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Beverley Oakley: The Mysterious Governess (Daughters of Sin, Book 3)

Catostconspirators

The Cato Street Conspiracy and Queen Caroline’s Return to England—Two Important Events of 1820

 Historical Romance Author, Beverley Oakley, recently brought one of her characters, Miss Araminta Partington, to tea. Miss Partington, who has an extremely high opinion of her attractions, and of her knowledge of most matters, elucidated on the background to the new book in which she features called The Mysterious Governess, part of the Daughters of Sin series, which touches on the events before and after the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820.

Miss Partington: Hello Susana, and thank you so much for inviting me to take a dish of tea in your parlor. I must say, it’s very comforting to know I can sleep at night in the knowledge that those dreadful men—Arthur Thistlewood, Edward Spence and the others – who call themselves “The Society of Spencean Philanthropists”, have been either hanged or transported for life for their parts in the Cato Street Conspiracy.

Susana: A delight to have you here, too, Araminta. Yes, what a shock to the public! What do you suppose they were hoping to achieve?

Miss Partington: Why, utter madness, in my opinion! Mr. Thistlewood talked of desiring a “Government of the People of Great Britain,” which would take power out of the hands of Parliament and the landed elite and place it into the hands of the people.” In my opinion, that’s tantamount to stealing Papa’s estate and giving it to Jane, my useless maid, who only last week lost one of my silver hairpins.

Susana: Goodness, that does sound dire! I’m referring to the plot, of course. Was there violence?

Miss Partington: Fortunately, the only violence was after the Coldstream Guards and Bow Street runners ran into the loft where these miscreants were plotting that night’s intended rampage through the home of the Lord President of His Majesty’s Privy Council, Lord Harrowby. Indeed, they were intending to murder the entire King’s Cabinet before taking to the streets of London to storm the Bank of England and the Tower of London. They hoped to stir up revolution in our country, like in America and France only a few decades ago.

Susana: Good Lord! How was it possible that law enforcement was able to apprehend the plotters?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]Miss Partington: Well, apparently, the Government knew what they were about and had planted spies in their organization. My Cousin, Stephen Cranbourne, works for the Foreign Office. I’m sure he’d have confided in me had I not been on rather… er… friendly terms with Lord Debenham who is rumored to be associated with the Spenceans. He’s not, of course. I made sure to burn the incriminating letter his cousin wrote before she drank poison. Aren’t the daffodils beautiful at this time of year? I’ve trimmed my bonnet with several bunches. Sir Aubrey does think them fetching. Yes, I’ve transferred my affections to Sir Aubrey as I think he’d be far easier to manage than dangerous Lord Debenham.

Susana: Yes, the daffodils are, indeed, beautiful. And I was so sorry to hear about Lord Debenham’s cousin. I believe she was Sir Aubrey’s late wife. But, back to politics, do tell me, when was the Spenceans’ plot brought to nought? My apologies for my ignorance, I’ve been in France for some time.

Miss Partington: On February 23, 1820, but of course, it’s not really news any more since the gossip sheets—and indeed, the newspapers—are having much more fun giving us all the thrilling details of George IV’s estranged wife Queen Caroline arriving from continental Europe, a few months afterwards, and attempting to take her place as Queen consort. Personally, I think someone with such atrocious dress sense doesn’t deserve to be queen, but, not everyone agrees with me—which I always find rather odd, really. Of course, the Prince Regent only agreed to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick back at the end of the last century so his father would clear his debts. £630,000 pounds is rather a lot of money, though I imagine that if I owed such a sum, I might be induced to marry Lord Debenham above Sir Aubrey, despite his wicked reputation and the fact Lord Debenham would be so much more difficult to manage.

Susana: Yes, your half-sister, Miss Larissa Hazlett, has inferred the same.

Miss Partington: My half-sister? [Miss Partington rises.]Let me assure you, I do not have a half-sister. Any resemblance between that dreary governess and myself is entirely coincidental. Now, if you’ll excuse me… while it has been most pleasant, I must leave now for an appointment I’ve just remembered. Yes, it’s all part of a little plan I’m implementing to put that dreary governess right back in her box!

About The Mysterious Governess

Two beautiful sisters—one illegitimate, the other nobly born—compete for love amidst the scandal and intrigue of a Regency London Season.

Lissa Hazlett lives life in the shadows. The beautiful, illegitimate daughter of Viscount Partington earns her living as an overworked governess while her vain and spoiled half sister, Araminta, enjoys London’s social whirl as its most feted debutante.

