George, George, George
October 25, 1760: George III begins his reign as King of England. George William Frederick was born in London in 1738. His father was the Prince of Wales and his grandfather was King of England and Ireland, George II. He was of the House of Hanover, but unlike others of the line was born and raised British and speaking English. He was born two months early and was not expected to live. He overcame early odds and grew up a healthy, but shy child. He was privately tutored and a polyglot. He studied the sciences as well as humanities.
George II was not a family man and disliked his son. When the Prince of Wales (George’s father) suddenly died of a lung injury in 1751, George William became heir apparent. George II was now interested in the teenager and made him Prince of Wales. The Dowager Princess of Wales, George’s mother, really remained in control. At the age of 22, the Prince assumed the throne upon his grandfather’s death. He married the next year, a Princess from Germany became the Queen of England. The couple had 15 children. George III’s official coronation came only one week after his wedding.
The colonial lands proved problematic from the start. The French and Indian wars had been expensive and the upstart colonies revolted against the taxes George imposed to offset costs. When the Stamp Act was repealed, the King was enraged. The next set of taxes were even more intrusive. George III would not be cowed by the colonial riffraff. Eventually the riffraff rebelled to the point of Revolution. George III is referred to as the king who lost America. Other colonial holdings were inspired and much of his reign was spent embroiled in war and quelling uprisings.
He was also known as Insane King George III. The line of Hanover passed along thrones, to be sure. But they also passed the hereditary disease, porphyria. Those with the disease have a disorder with an enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway. They are photosensitive (sensitive to light), are wracked by abdominal pain, and have port wine colored urine. Eventually the disease leads to paralysis of the arms and legs as well as psychiatric symptoms. George III, from 1811-1820, went progressively blind and insane. He was often locked in his rooms wearing a straightjacket. His son, George IV, succeeded to the throne upon his death in 1820.
“Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton.”
“Lord Chancellor, did I deliver the speech well? I am glad of that, for there was nothing in it.”
“A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.”
“Once vigorous measures appear to be the only means left of bringing the Americans to a due submission to the mother country, the colonies will submit.” – all from George III
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: George III was also the Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire until he became King of Hanover in 1814. In 1810 he was at the height of his popularity in England. However, he was almost completely blind from cataracts and suffering from rheumatism and in constant pain. He was dangerously ill and bereaved after the death of his youngest and favorite daughter, Princess Amelia. The next year, he made his son Regent. He went completely blind, nearly deaf, and totally insane. He was still titular King but his son was wielding the power. He was unable to understand that he had been made King of Hanover and he did not know his wife died in 1818. His descent into madness continued and over Christmas 1891 he spoke nonsense for 58 hours straight. He was the longest lived and longest ruler of Great Britain up to this time. Only Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have lived and ruled longer.
Also on this day: Who Blinked? – In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis confrontation between Adlai Stevenson and Valerian Zorin took place.
Nuke It – In 1955, microwaves became available for home use.
Fox River Grove – In 1995, a train hit a bus stopped at a red light.