Childhood & Early Life
George III was born George William Frederick on June 4, 1738, in Norfolk House, St James's Square, London, England, to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. His grandfather George II was the king of England, and his brother was Prince Edward.
Prince Frederick and his family settled down in Leicester Square where he and his brother were home-schooled.
Apart from being fluent in German and English, he also knew a lot about the political affairs of the nation. He was also the first person from the Royal family to have learnt all the different branches of science, including chemistry, astronomy, physics, and mathematics. He was also taught the social sciences along with agriculture, commerce, and law.
Other than extensive studies, he was also trained in extra-curricular activities like horse riding, dancing, acting, and fencing.
In 1751, Prince Frederick died, and the young man inherited the title Duke of Edinburgh. Subsequently, King George II was made the new Duke, the Prince of Wales.
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Accession & Reign
In the year 1760, George became the king of England when his grandfather suddenly passed away. The next year, on September 22, George III was coroneted as the royal Head of State.
In 1763, when the king signed the 'Treaty of Paris' with France and Spain, Prime Minister Lord Bute stepped down from office, and George Grenville of the ‘Whig’ political party took over.
The same year, King George III issued the 'Royal Proclamation' which stopped further conquest of American colonies towards the west. This decision was not supported by everyone, mainly the colonists of the northern and southern parts of America.
In 1765, Prime Minister Grenville passed the 'Stamp Act,' earning revenue from all documents that were printed in British-controlled areas of North America. This led to widespread dissent, especially amongst publishers of newspapers, and they protested against this step taken by the prime minister.
An attempt was made by the king of England to thwart Grenville's activities, and the former requested British statesman William Pitt the Elder to become the prime minister. Pitt declined the offer, and Charles Watson, also known as Lord Rockingham, replaced Grenville.
Lord Rockingham was well-advised by George III and William Pitt to remove the 'Stamp Act,' a task which he successfully carried out. However, because of his incapability to govern the country, William Pitt was named the prime minister in 1766. Following this, the king’s popularity with the American citizens increased.
In 1767, the Duke of Grafton Augustus FitzRoy had to replace Pitt, when the latter fell sick, but his duties and position was officially confirmed only the next year.
The Duke of Grafton was later succeeded by Lord Frederick North in 1770. The same year, king's brother Prince Henry married Anne Horton, a widow of lower class.
The marriage was despised by George III, who immediately tried to bring into effect a law that would prohibit members of the royal family from marrying without the permission of the king. Though the law faced initial opposition, even from the king's subordinates, it was finally introduced in 1772 as the 'Royal Marriages Act.'
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Lord North brought about several changes, mainly to appease those belonging to the American colonies. He did away with all taxes, except the duty on tea, which according to the king was necessary to levy.
In 1773, in what was deemed an unfortunate incident, a lot of tea was thrown into the sea by the American colonists. Subsequently, Lord North, in consultation with William Pitt, was forced to take harsh steps. He closed down the Port of Boston, and announced that the king would select the members of the Upper House of the Legislature.
This led to protests amongst the colonists, who had made each province a self-governed one, disregarding the power of the king. The protest led to the 'Battle of Concord' and the 'Battle of Lexington' in 1775.
By July 1776, independence was declared in America, accusing George III of having plundered the colonies, causing mayhem. At the 'Battle of Saratoga,' which was fought the following year, British official John Burgoyne was defeated by the colonists.
The 'American War of Independence' continued, and the British government had to incur heavy expenses in order to keep fighting. While the British were victorious at the 'Battle of Guilford Court House' and the 'Battle of Camden,' they lost to the Americans in the 'Siege of Charleston' and the 'Siege of Yorktown.'
In 1781, Lord North stepped down as the prime minister, and the king had no other choice but to concede defeat and grant America its freedom. In the next two years, the 'Treaties of Paris' were signed, and this event marked the end of the 'American War of Independence.'
Initially, Lord Rockingham was appointed the prime minister after Lord North’s resignation. However, following his death within a few months, it was Lord Shelburne who took over as prime minister.
Within a year's time, Lord Shelburne was ousted and William Cavendish, the Duke of Portland, replaced the former as the prime minister. He was assisted by Charles James Fox as the foreign secretary, and Lord North as the home minister.
In 1783, William Pitt the Younger replaced the Duke of Portland as prime minister, owing to several measures taken by the king to remove Fox from office. Pitt became the youngest British statesman ever to become the prime minister of Great Britain.
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After the appointment of Pitt, several positive changes were introduced in the country which increased the popularity of the new prime minister and the king. George III was admired for his religious nature and fidelity towards his wife.
Towards the end of the 1780s, George III became mentally ill, and was soon deemed incapable of ruling the nation. There were talks of the Prince of Wales becoming the regent and ruling the country in place of his father. However, before the decision could be taken by the 'House of Commons,' the king’s health improved.
The king continued to be admired by his subjects, especially when he was lenient towards two people who tried to attack him. Soon, there were several other changes in the prime minister's office, but none of the decisions taken by George III had any major significance.
By 1810, the king had become old, and suffered from various ailments, including mental illness. Within the following year, he was no longer capable of performing his royal duties.
It was his son Prince of Wales, George IV, who acted as regent. Under his leadership, the battles against Napoleon were won.