Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
GPrincess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom
22 May 1770 – 10 January 1840
Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom was born at Buckingham House, London on 22 May 1770. Her father was the reigning British monarch, George III, the eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. Her mother was Queen Charlotte (née Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz). She was christened in the Great Council Chamber at St. James’s Palace, on 17 June 1770 by Frederick Cornwallis, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were The Hereditary Prince of Hesse-Cassel (her paternal first cousin once-removed, for whom The Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), The Princess of Nassau-Weilburg (her paternal first cousin once-removed, for whom The Dowager Countess of Effingham, former Lady of the Bedchamber to The Queen, stood proxy) and The Crown Princess of Sweden (another paternal first cousin once-removed, for whom The Countess of Holderness, Lady of the Bedchamber to The Queen, stood proxy).
The Princess’ upbringing was very sheltered and she spent most of her time with her parents and sisters. King George and Queen Charlotte were keen to shelter their children, particularly the girls. However, in 1812, Princess Elizabeth purchased The Priory at Old Windsor in Berkshire as her private residence.
Elizabeth was her mother’s favorite daughter. She was described as clever and rather demanding. Her sisters called her Fatima because of her weight problems.
It is alleged that Princess Elizabeth went through a form of marriage with George Ramus (1747-1808) and bore him a daughter, Eliza, in 1788. George Ramus was the son of Nicholas Ramus, who had been Page to Elizabeth’s father King George. Any such marriage would have been null and void under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, but several of Elizabeth’s brothers contracted similar alliances with commoners before marrying German princesses later in life. Eliza Ramus (1788-1869) was allegedly adopted and brought up by her uncle, Henry Ramus (1755-1822) of the East India Company. She married James Money (1770-1833), also of the East India Company, and her daughter Marian Martha (1806–69) married George Wynyard Battye (1805–88), a Bengal Judge. In widowhood, Eliza Ramus lived at 28 Chester Square in London, where she educated her Battye grandsons, all ten of whom became army officers, and nursed them when they were on sick or convalescent leave from India.
In 1808 Elizabeth was reluctantly obliged to decline a proposal from the exiled Duke of Orléans (later King of the French as Louis Philippe I) due to his Catholicism and her mother’s opposition.
During a ball in the British royal court in 1814 Elizabeth got to know the German Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg. When Elizabeth saw the Austrian officer in his elegant Hussar’s uniform, she is supposed to have said: “If he is single, I will marry him!“. Against all resistance the wedding took place on 7 April 1818 in the private chapel in Buckingham Palace in Westminster.
It was not a real “love match”, in spite of the mutual understanding and respect; in fact it was an agreement with which both were satisfied. Elizabeth was able to escape the constrictive environment of her home by moving to Germany with her husband, and Frederick gained many advantages by becoming allied with the British royal family.
On 20 January 1820, Frederick succeeded his father as the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg. Thanks to Elizabeth’s dowry and annual allowance, he was able to remodel the palace in Homburg. For her part, Landgravine Elizabeth could bid farewell to the rigid court etiquette she had disliked in England and as one would say today, “find herself”, as she could do much as she liked in her new environs.
She died on 10 January 1840 at age 69 in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany. She was buried in the Mausoleum of the Landgraves, Homburg, Germany.