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The princess that didn’t like hot chocolate

07 Jul 2023


Chocolate was one of the favourite delicacies of Portuguese kings and queens, and the sweet always had a place at the royal table.


In the 18th century, chocolate was served in various ways. In the National Palace of Queluz's Picnic Room we find some objects that indicate the royal family's taste for this sweet: there is a porcelain chocolate bowl, which was part of the service of King Pedro III, commissioned specifically for that palace; and a silver chocolate bowl with a whisk to stir the chocolate and ensure it did not get too thick at the bottom of the container.


But not everyone was so fond of this sweet treat, with one princess giving her maids a real headache first thing in the morning. Let's find out more.


Carlota Joaquina of Spain was born in Aranjuez in 1775. As the first-born daughter of Charles IV of Spain, it was essential that she was married well. So, at just 10 years old, she married Prince João, son of Queen Maria I of Portugal, strengthening the ties between the neighbouring nations.


Carlota Joaquina was actually a child when she arrived in Portugal. And, like all children, she had her tantrums. One of them was precisely because of the chocolate she had to have for breakfast. "(...) This morning to put on her corset and have her chocolate, [the princess] was there from 8 to 10 o'clock; no matter how many times she was told to hurry up, she wouldn't react and would take even longer; while she was having her chocolate, she was joined by Infanta Mariana, who said this morning that she had never in her life seen anyone take so long to drink chocolate, as it took her more than three quarters of an hour (...)". So we read in a letter written in October 1785 by Ana Miquelina, Princess Carlota Joaquina's maid, to her mother, Luisa of Parma, Princess of Asturias.


The truth is that although Carlota Joaquina did not seem to be a fan of this delicacy, the rest of the royal family loved to indulge in good chocolate. So much so that, years later, in the 19th century, the habit of drinking hot chocolate was taken to the Palace of Pena, where kings, queens, princes and princesses spent their holidays. If you visit the kitchen of this palace you will find chocolate pots among the pots, pans, platters and frying pans.


As for Carlota Joaquina, life turned out to be a little bitter. At just 13, she became Queen of Portugal (wife of King João VI), but that doesn't mean she had it easy. She was fated to live through troubled periods in Portuguese history, such as the French invasions and the royal family's flight to Brazil in 1807. On her return to Portugal, Carlota Joaquina kept the Palace of Queluz practically to herself, but for the worst of reasons: the queen lived in exile, under surveillance by the king's secret police, between Queluz and Quinta do Ramalhão, for refusing to swear loyalty to the Liberal Constitution and continuing to be associated with the absolutist movement, conspiring against the King and supporting her son Miguel. She spent the last years of her life there, accompanied by her younger daughters and the widowed princess Francisca Benedita. She died in the Palace of Queluz in 1830 and was veiled in the Throne Room, where she lay in repose.