When Lissa’s rare talent as a portraitist brings her unexpectedly into the bosom of society—and into the midst of a scandal involving Araminta and suspected English traitor Lord Debenham—she finds an unlikely ally: charming and besotted Ralph Tunley, Lord Debenham’s underpaid, enterprising secretary. Ralph can’t afford to leave the employ of the villainous viscount much less keep a wife but he can help Lissa cleverly navigate a perilous web of lies that will ensure everyone gets what they deserve.

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Excerpt

Although The Mysterious Governess is about Lissa, who is Araminta’s half-sister, the plot involves them equally. Lissa is hard-working and honourable, the antithesis of Araminta, as you will see below, in this short extract:

“Is everything all right, Miss? Were the fireworks grand? You’re back earlier than I’d ‘spected.” Jane, who was polishing the silver bottles on her mistress’s dressing table, looked up nervously as Araminta entered the room.

Without a word, Araminta brought one arm across the entire surface and sent powder bottles, perfume vials, hairbrushes and jewelry boxes crashing to the floor.

Then she threw herself onto her bed and burst into noisy tears.

“Oh, Miss, I take it things didn’t go to plan,” said Jane, going down on her knees to start to clean up the mess before changing her mind and putting a tentatively soothing hand upon Araminta’s back.

“No, they did not!” Araminta shrieked, beating her fists upon the counterpane.

“So, His Lordship didn’t ask you to marry him, then?”

“Yes he did!” Araminta rolled onto her back and glared at Jane. “He asked me to marry him and then said he had to go away on important business for two months! Two months! Where does that leave me? In an impossible situation, I don’t need to tell you. I might as well throw myself in the river, except the water’s far too cold and I’m hardly about to copy bacon-brained Edgar. There must be another way.”

“Poison?”

“I mean to get out of this mess, you stupid girl!” Araminta screamed. Feverishly, she began to bite her fingernails before realizing the damage she was doing to an important asset. “Oh, Jane, don’t look like you’re related to a mule. Come up with a plan, for dear Lord’s sake!”

About the Author

Beverley Eikli author picBeverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. However, drowning her heroine on the last page was not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.

In 2009, Beverley published her first novel. Since then she has written more than thirteen sizzling historical romances, filled with mystery and intrigue, mostly set in England during the Georgian, Regency and Victoria eras.

Beverley lives near Melbourne opposite a picturesque nineteenth century insane asylum with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana, their two beautiful daughters and a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback the size of a pony.

Beverley also writes more psychological historicals, and Colonial-Africa- set romantic adventures, as Beverley Eikli.

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Regency Rites: Almack’s Assembly Rooms

What was Almack’s?

Almack’s was founded in 1765 by a Mr. McCall. The building was located on King Street just off St. James Street* and included a large ballroom, as well as supper rooms and card rooms.

Almack’s was ruled by a select committee of society matrons known as the Lady Patronesses. These ladies ruled the club with an iron hand; only the crème de la crème (about 25%) of London society were authorized to cross the threshold of this exclusive circle. Each application for membership was carefully scrutinized by the high-handed patronesses, who were not above using their power for retribution against their rivals or other personal reasons.

The food served was not of the best quality. Alcohol was not served—only tea and lemonade.The floor of the ballroom was said to be dreadful, and the rigid rules set by the patronesses could not be broken by anyone. It is said that the Duke of Wellington, the hero of the Peninsular War, was refused admission because he did not sport the proper dress—knee breeches, white neckcloth, and a long-tailed coat. The doors were locked precisely at eleven o’clock and no one was allowed in after that for any reason. There was a long list of”do’s” and “don’ts” (mostly don’ts) for the young debutantes, and any infraction could result in expulsion from the club and social censure. When the waltz was finally given the seal of approval—it was condemned for years as being scandalous due to the close proximity of the dancers’ bodies—the young ladies had to be individually approved to dance it by one of the patronesses.

Almack's Assembly Rooms

Almack’s Assembly Rooms

Almack’s balls were decidedly not anywhere near the grandest balls of the London Season, so why did the matchmaking mothers of the haut ton scramble to get their hands on those square cardboard vouchers that would gain them admittance?

One word—marriage. Almack’s was the exclusive “marriage mart” of the ton. While potential spouses for your sons and daughters could be found elsewhere, the “best” ones could ideally be found at Almack’s, where the average, everyday riffraff need not apply. Who wouldn’t want their daughter to find a wealthy, well-connected—perhaps titled—spouse to enrich the family fortunes? Matchmaking mothers everywhere yearned to have their marriageable offspring included among the exclusive company of Almack’s.

