Saturday, March 24, 2012


A review of Veronica Baker-Smith’s Royal Discord: The Family of George II (2008)

(Rating 5 of 5)

In Royal Discord Veronica Baker-Smith explores the British Royal Family during the time of King George II. The children of George II are often ignored in British history despite the fact that they had significant contributions. At first glance the reason seems obvious: none of this King’s children had ever sat on the throne themselves. The heir Fredrick, the Prince of Wales, died before his father did, but not before he himself had many children to ensure that the throne would never pass to his siblings. George II would be followed by his grandson, not his son. The third Hanoverian generation was never represented on the line of British kings. This however is not a good explanation because the children of Edward III never occupied the throne either and they are almost all remembered. There really is no good reason why these royals were forgotten they just were. Baker-Smith’s focus is on the King himself, his two sons and his eldest daughter. The whole family is covered but those four are the most prominent.

As for King George II, I would guess he must have suffered from mental illness like his successor and grandson. The way he treated his family and his really bizarre behavior around his ministers, led me to believe that he must have been mentally ill. The author describes him as knocking over furniture to find a penny and kicking his wig around the floor.

(King George II)

Fredrick, the Prince of Wales, comes off as extremely tragic. At the age of seven he is left behind to a figurehead in Hanover, occasionally waiting for his grandfather, George I, to come visit him. When he comes to England his parents cruelly isolate him from the rest of the family, openly ridiculing him, and hoping that he would impotent as so not to deprive their favorite son, the Duke of Cumberland, from the throne. Well even though Fredrick would not outlive his father and thus would never be king, he would marry and produce nine children. The multiple children meant the younger brother would never be the king.

(Fredrick, the Prince of Wales)

William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland was a great military leader and reformer. The Duke had an incredible military career distinguishing himself in the War of Austrian Succession and putting down the rebellion of 1745. In defeating the rebellion he crushed the dreams of Young Pretender of claiming back his country for his dad and himself. The Duke would be the favorite of his parents but had a falling out with his father toward the end of his father’s life. This however opened up for him an opportunity to serve as a senior statesman during the reign of his nephew, King George III.

(William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland)

Anne, the Princess Royal of Great Britain, the eldest daughter of the King, she was a princess who wanted to be queen. Anne often wished not to have brothers so she could claim the crown. However she married the Prince of Orange, William IV, which allowed her to hold a consort position in the Dutch Republic. When her husband died she was regent to her son but was also given a legitimate position within the Republic.

(Anne, Princess Royal)

“Anne’s whole-hearted identification with her adopted country was recognized and thus gave her, theoretically, a powerful and unique position for an English princess: she could be seen as a ruler in her own right rather than just representing her son.” (p.167)

This family should not have been forgotten they were very interesting individuals. If HBO or Showtime were looking for ideas, they might want to take a look at these people.

{Video is David Starkey's Monarchy: House of Hanover}

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