Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
- Born: 30 Nov 1719
- Marriage: Frederick Hanover Prince of Wales
- Died: 8 Feb 1772 at age 52
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha was Princess of Wales between 1736 and 1751, and Dowager Princess of Wales thereafter. She was one of only three holders of the title who never became queen. Princess Augusta's eldest son succeeded as George III of Great Britain in 1760, as her husband, Frederick, Prince of Wales, had died eight years earlier.
Princess Augusta was born in Gotha to Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676-1732) and Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1676-1740). Her paternal grandfather was Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg.
At age 16 and speaking virtually no English, she arrived in Great Britain for a wedding ceremony which took place almost immediately, on 17 April 1736, at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, London. Despite a twelve-year age difference, the marriage seems to have been a happy one. They had nine children, the last born after Frederick's death. The birth of their first daughter, Princess Augusta Charlotte of Wales, on 31 August 1737, took place at St James's after Princess Augusta was forced by Frederick to travel from Hampton Court Palace while in labour, simply to prevent his hated parents, George II and Queen Caroline, from being present at the birth.
Throughout their marriage, Princess Augusta went along with her husband's wishes in the feud with his parents. Following the Prince of Wales' death, her role as mother of the heir-apparent to the throne became a more important one, and she was named prospective regent, which caused a political controversy. Shortly afterwards, she began to be influenced by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, her son's tutor, and rumours spread that they were having an affair. This was due to her being adamant that Bute was visiting her, and not her son, during his back door visits to tutor the prince. Both were pilloried in the press. Even after George III's accession, Princess Augusta suffered widespread hostility from the public. After she died of cancer of the throat at age 52 at Carlton House, her funeral procession attracted troublemakers who followed the coffin to the grave shouting insults.
Princess Augusta enlarged and greatly extended Kew Gardens after her husband's death. Sir William Chambers built several garden structures for her. One of these, the lofty Chinese pagoda built in 1761, still remains.
Titles and styles
* 30 November 1719 \endash 17 April 1736: Her Serene Highness Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Duchess in Saxony
* 17 April 1736 \endash 30 March 1751: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales
* 31 March 1751\endash 8 February 1772: Her Royal Highness The Dowager Princess of Wales
Augusta married Frederick Hanover Prince of Wales, son of King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland and Caroline of Ansbach. (Frederick Hanover Prince of Wales was born on 1 Feb 1708, died on 31 Mar 1751 in Leicester House, London, England and was buried in Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England.)