Charlotte Sophia (DNB00)
CHARLOTTE SOPHIA (1744–1818), queen of George III, king of England, was the youngest daughter of Charles Lewis, brother of Frederic, third duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. When a young girl she was so distressed at the ravages of the Prussian troops on a relative's territory, that she wrote a letter to their king begging him to restrain them. This letter found its way to England, and is said to have done something to direct the attention of the English court to her as a suitable consort for George (Mahon, History of England, iv. 331, 1846). The inquiries made resulted in a formal proposal, which was accepted, and the princess set off for England. The voyage from Cuxhaven to Harwich took ten days, for the ship was delayed by contrary winds. Charlotte beguiled the time by practising English tunes on the harpsichord. On 7 Sept. 1761 she landed in England. The next day she saw George for the first time at St. James's. From that moment till the king's illness she said that she never knew real sorrow. They were married late that same evening. Their coronation took place on 22 Sept. of that year (a minute description is given in Richard Thomson's Faithful Account, &c., 1820). Her appearance at this time is briefly described by Horace Walpole: 'She is not tall nor a beauty. Pale and very thin; but looks sensible and genteel. Her hair is darkish and fine; her forehead low, her nose very well, except the nostrils spreading too wide. The mouth has the same fault, but her teeth are good. She talks a great deal, and French tolerably' (Letters, iii. 434). The records of Charlotte's life are entirely of a domestic nature. She was merely a lay figure in the numerous state pageants in which her position obliged her to take part, and she had no interest in nor influence over English politics, which she probably scarcely understood. The king, though a devoted husband, never discussed affairs of state with her. She was a woman of little ability, but she certainly acted up to her own standard of duty. Court life during this long reign was perfectly decorous, and it must be added very dull and colourless. Scandal could only say of her that she was somewhat mean in money matters; but this was probably from early training (the story of an intrigue with the Chevalier d'Eon hardly requires serious mention; see Thom, Queen Charlotte and the Chevalier d'Eon, reprinted from Notes and Queries, 1867). In 1788, when the king became ill, the care of his person and the disposition of his household were placed in her hands, and in 1810, when, on the death of the Princess Amelia, George became permanently insane, much the same arrangements were made. The queen died at Kew 17 Nov. 1818, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Of the fifteen children born of her marriage, the last three, Octavius, Alfred, and Amelia, predeceased their mother.
[There are Lives of Queen Charlotte (with portraits) by W. C. Oulton, 1819, and T. Williams, 1819, but they are merely external. In the numerous memoirs of the period there is much information about the queen's private life. Walpole's Letters, Miss Burney's Memoirs, and Mrs. Delany's Autobiography are the chief of these; others will be found quoted in Jesse's Memoirs of Life and Reign of George III, 3 vols. 1867. In Brit. Mus. Cat. under this heading is a list of funeral sermons, satires, &c., relating to the queen, and among the manuscripts are a number of her official papers.]