Month: July 2012

A King’s Obsession

I first came across Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in a book about Jane Austen’s life. As the book detailed Royal antics shortly before Jane’s death, it mentioned the wedding of Princess Charlotte to this obscure German Prince. It also included a picture of the couple. I was smitten.

Leopold was devastatingly handsome. Napoleon described him as “the handsomest man that ever set foot in the Tuileries”. How appropriate that poor Princess Charlotte, doomed to a short and turbulent life, managed to catch such a man. But aside from his good looks, and the fact that he made Charlotte happy, what else do we know about Leopold?

I recently read James Chambers wonderful book “Charlotte & Leopold” to discover more about my historic crush. My findings have only increased it. I knew before that Leopold was uncle to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and I had heard that Leopold trained Albert for the difficult role he was to undertake. What I didn’t realise was how poignant that really was, given Leopold’s life after Charlotte.

The marriage of Charlotte and Leopold was by no means a fairytale romance. She wanted him to gain independence and avoid the Prince of Orange; he wanted her for her social position. Leopold travelled to England solely with the hope of catching Charlotte if he could, even though he had never met her. It is clear that his great advocates, the Tsar of Russia and the Grand Duchess, strategically placed him in situations where he would meet Charlotte. But what started off as a marriage of convenience swiftly become a love match.

Leopold was a wonderful husband. To quote Charlotte, he was “the perfection of a lover”.  He was attentive, caring and corrected his wife where she needed it. While I, as a modern woman, would probably throw things at Leopold for trying to correct my posture and speech, Charlotte was delighted. She was, after all, destined to become Queen of England and needed to deport herself accordingly. Up until now, she had fought against all instruction,  because she couldn’t respect those who gave it to her. Now she had Leopold to look up to and admire, she was ready to be obedient. And besides, the whole thing was done lovingly. He would not openly upbraid, but whisper to her “Douchemont, chere, douchemont”. The fact that Charlotte then nicknamed her husband Douchemont shows that the advice was taken in the affectionate spirit it was given.

It would be easy to suspect that Leopold’s devotion rose out of motives of self-interest. After all, the more power he had over Charlotte, the more power he had over England. He did certainly drive a rift between his wife and her long-term friend, Mercer Elphinstone, when he disapproved of her husband. But we can see, from Leopold’s behaviour after Charlotte’s death, how genuine his love really was.

Throughout Charlotte’s long labour, he had been a model husband. He walked her up and down in front of the fire, he lay down on the bed with her. In fact he exhausted himself so greatly that, after consoling her for the loss of their stillborn son, he was dosed up by his doctor and went to bed. Due to the opiates, he was not present for Charlotte’s actual death. But when his doctor, Stockmar, broke the news, he sat by her bed kissing her cold hands. At last, he threw himself into the doctor’s arms and whispered: “I am now quite desolate. Promise to stay with me always.”

In the years of grief that followed, Leopold’s focus was on the wife, not the Kingdom, he had lost. He sat with her corpse constantly until it was buried. He walked around the gardens with Stockmar, weeping and clutching her portrait. He refused to let Charlotte’s bonnet and cloak be moved from the screen where she had flung them, and could not suffer her watch to be taken off the mantlepiece. He still felt he was destined to be a King. He tried to join in the social scene as the years passed. But he was always happiest at his marital home at Claremont, lost in memories of happier times.

Leopold had taken mistresses before he met Charlotte, most notably Napoleon’s step-daughter Hortense, and continued to take them after she died. But his heart had by no means healed. No matter how old he grew, the women he selected were around the age of Charlotte when she died. He even took up with Caroline Bauer just because she looked like Charlotte. There’s a lovely anecdote of Ms Bauer adopting Charlotte’s parrot, Coco, and taking it on her Continental travels. But while Coco found an adequate replacement for his dead mistress, Leopold could not.

He finally fulfilled the destiny he knew was his by becoming King of the Belgians. He married again, although this time round he was not the ideal husband. By degrees, Leopold had been growing colder and colder. He infuriated his mistresses with his indifference. While his wife, Louise-Marie, continued to love him, she knew she would never take the place of his first wife. She was married to a man in love with a ghost. She knew this so well that she raised no objections when Leopold insisted on their only daughter being named Charlotte.

Leopold’s daughter, known more often as Carlotta than Charlotte, would make a wonderful subject for historical fiction. Despite being the name-sake of her father’s one true love, she was never high up in his affections. The only child he seemed capable of loving was his niece Victoria.  I have a few theories as to why this was. Firstly, Victoria was Charlotte’s replacement as heir presumptive, filling the exact same position Charlotte had occupied before her death. Then there is Victoria’s appearance. Her fleshy cast and large eyes were typical of the House of Hanover, which linked her to Charlotte. Lastly, Leopold would have remembered the days he sat at Claremont with Charlotte and her uncle, the Duke of Kent, Victoria’s father. He would certainly remember recommending his sister, Victoria’s mother, as a suitable bride for the Duke; advice that was swiftly followed.

Carlotta did finally manage to please her father by becoming the Empress of Mexico, but  she inherited the tragedy of her name-sake. Mexico did not want their new Emperor and Empress. While Carlotta ran about the courts of Europe, begging for help, her beloved Maximilian was captured and shot. The ordeal drove her mad. She ended her days in a Belgian castle, gabbling on about her husband and her Empire. How apt, that Leopold’s daughter should also obsess over the spouse she lost. It was a family trait; Victoria was never to recover from the loss of Albert.

As for Leopold, his obsession lasted until the end. He died whispering “Charlotte, Charlotte.”  He wanted, of course, to be buried in England by his first wife and still-born son, but it was not permitted. He was King of the Belgians; although in his heart, he was still Consort to a Queen who never was.

 

 

 

The Strange Death of Queen Caroline Part 2

I promised in my previous post about The Strange Death of Queen Caroline that I would keep you updated with the evidence I found.  I’ve unearthed many interesting facts, but as always with Caroline, the truth is unclear.

In support of a suicide theory, we have the opinion of her contemporaries. Henry Edward Fox certainly thought her capable of harming herself, during the trial for adultery in 1820, when he wrote: “Poor maniac! They say she means to kill herself. I should not be surprised.” We also have the rather gruesome information that Caroline’s body was swollen and black a few hours after death. One of her physicians, suspecting poisoning, wanted to open the body and establish the cause of death. He was told the Queen herself had forbidden any post-mortem. That, in itself, suggests she had something to hide.

Her physicians suspected a blockage in the bowels. They specified “a blockage of magnesia”. Given the paste-like mixture of magnesia and laudanum Caroline had forced down shortly before her illness, this seems very likely. Did that hideous do-it-yourself medicine, which her ladies urged her not to take, end her life? If it caused the blockage that the physicians diagnosed, then the answer seems to be yes.

The records say Queen Caroline seemed “much surprised” to discover her illness and asked “Do you think I am poisoned?” While I can’t discredit the idea that she was genuinely shocked, I don’t trust Caroline. The question is so inflammatory, so aimed at her husband. It seems typical that, whether she was dying through natural causes or her own intervention, she would make sure to implicate George in a scandal.

Historians agree that she was mentally unbalanced around the time of her death, and even refer to her as “the manic-depressive Queen Caroline”. But would she really, through motives of vengeance, go so far? The correspondence that could answer our questions has, frustratingly, disappeared. As foolish at it was, Caroline wrote to Pergami frequently during her trial for adultery with him. It seems to me that, while Caroline loved and had a hope of returning to Pergami, she would be unlikely to commit suicide. But life wasn’t that simple.

Despite her new Queenly allowance, Caroline had to remain in England following her trial, as she was too deep in debt to travel back to Italy. She was separated for goodness knew how long from the man she loved. If in fact, she did still love him. It’s bizarre to consider that through the delirium during the last hours of her life, she never mentioned Pergami. She mentioned his daughter and the children of Alderman Wood. But no Pergami. Is it possible the pair had quarrelled? Had she ceased to think of him with affection? Or had she simply trained her tongue not to mention him?  There is always the possibility, of course, that the witnesses to her death lied. They were her most loyal supporters. Still, I would expect at least one source to creep out if Caroline had actually talked about Pergami when she died.

We also have to balance Caroline’s motives for suicide against a long history of stomach spasms and cramps. About two years before her death, she was suffering acutely with pain in that area. This would suggest a slow-forming blockage or tumour. As I mentioned before, Caroline faced her death with remarkable calmness. Perhaps she had suspected the illness for some time and felt it increasing. Perhaps she had hastened it. Or perhaps she was just showing the Brunswicker courage that remains of her more loveable characteristics.

