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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte 1801

RCIN 407292

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Caroline, Princess of Wales, married the future George IV in 1795 but within a year the couple had separated and by 1800, when this portrait was begun, she had set up an alternative court at Montague House, Blackheath. Princess Caroline had taken lessons on the harp, an instrument highly regarded in court circles, and here - watched over by a shadowy bust of Minerva, patroness of the arts - she tunes her harp and prepares to play the music offered up by her daughter Princess Charlotte (1796-1817).

Princess Charlotte was the only child of the future George IV and Caroline, Princess of Wales and, consequently, heir to the throne. She died tragically in 1817, giving birth to her first child. The infant also died, thereby extinguishing two links in the British Royal Line of Succession. This unhappy event is the reason why the throne passed from George IV to his younger brother, William IV, and then to his niece, Queen Victoria.