ADELAIDE IS NAMED, IRONICALLY, AFTER THE QUEEN CONSORT of English king William IV.
The base irony is that Adelaide had strong high-Tory views against the political reforms being pushed in 1830s England. These were the reforms that the men behind the founding of South Australia were advocating.
Their continuing discontent, even after the Great Reform Bill was passed dramatically in 1832, added to the push to form the new colony.
Irony also weaves through the story of how Adelaide became queen consort and beyond. From the small German principality of Saxe Meiningen, Adelaide married William in 1818 at a time of anxiety about the lack of heirs to mad king George III’s 12 children. But William, one of those 12, had 10 children by popular actress Dorothea Jordan.
Home-loving Adelaide accepted his illegitimate children as part of the family. Religious and prurient, she was the opposite of William who acted at his 1831 coronation in 1831 like a “character in a comic opera”. But Adelaide provided a happy home life for William and unsuccessfully tried to give him an heir, leaving the way for Victoria to take the throne.
Adelaide gained public sympathy for her moderating effect on William and her generosity towards charities. But the popular press negatively played up her German origins.
A further irony is that the strong German element from the early days of South Australia came from Prussian dissenters rejecting the dictates of their king and seeking – like their English counterpart reformers –religious and other freedoms in the new colony.