Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (full name: Friederike Louise Caroline Sophie Charlotte Alexandrine) (3 March 1778 – 29 June 1841), was a German princess who became, by marriage, a princess of Prussia, a princess of Solms-Braunfels and, finally, Duchess of Cumberland in Britain (and later Queen of Hanover in Germany) as the consort of Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, the fifth son and eighth child of King George III.
Her father assumed the title of Grand Duke of Mecklenburg on 18 June 1815. Duchess Frederica was the niece of her future mother-in-law, Queen Charlotte (formerly Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), since her last husband was her first cousin.
Frederica's mother died on 22 May 1782 after giving birth to her tenth child. Two years later (28 September 1784), her father remarried the younger sister of his deceased wife, Landgravine Charlotte of Hesse-Darmstadt, but this union ended just one year later, when Charlotte died of complications resulting from childbirth on 12 December 1785. The twice-widowed Duke Charles considered himself unable to give his daughters proper rearing and education, so he sent Frederica and her elder sisters Charlotte, Therese and Louise to their maternal grandmother, Maria Louise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg, Dowager Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, called Princess George (in allusion to her late husband, the second son of Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt). Princess George's choice of a Swiss teacher for the girls, Salomé de Gélieu, proved to be a good one. Some time later, Duke Charles also sent his two surviving sons, the Hereditary Prince George and Charles, to be raised by their grandmother.
On 14 March 1793, the Princesses of Mecklenburg-Strelitz "coincidentally" met the Prussian King Frederick William II at the Prussian Theatre in Frankfurt-am-Main. He was immediately captivated by the grace and charm of Frederica and her sister Louise.
Some weeks later, Frederica and Louise's father began marriage negotiations with the Prussian King: Louise would marry Crown Prince Frederick William and Frederica would follow suit with his younger brother Frederick Louis Karl (called Prince Louis).
The double engagement was celebrated in Darmstadt on 24 April. On December 24, Louise and the Crown Prince were married in the Royal Palace of Berlin; two days later, on 26 December Frederica and Prince Louis were also married in the same place. Unlike her sister, Frederica did not enjoy a happy marriage. Her husband preferred the company of his mistresses and completely neglected her; in response, the humiliated wife allegedly began an affair with her husband's uncle Prince Louis Ferdinand.
In 1795 King Frederick William II appointed Louis as Chief of the Dragoons Regiment No. 1, which was stationed in Schwedt, and one year later, on 23 December 1796, he died of diphtheria. Frederica and her three children consequently moved to Schönhausen Palace near Berlin.
In 1797 she and her cousin Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III of Great Britain by his wife Queen Charlotte (Frederica's paternal aunt), became unofficially engaged. The Duke of Cambridge asked the consent of his father to the marriage, but the King, under pressure from his wife, refused.
In 1798 Frederica became pregnant. The father was Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. The Prince recognized his paternity and requested her hand in marriage, a proposal that was quickly granted in order to avoid scandal. On 10 December of that year, the couple was married in Berlin and immediately moved to Ansbach. Two months later, in February 1799, Frederica gave birth to a daughter who only lived eight months. Prince Frederick William, disappointed and embittered, resumed his old dissipated lifestyle and became an alcoholic. In 1805 he resigned his military posts for "health reasons". Frederica had to maintain her family with her own resources after her brother-in-law, King Frederick William III of Prussia, refused to restore her annual pension as a Dowager Princess of Prussia. Frederica's older brother-in-law and head of the family, William Christian, Prince of Solms-Braunfels, advised her to get a divorce, with his full approval. She and her husband nonetheless refused.
In May 1813, during a visit to his uncle Duke Charles in Neustrelitz, Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the fifth son of King George III of Great Britain, met and fell in love with Frederica. Duke Charles made it clear to his daughter that her separation from the Prince of Solms-Braunfels was absolutely logical, and that he saw a marriage with an English prince as a great opportunity for her. During the next months Frederica considered the intentions of Ernest Augustus and the possible effects on her own situation. When, after the victory of the allies in the Battle of Leipzig, Ernest Augustus spent some days in Neustrelitz, he was greeted enthusiastically. Some time later Frederica asked the Prussian king for approval for her divorce from Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. All parties agreed, including the Prince of Solms-Braunfels, but Frederick William's sudden death on 13 April 1814 precluded the need for a divorce. The prince's demise was considered by some as a little too convenient, and some suspected that Frederica had poisoned him. In August, the engagement with Ernest Augustus was officially announced. After the British king gave his consent to the wedding, Frederica and Ernest Augustus were married on 29 May 1815 at the parish church of Neustrelitz. Some time later, the couple traveled to Great Britain and married again on 29 August 1815 at Carlton House, London.
