons before the wedding, but her mother did not consider it necessary as the British royal family were from Germany. She arrived in Britain, speaking virtually no English, for a wedding ceremony which took place almost immediately, on May 8, 1736, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London.

Princess of Wales

Augusta of Saxe-Gotha left Hellevoetsluis April 17, 1736 and arrived at Greenwich on the royal yacht William and Mary on the 25th, where she was welcomed by her groom. On April 27, 1736, she was escorted to St James’s Palace, London, where she met the rest of the royal family, followed by the wedding ceremony at the Royal Chapel. When she was introduced to the royal family, she made a favorable impression on the king and queen by throwing herself on the floor before them in a gesture of submission.

During the first year of marriage, Augusta could be seen playing with her doll in the windows of her residence, until her sister-in-law, Princess Caroline, told her to stop. Frederick Louis took advantage of her inexperience when he had his then lover, Lady Archibald Hamilton, employed as her lady of the bedchamber after convincing her that there was no truth in the rumour of his affair. Augusta and Frederick Louis had nine children, the last born after Frederick Louis’s death.

Frederick Louis once stated that he would never allow himself to be influenced by his consort as his father was, and he thus never made Augusta his confidante. He did, however, instruct her to act in accordance with his wishes in his feud with his parents, and on several occasions, Frederick Louis reportedly instructed her to snub them.

When she attended the service of the German Lutheran Chapel, for example, which was also attended by the queen, Frederick instructed Augusta to make sure she always arrived after the queen, so that she would be forced to push in front of the queen to reach her place. This eventually made the queen insist that Augusta should be directed to her place by another entrance, which in turn caused Frederick Louis to instruct Augusta to refuse to enter the Chapel if the queen had arrived before her.