On May 2, 2015, Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed a daughter into their royal family. After much anticipation, the new princess’ name was shared with the public: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Media reports attribute the name “Charlotte” to honor the father of Prince William, namely Prince Charles; however, did you know there are a number of queens and princesses in the British royal family named “Charlotte”?
Perhaps the most famous of the royal “Charlottes” is Queen Charlotte of Meckelnburg-Strelitz. Queen Charlotte is best known to Americans as the spouse to King George III, under whose rule the English colonies declared their American independence and became known as the United States of America.
Aside from the king’s role in American independence, he and his wife Queen Charlotte were apparently quite the happy couple.
In 1780, King George III of the United Kingdom debuted his own debutante ball in honor of his wife, Queen Charlotte of Meckelnburg-Strelitz. The ball was aptly named Queen Charlotte’s Ball.
Queen Charlotte’s Ball was held annually on the queen’s birthday and included an elaborate, towering and fussy cake. The daughters of the best landed gentry families were presented to the queen and her husband and the tradition continued to reign long after their passing. It wasn’t until 1958 that the ruling monarchs ended the traditional event with Queen Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret proclaiming, “We had to put a stop to it . . . every tart in London was getting in!”
Though the exact count of “tarts” wasn’t readily available for this article, the ball had apparently lost much of its purpose and (ahem) quality.
In 2009, the ball was revived with private and corporate sponsorship. In 2014 the Queen Charlotte’s Ball was presented at Highclere Castle, the current working castle of Earl and Countess Carnarvon and set of the hit PBS series “Downton Abbey.”