The injured Queen
A rare acrostic ring commemorating the life of Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick, [1768 -1821], Princess of Wales and later wife of George IV. Rarely does one find acrostic jewellery pertaining to royalty, especially British royalty. The few other examples I have seen are for members of French royalty. Unlike her popular daughter Princess Charlotte, there are scarce mementoes of Caroline’s turbulent life. The marriage of the Prince of Wales, son of George III, and Caroline of Brunswick was hardly a love affair, but rather a tale of adultery, conspiracy and a match made in hell. George only agreed to marry Caroline, his first cousin, as he had no choice. Being some £630,000 in debt, he was forced to curb his womanising ways, cast aside his secret wife Maria Fitzherbert and marry Caroline if Parliament was to pay off his debts. In 1795 George was introduced to his potential bride whom he found to be rather plain and vulgar. After embracing her, George retired to the far end of the room and said to the Earl of Malmesbury: ‘Harris, I am not very well, pray get me a glass of brandy’. The prince was so drunk on their wedding night that he collapsed into the bedroom grate. Nevertheless, their only child Princess Charlotte was conceived, so he did what was required of him by his country. The Prince thereafter rejected poor Caroline and in 1814 she left England and proceeded to scandalise Europe. She danced at a ball in Geneva naked to the waist and in Naples became the mistress of King Joachim, Napoleon’s brother-in-law. In January 1820 King George III died and the prince became King George IV and Caroline became Queen. The government offered her £50,000 if she would stay out of the country but she refused. In a highly publicised and scandalous trial, the House of Lords tried unsuccessfully to dissolve the marriage. On the day of the coronation Caroline arrived to take her rightful place as Queen but the door of Westminster Abbey was slammed in her face. She died 19 days later in August 1821. Caroline was buried in Brunswick and on her instructions her coffin was inscribed : Caroline the Injured Queen of England.
The ring, circa 1821 – 1822, is set with a central enamel plaque inscribed CR [Caroline Regina] surmounted by a crown. It is within a surround of gemstones spelling Caroline in the acrostic manner : Citrine, Amethyst, Ruby, Opal, Lapis, Jacinth [used for I], Novas Minas [rock crystal], Emerald. The ring is size P [US 7 and 1/2]. The ring shank is late 19th century but this remains a unique historical piece with a fascinating story to tell.