Queen Caroline

On this date in 1683, Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach (née Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline), who became queen of England, was born. Her father ruled the principality of Ansbach, one of the smallest Germanic states, before dying when Caroline was 3. An arranged marriage with the Austrian archduke was canceled when she refused to convert to Catholicism.

Marrying George Augustus, third in line to the British throne, in 1705, she became princess of Wales in 1714. After her husband was expelled from court in 1717 during a family dispute, Caroline became associated with Robert Walpole. Freethought historian Joseph McCabe reported that correspondence with Leibniz caused her to reject Christianity, and that her Richmond house “was more or less a Deistic center.” When George acceded to the throne as King George II in 1727, Caroline became queen consort. They had eight children, seven of whom survived to adulthood.

Horace Walpole, in his Reminiscences (1788), recorded that “when archbishop Potter was to administer the sacrament to her, she declined taking it” as she neared death. Caroline is the acknowledged patron of English landscape gardening, developing the Richmond and early Kew Gardens. Her gardening philosophy was “helping Nature, not losing it in art.” She died at age 54 in 1737 of a strangulated bowel after being in ill health for several years.

Freedom From Religion Foundation