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Press release

Documents from the Royal Archives provide new insights into the life of George IV

Release date: Wednesday, 23 October 2019

A portrait of George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Sir Thomas Lawrence, George IV, 1821 ©

More than 1,600 records and documents relating to George IV (1762–1830) from the Royal Archives have been digitised and published online for the first time as part of the Georgian Papers Programme.  Including both private and official papers, the newly released material sheds fresh light on the monarch’s life, relationships and interests. It covers a wide range of topics: from the political, such as the Regency crisis of 1788-9 and George, Prince of Wales’s desire for military promotion, to the personal, such as correspondence relating to the Prince’s relationship with Mary Hamilton and his unsuccessful marriage to Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

Among the documents are:

  • A letter dated 25 May 1779, from the teenage George, Prince of Wales to Mary Hamilton, a lady of the court who was six years his senior and one of his early infatuations. Mary resisted his charms, and became a trusted friend and confidante. Their correspondence reveals much about the social and emotional world of the young Prince.

  • Letters dated 1789, from George, Prince of Wales to the Cabinet and his mother, Queen Charlotte, during his father George III’s bout of mental illness. The Prince argues against Prime Minister William Pitt’s proposal for a limited Regency, which would have left the King’s Household under the authority of the Queen.

  • A letter dated 18 June 1793, from Frederick, Duke of York to his brother George, Prince of Wales, which shows their close relationship and shared interest in military affairs. Frederick thanks George ‘for the pistols as well as for the peppermint cordial which is remarkably good’ and writes an account of the Siege of Valenciennes, where he commanded German and British Allied troops in one of the major battles of the 1793 Flanders campaign against Revolutionary France.

  • A letter dated 8 April 1795, from George III to George, Prince of Wales, in response to his son’s repeated requests for military promotion. The King states that he only ordered the Prince's current commission of Colonel Commandant of the 10th Regiment of Dragoons on the understanding that no higher rank would be attained by the Prince and expresses the wish that his son turns his attention to his recent marriage.

  • A letter dated 25 April 1795, from George, Prince of Wales to Princess Caroline of Brunswick written a few weeks after their wedding and highlighting the problems that already existed within their marriage. A year later, the Prince of Wales sought a separation from his wife.

  • Inventories listing thousands of items of furniture, art, decorative arts and other material formerly in Carlton House, the private residence of George, Prince of Wales, providing evidence of how the rooms were decorated, furnished and used.George IV’s passion for collecting will be explored in the exhibition George IV: Art & Spectacle at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace (15 November 2019 – 3 May 2020).

The Georgian Papers Programme is a partnership between Royal Collection Trust, lead academic partner King's College London and international participants, including primary US partners the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and William & Mary, as well as other key US institutions, such as the Library of Congress, Mount Vernon and the Sons of the American Revolution.  The Programme is transforming access to and interpretation of more than 425,000 pages of historic documents in the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period.  To date, more than 125,000 pages have been published and made freely available online.

For further information and images please contact the Royal Collection Trust Press Office, +44 (0)20 7839 1377, [email protected]


Press release_Georgian Papers Programme