Anthony FitzClarence, Buckingham Palace, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz., Clarence House, David Cameron, Dorothea Bland, Duke of Clarence, Earl of Munster, England, George IV, George Washington, Horatio Nelson, House of Commons, House of Lords, King George III of Great Britain, Kings and Queens of England, kings and queens of the United Kingdom, Mrs. Jordan, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Privy Council, Royal Marriages Act of 1772, William IV of the United Kingdom
Finally after a few weeks delay I can get back to the featured monarch section. Today I want to feature King William IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover.
He was a man never destined to be king. He was born on August 21, 1765 at Buckingham House (it wasn’t a palace at the time) and was the third child and third son of King George III and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. With older brothers, George, The Prince of Wales (future King George IV), and Frederick, Duke of York ahead of him in the succession nobody contemplated that the little prince would one day be king. I find him to be a fascinating person to study. He was royal yet very human and in many ways very down to earth. He entered the royal navy in 1778 at the age of thirteen to be a midshipman. He remained in the royal navy for 12 years and retired from active service in 1790 at the age of 25. Prior to his retirement he did command his own vessel, the frigate HMS Andromeda, which he took command of in 1788. The next year he was promoted to the position of Rear-Admiral and placed in command of HMS Valiant. While in the royal navy he became close friends with Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté.
Prince William was in New York city during the American Revolution and George Washington even approved a plan to kidnap him. Nothing came of the plot as Britain became aware of it and sent guards to escort the prince around the city. In 1789 Prince William wanted to be made a royal duke similarly to his older brothers. However, the king was unwilling to do so. To twist the kings arm and to get his way William threatened to run in the next election to become a member of the House of Commons. George III did not want this to happen and therefore created William Duke of Clarence and St Andrews and Earl of Munster on May 16, 1789.
I could, and probably will, write a whole blog entry on the marriages of the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Suffice it to say that successful marriages from the 15 children of King George III and Queen Charlotte were a rarity. Prince William was no exception. William and his siblings were the first royals to come to maturity under the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 which prohibited descendants of George II from marrying unless they obtained the monarch’s consent, or, if consent was denied they could marry whomever they chose when they were over the age of 25 as long as twelve months notice was given to the Privy Council.
In 1791 Prince William began a long relationship with Dorothea Bland, an actress well known by the stage name “Mrs. Jordan.” William and Dorothea were husband and wife in every way, except legally, for many years. Since his older brother the Prince of Wales unhappily married in 1795 and had a child, Charlotte of Wales, in 1796, the succession seemed assure and William and Dorothea had no reason to test the waters of the Royal Marriages Act. The couple resided at Clarence House in London (the home of the current Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall) where they raised their 10 illegitimate children under the surname FitzClarence. Their eldest son, George FiztClarence, was created 1st Earl of Munster. This line continued up to 2000 and ended with the death Anthony FitzClarence, 7th Earl of Munster. Since he did not have any male heirs when he died in 2000 the title became extinct and merged with the crown. Current British Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, is also a descendant of The Duke of Clarence (William IV) and Mrs. Jordan.
I will stop here and continue with my look at William IV on next Tuesday’s blog. See you then! 🙂