Most of you know that my number one daughter is called Adelaide. Some of you know that there is a Queen Adelaide pub in Putney Bridge Road. All know that Adelaide is the South Australian city which ex nanny Ruth Morris and cricketer Sir Donald Bradman call home.
But what of the dame who started all this name calling. She was from Saxe-Meiningen one of the many brood mare stables so loved by the Hanoverian kings. Her consort was eventually William IV who when they married was first reserve for the top job.
When George IV’s daughter Charlotte died in 1817 Parliament got into a bit of a funk about no direct next in line and demanded that his six brothers got their marriage acts together. William after a career in the Navy in which he became friendly with Nelson had settled down with the star actress Dorothea Jordan. They had ten children-all illegitimate and therefore of no dynastic use.
Parliament told William no dynastic play no pay. William looked around and did the best deal he could. Adelaide was a very conservative lady, petrified of change and therefore good wifey material and though William had been around and caught syphilis several times he turned out to be a good husband. On their marriage in 1818 he was 53 and she 26. Evenings would have him dozing and she doing embroidery . Older husbands often need extra sleep. Between her wedding and 1822 Adelaide had two children die in infancy and twins stillborn.
She was always on good terms with William’s children and was very close to her niece Victoria. She was exceptionally devout and reversed George IV’s dress rules by not allowing cleavage at court. She gave a considerable part of her income to charity.
At first for economy they lived in Hanover but when his elder brother Fred popped his clogs William moved to Bushey Park (by Hampton Court)to await the royal call. Which came in 1830.
Of course Bill and Addy were on the throne during tumultuous period of the Great Reform Act which swept away rotten boroughs and opened up suffrage. Many opposed the move to more popular rule- the King and Queen were not alone. William used his constitutional powers to bring back reactionary Wellington, to no avail. Those in favour of reform used Adelaide as a figurehead of all that was wrong with the establishment. Her lack of looks, her German accent ,her pillow talk influence were all thrown at her. Queen Addlehead was compared to Marie Antoinette as a malign foreign influence which could bring down monarchy and the state. Not quite.
The Reform Act was passed in 1832, tempers cooled. The people fell back in love with their king and queen. William died and Adelaide spent 1837-49 shuffling back and forth between Marlbrough House and Bushey Park. Cleavage is allowed in Putney’s Queen Adelaide.