Poor Fred. It doesn’t seem like many liked him, especially his parents. I always wondered why. He was a man destined to be king but never lived long enough to come into his inheritance. Most remember him as the man hated by his parents and the father of King George III. So today I want to delve a little deeper into who he was.
Prince Frederick Louis, The Prince of Wales
Friedrich-Ludwig was born on February 1, 1707 in Hanover to the future King George II of Great Britain, Elector of Hanover and his wife Princess Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. At the time of his birth his grandfather, Georg-Ludwig, was the Elector of Hanover and his great-grandmother, the Dowager Electress Sophia of Hanover, was heir to the throne of Great Britain . Within seven years all that was to change rapidly as Queen Anne died in 1714, Frederick’s great-grandmother died a few weeks prior, and according to the provisions of the Act of Settlement of 1701, his grandfather ascended the British throne as King George I. His parents, who soon became the Prince and Princess of Wales, moved to Britain leaving young Frederick into the care of his grand-uncle Ernest Augustus, Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück. Frederick would not see his parents again for 12 years. Frederick arrived in Britain in 1728 the year after his parents became king and queen. By that time he was 21 and an adult who lived a fast life-style of drinking, gambling and consorting with women of questionable reputations. To Frederick his parents were strangers and their abandonment of him, coupled with his life-style, which I am sure they disapproved, left the relationship forever strained and broken.
I do not think that paints the entire picture. The Hanoverian dynasty is notorious for the the monarch and his or her heir not getting along. I think the reasons for that is complex. Sometimes it may have to do with the fact that the heir was living a life-style that was looked down upon by the parent. Frederick Louis, George IV and Edward VII come to mind (yes, Edward VII was not a Hanoverian, but his mother was!) The other reason has to do with politics and power. It wasn’t long before the arrival of King George I that political parties began to form. Often it was pretty well known which party the monarch favored. Therefore the opposition party always sought to win the favor of the heir to the throne. This often created a lot of tension and created much court intrigue and rivalry. There were times when the heir would even set up a rival court to that of their parents.
Frederick’s grandfather created his grandson Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Eltham, Viscount of Launceston and Baron of Snaudon in 1726. In January of 1728 his parents, now King George II and Queen Caroline, asked that Frederick move to Britain and they created him Prince of Wales.
Marriage & Family
One of the things that Frederick’s parents thought would settle him down would be to get married. He had a few mistresses, one being Anne Vane with whom he had had a child. His flaunting of his mistress and their child greatly angered the king and queen.
One of the first available Princesses was Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia, the daughter of his brother-in-law/first cousin, King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia and Princess Sophia-Dorothea of Great Britain & Hanover. Frederick did approve of this possible union and encouraged his father encouraged the negotiations between George II and the king of Prussia even though he had never met Princess Wilhelmine. George II was not exactly enthusiastic about the match but continued with the negotiations because he felt a continual alliance with the up and coming Prussian state would be beneficial for Britain. However, as the negotiations dragged on Frederick decided to take matters into his own hand. Frederick sent his own personal envoy to the Prussian court to hurry the negotiations. When George II discovered what his son had done he immediately ordered Frederick to leave Hanover and to return to England. Soon after, the negotiations fell through when King Friedrich Wilhelm Frederick stipulated that he would only allow the marriage if Frederick was made Regent in Hanover. This was something George II would never agree to.
Although marrying royalty was the accepted practice in Britain it was not required. However, I ssupect that given the climate of the times it would have been severely frowned upon if a royal married a member of the British nobility. This did not deter the powerful Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough from trying to arrange a union with with her grand daughter, Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Lady Anne Churchill. The alliance would have come with an enormous dowry of £100,000. Although Frederick agreed to the match, he really needed the money, the marriage was vetoed by Prime Minister Robert Walpole and George II. Lady Diana instead married John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford.
Princess Augusta, The Princess of Wales
Soon after these attempts tom find a bride fell through, King George II took one of his many trips to Hanover, a place I think he liked more than England, and while he was there began an affair Amelia-Sophia von Walmoden. The king even wrote to his wife telling her details of the affair and how elated and enraptured he was with his new mistress. While in Hanover he found a suitable bride for his son. His selection was Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, daughter of Duke Friedrich II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676–1732) and Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1676–1740). The young 17 year old bride spoke no English was shortly sent to England to marry the 29 year old Prince of Wales. The wedding took place on 27 April 1736, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London.