George III's Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton.

The Gold State Coach

LONDON, January 8.

Yesterday the old State Coach, built for King George I and the Carriages of his late Majesty, given by the late Master of the Horse to the Servants, were sold at Bever’s Repository; it is remarkable the Gold Lace of the State Coach, which was taken off before the sale and burnt, amounted to 53l. 19s.

A new superb State Coach is building for his Majesty, which, when finished, will be the most magnificent ever seen in this Kingdom.

(Derby Mercury, 9 January 1761)

George III had taken the throne on 25 October 1760, upon the death of his grandfather, George II (George III’s father, the old king’s eldest son, had died in 1751). His coronation took place almost a year later, on 22 September 1761, but if he was hoping that his new State Coach would be ready for the occasion, then he was going to be sorely disappointed. It took almost two years for the coach to be completed, for it was no ordinary coach. It would be, the new king decided, the most elegant and magnificent coach that had ever been seen in his kingdom.

George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.
George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.

It is said a new State-Coach is going to be built (from a design already made by a celebrated English Artist) which for elegance, taste, and grandeur, will, it is thought, excel any thing of the kind ever yet doe in Europe; and we have the pleasure to add, that the construction, painting, and every other part of the same, is to be the work of our own countrymen.

(Leeds Intelligencer, 20 January 1761)

Sir William Chambers, a Scottish/Swedish architect was responsible for the original design, while the contract for building the vehicle was given to the coachmaker, Samuel Butler. Then came the ornamentation, carved sculpture by Joseph Wilton which was then gilded by Henry Pujolas and decorated by the metal chaser, George Coyte.

Sir William Chamber's design for the new State Coach, 1760.
Sir William Chamber’s design for the new State Coach, 1760. © Royal Collection Trust

The whole concept was for the coach to be the most wonderful – and therefore the most expensive – ever to have been built in England, and the decoration was full of symbolism. It was intended that ‘when riding in the coach, the King would appear as Neptune, monarch of the seas, and also Apollo, leader of the muses of artistic innovation’.

There are four Triton, mythical sea-gods placed on the body of the coach and, at the front, almost appear to be pulling the coach. Whether it was intended or not, in motion the coach rocked about as if it was rolling on the high seas, to the distress of those inside! When George III’s younger son, William IV used the coach during his reign in the 1830s, he complained that it was just like being on board a ship ‘tossing in a rough sea’, and as he’d served in navy for many years, he ought to have known.

The Gold State Coach, built in 1762.
The Gold State Coach, built in 1762. © Royal Collection Trust

The first outing of this magnificent new state coach was on 25 November 1762 when the king travelled in it to the State Opening of Parliament. So great was the public interest, that anyone with rooms in and around Parliament Street were able to rent them out at exorbitant rates for the day, and those ladies and gentlemen lucky enough to get one leaned out of the windows to watch the king pass by in his state coach, drawn by eight horses. As it turned out, watching from above was by far the safest vantage point.

London, November 25

This Day, about two o’clock, his Majesty went to the House of Lords from St James’s in his new State Coach, drawn by eight fine cream coloured horses, ornamented with blue ribbands and Morocco trappings. His Majesty went through the Park, and was attended by the Lords Oxford and Cadogan, the Master of the Horse and other principal Officers of State. The crowd was so great on this occasion, and carriages so numerous, that they extended quite from St James’s to the Parliament House, and it was with great difficulty that foot passengers could pass along the streets. In Parliament Street, one of the horses which drew his Majesty’s Coach fell down, and occasioned some little confusion, but we do not hear of any damage.

(Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 2 December 1762)

George III's Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton.
George III’s Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton. © Royal Collection Trust

The crowds were so great that they led to injuries and even – reportedly – to death. The first accident occurred just as the coach left the gates of the Royal Mews on Charing Cross when a young woman fell beneath the hooves of one of the Life Guards horses. We haven’t found any further report on her, but it reads as if she survived her accident. The deaths were due to the immense press of people in confined spaces.

In the narrow passage leading from Spring Gardens into the park, a woman and child were crushed to death, and their bodies were laid on the grass in the park; another woman and a lad are said also to have been crushed to death near the Horse Guards, and several were beat down and trampled on, and had their arms broke, and otherwise much bruised; and divers women lost their hats, capuchins, gowns, shoes, &c. I the crowd.

