MY DEAR HAMY
Devotees of the excellent ITV series ‘Victoria', may wonder why the young Queen is so fearful of pregnancy and why Leopold, King of the Belgians, plays such an important part. He was not always the manipulative and slightly sinister character he is portrayed to be. He was once the penniless prince who married the unhappy daughter of the Prince Regent, Princess Charlotte of Wales, a girl destined to inherit the throne of England.
It was a true love match. They looked forward to a happy life together, surrounded by children. But when Charlotte was about to give birth to her first child, Sir Richard Croft the Royal obstetrician was fearful of assisting the royal heir with a caesarean operation and simply watched through the struggles of her 26 hour labour. She finally gave birth to a still born fully developed baby son. So exhausted was she that she herself died only four hours later. She was only 21. Two months later, Croft racked with remorse, shot himself.
‘My Dear Hamy’ takes the story back twenty years before that awful event. Anne Hayman through family and political connections, was in 1797 at the age of 45, appointed sub-governess to the infant Charlotte. She did not last long in that post. She was sacked by the Prince of Wales for being too friendly with his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Caroline took her into her own household as her Privy Purse and their intimate friendship continued for the next tumultuous seventeen years.
Anne was of an old Welsh Flintshire family, the Pulestons of Emral. Its roots could be traced back to Lowri, sister of Owain Glyndwr the Welsh Prince who rebelled against the English King, Henry IV. She was brought up in the lively society around Chester and Wrexham and found friendship with the Grenvilles and the Crewes, two of the leading Whig families of the day.
This book is the story of the lives of three feisty women - Caroline and Charlotte, of the blood royal, and Anne herself, the common sensed commoner. The world was rocking on its axis as Napoleon led the French into war with Britain and Europe. But as her husband progressed from mistress to mistress and squandered a fortune on gambling and excess, Caroline’s household too rocked with hushed up scandals and indiscretions,.
In the middle of it all was the growing girl, Charlotte, a pawn in her parents’ battles. Miss Hayman, or ‘Hamy’ as the little Princess called her, was a concerned spectator, using all her wit, her guile and her political connections to keep the peace with the Prince of Wales and to foster affection between mother and daughter. There were times when Charlotte wanted to run away and find refuge in her Hamy's comfortable home in Wales. As a rebellious teenager, her father wanted to treat her as a child, her mother to encourage her in dangerous liaisons.
Caroline herself deserted by her husband, risked all for love and companionship. She paid the penalty. At his coronation as King George IV, the door of Westminster Abbey was slammed in her face and she was barred from her place as his Queen.
Anne Hayman outlived them all. She was a prolific letter writer and left the inside story to us down the generations. Most of her letters have remained unobserved in major libraries in Britain and abroad and have formed the basis of this dramatic but true history of Regency life - social, political and intimately personal.