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George IV and William IV (1821 - 1837)

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Acton Field, Langton Matravers, Swanage, Dorset

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House of Windsor

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Bonnie Prince Charlie
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Bonnie Prince Charlie“I wash my hands of the fatal consequences which I foresee but cannot help.' Bonnie Prince Charlie, shortly before the Battle of Culloden

IN 1745, PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD STUART began his ill-fated attempt to reclaim the throne lost by his grandfather in 1688.

When James II died in exile in 1701, his son James Francis Edward was proclaimed King James III in France. His supporters were known as Jacobites, after the Latin Jacobus (James). James, the 'Old Pretender', made a failed bid for his father's crown in 1715, after which Scottish Jacobites gave their loyalty to James's son, Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart. Born in Rome in 1720 to the Polish princess Maria Clementina Sobieska, he is remembered in history as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' of the '45.

Convinced that Scotland and then England would rally to him, Charles landed in the Hebrides on 23 July 1745. A predicted rapturous welcome from Highland clans was wide of the mark, but eventually some 1,200 men gathered around his standard to proclaim James king and Charles his regent.

The 'Young Pretender' entered Edinburgh a month later with 2,500 infantry and 50 horses, winning the Battle of Prestonpans on 21 September. Gracious in victory-'Spare them, they are my father's subjects,' he ordered - Charles prevented a general slaughter. His intention was to attack Newcastle and then march on to London, but Lord George Murray instead insisted on caution. Pipes skirling, the Highlanders marched into Carlisle on 1 November. By 28 November Charles was in Manchester, and on 4 December in Derby.

In London, panic began; shops closed as King George II was rumoured to be leaving for Hanover. Yet at this point the Scots advance stopped. Murray was alarmed at the dearth of English support, Charles was outvoted, and on 6 December the retreat began - with the Duke of Cumberland's English army in pursuit.

PRINCE IN DISGUISE
After Culloden, Charles lived as a fugitive in the heather. In August 1746, greeted by a loyal Jacobite, he hastily stopped the man from kneeling in homage with the wry warning: 'Oh no, my dear Lochiel, you don't know who may be looking from the tops of yonder hills.' Three weeks later, he was gone forever.


Six thousand weary, hungry Highlanders gathered on Inverness-shire's bleak Culloden Moor on 16 April 1746. Cumberland had 9,000 troops, rested and fed, along with artillery. The battle was soon over, leaving the ground piled with dead clansmen. Those wounded were butchered or left to die, their bodies rotting on the moor.

'Let every man seek his safety in the best way that he can,' Charles ordered, and for five months he wandered the Western highlands - his fugitive adventures remembered in such tales as being disguised by Flora Macdonald as 'Betty Burke', a servant girl. An open boat took him 'over the sea to Skye' and on 20 September 1746 he left Scotland, never to return.

The Highlands endured privation and misery while Charles lived out his years in exile. He left no heir. At his death in Rome in 1788, his brother Henry (a cardinal) called himself Henry IX and was awarded a pension by the kindly George III. On Henry's death in 1807, the direct male Stuart line died out.

THE BONNIE PRINCE
This portrait by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet shows Charles Edward Stuart as the elegant prince who was to charm his way into Scottish legend.

Bonnie Prince Charlie


THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN
In this painting by David Morier, government redcoats with fixed bayonets stand firm against the Highlanders'charge: the battle was to last only 25 minutes.

Bonnie Prince Charlie


FLORA MACDONALD
Born in 1722, Flora was arrested after Charles's escape, and briefly held in the Tower of London. Released in 1747, she married and emigrated to America in 1774. After returning to Scotland, she died in 1790.

Bonnie Prince Charlie


LOCHABER NO MORE
In J.B. Macdonald's painting, Charles takes leave of Scotland in September 1746, his ambition to be king dashed forever.

Bonnie Prince Charlie




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