HRH Princess Charlotte of Wales and HSH Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield
May 2, 1816
Carlton House, London
Today we feature our oldest wedding gown to date, that of Princess Charlotte of Wales. Charlotte was the sole product of the disastrous and bitter marriage between the future King George IV and Caroline of Brunswick. She was quite a popular princess, and her marriage to Prince Leopold - a groom of her choice, instead of the Prince of Orange her father was pushing for her to wed - was greeted with much excitement. In fact, it became the first royal wedding for which souvenirs were made widely available.
Video: Including Charlotte's gown and othersSadly, a happy ending was not in the cards for Charlotte. In November of 1817, she died after giving birth to her first child, a stillborn son. She'd been in labor for two days, the baby was 9 pounds, and she was weak from months of maternity care in the form of blood letting and a strict diet. The events are now known as "the triple obstetrical tragedy" for taking the lives of Charlotte, her child, and her obstetrician Sir Richard Croft - he committed suicide, unable to handle the aftermath of the beloved princess' death.
Queen Victoria's wedding gown was criticized for being overly simple, and Charlotte's gown provides the context for such a statement. Knowing that Victoria's gown would mark such a change in royal wedding fashion makes this gown all the more special - a unique surviving glimpse at an extravagant royal time, and one I've always loved.
What do you make of Charlotte's opulent gown?
Photos: Wikipedia/Royal Collection/Historic Royal Palaces/AP/Telegraph