On this day in history : 25th October 1760 – George III becomes King of England and Ireland and reigns for almost 60 years – although he was mentally unfit to reign in his last decade….

Coronation portrait by Allan Ramsay, 1762 – Public domain

Born in London at Norfolk House, St. James’s Square on the 4th of June 1738, George was two months premature and not expected to live – as a precaution he was baptised the same day…. However, he grew to be a healthy child, albeit rather shy…. Along with his younger brother, Prince Edward, George was educated by private tutors and could read and write in English and German….and by the age of 8 years was able to comment on current day political matters…. His lessons included physics, chemistry, astronomy, French, Latin, mathematics, geography, agriculture, music, commerce and law….

George and brother Prince Edward, Duke of York, with their tutor Francis Ayscough – by Richard Wilson – Public domain

His father, Frederick, Prince of Wales, did not get on with his own father, King George II – and as a result the King took little interest in his grandchildren…. When Frederick died suddenly in 1751, from a lung injury, the young Prince George became heir to the throne….and suddenly his grandfather developed an interest in him…. The title of Prince of Wales was bestowed upon him – although the young George had inherited his father’s title of ‘Duke of Edinburgh’, ‘Prince of Wales’ was not automatically passed on….

King George II died suddenly on the 25th of October 1760 and the 22-year-old Prince of Wales succeeded the throne…. Being an unmarried monarch his mother and advisors were eager to see him settled down – and so the hunt for a suitable wife began….

On the 8th of September 1761 the new King married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, from a small North German duchy…. Their marriage took place in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace – and it was the first time they had ever met….

Princess Charlotte by Johann Georg Ziesenis C1761 – Public domain

Princess Charlotte had received a far more basic education to that of George – her upbringing could be compared to that of an English country gentleman’s daughter….she would have had little interest or experience in politics or such matters…. However, theirs was a good match, it worked and they became devoted to one another – unlike his grandfather before him and indeed his own sons after him, George never took a mistress…. The marriage produced 15 children – 9 sons and 6 daughters…. In 1761 King George bought Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace) for his wife as a comfortable family home….close to St. James’s Palace, where all important court functions took place it became known as the Queen’s House….

Their’s was, it seems, a happy marriage – but as the years went by George began to become unwell – suffering from bouts of mental illness…. The cause of his illness remains unknown, although there have been suggestions it was due to the blood disease porphyria….

George’s reign would have been a particularly stressful one – there were many military conflicts and wars during the time….not least the American War of Independence…. George would have been under much strain as many of Britain’s colonies in North America were lost….

Portrait by Sir William Beechy 1799/1800 – Public domain

In late 1810, already nearly blind with cataracts and suffering great pain from rheumatism, George became extremely ill…. He blamed stress after the death of his beloved youngest daughter, Princess Amelia – who had died from TB….

King George III was mentally unfit to reign in his last decade….his eldest son – the later George IV – acted as Prince Regent from 1811…. Queen Charlotte was terrified by her husband’s illness – he had developed acute dementia, had become completely blind and increasingly deaf and even showed erratic and violent behaviour – eventually she could not bring herself to visit him…. When she died in November 1818 he was incapable of understanding….

For the last few weeks of his life George was unable to walk…. Christmas 1819, for a 48 hour period he spoke utter nonsense and could be understood by no one…. He died at Windsor Castle on the 29th of January 1820…. Despite his illness, George III lived and reigned longer than any of his predecessors – only Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have lived and reigned longer….

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