The first British royal Charlotte was George III’s queen. She is best known as the founder of London’s Kew Gardens and for perhaps having black ancestry. Born in Germany in 1744, fifteen generations back in her family tree is King Alfonso III of Portugal and his mistress Madragana of Faro in Algarve, described as a “Moor”.
Their eldest, and heir, was George. At age 23, he secretly married a Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert. The marriage was not legal. He had children with her and other women, but none could be his heir.
Princess Charlotte, heir to the throne
A “suitable” wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was chosen for him. An heir, Princess Charlotte Augusta, was born in 1796. George and Caroline separated soon after. George became Prince Regent in 1810, taking over from his father whose mental illness had incapacitated him.
Seven years later, at the age of 21, Princess Charlotte died in childbirth.* George III and Queen Charlotte had many other grandchildren but all were illegitimate. With the Prince Regent unable to divorce and unwilling to share a bed with wife Caroline, he would have no more legitimate heirs. His brothers were hurriedly married off so there might be an heir and some spares.
George, Prince Regent became George IV in 1820. Next in line was his brother William, Duke of Clarence. But William lived with an actress Dorothy Jordan and their ten children. In return for his debts being paid and the promise of the throne, however, William agreed to leave his Fitzclarence kids and their mother.
He married Adelaide of Saxe-Meingenen. Their first daughter, Charlotte Augusta, lived only one day. A second daughter lived four days. William IV reigned seven years, until 1837. His heir was Princess Victoria, daughter of the next eldest brother, the late Edward Duke of Kent, and his wife Victoria of Saxe-Coburg.
When Victoria was born in 1819, the Prince Regent said no to the names Charlotte, Augusta and Georgiana, all closely associated with the crown. He agreed to Alexandrina, after her godfather Tsar Alexander I, and Victoria, after her mother.
Victoria became queen one month after turning 18. After three kings in three decades, she reigned for 63 years. She named one of her five daughters Augusta, but none Charlotte.
Victoria’s younger cousin got all the royal names, however. Princess Augusta Caroline Charlotte Elizabeth Mary Sophia Louisa of Cambridge was the daughter of George III’s seventh son Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. The title passed to Augusta’s brother George, the last to hold it until the present Prince William. Princess Augusta died in 1916 aged 94. During preparations for Edward VII’s coronation in 1902, she was called upon for advice. She was the only person in royal circles who could remember not only Queen Victoria’s coronation but also King William IV’s.
*Charlotte’s widower, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, later married Louise-Marie, daughter of the future King Louis-Phillippe of France. They named their first daughter Charlotte in honour of Leopold’s first wife. She became Empress Carlota, married to Maximillian of Mexico. Her brother became Leopold II of Belgium, inheriting the throne from his father.