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Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen: The Childless Queen Mother

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Hanoverian to Windsor Consorts

Part of the book series: Queenship and Power ((QAP))

Abstract

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen married George III’s son, William, Duke of Clarence, during a crisis. George’s only legitimate grandchild had died in 1817, leaving the future of the royal succession uncertain. It was important that William and Adelaide provide heirs to the throne, but none of their children lived for more than four months. This chapter explores Adelaide’s experience—and lack of experience—of motherhood, and how this shaped her life as royal duchess, queen consort, and queen dowager. It demonstrates that Adelaide’s maternal affection went beyond the political necessity of providing royal heirs, as she forged close relationships with her nephews and nieces—focusing especially on Adelaide’s relationship with her husband’s eventual successor, Queen Victoria. Differences of political opinion threatened to tear them apart, but by carefully avoiding confrontation, Adelaide preserved her position as effective Queen Mother of the British royal family.

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Notes

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    Chronik der Stadt Meiningen von 1676 bis 1834 (Meiningen: 1835), 2:133, 150–151. All translations are my own. I thank Rebecca Klarner for checking my translations from German to English.

  2. 2.

    G.N. Wright and John Watkins, The Life and Times of William IV (London, 1837), 864.

  3. 3.

    Alfred Erck and Hannelore Schneider, Adelheid: Die Meiningerin auf dem englischen Königsthron (Meiningen: Bielsteinverlag, 2004), 18.

  4. 4.

    Erck and Schneider, Adelheid, 13, 16, 21.

  5. 5.

    Erck and Schneider, Adelheid, 18; G. Cecil White, Glimpses of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in Letters of the Late Miss Clitherow (London: R. Brimley Johnson, 1902), 20–21.

  6. 6.

    Erck and Schneider, Adelheid, 19, 57, 133.

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  8. 8.

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  9. 9.

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  10. 10.

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  11. 11.

    Nipperdey, Germany, 81–83.

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  19. 19.

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  20. 20.

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  21. 21.

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  22. 22.

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Massey, J. (2023). Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen: The Childless Queen Mother. In: Norrie, A., Harris, C., Laynesmith, J., Messer, D.R., Woodacre, E. (eds) Hanoverian to Windsor Consorts. Queenship and Power. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-12829-5_6

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