Elisabeth Christine became queen dowager upon the death of Frederick the Great on 17 August 1786. She wasn't present at the death of her spouse and hadn't seen him since January of that year, but was given public sympathy for his death because of the popularity she enjoyed among the public, to all of whom, according to Spalding, she was "so dear in her affliction."
At age 13 Elisabeth Christine became engaged to the future Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, through negotiations between her ambitious grandfather, Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Charles' sister-in-law, Empress Wilhelmine Amalia, whose father was John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Calenberg and thus belonged to another branch of the House of Welf.
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