The story centres on the English princess Caroline Mathilde (1751-1775), sister of George III, who at the age of 15 was sent to Denmark to marry the 17-year-old eccentric and schizophrenic Danish King, Christian VII. The ballet portrays her unhappy marriage, the King's growing madness and her fatal love-affair with Struensee, the King's influential physician, which leads to their arrest, his execution and her exile, at the age of 20, separated from her two young children.
In keeping with the period, and perhaps also with the traditions of Romantic ballet, the music is relatively simple in harmony and form, and most of the action is conveyed in set-piece dances. The suite, which consists essentially of the second half of Act I, begins with one of these, a bristling interplay of wind and string ensembles in D major, portraying in the ballet a curious nuptial game with the king and princess on movable pedestals. The slow music that follows has to do with the king's healing by Dr. Struensee and the new queen's unquiet reverie (oboe and cor anglais solos). Then the suite, like the act, is capped by a pair of pas-de-deux, the first savage and bizarre for the royal couple, the second rich and passionate for the queen and the miracle-working doctor.
Score (miniature). Duration c. 25mins.