The end of the Georgian era is a point that has come in for some debate and, as I found when researching Life in the Georgian Court, William IV is not a man who is often included in the notorious list of the Georgian monarchs. William was not a farmer like his father, nor a Prinny, like his brother but instead the Sailor King, a committed naval man and the heirless monarch who came to the throne when he was already well into his sixties, paving the way for the Victorian era that was to follow.
When William gave his first newborn cries at Buckingham House, his status as third son to George III and Queen Charlotte meant it was unlikely that he would ever inherit the throne. Rather than submit to the painstaking preparation to rule that his brother faced, William’s life was set to be a nautical one. Under the guidance of his tutors, Major-General Budé and Dr James Majendie, he grew up fast until, at the age of thirteen, William joined the Royal Navy. It was the best decision for all, the king decided, keeping his son safely away from the potentially thorny influence of his brother, George.
ShareAccompanied by a tutor, William went to sea as a midshipman aboard the Prince George and, in 1780, he even went to war serving at the First Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780. He was a keen member of the crew yet his fame was about to get the better of him. It was in New York during the American War of Independence that William dodged a kidnap attempt sanctioned by George Washington himself. Though he was unharmed, this marked the end of the young man’s unrestricted gadding about. (Read more.)