I posted about royal weddings back in February 2011. It intrigued me then to wonder what would have happened if Princess Charlotte had not died in childbirth in 1817.
I was not the only person who was wondering. I learned today that a new exhibition about Princess Charlotte has been opened at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The curator's motivation seems to have been this year's Diamond Jubilee; he found himself wondering what would have happened if it had been Charlotte's descendents who were on the throne now, rather than Victoria's.
You can read about the exhibition here. It's called Charlotte, the Forgotten Princess. It is on for a year, until March 2013, so some of us might be able to arrange to visit. I reckon it would be worth the journey.
When I visited Windsor last autumn, I was struck by the huge marble monument to Princess Charlotte in St George's chapel, showing her ascending to heaven with her still-born child in the arms of an angel. It reflects the depths of the mourning that followed Charlotte's death.
Suddenly, the Prince Regent had no heirs and no hope of begetting any, since his wife was still alive. The succession was up for grabs. The Prince Regent's brothers had to drop their long-term mistresses and go and find themselves German princesses to marry. No one else would do, because marrying a German princess was a requirement if any of them was eventually to become King of Hanover as well as Britain.
Just by Charlotte's memorial in St George's chapel, there's a statue of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, her husband. But the written material at Windsor doesn't explain that he was her husband. It just says he became King of the Belgians. I thought it was touching that he had been placed next to her and sad that most visitors wouldn't understand why. I hope the curators have changed it by now. It does seem unfair that Charlotte, and Leopold, have been forgotten.