Updated: Feb 9
My third foray into Georgian Britain - with “Elder Sons of George III” by Catherine Curzon by the lovely Pen & Sword Books📚. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. It tells the stories of the first four sons of George III (hehe, as it says on the label). What looks like a line-up of heir and his spares, actually included two Kings, one father to a Queen Regnant and a Royal Duke, who died before he could inherit the throne. Together with the chapter on their mighty father, that makes for five well-told, well-researched chapters.📖
As usual with her Georgian books, the author does her best not to repeat the narrative snippets when telling different stories that overlap temporally in any way. 👑
My favourite mini-biography of this volume was chapter three - the one on Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany - the one who, out of the four of them, didn’t get into the line of succession even retrospectively. Frederick’s war exploits and his army reforms were something I knew nothing about. ⚔️ The only impression I had of him was formed from Julian Rhind-Tutt’s performance in “The Madness of King George” in 1994, and that was almost no impression at all...I was glad out there was so much more to the real person. The soldier, the reformer of the army, a leader, a party-goer and a philanderer - Frederick deserves a limited series of his own; as do several of his brothers. I never knew that one of the royal 'spares' was stationed in Gibraltar, the other one had travelled to Canada, and yet another one was almost kidnapped in the colonies on the orders of the future American president!
It's also curious to compare the lives of the spares as opposed to the life of the heir, who was not allowed to join the Army or the Navy, which his brothers were allowed to do. The question arises as to who can live a more fulfilled life, and lessons can be drawn as to what makes a better future King? So I firmly believe it's important to shine a light on these figures who, more often than not, stay in the shadows of popular history, yet their lives, careers and adventures have a great impact on the history not just of their family, but of the nation. ✨
I know that the author has written more volumes on this family, including one on Georgian Kings (reviewed by me here), Queens, and George III's daughters. I sincerely hope there will be a book by the same author on his younger sons as well, to complete the collection....🌟