Hanover is an area of northern Germany. It was ruled over by the Dukes of Hanover who lived in the grand palace shown in this picture. When Duke George became king of Great Britain at the age of 54, he had to move to London. He never learned to speak English very well which did not help his popularity.
Herrenhausen palace and gardens, print by Nathanial Parr,
George I ruled Great Britain fairly and sensibly. The monarchy was much stronger when he died. However, he was unpopular throughout his reign. Partly this was because he was German, but also because he divorced his wife and imprisoned her in a castle. This also lead to arguments with his son George, the next king.
Print of King George I, his son George II and his daughter-in-law Queen Caroline, by John Simon, AD 1720-30.
George II was the last British monarch to lead an army into battle when he took part in a war in Germany. He is shown here on his horse with soldiers fighting behind him. George liked to spend time back in Hanover, especially in summer. His eldest son died suddenly in 1757, so his new heir was his grandson George.
George II on horseback, by Johann Christoph Haffner,
George III was the first Hanoverian monarch to speak English as his first language. He also never visited Hanover. George and Queen Charlotte had 15 children. He ruled for the longest period of any king before him, from AD 1760-1820. Towards the end of his life George became mentally ill and is known as ‘the mad king’.
King George III, Queen Charlotte and their children (the future William IV is seated far left, and next left is the future George IV).
King George III and Queen Charlotte bought Buckingham House in London as a family home. It was renamed ’The Queen’s House'. When their grand-daughter Victoria became queen she moved in and the house became Buckingham Palace. Victoria added the East Front with its famous balcony, where the royal family stand and wave on special occasions.
The Queen's Palace, colour print by Thomas Hall, AD 1803.
During his father’s final illness his eldest son George, Prince of Wales, ruled for him as Prince Regent. The prince spent lots of money on parties, art and architecture at a time when many were desperately poor and Britain was involved in a costly war with Napoleon of France.
The banqueting room at Brighton Pavilion, built by the Prince Regent, colour print by John Agar, AD 1821-5.
The Prince Regent became King George IV in 1820 and ruled for ten years. He tried to divorce his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, and would not let her come to his coronation. The couple had one daughter called Charlotte who died in childbirth aged 21. Charlotte was very popular and the whole country mourned. One of George’s brothers, William, became the next king.
King George IV, after a drawing by Edmund Scott, AD 1810-23.
William IV did not expect to be king as he was the third son of George III. Instead he joined the navy when he was just 13 years old and only became king when he was 64. Before he got married he had 10 children with his girlfriend Dorothea Bland. William and his wife Adelaide’s two daughters died when they were still children, so his niece Victoria inherited the throne.
Finger-ring showing King William IV, by Henry Bone, AD 1817-30
Queen Victoria is currently the longest reigning British monarch. She became queen in 1837 when she was 18 years old. She and her husband, Prince Albert, had 9 children. Victoria tried to control every aspect of their lives. She often argued with her eldest son Bertie who wanted to be more involved in helping to rule Britain. He finally became king in 1901 and ruled as King Edward VII.
Queen Victoria aged 18, print by Charles Robert Leslie, AD 1897.