Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Queen Adelaide

Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV

There are quite a few people who wouldn't be able to say what they were doing tonight if it wasn't for the queen consort who was learning to become a dowager on this day in 1837.  If you're a regular at one of the ten or so pubs in England that rejoice in the name of Queen Adelaide then tonight might be the night to raise a drink in honour of the woman who's head is no doubt swinging just above yours on a painted sign.

The sign for the Queen Adelaide, London, SW18 - it's one of a handful of pubs in England that bear the name of this former Queen Consort
Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was born on August 13th 1792 in Meiningen and chosen as a bride by William, Duke of Clarence when she was twenty six years old.  He was on the look out for a wife after the death of his eldest brother's only legitimate child and he and his unmarried brothers headed off to the continent to find suitable girls to be possible queen consorts.  William was most likely to be king - he was the third son of George III but the brother between Billy and the heir to the throne was already married with no children so the crown was likely to head William's way.  And that meant he got first pick and he chose Adelaide, it's thought because she was calm, quiet and quite well behaved.  Given the trouble that the heir, the Prince Regent, had had with his strong willed wife it was hardly surprising that the man most likely to be monarch went for a quite type.
Another sign for another Queen Adelaide pub in London
Perhaps appropriately for a woman who ended up gracing the signs of so many pubs in England, Adelaide's first meeting with her king was in the bar of a hotel.  It's not quite as seedy as it sounds - the bar was the Grillon in London and there were plenty of chaperones.  Neither hated the other at first sight so they married the following week and seemed to have been content, perhaps even happy, despite a twenty seven year age gap.

It looks nothing like her but this rather cross, dark haired governess from a gothic novel is apparently the woman who was queen of England for seven years

None of Adelaide's children lived very long and by the time she became queen consort, they had all died and she was unlikely to have any more.  King William and his consort proved to be hugely popular and the queen remained an influence after his reign, helping their young niece Victoria establish herself on the throne following the death of her husband on June 20th 1837.

Adelaide, Queen of England, 1830 - 1837

Adelaide outlived her husband by 12 years and retained her popularity throughout her time as dowager queen. She died at Bentley Priory on December 2nd 1849 and was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor.  Her name has been given to towns, villages and stations across the world. But her most widespread legacy remains above some of the oldest buildings in Britain, inns that were built before she was born but which retain her name long after her death. Raise a glass tonight to Adelaide, a queen well worth remembering.

No comments:

Post a Comment