Caston George is a 10-year veteran political professional and former politician, accomplished writer, researcher, author, and archivist.
Hey So, King George III Really Wasn’t The Jerk You Think He Was.
And Yes, You Actually Do Still Owe Those Taxes
The Story of America’s Most Recent Officially Recognised Monarch Changes Depending On Your Side of the Atlantic.
It is said that the mirror is one that has two faces, and that to look at one’s reflection all depends upon light; that light, the direction that light is coming from, casts shadow, and how that shadow falls wholly depends upon the three-pointed postulate of the subject, and the onlooker, and the medium of the mirror itself, bringing to mind the age-old adage that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
It fascinates me, as both a Monarchist and an American, how King George III has such a vastly different reflection depending upon which side of the Atlantic Ocean — that vast and reflective mirror of water, that separates — you happened to be viewing him from; what side of the looking glass you happen to fall upon.
It also led me to discover just how historic conflicts and age old grudges skew points of view even today, leading to many of my fellow Americans to have a very distorted view of this very misunderstood Monarch.
There is no human being alive who is perfect, Scripture tells us, and King George III was no exception to that rule.
But the King George III that Americans have come to know as this caricature of historical villainy is not one that’s based in reality or in history, and is resultant of Anti-English propaganda leftover from the US rebellion, and speculative innuendo.
Both have come together to create this personified amalgamation of a cartoonish villain so two-dimensional, it brings to mind Snidely Whiplash, the villain from the North American cartoon Dudley Do-Right, the inept but morally virtuous member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who, along with his trusty steed, always ended up saving the day in spite of himself.
Snidely Whiplash was a handlebar mustache-twirling, black top hat-wearing villain in a black overcoat that cackled loudly with a “mwhahaha!” as he tied Dudley’s beloved ladyfriend Nell to the railroad tracks (for reasons that I can’t immediately recall, but that I’m sure were as equally ridiculous), and it was up to Dudley to bumble and fumble his way into saving his damsel in distress, which, during every episode, he did — usually through complete accident and sheer dumb luck: “Curses! Foiled again!” would cry Whiplash!
If that sounds completely stupid to you, it’s because it is! But it was a fun to watch on Saturday Mornings in America.
That is how King George III is portrayed in American schools, in American culture, in American history: two-dimensional, over-the-top, a children’s cartoon villain.
But to see this monarch for who and what he truly was, it is important to do two things: First, to examine what Americans have come to believe him to be, and ask ourselves why and how he came to be seen that way; and second, to ever-so-slightly adjust the mirror on King George III, so as to cast light on him from a different angle, show Americans who their last monarch really was, and perhaps do some historical justice to the ruler who some people have come to refer to as ‘The Farmer King’, and on the other side of the ocean, as ‘Mad King George III’.
"Dieu Et Man Dick."
King George III was portrayed as mean, despotic, greedy, effeminate in this “educational” children’s cartoon in the United States. Credit: ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ video, “No More Kings”.
It may (or may not) surprise you that American children are raised by television sets — at school and at home — at what I remember to be a little under 25% of any given week (that number increasing to 50% on Saturday Mornings). I was about eight years old in my third grade elementary (primary) school class when I first saw an edition of the cartoon Schoolhouse Rock! that featured King George III.
Schoolhouse Rock! was an “educational” cartoon often shown both on network television as part of their Saturday morning cartoon programming lineup for children, as well as on VHS casette tapes in schools on days when one’s teachers used it as part of the curriculum, or, when they needed extra time to grade papers or prepare future lessons; though dated, even at its time of debut, it featured catchy songs that taught American school children about things like the US Constitution, how bills become laws, the proper use of conjuctive adjectives in sentences (“Oh, conjunction junction, what’s your function?”), and of course, US history.
I distinctly remember the video “No More Kings”, the tale of the US settlement and eventual independence from Great Britain. It begins the Pilgrims, casting them as people who just wanted to live a different way of life than England afforded them, and who valiantly crossed an ocean and claimed the land they found as being providentially their’s. The video shockingly does not make mention of the fact that they were the republicans essentially thrown out of England after their bloody and regicidal insurrection against King Charles I, whom they beheaded, after an illegal and kangaroo court tried the King and found him guilty — but in all historical honesty, the King was guilty before he set foot in their courtroom and spoke one word in his own defence.
