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I am more interested in how Austen developed her view of Prinny—which I believe was already fixed by the time of the Emma dedication. D.” (George III by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith). But, just as he knew every facing of every military uniform and did not know why the American colonies were rumbling with dissatisfaction, so he had no particularly good grasp of his children’s different personalities.
I have three goals here: to summarize enough of Prinny’s iniquities to justify Austen’s dim view of him; to present some possible reasons—linked to her early life in Steventon, Hampshire, and to two of her beloved brothers—why Austen might have disdained Prinny even more strongly than the average literate Briton did; and to make some broad suggestions about how Austen’s view of Prinny might have influenced both her Juvenilia and her mature work. The sentiment on the reverse, “Patriae Ovanti/Coronat. Sept/MDCCLXI” (For His Rejoicing Country/Crowned 22 September 1761), was not, as far as I know, repeated on any commemorative medals for Prinny’s coronation. In the next twenty-one years, he was joined by fourteen brothers and sisters. was prone to go up and check on his sleeping children at six in the morning. (Fraser, Princesses 14) George III’s grasp of Prinny’s personality was especially poor, as it was the polar opposite of his own: unrestrained, self-indulgent, and emotional to the point of hysteria.
Darcy’s income of £10,000 a year gives us some basis for comparison. Fitzherbert moved temporarily to Brighton, where he purchased a relatively modest house.
Of course, all thoughts of economy were cast aside early: the house eventually became the Royal Pavilion.
As a boy, George III was shy, serious, and inflexible. (Covering his minor affairs would be impossible here; even a book titled The Mistresses of King George IV [Levy] discusses only the five principal women.) Prinny wrote Mrs.
Moreover, his own father—George II’s despised oldest son, Frederick, who died when young George was only twelve—urged him in a testamentary letter to “regard family, dynastic, and national interests as inextricably bound together” (Tillyard 19). Robinson compromising letters, and the eventual price for their return was £5,000 plus an annuity of £500. Robinson later became a woman of letters of a more respectable sort; her portrait hangs today in Chawton House Library.) When Prinny came of age in 1783, George III granted him Carlton House in London as an independent residence.
The next morning, however, she fled for the Continent.
She returned in autumn 1785 on the condition that a religiously valid (though secret) marriage would take place, which it did in December when a Church of England priest was bribed to conduct it.
The honeymoon at Kempshott Park was no better than the wedding: After two days at Windsor they drove off to Kempshott where a party of the Prince’s male cronies gathered, with Lady Jersey the only female guest. But by 1806, the relationship was declining once more; Charles Fox died, and Prinny’s political allegiance began drifting over to the Tories; and, in response to allegations against Caroline (especially the rumor that a poor boy she had adopted was her biological child), the spectacularly misnamed “Delicate Investigation” took place. The critics of course fastened on the expense—Shelley remarked that it must have cost £120,000 of the people’s money [an overestimate, but his point remained valid] . (Smith 133-34) Princess Caroline was of course not invited to this event, and the final break with Mrs.
(For example, he would be largely unable to create peerages, award pensions, or make official appointments.) In any case, the King was declared out of danger by February 1789, before this bill could be passed—and Prinny emerged with an even more tarnished reputation. Instead, she liked to flirt, brazenly and without subtlety of manner, and it was rumoured that her governess followed her around at dances to prevent her embarrassing herself “by indecent conversations with men.” (3-4) Worst of all, the Princess was conspicuous for her body odor even in this unwashed age, whereas Prinny himself, a noted dandy, was unusually fastidious.
By the early 1790s, Prinny’s initial devotion to Mrs. Princess Caroline’s lively, open style, however, was not desirable in a wife. Malmesbury’s tactful hints to Caroline for improving her hygiene and deportment went largely unregarded.
The silver medal commemorating George’s coronation shows an attractive portrait of this shy, serious young man. The real trouble began in 1784, however, when Prinny began pursuing the widowed Maria Fitzherbert.
He disregarded several inconvenient facts: she was a devout Catholic, and she refused to become his mistress.