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George III (1760 - 1820)
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George III (1760 - 1820)WHEN FREDERICK, PRINCE OF WALES died in 1751 his 12-year-old son became the next heir to the throne and was duly crowned George III. Unlike his grandfather, George was thoroughly English, and proud of it. An example of domestic virtue and conscientious to a fault, he 'gloried in the name of Briton'.

In 1761 George married a German princess, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and their happy union produced 15 children. Simple in his tastes, the king loved farming and craftsmanship; he found politics a hard world to fathom, offering little in the way of true friendship. The ministers that he trusted - Bute and North - proved to be broken reeds, but George shrewdly saw that an untried, somewhat uncongenial politician (William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister at only 24) could provide more reliable support. Pitt led the government for 21 years, through tumultuous times.

George III was a passionate opponent of Napoleon Bonaparte and, with the nation, hailed the navy's victory at Trafalgar in October 1805 while mourning the death of Admiral Nelson. 'England has saved herself by her exertions and will, I trust, save Europe by its example,' declared Prime Minister William Pitt a month later.

George Ill's was a reign of political upheaval, at home and abroad. The king had to cope with fallout from the American and French Revolutions, and losing the American colonies in 1783 was a severe blow for which George himself was widely, though unfairly, blamed. But when war with revolutionary France broke out in 1793, the king became a symbol of patriotic resistance to tyranny and anarchy - making the monarchy more popular than it had been since the days of Charles II.
From middle age, George had bouts of illness affecting him mentally and physically. He suffered from porphyria, a genetic condition that in the 18th century was treated as 'lunacy' with remedies often more distressing than the sickness. From 1810 he was permanently disabled, ending his life a sad and confused old man in a dressing gown, wandering around Windsor Castle. When 'Farmer George' died in January 1820 his merits soon became clear - in contrast with his son and successor, George IV.

George's illness first appeared when he had convulsions, and seemed unable to stop talking. One famous story - but unproven - has the king speaking to an oak tree in the belief that it was the King of Prussia. His illness took a serious turn in November 1788 when he attacked the Prince of Wales over the Windsor Castle dinner table. A brief recovery was greeted with popular relief; the king went bathing in the sea at Weymouth as a band on the beach played 'God Save the King'.

George III was hard-working and well-meaning, though his enemies unfairly tried to portray him as a would-be despot.

George III (1760 - 1820)

In 1762 George III left Kensington Palace (where his father's ghost was said to appear) for a new home, Buckingham House. There he and Queen Charlotte planned 'sumptuous and stately improvements' to what became Buckingham Palace.

George III (1760 - 1820)

Queen Charlotte proved a loving and dutiful wife to 'Farmer George', who wrote pamphlets on farming under the pseudonym 'Ralph Robinson'.

George III (1760 - 1820)

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