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Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline; August 13, 1792 – December 2, 1849) was Queen of the United Kingdom and Hanover from June 26, 1830 to June 20, 1837 as the wife of King William IV. Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is named after her.

Adelaide was born on August 13, 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany, the eldest child of Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. Her mother was Louise Eleonore of Hohenlohe-Langenburg was a daughter of Prince Christian Albrecht of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his wife Princess Caroline of Stolberg-Gedern (1732–1796).

Adelaide was baptised at the castle chapel on 19 August 19 and was titled Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess in Saxony with the style Serene Highness. Her godparents numbered twenty-one, including her mother….Eleonre of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Here is a partial list of her prestigious godparents.

1. The Holy Roman Empress (Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily (1772 – 1807) was the first Empress of Austria and last Holy Roman Empress as the spouse of Franz II. She was born a Princess of Naples as the eldest daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria).

2. The Queen of Naples and Sicily (Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (1752 – 1814) was Queen of Naples and Sicily as the wife of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. She was the thirteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz I).

3. The Crown Princess of Saxony (Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria (1767 – 1827) was born an Archduchess of Austria and a Princess of Tuscany. She was later Queen of Saxony as the second wife and consort of King Anton of Saxony.

Archduchess Maria Theresa was born in Florence, Italy, the eldest child of Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Tuscany (later Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II) and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. As such, she was also the eldest grandchild of Carlos III of Spain. Like all the eldest daughters of the children of her paternal grandparents, she was named after her grandmother, the Habsburg ruler Empress Maria Theresa).

4. Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, aunt of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, (was born Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen (1751 — 1827). She was the eldest child and daughter of Anton Ulrich, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and his second wife, Landgravine Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Philippsthal. Charlotte was an elder sister of Charles Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.

Duchess consort of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg through her marriage to Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg).

5. Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld (Sophie Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1724 – 1802) was the tenth of 17 children of Ferdinand Albrecht II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife Antoinette Amelia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Sophie Antoinette, married Ernst Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Among her notable great-grandchildren were Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Ferdinand II of Portugal, Empress Carlota of Mexico and Leopold II of Belgium).

6. Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, (Princess and Landgravine Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt (1757 – 1830) she was the daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. She married Duke (later Grand-Duke) Charles August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

7. The Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, (Charles Ludwig, 3rd Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1762 – 1825) was the first child of Prince Christian Albrecht of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his wife, Princess Caroline of Stolberg-Gedern. He married Countess Amalie Henriette of Solms-Baruth (1768–1847), daughter of Count John Christian II of Solms-Baruth.

8. Landgrave of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld. (Landgrave Adolph of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld (1743 in Ypres – 1803) was a son of the Landgrave Wilhelm of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld (1692-1761) from his marriage with Charlotte Wilhelmine of Anhalt).

Saxe-Meiningen was a small state, covering about 423 square miles (1,100 km2). It was the most liberal German state and, unlike its neighbours, permitted a free press and criticism of the ruler. At the time, no statute existed which barred a female ruling over the small duchy and it was not until the birth of her brother, Bernhard, in 1800, that the law of primogeniture was introduced.

Marriage

By the end of 1811, King George III of the United Kingdom was incapacitated and, although he was still king in name, his heir-apparent and eldest son, Prince George, was Prince Regent. On November 6, 1817 the Prince Regent’s only child, Princess Charlotte of Wales died in childbirth. Princess Charlotte was second in line to the throne: had she outlived her father and grandfather, she would have become queen.

With her death, King George III was left with twelve children and no legitimate grandchildren. The Prince Regent was estranged from his wife, who was 49 years old, thus there was little likelihood that he would have any further legitimate children.

To secure the line of succession, Prince William, Duke of Clarence, and the other sons of George III sought quick marriages with the intent of producing offspring who could inherit the throne. William already had ten children by the popular actress Dorothea Jordan, but, being illegitimate, they were barred from the succession.

Considerable allowances were likely to be voted by Parliament to any royal duke who married, and this acted as a further incentive for William to marry. Adelaide was a princess from an unimportant German state.

However, William had a limited choice of available princesses, and, after deals with other candidates fell through, a marriage to Adelaide was arranged. The allowance proposed was slashed by Parliament, and the outraged Duke considered calling off the marriage.

However, Adelaide seemed the ideal candidate: amiable, home-loving, and willing to accept William’s illegitimate children as part of the family. The arrangement was settled and William wrote to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

Adelaide’s dowry was set at 20,000 florins, with additional three separate annuities being promised by her future husband, the English regent, and the state of Saxe-Meiningen.

Adelaide married William in a double wedding with William’s brother, Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, and his bride Victoria, Dowager Princess of Leiningen (a Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld), on July 11, 1818, at Kew Palace in Surrey, England.

Adelaide and William had only met for the first time a week earlier on July 4 at Grillon’s Hotel in Bond Street. Neither William nor Adelaide had been married before, and William aged 53 was 27 years senior to Adelaide who was 26.

Despite these unromantic circumstances, the couple settled amicably in Hanover (where the cost of living was much lower than in England), and by all accounts were devoted to each other throughout their marriage.

Adelaide improved William’s behaviour; he drank less, swore less, and became more tactful. Observers thought them parsimonious, and their lifestyle simple, even boring. William eventually accepted the reduced increase in his allowance voted by Parliament.

On the Continent, Adelaide became pregnant, but in her seventh month of pregnancy, she caught pleurisy and gave birth prematurely on March 27, 1819 at the Fürstenhof Palace in Hanover. Her daughter, Charlotte Augusta Louise, lived only a few hours.

Another pregnancy in the same year caused William to move the household to England so his future heir would be born on British soil; however, Adelaide miscarried at Calais or Dunkirk during the journey on September 5, 1819.

Back in London, they moved into Clarence House, but preferred to stay at Bushy House near Hampton Court, where William had already lived with Dorothea Jordan.

Adelaide became pregnant again, and a second daughter, Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide, was born on December 10, 1820 at St James’s Palace. Elizabeth seemed strong but died less than three months old on March 4, 1821 of “inflammation in the Bowels”. Ultimately, William and Adelaide had no surviving children. Twin boys were stillborn on 8 April 1822 at Bushy Park and a possible brief pregnancy may have occurred within the same year.