The video also does not mention that the republicans with their Puritan majority in the new “government” made dancing and the celebration of Christmas illegal, closed all of the theatres, forbade the playing of music, and as though they were the Kim Jong’s of their day, pressured everyone to adopt the same, plain black cloaks and belt buckled hats as seemingly the only fashion accessories that were permitted to be sold.
In this light, it’s very little wonder why these very same people, less than two centuries later, landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and began accusing their fellow townsfolk of having the Devil himself over for the occasional cup of tea and practicing witchcraft, and proceeded to then burn those found guilty (who were all unfailingly and unsurprisingly also tried and found guilty well before their trials begun) at the stake in the centre of town; or they were subjected to “tests” to determine their witch or non-witch status, the administration of which would by it’s nature prove to be fatal either way, whether they passed the test or failed it. For example, to be thrown into a body of water, and if the accused floated (as human beings do), then the accused was being upheld from below, and was of course then a witch, and would be fished out and killed accordingly. If the accused sank, then the accused was not a witch (though would drown); and if the accused sank, waited a minute or two with held breath, and then swam back up of their own voliton, just to prove their non-witch status? Witch please! They still floated to the top, so it was time to dry of and get ready for a certain “barbeque”.
Yeah, those people are the good guys in this particular cartoon!
King George III comes in about a minute after the music starts. The first sight of him is that of an effeminate, effete, legs crossed and eyes closed man with a powdered, curly wig under his Crown, a strangely shaped face, and rouge on his cheeks (produced in the 1970’s, this was a thinly veiled attempt at casting the King as a homosexual, which at the time, was something no chilld nor parent in America was taught to believe was noble, heroic, or “okay” to be).
The Cartoon subtlely also replaces the Royal Motto of Dieu Et Mon Droit, or, For God and My Country, to “Dieu est Man Dick,” and I don’t think I need to translate that in order for you to figure it out.
The formula they were going for here was, “Kings are gay, gays are bad, shun the gays, burn the witch, America rocks!”
Every person that I grew up with that I spoke to in preparation for writing this article remembers Schoolhouse Rock! and some can even still remember and even sing the lyrics of the songs with eerie accuracy. They were written to be catchy and we watched these cartoons often. I can’t help wondering, as we’re both about the same age and share a country of birth, if Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, remembers this cartoon as well; and I wonder, too, if she finds it just as ridiculous as I do!
The cartoon king throws a childlike tantrum, and insists that the Pilgrims in the video get down on their knees and give full bodied embellished, worshipful bows at the mouth of the ocean, facing in the direction of England, reverencing him from afar; afterward, he is seen peering through his telescope at the Pilgrims from across the ocean, and making a face resembling the Dr Seuss’s Grinch on Christmas Eve, begins plotting to extort money from them, and is later seen sitting upon a pile of bags with “$” marked on them — despite the fact that it would have been “£” either way, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good ol’ fashioned American reimagining of what actually happened!
And that’s precisely what I was watching, a reimagining of history. It isn’t just this one cartoon, either.
Though infamously inaccurate, the American film entitled The Patriot starring Mel Gibson and Jason Isaacs does not feature a portrayal of King George III personally, but does feature characters sent to America to fight the colonists in the name of the King.
Jason Isaacs plays the villain of the film, a man who kills the children of the main character after bullying his family around for seemingly no reason, in front of their farmhouse in the Colony of South Carolina. Isaacs, who also more famously portrayed another villain — Lucius Malfoy, the father of Harry Potter’s school nemesis, Draco, in the Harry Potter film series adapted from the books — brings that same level of “evil” to this character in the Patriot, Colonel Tavington, who dies in dramatic fashion, after a slow motion swordfight amidst the mortar fire and smoke and waving star spangled banners.
It’s important that, when watching the film, one remembers that these people were killing the soldiers of the lawful government at the time, sent there in service to their country, and who, by all accounts, were the fellow countrymen of their murderers. The American militia engaged in brutal geurilla tactics that the British Army was not prepared to face — in the film, and in much of what I learned in US history courses, this is seen as a good thing, for it gave the Americans the advantage against them — but in reality, the tactics used by the British Army were considered fair rules of combat, and to depart from those and fight as the Americans did was considered to be cruel; not the way that a gentlemen, or a man with honour, would fight his opponent.
