Personal Papers of the Hanoverian Kings Revealed

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Georgian Papers Programme

PERSONAL PAPERS REVEAL PRIVATE LIVES OF THE HANOVARIANS

Personal papers of the Hanoverian Kings and their consorts, publicly available for the first time, offer a unique glimpse into the private thoughts and feelings of 18th and 19th century monarchy.

In Phase III of the Georgian Papers Programme, a further 10,000 pages of material from the later Georgian period have been digitally scanned and published online, available free for anyone to access at www.royalcollection.org.uk/georgianpapers. This follows on from the 50,000 pages released in two phases since its launch, making a total of 60,000 pages publically accessible so far.

Papers released offer an unprecedented insight into the mind of William IV, whose reign is often overshadowed by the unprecedented political change of the time. William IV’s personal papers include his own report of a visit to New York when under siege in the American War of Independence and a letter to his father George III in which he reflects on the ‘terrible course of life’ led by his brother The Prince of Wales. Also included is his last will and testament, detailing the money and effects he left to both his wife Queen Adelaide and the children born from his long relationship with the actress Mrs Jordan.

The papers also include letters from George III about his long bouts of illness and a deeply personal account in his own hand of The King and Queen’s ‘blow’ and ‘distress’ following the death of their beloved son Octavius. Letters between Queen Charlotte and her children include a lengthy plea from the then Prince of Wales for The Queen’s support for a Regency.

Queen Charlotte’s diary offers detailed accounts of the family’s day to day life, including significant events such as the family’s first public outing following George III’s recovery from his first bout of illness. Queen Charlotte writes, ‘…the Kgs first appearance at a Public entertainment since His Illness, & His reception was beyond the possibility of my pen to express, but such as must have convinced Him of the greatest loyalty of His Subjects.’

The papers include the ‘commonplace books’ of Lady Augusta Murray, whose marriage to George III’s son, Prince Augustus Frederick, was quickly declared illegitimate. The scrapbooks of quotations, writings and speeches offer a previously unseen insight into the feelings of the woman who bore him two children.

The Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) is a partnership between Royal Collection Trust, lead academic partner King’s College London and international institutions, including primary U.S. partners the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and William & Mary, as well as other key U.S. organisations such as the Library of Congress, Mount Vernon and the Sons of the American Revolution.

With Her Majesty’s full authority, the project is part of Royal Collection Trust’s objective to increase public access to and understanding of primary source material held in the collection. It follows the success of the digitisation of Queen Victoria’s journals in 2012, which has encouraged wide public appreciation.

The Georgian Papers Programme’s academic partners have established a series of more than 50 visiting postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate fellowships and five visiting professorships, based at the Royal Archives to support the programme over the coming years.

Since 1912, the papers have been stored, with restricted physical access, within the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle’s Round Tower. In 2016 the Round Tower floor was refitted to allow the digitisation, cataloguing and conservation work for the Georgian Papers Programme to begin. Further refurbishments created a new research room, open five days a week, increasing capacity to support external research from 500 hours a year to 6000 hours a year, a twelve-fold increase.

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