to Seduce a Duke
What would you do if suddenly everything
you thought you knew about your life was a lie—that you might
actually be the secret daughter of the Prince of Wales and
his illegal Catholic wife, Maria Fitzherbert?
Well, probably set out to learn
the truth. The problem is, to prove you are a princess, by
blood anway, you are going to need to step on a few well-healed
toes. One being, a former mistress of the Prince of Wales—Frances,
Like a number of characters in the Royle Sisters Trilogy, Lady Jersey did exist.
Frances, Lady Jersey was the Prince
of Wales' paramour from 1794 to 1798 (while she was already married
to George Bussey Villers, the 4th Earl of Jersey.) The Prince had
first tried to seduce her in 1782 without success, though she did
have other affairs. In 1794, the still very attractive 41 year
old at last relented and began an affair with the Prince of Wales.
It is she (under secret direction from the Queen) who encouraged
him to break off his relationship with Mrs. Fitzherbert and marry
in order to settle his debts. She also encouraged his parents'
choice of Caroline of Brunswick whom she felt would be no threat
to her hold over the Prince.
Lady with a Kashmir Shawl
But it was actually this portrait featuring a crimson and gold-shot shawl, that inspired one of the clues the Royle sisters found hidden beneath the false bottom of their late father’s document box—a blood-stained Kasmir wrap that, evidenced by a portrait, may have belonged to Lady Jersey.
A Kasmir shawl, was not the wrap of common folk during the Regency. Until 1850, a single weaver would work on a loom to complete the intricate design, often taking two or three years to produce a single shawl. Only a very rich woman would possess such a treasure.
Manufacturers in Edinburgh, Norwich and Paisley, Scotland began to imitate design the Kashmir shawls, and soon simple “paisley” shawls of Kasmir design became all the crack, available to the wealthy for a mere 20 pounds.
Be sure to Read Between the Lines of How to Engage an Earl to learn more about the stories behind the Royle sisters trilogy.