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The family of George III

George, Prince of Wales was Prince Regent from 1811 to 1820, when George III died. In 1820, he became George IV. From 1811 the King, his father, was deemed to be unable to rule in person. Charles James Fox had influenced the development of George's character earlier; the Prince Regent was extravagant, a dandy and the self-styled 'the first gentleman of Europe'. George probably married Maria Fitzherbert, a Catholic widow. The marriage was void on two counts: he did not have his father's permission as required by the Royal Marriages Act (text here) and the Bill of Rights stated that no monarch could be, or could marry a Catholic. His immorality was scandalous and notorious. Brighton Pavilion was costly and George had huge debts. He proved to be a reactionary, die-hard Tory. In 1812, Charles Lamb wrote the following verse:

The Prince of Whales

Not a fatter fish than he
Flounders round the polar sea.
See his blubbers - at his gills
What a world of drink he swills ...
Every fish of generous kind
Scuds aside or shrinks behind;
But about his presence keep
All the monsters of the deep...
Name or title what has he? ...
Is he Regent of the sea?
By his bulk and by his size,
By his oily qualities,
This (or else my eyesight fails),
This should be the Prince of Whales.

Princess Caroline of Brunswick was the wife of Prince George. He married her so that parliament would pay off his debts. Caroline seems to have had problems with personal hygiene and was a short, dumpy woman. After meeting her for the first time, the Prince of Wales is reported to have said, "I am not well; get me a brandy" and left the room. The couple separated a year after their marriage. Caroline went to Italy and stayed there between 1815 and 1820. She committed indiscretions sufficient to be tried later for immorality. In 1805 she was accused of having an illegitimate child although the allegations were probably untrue. In 1820, when he became king, George decided that he wanted a divorce; Caroline returned to claim her rights as Queen. She gained much popular support and was defended by Henry Brougham.

Lord Liverpool was persuaded to introduce into parliament a Bill of Pains and Penalties to give George his divorce. It was carried by only nine votes and was dropped. Public support for Caroline was destroyed by her impolitic attempt to force an entrance to George IV's coronation on 19 July 1821when she was locked out of Westminster Abbey. Parliament granted her an annuity of £50,000 to keep her quiet. Caroline died on 7 August 1821 before the first payment was made and solved all the problems.

Princess Charlotte was the daughter of Prince George and Caroline of Brunswick. She was popular partly because she rebelled against her father. She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saarfeld, who later became the first King of the Belgians; Charlotte died in childbirth in 1817.

Frederick, Duke of York was the second son of George III; Frederick died in 1827. He was George III's favourite but was disgraced in 1809 when it was revealed that. his mistress, Mary Clarke, had acted as broker for military commissions and promotions. Frederick was made to resign as Commander-in-Chief of the army.

William, Duke of Clarence became William IV in 1830 on the death of George IV. Clarence was the third son of George III. He joined the navy, then married an actress Mrs Jordan without royal consent and therefore it was not recognised as a "proper" marriage. The couple lived in happy poverty with their ten children. Clarence played part of an old sea-dog: he could swear wondrously but was an affable man.

Edward, Duke of Kent was the fourth son of George III. He appears to have been universally detested; he was retired from the army in 1803 at the age of 36 after his brutality provoked a mutiny at Gibraltar. He married Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saarfelt and was the father of Queen Victoria

Ernest, Duke of Cumberland was the fifth son of George III; he became King of Hanover in 1837 because the Saliq Law prevented the Hanoverian crown being inherited by or through a woman. Politically he was a reactionary; He was believed to have murdered his valet and rumours were rife that he was an incestuous pervert; certainly he had a violent temper.

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Last modified 5 January, 2011

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