08 OctYoung Prince Prinny Creator of Regency Romance Era England

On the 12th August, 1762, the forty-seventh anniversary of the accession of the House of Brunswick to the English throne, all the bells in London pealed in gratulation, and announced that an heir to George III was born. Five days afterwards the king was pleased to pass letters patent under the great seal, creating H.R.H. the Prince of Great Britain, Electoral Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Duke of Cornwall and Rothsay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Great Steward of Scotland, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.

All the people at his birth thronged to see this lovely child; and behind a gilt china-screen railing in St. James’s Palace, in a cradle surmounted by the three princely ostrich feathers, the royal infant was laid to delight the eyes of the lieges. Among the earliest instances of homage paid to him, I read that “a curious Indian bow and arrows were sent to the prince from his father’s faithful subjects in New York”. He was fond of playing with these toys: an old statesman, orator, and wit of his grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s time, never tired of his business, still eager in his old age to be well at Court, used to play with the little prince, and pretend to fall down dead when the prince shot at him with his toy bow and arrows—and get up and fall down dead over and over again—to the increased delight of the child. So that he was flattered from his cradle upwards; and before his little feet could walk, statesmen and courtiers were busy kissing them.

There is a pretty picture of the royal infant—a beautiful buxom child—asleep in his mother’s lap; who turns round and holds a finger to her lip, as if she would bid the courtiers around respect the baby’s slumbers. From that day until his decease, sixty-eight years after, I suppose there were more pictures taken of that personage than of any other human being who ever was born and died—in every kind of uniform and every possible Court dress—in long fair hair, with powder, with and without a pigtail—in every conceivable cocked-hat—in dragoon uniform—in Windsor uniform—in a field-marshal’s clothes—in a Scotch kilt and tartans, with dirk and claymore (a stupendous figure)—in a frogged frock-coat with a fur collar and tight breeches and silk stockings—in wigs of every colour, fair, brown, and black—in his famous coronation robes finally, with which performance he was so much in love that he distributed copies of the picture to all the Courts and British embassies in Europe, and to numberless clubs, town-halls, and private friends-almost every dining-room had his portrait.

There is plenty of biographical tattle about the prince’s boyhood. It is told with what astonishing rapidity he learned all languages, ancient and modern; how he rode beautifully, sang charmingly, and played elegantly on the violoncello. That he was beautiful was patent to all eyes. He had a high spirit: and once, when he had had a difference with his father, burst into the royal closet and called out, “Wilkes and liberty for ever!” He was so clever, that he confounded his very governors in learning; and one of them, Lord Bruce, having made a false quantity in quoting Greek, the admirable young prince instantly corrected him. Lord Bruce could not remain a governor after this humiliation; resigned his office, and, to soothe his feelings, was actually promoted to be an earl! It is the most wonderful reason for promoting a man that ever I heard. Lord Bruce was made an earl for a blunder in prosody; and Nelson was made a baron for the victory of the Nile.

Lovers of long sums have added up the millions and millions which in the course of his brilliant existence this single prince consumed. Besides his income of 50,000l., 70,000l., 100,000l., 120,000l. a year, we read of three applications to Parliament: debts to the amount of 160,000l., of 650,000l.; besides mysterious foreign loans, whereof he pocketed the proceeds. What did he do for all this money? Why was he to have it? If he had been a manufacturing town, or a populous rural district, or an army of five thousand men, he would not have cost more. He, one solitary stout man, who did not toil, nor spin, nor fight,—what had any mortal done that he should be pampered so?

In 1784, when he was twenty-one years of age, Carlton Palace was given to him, and furnished by the nation with as much luxury as could be devised. His pockets were filled with money: he said it was not enough; he flung it out of window: he spent 10,000l. a year for the coats on his back. The nation gave him more money, and more, and more. The sum is past counting. He was a prince, most lovely to look on, and christened Prince Florizel on his first appearance in the world. That he was the handsomest prince in the whole world was agreed by men, and alas! by many women.
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Smiles and Good Reading,
Teresa Thomas Bohannon
Author of A Very Merry Chase - An Old-Fashioned Regency RomanceSet in early 19th century Regency England, and harking back in style to the heyday of Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland, A Very Merry Chase is a comedy of manners and errors that boasts empire fashions, dashing characters, verbal sparring matches and witty repartee mingled with just a hint of mystery, danger and intrigue.

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