Princess Sophia Charlotte
of Mecklenburg-Strelitz married King
George III of England two weeks before his coronation
in 1761. Sharing similar interests, they both
became fervent patrons of the arts and sciences
and had many close associations with the leading
artists and entrepreneurs of the day. The Queen,
herself a competent painter of watercolours, supported
a number of women artists and continuously encouraged
her own daughters' creative talents.
The 22-year-old Queen Charlotte is seated next
to a table. Her body and face are slightly turned,
but she is looking straight at us. With a kind
expression and one arm resting on the table, the
pose seems more informal than you would perhaps
expect of a Royal portrait.
Looking closely, her clothes and accessories
may both hint at her status and give us clues
to her interests and passions. She is wearing
a tightly fitting blue dress, richly decorated
with delicate lace and pearls. A blue ribbon-necklet
is tied in a bow around her neck and a lace fichu
partly covers up her neckline. Wearing only one
of her elbow-length gloves, she reveals an impressive
bracelet: four bands of pearls hold a painted
miniature portrait of her husband King George
III, perhaps given to her as a token of his affection.
On her other wrist, a raised shape under the glove
suggests that she may be wearing another bracelet.
She is wearing two roses on her bodice. As well
as being decorative and symbols of love, they
offer clues to her personality and interests.
Queen Charlotte had a great passion for plants
and her continuous support of the Royal Botanical
Gardens at Kew, caused her to become known as
the 'Queen of Botany'. The exotic Strelitzia Reginae,
or Queen's Bird of Paradise, is named in her honour.