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George IV | Biography, Wife, Coronation, & Facts | Britannica
The eldest son of George III and Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, he had become by age 17, as he said, “rather too fond of women and wine.” His way of life and his close friendship with Charles James Fox and other loose-living Whig politicians caused his father to regard him with contempt. In 1784 the prince met the only woman he ever deeply loved, Maria Fitzherbert, whom he married secretly on December 15, 1785. The marriage, however, was invalid: members of the royal family under the age of 25 were forbidden to marry without the king’s consent.
On April 8, 1795, in order to induce Parliament to pay his debts, the prince contracted a loveless marriage with his cousin Caroline, daughter of the duke of Brunswick and George III’s sister Augusta. A few weeks after the birth of their only child, Princess Charlotte (1796–1817), the couple separated, and in 1814 Caroline went to live in Italy.
In November 1810 George III became unfit to rule, and shortly afterward the prince became regent under the terms of the Regency Act (1811). In February 1812, when the restrictions of that statute expired, George decided to retain his father’s ministers rather than appoint survivors from among his old Whig friends (Fox had died in 1806). His decision benefited the nation, because Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, and other leading Whigs were prepared to abandon the war with France and leave Napoleon the master of the European continent. As it was, Great Britain and its allies finally triumphed over Napoleon in 1815. George IV’s accession on the death of his father in 1820 did not add to the powers that he had possessed as regent.
After George IV became king, Caroline returned to claim her rights as queen consort. A bill to deprive her of those rights and to dissolve the marriage on the ground of her adultery was introduced into the House of Lords but was never put to a vote in the Commons. George IV’s coronation was held on July 19, 1821, and it is was perhaps the most expensive in British history. The king reportedly wanted a service to rival that of Napoleon. The result was an extravagant ceremony that included a crown with 12,000 diamonds; the banquet served more than 2,000 people. Caroline showed up during the coronation, hoping to be crowned. However, she was denied entrance and died on August 7, 1821.
George IV insulted and intrigued against Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd earl of Liverpool, who served as prime minister from 1812 to 1827. George Canning, who became foreign secretary in 1822 and prime minister in 1827, won George’s approval, partly by cultivating the friendship of Sir William Knighton, the king’s physician and keeper of the privy purse, on whose advice George relied excessively. But after 1827 he ceased to have any personal weight with either of the two great parties. In 1830 George IV died and was succeeded by his brother, William IV.
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George IV’s character was in part redeemed by his linguistic and other intellectual abilities and especially by his astute judgment in the arts; he patronized the architect John Nash, who developed Regent Street (1811–c. 1825) and Regent’s Park, London; and he sponsored Sir Jeffry Wyatville’s restoration of Windsor Castle. George’s most famous effort was the exotic Royal Pavilion at Brighton with its Mughal Indian and Chinese decorations, designed by Nash.