Could you imagine if that occured today, in North America? If California were to wish to separate from the US federal government, and Californians engaged in those tactics against the camoflauge-wearing members of the US Army? Not only would the US federal government likely engage in both literal and metaphorical “overkill” but it would be such a heavy handed move that it would dissuade any Californian from ever again questioning the authority of the United States of America — lest they pay the price for it.
Compared to today, it makes the British Army look more like UN peacekeepers than villanous stormtroopers.
The film does not portray many loyalists to the Crown. Of those that are seen or mentioned, they are depicted as being men whose loyalties are easily bought, of low morality, or who aided the British only because of coercion by Colonel Tavington and his henchmen. Not once is there seen a character making a reasonable, and truly patriotic defence of King and Country: it wouldn’t play into the overall narrative that the British were the “bad guys” if a reasonable argument could be made that the rebellion was perhaps fought in error.
Interestingly, it is historical fact that a majority of Colonial British subjects living at the time (it would be incorrect to call them Americans at that point, because they weren’t) actually did not support war with England. In fact, most opposed it.
Caught up in the fervor, those numbers of those proudly supporting the King dwindled steadily as the war — fought by a minority of radical separatists — went on, and as they themselves were seen more and more as much the enemy as the red-coated British officers and servicemembers were considered to be.
Social pressure was high on the part of the separatists, and as radical words led to radical actions amongst the Colonials, loyalists began to keep their loyalism more in the closet — after all, why wouldn’t they? Their neighbours could come by and burn their house down if they were deemed to be unfriendly to the separatist cause.
After the Revolution, those Loyalists who were not pressured into silent submission to their new more local men of power, saw their homes trashed and raided, their possessions robbed, their horses killed, their stables and properties burned to the ground, and many of them were killed, drug through the muddy streets, spat upon, and publicly tarred and feathered.
This of course was before the Americans passed their Constitutional amendments that outlawed things like the cruel and unusual punishment that they saw fit to get in just under the clock before ratifying the founding documents of their new nation.
The American revolutionaries were the definition of mob control. One of the more legendary US presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought the US back from the Great Depression through a series of social democratic programs that literally turned the lights on in places throughout the country that hadn’t even had electricity yet (thank you Tennessee Valley Authority), once said, “Government by organised money is just as dangerous as government by organised mob.”
If the public had voted on the US rebellion, and had the vote had actual, actionable consequence to it, the US rebellion would not have been fought at all: the public would have likely given a majority “no” vote to war.
The HBO film series John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams, gave the most historically accurate portrayal in American media of King George III. Giamatti plays a thoughtful Adams and a reuluctant “founding father” who, while sympathetic to independence, wants independence done the right and proper way — the English way, and often conflicted with his more radically nationalistic pro-separatist peers.
Two scenes are shown: the first shows Adams with an emissary from the King on his first visit to London as United States Ambassador to England — the first person to hold that role. The King’s emissary is teaching Adams in the scene, as Abigail looks on, to reverence properly in the presence of His Majesty, the irony of which, given that he had played a notable part in the war against England just the year prior, Abigail is visibly amused by.
The next scene is majestic in its simplicity, and its honesty, and shows Giamatti’s Adams meeting, and being accepted as ambassador by, King George III, played by Tom Hardy, who gave a brief, but superb performance in the role of the monarch.
The awkwardness is palpable, and the tension so thick it could be cut with a knife, as Adams stutters in his nervousness before the King. After the formalities are dispensed with, Adams says that he considers it to be a “distinguishing honour” to be the first American citizen to stand in the King’s presence, vowing to restore the ties of “the good old nature and good old humour” of their two peoples, whom though now separated from one another, shared “kindred blood” — recognising that they were family. Then, he adds some of his own personal commentary.
“Though I have been entrusted by my country, never in my whole life in a manner more agreeable to myself”, says Adams with sincerity; that is to say, he was damned proud and honoured to be standing where he was, and humbled by the Crown.
King George, sensing that sincerity, acknowledged the awkwardness of the situation, but, as moved as he could have been given the circumstances, said that he was glad that America had sent Adams, and not someone else, to be his minister of diplomacy on their behalf. One surmises that the King feared a radical separatist sent to London to simply be a diplomatic wreckingball in the King’s Court, and that fear was a real one, as history shows. History also shows that John Adams was instrumental in sowing the seeds that would one day become known as the special relationship between the two countries, a phrase first coined by a future namesake of the late King, King George VI.
