Friday, July 3, 2009

Caroline Bauer: The Prisoner of Regent Street (1807 - 1878)

Caroline was astonished when Prince Leopold suggested that he take her back to London so that she could share his 'golden solitude'. He had only set eyes on her once! He was not bad-looking and he was royal so she considered the offer seriously. She was a little tired of the stage and she might enjoy being feted by a Prince.

Beautiful Caroline reminded the Prince of his beloved wife, Charlotte, who died in child-birth. He didn't treat her as well as Charlotte, however. Caroline was used to being given jewels and flowers by her many admirers, and praised for her acting. Leopold kept her a virtual prisoner and hardly spent any money on her at all! He was also 'cold, pedantic and petulant'.

Leopold was unwilling to marry her because he'd been offered the Greek throne and he probably didn't want Caroline to be his Queen. She complained to her cousin, Baron Stockmar, who was Leopold's advisor, about his bad treatment of her. They had a civil wedding which she describes as 'drearily desolate', although her mother was pleased and 'pressed her to her heart amid tears of joy.'

When her brother, a German army officer, wanted the loan of a fair amount of money, neither Leopold nor Stockmar would agree to it. She hurled reproaches at them and left them. She never spoke to either of them again.

Caroline eventually married a Polish count, Wladyslaw Plater. She died tragically from an overdose of sleeping pills. Legend has it that her memoirs were found by her side.


Matterhorn said...

I have always thought this was such a strange story. Leopold really never seems to have got over Charlotte. Even when he was later King of the Belgians, and married to Louise-Marie of Orléans, he apparently kept a portrait of Charlotte around and would gaze at it with a distant look. And, of course, he named his daughter by Queen Louise-Marie, the future Carlota of Mexico, after his first wife. Louise-Marie was always humble and docile and accepted all this, but it must have been hard for her!

Ms. Lucy said...

Poor Caroline (literally)..the more you read, the more you realize that many royal ladies lived such a sad life...Thanks for this interesting piece.

Viola said...

Thank you so much for your comments. Some of the Victorian royals apparently grieved excessively for their deceased spouses. One thinks of Queen Victoria.

Queen Louise must have been pretty good to put up with that sort of treatment from Leopold. I suppose that he saw Charlotte very much through rose-coloured glasses because they had so little time together.

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