Oh, you hear a lot of people today casually referring to bankers as evil, but when it comes to true, chill-your-bones, block-out-the-light-of-the-sun, watch-out-they-might-steal-Christmas level sinisterness, today’s lot are rank amateurs.
I was delighted to come across this quote by Nathan Mayer Rothschild, founder of the British branch of the illustrious banking family in the 18th and 19th century, in this week’s Sunday Times.
I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England. The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply.
No-one puts things quite like that any more, do they? Disappointingly, none of the portraits of Nathan Rothschild I can find depict him with a moustache, which can only leave one to wonder what on earth he twiddled whilst making this villainous statement, but he certainly looks like a man capable of resonating maniacal laughter. العاب حقيقية
There are those on the internet who seek to connect the Rothschilds with all sorts of conspiracy theories, most dramatically the one which paints them as key members of the Illuminati, controlling governments around the world for centuries – even puppeteering Governor Schwarzenegger (as proved by his visit to Waddesdon Manor, the family’s wonderful Chateau in the heart of Oxfordshire, where several items of furniture owned by Marie Antoinette – as well as an unsurprisingly well-stocked wine cellar and knockout National Trust gift shop – now reside). You’ll often find this quote from Nathan Rothschild used in support of this argument. But doesn’t it sort of defeat the point of constructing a vast, shadowy, unstoppable secret organisation to try to take over the world if, like Nathan, you come straight out and say that’s what you’re doing? مجموعة يورو 2023 Surely, if those were the intentions of his family, the quote would read more along the lines of “I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England. The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls Britain’s orphanages, lost puppy homes and sweet shops, and I control the British money supply”.
The article goes on to note that Rothschild funded the battle of Waterloo and arranged the loan to compensate slave owners, allowing abolition to proceed as a practical reality. These payments were larger, as a proportion of government spending, than the UK goverment’s recent bailout of banks. So, perhaps Nathan Rothschild wasn’t all that evil after all. Perhaps he and his family are content to simply enjoy their wine, their giraffes, and their hefty discount at the National Trust shop. لعبه الشيش But I for one would like to see more of today’s bankers adopting Rothschild’s approach to PR, affecting the air of an evil genius, who most probably has several different but equally spectacular plans to steal the Crown Jewels brewing concurrently at any given moment.
As we saw in Part 1 of this story, there are many theories on the real identity of Jack the Ripper doing the rounds, which range from the hypothetically plausible to the palpably absurd. Delving a little deeper, it is interesting to note how many of the suspects suggested over the years involve highly respected figures from the very top of Victorian society. Perhaps this should not be entirely surprising, as there is a strong and distinct social element in the Jack the Ripper story and its lasting emotional resonance. The Ripper scandal drew attention to the squalor and abject poverty of the East End of London where the murders took place, and the extreme inequalities that riddled complacent Victorian society. Recently uncovered census records have revealed that in 1881 (7 years before the murders took place) several of the Ripper’s victims were living with husbands and families. Presumably, in the years before 1888, these marriages must have disintegrated, with consequences for the abandoned women that eventually led them into prostitution.
There is a case to be made that part of the outrage over the murders was (and is) prompted not just by the barbarity of the acts themselves, but also by a feeling of shared guilt, that society as a whole could allow fellow human beings to fall so low and be forced into such dangerous and degrading means of survival. In this version of the narrative, it is fitting that many should seek to cast the grandees of Victorian Society in the role of Jack the Ripper. The story seems to work better (and certainly have more moral impact) if the Ripper was socially the polar opposite of his victims, his calculated murders being only an extreme, twisted version of polite society’s cold indifference. This perspective on events has developed over time. Contemporary suspects more often than not lived amongst, and in similar conditions to, their supposed victims, and included many immigrants, and known domestic murderers. As time has passed, however, new information on the always shifting, historically invisible community of Whitechapel has become harder and harder to obtain, necessitating perhaps a shift away from simple homicide on a human, local scale, and towards grand conspiracy theories and elaborate whodunit yarns, with ever more unlikely culprits.
