THE ROYAL GRIFFIN: Frederick Prince of Wales 1707-51 by John Walters

THE ROYAL GRIFFIN: Frederick Prince of Wales 1707-51

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The son of George II and the father of George III, ""The Griff"" was never a great success and today his strongest claim to fame is probably the mutt bestowed on him by Alexander Pope, bearing on his collar the inscription: I am his highness' dog at Kew/ Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?. Walters however takes an indulgent and kindly view toward the luckless Hanoverian who languished for 25 years as Prince of Wales never to become King Frederick of England. True to the Hanoverian family tradition of virulent hatred between father and son, Griff was cordially detested by both his parents, his mother dubbing him ""the greatest ass, the greatest liar, and the greatest canaille, the greatest beast in the whole world,"" adding ""and I heartily wish he were out it."" And except for an unfashionable interest in botany (his country house became The Royal Botanical Gardens), the Griff did fritter away his days gambling, whoring and slumming with the riffraff of London. Walters, trying very hard to make a virtue of his fondness for vulgarians and the low life of London, calls him a ""democrat"" and a ""people's prince,"" but despite the Prince's apparent obliviousness to social rank, it is hopelessly anachronistic to see him as a populist champion of the people. Inevitably, the Griff became the nucleus of the Opposition to Walpole and his father's policies -- though Walters greatly overrates his political savvy. Most of the book is devoted to royal marriages and sexual liaisons in Hanover and London, the chief political quarrel of the Griff's life centering on a dispute over his allowance. In the 18th century however, Hanoverian domestic feuds were the stuff of national politics, so perhaps Walters is justified in his devotion to Georgian scandal sheets. Like its subject, the book is lightweight but with a certain appeal to those with a fondness for royal oddballs.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1972
Publisher: Stein & Day