The Regent's Daughter: (Georgian Series)

BOOK: The Regent's Daughter: (Georgian Series)
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Contents

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Jean Plaidy

Title Page

Family Tree

Father and daughter

Charlotte’s household

Minney, Prinney and Mrs Fitzherbert

The old girls and the Begum

The will of the people

Oatlands

Summer by the sea

The arrival of Mercer

The rival Dukes and Mary Anne

Maria triumphant

Mystery in St James’s

Death of an old girl

The gallant Captain Hesse

Charlotte in revolt

The battle for Miss Knight

A letter to the
Morning Chronicle

Encounter of two carriages

Slender Billy

The hasty betrothal

Enter and exit Leopold

The dismissal of Orange

Night flight

The reconciliation

Charlotte in love

Married bliss

The end

Bibliograpy

Copyright

About the Book

The marriage of The Prince of Wales to Caroline of Brunswick was strewn with private skirmish and public scandal, yet it did bear a daughter – Princess Charlotte, heiress presumptive to the English throne. The Regent is still elegant, though moving swiftly into corpulent middle age as his wife Caroline remains determined to shock almost to the point of lunacy. Old George III rambles on into the mists of his madness and stern Queen Charlotte sits at the centre of her web of domestic spies.

Beneath them all sparkles Charlotte, much loved by her mother but kept distant by her father and grandmother. Ever bewildered by her bizarre collection of royal relatives, Charlotte grows up to be honest, forthright and always certain of her destiny, though an unfortunate twist of fate means it is never to occur.

About the Author

Jean Plaidy, one of the preeminent authors of historical fiction for most of the twentieth century, is the pen name of the prolific English author Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt. Jean Plaidy’s novels had sold more than 14 million copies worldwide by the time of her death in 1993.

Also by Jean Plaidy

THE TUDOR SAGA

Uneasy Lies the Head

Katharine, the Virgin Widow

The Shadow of the Pomegranate

The King’s Secret Matter

Murder Most Royal

St Thomas’s Eve

The Sixth Wife

The Thistle and the Rose

Mary, Queen of France

Lord Robert

Royal Road to Fotheringay

The Captive Queen of Scots

The Spanish Bridegroom

 

THE CATHERINE DE MEDICI TRILOGY

Madame Serpent

The Italian Woman

Queen Jezebel

 

THE STUART SAGA

The Murder in the Tower

The Wandering Prince

A Health Unto His Majesty

Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord

The Three Crowns

The Haunted Sisters

The Queen’s Favourites

 

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION SERIES

Louis the Well-Beloved

The Road to Compiègne

Flaunting, Extravagant Queen

 

THE LUCREZIA BORGIA SERIES

Madonna of the Seven Hills

Light on Lucrezia

 

ISABELLA AND FERDINAND TRILOGY

Castile for Isabella

Spain for the Sovereigns

Daughters of Spain

 

THE GEORGIAN SAGA

The Princess of Celle

Queen in Waiting

Caroline, the Queen

The Prince and the Quakeress

The Third George

Perdita’s Prince

Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill

Indiscretions of the Queen

Goddess of the Green Room

Victoria in the Wings

 

THE QUEEN VICTORIA SERIES

The Captive of Kensington

The Queen and Lord M

The Queen’s Husband

The Widow of Windsor

 

THE NORMAN TRILOGY

The Bastard King

The Lion of Justice

The Passionate Enemies

 

THE PLANTAGENET SAGA

The Plantagenet Prelude

The Revolt of the Eaglets

The Heart of the Lion

The Prince of Darkness

The Battle of the Queens

The Queen from Provence

The Hammer of the Scots

The Follies of the King

The Vow of the Heron

Passage to Pontefract

The Star of Lancaster

Epitaph for Three Women

Red Rose of Anjou

The Sun in Splendour

 

QUEEN OF ENGLAND SERIES

Myself, My Enemy

Queen of this Realm: The Story of Elizabeth I

Victoria, Victorious

The Lady in the Tower

The Goldsmith’s Wife

The Queen’s Secret

The Rose without a Thorn

 

OTHER TITLES

The Queen of Diamonds

Daughter of Satan

The Scarlet Cloak

The Regent’s Daughter

The ninth book in the Georgian Saga

Jean Plaidy

Father and daughter


THERE ARE WORSE
people in the world than your snuffy old grandmother,’ said the Princess Charlotte, giving George Keppel a push with her elbow.

George said nothing. He was never quite sure of Charlotte. If he agreed with her too readily she would be angry. ‘You have no opinions of your own,’ she would say. ‘You think you have to a … agree with me.’ And when she stammered he knew she was really angry. ‘How shall I ever know what people are thinking if they always agree with me? Eh, George Keppel?’ And when she did not have her own way she would kick the furniture in a sudden rage; but these moods were often worth while because they were over quickly and then she would laugh and be anxious to make up for what she would call ‘a most regrettable display of my ill temper’. ‘Why don’t you tell me I’m an ill-tempered beast, George Keppel?’

