This day in London’s History
1821: Caroline of Brunswick, the god-awful consort of George IV, died in Hammersmith after 25 years of farcical wedlock. It was always going to be an ill-starred pairing. Though, by all accounts, any union featuring either of these two would have been strained. The Prince Regent, as any Blackadder fan will know, was boisterous, oafish and careless with money. Caroline, for her part, has been described as coarse of mind, vulgar, filthy, squat, fat and ugly — Blackadder noted that she was ‘famous for having the worst personality in Germany, and as you can imagine, that's up against some pretty stiff competition’. Her fondness for exposing her breasts in public also marked her as an unusual choice of consort.
This was a marriage of convenience between cousins. Upon their first meeting, George was said to be so disenchanted by her appearance and rank odour that he requested a glass of brandy to steady himself – and didn’t sober up until after the wedding. They formally separated after just a year and settled into lives of scandal and unpopularity. When George was finally crowned king in 1820, his strange, estranged wife was refused admittance to the ceremony. She died under semi-mysterious circumstances a few days later on 7 August 1821.
Her name lives on in Brunswick Square and the modernist Brunswick Centre (currently undergoing redevelopment), which some would say is much like its namesake — vulgar, filthy, squat, fat and ugly.
London fact of the week
‘Caroline of Brunswick’ is an anagram of ‘frown, crablike cousin’.
London person of the week
One thing you must do in London this week
Now Parliament is in recess, take the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster. Unfortunately, the ancient Westminster Hall is closed over the summer, but there’s still plenty to see. Get a taster here.