Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) by Christopher William Hunnemann (1755-1793)

Web Queen Charlotte  (c) Museums WorcestershireIn 1788, George III suffered badly from an attack of the illness which was to plague his later life. Now thought to be a genetic disorder of the nervous system, then it was seen simply as insanity. He, Queen Charlotte and the young princesses spent the summer in Cheltenham to improve his health.

This was the furthest the King had travelled from London and the royal family enjoyed exploring the area. They visited Bishop Hurd at Hartlebury Castle and attended the Three Choirs Festival performances at Worcester Cathedral.

Possibly a symptom of his illness, but also perhaps because of the freedom from affairs of state that the visit offered, George and Charlotte explored Worcester with affectionate informality. We know that the royal couple wandered into Chamberlain’s porcelain shop on Worcester High Street and happily sat on the stairs to have a rest!

George III gave both the City and the Bishop a pair of portraits of himself and (this one of) Queen Charlotte as a thank you present for this visit. Both sets still hang on public view in Worcester Guildhall and Hartlebury Castle.

This portrait of Charlotte is a copy of one by Thomas Gainsborough in the Royal Collection, which had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1781. Hunnemann was an accomplished painter in his own right, but creating copies for the King would have been well paid and enabled him to make useful connections.

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