Anna van Solms, Charles II of England, Elizabeth Stuart of England, Frederick V of the Palatinate, Prince of Orange, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Queen of Bohemia, Scotland and Ireland, The Hague
Fearing the worst, by the time of the defeat at the Battle of White Mountain, Elizabeth already had left Prague and was awaiting the birth of her fifth child at the Castle of Custrin, about 80 km (50 mi) from Berlin. It was there on 6 January 1621 that she “in an easy labour lasting little more than an hour” was delivered of a healthy son, Maurice.
The military defeat, however, meant that there was no longer a prospect of returning to Prague, and the entire family was forced to flee. They could no longer return to the Palatinate as it was occupied by the Catholic league and a Spanish contingent. So, after an invitation from Maurice, the Prince of Orange, they made their move towards The Hague.
Elizabeth arrived in The Hague in spring 1621 with only a small court. Elizabeth’s sense of duty to assist her husband out of the political mess in which they had found themselves, meant that “she became much more an equal, if not the stronger, partner in the marriage”. Her lady-in-waiting, Amalia van Solms, soon became involved with Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and married him in 1625. The two women became rivals at the court of The Hague.
While in exile Elizabeth produced eight more children, four boys and four girls. The last, Gustavus, was born on January 2, 1632 and baptised in the Cloister Church where two of his siblings who had died young, Louis and Charlotte, were buried. Later that same month, Friedrich farewell to Elizabeth and set out on a journey to join the king of Sweden on the battlefield.
After declining conditions set out by King Gustavus II Adolphus that would have seen the Swedish king assist in his restoration, the pair parted with Friedrich heading back towards The Hague. however, he had been suffering from an infection since the beginning of October 1632, and he died on the morning of November 29, 1632 before reaching The Hague.
When Elizabeth received the news of Friedrich’s s death, she became senseless with grief and for three days did not eat, drink, or sleep. When Charles I heard of Elizabeth’s state, he invited her to return to England; however, she refused. The rights of her son and Friedrich’s heir Charles Ludwig “remained to be fought for”. Elizabeth then fought for her son’s rights, but she remained in The Hague even after he regained the Electorate of the Palatinate in 1648.
She became a patron of the arts, and commissioned a larger family portrait to honour herself and her husband, to complement the impressive large seascape of her 1613 joyous entry to the Netherlands. Her memorial family portrait of 1636 was outdone however by Amalia van Solms who commissioned the Oranjezaal after the death of her husband Frederick Henry in 1648–1651.
Elizabeth filled her time with copious letter writing and making marriage matches for her children. Her life after the death of Friedrich, however, had its share of heartache. Between his death in 1632 and her own death 30 years later, she witnessed the death of four more of her ten surviving children: Gustavus in 1641, Philip in 1650, Henriette Marie in 1651, and Maurice in 1652.
Elizabeth suffered another blow with the execution of her brother Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland in early 1649, and the removal into exile of the surviving Stuart family during the years of the Commonwealth. The relationships with her remaining living children also became somewhat estranged, although she did spend time with her growing number of grandchildren. She began to pay the price for having been “a distant mother to most of her own children”, and the idea of going to England now was uppermost in her thoughts.
In 1660, the Stuarts were restored to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in the person of Elizabeth’s nephew Charles II. Elizabeth, now determined to visit her native land, arrived in England on May 26, 1661. By July, she was no longer planning on returning to The Hague and made plans for the remainder of her furniture, clothing, and other property to be sent to her.
She then proceeded to move to Drury House, where she established a small, but impressive and welcoming, household. On January 29, 1662 she made another move, to Leicester House, Westminster, but by this time she was quite ill. Elizabeth was suffering from pneumonia, and on February 10, 1662 she haemorrhaged from the lungs and died soon after midnight on February 13, 1662.
Her death caused little public stir as by then her “chief, if not only, claim to fame was as the mother of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the legendary Cavalier general”. On the evening of February 17, when her coffin (into which her remains had been placed the previous day) left Somerset House, Rupert was the only one of her sons to follow the funeral procession to Westminster Abbey. There in the chapel of Henry VII, “a survivor of an earlier age, isolated and without a country she could really call her own” was laid to rest among her ancestors and close to her beloved elder brother, Henry, Prince of Wales.