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A ROYAL AFFAIR by Stella Tillyard Kirkus Star

A ROYAL AFFAIR

George III and His Scandalous Siblings

By Stella Tillyard

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 2006
ISBN: 1-4000-6371-X
Publisher: Random House

British historian Tillyard (Citizen Lord, 1998, etc.) paints a Hanoverian family portrait centered on the reign of the eldest brother, who became King of England in 1760.

Prince of Wales at 13 due to the sudden death of his father, George III succeeded his grandfather to the throne at 22. With the title came the need for a queen and an heir. An arranged marriage solved this first dilemma, though bride and groom met just five hours before their wedding. Such are the gossipy stories contained in Tillyard’s latest. Relying heavily on material in foreign collections, she focuses mainly on George’s sister, Caroline, and brothers Henry and William, presumably because their stories are more ribald than those of staid siblings Augusta and Edward. None of them left much in the way of documents, and the author speculates that George himself probably removed anything scandalous from his own collection. Tillyard still teases out a surprising amount of detail. Married off at 15 to her cousin, the King of Denmark, who proved both neglectful and mentally ill, Caroline found herself alone and bored in a distant land. She began a secret affair with the royal doctor, who manipulated power in the kingdom for nearly two years until the scandal became known. Back home in England, Prince Henry was far less secretive about his romantic pursuits. Catching him in flagrante, one cuckolded lord sued the prince for damages and won; Henry had to be bailed out by his richer brother. William’s secret marriage (without royal approval) resulted in passage of the Royal Marriages Act. George had his own problems, most notably with a group of troublemakers in a place known now as America. This dispute, as well as the king’s slow spiral into insanity, are only briefly covered.

A juicy account of George’s challenging and colorful relationships with his siblings, told from a fresh perspective.