Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Carlton House, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, King Christian VII of Denmark and Norway, King George III of Great Britain, Lord Bute, Louise von Plessen, Princess of Wales
Augusta had an acknowledged political influence upon her son when he first came to the thronein 1760. The King “strove to follow the counsels she gave”, and in which he trusted. Reportedly, she was in turn influenced by Lord Bute, who was appointed prime minister with her support in 1762. His appointment caused a serious crisis and exposed both Augusta and Bute to such public hostility that Bute had to resign from his post the following year.
Thackeray described the public sentiments and the circulating rumours: “Bute was hated with a rage there have been few examples in English history. He was the butt for everybody’s abuse; for Wilkes, for Churchill’s slashing satire, for the hooting of the mob who roasted his booth, his emblem, in a thousand bonfires; that hated him because he was a favourite and a Scotsman, calling him Mortimer, Lothario, and I known not what names, and accusing his royal mistress of all kinds of names – the grave, lean, demure, elderly woman, who, I dare say, was quite as good as her neighbours.
Chatham lent the aide of his great malice to influence the popular sentiment against her. He assailed, in the House of Lords, ‘The secret influence, more mighty than the throne itself, which betrayed and dogged every administration’. The most furious pamphlets echoed the cry ‘Impeach the King’s mother’, was scribbled over every wall at the Court end of the town”.
When the King had a first, temporary, bout of mental illness in 1765, Augusta and Lord Bute kept Queen Charlotte unaware of the situation. The Regency Bill of 1765 stated that if the King should become permanently unable to rule, Charlotte was to become Regent. Augusta was suggested as regent, but there was fierce opposition to her appointment, as there were concerns of the influence of Lord Bute in her potential regency, and fears that should she become regent, Bute would de facto rule as “King”.
Augusta reportedly resented the marriages of her younger sons, which took place without her consent.
In 1769, Christian VII of Denmark, the spouse of her daughter Caroline Matilda, visited Great Britain. During his visit, Augusta, upon the initiative of Caroline Matilda, asked him publicly during a dinner to reinstate Louise von Plessen, a favourite of Caroline Matilda whom Christian had fired, to her position.
King Christian answered that he had made a sacred vow never to do so, but that if Caroline Matilda preferred von Plessen’s company over his, so be it. In the end, Louise von Plessen was not reinstated, and Augusta apparently asked Caroline Matilda not to press the matter and to show more affection to Christian.
In 1770, rumors about Caroline Matilda, the Queen of Denmark, began to circulate. In particular these concerned the mental state of her spouse as well as the fall of prime minister Bernstorff, in which Caroline Matilda was rumoured to have participated.
When Augusta visited her eldest daughter in Brunswick that year, she also took the opportunity to see Caroline Matilda, who received her in breeches, which at that time was regarded as scandalous. Upon Augusta’s lamentations, her daughter answered: “Pray, madam, allow me to govern my own kingdom as I please!”
Augusta died of cancer of the throat at age 52 at Carlton House.