Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline; 13 August 1792 – 2 December 1849) was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and of Hanover as spouse of William IV of the United Kingdom.Born on 13 August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany. She died 2 December 1849 at Bentley Priory in Stanmore.
Adelaide was born on 13 August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany. Her father was George I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; and her mother was Luise Eleonore, daughter of Prince Christian of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. She was titled Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess in Saxony with the style Serene Highness from her birth until the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), when the entire House of Wettin was raised to the style of Highness.
Saxe-Meiningen was a small state, covering about 423 square miles (1,100 km2). It was the most liberal German state and, unlike its neighbours, permitted a free press and criticism of the ruler.
At the time of their marriage, William was not heir-presumptive to the throne, but became so when his brother Frederick, Duke of York, died childless in 1827. Given the small likelihood of his older brothers producing heirs, and William's relative youth and good health, it had long been considered extremely likely that he would become King in due course. In 1830, on the death of his elder brother, George IV, William acceded to the throne. One of King William's first acts was to confer the Rangership of Bushy Park (for thirty-three years held by himself) on Queen Adelaide. This act allowed Adelaide to remain at Bushy House for her lifetime. The King and Adelaide were crowned on 8 September 1831 at Westminster Abbey. Adelaide was deeply religious and took the service very seriously. William despised the ceremony, and acted throughout, it is presumed deliberately, as if he was "a character in a comic opera", making a mockery of what he thought to be a ridiculous charade. Adelaide alone among those attending received any praise for her "dignity, repose and characteristic grace".
Adelaide was beloved by the British people for her piety, modesty, charity, and her tragic childbirth history. A large portion of her household income was given to charitable causes. She also treated the young Princess Victoria of Kent (William's heir presumptive and later Queen Victoria) with kindness, despite her own inability to produce an heir and the open hostility between William and Victoria's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent. She refused to have women of questionable virtue attend her Court. Wrote Clerk of the Privy Council Charles Greville of her, "The Queen is a prude and refuses to have the ladies come décolletées to her parties. George the 4th, who liked ample expanses of that kind, would not let them be covered."
The Bentley Priory Years
In 1846 Queen Adelaide leased Bentley Priory but for health reasons didn't move in until 1848. By this time she was extremely ill with oedema and from her first days there found the stairs too much to cope with. A suite of rooms were prepared for her down stairs on the ground floor. It is here that she would have received her guests including her niece Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and can be viewed by visiting the Bentley Priory museum.
Queen Adelaide's last public appearance was to lay the foundation stone of the church of St John the Evangelist, Great Stanmore. She gave the font and when the church was completed after her death, the east window was dedicated to her memory.
She died during the reign of her niece Queen Victoria on 2 December 1849 just 57 years old, at home in bed in the Priory, and was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. She wrote instructions for her funeral during an illness in 1841 at Sudbury Hall: "I die in all humility", she wrote, "we are alike before the throne of God, and I request therefore that my mortal remains be conveyed to the grave without pomp or state…to have as private and quiet a funeral as possible. I particularly desire not to be laid out in state…I die in peace and wish to be carried to the fount in peace, and free from the vanities and pomp of this world."
Queen Adelaide's name is probably best remembered in the Australian state of South Australia, founded during the brief reign of William IV. The capital city of Adelaide was named after her at its founding in 1836; the Queen Adelaide Club for women is still active there, and a bronze statue of Queen Adelaide stands in the foyer of the Town Hall.
Museum Opening Times
Bentley Priory Museum is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Opening hours are:
March - September: 10:00-17:00 (last admission at 16:00)
October - February:10:00 - 16:00 (last admission at 15:00)
The Address is: Bentley Priory Museum Mansion House Drive Stanmore HA7 3FB
For Sat Navs please use postcode HA7 3HT which brings you to the main gates of the museum.