Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz., Elector of Hanover, George III, King George II of Great Britain and Ireland, King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover, The Prince Regent, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
George III (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was King of Great Britain and of Ireland from October 25, 1760 until his death in 1820. The two kingdoms were in a personal union under him until the Acts of Union 1800 merged them on January 1, 1801. He then became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He was concurrently Duke and Prince-Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg (“Hanover”) in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on October 12, 1814. He was a monarch of the House of Hanover who, unlike his two predecessors, was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.
George was born on June 4, 1738 at Norfolk House in St James’s Square, London. He was a grandson of King George II of Great Britain and the eldest son of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, a daughter of was born in Gotha to Friedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676–1732) and Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1679–1740). Her paternal grandfather was Friedrich I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
George was born two months prematurely and thought unlikely to survive, he was baptised the same day by Thomas Secker, who was both Rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, and Bishop of Oxford. One month later he was publicly baptised at Norfolk House, again by Secker. His godparents were King Frederick I of Sweden (for whom Lord Baltimore stood proxy), his uncle Friedrich III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha (for whom Lord Carnarvon stood proxy), and his great-aunt Sophia Dorothea, Queen in Prussia (for whom Lady Charlotte Edwin stood proxy).
In 1759, George was smitten with Lady Sarah Lennox, sister of Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, but Lord Bute advised against the match and George abandoned his thoughts of marriage. “I am born for the happiness or misery of a great nation,” he wrote, “and consequently must often act contrary to my passions.” Nevertheless, George and his mother resisted attempts by the King to marry George to Princess Sophie Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Sophie married Frederick, Margrave of Bayreuth, instead.
The following year, at the age of 22, George succeeded to the throne when his grandfather George II died suddenly on October 25, 1760, two weeks before his 77th birthday. The search for a suitable wife intensified: after giving consideration to a number of Protestant German princesses, George’s mother sent Colonel David Graeme with, on her son’s behalf, an offer of marriage to Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Charlotte accepted. While a royal household and staff were assembled for Charlotte in London, Lord Harcourt, the royal Master of the Horse, escorted her from Strelitz to London. Charlotte arrived in the afternoon of September 8, 1761 and the marriage ceremony was conducted that same evening in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace. The coronation of George III and Charlotte was held at Westminster Abbey a fortnight later on September 22th. George never took a mistress (in contrast with his grandfather and his sons), and the couple enjoyed a happy marriage until his mental illness struck.
George’s life and reign 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 1807, the transatlantic slave trade was banned from the British Empire.
In the later part of his life, George had recurrent—and eventually permanent—mental illness. Although it has since been suggested that he had bipolar disorder or the blood disease porphyria, the cause of his illness remains unknown. George suffered a final relapse in 1810, and his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, became Prince Regent the following year. When the King died in 1820, the Prince Regent succeeded him as King George IV.
At the time of his death, George III was the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch; he remains the longest-lived and longest-reigning male monarch and the third longest reigning monarch overall. Historical analysis of his life has gone through a “kaleidoscope of changing views” that have depended heavily on the prejudices of his biographers and the sources available to them.