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The Queen Caroline Affair


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Lord Liverpool's government gained a little more popularity as a result of the Cato Street conspiracy; however this was soon lost during the affair of Queen Caroline. The prince Regent had earlier and unconstitutionally married a catholic divorcee Mrs Fitzherbert in his youth and had subsequently denied the marriage. He committed bigamy a decade later by marrying the German Princess Caroline of Brunswick . It was an unhappy marriage with the Prince still seeing Mrs Fitzherbert and they soon separated with Caroline living a life of exile in Europe . Both George and Caroline lived disreputable if separate lives and scandal frequently surrounded them both.

In 1806 George tried to get rid of Caroline by setting up a parliamentary enquiry into her conduct but no serious charge was found.

In 1820 things came to a head when George III died and the Prince Regent became King. This meant Caroline would become Queen of England. George was determined that this would not happen and instructed Liverpool 's government to introduce a 'Bill of Pains and Penalties' in Parliament to strip Caroline of her title and end their marriage. This meant a full public enquiry into her behaviour and likewise a great deal of scrutiny of his.

The result was a massive amount of scandal in the public domain with radicals and reformers lining up to defend 'the wronged queen' and the Establishment siding with King George. The Bill was passed by 9 votes in the Lords but Liverpool refused to extend the scandal further by having it read in the commons. In the meantime Caroline herself appeared in London to a rapturous welcome by radicals and republicans. She attempted to force her way into to the King's coronation cheered on by the mob but was refused entry and was turned away.

The matter was only settled when on receiving a large pension from the government Caroline's popularity began to wane. In August 1821 much to relief of King George IV Caroline of Brunswick died suddenly.

George's indulgent lifestyle seriously damaged his health. By the 1820s he was extremely overweight and was addicted to both alcohol and laudanum. George IV also began showing signs of insanity. He told people that he had been a soldier and insisted he had fought at the Battle of Waterloo. The king became more and more a recluse at Windsor Castle and eventually died in 1830.


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