On hearing the news, Queen Charlotte made it her first concern to keep the King in ignorance; it would be a cruel blow to him to know that Amelia, his youngest and favourite child, had followed the example of her elders and yielded to an unwise affection. Accordingly, she endeavoured tactfully to allay the storm. With this object in view, she addressed to Amelia a pacific letter. It is a remarkable document, and of prodigious length. In it, moreover, she barely alluded to Fitzroy, but sought merely to justify the conduct of Miss "Gum," who, she assured Amelia, "being put about you all as a trusty Person to direct and instruct you, is, by Her Situation, bound in Honour to put you on your Guard if she knows of anything that would be likely to injure you. You will, my dear Amelia," she added, "be sensible that neither by words nor by looks did I through the whole Winter shew you any disapprobation. In the beginning of Our Settling in Town I was ignorant of what had passed; and when I knew it I took no notice of it, being sure that Miss Gum's advice being well considered must upon any Person which professes Religious Principles have taken every Necessary effect, particularly as You want neither Sense nor Penetration, and consequently must feel that she was a friend to you."
The letter concluded with some sage motherly counsel. "A Wise Man," wrote the Queen, "bears with a Fool, and a Good Man bears up under Distress, nay, even bears injury with Patience; and I pray to God that you may become both wise and good. I beseech you let no offence whatever lead you to judge hastily of a Fellow Creature; be always watchful of yourself in every step you take; beware of Flatterers-choice of your friends, and do not destroy your Health and Happiness by fancying things worse than they are, and by your following this advice You not only prove Your affection to me, but insure to You the warmest Love from
"Your affectionate Mother and Friend.
But Amelia's outraged feelings were not thus to be pacified. She refused to forgive Miss Gomme, and threatened even to appeal to the King for her dismissal. This was terrible. George must not know the truth. He must not be allowed even to suspect. His burden of cares already was more than he could carry-domestic worries, difficulties with Parliament, sedition in Ireland, and, on top of all, the insolence of Napoleon. Another at this time must inevitably prove too much for his endurance. It was imperative, therefore, the Queen thought, that Amelia's affairs should be kept secret, or, better still, hushed up alto-gether. The morning rides, the card parties, at any rate, must continue uninterrupted.
And so the little romance was allowed once again to pursue the even tenor of its way, and soon, very soon, the lovers came to an understanding, a secret understanding, but a very definite understanding. This the follow-ing letter proves. It is the earliest of her love letters now extant.
"My own dear Angel,- I don't know why, but I felt so full that I was quite distressed at speaking to you. How cruel we did not play together (at cards)! I thought your manner to me still as if you had doubts about me. . . . I tell you honestly how jealous I am I don't know! And I dread your hating me. I hope I shall be able to give you this walking to-day at Frogmore. My own dear love, I am sure you love me as well as ever. If you can give me a kind look or word to-night pray do, and look for me
Princess Amelia, the youngest daughter of King George III. The story of her love for Hon. Charles Fitzroy forms certainly the most dainty of the Royal romances of the eighteenth century to-morrow morning riding; don't leave me ! Don't send anything over till this evening, you dear Angel. I go to chapel to-morrow morning-now do sit where I can see you, not as you did last Sunday morning. Good God, what I then suffered ! Do have your hair cut and keep it for me. . . ."
Amelia may have been a child, but there can be no doubt as to the sincerity of her devotion to Fitzroy. This letter shows her love in all its delightful, genuine simplicity. It was a cruel fate which forbade her to marry the man she dearly loved. But marry him she could not; that is to say, could not without the Crown's consent - the heritage of birth made it impossible. This the Royal Marriage Act of 1772 declared emphatically, and to ask for the King's consent, Amelia knew, would be an idle waste of time.
There was, however, a possible loophole. A clause in the Act asserted that if any member of the Royal Family, " being above the age of twenty-five, should persist in his or her resolution to contract a marriage disapproved of or dissented from by the Sovereign, then such descendant, upon giving notice to the King's Privy Council, which notice was to be entered in the books thereof, might, at any time from the expiration of twelve calendar months after such notice given, contract such marriage . . . and such marriage should be good, unless both Houses of Parliament should, before the expiration of the said twelve months, declare their disapprobation."
It was of this clause that Amelia was determined to avail herself. But it was necessary for several years to elapse before she could do so; she would not be twenty-five until 1808, and even from then she would have to wait another year before she would be free to marry.
But wait she would. She was determined that nothing should shake her loyalty, and that, even if each of the crowns of Europe were laid at her feet in turn, she would reject them. Henceforth, therefore, when writing to Fitzroy, she refers to herself as his " wife in spirit," and, just to show him how worthless is a title in her eyes, she deliberately makes use of his initials in signing her letters.