The monument to Princess Charlotte

Detail from the monument to Princess Charlotte
Detail from the monument to Princess Charlotte

The monument built in the memory of Princess Charlotte (1796-1817) that presides in the Urswick Chapel in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, was constructed by M.C. Wyatt. The money required to cover its cost was raised through private subscription as early as 1817, the same year as the Princess’s death. A list of subscribers who donated money was published in The Times newspaper in 1818. Subscribers were urged to write their names legibly on their subscription papers as mistakes were sometimes unavoidable when the newspapers were written and subsequently printed (The Times, 13th January 1818).

There were certain members of the public, however, who felt the money being raised could be used towards greater causes. One reader of The Times brought forward this suggestion in a letter to the editor: ‘The season is now approaching when the opera is to open: in support of its ballets, female children, from the age of 6 to 16, are brought forward: their remuneration for a season of 60 nights, is not more than 41.4s for each child: here is gain at the expense of eternal happiness, interdependent of the vice which is disseminated by their intercourse with those of their own age.’ (The Times, 25th December 1817). Another writer earnestly pleaded that the monument (whatever it turned out to be) should at least ‘…record in some measure the virtues of the distinguished personate to whose memory it is raised. It is not to be the mere mausoleum of her exalted rank, nor the funeral urn of her personal grace and accomplishments; – it is to express the esteem entertained for qualities of another order.’ (The Times, 13th February 1818).

According to an entry in the register of Chapter Acts, services in St George’s were disrupted and even cancelled in consequence of the work being undertaken in the Chapel for the erection of the Monument (SGC VI.B.9). It was finally unveiled in 1824, seven years after the Princess’s death. Over the years it has needed various restoration work – it was cleaned in 1844 by request of the Office of Works (SGC XVII.61.29 (b)) and in 1849 a pinnacle was restored over the tomb by local stone mason and builder, Thomas Bedborough, for the price of £25 (SGC VI.B.10)

Frances O’Donnell (Archives volunteer)

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.