Given this line of investigation, there could be no more perfect candidate for Jack than a royal, and it so happens that the contemporary royal brood had a black sheep who could quite easily be made to fit the bill, and has been the subject of not one but three distinct Ripper theories. Prince Albert Victor (always known as Eddy) was grandson to Queen Victoria and son of Prince Albert Edward, and as such stood to inherit the throne on the death of his father. But somehow, even amongst the Hanoverians (for whom spectacularly fractured and unhappy families were something of a tradition), Eddy seems particularly awkward, never quite fitting the role he was destined to play. He was an odd, listless character. Opinions vary over his lack of intelligence, but the argument is only over its extent not its existence, with assessments ranging from his tutor’s report that his mind was ‘abnormally dormant’, to persistent but unverified rumours that he had learning disabilities. Lack of intelligence was, however, no impediment to a young prince gaining admission to Cambridge, and he was helpfully excused from examinations during his time there from 1883 to 85.
As he entered adulthood, Eddy found himself in the unusual position of being simultaneously renowned as a ladies man and reviled as a homosexual. In 1889, his name became involved in the Cleveland Street Scandal, in which it emerged that several high-profile figures (including an Equerry to the Prince of Wales) were clients at a male brothel. All homosexual acts between men were illegal at this time, and punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour, so these were serious accusations. However, it seems there was no evidence linking Eddy to the establishment, and his name was probably only thrown into the mix to distract attention from those who had actually been involved. Keen to avoid a scandal (having already created quite enough of his own), Eddy’s father stepped in to make the matter go away, effectively ending the investigation into the affair. This ultimately seems to have done more harm than good, the cover-up encouraging gossips to believe that Eddy did in fact have something to hide. Certainly, whispers of homosexuality (which seem to have very little grounding other than this case) have clung to him ever since.
Like his father, it seems Eddy also had dalliances with a string of women, leading to other scandals, including Margery Haddon’s (almost certainly false) claim that he was the father of her son, and subsequent blackmailing by the ‘son’ himself. In 1891, he was also blackmailed by two prostitutes who claimed to be in possession of compromising letters written in his hand. Though these claims, too, are now thought to have been fraudulent, there is little doubt that Eddy had his fair share of amatory adventures, and it is has been widely claimed that at some stage he contracted a venereal disease, possibly gonorrhoea.
The increasingly vexed question of Eddy’s eminent unsuitability to ever assume the crown was abruptly resolved in 1892, when he died, suddenly. The cause of death was officially recorded as influenza, though the shocking timing of his death, aged just 28, has prompted further conspiracy theories that he was poisoned, or pushed off a cliff, or that his death was faked in order to remove him from the succession.
Mix all of these elements together and you have a stew whose peppery aromas would attract any Young Turk looking to make his mark and his fortune on the Jack the Ripper scene. Although there is no evidence of anyone making the connection at the time of the murders, Eddy has subsequently become the linchpin of several theories.
Theory One: The Lone Madman
This theory, originally popularised by Dr Thomas Stowell in 1970, did not name Eddy directly, but there is enough evidence in his explanation to make it clear who he is referring to. According to this account, Eddy was suffering from syphilis, exotically contracted in the West Indies, which drove him mad and set him on the murderous course of Jack the Ripper. The royal family is said to have known that Eddy was the killer from at least the second murder, but did not act until after the fourth, when he was locked away in an asylum. He somehow escaped to murder Mary Jane Kelly, at which point he was re-interred and died of ‘softening of the brain’ in a private mental hospital at Sandringham.
Stowell died shortly after publishing this theory, and his papers were destroyed by his family. This has made many elements of the story impossible to substantiate. More damagingly, official records show that Eddy was not in London on the murder dates (but then, they would do, wouldn’t they?).
The theory was elaborated by Frank Spiering, who claimed to have seen notes of royal physician Sir William Gull, in which he described hypnotising Eddy and watching in horror as he acted out the Ripper murders. When the New York Academy of Medicine, Spiering’s stated source for this material, claimed that it had no such records, Spiering went on to challenge the Queen to throw open the royal archives and publicly reveal the truth about Eddy’s murderous secret. When the royal household said they would gladly allow Spiering access to the archives (as they will to anyone who applies), Spiering stroppily replied that he didn’t want to see the files anyway, so there.
