Frederick Prince of Wales
by Ellen Castelow
English history records several members of its Royal family dying in peculiar circumstances.
For example… King Henry I, died from eating a ‘surfeit of lampreys’ in 1135, and another, William Rufus, was shot with an arrow whilst hunting in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Poor Edmund Ironside died in 1016 while ‘relieving the calls of nature over a pit’, and was stabbed in the bowels with a dagger.
But the strangest death must be that of Frederick, Prince of Wales who died, some sources claim, after being hit with a cricket-ball.
A very English way to die!
Frederick was the eldest son of George II and became Prince of Wales in 1729. He married Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenborg, but he did not live to become king.
George II and Queen Caroline
Unfortunately his mother and father, George II and Queen Caroline, hated Fred.
Queen Caroline is reported as saying ‘Our first-born is the greatest ass, the greatest liar, the greatest canaille and the greatest beast in the world, and we heartily wish he was out of it’.
‘My God’, she said, ‘popularity always makes me sick, but Fretz’s popularity makes me vomit’. Not a case of ‘motherly love’ then!
His father, George, suggested that perhaps ‘Fretz might be a Wechselbag, or changeling’.
When in 1737 Queen Caroline lay dying, George refused to let Fretz say goodbye to his mother, and Caroline was said to be very thankful.
She said ‘At last I shall have one comfort in having my eyes eternally closed, I shall never have to see that monster again’.
However Frederick did not live to a grand old age, as he died in 1751. He was struck by a blow from a ball which some sources claim may have caused him to develop an abscess on the lung which later burst.
His son, the future George III, who was a teenager at the time, was genuinely unhappy when his father died. He said ‘I feel something here’ (putting his hand on his heart) ‘just as I did when I saw two workmen fall from the scaffold at Kew’.
At his death the following piece was written about Fred.
Here lies poor Fred who was alive and is dead,
Had it been his father I had much rather,
Had it been his sister nobody would have missed her,
Had it been his brother, still better than another,
Had it been the whole generation, so much better for the nation,
But since it is Fred who was alive and is dead,
There is no more to be said!
Poor Fred indeed!