Who were the Patronesses?

The Lady Patronesses—six or seven at any one time—were:

Lady Castlereagh

Lady Castlereagh

Lady Castlereagh (Emily Anne) was a wealthy earl’s daughter who married the Viscount Castlereagh (later the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry), who held many political posts (Secretary of States for War, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and leader of the House of Commons) during the period. Lady Castlereagh was the one who insisted that the door to Almack’s be closed promptly at eleven. She and Mrs. Drummond Burrell were both known for their disdainful arrogance.

Lady Jersey

Lady Jersey

Lady Jersey, “Queen Sarah,” “Silence,” or “Sally” to her close friends was the wealthy daughter of the 10th Earl of Westmoreland who married the 5th Earl of Jersey. Lady Jersey’s mother-in-law, Lady Frances Jersey, was at one time the mistress of the Prince of Wales (it was she who recommended he choose Princess Caroline for his wife), and her parents eloped to Gretna Green (quite the scandal). Lady Jersey’s younger sister married the brother of the scandalous Lady Caroline Lamb, but when the latter ridiculed her in her vengeful novel Glenarvon, Lady Jersey barred her from Almack’s forever.

Lady Sefton

Lady Sefton

Lady Sefton (Maria) assisted many a green girl to negotiate the hazards of the marriage mart. Her husband was an enthusiastic sporting man, and a member of the Four-in-Hand Club (an elite club for only the best drivers).

Lady Cowper

Lady Cowper

Lady Cowper (Emily) was the daughter of the great political hostess, Lady Melbourne, and due to her mother’s numerous affairs, her paternity was never verified. She disapproved of her sister-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb, but was otherwise known as one of the kindest of the patronesses.

Princess Esterhazy

Princess Esterhazy

Princess Esterhazy (Thérèse) was the grand niece of Queen Charlotte and never let anyone forget it. Her husband Prince Paul Esterhazy served as the Austrian ambassador to England 1815-1842. She and the Countess Lieven demonstrated the utmost in continental sophistication.

Countess Lieven

Countess Lieven

Countess Lieven (Dorothea) was the first foreigner to serve as a patroness of Almack’s. Her husband the Count was the Russian ambassador to England from 1812 to 1834. Besides being a leader of London society, she was a significant political force in Great Britain, France and Russia.

Mrs. Drummond Burrell

Mrs. Drummond Burrell

Mrs. Drummond Burrell (Clementina) was a great heiress and daughter of an earl who later became a baroness when her husband succeeded to his father’s title. Although one of the younger patronesses, she was considered the most arrogant and haughty of them all.

Appearance was everything.

It’s interesting to note that while London society, as demonstrated by the Lady Patronesses, demanded a high degree of moral perfection, it was really the façade that counted. As long as you behaved with discretion—i.e., didn’t get caught—you could have adulterous affairs with impunity. While it was expected that wives would remain faithful to their husbands until the birth of an heir or two, after that, it was quite common for both husband and wife to indulge in affairs. It was widely known that Lady Melbourne had affairs with politically powerful men who fathered many of her children, but her the importance of her position precluded any open censure.

Most of the Lady Patronesses of Almack’s had notorious affairs. Emily Cowper, taking the advice of her mother, the above-mentioned Lady Melbourne, to be true to her lover rather than her husband, had a long affair with Lord Palmerston, who later became Prime Minister, and after her husband died, they married and lived happily ever after.

As long as it was behind closed doors—and you were wealthy and important enough—you could get away with a considerably lower standard of behavior. Of course, marriages tended to be more about property, wealth and family connections than any sort of love or affection, so perhaps such scenarios were a natural result of cold-blooded unions.

The King Street location of Almack’s is an office building now; when I was there two weeks ago, it was covered with scaffolding. Christie’s Auction House is across the street.

The Regency Rites series

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady 

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

Regency Rites: Almack’s Assembly Rooms 

Regency Rites: The London Season

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Susana [to the Reader]: I’m afraid Lady P had to return to the 19th century for a christening (no, not Damian and Theresa’s this time, but one of her own daughters’ offspring). She promised to return after she’s had a comfortable coze with her daughters and grandchildren, but in the meantime, she sent someone who she said was a personal friend of Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Prince Regent.

Lady Beauchamp: I would not characterize our acquaintanceship in quite that manner, Miss Ellis.

Susana: Forgive me, Lady Beauchamp, but I am not finished speaking to the readers.

