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George IV

George was the eldest son of George III and Queen Charlotte and was born on 12th August 1762 at St James' Palace. His high spirits, agreeable manners and air of fashion earned him the nickname 'Prinny'. But he ran up many debts through his extravagance and the construction of his pleasure dome at Brighton. Due to his father's illness he was proclaimed Prince Regent in 1811. The final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo occurred during the Regency. He succeeded his father on 29th January 1820.

Marriage

His attempt to marry the widowed Roman Catholic Maria Fitzherbert was a contravention of the Royal Marriages Act so was deemed illegal. He married his first cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick on 8th April 1795 at St James' Palace and they disliked each other on sight. But they did have a daughter (who died in childbirth) before their separation.

Coronation

George IV's coronation in the Abbey on 19th July 1821 was a superbly extravagant pageant that cost a staggering £230,000. He had a new crown containing over 12,000 diamonds specially made. The ageing and obese King sweltered in his suit, thick velvet coronation robes, a long curled wig and plumed hat, and he used no fewer than nineteen handkerchiefs to mop his heavily perspiring brow! Meanwhile, outside the Abbey, his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was desperately trying to get in to the church to be crowned consort. George IV, adamant she would not be crowned, ordered those guarding the entrances to the Abbey to refuse her entry. Despite trying every door into the church, Caroline finally accepted defeat and left.

A musical festival to celebrate the coronation was held in the Abbey on 24th July 1821 before the special seating was removed.

Burial

He died on 26th June 1830 and was buried at Windsor.

Further reading

The coronation of George IV by Sir George Nayler, 1824

George IV by E.A. Smith, 1999

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

British Royal and State funerals.... by M. Range 2016

Born

12th August 1762

Died

26th June 1830

Coronation

19th July 1821

George IV
George IV at his coronation

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

George IV
George IV coronation, 1821 - crowning

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related Commemorations

The work can be tough, but even the cold and rain don’t bother me as I enjoy it so much. I love every day that I spend at the Abbey – just being here makes me smile.

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Tim - Gardener

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