To celebrate our new season of Family Story Walks, artist Juwon Ogungbe explains the stories behind some of Greenwich’s most notorious residents…
Queen Caroline (Caroline of Brunswick) 1768 -1821
Queen Caroline was the estranged wife of King George IV of the United Kingdom. She was born in Brunswick, Germany in 1768 to Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and Princess Augusta – who was the eldest sister of King George III of Great Britain.
Caroline married George IV when he was still the Prince of Wales. They were cousins who only agreed to marry because George needed money and the British government promised to give him some if he went ahead with the union.
Caroline travelled from Germany to meet George and their first encounter was a disaster. They didn’t like each other at all!
The couple separated shortly after the birth of their daughter – Princess Charlotte of Wales, in 1796. George had married a secret second wife in the meantime.
Queen Caroline and Greenwich
Caroline of Brunswick lived in Montague House, Greenwich Park from 1798-1813. Princess Charlotte was looked after by a nanny in a house nearby and Caroline would go to visit her frequently.
Caroline’s bathtub in Montague House still exists as a sight to be seen in the park. In 1814, Caroline left to live in Italy and Montague House was demolished. The bath is all that is left of the old house.
A star of the newspapers of the day, Caroline of Brunswick was popular. Whenever she appeared in public, the people cheered. George was nowhere near as popular. He was said to have spent too much money on himself when Britain was involved in a costly war with France. George became jealous of Caroline’s popularity. This was one of the reasons why they separated. Caroline was also well known for her parties, which were attended by famous people of the day.
In Italy, Caroline heard the news that King George III had passed away. She was still lawfully wedded to the new King, so she decided to return to London to claim her position as the Queen.
The British Government offered her money to stay in Europe, but she didn’t accept it at first.
In 1820, Caroline attended King George IV’s coronation at Westminster Abbey and was not allowed to enter the Church. She tried to get it through all the entrances, but they were blocked by guards.
When Caroline passed away in 1821, she was buried in the Royal Burial Grounds in Greenwich Park. Her grave is a popular tourist destination.
Caroline of Brunswick was a controversial figure of her time. She is also remembered however, as a strong and independent woman who fought for her rights.
A playlist inspired by Queen Caroline