Lady Beauchamp: Well, do hurry, then. I have an important social engagement this afternoon.

Susana [taking a deep breath]: Yes, well, Lady Beauchamp is the former Leticia Snodgrass, who was presented in London about the same time as Lady P’s niece-by-marriage, Theresa Ashby. You can read more about that in the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa, which is a free read on my web site: http://www.susanaellis.com/pub.html.

gloria_gown_stern

Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, née Snodgrass

Lady Beauchamp: Is it really? I daresay I should like to see how I am characterized in the story.

Susana [hurriedly]: Perhaps we should get back to the subject at hand, you being a marchioness and your time being so valuable and all. Why don’t you begin by telling us about your marriage and your family?

Lady Beauchamp: Of course. I was quite sought-after in my first season—many offers were made for my hand, you know—but there were only a handful of dukes that year and they were all married, so I chose to wed Lord Beauchamp. We had a fabulous wedding at St. George’s, and the Prince kissed my hand and called me the most beautiful bride he’d ever seen.

Susana: And your husband and family? Please tell us about them.

Lady Beauchamp: Fortunately, my youngest, George Augustus, takes after his mother. [Smiling] He has the most adorable cherubic face and blue eyes so like mine. I think it quite likely that his hair will lighten before long as well.

Susana: And your older son?

Lady Beauchamp [grimacing]: It is most unfortunate that Robert William takes after his father. Sturdy, bookish, and quite dull. At least dear Robbie has not lost his hair as his father has. Lord Beauchamp is much older than I, you know. His first wife gave him only daughters, but it was I who gave him his heir and a spare. [Preening]

Susana: I…see. Well, now that my readers are informed as to your…uh…pedigree, let us move on to the topic at hand. How did you become acquainted with the Princess Charlotte, Lady Beauchamp?

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Lady Beauchamp [wrinkling her nose]: Of course. Well, we had met in passing at ton events when she was a child, although rarely with her mother, since her father wished to limit her exposure to her mother’s eccentricities. [Coughing delicately]. Blood will tell, however. Lady de Clifford, who had the charge of her at the time—only a baroness, you know—gave her far too much freedom. The girl had no sense of propriety—quite the hoyden as a child, but it was far worse when she reached adolescence.

Susana: Well, adolescence is a difficult time for everyone. I taught thirteen-year-olds for twenty-five years, you know. The best thing about it is that it eventually passes. I suppose the Princess showed the usual interest in the opposite sex?

Lady Beauchamp [shaking her head]: Oh, much worse than that, my dear Miss Ellis! If it wasn’t one of her cousins (illegitimate, you understand), it was William, Duke of Gloucester. They all took her fancy at one time or another. The rumors were rampant all over Town! Upon this proof that she took after her scandalous mother, the Prince Regent made arrangements for a marriage with William of Orange, hoping for an alliance with the Netherlands. It all came to nothing of course. Stubborn, stubborn girl! Not at all the sort of girl who ought to be a princess!

Susana: Do you know why she didn’t like the Prince of Orange?

Lady Beauchamp [curling her lip]: Indeed I do. She confided in me once—quite soon after she and Prince Leopold had settled at Claremont House—which is near Beauchamp’s estate in Surrey, you know—that he refused to promise to allow her mother to visit them after they were married because of her scandalous reputation, and after that, she steadfastly refused to have him. [Leaning closer to Susana] Of course, by then her mother had already fled to the Continent, and she never saw her again anyway.

Susana: How sad!

Lady Beauchamp [shrugging]: Was it? Many would say it was all for the best.

Princess Charlotte's silver lace wedding gown

Princess Charlotte’s silver lace wedding gown

Susana: So you socialized with the royal pair after their marriage. What can you tell us about them?

Lady Beauchamp: Quite a boring pair, really. Prince Leopold—who was quite impoverished, you understand, before he wed the heir to the throne of England—took rather too much of an interest in agriculture for my taste. Of course, he and Beauchamp used to tramp all over looking at crops, of all things. Her Royal Highness thought it was quaint.

Susana: But they got on well together?

Lady Beauchamp [reluctantly]: I suppose they must have. I never heard talk of rows between them, and her manner of dress became more sedate after her marriage. Indeed, Prince Leopold seemed to have a calming influence on her. We shared a box at the races once, and when Her Royal Highness began to show rather more enthusiasm than was proper, her husband caught her attention and said, “Doucement, chérie,” and she immediately smiled and regained her composure.

