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Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 1778-1841

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Friederike Louise Caroline Sophie Charlotte Alexandrine) (3 March 1778 – 29 June 1841) was a German princess who became, by marriage, princess of Prussia, princess of Solms-Braunfels, Duchess of Cumberland in Britain and Queen of Hanover (in Germany) as the consort of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover (the fifth son and eighth child of King George III).

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
(Friederike Louise Caroline
Sophie Charlotte Alexandrine)
Princess of Prussia
Princess of Solms-Braunfels
Duchess of Cumberland
Queen of Hanover
3 March 1778 – 29 June 1841

3 March 1778
Altes Palais

29 June 1841
(aged 63)
Kingdom of Hanover

Herrenhausen Palace

Husband 1
Louis Charles
Prince of Prussia

Husband 2
Frederick William
Prince of Solms-Braunfels

Husband 3
Ernest Augustus
King of Hanover

Children By Prince Frederick Louis of Prussia

Prince Frederick Wilhelm Ludwig of Prussia
26 September 1795-6 April 1798

Prince Frederick Wilhelm Charles George of Prussia
(no image available)

Princess Frederica Wilhelmina Luise Amalie of Prussia
30 September 1796-1 January 1850

Children by By Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels

Princess Sophia of Solms-Braunfels
27 February 1799-20 October 1799
(no image available)

Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels
11 September 1800-14 September 1800
(no image available)

Prince Frederick Wilhelm Heinrich Casimir Georg Karl Maximilian of Solms-Braunfels
13 December 1801-12 September 1868

Princess Augusta Luise Therese Matilda of Solms-Braunfels
25 July 1804-8 October 1865

Unnamed daughter
(no image available)

Prince Alexander Frederick of Solms-Braunfels
12 March 1807-20 February 1867

Prince Frederick Wilhelm Ludwig Georg Karl Alfred Alexander of Solms-Braunfels
27 July 1812-13 November 1875

Children By Prince Ernest Augustus

Princess Frederica of Cumberland
27 January 1817-27 January 1817 stillborn

Unnamed daughter
April 1818-April 1818

George V of Hanover
27 May 1819-12 June 1878

Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt

Frederica’s mother died on 22 May 1782 after giving birth to her tenth child. Two years later (28 September 1784), her father remarried the younger sister of his deceased wife, Princess Charlotte of Hesse-Darmstadt, but this union ended just one year later, when Charlotte died of complications resulting from childbirth on 12 December 1785. The twice-widowed Duke Charles considered himself unable to give his daughters proper rearing and education, so he sent Frederica and her elder sisters Charlotte, Therese and Louise to their maternal grandmother, Princess Maria Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt.

Frederica’s family were anxious to arrange advantageous marriages and used family connections to bring this about. On 14 March 1793, the Princesses of Mecklenburg -Strelitz met the Prussian King Frederick William II. He was immediately captivated by the grace and charm of both sisters, Frederica and Louise.

The pending marriage negotiations received traction and within weeks, the matter was settled: Frederica’s elder sister Louise would marry Crown Prince Frederick William, and Frederica would marry his younger brother Prince Louis. The double engagement was celebrated in Darmstadt on 24 April 1793, only a few weeks after the sister fortuitously met their future father-in-law at the theatre. On December 24, Louise and Crown Prince Frederick William were married in the Royal Palace of Berlin; two days later, on 26 December, Frederica and Prince Louis were also married at the same venue. Unlike her sister, Frederica did not enjoy a happy marriage. Although her husband died only three years after the wedding, Louis was said to have preferred the company of his mistresses. Despite her husband’s alleged neglect, Fredrica did bear him three children in as many years: Frederick in 1794; a short-lived son, Charles, in 1795 and a daughter, Frederica, in 1796.

Chief of the Dragoons Regiment No.1, stationed in Schwedt. One year later, on 23 December 1796, Prince Louis died of diphtheria. It was three years almost to the day since their wedding. At this time, his youngest child, Frederica, was less than three months old, and his eldest son was hardly two years old. In 1797, Frederica and her cousin Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III of Great Britain by his wife Charlotte (Frederica’s paternal aunt), became unofficially engaged. The King did not refuse his consent but asked his son to wait until the war with France was over. The relationship eventually ended, with rumors circulating – as Queen Charlotte believed – Frederica had jilted him for another man. In 1798 Frederica became pregnant. The father was Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. The prince requested her hand in marriage a proposal that was quickly granted in order to avoid scandal. On 10 December of that year, the couple was married in Berlin and immediately moved to Ansbach. Two months later, in February 1799, Frederica gave birth to a daughter who only lived eight months. Prince Frederick, disappointed and embittered, resumed his old dissipated lifestyle and became an alcoholic.

Frederica had to maintain her family with her own resources after her brother-in-law, King Frederick William III of Prussia, refused to restore her annual pension as a dowager princess of Prussia. Frederica’s older brother-in-law and head of the family, William Christian, Prince of Solms- Braunfels, advised her to get a divorce, with his full approval. She and her husband nonetheless refused. In May 1813, during a visit to his uncle Duke Charles in Neustrelitz, Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the fifth son of King George III of Great Britain, met and fell in love with Frederica. Duke Charles made it clear to his daughter that her separation from the Prince of Solms-Braunfels was absolutely logical, and that he saw a marriage with an English prince as a great opportunity for her. During the next months Frederica considered the intentions of Ernest Augustus and the possible effects on her own situation. Some time later Frederica asked the Prussian king for approval for her divorce. All parties agreed, but Frederick William’s sudden death on 13 April 1814 precluded the need for a divorce. The prince’s demise was considered by some as a little too convenient, and some suspected that Frederica had poisoned him.

In August, the engagement with Ernest Augustus was officially announced. After the British Prince Regent gave his consent to the wedding, Frederica and Ernest Augustus were married on 29 May 1815 at the parish church of Neustrelitz. Some time later, the couple traveled to Great Britain and married again on 29 August 1815 at Carlton House, London. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz bitterly opposed the marriage, even though her daughter -in-law was also her niece. She refused to attend the wedding and advised her son to live outside England with his wife. On 20 June 1837 King William IV of the United Kingdom and Hanover died without issue. His heir was Princess Victoria, only daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, but because Hanover had been ruled under semi Salic Law since the times of the Holy Roman Empire, she could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. The next male descendant of the late king was the Duke of Cumberland, Frederica’s husband, who then became King of Hanover, with Frederica as his Queen consort.

After a short illness, Queen Frederica of Hanover died in 1841 at Hanover. The Court master builder Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves was instructed by the King to build a mausoleum for his wife and himself in the garden of the chapel at Herrenhausen Palace. He also gave royal orders for the transformation of a central square near the Leineschloss and renamed it Friederikenplatz in her honor.

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