Bunkometer Rating: A theory which, aside from being based on a paper trail which no-one can prove exists, seems to offer no tangible connection between Eddy and the murders, other than that he had a sexually transmitted disease and therefore must have despised all women madly, and killed a string of them. Codswallop.
Theory Two: Eddy As Jack’s Muse
Accepting that the idea of Eddy as Jack the Ripper has colander-level water-holding abilities, but unwilling to leave him out of the story entirely, another theory has emerged with Eddy the unlikely inspiration for enough searing sexual jealousy to fuel the fires of history’s most infamous serial killer. This theory, advocated by Michael Harrison, centres around James Kenneth Stephen, a poet, and Eddy’s tutor at Cambridge (as well as cousin of Virginia Woolf).
Stephen was undoubtedly an unusual character, and any hint of being a little bit odd is blood in the water for your second-rate Ripper researcher. It is undeniable that some of Stephen’s poetry did contain a misogynistic streak. Take, for example, his poem In the Backs, which contains the following lines about a woman he comes across and takes an instant disliking to,
…I do not want to see that girl again:
I did not like her: and I should not mind
If she were done away with, killed, or ploughed.
She did not seem to serve a useful end :
And certainly she was not beautiful.
Chilling words, certainly, but is it any more than poetic hyperbole? Harrison certainly seems to think so. According to his version of events, Stephen fell passionately in love with Prince Eddy during his time at Cambridge, and Eddy initially responded to his advances, entering into a sexual relationship. Soon though, Eddy grew tired of Stephen, and took the excuse of his enrolment in the army to end the affair. Less controversially, two years later Stephen suffered a brain injury, as a result of either being hit by an object falling from a moving train, or far more romantically being thrown by his horse into the spinning vane of a windmill. Thus began a period of mental deterioration, culminating, says Harrison, in complete insanity.
Enraged by Eddy’s widely rumoured flings with women, whom he clearly lusted after in a way Stephen had never been able to inspire, Stephen determined to take his revenge on an entire gender by committing the Ripper murders. Precisely why Stephen should pick these East End prostitutes as way of hurting Eddy is not fully explained.
Bunkometer Rating: This theory seems to be based on the apparently groundless belief in Eddy and Stephen’s homosexuality, and yet again relies on an implied and murky, yet clearly direct and unswayable, relationship between sex, madness and the murder of prostitutes. In going to far greater lengths to establish the suspect’s immorality and strangeness than any direct link to the murders, it’s as if the author is suggesting that, in effect, the former proves the latter. Crapola.
Theory Three: The Royal Conspiracy
Everyone likes a conspiracy, and this one is so juicy that it has gained a lot of ground in recent decades, and has frequently been portrayed in television, film and popular books.
Based on the claims of Joseph Gorman, this version of events holds that Eddy secretly married and had a child with a Alice Mary Crook, a Catholic shop assistant (of all things!) in the East End. On hearing of this brewing scandal, the royal family, including Victoria herself, formed an unholy alliance with (you guessed it) the Freemasons to cover up the awful mess. Key figures, including Lord Salisbury and, yet again, royal physician Sir William Gull, masterminded a plot to eliminate everyone who knew about Eddy’s child, and at the same time send a powerful coded message, broadcasting the abiding power of the freemasonry. For some reason, the motley crew stopped short of killing Alice, instead whisking her off to an asylum where Gull conducted experiments on her to make her forget what had happened, and plunge her into lunacy.
Bunkometer Rating: Balderdash! Eddy plays only a supporting role in this one, his accepted profligacy making him a suitable donor of the wild royal oats needed to get this potboiler going. There are several gaping holes here: notably why was Alice not murdered, and how is it that the covering up of this ripe rumour only necessitated the killing of five women, all of them prostitutes? The final nail in the coffin should have been Joseph Gorman’s later admission that he had made the whole thing up, but the rumour is out in the wild now, and seemingly unstoppable.