Queen Charlotte bitterly opposed the marriage, even though her future daughter-in-law was also her niece. She refused to attend the wedding and advised her son to live outside England with his wife. Frederica never obtained the favor of her aunt/mother-in-law, who died unreconciled with her in 1818. During her marriage to Ernest Augustus she gave birth thrice, but only a son survived, who would eventually become King George V of Hanover.
Queen of Hanover
On 20 June 1837 King William IV of the United Kingdom and Hanover died without issue. His heir was Princess Victoria, only daughter of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, but because Hanover had been ruled under semi-Salic Law since the times of the Holy Roman Empire, she could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. The next male descendant of the late king was the Duke of Cumberland, Frederica's husband, who then became King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, with Frederica as his Queen consort.
After a short illness, Queen Frederica of Hanover died in 1841 at Hanover. The Court master builder Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves was instructed by the King to build a mausoleum for his wife and himself in the garden of the chapel at Herrenhausen Palace. He also gave royal orders for the transformation of a central square near the Leineschloss and renamed it Friederikenplatz in her honor.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
- 3 March 1778 – 26 December 1793: Her Serene Highness Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg
- 26 December 1793 – 10 December 1798: Her Royal Highness Princess Frederica of Prussia
- 10 December 1798 – 29 August 1815: Her Serene Highness Princess Frederica of Solms-Braunfels
- 29 August 1815 – 29 June 1841: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cumberland and Teviotdale
- 20 June 1837 – 29 June 1841: Her Majesty The Queen of Hanover
|By Prince Frederick Louis of Prussia (married 29 December 1793; he died 23 December 1796)|
|Prince Frederick Wilhelm Ludwig of Prussia||30 October 1794||27 July 1863||married, 1817, Princess Louise of Anhalt-Bernburg|
|Prince Frederick Wilhelm Charles George of Prussia||26 September 1795||6 April 1798|
|Princess Frederica Wilhelmina Luise Amalie of Prussia||30 September 1796||1 January 1850||married, 1818, Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt|
|By Frederick William, Prince of Solms-Braunfels (married 10 December 1798; he died 13 April 1814)|
|Princess Sophia of Solms-Braunfels||27 February 1799||20 October 1799|
|Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels||11 September 1800||14 September 1800|
|Prince Frederick Wilhelm Heinrich Casimir Georg Karl Maximilian of Solms-Braunfels||13 December 1801||12 September 1868||married, 1831, Countess Maria Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau|
|Princess Augusta Luise Therese Matilda of Solms-Braunfels||25 July 1804||8 October 1865||married, 1827, Albert, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt|
|Prince Alexander Frederick of Solms-Braunfels||12 March 1807||20 February 1867||married, 1863, Baroness Louise of Landsberg-Velen|
|Prince Frederick Wilhelm Ludwig Georg Karl Alfred Alexander of Solms-Braunfels||27 July 1812||13 November 1875||married, 1845, Princess Sophie of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg|
|By Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (later HM King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover) (married 29 May 1815)|
|Princess Frederica of Cumberland||27 January 1817||27 January 1817||stillborn|
|Unnamed daughter||April 1818||April 1818||stillborn|
|George V of Hanover||27 May 1819||12 June 1878||married, 1843, Marie of Saxe-Altenburg; had issue|
|Ancestors of Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz|
- Willis, Daniel A., The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain, Clearfield Company, 2002, p. 73. ISBN 0-8063-5172-1
- Clark, Christopher (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947, p. 316. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Belknam Press of Harvard University Press.
- Van der Kiste, p. 114
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Friederike von Mecklenburg-Strelitz.|
- "Friederike Luise Karoline Sophie Charlotte Alexandrine Herzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz" at The Peerage
Frederica of Mecklenburg-StrelitzBorn: 3 March 1778 Died: 29 June 1841
Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
|Queen consort of Hanover
20 June 1837 – 29 June 1841
Marie of Saxe-Altenburg