To Marry a Prince

True Or Not

Fairy tales are always sideways on to real life. The world you will find in To Marry a Prince is very close to our twenty-first century. But the past is a different matter.

What’s the same

  • As Richard tells Bella, Fanny Burney, author of Evelina, really was lady in waiting to Queen Charlotte, though she didn’t enjoy it and it stopped her writing. Poor, mad George III chased her round the garden in Kew, until Fanny turned and stood her ground. Everyone else, including the Queen, was terrified of him in these moods but Fanny, though quaking, spoke gently to him and he calmed down.
  • Isabella Bird, for whom Bella was named, was an intrepid traveller in the nineteenth century. She went to many then remote places, including the Rocky Mountains, Tibet, Persia, Hokkaido and China, generally alone with local guides. In Colorado she probably fell for mountain man Jim Nugent, who took her climbing. She refused to marry him, telling her sister that he was the sort of man any woman would love but no sane woman would marry. She tangled with spies and was attacked by a mob in Szechuan Province. She wrote several books about her travels and was the first woman fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

What’s different

  • Princess Charlotte, the only daughter of the Prince Regent and Heir Presumptive to George III survives the (live) birth of her son in 1817 and lives a long and happy life, thereby becoming the ancestor of Bella’s Richard, Prince of Wales.
  • When George IV dies, Charlotte succeeds to the throne in her own right, with Leopold as her Prince Consort. Their many children marry into the royal families of Europe. She abdicates in 1869 and is succeeded by her son, King Frederick.
  • In 1832 Charlotte and Leopold purchase Drummon, a sporting estate in the Highlands. Charlotte insists on adding a Gothic dining hall to the eighteenth century house. It remains the private property of the Royal Family.
  • In 1864, as part of Queen Charlotte’s 70th Birthday Celebrations, the South Kensington Museum is renamed the Charlotte and Leopold Museum.