George was the last English king not to be born in England. He also held the position of Elector of Hanover. Determined not to make the same matrimonial mistakes that George I made in his arranged marriage, he intended to meet his bride first and only marry if the prospect pleased him. With these intentions, and with the blessing of his father, he travelled incognito to check out a potential bride, Caroline of Ansbach.
Caroline, a princess of the House of Hohenzollern, was orphaned at a young age and sent to live under the guardianship of King Frederick and Queen Sophia of Prussia. Here she became an accomplished and attractive young woman. She had a natural intelligence and a good Prussian education with liberal leanings. Sophia became her friend and mentor. She referred to Caroline as “the most agreeable princess in Germany.”
Caroline probably saw through George’s disguise or was forewarned of his coming, but in any case, seems to have played along. George was pleased beyond his expectations with Caroline. The British envoy who travelled with him said that once George met Caroline “he would not think of anyone else after her.”
She accepted George and they were married in 1705. Their first child Frederick was born soon after. In all they had nine children, of whom seven survived. When George’s father succeeded to the throne of England , the family moved to follow him and George became Prince of Wales, successor to the throne.
A rift developed between George and his father, bad enough to prompt George I to forbid his son and Caroline contact with their own children. This problem was resolved eventually, but the relationship never recovered.
George and Caroline seemed to have a loving marriage. As was customary in the time, George took mistresses, but kept Caroline informed and discussed them with her.
George was crowned George II in 1927 after his father’s death. Caroline was much better suited to the role of queen than George was as king. With the help of Walpole, the chief minister (not yet referred to as Prime Minister) she managed to lead George into decisions he thought were his own. She ruled as Regent during his absences. They became more and more estranged from their first son Frederick. Caroline was known to say she hated him. In any event he died before his father, so never attained the throne.
When she died in 1737, Caroline was mourned both by England and by her husband. On her deathbed she tried to convince him to remarry. He said an emphatic, “No! I shall keep mistresses.” The thinking was a little different in those times; keeping mistresses was considered a practicality, not a betrayal.
Before his death, George made instructions for his burial beside his queen. He ordered the coffins to have the sides removed so that their remains could mingle after death. Over twenty years after his wife’s death, he still could not bear to be parted from her.