American Revolution, Buckingham Palace, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg- Strelitz, England, France, Frederick Louis Prince of Wales, George III, House of Lords, HRH The Prince of Wales, Independence Day, Johann Sebastian Bach, Kings and Queens of England, kings and queens of the United Kingdom, Porphyria, Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Science Museum, tyrant, United Kingdom of Great Britain, War for American Independence, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I am strange combination. I am an American with a certain level of pride in my country and at the same time I am a monarchist. Today as our nation celebrates its Independence Day, that day when the US declared its separation from Great Britain, I would like to give a more well round picture of the King who ruled over us at that time. When I was in school learning about the American Revolution (or shall I call it the War for American Independence?) I learned that George III was a tyrant and a very large reason why the desire for independence came about in the first place. As I grew older and became interested in the British monarchy George III was one of the kings I wanted to learn more about. In this very short write up about the king I want to paint a more realistic picture of a good constitutional monarch and
HRH Prince George William Frederick was born June 4, 1738 the eldest son of HRH Prince Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales and HSH Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. belonged to the German Hanoverian dynasty which came to the throne in 1714 as a result of the 1701 Act of Settlement which passed over the Catholic descendants of the House of Stuart and granted the claim to the throne to the closest Protestant descendants, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, George’s great-great grandmother. His father, Prince Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales died in 1751 when George was 13 and 9 years later his grandfather, George II, died in 1760 making George king at the young age of 22.
Although George III exercised more political powers than today’s queen, he was still a constitutional monarch subjective to Parliament and the Prime Minister. This leaves the historian to discern what policies that affected the American colonies came directly from the king or where the policies of the government? I think that may be an untiable knot. History has become more kind to George as he is not seen as the tyrant which revolutionary propaganda would leave you to believe. One thing that is true about George is that he did not want to lose the American colonies and for that I can have empathy for him. In the context of the times in which he lived colonial expansion was what they major powers of Europe were engaged in. From that perspective I do not think any 18th century monarchy would have been happy to lose one of their important colonies or willingly let them go.
When George came to the throne in 1760 he was the first member of the House of Hanover to speak English as his primary language. He never stepped foot in Hanover the small electorate of the Holy Roman Empire which his two predecessors loved dearly. He married soon after his accession and took for himself the 17 year old Princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg- Strelitz, the daughter of Duke Karl Ludwig of Mecklenburg- Strelitz and Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It was a good match and the two were relatively happy and they had 15 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood. At heart he was a basic family man who had a keen interest in agriculture earning him the nickname “Farmer George.”
George and Charlotte were both passionate about music and were admirers of George Frideric Handel and in 1764 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then 8 years old, spent time in England and at the court of George III where he played for the king and queen and also played for Johann Christian Bach, son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, who was then music-master to the Queen. George III was also a patron of the sciences and his private collection of mathematical and scientific instruments was donated to the Science Museum in London where they are on display. As king he funded the construction and maintenance of a forty-foot telescope for William Herschel. William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781 and originally name it Georgium Sidus after the king.
George also suffered from Porphyria a neurological disease that had a terrible impact on his mental health. By the last decade of his life he was blind and deranged and his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, was officially installed as regent. George III died on January 20, 1820 after a reign of 59 years and is Britain’s longest ruling king. His rule saw a continuing struggle between Crown and Parliament and his mental decline paved the way for the lessening of his power and the rise of the monarchy as a symbol for the nation.