Not all American portrayals of King George III were negative per se, but they often come with an American twist.
In the television series The West Wing, considered one of the more high brow depictions of principled patriots working within the bureaucracy of the White House for a prayerful, progressive, intelligent president, an episode shows the British Ambassador Lord John Marbury (played by the late Roger Rees) speaking about King George’s truly romantic gift for his wife — Queen Charlotte — to a White House staffer, who is moved by the late King’s gesture of commissioning a special musical composition just for her, played on a boat on the River Thames, as the King and Queen watched and listened from a romantic, grassy picnic dinner on the river’s banks (we will return to this point a bit later).
“And then we opened up a can of whoop ass on him at Yorktown,” another character promptly chimes in with immediately thereafter — there’s that American twist I told you about: always having to have the last word on the matter of King George and the Revolution.
Not to be outdone, Disney came up with their own contribution to the shoddy image of the King, in Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides, except historically speaking, their King George was actually King George II, no mention of a distinction is made unless one waits until the credits to discover it.
Once again, an alumnus of the Harry Potter film series, the late Richard Griffiths who once played Potter’s mundane (and abusive) Uncle Vernon Dursley, plays King George III’s grandfather and predecessor in the Disney film— is there perhaps some sort of US film industry memo about drafting actors that played Harry Potter villains to play every British villain? Did I miss that? — and again, portrayed while concerns over treasure hunting and money are first and foremost on the King’s mind, as he eats alone at a table stocked with enough food to feed every peasant outside his palace walls for a month, implying greed in ways both spoken and unspoken. The King orders his predictably incompetent guards to seize the film’s antihero pirate protagonist in the latter’s comically dramatic escape from custody and his forced audience with King George II — as though a pirate in custody and clapped in irons would ever be permitted to be in the King’s presence, which of course, in real history, never happened and never would.
Some justice was done for King George III in American media this past year, however, if audiences were keen enough to catch it.
In the Netflix television series, The Crown, which chronicles the early days of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it is the Americans who were the butt of the joke this time, in the episode entitled, Dear Mrs Kennedy from the show’s second series.
US President John F Kennedy and his wife Jaqueline Kennedy, two legendary figures in US political history, bumbled through their introductions and protocols with the Queen and Prince Phillip when they met them at an informal dinner at Buckingham Palace in 1961.
But the redemption for King George came from the Queen herself, who, upon taking Mrs Kennedy for a tour of Buckingham Palace, brings the First Lady into magnificent sweeping hall of paintings and portraits; the picture gallery, and the first portrait she points out to Kennedy is that of King Geoge III, the King who Kennedy’s own home country defied in the revolution.
In a voice beaming with pride, the Queen names him her great, great, great, great grandfather, and highlights his portrait as the first thing she does when they enter the gallery, mentioning that it was from 1761, when the King bought Buckingham House for his wife, Queen Charlotte.
For those of us who pay attention to such minor details in these things, it could be said that it was the Queen giving a subtle jab to Kennedy and America — nothing uncalled for, but certainly, an air of one-up-manship that, frankly, given the distorted image that surrounds King George III on the US side of the Atlantic, was long overdue.
Kennedy then views a portrait of “one of the Pitts”, who also happened to be the namesake of the city of Pittsburgh in my native Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which meant that for me, personally, along with the Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth and Jodie Balfour’s Jackie Kennedy, I, too, got to have a moment of personal pride when I watched that scene.
Taking A Perception Too Far
I could not write this piece without writing about Hamilton.
Now, let me state very plainly that all of my friends love Hamilton. I come from a background of musical theatre, and still, even so, it doesn’t take someone who can sing Aida from memory to have heard of this modern retelling of the story of the American Revolution — everyone it seems has fallen in love with this musical.
Let me also say that one of my favourite songs is The Story of Tonight, which is featured in the musical, but I first came to know as a song by the band, We The Kings, who, given the nature of this article, have the most ironic band name ever devised; and also, if I may add, the song that the character of King George III sings in the show is so catchy that I have been humming it to myself for about three full days as of this writing.
