Regency’s “Sable Garb of Woe”

From the November, 1818 issue of La Belle Assemblée or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies, the following notice appears:

Our Cabinet of Taste is unavoidably closed at present: every European court will, no doubt, adopt the ‘sable garb of woe’ for Britain’s virtuous queen.

It was said by contemporaries that this Lawrence portrait of George III's Consort bore a remarkable likeness to her.

And with that, Adelaide’s adventures come to an end–or, at least, they are no longer reported. Presumably her frivolous ways were considered an affront to the Readership’s sensibilities in this time of mourning following Queen Charlotte’s death.

Instead, anecdotes of the Queen’s final moments were shared. Sir Henry Halford, physician to the Regency, was in attendance during her last illness. It was he who sent to Carlton House, summoning the Prince Regent in:

..a statement so alarming, that the Prince sent instantly for the Duke of York to accompany him to Kew.

The queen was reportedly lucid throughout the duration of her last day on earth, November 17th. She sat in her chair, surrounded by her children, the Prince Regent holding her hand. In keeping with the Magazine’s determined tone of solemnity and discretion, further illustration of the deathbed scene was limited:

The expiring scene–the heart-rending feelings of the Regent, and all present, it will be equally impossible and unbecoming to attempt to describe.

Inevitably, bombazine is the dress material of mourning. This illustration of a carriage dress suitable for mourning, from the Magazine's November issue, is liberally trimmed in black velvet, from spencer to hem.

Inevitably, bombazine is the dress material of mourning. This illustration of a carriage dress suitable for mourning, from the Magazine’s November issue, is liberally trimmed in black velvet, from spencer to hem.

Queen Charlotte served as Consort for fifty-seven years and seventy days.

Just this past week we’ve been reminded of another Consort’s lengthy service.

Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh - 1954

Elizabeth II and Prince Philip–is it him or the uniform that draws the admiring glance? I can’t decide.

 

 

 

 

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The Regent’s House or God’s – Part One

Westminster Abbey by Canaletto, 1749

Unlike Prince William, Princess Charlotte did not wed in a church or chapel.  In fact, she is the only heir-presumptive to the English throne that I can think of being married in a secular place.   If there are others, they are few in number.

The Regent was in charge of all the arrangements for his daughter’s wedding and thus ordered the ceremony to take place at his palace, Carlton House.  In part two, we shall see that the plot is nothing as humorous as Father of the Bride.   

But for now, it should be noted that Carlton House was extensively rebuilt and decorated at great expense by the Prince Regent. It was admired for its lavish decoration and derided as being inferior to many hotels in Paris.  In front of the palace there was a curious set of columns which perplexed passers-by and inspired the-then famous ditty:

“Dear little columns, all in a row, What do you do there?  Indeed we don’t know.”

Carlton House (those pillars do look odd)

I’m digressing a bit, but the following observation by a contemporary witness is rather amusing:

Then the Duke of York bas been sent, as it would seem, to the Round House, and the Prince of Wales to the Pillory.”

*gales of laughter*

At times the Regent found the Duke of York somewhat trying.  Especially when he believed his younger brother, fond uncle as he was, would get his niece Charlotte into a scrape, or encourage her natural inclination towards rebellious behavior (I wonder where she got that from?).  The Duke of York had his own palace called York House, which stands today as the Scottish office in Whitehall.  You can see its prominent feature–a drumlike circular hall beyond the entrance vestibule.

York House, now Dover House