The Sons of George III.  Three Kings, Four Dukes and two early deaths  by Peter Stubbs – 15th March 2021

Peter Stubbs is a retired Sheffield soli­citor with a lifelong interest in his­tory.  His talk takes us back to a very dif­fer­ent time.  Our roy­alty was closely allied to the House of Hanover and the Holy Roman Empire.

George III (born 1738) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two king­doms on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was con­cur­rently Duke and Prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire before becom­ing King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was a mon­arch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two pre­de­cessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first lan­guage, and never vis­ited Hanover.

In 1761, George mar­ried Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and they enjoyed a happy mar­riage, with 15 chil­dren.  After ser­i­ous bouts of ill­ness in 1788 — 1789 and 1801, thought now to be caused by por­phyria, he became per­man­ently deranged in 1810. The Prince of Wales (later George IV) became regent.

George remained ill until his death at Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820.

His first son became George IV of the UK. Born in 1762, he was very accom­plished youth inter­ested in art, music, lit­er­at­ure and archi­tec­ture.  He was con­tinu­ally at logger heads with his father.  At the age of 18 the Prince of Wales was given a sep­ar­ate estab­lish­ment. He threw him­self into a life of dis­sip­a­tion and wild extra­vag­ance.  When 21 he was given an annual income of over £6m plus a grant of £7m in today’s equi­val­ence.  This was totally inad­equate for his life­style.  He was illeg­ally mar­ried to Maria Fitzherbert who he adored and then was forced in 1795 to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick who he hated. After the birth of their only child Princess Charlotte, they sep­ar­ated and divorced.  His debts in 1795 reached the equi­val­ent of £65m.  His life­style made him very unpop­u­lar with the popu­lace.

In 1763 Frederick (Duke of York) was born, fol­lowed in 1765 by Wilhelm.  Most of George’s sons served in the Army but Wilhelm was regarded as of little import­ance and served as a mid­ship­man in the Navy with no priv­ileges.  He loved the life and became a very com­pet­ent lieu­ten­ant and then a cap­tain of war­ships. In 1791 he began a rela­tion­ship with Mrs Jordan.  She was an act­ress and they were always short of money. In 1818 he mar­ried Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.  He rose to become Lord High Admiral.  In 1830 he became King William IV to the great approval of the popu­lace and the Duke of Wellington.  He restored the pop­ular­ity of the Crown.

Space does not permit even a brief resume of the other 12 chil­dren nor the link to Queen Victoria.