April 13, 2008
David and I had a 24-hour date this weekend (after the pancakes with the children). This was spurred by our wonderful sitter contacting us saying she's looking for work. A great reminder! We hadn't used her since December, since we have a responsible teenager of our own, now, capable of evenings out. But for 24 hours, it's good to have someone around who drives, cooks, plays soccer and ping-pong, and prays! What a gift to parents.
Anyway, we went to Kew Gardens, someplace I've been aspiring to visit since we moved to England, without fruit until now. It's a really good thing we didn't bring the kids with us, because we spent five hours there, on our feet for a good solid four of those hours, and there weren't even that many things in bloom! Not too surprising, considering it snowed last week. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time together, despite the several sudden downpours of either hail or rain, during which we took shelter in various glasshouses, Kew Palace, or gift shops/cafés.
Kew Gardens is a 300-acre royal botanical garden, which was planted around Kew Palace (more of a big house, really), where beloved King George III and Queen Charlotte lived part of their lives, with various of their FIFTEEN children. The wikipedia article says that they met on their wedding day, had a genuinely happy marriage, and he never took a mistress, unlike most of his predecessors and descendants. All the fifteen kids were from the same mother and father (born over the course of 21 years, 1-3 years apart), and Queen Charlotte didn't die until age 74 (we stood a few feet from the chair in which she died, upstairs in Kew Palace). A strong, healthy woman (and blessed - a lot of people died in childbirth in those days, and only two of her kids died as children). I found it humorous that the oldest maternity hospital in the United Kingdom (in London since 1739) is named after Charlotte - along with Charlotte, NC (nicknamed "The Queen City") and Charlottesville, VA! I never stopped to wonder! Cool.
George III & Charlotte were also the Grandparents of Queen Victoria, and Great-Great-Great Grandparents of Britain's current Queen (Elizabeth II). QE2 spent her 80th birthday dinner in the dining room at Kew Palace with 26 royals (menu at that link) - we walked through it and imagined.
It was during George III's reign that the United Kingdom came into existence (the union of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland). Also, this is the King George from whom the United States seceded! Wikipedia mentions these interesting statistics:
George III lived for 81 years and 239 days and reigned for 59 years and 96 days—both his life and his reign were longer than any previous English or British monarch. Only George's granddaughter Queen Victoria exceeded his record, though Elizabeth II has lived longer. George III's reign was longer than the total reign of his three immediate predecessors (Queen Anne, King George I and King George II) combined.
My very brief and inadequate summary of their 15 kids:
1. George IV - profligate & overweight; was King for last ten years of his life, 58-68 yrs old (having been Prince Regent before that when his dad was ill with porphyria); had one daughter, who died at age 21, after childbirth - a tragic story - it makes me SO glad I live now, in the age of medical enlightenment. The succession of rule could have been so very different if they hadn't leeched and starved this healthy pregnant woman.
2. Frederick, Duke of York - married to Frederica Charlotte (a little confusing, to have the same name as one's husband and mother-in-law); youngest bishop in history, at 196 days old. No legitimate children (but lots of others; separated from wife early on), died age 63. This is the guy named in the song "The Grand Old Duke of York!" Wow. Nearly missed that in the wikipedia article.
3.William IV - Lived with an Irish actress for 20 years and had 10 children with her before realizing he might become King. Later separated from her, and married Princess Adelaide to try to produce a legitimate heir. Had two legitimate daughters who died before 3 months of age. Was King for 7 years, until his death at age 71 (1837). Succeeded by his niece, Queen Victoria.
4.Charlotte, Princess Royal - became Queen of Württemberg (part of Germany), had one stillborn daughter; lived to age 62 (1828).
5. Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent - Married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (at Kew Palace), and became father of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom! He died at age 52, 6 days before his father King George III, when Victoria was 8 months old. He was never King, yet his daughter became a Queen after whom a whole era was named (because none of her father's older siblings produced heirs who lived long enough).
6. Princess Augusta Sophia - never married, and lived to age 71 (1840). And that's about all wikipedia has to say about her.
7. Princess Elizabeth - married and moved to Germany with her husband; no children, died age 69 (1840).
8. Ernest Augustus I of Hanover - became King of Hanover (now part of Lower Saxony in Germany) because Victoria couldn't do that as a woman (this separated the royal houses of Hanover and the United Kingdom, which had been held together). Married his first cousin Frederica (her third marriage; she already had 8 children!), moved to Germany to rule Hanover & had a son, George V of Hanover (who was later deposed and Hanover was annexed by Prussia and that was the end of that). Two other babies died. Died age 80 (1851). Memorable quote: The King made a point of welcoming English visitors, and when one English lady told him that she had been lost in the city, the King denied that this was possible, as "the whole country is no larger than a fourpenny piece".
9. Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex - Okay, so Augustus married Augusta, they had a boy and a girl, whom they named Augustus and Augusta. Okay? But then the marriage was annulled because it hadn't gotten the approval of the King beforehand. Hmmmm. Then he married Cecilia (again, unapproved by the King), a widow who that day changed her last name from her 1st husband's to her mother's! They had no kids. He gave his niece Victoria away in marriage to Prince Albert (he was her favorite uncle). He died age 70 (1843).
10. Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge - married another Augusta, had a son and two daughters (only one of whom was called Augusta, strangely enough). All his kids survived, married and had kids of their own. One grandchild even became Queen Mary by marriage, consort to King George V of the United Kingdom (1910-1936 - getting into the modern era, here!). So that makes Adolphus the great-great-grandfather of the current Queen, QE2. He died age 76.
11. Princess Mary - the longest living child of King George III. She wasn't allowed to marry the guy she was in love with even though he was a Dutch prince, because her dad wanted her older sisters to marry first (then her beloved died and she was allowed into official mourning). Later she married her first cousin and they lived at Bagshot Park, 10 minutes from our house here (there's a Mexican restaurant of dubious quality in Bagshot now...). They had no kids. Mary lived to 81, last surviving child of the 15 issue of her parents (1857).
12. Princess Sophia - never married, was blind for her last ten years of life, died age 70 (1848). The only thing she is known for are nasty rumors, poor thing.
13. Prince Octavius - so named because he was the 8th son...but he died at age 4. His father said, "There will be no heaven for me if Octavius is not there."
14. Prince Alfred - died age 2.
15. Princess Amelia - supposedly the favorite of her father - he called her Emily! Never married, died age 27, of tuberculosis and other stuff.
This sums up to 15 royal children producing only 8 legitimate royal grandchildren total! Of those 8, only 5 lived past age 21. I wonder what happened to the tons of illegitimate ones. How sad.
Time to make dinner.
April 13, 2008 | Permalink
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Posted by: Martin LaBar | Apr 13, 2008 10:21:28 PM
You are an amazing source of little known facts, as well as being a photographer of note! Ah, I do love flowers! So glad you and David had a lovely time! Love you, Mom
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Apr 14, 2008 3:37:35 AM
Well that was a fascinating read this morning! Thanks for that!!
Posted by: Angie | Apr 14, 2008 2:40:45 PM