The verdict I have come to is that Caroline was partly to blame for her own death. It appears she originally became ill through natural causes, but she lost the will to fight against the disease. I also believe she did all she could to make it worse and hasten the inevitable, through her strange medicines and her failure to consult a doctor early on. Whatever the truth, we can be sure her end was sudden and painful. I sincerely hope the “unruly Queen” is now resting in a well-deserved peace.

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An Interview with David W Wilkin

It’s always nice to hear about other authors,  but especially ones who dabble in the Regency! Today I’m lucky enough to have David W Wilkin on my blog. Although David writes in many genres, he’s been kind enough to focus on his Regency writing for us.

1)What moved you to become an author?

Well, I have always liked stories for as long as I can remember. I don’t really remember the first adult reading experience, but when I was 12 I went to summer camp and my counselor recommended the Lord of the Rings back then. What a great book, and this was 38 years ago, 1974. Long before we had the animated movie, or the more recent movie (which a high school friend was the producer on!) It didn’t change my life, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of wanting to turn my stories into stories for everyone.

So when I graduated college, I had already sold an article for a gaming magazine. I started playing around with longer work. My short stories have always been hard for me. I just have something to say and it takes a lot of words to say it. (I think maybe I am a little verbose.) I sat down and wrote Tranquility Hilton. The story of the first moon colony, where the hotel franchise is to the Hilton chain. Yet, what happens when a wealthy couple, fallen on bad times, also sees their very valuable diamonds and other jewelry stolen from the vault on opening weekend.

They have to be wealthy, since it isn’t cheap to go to the moon and be tourists there (though with the way sales are going for spaceshots, there are a lot of rich people.) I wrote that, and now, in hindsight over 25 years later on with a lot of classes on writing and a lot more practical experience. I know why it was rejected and what it needs to be made viable. I even managed to transfer the digital data from many computers and backup systems so I still have access to it. (The real main theme of a novel about those living and manning the first hotel on the moon isn’t the robbery. It is the longing for Earth that they are separated from.)

As I mentioned in some other interviews, the reason I write Regency Romance is all about Cheryl, my wife. We met at a Regency dance and wooing her involved my writing a few pages of a story and sending it to her, until I won her heart.

 2) Tell us about your current novel.

The current novel that I am excited about and think that everyone should come and get a copy, is Jane Austen and Ghosts. I wrote it very quickly because the idea came to be quickly and the story was just all there. Then nuance came as I started typing.

There are a host of novels about Jane and our Regency/Victorian era writers and novels now meeting the supernatural, zombies, sea monsters, and of course the very timely favorite Vampires. I had never read any of these, having read through Dracula twice in my life. That is quite a tale, and I tackled my project and then delved into one of the others. I can see where there is a fascination for the material.

But the inspiration came to me because of the success of this sub-genre and my cousin who finds ideas to make movies. Well the whole cult of these books and success of Twilight and others in the field suggested that Patrick was going to buy, or someone who did Patricks job at another studio, these stories and make a movie. And with my friend Mark (of Lord of the Rings Success) as well making successful movies, what would happen if one studio cornered the rights and had to now make that movie. Oy Vey! Jane like Billy Bigelow in Carousel should be allowed to come back to Earth…

Or even come back with a few friends. And in Hollywood, there are a lot of those who have passed to the next life that Jane might now know who could come back with her and provide inspiration on how these novels really should be made into movies.

 Though the authors of the novels within the novel are caricatures, like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for instance, or Lady Catherine. The detail of Hollywood and the parallel plot lines to Jane’s work should provide anyone who likes Jane’s work with some fun along the way.

 3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

As I mentioned, the things that came together were the current fad in Regency and Victorian era writing with the supernatural and the realization of these movies coming out. But I did not just weave that into the story alone. Studios and production companies have more than one iron in the fire, else they won’t be able to go into production on the next project.

So as the main plot of our novel, to begin work on the screenplay for the Jane project is being discussed with the authors of these special novels, there is another movie project about to start shooting the next week. Not to say that Adam Sandler features in it, since he is a public figure. But that a character based on Adam and a project for him is a sub plot seemed like a lot of fun to also weave into the story.