Pretty Minney Seymour was a far more comfortable person, thought George Keppel.

The fact was that Charlotte was older than either of them; three years older than he was and about two older than Minney; and Charlotte was not only ten years old but the daughter of the Prince of Wales.

‘Never forget,’ said his grandmother, Lady de Clifford, the snuffy one to whom Charlotte had referred, ‘that Her Royal Highness could one day be your queen.’

It was difficult to imagine Charlotte a queen, though she could be rather an arrogant little girl. She was not dainty like Minney; she leaped about rather awkwardly; she had pale blue eyes, hardly any eyebrows and lashes, and a very white skin. If she had had some colour in her face she would have been pretty, for she was very animated. But she had a way of leaning to one side which was not very graceful. She certainly was not his idea of a queen.

George and Charlotte had called with Lady de Clifford at Tilney Street, for Lady de Clifford was a friend and near neighbour of Mrs Fitzherbert and it was only a short distance from Lady de Clifford’s house in South Audley Street to Mrs Fitzherbert’s in Tilney Street and how pleasant for Minney to have children of her own age – or near enough – to play with while
the two ladies enjoyed a
tête-à-tête
in Mrs Fitzherbert’s drawing room.

The three children were at the window looking out on the street when Charlotte had made her remark; it was obvious the other two knew that this was a preliminary to some revelation. Charlotte had a deep sense of the dramatic.

She turned from the window and gave each of them a little push. This was a sign that window gazing was over and Charlotte was ready to talk.

‘Something is going to happen … soon,’ she said dramatically, and as Minney looked alarmed, went on impatiently: ‘It has nothing to do with you. I have heard nothing about
your
affair.’

‘I’m going to stay with dear Mamma?’ asked Minney fearfully.

‘She is not your Mamma, however much you wish she were,’ declared Charlotte. ‘So let us have truth, Minney,
please
.’

‘Yes,’ said Minney meekly, ‘but I do want to go on living here with Mamma … I mean Mrs Fitzherbert. But I know I shall. Prinney says I shall and he won’t let anything stop it.’

There was silence. Minney knew she should not have mentioned Prinney, who was Charlotte’s father but behaved more as though he were Minney’s. The complicated ways of adults were very difficult to understand and often caused misgivings to the young. Charlotte, who was always a little sad when Prinney was mentioned, was thinking of her father, that great and glittering personage of whom everyone whispered and for whose approval she longed. She remembered how when she was younger she had been received by him while he was at breakfast. There she had stood watching him, never failing to marvel at the wonder of his person: the colours of his cravat which lay in such elegant folds high about his neck so that she had the impression that his chin was trying to escape from it and that it would not let it; the pinkness of his face verging on red; and his pale blue eyes smiling at her kindly although they would rest only fleetingly on her. Her aim was to claim their attention and have them smile at her with love. He had a slightly turned-up nose which made her want to laugh and gave her pleasure because in some way it detracted from his great dignity and made him human; his tight buckskin breeches were so smooth and white and his legs in their fine stockings enormous, but most
wonderful of all were the masses of curling hair from which came a faint but exquisite perfume; a few diamonds glittered on the whitest and most elegant of hands; this was the Prince of Wales, Charlotte’s Papa and Minney’s Prinney.

‘It is the law which will decide,’ said Charlotte quickly. ‘And that is right and how it should be.’

Minney looked hurt and George Keppel said reassuringly: ‘It’s going to be all right, Minney. No one’s going to take you from your Mamma.’

Charlotte shrugged her shoulders impatiently.


I
was going to tell you something,’ she reminded them. ‘I have not been allowed to see
my
Mamma. Oh, it is all very well for them to say she is indisposed, but I know that not to be so. Why must I not go to Blackheath? Why must she not visit me? There must be a reason.’

Minney and George waited for Charlotte to give it.

‘It is because something is going on. Do you know what, Minney?’

Minney declared her innocence and one thing about Minney was that she
was
so innocent that one had to believe her.

‘You should keep your ears open,’ said Charlotte. ‘It must be discussed with Mrs F … Fitzherbert.’

She hesitated to say Mrs Fitzherbert’s name because she knew that that lady was deeply concerned in the troubles of her family. She believed that she ought to dislike her. But how could one dislike Mrs Fitzherbert – that affectionate, comfortably shaped woman who was one of the few people in Charlotte’s world who knew how to mingle affection and authority in a manner acceptable to young people. There were times, thought Charlotte, when she envied Minney Seymour, that was if she were allowed to stay with Mamma Fitzherbert which, Charlotte was fully aware, was not certain; and if Minney had to leave that loving guardianship she would be the most unhappy little girl in the world. Poor Minney! Charlotte was immediately touched by the sorrows of others. She could not pass a poor man, woman or child on the road without wanting to give them something. ‘My dear Princess, restrain yourself,’ was Lady de Clifford’s constant warning.

BOOK: The Regent's Daughter: (Georgian Series)
11.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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