Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, Prince of Wenden, Schwerin and Ratzeburg, Count of Schwerin, Lord of the Lands of Rostock and Stargard
Grand Duke Carl was born on 10 October 1741 in Mirow Castle the second son Duke Carl,
Prince of Mirow and his wife Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-
Prince of Mirow and heir presumptive
Carl spent the first eleven years of his life in Mirow where he and his siblings were educated under the guidance of the Lutheran Reverend, Gottlob Burchard Gentzmer. On 5 June 1752 Carl’s father the Prince of Mirow died. Later that same year on 11 December his uncle Duke Adolf Friedrich III also died. As a result Carl’s elder brother succeeded to the throne as Duke Adolf Friedrich IV while Carl himself was now heir presumptive.
With his brothers succession Carl and his family moved their residence from Mirow to Neustrelitz. A few years later at the age of 14 Carl left home soon ending up as a Major in the army of the Elector of Hanover (also King of Great Britain). Carl had in fact technically been in the Hanoverian service since the age 4 when he was made a Captain. He continued to serve in Hanover until 1758 when he spent a year studying in Geneva. His link to Hanover became even closer when his sister Charlotte married the Hanoverian Elector and King of Great Britain, George III in September 1761. Carl and his elder brother had accompanied their sister on her voyage to Great Britain a month earlier.
In 1762 with the Seven years’ war (1756-
Marriages and family
Carl was married on 18 September 1768 in Darmstadt to Princess Friederike of Hesse-
Shortly after giving birth for the tenth time Friederike died on 22 May 1782 leaving
Carl widowed with a young family to care for. Two years after the loss of his wife
Carl was married in Darmstadt for a second time on 28 September 1784 to Princess
Charlotte of Hesse-
Last years as heir presumptive
Having been widowed for the second time, in the August of the following year Carl
asked his brother in law King George III to relive him from the post of Governor
of Hanover. The king granted his request and as a reward for his long service granted
Carl a pension and promoted him to the rank of Field Marshal. With his children Carl
then retired to Darmstadt to live with the family of his late wives. With the children
cared for by their grandmother, over the next few years Carl spent time travelling
and visiting members of his family in Neustrelitz and Britain. Also between the years
1785 and 1793 he had the satisfaction of seeing his daughters married. With Darmstadt
close to the Imperial Free City of Frankfurt, Carl represented the House of Mecklenburg-
In 1794 Carl was appointed President of an Imperial Credit Commission with the task
of trying to avert the bankruptcy of the Duchy of Saxe-
Reign of the first Strelitz Grand Duke
After a peaceful reign spanning twelve years the invasion of Germany by the French Emperor Napoleon I brought great upheaval and change to Germany. Following defeat at the hands of Napoleon the Emperor Francis II abdicated on 6 August 1806 and the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. Although Carl had declared his neutrality this was violated by Napoleon as French troops invaded and occupied the duchy in October. Due his high profile, being the brother of the British queen and father of the Prussian queen, Carl was able to remain in the duchy and was thus spared the same fate of his kinsman the Schwerin duke who had been exiled to Denmark.
In 1808 after having endured two years of occupation Carl was forced to admit Mecklenburg-
In recognition of the contribution made by Mecklenburg-
In the summer of 1816 Carl travelled around a number of German towns visiting family. Having suffered from inflammation of the lungs, from which he was believed to have recovered, early in the morning of 6 November 1816 Carl was taken ill and died in Neustrelitz at 4pm that afternoon at the age of 75. The funeral of the first Strelitz grand duke was held on 14 November in Mirow where his life had begun, and he was interned in the family vault in the Church of St John. His eldest son and heir Georg succeeded him as grand duke.
Decorations and honours