Saturday, June 10, 2023

Was George III Britain’s Best King?

 From Historic Royal Palaces:

On 4 June 1738, 281 years ago, George III was born in London. He was the first Hanoverian born in UK, and was King for 60 years. Yet in 1811 – 50 years into his reign – his mental and physical illnesses overwhelmed him rendering him unable to rule. Secluded in his apartments in Windsor, the blind and largely deaf old man would hammer out Handel loudly on his harpsichord in hope of hearing comforting and familiar music. Today, George III is often overlooked. He is the “mad king” or the “King who lost America”.

History tends to remember and glorify monarchs who are winners. These are the monarchs who have presided over battles, like Henry V, Richard the Lionheart, Edward I and William the Conqueror. Henry VIII, Charles II and even George IV are popular Kings, memorialised because of their appetites for sex and for food. Physical strength and sexual prowess are the hallmarks of great monarchs. Henry VIII’s treatment of his wives as being largely disposable assets readily dismissed in relentless pursuit of his aims is shameless behaviour today. Similarly, we don’t see war, whether we win or not, as a good thing because our 24-hour news cycle means we are ever more aware that it entails the slaughter of the innocent. Likewise, it’s not really possible to gloss over the fact that Edward I expelled all Jews from England in 1290.  In a society which no longer excuses discrimination and violence, nor dismisses the abuse and objectification of women we probably need to re-think our monarchical top ten. Here is my pitch for George III making the top slot. (Read more.)


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