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The Queen Caroline Affair, 1820: contemporary comment 

Princess Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George IV

Princess Caroline and her daughter, Charlotte, in 1798 An older Caroline

Why did the case of Queen Caroline in 1820 present a threat to the Government?

Political party spirit made the presence of the queen acceptable to many, who cared nothing about her, except so far as she was a means of annoyance to ministers, and who, even in former times when she was protected by the late king, had been connected with her adversaries. The radicals naturally became her partisans; because they had no better means of decrying the king, than by the eager defence of her cause.

The Annual Register, vol. 62 (1820) pp.140-141

Cruikshank's view of the Caroline affair of 1820.  Caroline reaches for the crown, supported by Radicals and Jacobins whose real aim is to destroy the constitution of Britain.

A cartoon showing Caroline with her Italian secretary and valet

Cartoon showing George IV's desperate efforts to divorce Caroline. Justice - blindfolded - encourages the Queen


The Trial of Queen Caroline by Sir George Hayter

Stuart Wortley, M.P., accused the Whigs of exploiting the issue for party purposes, with reference to their motion to restore the Queen's name to the liturgy, 1 January 1821:

It was impossible to deny that those who had voted for it had wished to use it as a means for turning out the present ministers and putting others into their places.

Parliamentary Debates, 2nd Series, vol.4, (1821) col.225

The Government found itself trapped between the public's support for Queen Caroline and the King's demand for a divorce.

Stuart Wortley to Liverpool, 18 December 1820:

The minds of a very great proportion of the better sort of people revolt at anything like harshness to the Queen, because they think that it arises from the King's personal feelings towards her, and that his conduct to her from the beginning has left him no right whatever to complain of any part of hers. This is the real cause of the failure of the bill in the House of Lords, and would have made it absolutely impossible to pass it in the House of Commons, where public feeling has, of course, so much more weight.

C.D. Yonge Macmillan, The Life of Lord Liverpool Vol.3 (1868) p.115

Croker noted the effect of this affair on the relations between King and ministers:

The King wants the Ministers to pledge themselves to a divorce, which they will not do.... He is furious, and says they have deceived him. ... The King has certainly intimated intentions of looking for new and more useful servants.

LJ Jennings Murray (ed), Correspondence and Diaries of JW Croker, vol. 1 ( 1884) pp. 160-161

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