Today in 1778 Duchess Frederica was born in Hanover. She was the daughter of the future Grand Duke Carl and Duchess Friederike. Through her third marriage with Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland she became Queen consort of Hanover in 1837.
Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (full name: Friederike Louise Caroline Sophie Charlotte Alexandrine) (March 3, 1778 – June 29, 1841) was a German princess who became, by marriage, princess of Prussia, princess of Solms-Braunfels, Duchess of Cumberland in the Peerage of Great Britain and Queen of Hanover (in the German Confederation of the Rhine, the successor state to the Holy Roman Empire) as the consort of Ernst-August I of Hanover (the fifth son and eighth child of King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover.
She was born in the Altes Palais of Hanover as the fifth daughter of Carl II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and his first wife, Frederica, daughter of Prince Georg-Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt. Her father assumed the title of Grand Duke of Mecklenburg on June 18, 1815. Duchess Frederica was the niece of her future mother-in-law, Queen Charlotte (formerly Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), through her father.
Frederica’s parents were anxious to arrange advantageous marriages for all their daughters, and used family connections to bring this about. Queen Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, wife of King Friedrich-Wilhelm II of Prussia was a first cousin of Frederica’s mother. Frederica’s parents broached with the Prussian royal family the idea of marriage between their children, and the Prussians were not averse. On March 14, 1793, the Princesses of Mecklenburg-Strelitz “coincidentally” met the Prussian King Friedrich-Wilhelm II at the Prussian Theatre in Frankfurt-am-Main. He was immediately captivated by the grace and charm of both sisters, Frederica and Louise. The pending marriage negotiations received traction, and within weeks, the matter was settled: Frederica’s elder sister Louise would marry Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm and Frederica would marry his younger brother Prince Ludwig.
The double engagement was celebrated in Darmstadt on April 24, 1793, only a few weeks after the sister fortuitously met their future father-in-law at the theatre. On December 24, Louise and Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm were married in the Royal Palace of Berlin; two days later, on 26 December, Frederica and Prince Ludwig were also married at the same venue.
Unlike her sister, Frederica did not enjoy a happy marriage. Although her husband died from diphtheria in 1796, only three years after the wedding, Ludwig was said to have preferred the company of his mistresses and completely neglected his wife, or at least, that is her version; in response, she allegedly began an affair with her husband’s uncle Prince Ludwig-Ferdinand. Despite her husband’s alleged neglect, Fredrica did bear him three children in as many years: Friedrich in 1794; a short-lived son, Carl, in 1795; and a daughter, Frederica, in 1796.
In 1797, Frederica and her cousin Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III of Great Britain by his wife Queen Charlotte (Frederica’s paternal aunt), became unofficially engaged. The Duke of Cambridge asked the consent of his father to the marriage. The King did not refuse his consent but asked his son to wait until the ongoing war with France was over. The relationship eventually ended, with rumors circulating that either Adolphus had offered to release Frederica from the engagement, or – as Queen Charlotte believed – Frederica had jilted him for another man
In 1798 Frederica became pregnant. The father was Prince Friedrich -Wilhelm of Solms-Braunfels. The prince recognized his paternity and requested her hand in marriage, a proposal that was quickly granted in order to avoid scandal. On 10 December of that year, the couple was married in Berlin and immediately moved to Ansbach. Two months later, in February 1799, Frederica gave birth to a daughter who only lived eight months. Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm disappointed and embittered, resumed his old dissipated lifestyle and became an alcoholic. In 1805 he resigned his military posts for “health reasons”. Frederica had to maintain her family with her own resources after her brother-in-law, King Friedrich-Wilhelm III of Prussia, refused to restore her annual pension as a dowager princess of Prussia. Frederica’s older brother-in-law and head of the family, Wilhelm-Christian, Prince of Solms-Braunfels, advised her to get a divorce, with his full approval. She and her husband nonetheless refused.
In May 1813, during a visit to his uncle Duke Carl in Neustrelitz, Prince Ernest-Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the fifth son of King George III of Great Britain, met and fell in love with Frederica. Duke Charles made it clear to his daughter that her separation from the Prince of Solms-Braunfels was absolutely logical, and that he saw a marriage with an English prince as a great opportunity for her. During the next months Frederica considered the intentions of Ernest-Augustus and the possible effects on her own situation. When, after the victory of the allies in the Battle of Leipzig, Ernest Augustus spent some days in Neustrelitz, he was greeted enthusiastically.
Some time later Frederica asked the Prussian king for approval for her divorce from Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm of Solms-Braunfels. All parties agreed, including the Prince of Solms-Braunfels, but Friedrich-Wilhelm II’s sudden death on April 13, 1814 precluded the need for a divorce. The prince’s demise was considered by some as a little too convenient, and some suspected that Frederica had poisoned him. In August, the engagement with Ernest-Augustus was officially announced. After the British Prince Regent gave his consent to the wedding, Frederica and Ernest Augustus were married on 29 May 1815 at the parish church of Neustrelitz. Some time later, the couple traveled to Great Britain and married again on August 29, 1815 at Carlton House, London.
Queen Charlotte bitterly opposed the marriage, even though her future daughter-in-law was also her niece. She refused to attend the wedding and advised her son to live outside England with his wife. Frederica never obtained the favor of her aunt/mother-in-law, who died unreconciled with her in 1818. During her marriage to Ernest-Augustus she gave birth thrice, but only a son survived, who would eventually become King Georg V of Hanover.
Queen of Hanover
On 20 June 1837 King William IV of the United Kingdom and Hanover died without issue. His heir was Princess Victoria, only daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, but because Hanover had been ruled under semi-Salic Law since the times of the Holy Roman Empire, she could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. The next male descendant of the late king was the Duke of Cumberland, Frederica’s husband, who then became King Ernst-August I of Hanover, with Frederica as his Queen consort.
After a short illness, Queen Frederica of Hanover died in 1841 at Hanover.
The Court master builder Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves was instructed by the King to build a mausoleum for his wife and himself in the garden of the chapel at Herrenhausen Palace. He also gave royal orders for the transformation of a central square near the Leineschloss and renamed it Friederikenplatz in her honor.Bir