What all of this seems to suggest is that the British, as affectionate as many of them are towards the royal family, take only a very little prompting to believe that this august and ancient institution has a dark, rotten heart, and a mind programmed entirely differently from our own. The fact that such flimsy theories, contradictory of each other and often of themselves, have gained any currency at all reflect our willingness to see the royals as characters in the vividly painted, infinitely flexible story of history rather than as fellow human beings, operating in a unique but real set of social circumstances. But then, we needn’t have looked to history to highlight that.
Of the 41 monarchs of England since the arrival of William the Conqueror, only 7 have been women. But stop and think of the 41 figures on that list: how many do you feel any real connection with, how many produce an emotional response when you picture them? And, crucially, how many do you have any genuine respect for?
When you whittle things down this way, the list starts looking decidedly feminine. There are very few monarchs who can match the imaginative appeal of Elizabeth I and Victoria; none who seem so absolutely inseparable from their age. The majority of our male kings seem to run together into a blur of degeneracy or mediocrity, and frequently both. Perhaps precisely because of the essential masculinity of the role, many of our Queens seem to have worked much harder, given much more and left a far more unique legacy. Heck, to use a phrase borrowed (worryingly) from my parents, they just had more spunk.
In 2002, the BBC conducted a poll to find the ‘100 Greatest Britons‘. There are three monarchs in the top twenty – Alfred the Great, Elizabeth I and Victoria. So it seems, despite the fact that still only a puny one in five of our elected officials in the House of Commons is female, when it comes to strength, leadership and respectability, the monarchy has had no better, more lastingly memorable and characteristic representatives than Elizabeth and Victoria.
So what if many of the features that made Queen Victoria remarkable and rejuvenating were owed not to her connection to the ancient royal bloodline, but to her disconnection from it? What if Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was not her real father? And what if Victoria’s troublesome genetic legacy is the smoking gun that can prove it?
This claim has been made most forcefully by the formidable Victorian specialist A.N Wilson, but questions have also been raised by those with a far more intimate connection to the subject. After watching the film of Alan Bennet’s The Madness of King George, which graphically depicted George III’s torments whilst suffering with porphyria, Princess Margaret is said to have wondered aloud, ‘Isn’t it hereditary?’.
She was of course right. Acute porphyria is now often attributed as the cause of George’s ‘madness’, triggering the famous discoloured urine, flatulence, constipation, colic, itchy skin, seizures and anxiety. Visit the Discoverwebsite to find out how cbd products helped with my anxiety. If you’re looking for supreme, unbeatable kratom products then, kratommasters.com will give all you want!
This diagnosis suggests that the king may not have been mad at all; rather the incessant discomfort, severe pain and nervous exhaustion caused by porphyria may have literally driven him to distraction, creating the impression of a man who had lost his mind and all connection to reality. She got her computer and searched for the best cbd body lotions online and found out they actually have a lot of benefits, like helping with stress, anxiety, depression, just what she needed. You can then look forward to enjoying the many benefits that CBD products can offer such as enhanced sleep, lower anxiety levels, and increased relaxation. cannablossom.co will look at the main benefits of buying CBD products online with them. CBD is generally considered to be safe and free from harmful side effects, and because of this, here are the best cbd companies that are popular in today’s market.
It is extremely rare for men to exhibit such extreme symptoms of porphyria, leading someresearchers to speculatethat it may have been caused by exposure to arsenic. An examination of a sample of George’s hair found traces of arsenic at 300 times the toxic level, likely as a result of the arsenic-laden James’ powders medicine the king is known to have been given.
It may well be that George inherited the disease from Mary Queen of Scots and her son James I, both of whom are recorded as suffering from complaints that tally well with the symptoms of porphyria. From this point on, porphyria seems to have been prevalent amongst the royals, with George only its most high profile sufferer. Prevalent, that is, until Victoria, after whom the disease mysteriously vanished from the royal family.
So goes the theory. Although it is often stated that after Victoria there is no evidence of porphyria in the line, at least two of her descendants seem to have shown signs of the condition. The remains of her granddaughter, Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, have recently been examined and revealed a high likelihood that she suffered from porphyria, together with her daughter, who committed suicide in 1945, after a lifetime of health problems. Prince William of Gloucester, who died in a plane crash in the 1970s, was reliably diagnosed with the disease by three separate specialists, though he was also descended from Victoria’s uncle, the Duke of Cambridge, and might have inherited it from him.
This evidence is not enough to entirely quash the idea that the run of porphyria in the the royal family ended with Victoria, but it certainly introduces enough doubt to stop anyone getting too carried away with the idea that Victoria was illegitimate. There is, however, another genetic mystery which is harder to dismiss.
While porphyria is said to have stopped with Victoria, another disease is said to have started. Victoria was a known carrier of haemophilia, and certainly passed it on to two of her daughters and her son, Prince Leopold. What’s strange is that there is no known incidence of haemophilia in the royal family before this time, and, unlike porphyria, male carriers always suffer the disease, which would at the time have been very difficult to conceal. Research conducted at the Royal Society of Medicine through seventeen generations of ancestors on Victoria’s mother’s side has revealed no evidence of the disease.
This leaves only two options: either Victoria acquired haemophilia through a spontaneous genetic mutation, or the Duke of Kent was not her father. Although genetic mutation accounts for around 33% of all cases of haemophilia, the chances of it occurring in any one generation are between 1 in 25,000 and 1 in 100,000. And it must be admitted that the alternative explanation has several points in its favour. The marriage between Edward, Duke of Kent, and Victoria’s mother Victoire, Princess of Leiningen, was by no stretch of the imagination a happy one. Neither spoke each other’s language for a start, and by the time of the marriage, when Edward was in his 50s, he was, to put it politely, past his physical prime. There were also persistent and widespread rumours about Victoire and her secretary Sir John Conroy. Victoria seems to have openly loathed Conroy, which many (including the august Duke of Wellington) supposed was the result of her certain knowledge of his affair with her mother. Some went so far as to suggest that Victoria had inadvertantly stumbled across the couple in what would now be called a compromising situation.
There are problems with this theory – Conroy was a soldier, a career which would surely have been made next to impossible by haemophilia, and none of his descendants showed signs of the disease. But the tantalising possibility remains that Victoire’s infidelity may not have stopped with Conroy, and Victoria was the result. The implications of this are far-reaching – not only did this furtive coupling create one of our most iconic monarchs, but in successive generations it spread the disease throughout the royal houses of Europe; to Alfonso, Prince of Asturias and Infante Gonzalo of Spain, and to Alexei, Tsarevich of Russia. His mother’s desperate search for a cure, of course, brought the profoundly unpopular Rasputin to a position of royal influence, adding fuel to the revolutionary fires.
All this, of course, is speculation, and highly controversial speculation at that. The evidence from porphyria is at best questionable, and far more unlikely events have happened in history than spontaneous genetic mutation. On the balance of the evidence available, it has to be said there’s no reason to abandon the official line that the Duke of Kent was indeed the true father of Victoria. But the alternative remains appealing, partly because deep down everyone loves a good bit of gossip, and partly because of the light it sheds on the true nature of royalty and the vicissitudes of history. Could it be that Victoire got bored one afternoon, summoned some unknown haemophiliac lover to her bedchamber and engaged in a little nookie that changed the course of history forever? Probably not. But the mystery remains, and there’s something gloriously, wickedly subversive in it that serves as a refreshing antidote to all the grand history we so often have shoved down our throats.
The Victorians by A.N. Wilson A masterly overview of the Victorian period, which includes Wilson’s controversial claims about Victoria herself.
Over Christmas I visited Hampton Court Palace, in the middle of their annual Christmas festivities. Jesters strolled the courtyards, and re-enactors scuttled around the cavernous kitchen, distilling rose water as if by magic and turning spits, perched next to roaring fires. In a corner of the kitchen, one man was making elaborate sweets and decorations from sugar, and was surrounded by gold-leafed sugar crowns and wooden marzipan moulds. As we stood to listen however, it soon emerged that he had deviated from the script, and was using his position as an unlikely springboard to spread his heartfelt but jolly anti-monarchist views to the young children gathered around. “I’m the biggest republican you’ll find!”, he confided to them. “You see, deep down kids, nothing’s changed – the Queen still basically owns everything. Your parents think they own their house, your garden, but no, the Queen still owns everything in the country. Start a revolution!”. His speech over, for one silent moment he searched the children’s eyes, hoping presumably to see the glimmer of fires lit in their hearts. “So all of this stuff is sweets?”, gasped one of the wide-eyed boys in the crowd.
