|Anne Horton, Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn by Valentine Green, 1790|
A scandalous lady joins us today; one who was known for her florid reputation as much as her marriage. Whatever one might think of Anne, Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn, she was never dull though her somewhat glamourous life ended sadly.
Anne was born in Marylebone, London to Simon Luttrell, Member of Parliament and later first Earl of Carhampton and, Judith Maria Lawes. Her early life was one of privilege and wealth although her family were already just a touch notorious after a political scandal involving Anne's brother, Henry.
Considered something of a catch, it came as a surprise to society when Anne married a commoner and squire, Christopher Horton, at the age of 22. Although the marriage ended in widowhood just four years and a day later, it was not the end of her romantic story and rumours flew that Anne was somewhat free with her favours until, on 2nd October 1771, she was married to Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn.
The marriage of prince and commoner caused discord in the royal household and was a direct cause of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 which forbade any descendant of George II to marry without the monarch's permission. The king was furious that his brother had chosen to marry into a family that had a hint of scandal about it, let alone the social standing of bride versus groom.
When Cumberland refused to turn his back on his bride, Anne pushed for official recognition as a princess. Following a continental tour, Anne and her husband established a salon at Cumberland House that became the talk of the town, with Anne exuding charm to all who came into her circle. Indeed, eventually this unofficial court found a number of followers and the Duke and Duchess lived on in luxury until Cumberland's ill-health forced them to quite London for Brighton in 1779.
Their finances dwindling, the couple once more travelled to the continent and did not settle in England again until 1786, where they remained until Cumberland's death in 1790, with no children to take his place.
The scandalous bride of Cumberland fell heavily into debt following her husband's death and sold off many of his possessions. Eventually, she left England for the continent, where she died at Gorizia on 28 December 1808.