(Derby Mercury, 26 November 1762)

The Gold State Coach is still used for ceremonial occasions, but has been modernised over the years to give a (slightly!) more comfortable ride.

Sources not mentioned above:

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 2 September 1762

Derby Mercury, 26 November 1762

Leeds Intelligencer, 20 January 1761

Royal Collection Trust: notes against object RCIN 917942, Design for the State Coach by Sir William Chambers and object RCIN 5000048, the Gold State Coach.

Frederick and Augusta, Prince and Princess of Wales by Gaetano Manini, 1758. © Royal Collection Trust

The First Duke of Edinburgh

In 1726, a new title was created in the peerage, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the recipient was Prince Frederick Louis, George I’s grandson.

The new duke was second in the line of succession to the throne behind his father, George Augustus who was, in 1726, the Prince of Wales.

Prince Frederick Louis, c.1720-1725. © Royal Collection Trust
Prince Frederick Louis, c.1720-1725. © Royal Collection Trust

News of his new title had to be carried to Hanover, for that was where Frederick lived. In 1714, when Queen Anne had died and his grandfather had taken the British throne as George I, Frederick’s parents, George, Prince of Wales and Caroline of Ansbach, the new Princess of Wales, had been forced to travel to England and leave their eldest son behind to represent the dynasty in Hanover (despite the fact that he was only seven years old).

Delighted with the news from England, celebrations were prepared at the Hanoverians’ summer residence, Herrenhausen Palace.

Hanover, Sept. 20. One the 12th inst. there was a great Entertainment at Herrenhausen, on Prince Frederick’s being created Duke of Edinburgh. There was a numerous Court, and at Night a fine Firework at the End of the Garden.

(Caledonian Mercury, 27 September 1726)

Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, c.1708
Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, c.1708 (via Wikimedia)

At the same time as Frederick had been created Duke of Edinburgh, his younger brother, William (who had been born in England) was made Duke of Cumberland, a title which had first been held by his 2x great-uncle, Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Prince William was only five years old, while Frederick was nineteen; the former was the focus and the favourite of the British royal court while Frederick, overseas and out-of-sight, was overlooked and becoming ostracized.

Frederick did not use his new title for long; on 11 June 1727 George I died, and Frederick’s father took the throne as George II. Frederick was – finally – brought to Britain, but father and son rarely saw eye-to-eye. On 8 January 1729, Frederick was invested as the Prince of Wales and his eldest son, George, was given the Edinburgh dukedom.

Frederick and Augusta, Prince and Princess of Wales by Gaetano Manini, 1758. © Royal Collection Trust
Frederick and Augusta, Prince and Princess of Wales by Gaetano Manini, 1758. © Royal Collection Trust

Frederick never became king; he predeceased his father, George II and instead his son, George, the 2nd Duke of Edinburgh (and Prince of Wales after Frederick’s death) succeeded as George III, and so we have the unbroken reigns of the four Georges which give the period it’s moniker, the Georgian era.

Hanoverian Family Tree. (Image sourced via the National Archives, © Royal Family History)
Hanoverian Family Tree. (Image sourced via the National Archives, © Royal Family History)

The title of Duke of Edinburgh fell into abeyance in 1760 with George III’s accession to the throne, but was resurrected by Queen Victoria for her second son, Prince Alfred (although the monarch’s second son is traditionally created Duke of York). And, in 1947, in its third creation, the title was bestowed on Prince Philip.

The Royal Babies of King George III & Queen Charlotte

George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany
George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The arrival of a baby at any time is a joyous event and with the arrival of the latest royal babies, we thought we would take a look back at the children of King George III and his consort Queen Charlotte. They produced a staggering 15 children. So here’s a brief look at them all through their portraits.

1. Their eldest child and first in line to the throne was George, later to become the notorious King George IV (1762 – 1830). As you may know, George, Prince of Wales, was named as the father of our favourite Georgian courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s daughter, but that’s another story, with Prince George featuring in our book An Infamous Mistress.

2. Frederick, Duke of York, now gave the couple the requisite ‘heir and a spare’. (1763 – 1827).

Royal baby - Buckingham Palace
Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons (Artist, Johann Zoffany)

At number 3  we have William, who would eventually become William IV (1765-1837). So the monarchy was safe, ‘an heir and now 2 spares’.

Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence
Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence, King William IV. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

As if three children weren’t enough the couple produced their first daughter, Charlotte, The Princess Royal  (1766 – 1828).

Princess Royal
Queen Charlotte with Charlotte, Princess Royal (Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014)

The couples fifth child was to be yet another son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767 – 1820). In due time, Edward’s daughter Victoria, born 24th May 1819, would ascend to the throne, and you can discover more about Queen Victoria and her descendants here.

Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent
Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At number six and almost a year to the day, Augusta Sophia was to make her appearance into the royal family, followed by their seventh child, another daughter,  Princess Elizabeth  (1770 – 1840), who was reputed to have had some sort of marriage to a George Ramus, but you can find out more here about that.

Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary
Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Numbers eight & nine were  Prince Ernest (1771 – 1851) and  Prince Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), who was to become the 1st Duke of  Sussex, the title being conferred upon him on 24th November 1801. This was the last time this title was used, but it is now the title that has been bestowed upon Prince Harry when he married Meghan Markle (19th May 2018) at Windsor Castle. If you’d like to find out more about the unconventional marriage of Prince Harry’s great, great, great grandfather to a Romany girl, you can discover all in our book, A Right Royal Scandal.

Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

These two were followed a year later by their tenth child Prince Adolphus (1774 – 1850). At number eleven there was Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776 – 1857) and at twelve,  Princess Sophia (1777 – 1848).

The Three Youngest Daughters of George III
The Three Youngest Daughters of George III, John Singleton Copley, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At thirteen we have the young  Prince Octavius  (1779 – 1783) whose life was tragically cut short only six months after the death of his younger brother Prince Alfred. To find out more about the tragically short lives of Octavius and Alfred and the Queen’s mysterious pregnancies click on this link.

Prince Octavius (1779-1783)
Prince Octavius (1779-1783), by Benjamin West. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

14. Prince Alfred (1780 – 1782)

Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Finally, at number fifteen there was  Princess Amelia (1783 – 1810).

Princess Amelia by Hoppner, 1785.
Princess Amelia by Hoppner, 1785. Wikimedia

Our final offering, King George III, Queen Charlotte, the group portrait, accompanied by their surviving 13 children.

Murphy_-_George_III_and_Queen_Charlotte_with_their_thirteen_children
George III and Queen Charlotte with their thirteen children by John Murphy

We have written extensively about the British royal family, revealing new – and surprising – information, and you can discover all here.

King George IV – Post-Mortem

From this dashing young man:

Watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782 by Richard Cosway,
Watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782 by Richard Cosway,

To this in the space of just a  few years.

A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion. Lewis Walpole Library.
A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion. Lewis Walpole Library.

And all stages in between.

All The World's a Stage.
All The World’s a Stage. © British Museum

The former lover of Grace Dalrymple Elliott and reputed father of her child, King George IV, born 12th August 1762, died on the 26th June 1830.

Cause of death

According to a report in The Times newspaper dated 30th June 1830:

THE LATE KING

The statement made in The Times, Monday last, of the post mortem examination of the late King was substantially correct. His late majesty’s primary and mortal disorder was, an ossification of the vessels of the heart, and that organ was, as we mentioned, enveloped in masses of fat. Sir Astley Cooper remarked, that he never saw the heart so oppressed with that morbid obstruction to its action: the surgical instruments had to unfold the masses of fat.  The sergeant-surgeon, it is said discovered also a small calculus, which had evidently for some space of time been formed in the further cavity of the bladder, and it was this which had for the last three or four years required, near the Royal person, the occasional attendance of a surgeon, (we believe Mr Brodie and in ordinary attendance Mr O’Reilly), although the local functions were not generally so impeded as to indicate the fixed existence of actual local disease.

The late King’s physicians were of the opinion, after the post mortem examination, that his majesty’s struggle against death would have been probably prolonged for three or four weeks, had it not been for the rupture of the blood-vessel last Thursday, the evacuation which ensued, though not considerable, was yet sufficient to exhaust the shattered remains of the King’s constitution. The rupture of the blood-vessel took place during a violent fit of coughing.

The remains of his late Majesty were on Monday night enclosed in the leaden coffin, the Lord Steward, who remains in attendance, directing these arrangements. The coffin is place on trestles  in the chamber of the deceased. 

 A broadsheet illustrating the procession, dirge and funeral