I don’t know if many people know about King George III, the third Hanoverian monarch, or if they haven’t even heard of him at all. Known as “America’s last king”, he is most remembered for two things: losing the Revolutionary War in America, and going mad (earning his nickname of “Mad King George”). This is highly unfortunate. He was not actually a large reason for the eventual surrender of the British forces, and by this time, Parliament was gaining more and more power, reducing the control of the monarch.
King George III came to the throne in 1760 at the age of 22. With his accession came a big change in royal finances. Within the first 25 years or so of his reign, he was rather politically controversial – not just because of the American conflict, but he was accused of trying to reassert royal authority in an “unconstitutional manner”. However, George was an extremely conscientious king, having a prominent interest in government and policy, and even annoying his ministers at times. (He was pretty much the opposite of Henry VIII in this manner, who left all of the day-to-day doings to his chief ministers, even resulting in his first chief minister, Thomas Wolsey, to be depicted as an alter rex – ‘other king)’.
George was one of the most cultured monarchs in England. He was the first Hanoverian king to be born in England, and was the first to study science as part of his education. Many of his belongings are shown in museums such as the British Museum, which holds his royal collection of books, and the Science Museum, where examples of his scientific instruments can be seen.‡ He also founded the Royal Academy of Arts and had a great interest in agriculture, earning another nickname of ‘Farmer George’.
King George III was not only a good king, but he was also a great husband. He was devoted to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and was also a great family man. He had 15 children(!) with his wife, 13 of whom lived to adulthood – and he bought his wife the Queen’s House, later to become Buckingham Palace. I think we could all do with a King George III in our lives.
Now, let’s get to the madness. Medical historians speculate that George III may have suffered from a disease known as porphyria. Ηaving suffered from threatening bouts of illness in 1788-89, and once again in 1801, he became permanently deranged in 1810. He was mentally unfit to rule by the last decade of his life, and his son, who was later to become King George IV, acted as Prince Regent from 1811 to 1820, the year of George III’s death. During this time George was locked up in Windsor Castle alone, blind, death and suffering from fits of mania. He died on the 29th January 1820.
Of course, George did a bunch of other stuff for the kingdom and the empire, but I won’t get into that on this post. I will probably talk about it in the future, but for now, I want to focus on getting rid of the common misconception people have about King George III. It may be no surprise that he is my favourite monarch, and it slightly pains me that he is so misunderstood. It also seems that Prince Charles may have similar opinions to me (see link below):
And if you can’t be bothered, this quote sums a lot up:
“George III led Britain through 60 years of enormous social upheaval, industrial revolution and terrible hardships inflicted by war with Napoleon, yet history remembered him above all as the ‘mad king’ or the ‘king who lost America.’ This is a travesty.” – Prince Charles
And that’s the end of my first post! Thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you want or like if you want.
‡ I actually went to the Science Museum in London a couple of days ago, with the mission to seek these scientific instruments. I couldn’t find them. I was devastated.