That along with the succession plan of the production company which speaks to mirroring the success that Elizabeth Bennet might find with Darcy and his ten thousand a year.

 4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

Weaving in and out of the studio like feel to the novel. Setting the scene. The dialogue and interaction of the characters came nicely, as did the plot and subplots. But to give it a tone of Hollywood, (And I used to work for Dick Clark Productions many years ago) was the challenge.

 I try and take the reader on a journey that will keep them entertained and certainly make them feel they are getting bang for their buck. I lace my novels with humor, and maintain that my characters act consistent in the way I have established them. That they be true to themselves in their time. With Jane Austen and Ghosts that is easily done as it is modern era. With the Regencies I write, my characters can think philosophically of a world where slavery is no longer allowed, since Wilburforce was working towards that goal. Where the vote is for all men, and even women to an extent, since we have had the revolution, though even in America, only holders of land could vote. The Terror in France shows that giving away too much power to an uneducated proletariat could have a devastating effect, so my heroes can not be as modern of thought as democracies are today. (But then they will not be as corrupt then as politicians are today.)

 5) How did you choose your publishing method?

A few years back I started and completed a NaNoWriMo book. The one where you write 50,000 words in November. Except I write novels of one hundred thousand words. About 330 pages. And I completed that many words in November as well. But the point was I spent a month writing the book, and then a few weeks later, with the help and feedback of my writer’s group editing it.

They all thought it was at the level finally ready for publication. This was when the world of publishing was really changing. And where I found I could make about 30% to 70% publishing on my own, instead of splitting that with an agent, the publishing companies, the graphic artist, the promotion people. I did some research, and then thought I would see what would happen. After I did put this I found that several others were doing well with this method. And then the feedback I got after my first book went to press, speaking to reader’s groups, interviews on the internet. Good reviews. It made it worthwhile

 6) Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I was 6 ft and almost 1 inch. Now I’m shrinking.

That was probably too little.

I’m a man writing Regency Romances. That has to be a little different.

So why? Why do I like the Regency?

I have written elsewhere about how Southern California at one time started a craze in Regency Reenactment. With that craze came the locals running a monthly dance practice so all would be ready for the two big events each year that are held. A Regency Ball held in Fall called the Autumn Ball, and then A Regency Assembly where the group would go to a hotel and take it over for a full weekend of activities, dancing, and another Ball.

A friend, thinking they had a woman to introduce me to, urged that I go to this dance practice, and though I did date the young lady once, I went back to the practice at various times because others knew of it. It was a good way for my friends and I to have fun doing these dances, and as time went on I became quite good and taught them, as I also did the dances I had mastered in my Medieval/Renaissance reenactment group.

I further became hooked on Regencies when one of my closest friends told me to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. Once into that and Heyer’s use of language I devoured a dozen more. (Well I didn’t eat them, but you understand.) Then I met Cheryl at the Autumn Ball. I had been writing in other forms, so as we maintained a long distance romance for a few months, I began to write her a Regency Story/Novel a few pages every few days until we were together.

My writing group thought that it was some of my best work and better than the Science Fiction I was sharing at the time, so I grew into Regency Romance.

 7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

My next Regency is Beggars Can’t Be Choosier. I have been looking for readers because I tackled some issues as a male writer I have needed women to ready. Basically if I handled a miscarriage and also childbirth correctly. I haven’t been in labor, so I wrote based on my interaction with women on the subject. It would still be good to have others tell me if I nailed this or not. So I am still looking to find that feedback. (Any Volunteers?)

But I want to put this through my editing cycle as well as Two Peas in a Pod, a humorous look at Regency Twin look a likes, as well as some mad cap humor. (I always want to capture a certain Beatrice and Benedict repartee in my hero and heroine.)

If I could do this full time, then I am sure we could see 4 new Regencies a year as well as several fantasies. I have two ideas for series that I want to develop. One in the early Regency era, when France is on the verge of the Terror, and then another much later. A Ruritanian Romance series.

 8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

In Jane Austen and Ghosts there is a reveal that takes place near the end. I don’t know if everyone can guess at it, but one can see how tricky I make my Jane as a Ghost. A little bit more of the willfulness we see in Elizabeth Bennet that we don’t see in many other of the Heroines of Jane’s.

It is so common for so many to have imaginary friends when we are young and a few times those friends have been portrayed as ghosts, well perhaps I linked that idea together, though as the late Robert Jordan would say RAFO! (Which means Read and Find Out) Designed to propel sales of the book. I think far more fun will be to look at the past Hollywood Icons and Legends who journey back over to visit us at DeMille Brothers Studios. Some of whom are not only famous, but infamous, and some you may have to be immersed in Hollywood lore and legend to identify.

I will say that the last few paragraphs I had a great deal of fun with and hope my readers appreciate it.

 9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like.

Well Jane Austen of course. For Regencies I am also influenced by Georgette Heyer. I have a few modern day writers of Regency Mysteries. The Beau Brummel and Jane Austen Mysteries. The late Kate Ross. If you love Regencies, run, don’t walk to find these 4 gems. (Oh and now, Galen Beckett but this series is got Fantasy elements, the prose is dynamite though.)

After that, I think Robert Heinlein and Charles Dickens helped to form me as a writer.  The late Brian Daley, the Late Robert Asprin, the Late Robert Jordan (There really isn’t a theme. I am just younger than the writers I read and whom I like and return to reading. For those who take a look at my Fantasy work and other work, they may see how I am influenced.

10) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

Aside from my influences, who I listed, this last year I have read Burt Golden who has a mystery dealing with the March Madness tournaments. Burt was a former College Basketball coach so knows that area pretty well. Nathan Lowell who has written a science fiction series reminiscent of playing the Traveller role-playing game, Patrick Rothfuss whose second book is not nearly as strong as his first book.

Dave Poyer who is a delight in Modern Naval fiction, ER Burroughs who I thought had written better when I read him as a teenager, and Michael J. Sullivan whose first two books were much better crafted than the third where he through in traditional fantasy elements without regard to logic.

11) When writing, what is your routine?

I spend way too much time in front of my computer writing. Somedays I will sit and come up with well over 30 pages. I have sprints where I want to work on 100 pages a week. And then I have distractions where I have to take breaks and work on the website, or the blog.

It takes a good hour to come up with 3 pages in first draft, an about an hour to edit ten pages. In a three hundred page work then, that is about 100 hours to write the first draft. Thirty more to go through my edit. Then I enter the edits. At least another thirty and about a week of prep. About 200 hours? That seems low. If I sat here and was not distracted and got paid for that time, could I do a book every five weeks? 10 a year? Well probably. But then how much should I get back for each book?

Is $8 worth your time to read for two to three hours what took me 200 to write and polish and work on? So far, I think that my take on providing story, my interpretation of Boy meet Girls, Boy loses Girl and Boy then gets Girl, will take you on a journey you’ll enjoy.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

I had not been thinking of myself as an artist until recently. Then I realized that these stories and tales are art. And that while I have fun with them, they are as much art as some of those writers I read. Then there is craft to this as well. Knowing how to string words together. But to weave in plot points and subplots so the characters become more than one dimensional. That has taken time to learn and develop.

So so be successful at storytelling, I have become both. But it is a kick to be an artist.

13) Where should we look for your work?

I can be found at the iBookstore, and Amazon, Nook and other online places for eBooks as well as physical books. I have created one webpage that sums it all up which I humbly (proudly, arrogantly, annoyingly) titled David’s books:

http://davidsbooks.regencyassemblypress.com/davidsbooks.html

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That Wicked Princess on the Heath

Put a Queen on trial for adultery and you’re bound to create factions. Even today, Anne Boleyn is represented alternatively as a pure innocent and an incestuous witch with six fingers. Similarly, Queen Caroline, consort of George IV, gets an uneven treatment in the history books. There are those that see an affair lurking with any man she spoke to, and those that naively discredit some strong evidence. Either way, no one seems able to entirely acquit this Princess who, in her own servant’s words, was “very fond of f*cking”.

The scandals about Caroline date right back to her youth in Brunswick. She often met a little shepherd boy out in her walks and went back to his “hovel” with him to see how his family did. To me, this fits in perfectly with Caroline’s life-long obsession with children and general inquisitiveness. Moreover, she was always generous to the poor. But rumours flew about that this little shepherd boy was actually her son.

