An extraordinary rarity, one of just two such letters to reach the public sale market in 40 years.
Unlike his two predecessors of the House of Hanover, George III was raised in England and spoke English as his first language. He was the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and thus King George II’s grandson. Prince Frederick died suddenly in 1751 when George was 12, and he was made Prince...
Unlike his two predecessors of the House of Hanover, George III was raised in England and spoke English as his first language. He was the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and thus King George II’s grandson. Prince Frederick died suddenly in 1751 when George was 12, and he was made Prince of Wales at that time. The death of George II in October 1760 brought his grandson to the throne at the age of 22, to general acclamation. As Dr. Samuel Johnson said, he enjoyed the great advantage of not being his grandfather. In his accession speech to Parliament, George declared: ‘Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain.’ The speech had been written for him, but he inserted this phrase himself.
George needed a bride and one was found in a German princess, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was 17. She and George met for the first time on the day of their wedding in the Chapel Royal, a fortnight before their coronation. All London was agog and people said that no one could think or talk of anything except the wedding and coronation. The wedding took place on September 8, 1761, in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace. Only six days later, the task fell to the newly-married King to sign invitations to the Coronation. These were not exactly invitations, in the sense that they were really commands to attend issued specifically to the nobility of Britain.
The noble King family stemmed from the elevation of the son of Jerome King, a grocer, and his wife Anne (who as a great-niece of the philosopher John Locke). This son was Sir Peter King, a prominent lawyer and politician who served as Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas from 1714 to 1725 and as Lord Chancellor from 1725 to 1733; as such in 1725 he was created Baron King of Ockham in the County of Surrey (he was less formally known as Peter Lord King). William King was the 4th Lord King, Baron of Ockham, and was serving in that capacity when King George III ascended the throne.
Letter signed, London, September 14, 1761, to William Lord King, commanding his attendance at the Coronation. “Right trusty and well beloved, We greet you well. Whereas the twenty second day of this instant September is appointed for the Royal solemnity of Our and the Queen’s Coronation, These are to will and command you (all excuses set apart) to make your personal attendance on Us at the time above mentioned, furnished and appointed as to your Rank and Quality appertaineth, There to do and perform all such services as shall be required and belong to you. Whereof you are not to fail, and so We bid you most heartily Farewell. Given at Our Court at St. James the 14th day of September 1761, in the first year of Our reign.” It is signed by George III at top left, and under the text by Lord Effingham, the Earl Marshal of the Coronation.
Coronation invitation documents for George III are extremely rare, and a search of public sale records going back forty years reveals that just one other example has reached that market in all those decades. Provenance: Hinda Rose, sold to a collector a few decades ago, and now to us.
So many carriages battled to reach Westminster Abbey on George’s Coronation Day that many of them collided in chaos. George and Charlotte were carried to Westminster Hall separately in sedan chairs and then escorted into Westminster Abbey on foot, each under a canopy. When the crown was placed on George’s head a huge cheer went up from the boys of Westminster School and the rest of the congregation. At George’s request Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” was sung as the anthem. It is said that the whole of London didn’t sleep for several days, celebrating the glorious occasion and the start of a promising reign. And indeed, George III reigned for nearly 60 years; to this day, he remains Britain’s longest-reigning King. However, how successful his reign was is a matter of doubt, as he managed to lose the American colonies in a war he helped bring on.
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