Olga's Gallery

George III, King of Great Britain


George III (1738-1820), King of Great Britain, full name: George William Frederick. He was the grandson of King George II; his father, Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales, died at the age of only 44, leaving his son the heir to the throne of Britain.

George III was the first monarch of the House of Hanover to be born in Britain and due to a certain austere charisma was quite popular with all classes of his subjects. He ascended the throne in 1760. In 1761, he married Charlotte Sophia, princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, with whom he had 15 children, including the future kings George IV and William IV. George III was a shrewd politician and used his popularity with the strongly Whig middle class to undermine the Whigs, who had dominated British politics during the reign of his two predecessors. In 1764, he experienced his first bout of madness, though he recovered quickly.

During the administration of George III's favourite prime minister, Lord North, the American colonies, protesting England's increasingly heavy-handed taxation, proclaimed their independence on the 4th of July, 1776, and, eventually, achieved it with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. This was a hard blow to George and led to second lapse of sanity in 1788, from which he also recovered fairly soon.

In the 1790s and early 1800s, Britain was chiefly concerned with events on the Continent, which saw the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic wars. Domestically, George III oversaw the union between Ireland and Great Britain, though he refused the proposed Catholic Emancipation, which led to the resignation of William Pitt in 1801.

In 1810,  his favourite child, Princess Amelia, fell dangerously ill; this caused a third attack of mental derangement, and one from which he never recovered. In 1811, his eldest son George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) was appointed Prince Regent. Until his death, on 29 January 1820, George remained hopelessly insane; he also lost his sight. His ailment is now believed to have been caused by porphyria.

Queen Charlotte (1744 - 1818), nee princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Queen-consort to George III and the mother of George IV. Her marriage to King George III, as so often happens in royal dynasties, was in large part a matter of expediency. The newly-succeeded king needed a wife, and his advisors thought it best for him to marry a foreign princess, one who would not have allegiances and loyalties to any of the England’s various political factions. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz fit the bill perfectly. She was no beauty, but was described by many of her contemporaries as charming in person and, importantly, shared many of the views and tastes of her husband. Their marriage was a happy one, resulting in 15 children. Much of her later years were devoted to taking care of the king as his mental condition deteriorated due to what is believed to be porphyria. Charlotte died in 1818, pre-deceasing her husband by some 14 months. It is doubtful he was even aware of this, so bad had his illness become.

See: Thomas Gainsborough. Portrait of George III. Portrait of Queen Charlotte.
Sir Thomas Lawrence. Queen Charlotte. George III.
Allan Ramsay. Portrait of George III. Portrait of George III. Portrait of Queen Charlotte.
Sir Joshua Reynolds. George III. George III.

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