22 September 1761: the Coronation of George III

I have a soft spot for King George III and have written about him previously in my ‘Thoughts on George III’ post and when I commemorated his date of birth in my post 4 June 1738: the Birth of George III’.

He was proclaimed King of Great Britain when his grandfather died in October 1760 and was crowned on 22 September 1761, aged 22. 

King George III
King George III of Great Britain

It is well known that the British monarchy derives from German stock: George’s grandfather, King George II and his great-grandfather, King George I, were both Germans with little interest in being British. That historical fact is still bandied about today by republicans who note that the successive Georgian kings and their subsequent penchant for marrying German princesses, and a German prince in the case of Queen Victoria, meant that the British monarchical bloodline was equally weighted with German DNA for two centuries. 

George I, as Elector of Hanover, brought his Hanoverian lands to the British crown in 1714 and therefore Hanover was ruled by the Georgian kings for 123 years. Britain’s rule over Hanover only ceased with the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria – a woman was not permitted to rule over Hanover and so the lands were passed to her uncle, Ernest Augustus. 

George III, however, was born in Britain, used English as his first language and above all was British in character. He married seventeen-year-old Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a German princess, two weeks before his coronation. The couple went on to have fifteen children, with thirteen surviving to adulthood.

Queen Charlotte
Queen Charlotte consort of George III (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

An excited London populace looked forward to the royal wedding and coronation. On the day of the coronation, carriages filled with invitees collided with each other in their rush to reach Westminster Abbey.  Charlotte and George were carried into the Abbey on sedan chairs and then escorted under a canopy to the altar. George III was crowned with the cheers of the congregation celebrating around him.

The Georgian congregation had the foresight to bring their lunches with them, as a coronation can be a lengthy affair. When the Archbishop of Canterbury began his sermon, many used that as the perfect opportunity to take refreshments – even though the clatter of cutlery, crockery and chinking wine glasses did disturb proceedings somewhat. 

After the service at Westminster Abbey, the newly crowned king and queen headed to Westminster Hall for a celebratory banquet. George III reigned for almost sixty years, the third longest in British history.

Recommended Reading: For those wishing to explore the Georgian royal family further, I can recommend The Strangest Family by Janice Hadlow. It’s a long read, however, it covers the reigns of four Georgian kings and their families. I found it essential reading to understand the dysfunctional Hanoverian dynasty, whose successive dislike for the first-born child, or male heir in Queen Victoria’s case, was an oddity that began with George I and his dislike of the son whose mother had cuckolded him, and continued with George III’s antipathy towards his louche and profligate heir, George IV.

Sources:

https://www.royal.uk/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-george-iii

https://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/coronation-george-iii

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