On this date in History: January 29, 1820. The Death of King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover, after a reign of 59 years, 96 days (the longest reign at the time). He was 81 years of age.
George III (George William Frederick; June 4, 1738-January 29, 1820) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. 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 the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in England, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.
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 of 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.
Meanwhile, George’s health deteriorated. He developed dementia, and became completely blind and increasingly deaf. He was incapable of knowing or understanding either that he was declared King of Hanover in 1814, or that his wife died in 1818 At Christmas 1819, he spoke nonsense for 58 hours, and for the last few weeks of his life was unable to walk. He died at Windsor Castle at 8:38 pm on 29 January 1820, six days after the death of his fourth son, the Duke of Kent. His favourite son, Frederick, Duke of York, was with him. George III was buried on 16 February in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
George was succeeded by two of his sons George IV and William IV, (a third son, Ernest-Augustus, Duke of Cumberland eventually inherited the Kingdom of Hanover) who both died without surviving legitimate children, leaving the throne to the only legitimate child of the Duke of Kent, Victoria, the last monarch of the House of Hanover.