The Secret Wife of King George IV

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We welcome comments and followers, so chime in and enjoy the group! Historical Hussies. Search This Blog. But after reading all pages, I still don't feel all that well acquainted with the woman who secretly married the Prince of Wales later to be prince regent, and later still, King George IV in One of the reasons for this scarcity is the absence of the lady's letters and diaries, which have enriched other biographies of Mrs.

Fitzherbert's contemporaries, such as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. In fact, I felt somewhat cheated by Munson, who touted his work as the only one having the letters from Mrs. Fitzherbert's intimate friend, Lady Anne Lindsay.

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Oh boy, I thought, new information! Very few of Mrs. Fitzherbert's letters to Lady Anne are revealed in these pages. There are, however, snippets from Lady Anne's diaries which give some insight into Mrs. Another disappointment was lack of details about the relationship between the prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert, a twice widowed Catholic he married in a secret, illegal Anglican ceremony. They acted as husband and wife for almost twenty years non-consecutively , yet there is little information about this remarkable relationship. The first pages of the book are background on the two; the last 50 pages deal with the years after the couple's final break.


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That leaves about a third of the book to deal with the 20 years they were together. Not all of the blame for this vagueness rests on Munson's shoulders. Credit Mrs. Fitzherbert herself and her "husband" when he became George IV for ordering the destruction the evidence of their illegal marriage. Upon George IV's death he entrusted the Duke of Wellington, then prime minister, with the task of burning all correspondence between himself and Mrs.

Queen Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George IV

Fitzherbert complied, asking that only four documents be spared. The duke and Lord Albermarle met at her residence, she handed them packets of papers, then left. Her actions prompted Wellington to say she, "was the most honest woman he'd ever met. It is said her house smelled of burnt paper and sealing wax for many weeks, and the stain to her white mantel stayed for years. Five years later, Wellington was still burning the prince's love letters to Mrs.


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The four documents she insisted on keeping were the mortgage on the Royal Pavilion at Brighton which the prince claimed to have given her but which she never took possession of ; her marriage certificate; a will the prince wrote when they were estranged in a year after he legally married Caroline of Brunswick in which he said Maria Fitzherbert was his true wife; and an affidavit from the clergyman who performed their marriage ceremony. These documents were deposited in Coutts bank, where they stayed until the early twentieth century when they were placed in the Royal Archives.

So why all the bloody secrecy? From the very beginning of their love affair both the prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert knew they could never legally marry, not just because of her Catholicism, but because the Royal Marriage Act adopted by Parliament at the behest of King George III forbade any member of the royal family from marrying without the king's permission. Because an act of Parliament took precedence over any church law, this illegal marriage was a criminal act.

The Secret Wife of King George IV - eBook

When the twenty-one year old prince met the twenty-seven-year old wealthy widow how they met is not revealed in this book he fell madly in love with her. She was flattered but not interested. Then he attempted to stab himself to death to show that if he couldn't have her, he did not wish to live. Drenched in his own blood, he summoned her. She did not come. Ever mindful of her unblemished reputation, she finally consented to come if the Duchess of Devonshire who was close to the prince but not to Mrs.

Fitzherbert would accompany her. Thus, properly chaperoned, Mrs. Fitzherbert approached his bedside, the duchess produced a ring, Mrs. Fitzherbert agreed to take the ring as a symbol of being pledged to the prince, then she promptly fled the country with her friend, Lady Anne. A constant flurry of letters from the prince besieged her wherever she went.

When she returned a year and a half later, they wed in a secret ceremony. Within months all of London knew of the secret wedding, but neither party ever publicly admitted it, nor did they ever live together in the same house. For the next nine years, Mrs. Fitzherbert would be the chief woman in the prince's life. As time went by, his affairs with other women and her bad temper transpired to cool off the relationship, which terminated when Frances, Lady Jersey became his lover.

Under Lady Jersey's influence, he agreed to legally marry Caroline of Brunswick in order to have his monstrous debts settled and to acquire a larger annual income. Even before his marriage, he missed Mrs. Before he had been married a year, he rued his real marriage and hungered for the renewal of his sham marriage to Maria Fitzherbert. It took him another four years before he won her back. There is some evidence that when she returned to him in she stipulated that theirs be a non-sexual relationship.

King George VI & Elizabeth - A royal love story - part 4

However, unlike Edward, George never publicly acknowledged his wife, and even remarried at the prospect of an increased annuity. Undoubtedly, the intrigue that revolved around the wives of George IV was greater than any other Georgian King. Maria was raised as a Roman Catholic, and received an adequate education at a convent in France.


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When she was 18, Maria was married for the first time, to Edward Weld, a wealthy landowner. The marriage lasted barely three months, before Edward was thrown of his horse and died from the injuries sustained by the fall. Within three years, he too was dead — killed in the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of It was under these circumstances that Maria first met the 22 year-old Prince of Wales when she visited the opera one night.

Prince George immediately fell in love with her, and proposed that she become his mistress. But the Prince was adamant, and offered to marry her if that was what it took.

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His threat worked, because Maria agreed to marry him on the spot. The Prince of Wales and Mrs.

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Maria Fitzherbert were wed on 15th December The Act of Settlement of forbade a Roman Catholic from sitting on the throne, and since George had not given up his place in the line of succession, his Catholic wife would prove to be a problem when he eventually ascended the throne. In fact, the King was so opposed to his children marrying Roman Catholics that a number of them had to give up their place in the line of succession for that exact reason.

Nevertheless, Maria and the Prince lived together as a married couple for nearly ten years. They spent most of their time at Brighton Pavilion, their residence in Brighton. He appealed to Parliament to help him, and they agreed to increase his allowance if, and only if, he agreed to leave Maria Fitzherbert and take a Protestant wife of their choosing instead — Caroline of Brunswick. Enter wife number two. Despite the fact that they had never met before, the couple were engaged in After all, what choice did George have? Pray get me a glass of brandy.