Hamilton is the musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, the face of the US $10 bill, and the story of how the musical came to be is just as impressive as the selling price for just one ticket to the show, as the hottest musical currently on Broadway (at $400+ per seat!). It began as a production based out of Chicago, IL, and features in a groundbreaking way, people of colour playing the roles of America’s historically lily-white founding fathers, many of whom owned slaves: Washington had three hundred, Jefferson had six hundred; in fact, some of the performers who played these roles are likely playing the characters of real people who may have owned owned some of their ancestors — a fact that made my eyes well up with tears when I first realised it: Hamilton is, in that regard, a beautiful, touching, and truly vindicating production that marks a landmark in US entertainment, and shows how far America has come. For that reason, I love Hamilton.
…However, as a Monarchist, I also loathe Hamilton, and it’s because of how it portrays King George III.
As it’s an American production, as you may have come to expect by now, none of the unflattering bits of US history are included. It is a complete reimagining of King George III on par with the greedy, tyrannical bully that previously had been shown in animated form during the Schoolhouse Rock! video. But this time, things went a little too far — and it doesn’t take too keen an eye to catch how: The only question I have is… why?
In the song entitled You’ll Be Back, King George sings as though he were an estranged and abusive boyfriend, using lines like “don’t throw away this thing we had”, “but I love you,” “now you’re making me mad,” “just remember I’m still your man,” and reminded Americans that he would “kill their friends and family, just to remind them of his love.”
The song, sung by Jonathan Groff in the musical, was even given a few notes sung by Prince Harry, who took the Duchess of Sussex out on a date night to see the musical.
Though perhaps only a few notes of it were song (just the two opening words of the song, “You say,” the Prince sung, to much applause from the cast and crew who had gathered around to see a real life Royal sing the song sung by their King George III; one of his descendants, in fact.
There is a video circulating online that shows that there’s at least one group that got the same interpretation of the song that I did. The musical group Working With Lemons did their own version of the song, with a King George behaving like a tantrum throwing toddler, with a posse of attractive young men around him executing an (admittedly flawless) coreographed dance number; though, there’s that implied homosexuality again.
As the song progresses, the dancers began to have makeupp’ed bruises on their faces, implying that the King has struck them. He is also seen using them as a human staircase, and their faces struggle in pain to support his weight. He’s then depicted throwing away food, and while he reclines on his throne, he orders them all to sing his song along with them, as though implying they wouldn’t otherwise, as one of the dancers is seen with a medical sling wrapped around his arm, and his head bandaged.
If that shocks you, I wouldn’t be surprised. I recently found out as well that Hamilton actually shows a different version of the show in London than the production in the states: King George’s lines are changed (I can’t imagine why) and he’s given more of them.
Why? Well, for my readers in Britain and across the Commonwealth, that should be obvious, King George III was, despite suffering from illness and, yes, having personal flaws of his own, was not the tyrant that Americans portrayed him to be and have since the generations that followed the American Revolution.
And for my American readers who might be curious as to who King George III actually was, if not the tyrant that you were brought up to believe him to be, allow me to tell you about The Farmer King who inspired music, loved his wife to the fullest, and contributed strongly to the perpetuation of public arts in London.
The Farmer King: Sovereign and Scientist
Musica Est Scientia De Scientia Dei
King George III was born George William Frederick of the House of Hanover in London, on the 25th of October, 1760.
At the time, he was one of the most educated and intelligent heirs to the throne to have ever lived, and was dubbed by peers and scholars of the era at the time for being exceptionally bright.
He was King of Hanover, though he had never been to Hanover, was elector to the Holy Roman Empire, and was the eldest grandson of King George II, whom he succeeded in Crown after the George II’s passing.
Perhaps George III’s largest contribution to British Society — and one that this author speculates that America missed out on, sadly — was to the arts, of which he was a significant patron.
In his excellent series on Music and the Monarchy, David Starkey details the patronage of the King to music, and thanks to the King, some of the greatest composers had their largest audiences in London, which was then as it remains today, the musical capital of the world.
As The West Wing alluded to, King George’s passion for music was fueled almost solely by the great love that he had for his wife, Queen Charlotte.
He loved her with the whole of his heart, and their’s was a love story that would make Shakespeare blush and swoon with envy that he didn’t write it; Buckingham Palace, for instance, is Buckingham Palace because it was purchased by the King for his beloved Queen first as Buckingham House in 1761.
The modern equivalent for most people — especially for Americans — I imagine would be a happy, wealthy couple who were contributors of the local arts, and friendly and generous to those less fortunate than themselves, who bought his wife a brand new car, just to let that be the material demonstration of his exuberant, immaterial love for her.
They were the couple that you wanted to be, and they had the love that we all wish we could have, and if we found ourselves lucky enough to have it, we would celebrate it every day and hold on to it with the entirety of our heart and soul; what George and Charlotte had was the truest deovtion to one another.
Queen Charlotte in her own right was an accomplished musician, and played the harpsichord. She was fond of spreading musical education to new musicians, and funding their expressions and performances during a time when being a musician was, as my fellow New Worlders might say, “nice work, if you could get it” — they don’t call them starving artists for nothing and so very few poorer but musically talented individuals could afford to get started.
For them, Queen Charlotte and King George put their dreams into reach, and gave them funds from their personal treasury to begin their careers; as for established musicians and composers, both Fischer and Handel owe at least some of their fame today not only to their talents, but to George and Charlotte, whose favour earned them packed performance halls and music houses across Britain.
Upon the River Thames in London, George Handel, upon a boat, debuted his brilliant work, Water Music which was composed for Queen Charlotte at the behest of the King. It marked a significant change in Handel’s composition style, as, for the first time, he would be playing for the public at large in open air upon a moving stage, and so the musical instruments changed to include more wind instruments with louder, resonant sounds, chosen so that the music could be heard by those on either shore of the wide river.
Were it not for King George, Handel’s career would have gone quite differently than it did, and his influence upon other musicians would have been different, as well. Later composers, like Hubert Parry and Gustav Holst (this author’s personal favourite composer), would have had wildly different sounds.
In fact, the direct influence of Water Music and Handel’s pieces thereafter would have changed Holst’s career so much that his composition, Jupiter, named for the joyful and magnanimous King of the Roman Gods, may never have been composed, as it draws its influence directly from Handel, post-Water Music; and if you wonder of the significance of that, you may recognise Jupiter by it’s other name: I Vow To Thee, My Country.
One wonders how American music would be different today had the colonies not rejected King George with such shortsighted haste.
The Romans had a saying, “Musica est scientia de scientia Dei”: “The knowledge of music is the knowledge of God.”
The spread of such wonderful compositions would have eventually traversed the Atlantic Ocean, and would have refined the Colonies and brought a new dimension to
The King, Revisited.
George III was also a patron of the sciences as much as he was the arts. The owner of a telescope, he had an interest in the stars and planets, and often viewed them, charting their transits and movements.
He assimilated as much information as he could about the celestial bodies above him, and studied the works of Galileo, the Italian Astronomer, as well as Dr. John Dee, the Court Astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, both of whom kept incredibly precise records of constellations.
One of the King’s favourite art pieces was The Copernican System, the exquisite representation of the Solar System based on the observations of Copernicus, by artist Andreas Cellarius, and it is said that the King sought to have the piece displayed in the Royal residence at Buckingham.
The discovery of a planet orbiting the sun after Saturn in 1781 came by means of the efforts of scientist William Herschel; Herschel, whose discovery came at the funding and patronage of King George himself, sought at first to name the planet after his Royal benefactor, as the planet Georgium before settling instead on naming it after Ouranous, the Antetitannical Greek God of the Sky.
Up until the time of King George III, it was not common for a monarch to associate with the hired hands of his or her estates — not that they had a disdain for them, on the contrary, they depended upon their work and many great English Kings and Queens demonstrated to them their appreciation in their own unique ways.
But it was George III who earned himself the nickname among the English populace as Farmer George; and it is historical happenstance that the name, George, itself comes from the Grecian word geōrgos (γεωργός), meaning “earthworker”, or “he who works the soil”.
George went out into the fields and Royal lands and literally worked the soil alongside those in his employ tasked to do so. He learned from them, and developed a fascination with planting, and wrote in his personal papers in beautiful language about the joy of watching the gift of life start from seed and soil grow from sprout to fruit.
