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Charlotte the Forgotten Princess at The Royal Pavillion

May 23, 2012

I’ve been very busy the last couple of weeks with lots of vintage and family related happenings. So I’ve had no time at all for blogging. Amongst other things I have been approached by Hampton Court Palace to organise some vintage stalls at their Jubilee event in June. Anyway, yesterday I had by wisdom tooth extracted, and while I’m resting, feeling sorry for myself and eating sorbet, it seems like the perfect time to talk about my trip to Brighton.

The Royal Pavillion, Brighton

As I have mentioned in a couple of other posts, I have a bit of an obbsession with Princess Charlotte daughter of George IV. Describing her as ‘the forgotten princess’ pretty much sums up how over time her short life has been forgotten. So obviously I was delighted when I heard about the new exhibition at The Royal Pavillion, devoted to her story and artifacts from her life.

The last major exhibition involving Princess Charlotte was back in 1997 when the Museum of London held an exhibition entitled ‘In Royal Fashion’ which was a collection of dresses belonging to Princess Charlotte and Queen Victoria. I am lucky enough to own the book from the exhibition which I would recommend to anyone who can get their hands on a copy.

Princess Charlotte’s Russian Dress, Museum of London

We are lucky that so many of Princess Charlotte’s clothes survive. As far as I know they were passed on to a dress maker and were kept untouched and eventually passed to Queen Mary as part of her Royal collection, she then donated them to the museum of London. I can’t go into too much detail on this as my copy of the book is still in storage since my move. In fact this would probably make a very interesting future blog post!

Princess Charlotte, by Geaorge Dawe, 1817, National Portrait Gallery

The reason i have mentioned Princess Charlotte’s clothing is that two of her dresses are featured in this exhibition. One of them ‘the russian dress’ is hugely significant as there are several portraits of her, where she is painted wearing this dress, which happens very rarely. The post famous painting featuring the russian dress is one I have seen many times at The National Portrait Gallery, painted by George Dawe. The painting is currently on loan the The Royal Pavillion to be shown alongside the dress.

The exhibition features some famous engravings of Charlotte as a child with her mother Caroline as well as contemporary caricatures. One of the nicest depictions of her childhood is a little piece of linen baby clothing worn by Charlotte in infancy, it is charming to see something like this survive and remind’s me of Charlotte’s little baby shoes that were on display at Kensington Palace during ‘The Enchanted Palace Exhibition’. The saddest part of the whole exhibition is another piece of baby clothing, this one part of the layette for Charlotte’s baby son who was still-born shortly before her death. It reminds us of the tragedy that ended Charlotte’s life. Not only was she the future queen of England, but the baby boy had he survived would have grown up to be king.

Much of the rest of the exhibition is made up of artifacts from the time. Regency people were clearly fans of souvenirs and pretty much anything could be turned into a commemorative item. There is a mix of items commemoration Charlotte’s marriage and also many from her death.

This is a very short and limited exhibition, representing a very short life. The choice of items is perfect as you get a very strong impression of Charlotte’s short life as well as the impact of her death upon the country. Not to mention the fact that the exhibition is set within the incredible Royal Pavillion. This is the perfect day out for any regency fanatic. The Pavillion is more sumptuous and grand than you could ever imagine, it is a shock to the senses and gives a fabulous impression of the Prince Regent himself as a man of both great taste and utter greed.

The Banqueting Room at the Royal Pavilion, from John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion (1826).

The exhibition is running until 10th march 2013 find out more here

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