Happy Birthday, George IV

On 12 August 1762, England rejoiced in the birth of a son to King George III and his Queen.  Later known as George IV, he was the King of Hanover and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death on 26 June, 1830.

Volumes have been written on the life of George, The Prince of Wales, known as Prinny.

Above, how the caricaturist George Cruikshank (1792-1878) celebrated the Prince Regent’s 50th Birthday in 1812; The Prince dances while outside the people suffer.
George Augustus Frederick was the eldest child of George III and Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, usually referred to as Queen Charlotte.
In this family portrait by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) from about 1765, Prince George is on the right, his brother Frederick (Duke of York, 1763-1827) on the other side of their mother. They were the first of 15 children.

By 1770 when Johann Zoffany painted the family again, George (in red) and Frederick (in gold) had been joined by four more siblings: left, William (with parrot), Edward (center with dog), Charlotte and baby Augusta.
According to his biographers, young George was a good student, fluent in several languages and “very promising.” However, in the tradition of the Hanoverian kings, his father was disappointed in him, worried about his lack of obedience to the scriptures and his loose ways with the truth.

The miniature of George, right, was painted by the famed Richard Cosway about 1780 when George was nearing his majority.

John Hoppner (1758 – 1810) painted the Prince of Wales in 1792. The portrait hangs in the Wallace Collection in London.

 The portrait below also hangs in the Wallace Collection.

By the time he turned 21 in 1783, the Prince had already experienced several passionate love affairs, most notoriously with the beautiful actress Mary Robinson* who performed at the Drury Lane Theatre as Perdita in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The Prince was smitten and wrote to her, signing his name as Florizel, and the affair was soon known to the general public. The King was very angry and their relationship never improved vastly.  But we shall leave the story of the Prince of Wales —  “First Gentleman of Europe,” collector of houses, furniture, paintings et. al., bigamist and serial adulterer, gambler and spendthrift, and father least likely to succeed — until a later blog.

For now we offer our felicitations on the 248th birthday of George IV, Prince, Regent and King.
* Mary Robinson’s life (1757-1800) was short and sad.  She retired from the stage after various afflictions and became a well-known poetess and novelist. For more details on the life of Mary Robinson, we recommend Hester Davenport’s biography published in 2006: The Prince’s Mistress Perdita: A Life of Mary Robinson.

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