Queen Charlotte's Letters

Although the Royal family was always in the public view, Queen Charlotte herself led a very private and protected life. However, her more than 440 letters to her only confidant -- her younger brother Grand Duke Charles II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz -- open a window on her innermost thoughts, her devout piety, intellectual interests, artistic endeavors, and her lifelong preoccupation with European Royal family affairs. Queen Charlotte, upon becoming the consort of George III, had promised never to meddle in politics, but a fair number of her letters comment on the American Revolution and the fate of German mercenaries among the British troops who were shipped to America to fight the rebels. Very few letters mention the King's progressive ill health. When she writes about her own homesickness and depression, she urges her brother not to disclose the contents of her letters to anybody. Another recurring theme in her letters is frugality. She constantly reminds her brother to spend money sparingly, particularly when buying things she is ordering through him. Another letter shows her indignation at her older brother, Adolf Friedrich IV, the reigning Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and his rather preposterous request that his sister, the Queen of Great Britain, take over his considerable private debts.

Her letters are written in the typical 18th century French of the European courts, with a smattering of German. In both languages, Queen Charlotte exhibits her own peculiar use of grammar and spelling. We have used italics whenever she underlined words and phrases. German quotes and phrases in her French text display in bold face type. To keep the reader's interest we have only selected and translated excerpts from the letters we chose.

We would like to thank the Mecklenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv for its generous permission to quote excerpts from Queen Charlotte's letters in this exhibit.

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Maintained by: jcooper@virginia.edu
Last Modified: Monday, November 10, 2003
© Jean L. Cooper and Angelika S. Powell