Today is the anniversary of two deaths in European Royal history. The two royals are King George III of the United Kingdom and King Christian IX of Denmark.Today is the 115th anniversary of the death of King Christian IX of Denmark, Known as the ‘father-in-law of Europe’ and the ancestor of the monarchs of Denmark, Norway, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. The Duke of Edinburgh is one of his three surviving great-grandchildren.
Today I will highlight and focus on King George the third.
George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820) 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 (“Hanover”) 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.
At the age of 22, George succeeded to the throne when his grandfather, George II, died suddenly on 25 October 1760, two weeks before his 77th birthday. The search for a suitable wife intensified. On 8 September 1761 in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, the King married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom he met on their wedding day. A fortnight later on 22 September, both were crowned at Westminster Abbey. George remarkably never took a mistress (in contrast with his grandfather and his sons), and the couple enjoyed a happy marriage until his mental illness struck. They had 15 children—nine sons and six daughters.
George’s life and reign, which were longer than those of any of his predecessors, were marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, and places farther afield in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years’ War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India. However, many of Britain’s American colonies were soon lost in the American War of Independence. Further wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France from 1793 concluded in the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
In late 1810, at the height of his popularity, already virtually blind with cataracts and in pain from rheumatism, George became dangerously ill. In his view the malady had been triggered by stress over the death of his youngest and favourite daughter, Princess Amelia. The Princess’s nurse reported that “the scenes of distress and crying every day … were melancholy beyond description.” He accepted the need for the Regency Act 1811, and the Prince of Wales acted as Regent for the remainder of George III’s life. Despite signs of a recovery in May 1811, by the end of the year George had become permanently insane and lived in seclusion at Windsor Castle until his death.
Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in 1812 and was replaced by Lord Liverpool. Liverpool oversaw British victory in the Napoleonic Wars. The subsequent Congress of Vienna led to significant territorial gains for Hanover, which was upgraded from an electorate to a kingdom.Meanwhile, George’s health deteriorated. He developed dementia, and became completely blind and increasingly deaf. He was incapable of knowing or understanding that he was declared King of Hanover in 1814, or that his wife died in 1818.