Today marks the 205th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom, who died on this day in 1818! Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown was the petite jewel of the iconic British Queen which became the source of a decades-long dispute with Queen Victoria, but has remained with the House of Hannover for over a century and a half!
When King George III married Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, he purchased several jewels, for his bride at the time of their marriage, for £50,000, which were combined with Hanvoverian Royal Heirlooms and presented to the new Queen. This Crown was described in 1960:
It follows the established style of English royal crowns, the circlet carrying alternate crosses patées and fleurs-de-lis. It is closed with two arches surmounted by an orb and crown. The crown is profusely set with brilliants, many of them being of notable size. It has a unique feature. From the junction oft the arches spring four golden rods, which are slightly curved and from the end of each of which is a pendant formed of a large solitaire pendaloque diamond, which greatly adds to the effect when the crown is worn. A plate is fixed to the outside of the case which bears the inscription:
“CR This box contains the crown which I found at my arrival in the year 1761”.
Just weeks after their wedding, King George III and Queen Charlotte were crowned in a spectacular Ceremony at Westminster Abbey, with the Queen being crowned with her new Nuptial Crown instead of the existing Queen Consort’s Crown.
The Nuptial Crown was depicted on display in several of Queen Charlotte’s portraits, including one of Queen Charlotte in her Robes of State, which was made by Joshua Reynolds in 1779.
When Queen Charlotte’s eldest son, George Prince of Wales, married his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, in 1795, it appears the bride wore Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown for the wedding ceremony in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace. Queen Charlotte made all the arrangements, which were described:
The Bride-Maids to the Princess have got elegant dresses to correspond with each other, made up for the Royal Marriage, at the Queen’s expense. The wedding dress and jewellery are superb beyond description. The Queen has furnished the whole of the Princess’s wardrobe.
The Royal Bride was dressed in silver tissue with a crimson velvet robe. She wore a coronet of diamonds valued at twenty thousand pounds. The Prince had on a chocolate coloured coat richly embroidered with silver and rich epaulets.
After Queen Charlotte’s passing in 1818, some of her personal jewels, like the Arcot Diamonds were sold at Auction, but in her will, Queen Charlotte left the jewels presented to her upon her marriage to:
The House of Hanover, to be settled upon it, and considered as an Heirloom, in the Direct Line of Succession of that House as established by the Laws and Constitution of the House of Hanover.’
The Hanoverian Crown Jewels passed to King George IV in 1818, then his brother, King William IV, in 1830, and finally to Queen Victoria, in 1837, when the dual monarchy ended, and the Kingdom of Hannover was inherited by her uncle, the former Duke of Cumberland, who soon filed a claim for:
the ‘Ancient Hanoverian Jewels’ bequeathed by George I to the Electorate, and jewellery bequeathed by Queen Caroline to Hanover.”
Queen Victoria was notably depicted wearing the Nuptial Crown for a Drawing Room at St James’ Palace in 1839. While commissioners were appointed to look into the King of Hannover’s claims in 1843, Queen Victoria continued to wear the Hanoverian Crown Jewels and also had various stones used in other jewels like her Regal Circlet and her Oriental Circlet Tiara.
Eventually, in 1857, the commission ruled in favour of the King of Hannover, now her cousin, since her uncle had passed away, and while personally devastated, Queen Victoria sent the Hanoverian Crown Jewels to Hannover, but a few years later, commissioned her Small Diamond Crown as a replacing the Nuptial Crown.
In 1866, the Kingdom of Hannover was annexed by Prussia and the Royal Family fled into exile in Austria. However, the Hanoverian Crown Jewels, which had initially been buried for fear of having them confiscated, were smuggled by a Countess Kielmannsegg back into London, to be deposited into the Bank of England, as recounted by Queen Mary:
After reading the enclosed story about the saving of the Hanoverian Crown Jewels in 1866, I remembered that my Aunt the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz had told me that when she was coming to England on a visit in 1870, when she arrived at Calais to embark in her special steamer (in those days every member of the royal family was given a special steamer for crossing the Channel), a Hanoverian lady she knew met her and asked whether the Grand Duchess would give her a passage to England because she had the Hanoverian crown jewels sewn into her dress and that the crown was inside her hat, she was to deposit them in the Bank of England in London for safe keeping. Of course the Grand Duchess consented readily.
Eventually, the Crown Jewels made their way to the Hanoverian Royal Family in Austria, where they resided at Schloss Cumberland, but were not depicted on Queen Marie or Crown Princess Thyra, with the Nuptial Crown not appearing again publicly until 1904, when it was worn by Princess Alexandra of Hanover for her Wedding to Grand Duke Frederick Francis IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at Schloss Cumberland.
Several years later, in 1938, Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown was taken to Athen where it was worn by Princess Frederica of Hanover, herself a descendant of Queen Victoria, along with Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara for her Wedding of Crown Prince Paul of Greece, who was also a descendant of Queen Victoria.
Following the trials and tribulations of the Second World War, when the Hanoverian Royal Family had to flee back to Hanover, Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown was worn by Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg along with the Hannover Diamond Necklace Tiara for her Wedding to Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover in 1951.
In 1960, Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown was worn by Princess Alexandra of Ysenburg and Büdingen for her Wedding to Prince Welf Henry of Hanover, the younger brother of Queen Frederica and Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover.
The last public appearance of Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown came in 1981, when Princess Alexandra of Hanover, the youngest daughter of Prince Ernest Augustus and Princess Ortrud, wore the Crown for her Wedding to Prince Andreas of Leiningen in Amorbach.
It is often claimed that the Hanoverian Royal Family keep some old heirlooms, like the Crown Jewels, in a Bank Vault in the United Kingdom rather than in Germany, and that may be why the Jewels have not been publicly worn in decades. The current Princess of Hanover, Princess Caroline of Monaco, is estranged from her husband and has not worn Hanoverian Jewels in years.
Ekaterina Malysheva wore the Hanoverian Floral Tiara for her Wedding to Hereditary Prince Ernst August of Hanover at the Marktkirche in Hannover in 2017, as did Alessandra de Osma when she married Prince Christian of Hanover at the San Pedro Church in Lima, Peru. Perhaps, the Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown will be worn by Princess Alexandra, the only daughter of the current Prince, for her wedding, hopefully sometime in the near future!
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