Upon the death of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the younger brothers of George IV raced to produce heirs, eventually winding up with Victoria. Until the birth of Victoria, the heirs to George IV were all of his brothers, only one of whom, William IV, eventually became King, only to die a few years later. At the time of Victoria’s accession, her uncle Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, was her heir. Who was the next in line to the throne prior to the birth of Adolphus’s son, George, who was born only two days after Victoria?
Adolphus wasn’t the next in line: there were two other brothers before him:
• Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover;
• Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.
Ernest Augustus was Victoria’s heir from her accession in 1837 to the birth of her first child, Princess Victoria, in 1840.
After Charlotte’s uncles, I think the next in line was the Duke of Gloucester, a great-grandson of George II. He was married to one of George III’s daughters, which didn’t do much to broaden the pool of potential monarchs. More to the point, he was childless and his wife was already 44, so the prospects of a renewed dynasty springing from his loins were not great (and he never did have children).
After him, I think the next in line was the King of Denmark and, after him, the King of the Netherlands. There was no great advantage in exchanging a personal union with the thone of Hanover for a personal union with the thrones of Denmark or the Netherlands; the possibiliy would have given rise to considerable concern in both countries.
Ernest Augustus had a son, about the same age as Victoria. So if Victoria had not been born, Ernest would have become king, with his son George succeeding.
But even if Ernest had died or never had a son, and all the other uncles of Caroline had died without issue, the crown wouldn’t have gone automatically to Gloucester, because George III had six daughters. They were mainly spinsters, but they would have inherited if the Crown had drifted down through all the sons without issue. Only if it went through all the sons of George III, and then all the daughters, would it land on Gloucester.
You’ve got these switched, and the Hessians come in between.
George II’s eldest daughter, Anne, married the Stadholder of Orange and was the ancestress of what became the royal family of the Netherlands.
The next two of George II’s daughters died unmarried.
The next daughter, Mary, married the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and started another line that lasted well into the 19th century.
Only if all those lines died out would it have gone to the Danish royal family, via George II’s youngest daughter, Princess Louise, who married King Frederick V of Denmark and Norway.
Suffice it to say, thank goodness for the English monarchy that Vicky was born, and that she had plenty of her own heirs!
Well, it’s an interesting question as to what might have happened if… (it always is) Granted, Ernest seems to have been a thoroughly unpleasant character, but the Industrial Revolution in the UK and all that followed from it would no doubt have happened in much the same way. But what effect a continued personal union of thrones with Hanover would have had on the drive to unify Germany under Prussia and the Hohenzollerns is another matter.
We know Charlotte was considered a popular personality, but then, that was by comparison with her father. How she would have turned out, in tandem with Leopold, and what her child would have been like had it lived, well, who can guess?
If Leopold was still married to Charlotte, is there any idea of who might have been King of the Belgians instead?
Plenty of minor German princelings around, probably one of the Hesses. Or perhaps a Scandinavian, though I’d imagine it would have had to be someone willing to become a Catholic. As I understand it, the original Belgian National Congress went through a list of French nominees first, having rejected the idea of any of the Orange family, but Britain no more fancied the idea of French domination over the Low Countries than they had a hundred and more years previously.