Sunday, August 12, 2012

Birthday Bash - George IV Edition

This is his dad. They had some issues.
Well, it's definitely been awhile despite my resolution to post more often (look how that one turned out). At any rate, today, August 12th, is the 250th birthday of King George IV of England. Why not celebrate?

So most people probably don't know a whole lot about George. As a matter of fact, he's probably more famous for his family connections: he was the oldest son of King George III, who went insane, and was the uncle of the future Queen Victoria.

Moving on: born in 1762, George, Prince of Wales, was the oldest of George III's FIFTEEN children (God knows how their mother survived every pregnancy and even outlived some of her own children in an era fraught with horrific medical care and doctors who still thought the best way to cure someone of an illness was to bleed them to death) and was the favorite of his mother and adored by his six younger sisters, though his father wasn't a fan of George, prefering his second son Frederick. When he was little he apparently was very charming and acted a lot like a little adult, once asking a governess if she was well-dressed enough to visit a royal relative later that day - something we would today think of as an insult from a bratty kid - though apparently the governess must've thought it was 'bloody cute,' since everyone seemed to think the sun rose and set on him as a child.
Who couldn't love that mischevious little grin?
George's teenage and young adult years passed by with the typical prince stuff: schooling, military stuff, an illegal marriage to a Roman Catholic that was swept under the rug, travel, etc. He finally settled down in 1795 and married Caroline of Brunswick - this is where this crap gets all "Days of Our Lives."

Americans said Hester Prynne had a scarlet letter. The British said Caroline of Brunswick had the whole dress.

So Caroline and George were happily married for about 30 seconds before some tension began to show. George didn't like his new wife very much and they had both expressed disappointment in each other the first time they met, but off to the altar they went. They had a daughter, Charlotte, nine months later and promptly split up, George off doing his princely thing, leaving Charlotte in the care of her aunts and banning his wife from being around her daughter, and Caroline surrounded by widespread rumours of public affairs with lovers from all over Europe and adopting children off the streets that many thought were of questionable maternity (i.e. people thought they were hers). During her parents' turbulent marriage Charlotte became the darling of the country and the people were fiercely loyal to her personally, celebrating when she married Leopold of Saxe-Coburg Saalfield.

Regency England's power couple.

George tried to divorce Caroline after George III died in 1820 but she died a year later. Sadly their daughter Charlotte, heir presumptive to the throne after George IV, died in 1817 giving birth to a son with her husband Leopold (another one of Queen Victoria's uncles on her mom's side), leaving England without an heir and kicking off a "race for the succession" among George's 6 brothers.

Meanwhile George III had become completely insane in 1811 and George became Regent of England for 9 years until his father died. After that he reigned for another 10 years until he died in 1830. One of the most influental things he did during his tenure was to agree to Catholic Emancipation (giving Catholics equal rights to Anglicans in England), though admittedly against his will. He also created a fashion wave by no longer wearing a wig, but that's a different story entirely.

Unfortunately for George, capes with padded shoulders just never caught on.

When George died most people did not mourn deeply as he was not well-liked among his subjects, though his sisters were distraught. His brother William succeeded the throne and after him, Queen Victoria.

For a helpful guide to the insanity that is the Hanoverian dynasty, check this out: