King George IV
George, eldest son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, was born in 1762. He rebelled against the strict discipline imposed by his parent and, as a young man, supported the Whigs while his father favoured the Tories.
At the age of eighteen George began an affair with an actress, Perdita Robinson, which was followed by a relationship with Lady Melbourne. He secretly married Maria Fitzherbert, but the marriage was illegal because she was a Catholic.
George was notorious for being a gambler, womaniser and heavy drinker, all of which further damaged his relationship with his father. He ran up huge debts and, in an effort to persuade Parliament to pay them off, agreed to marry his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick.
The couple took an instant dislike to each other and, after the birth of their daughter Charlotte in 1796, they lived apart.
In 1811, George II was no longer able to carry out his duties as king and George, Prince of Wales, was appointed Regent. Despite his earlier promises to the Whigs, he quickly became a firm supporter of the Tories.
During this period, the Regent commissioned John Nash to build Buckingham Palace and to rebuild the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.
On the death of his father in 1820, George became king. When Caroline tried to claim her right to be Queen, he tried to have their marriage dissolved. There were public demonstrations against the new king, which intensified when Caroline was turned away from the doors of Westminster Abbey when she tried to attend the coronation. Caroline died suddenly in 1821.
George’s decadent lifestyle took its toll on his health. He was grossly overweight and addicted to alcohol and probably laudanum. He also showed some tendencies towards the mental illness which had affected his father. George IV died in 1830. His only child, Princess Charlotte, had died in 1817 and George was succeeded by his brother, who reigned as William IV.