It seems likely that Caroline did have a love affair while at Brunswick, though I doubt she went so far as to  bear an illegitimate child. She was kept under close guard by her parents and watched constantly, lest she talk to and flirt with young men on the dance floor. There must have been a reason for this. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick, were not the type of people to overreact and be needlessly strict. I imagine that Caroline’s winningly honest and open conversation got her into some early scrapes, from which they were keen to protect her in future.

Caroline spoke, with her usually lack of tact, of a man she had been very much in love with but was forbidden to marry, due to his low rank. Perhaps this was an Irish officer in her father’s army, who she was seen to be partial to. Or perhaps, as is often the case with Caroline, it was a blatant lie.  She said this to Lady Jersey, her husband’s mistress, almost immediately after her arrival in England, when Lady Jersey had openly insulted her. I consider it a proud backlash, a kind of “well, it doesn’t matter to me if the Prince loves you; he’s not my first choice.”

There was a Prince, however, whom Caroline insisted she had loved her whole life long. This was Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. Her father wanted the match as badly as she did. But the Prussian suit, like so many others in Caroline’s teenage years, mysteriously dissolved. The very lack of evidence as to why the matches were given up is telling. It seems to me that there was some stain upon Caroline’s character that the European monarchies, once they discovered it, were unwilling to forgive.

George IV was later to state his conviction that Caroline was not a virgin when she came to his marriage bed in 1795. Unfortunately, his testimonies are about as trustworthy as Caroline’s. George’s friends admitted that, if he told a story often enough, he came to believe it was the truth. Not content with complaining about Caroline’s smell and generally horrid body, he insisted she was “not new” and mentioned that on the second night, seeing his suspicions, she mixed up some tooth powder and water to stain her nightgown. However, his only “evidence” of her experience is that she made a complimentary comment about the size of his wedding tackle (notice how George always manages to chuck in a comment about how great he is, even when slagging off others). One can’t help but feeling this is just a furious response to Caroline’s allegations that he was impotent. If Caroline did make the comment, I see nothing in it to suggest she wasn’t a virgin. It could either be another desperate attempt to win the affection of her stroppy husband or a natural remark of surprise; Caroline never was one to use the brain to mouth filter.

However, it was when Caroline moved to Blackheath, after her unofficial separation with George, that the rumours really started. Caroline delighted in pronouncing herself “that wicked Princess on the heath, she is such a rake, such a rioter, and such an irregular person, that she makes rebellions, and mutinies, in every well-regulated house – but she comes from abroad and so she is good for nothing”. It seems very natural that the affectionate Princess, who always was fond of flirting, went a little overboard when she found her freedom. Moreover, she loved to cause a scandal. But I don’t subscribe to the view that she pretty much humped anything in trousers during her years on the Heath. She had been told early on by Lord Malmesbury that she would incur the death penalty by committing adultery, and was clearly much struck by it.

George Canning, a promising Pittite MP, had known Caroline before her exile to the Heath and the pair were clearly in love. Some historians have decided the affair wasn’t very serious, given that he married another woman soon after. But Canning confessed that if he had not met his wife, Miss Scott, “I know not how I should have resisted, as I ought to do, the abundant and overpowering temptation to the indulgence of a passion which must have been dangerous, perhaps ruinous, to her who was the cause of it.” Apparently, Caroline and he agreed together that his marriage was the only “effectual remedy to all the danger and…our escape”.  Caroline continued friendly with the Cannings all of her life. When she was put on trial for adultery in 1820, Canning risked the fury of the King and refused to have anything to do with the proceedings.  His writing about escaping danger and ruin suggest that he and Caroline did not consummate their love, but there was clearly much foreplay. When she received a letter from George telling her they “should not be answerable to one another”, she showed it to Canning and asked what it meant. He told her it “freed her entirely” and they “took advantage of it on the spot”.

The next of Caroline’s lovers on the Heath was a dashing naval hero, Sir Sidney Smith. In character, he seemed much like Caroline and I am not surprised to two hit it off. But Smith came hand in hand with the friends he was staying with, the Douglases. And this is where it all gets a bit complicated.

The Douglases and Smith were Caroline’s bosom friends until, without much explanation, she threw them over and took up with Captain Mamby instead. The Douglases later insisted that Caroline had been pregnant and confided in them alone. But if that was the case, she would have kept thick with them. She may have been giddy, but Caroline was certainly not fool enough to tell someone such an explosive secret then make an enemy of them. It is my opinion that Caroline purposefully wound up the Douglases with tall tales, due to her own jealousy.

