Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen

Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelheid Amalie Luise Theresa Carolin) (13 August 1792–2 December 1849) later Queen Adelaide, was the Queen Consort of King William IV of the United Kingdom. Prior to becoming Queen, she was known as The Duchess of Clarence

Early life

Adelaide was born on 13 August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany. Her father was George I, the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. Her mother was Louisa Eleonora, the daughter of Prince Christian of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. She was styled as a Princess of Saxe-Meiningen from her birth.


Adelaide married Prince William, Duke of Clarence, a son of King George III, in a double marriage with William's brother, Edward, Duke of Kent and his bride, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld on 13 July 1818, at Kew Palace in Surrey, England. It was the first marriage for both William and Adelaide; however, William was over twenty years her senior, and previously had illegitimate children by the popular actress Dorothy Jordan. The 6 November 1817 death inchildbirth of the heir to the throne, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, wife of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield (later King Léopold I of the Belgians) prompted William and his brothers to secure the line of succession, thus marrying quickly late in life with the intent of producing heirs. Another likely incentive on William's part was the likelihood of considerable allowances being voted by Parliament to both Duke and Duchess. Despite these unromantic circumstances (in fact, the increased allowance voted by Parliament was so small that the Duke refused it for three years), the couple settled amicably in Hanover (where the cost of living was much lower, considering the Duke's rank, than in England), and by all accounts were devoted to each other throughout their marriage.


Adelaide is alternately cited as having four and five pregnancies; however, she suffered at least two miscarriages. Her first child, born prematurely eight months after the wedding, lived but one day.

Another pregnancy in 1819 caused William to move the household to England so his future heir would be born on English soil, yet Adelaide miscarried in Calais during the journey. Her third pregnancy successfully resulted in a live birth at St. James Palace's in London.

  • Princess Elizabeth of Clarence,born 10 December 1820, died 4 March 1821

    Elizabeth, initially a healthy and vigorous child, was favoured by King George IV during her brief life, as she preceded the future Queen Victoria (then Princess Victoria of Kent) in the line of succession, whose mother he disliked. Her death of convulsions and possible "entanglement of the bowels" was sudden and unexpected.

    William and Adelaide ultimately did not produce an heir to the throne. Twin boys were stillborn on 23 April 1822, and a possible brief pregnancy may have occurred within the same year. Princess Victoria of Kent came to be acknowledged as William's heir, as Adelaide had no further pregnancies. While there were rumors of pregnancies well into William's reign (dismissed by the King as "damned stuff"), they seem to have been just that--rumors.


Styles of
Queen Adelaide
Reference style Her Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Ma'am

At the time of their marriage, William was not heir to the throne, but became so when his brother, Frederick, Duke of York, died childless in 1827. In 1830, on the death of his elder brother, George IV, William acceded to the throne, and Adelaide was crowned along with him on September 8, 1831, at Westminster Abbey.

As queen, Adelaide aroused none of the controversy of her immediate predecessor, Caroline of Brunswick. She was beloved by the British people for her 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, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Politically, Adelaide was an extreme Tory, and attempted to influence the King politically. It is unclear how much of the crisis over the Reform Act of 1832 was due to her influence.

The city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia, was named in her honour.


Adelaide survived her husband by twelve years. She died during the reign of Queen Victoria, on 2 December 1849 of natural causes at Bentley Priory in Middlesex and was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.


  • Her Serene Highness Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Clarence
  • Her Majesty The Queen
  • Her Majesty Queen Adelaide
Preceded by:
Caroline of Brunswick
Queen Consort of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by:
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA)

Return to Main Index