George III was the son of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, and grandson of George II. He was born in London in 1738.
There were concerns about his development and he did not read until he was eleven, although his tutors confirmed that he put a great deal of effort into his studies.
George became king in 1760. He had fallen in love with Sarah Lennox, but was persuaded by his friend and mentor, the Earl of Bute, to end the relationship. George married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, who bore him fifteen children. George made some unpopular political decisions, including the appointment of the Earl of Bute as Prime Minister and the policies which led to the American War of Independence. He was also accused of trying to influence and manipulate Parliament.
In November 1788, George attacked his eldest son George, Prince of Wales and had to be restrained. His doctors tried a variety of treatments and declared in April 1789 that he was recovered from his bout of madness.
George III was a deeply unpopular king and several attempts were made to assassinate him. His health was poor and he had recurring mental breakdowns. In 1810, when his insanity was declared permanent, his son, George, was appointed Regent.
George III died in 1820.
The Prince of Wales has revealed that King George III is the king he most respects. Although people at the time thought George III was mad, Prince Charles said he had an illness and that he was actually a good man and a very dutiful king.
Critics have said that George III, who was on the throne from 1760 to 1820, did not adequately protect Britain’s interests because he supported policies that led to the American War of Independence.
In 1788 he suffered his first bout of what was believed at the time to be insanity. When he tried to kill his eldest son (later the Prince Regent then George IV) he had to be placed in a straight-jacket and an iron chair was designed to restrain him.
It is now believed that he suffered from porphyria, an iron deficiency that has affected other members of the Royal Family, which can cause seizures.
His story was told in the 1994 film ‘The Madness of King George’, in which the king was played by Nigel Hawthorne.
In 2004, Prince Charles told a television documentary that King George was one of Britain’s most dutiful, cultured and misunderstood rulers who studied the arts and sciences and was involved in agriculture, astronomy and clock-making.
“George III led Britain through 60 years of enormous social upheaval, industrial revolution and terrible hardships inflicted by war with Napoleon,” he said. “Yet history remembers him above all as ‘the mad king’ or the king who lost America.