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RA GEO/BOX/13/83


The ‘trial’ of Queen Caroline for adultery: propaganda poster, 1820

The thousands of documents in the Royal Archives created in connection with the ‘trial’ of Queen Caroline reflect the high emotions it generated, for both the main participants and the general public.

For example, Queen Caroline addressed George IV directly a letter of 7 August 1820, in which she attacked his decision to subject her to this ordeal. She concluded her letter:

You sent me sorrowing through the World, and even in my sorrow, pursued me with unrelenting persecution. Having left me nothing but my Innocence, you would now by a Mockery of Justice deprive me even of the reputation of possessing that: The poisoned Bowl and the Poignard, are means more manly, than perjured Witnesses and partial Tribunals, and they are less cruel inasmuch as life is less valuable than honor. If my life would have satisfied Your Majesty you should have had it on the sole condition of giving me a place in the same Tomb with my Child; But since you would send me dishonored to the Grave, I will resist the attempt with all the means that it shall please God to give me.

The progress in the House of Lords of the Bill to deprive the Queen of her title and to dissolve her marriage to the King split the opinion of the nation. Some supported George IV, but many were in favour of the Queen’s cause, particularly because of the double standard of her trial for adultery, when the King was publically known to have had numerous mistresses.

Radical groups supported the Queen, as it provided an opportunity to protest against the King and his government, while many women held her up as a symbol of female oppression; she also had a great deal of support among the military and the press. Thus posters in support of the King clearly show the depth of feeling provoked by the trial throughout the whole country.

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