Princess Power!

CarolineAnspach-JervasAndrea/Cara here. I recently saw a fascinating museum exhibit entitled “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World.” These three German princesses—Caroline of Ansbach, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha and Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz—all married into the British royal family and each had a profound influence on their adopted country. Needless to say, I came away enlightened!

According to Amy Meyers, Director of the Yale Center for British Art and the organizing curator, “The princesses had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural, and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations. The palaces and royal gardens they inhabited served as incubators for enlightened conversation and experimentation, and functioned as platforms to project the latest cultural developments to an international audience.”

George+Augustus+of+Hanover+&+Caroline+of+AnsbachOf the three, I was most familiar with Caroline of Ansbach. Orphaned at age eleven, she went live with Friederich III, Elector of Brandenberg, and the first King of Prussia. A highly intelligent and attractive woman, she thrived in Freiderich’s open-minded court, where she became friends with Gottfried Leibnitz, one of the leading intellectual giants of the 18th century. She then married George Augustus of Hanover, and when his father acceded to the British throne as George I on the death of Queen Anne, the young couple followed him to London as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Caro-of-AnspachCaroline was very involved in politics—she and her husband were often at loggerheads with George I, and for a time they were under house arrest and forbidden to see their children, Later, she served as Regent several times during her husband’s reign George II, when he made prolonged visits to Germany. But it was as a leader in shaping the culture of her court and the country for which she has earned high accolades from historians. Lucy Wortley called her  “the cleverest queen consort ever to sit on the throne of England.”

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