Her first attack on the Douglases was to send anonymous letters to Lord Douglas, featuring pictures of Lady Douglas and Sir Sidney Smith in amorous situations; or, as Caroline put it “Sir Sidney Smith doing your amiable wife”. Although Lady Douglas maintained that her husband always believed in her innocence, he didn’t act that way. He went storming over to Smith and demanded an explanation. Naturally, Smith denied everything – but was he telling the truth?

If Caroline had found out, mid-affair with Smith, that he was also a past or present lover of Lady Douglas, it would explain her sudden hatred of her friend. It would also explain why she purposefully infuriated Smith by playing footsie with Mamby at a dinner party. She was jealous, and wanted to make him jealous too. It seems that, after all the hoo-ha, she decided she liked Mamby better anyway.

The love-struck Caroline followed Mamby across the country to the docks of his ships and entrusted two of her “charity boys” to his care. She was later to claim that Mamby had smuggled an illegitimate son of her old flame, Prince Louis Ferdinand, across the seas for her. This was the boy Willy Austin, the “Deptford child”, whom the Douglases claimed was the Princesses own. I think both sides are lying here. I believe Willy was the son of Sophia Austin; Caroline, as always, loved making mischief and found she could do so here with a good excuse for trailing after Mamby.

It was around this point that George III reluctantly agreed to investigate her behaviour – “The Delicate Investigation” – and Caroline appears to have pulled her act together after this.  A few rumours circulated in the following years about Captain Hesse, who was courting Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte. Hesse followed Caroline on her Continental journey and remained a loyal attendant. Personally, I believe he was sincerely attached to the family and loved only Charlotte. But many people, Charlotte included, thought otherwise.

It was on this trip to the Continent that Caroline met the man who was to be her downfall: Pergami. This was the adulterous relationship she was put on charge for. She was lucky that, since it took place abroad, the death sentence could not apply. I, along with Georgian contemporaries, believe that the relationship was “pure in-no-sense”. But Caroline’s guilt or innocence was not what mattered to the mobs of the day; they were more concerned with humiliating the King.

But despite my belief in her guilt, I don’t think Caroline’s relationship with Pergami was as bad as it was represented. Her lawyer Brougham did a brilliant job of highlight that the witnesses against her were bribed for their evidence. They had been rehearsed for certain questions and answers and were completely clueless when asked things not on their script: “I do not remember” being a favourite answer. There were others who were downright liars. One mentioned riding beside Caroline’s coach, looking through the curtains and seeing her and Pergami with their hands placed on one another’s private parts. This was later exposed as complete nonsense; the man in question never rode beside the coach, the coach had blinds, not curtains, a third person always travelled with them and the set up of the coach made it impossible for anyone to sit in that position.

Brougham, who confessed to disliking Caroline, later decided that Pergami’s swift promotions through her household had more to do with his child than anything else. It is true that Caroline adored children and made friends with anyone who had them. Pergami’s daughter slept in her bed and called her “Mamma”. But while pictures of this little girl littered Caroline’s houses, so did pictures of her father. He was always moved into bedrooms near Caroline’s. And while his family were all invited to become members of Caroline’s staff, there was one glaring exception: his wife.

It is my belief that Caroline really loved Pergami and would have been happy living with her adopted Italian “family”. But her pride and her need to beat George IV summoned her back to England, where she ultimately died. She did not speak of Pergami at the end, although she wrote to him a few times while in England and remembered his daughter in her will.

As for the other lovers, I can’t be sure how far the relationships went. I am sure there was much kissing and, as Flora Fraser puts it,  “heavy petting” going on, but I’m not convinced Caroline would risk full on sexual affairs in England under the noses of her husband and uncle. But by the time she was with Pergami, free on the Continent and past the age where pregnancy was a risk, it was a different story.

Should she be condemned? England did not believe so; after all, her husband’s affairs were more numerous and sordid. And is it any wonder that a poor Princess, shunned and called ugly by the only man she was legally allowed to sleep with, was delighted to find others who thought her attractive? No; it seems quite natural to me that Caroline succumbed to Pergami and his wonderful moustachios.

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