Susana [eyes filling with tears]: How sweet! What a shame their time together was so short! Were you around her during her pregnancy?

Lady Beauchamp: Her confinement, Miss Ellis. Do try to exercise a bit of restraint in your speech, even though you are American. [Sighing heavily]. Indeed I did see her a few times, although as her condition advanced, she was kept in seclusion. Considering all of the doctors who were consulted, one would have thought at least one would have been able to assist her safely through her trial. But no, she was allowed to eat until she reached elephantine proportions, and then they tried to starve her until she turned despondent. Why, Sir Richard Croft was not even a physician! My own husband would never have allowed a mere accoucheur near me when I was brought to bed. But it’s like my mother says, everything the Prince Regent touches ends in failure. Born under an unlucky star, she believes.

Susana: I understand Prince Leopold never recovered from the death of his wife and son.

Lady Beauchamp: Nor has England either. One would think the world has come to an end. The King has no legitimate grandchildren and his youngest son is over forty. The city closed down for two weeks and within a few days there was no black cloth to be had, as all of England was in mourning. Beauchamp said there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen during the funeral, when she was laid to rest with her son at her feet in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. To be sure, I can’t imagine what will happen to the succession now. I suppose all of the royal princes will run out and marry and try to sire an heir as quickly as possible. [Pursing her lips] Well, all I can say is they’d be well advised to do it soon, because the King’s health deteriorates as we speak, and the Regent isn’t much better. [Sliding her chair closer to Susana] My dear Miss Ellis, it occurs to me that you must be in possession of—shall we say?—interesting information about what happened with the succession. Perhaps you would be kind enough to indulge my curiosity?

Susana [glancing at her watch]: Oh dear, look at the time! If you do not return immediately, Lady Beauchamp, I fear you will be late for Lady Pritchard’s Venetian Breakfast. Do accept my sincere thanks for condescending to speak with me this morning!

Lady Beauchamp [with narrowed eyes]: As it happens, you are correct, Miss Ellis. I really must take my leave of you. However, you can be sure that I shall seek out Lady Pendleton as soon as may be to discover what she knows. [She waves her arms and disappears.]

Susana [gripping the arms of her chair]: I do wonder how this time travel thing is managed. Lady P has mentioned something about an old lady who runs the apothecary shop on Dapple Street, but she has so far declined to go into detail. [Frowning] When she does return, we are going to have a long chat about a few things I discovered after she left. For one thing, my digital camera is missing…after she went on a photography binge taking pictures of everything, even the engine of the car. And then there is a little matter of charges on my credit card for $800 at Toys R Us and more than $300 at the Battery Warehouse. Did she hear nothing I told her about the Prime Directive?

Lady P will be back soon. As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

TRRanniversarysmWin a $20 Amazon Gift Card and/or a Treasuring Theresa coffee mug!

Susana’s Parlour is celebrating the second anniversary of The Romance Reviews with the Treasuring Theresa Lucky In Love Giveaway. To enter the contest, click the TRR graphic at right or the Treasuring Theresa graphic in the side bar.

Before you go, leave a comment on today’s post for five contest entries. Be sure to include your email address in your comment!

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

Susana [to the Reader]:

In our last encounter, Lady P enlightened us on the Prince of Wales’ illegal marriage to a twice-widowed Catholic lady unsuitable in every way to be Queen Consort of England. Following that, he married—for reasons of state—his first cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, daughter of his father’s sister. I’ve read of what a dreadful disaster that was, but I wanted to pick Lady P’s brain about it.

Lady P:

Really, Susana! Pick my brain, indeed! What an indelicate turn of phrase!!

Susana:

It’s just an expression, your ladyship. It means—well, I should have said only that I’m curious to learn what you have to say about the Prince’s choice of wife.

Lady P [shuddering]:

Naturally I have a great deal to say about it, but first I must shake off the image of some quack physician performing surgery on my brain. Is there anything left of the cooking sherry?

Susana:

No, you finished that one off last week after watching the finale of Downton Abbey, don’t you remember? But don’t despair—I bought a new bottle yesterday at the Kroger store.

[A slight pause while Susana leaves the room and returns with a glass of wine for Lady P.]

Lady P [after draining half the glass and dabbing at her lips with a handkerchief]:

Just the thing. I do enjoy a little wine in the evening, you know. What a pity you have no wine cellar. Why, in my day, every reputable household had a wine cellar and a stock of good wine. Even though you yourself do not indulge, Susana, you ought at least to think of your guests!

