GUEST BLOG: Prince Charming in Disguise by Bronwyn ScottWednesday, April 6, 2011 9:00
Caroline of Ansbach and Prince George, later King George III of England
A real life love story, that’s what I wanted to do when I got the call to be part of Harlequin’s Royal Wedding series. We were given a choice: find a British royal wedding in history and build a fictional relationship around the setting of an actual royal wedding OR do a royal couple themselves. I wanted to do a real royal couple. I was convinced there must have been a happy wedding out there somewhere.
That was the hard part. Royal weddings in history, being what they were, were inevitably politically driven by a number of factors, romance not necessarily being one of them. But I did find intriguing accounts of the courtship of Caroline of Ansbach by Prince George and I was hooked.
It was a courtship made for a romantic tale—a lovely princess known for her beauty and intelligence but from an obscure German house, struggles to make a marriage on her own terms although her guardian, the powerful King of Prussia, has other ideas about a suitable match. So good so far, right? Who doesn’t love an independent heroine in distress as she fights against the system? Well, that was Caroline in a nutshell. Charles of Spain is mad for her, all she has to do is convert to Catholicism and the riches of the world will be laid at her feet.
Enter George. He’s got a hero’s background. Courageous and stubborn, up until now he’s led a standard German prince’s life — he hunts and flirts and beds half the court. His every wish is granted, until he goes wife hunting. Refused by Hedwig Sophia of Sweden, he is the perfect case of once bitten, twice shy. It’s time to marry but he needs a bride! He hears of the lovely Caroline but is reluctant to show his cards before he’s sure he’ll be well received. He can’t risk being turned down twice — people will start to wonder what’s wrong with him. So he goes to Ansbach in disguise as a ‘common’ German baron. He spends a few days being entertained at Ansbach by Caroline and her brother, where he is stricken with a case of love at first sight. Caroline is all that he hoped. According to one dispatch, during his days at Ansbach he had to ‘restrain his ardor,’ so overcome was he by Caroline. He returns home and demands the betrothal process be put in order at once.
Of course, Caroline does not know she’s entertained a prince in disguise until his messenger returns to Ansbach and reveals all. She is stunned but willing. She too had developed feelings for the ‘baron’ during his stay. She makes all haste to George’s side and the rest is history.
Yes, there were problems later and like any marriage, even in today’s world, the fairytale can’t last forever. George had mistresses throughout his life, as was expected by custom and by Caroline. Yes, George was short of stature, but the history books suggest that even if he wasn’t tall, in his younger years he was attractive enough to pass muster. I think one report put it that the George Caroline looked upon at Ansbach had not yet begun to show his flaws and was quite the golden charmer. To his credit, George stayed by her side during a smallpox epidemic when she was close to death. She recovered, but George did get smallpox for his efforts. To her credit, she bore him several children and never once sided against him in political matters. She was often regarded as the real brain behind the throne and served as Regent on several occasions while George was off traveling.