Royal Family burials part 3 : Hanoverians, George III and his decendents

Royal tombs, Kensal GreenThe astonishing thing about the Hanoverian dynasty is that we begin it in (what feels like) the distant past, and end it in ordinary London cemeteries, and in the memory of our (or my, anyway) grandparents. This is mostly due to the astonishing reigns of Georges II and III, who notched up 93 years of kinging between them.

But let's kick off with George I: king of England by virtue of being the great-grandson of King James I, he was very, very German: Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Elector of Hanover, his Protestant religion won him the throne of England. He was the last King of England to be buried outside our island, at the Leineschloss. After WW2, his remains were moved to the Herrenhausen.

His wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle died after being imprisoned by her husband in the Castle of Ahlden for the last 30 years of her life as punishment for an affair. George I forbad mourning on her death from (probably) liver failure, and Sophia was initially buried in Ahlden's cellar. Her body was later moved to Celle and buried beside her parents.

George II, son of George I and Sophia, was another last: the last King of England to be buried in Westminster Abbey. His queen, Caroline of Ansbach was also buried there, along with most of their children, including George II's eldest son, Frederick Prince of Wales, who died before his father.

Unlike his father and grandfather, George III was born in England, in London at Norfolk House in 1738. After the third-longest reign of any British monarch, he died at Windsor Castle in January 1820, and is buried in St. George's Chapel, beside his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the second-longest-serving British royal consort, after the current Duke of Edinburgh. (Yes, I'm counting: I'm not a royalist but these stats are fun.) You want to know what happened to their children? There are fifteen of them... Okay, here goes:

  • George became Regent and then King George IV on his father's death. He's buried in St. George's Chapel.
  • Frederick Duke of York: SGC, Windsor.
  • King William IV: SGC, Windsor.
  • Charlotte, the Princess Royal, later Queen of of Württemberg is buried in the royal vault at Ludwigsburg Palace.
  • Edward, Duke of Kent: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Augusta: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg is buried in the Mausoleum of the Landgraves, Homburg.
  • Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover is buried in a mausoleum in the Herrenhausen gardens.
  • Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex is in Kensal Green Cemetery
  • Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge: SGC, Windsor. His son and successor, George Duke of Cambridge, is also in Kensal Green.
  • Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Sophia is (of course) in Kensal Green too.
  • Prince Octavius died aged 4, Prince Alfred died aged 2 and Princess Amelia died aged 27: all in SGC, Windsor

So we shipped some of them off to Germany, and some got buried, like good royalty, in St. George's Chapel. But Sophia and Augustus were buried in Kensal Green. Augustus died in 1843 and specified in his will that he did not want a state funeral. He was the only adult son of George III not to have a military or naval career, and married twice in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act (in short, he failed to gain his father's permission for the marriages). I imagine a younger son, for whom royalty is a restraint that's never going to be thrown off: he had enough older brothers to know he would never be king.

For Sophia, too, royal blood must have been a burden. Forced to live a cloistered life with her mother, when she died 5 years after Augustus, she had chosen to be buried near him rather than at Windsor. It's hard to think of burial in Kensal Green as an act of rebellion, but for these two, as for their nephew, I think it was.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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