During my recent research on George IV, I stumbled across an internet site that offers primary perspectives on the reigns of George IV and William IV from a contemporary who kept a journal – ever fashionable in the nineteenth century.
The Greville Memoirs, first published in 1874, are journals that cover the reigns of the monarchs at the end of the Georgian period, and those that are familiar with my blog know that I love a primary source! If you wish to check this fascinating resource for yourself, click here.
The philosophy behind the journals’ publication, written by Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville, who died in 1865, was to share the recorded events ‘as memoirs of this kind ought not to be locked up.’ Henry Reeve, Registrar of the Privy Council, was entrusted with the original journals on Greville’s death and waited a further ten years before publication.
Greville was the eldest of three sons born to Charles Greville, grandson of the fifth Lord Warwick and Lady Charlotte Cavendish Bentinck, eldest daughter of William Henry, third Duke of Portland. Educated at Eton, and for a short time at Oxford, he was able to observe the machinations of privileged and ‘celebrated men’ in regency and late Hanoverian life.
7 June 1818
‘The Regent drives in the Park every day in a tilbury, with his groom sitting by his side; grave men are shocked at this undignified practice.’
To be honest, from what I have read to date, there was nothing very dignified about George IV (although he wished people to hold him in the esteem that he thought his station demanded – unfortunately, they didn’t).
Of note during this royal wedding year:
7 June 1818
‘The Duchess of Cambridge [Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa, Princess of Hesse] has been received in a most flattering manner here and it is said that the Duchess of Cumberland is severely mortified at the contrast between her reception and that of her sister-in-law. On Sunday after her arrival the Duke took her to walk in the park when she was so terrified by the pressure of the mob about her that she nearly fainted away.’
Does this remind anyone of the public adulation of the current Duchess of Cambridge? Although we can be sure that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, probably has a stronger constitution when meeting the public.
Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, the fourth son of George III and Queen Charlotte, had married Frederica, daughter of the third Duke of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, his maternal cousin, in August 1815. However, Ernest was her third husband and she had instigated divorce proceedings from her second husband prior to his rather convenient death. This ensured that she was looked upon unfavourably and held in less regard than the Duchess of Cambridge. The journals note that ‘the Queen received her with great coldness, and her position contrasted strongly with that of the Duchess of Cambridge.’
21 June 1818
Greville noted in his journal that the Queen had been made ill after meeting the two contrasting royal duchesses and the rage that being forced to meet the almost divorcee that married her son brought on a spasm that almost killed her!
Times have changed and this year, two hundred years later, Prince Harry will marry his divorcee bride, former actress Meghan Markle.
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