Susana [shrugging]:

My friends and I usually go out. In any case, if your ladyship is properly refreshed, I wonder if we could resume our conversation about the Princess of Wales. I have heard that she and the Prince detested each other on sight. Is that true, do you think?

caroline2Lady P:

That was indeed the on dit, and I must say, I could believe it. The Prince arrived late to his wedding, and in a most intoxicated state, too. Lady Bessborough—Georgiana’s sister Harriet, you know—told me that the night before he’d written a note declaring his everlasting love to Maria Fitzherbert—with whom he was estranged at the time—and he made out a will leaving everything he owned to her as well. Harriet was much distressed to see the state he was in.

Susana [shaking her head]:

Then why was she chosen in the first place? He was a grown man; surely he could have found a way to avoid it if he’d wished to.

Lady P:

Was he? A grown man, I mean. Much of the time his behavior resembled that of an over-indulged child. [Looking around nervously] I suppose I can say that with impunity since he’s been dead for nearly two centuries, but truly, my dear, the Prince of Wales was never the man his father was, the madness notwithstanding. [Sighing] In any case, the Prince had accumulated such debts that Mr. Pitt—the Prime Minister, you know—promised to give him a substantial increase in income if he were to make a suitable marriage.

Susana:

So…he was forced to marry Caroline of Brunswick to pay his debts? Did he have no other prospective brides to choose from?

Lady P:

Well, when you eliminate the Catholic royalty and those who were already wed, there were only two who were eligible, both of them his first cousins. Princess Louise of Mecklenberg-Strelitz was his father’s brother’s daughter, and frankly, she was the prettier of the two and seemingly possessed of the better temperament. There were rumors of Princess Caroline’s scandalous behavior even then, you see.

Susana:

Then why did he choose her? Did she have a larger dowry?

Lady P [clucking]:

The on dit was that Lady Jersey—the Prince’s mistress at the time—chose her because she seemed a less formidable rival.

Susana:

So…he allowed his mistress to choose his wife?

Lady P:

If you believed the Prince to be a man of integrity and good character, my dear Susana, then you have not been attending my words at all. The man had no intention of forming a true marriage, and even though he had broken with Maria, in some manner he still considered her his true wife and resented the necessity of making another connection for state purposes.

Susana:

So he didn’t really care who he married.

Lady P:

Whom, my dear. Not who. No, I don’t suppose he did. Consequently, when he ended up with a wife as odious as Caroline, nearly everyone secretly believed his punishment was well deserved.

Susana:

Did you agree with them, Lady P?

Lady P [sighing]:

As many faults as the Prince had, my dear, they were nothing compared to those of Caroline of Brunswick. Those who defended her when apprised of his cruel treatment—and that was nearly the whole of England, you know—could hardly have been well acquainted with her. Well, Sally Jersey was an exception, but then, Sally never did approve of the Prince, since she was forever having to live down the fact that her mother-in-law had been his mistress for a time, and had, in fact, chosen Caroline for him in the first place.

Susana:

Sally Jersey, one of the patronesses of Almack’s? Who would refuse vouchers to young ladies who did not demonstrate the utmost propriety in their conduct?

Lady P:

The same.

carolineSusana:

What did you think of Caroline, Lady P?

Lady P [throwing up her arms]:

She was truly dreadful, Susana. She rarely bathed, ate and drank to excess, was most immoderate in her dress and speech, and it was said that she was not chaste. But you should really ask Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, since she served—most unwillingly, I must say—as one of the Princess’s ladies-in-waiting.

Susana:

Lady Beauchamp? Where have I heard that name before?

Lady P:

She was an acquaintance of Theresa’s, you know, Damian’s wife?

Susana:

Ah, yes. But they were hardly bosom friends, as I recall.

Lady P [smiling]

Oh my, not at all. But they were merely young girls at the time, and you know how catty young girls can be. But then…perhaps we should arrange to have Leticia come for a visit sometime soon. I think you would enjoy—how did you put it—performing surgery on her brain for a time.

Susana:

Picking her brain is the proper expression, Lady P.

Lady P:

It is not proper at all, Susana, and you know it quite well. I do feel the need for another glass of that cooking sherry, if you don’t mind.

Susana [to the Readers]:

That’s all for this episode. But I am intrigued by the idea of speaking with Leticia, Lady Beauchamp. Perhaps Lady P will be able to persuade her to come for a brief visit to tell me about her experiences with the infamous Princess of Wales who was never allowed to be Queen. I can’t promise anything, however. This time travel thing can be very complicated.

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”