Friday, December 12, 2008

Tart of the Week: Queen Caroline Matilda



Naughty Queen alert! If you are aware of what a prude King George III was, it might shock you to find that his baby sister was, well...not. Caroline grew up as you would a expect a young princess to. She was born in 1751, a few months after her father's premature death. She learned the way to walk, talk, and be the perfect little princess, so it was only a matter of time before she was married off to secure a political alliance.

The lucky fellow was the King of Denmark and Norway, Christian VII. Unbeknownst to sixteen year-old Caroline or the royal family, Christian had a few quirks. Actually, he was full out crazy. He was obsessive about his looks and was known too look at his ripped muscles in public. Christian was also into devious forms of sex and would wear disguises in public in order to pick fights. His peculiarities may have stemmed from sexual abuse as a child but also could have been attributed to schizophrenia.

Chistian's peculiarities only grew worse after his marriage with Caroline. He and the Duke of Devonshire seemed to share the same point of view that wives were for heirs and nothing else. Caroline was both scared and depressed by her husband's treatment of her, yet, she still managed to give birth to an heir. Since she performed her duty in the eyes of Christian, he left Caroline to do as she pleased while he did his (crazy) thing. In fact, she ended up being the one who ran the country. It was not long before she fell in love and had an affair with Johann Struensee, the royal physian and minister. It is likely that her other child, Princess Louise Auguste was likely Struensee's and not the king's. Just look at her features compared with her brother's.

Of course, things could not stay sunny for poor Caroline. Struensee decided to take advanatge of his cohorting with the queen (and ultimately ruler) and the king's trust to input some of his own decrees upon the country. Typical! This may have been okay for the lovestruck Caroline but not for the people of Denmark. The couple was invited to a masquerade which also just happened to be a trap. The two were arrested; Caroline was divorced and Struensee was drawn and quartered. Caroline was released from prison and put into exile, never to see her children again. Her own brother was afraid to let her into England for fear it could cause a disagreement with Denmark so Caroline had was forced to live in Germany. She died not long afterward of Scarlet Fever in 1775.

10 comments:

Noémi said...

I'm so glad you wrote about her! Caroline Mathilde is one of my favourite queens. (Also a very well described character in the book The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist). :)

ren said...

she's not such a stunner in that portrait but what a dress! beautiful!

cota said...

what a horrible death Struensee suffered.

Kira said...

I had no idea...interesting read!

Aquaria said...

Norah Lofts wrote a novel about Caroline many, many years ago. It was all from her point of view, so of course it was terribly tragic, and some of the scenes of what she dealt with from her husband.... Yikes.

Not the best read, but an interesting perspective of 18th century Denmark. Struensee gets to be a real heart throb, even though in real life he was apparently a jerk.

Still, it was just a bad situation for everyone, all around.

Anonymous said...

Of course... exile the woman and leave the nut job running the country. Puts me in awe of what Catherine the Great accomplished! Her kids look a bit alike tho; have the same nose, even if her dau. might be Struensee's.

Clancaster said...

I discovered Caroline Mathilde by reading "A Royal Affair: George III and his Scandalous Siblings" by Stella Tillyard and found her and Struensee quite interesting and forward-thinking for their time. For a woman who died at 23 and on the eve of a possible return to power as the Queen of Denmark (with her brother's, George III, secret approbation) she led an incredibly full and exciting life. I don't know why a screenplay hasn't been written about her!

Heather Carroll said...

I think the same thing with so many biographies I read. I would be there on opening night for a Caroline Matilda movie!

Violet said...

Actually! It has just been shown a film called "A Royal Affair" in Berlin about Caroline Matilda, Strunsee etc. It has very good reviews. You can watch the trailer(s) on youtube!

Heather Carroll said...

I will have to check it out!