Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh

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Princess Mary
Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Mary aged about 48
Portrait by Thomas Lawrence, 1824
Born(1776-04-25)25 April 1776
Buckingham House, London
Died30 April 1857(1857-04-30) (aged 81)
Gloucester House, London
Burial8 May 1857
(m. 1816; died 1834)
FatherGeorge III of the United Kingdom
MotherCharlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh (25 April 1776 – 30 April 1857) was the eleventh child and fourth daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom and his consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

She married her first cousin, Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, when both were 40, and was his widow in later life. In her last years, her niece Queen Victoria was on the throne as the fourth monarch during Mary's life, after her father and two of her brothers, George IV and William IV of the United Kingdom. Dying aged 81 at Gloucester House, Weymouth, Mary was the longest-lived and last survivor of George III's fifteen children (of whom thirteen lived to adulthood).

Early life and family

Princess Mary was born on 25 April 1776, at Buckingham Palace, London.[1] Her father was the reigning British monarch, George III. Her mother was Queen Charlotte, the daughter of Charles, reigning Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Mary was baptized on 19 May 1776, in the Great Council Chamber at St. James's Palace, by Frederick Cornwallis, The Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were:

The three youngest daughter of George III, painted in 1785.
Mary at left, aged nine, with her two younger sisters Sophia and Amelia in 1785. Painted by John Singleton Copley

The King was a devoted father, finding time to regularly visit the royal nursery. Engaging in active play with his young children, he behaved quite informally in contrast to the dignified Queen Charlotte, who had more difficulty abandoning the formal behaviour expected of their class. Despite her outer reserve, however, Charlotte took a role as conscientious as her husband in their children's upbringing. For the royal princesses, the Queen carefully oversaw their welfare, education, and development of moral values. Faced with less time due to her public duties and close marriage to the King, she appointed Lady Charlotte Finch to manage the royal nursery and administer her ideas.[2]

According to Flora Fraser, Mary was considered to be the most beautiful daughter of George III; Fraser calls her a "bland beauty". Mary danced a minuet for the first time in public at the age of sixteen in June 1791, during a court ball given for the king's birthday.[3] In the spring of 1792 she officially debuted at court.[3] Around 1796 Mary fell in love with the Dutch Prince Frederick, while he and his family lived in exile in London. Frederik was a son of William V, Prince of Orange, the Dutch stadholder, and younger brother to the future King William I of the Netherlands. However Frederik and Mary never wed because George III stipulated that her elder sisters should marry first. In 1799 Prince Frederik died of an infection while serving in the army, and Mary was allowed to go into official mourning.

Mary's youngest sister and beloved companion Princess Amelia called her "Mama's tool" because of her obedient nature. Amelia's premature death in 1810 devastated her sister, who had nursed her devotedly during her painful illness.

Princess Mary was quite close to her eldest brother, and she shared his antipathy toward his wife, their cousin Caroline of Brunswick. When the latter left for Italy, Princess Mary congratulated her brother "on the prospect of a good riddance. Heaven grant that she may not return again and that we may never see more of her."[4]

Marriage and later life

Daguerreotype of Princess Mary
1856 daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet of Princess Mary, seated far right. Sitting to her left are Queen Victoria and Princess Alice. Standing to the rear is the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII

Mary's upbringing was very sheltered and she spent most of her time with her parents and sisters. King George and Queen Charlotte were keen to shelter their children, particularly the girls.[citation needed] Mary, however, married on 22 July 1816, to her first cousin, Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the son of George III's brother, Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh.[5] On their wedding day, Mary's brother, The Prince Regent, raised the bridegroom's style from Highness to Royal Highness, an attribute to which Mary's rank as daughter of the King already entitled her.

William Frederick had initially sought to marry Mary's niece Princess Charlotte of Wales.[6] The historian A. W. Purdue suggests that Mary's motive for marrying her cousin sprang from her dislike of Queen Charlotte's restrictive household.[7] Princess Charlotte observed that the duke "is much in love, & and tells me he is the happiest creature on earth. I won't say [Mary] does as much, but being her own mistress, having her own house, & being able to walk in the streets all delights her in their several ways."[8]

The couple lived at Bagshot Park,[7] but after William's death she moved to White Lodge in Richmond Park.[citation needed] They had no children together.[7]


Princess Mary died on 30 April 1857 at Gloucester House, London, aged 81. She was the last-surviving and longest-lived child of King George III and Queen Charlotte.[7]


As of 1789, as a daughter of the sovereign, Mary had use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a rose gules, the outer points each bearing a canton gules.[9]

Coat of Arms of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh.svg


See also


  1. ^ Weir 2008, p. 299.
  2. ^ Hadlow 2014, pp. 203–07.
  3. ^ a b Lane, Henry M. (1911). The Royal Daughters of England. London. p. 191.
  4. ^ John van der Kiste: George III's Children, p. 106
  5. ^ Weir 2008, pp. 281, 299.
  6. ^ Purdue 2004b.
  7. ^ a b c d Purdue 2004a.
  8. ^ Williams 2016, p. 130.
  9. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  10. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 5.


External links