by Susan Flantzer
© Unofficial Royalty 2023
Born on January 10, 1741, at Norfolk House, 31 St James’s Square, Westminster, London, England, Princess Elizabeth Caroline of Wales was the fourth of the nine children and the second of the four daughters of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Her paternal grandparents were King George II of Great Britain and Caroline of Ansbach. Elizabeth Caroline’s maternal grandparents were Friedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Magdalene Auguste of Anhalt-Zerbst.
The infant princess was christened on February 7, 1741, at Norfolk House by Thomas Secker, then Bishop of Oxford, later Archbishop of Canterbury.
Her godparents were:
- Karl Wilhelm Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, her first cousin once-removed by marriage, for whom Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, Gentleman of the Bedchamber to her father stood proxy
- Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, Queen of Denmark and Norway, for whom Anne, Viscountess Irwin stood proxy
- Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, her maternal aunt by marriage, for whom Lady Jane Hamilton stood proxy
Elizabeth Caroline had eight siblings:
- Princess Augusta of Wales, Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1737 – 1813) married Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, had seven children
- King George III of the United Kingdom (1738 – 1820) married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, had fifteen children
- Prince Edward of Wales, Duke of York and Albany (1739 – 1767), unmarried
- Prince William Henry of Wales, Duke of Gloucester (1743 – 1805) married Maria, Countess Waldegrave, had three children
- Prince Henry of Wales, Duke of Cumberland (1745 – 1790) married Anne Luttrell, no children
- Princess Louisa of Wales (1749 – 1768) died from tuberculosis, aged 19, unmarried
- Prince Frederick of Wales (1750 – 1765) died aged 15, unmarried
- Princess Caroline Matilda of Wales, Queen Consort of Denmark and Norway (1751 – 1775) married Christian VII, King of Denmark and Norway, had two children
In November 1742, the family of Frederick, Prince of Wales moved to Leicester House which stood on present-day Leicester Square in London. In 1751, Elizabeth Caroline was ten-years-old, her father died, leaving a pregnant widow with eight children. Elizabeth Caroline’s thirteen-year-old eldest brother George was now the heir to the throne and was created Prince of Wales by his grandfather King George II.
According to Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, an English writer, art historian, and Whig politician, Elizabeth Caroline was extremely delicate and backward. A letter to Sir Horatio Mann, 2nd Baronet, dated September 13, 1759, from Letters of Walpole states:
We have lost another Princess, Lady Elizabeth. She died of an inflammation in her bowels in two days. Her figure was so very unfortunate, that it would have been difficult for her to be happy, but her parts and application were extraordinary. I saw her act in “Cato” at eight years old, (when she could not stand alone, but was forced to lean against the side-scene,) better than any of her brothers and sisters. She had been so unhealthy, that at that age she had not been taught to read, but had learned the part of Lucia by hearing the others study their parts. She went to her father and mother, and begged she might act. They put her off as gently as they could—she desired leave to repeat her part, and when she did, it was with so much sense, that there was no denying her.
Nine days before Walpole wrote the letter, on September 4, 1759, Princess Elizabeth Caroline, aged 18, had died at Kew Palace in London. She was interred privately on September 14, 1759, in the Hanover vault under the central part of the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey in London.
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- Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Elizabeth_of_Great_Britain (Accessed: May 2, 2023).
- Weir, Alison. (1989) Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage Books.
- Williamson, David. (1996) Brewer’s British Royalty: A Phrase and Fable Dictionary. London: Cassell.