The nickname of Farmer George was so prevalent that it is from the King and his affection for the land and those who tended to it — not to mention the etymology of his own name — from where we derive the word georgic, meaning, ‘agrarian’, ‘rural’, and ‘country’.
Some in King George’s Court mocked the King for taking such great interest in what they called mundane matters such as farming instead of the intrigue and political gamesmanship that normally came natural to the Sovereign.
According to the Georgian Papers Programme, in their entry entitled, Farmer George and Notes on Agriculture, they elaborate further: “The anecdotes and caricatures from the 1780s and 1790s tended to depict a friendly, homespun country gentleman rather than a progressive, experimenting improver. The ‘farmer’ characterisation captured both his reportedly simple domestic life and his traditional paternalistic role as the nation’s father as much as his zeal for the theory and practice of agriculture.”
During the waning years of his life, George suffered from illness.
Steadfast and never failing, his wife, Queen Charlotte, is even depicted in artwork as being more aged than in earlier portraits, and is said to have rarely left her husband’s side, serving as his constant companion and caregiver.
The King suffered from porphyria, which causes, among other things, changes in one’s mental processes — “madness”, as they called it at the time, though, today, we know them as a variety of terrible symptoms, including anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, disorientation or paranoia, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The King likely suffered seizures as well, at a time when seizures were not truly nor totally understood, and were suspected as being a variety of things, and as doctors experimented with trial and error to both study the phenomenon and alleviate the disease, “treatments” included some horrifying procedures, including drilling holes in the skull to alleviate suspected pressure and swelling.
His son, the future King George IV, took over his father’s duties as Prince Regent as his father’s health waned.
After suffering a long battle for his health, King George III passed into God’s good mercy on 29 January, 1820.
Repainting A Portrait Of America’s Last King
The Declaration of Independence as well as most of the founding documents formally sent by the Continental Congress to King George III, to some extent, go out of their way to insist that their issue was less to do with His Late Majesty and more to do with Parliament — If only more Americans read them!
Another lamentable and noteworthy point is that if the King George that I discovered through the research and development of this article was the one that we were taught of in school, we would probably not have the caricature that we do today; and perhaps, in multiple ways, history may have unfolded differently.
For my fellow Americans who are reading this humble author’s contribution, I have my own declaration: We have not, as a country or as a society, given this King the credit he is due, and in a truly unfair fashion, most of us have been negligent in our duty to remember and repeat historical truth by not doing more to correct the false, two-dimensional, and cartoonish caricature that has become associated with King George III on our side of the Atlantic.
We have tacitly allowed the Hamilton and Schoolhouse Rock! depictions to become common perception, and that common perception, having been left uncorrected and unchecked, has become, in the minds of most Americans, thought of as historical truth, rather than an askewed view of — yes, I’ll say it here — a decent man and a good King.
As a Monarchist, the words “last King” ring a melancholy bell in my mind; like the solemn tone of a lone church bell being rung in memoriam: it makes my lip stiffen, it makes me stand up straighter, and suddenly, the vibrant and colourful world that I’ve written of throughout this piece — the world of George and Charlotte — begins to twilight into a sepia-like grayscale world.
That sadness deepens when I realise that that gray world is the very world I write this from: The United States of America.
This is my first piece written exclusively for Crown and Country. I am humbled and I am honoured to be part of this incredible ongoing project.
Throughout my research on King George III, I developed a true affection and admiration for King George III that I didn’t have before.
As the King wrote of the joy he felt as he planted seeds that grew into flower and fruit, this assignment planted its own seed, for me, and as this piece progressed, King George III of the House of Hanover became one of my newest favourite monarchs.
As a writer, my duty is to truth, in all its forms. American culture and even its own established annals of history have not reflected the truth of King George. It is up to Monarchists and Republicans alike to repaint the portrait of America’s most misunderstood King.
We must remember and reflect our own history accurately. It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it; but how can we learn from history if we don’t remember it properly? Or if our perception of it is wrong? What sort of lessons do we actually derive from a faulty understanding of history? And finally, if our perception of history is flawed, aren’t we therefore learning all the wrong lessons, today?
We could learn a thing or two from King George III.
But before we can do that, we must, in effect, clear the reputation of the Farmer King.
Casey Evans is a Monarchist, writer, and researcher based in Seattle, Washington State, in the United States of America.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.