Hampton Court is such a treat because it’s two palaces for the price of one: the redbrick Tudor palace, an earthy, human-feeling place designed for feasting and the sensual pleasures of a highly social court, and William III’s seventeenth-century baroque palace, a sort of Versailles-on-Thames. This latter part of the palace feels very different. Chilly, formal and withheld, it embodies a changed style and purpose for royalty, more familiar to today’s visitor. This part of the palace, however, has stories to reveal of royal families so dysfunctional they make our own look like the Waltons.
It was the well done audioguide for the palace which introduced me to the figure of Frederick, Prince of Wales, who despite his enigmatically sad life story barely registers as a blip on the historical radar, except as father to George III and great-grandfather to Victoria.
Born in 1707, Frederick was the eldest son of George II (the last British King to be born outside of Britain), and Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. The relationship between Frederick and his parents seems never to have been happy, and in time would be animated by a bitter, festering hatred. This hatred can be traced, dissected and placed in context, but at three hundred years’ distance remains hard to fully understand emotionally.
It is fair to say that father-son relations between George II and his father George I were no picnic either. The most important reason for this seems to have been George I’s treatment of his wife, Princess Sophie Dorothea, George II’s mother. Though by no means the most natural or devoted of mothers, she certainly held a place far deeper in her children’s hearts than the cold, controlling George I. The marriage broke down when Sophie Dorothea turned to another man to meet the many needs left unfulfilled by George I. On learning of this affair, George I, despite his own frequent infidelities (some of which produced children), divorced Sophie Dorothea, and, rumour had it, had her lover murdered. Sophie Dorothea was banished to the castle of Ahlden, and forbidden from ever seeing her children again. Myths abound of a young George II making desperate attempts to breach the castle to see his mother, even trying to swim the moat that surrounded it, but to no avail.
This poisonous example cast ominous shadows over George II’s relationship with his oldest son Frederick. Their problems appear to have taken root in the divided responsibilities of the House of Hanover, whose rulers had, since George I was crowned in 1714, served as both Kings of Great Britain and Electors of Hanover. Having been born in Hanover, Frederick’s father, George II, was summoned to Britain by George I when Frederick was just seven. It was decided by George I that Frederick should not accompany his parents, but instead remain behind in Hanover, so as to maintain his bonds with his ancestral home (still, perhaps, where the heart George I truly lay) and to provide a figurehead for their Hanoverian subjects to look to. Here perhaps was the first bone of contention between Frederick and his father. Whilst George II struggled, like many before and after him, to find a useful, satisfying role as Prince of Wales (opposing his father whenever he could), Frederick was nurtured and encouraged by George I as the representative of the House of Hanover at home, taking a place at the centre of court ceremonial. Indeed, George I ignored Princess Caroline’s pleas to be reunited with her son, and insisted that he could not come to England.
Consequently, Frederick did not see his parents for 14 years, and led what seems to have been a lonely childhood. His education, free from paternal interference, began to take on a far more liberal and artistic bent than his parents would ever have approved of. By his early adolescence he had already developed the pronounced tastes for drinking, gambling, women and petty destructiveness that are to be expected from privileged, idle young men, unchecked by any authority figure.
During the 14 years of separation, the family of George II and Caroline expanded, with 7 more children born after Frederick. Absent during its formative years, Frederick seems always to have remained a stranger to this family, and his younger brother William, lauded for his bravery and manly, military pursuits, emerged as the clear favourite of Frederick’s parents and his sisters.
By the time Frederick arrived in England in 1727, following his grandfather’s death and his father’s accession, deep seams of resentment and division had clearly already been sown. Despite Frederick’s frustration at his parents’ delay in summoning him to join them, initially both sides seemed keen to maintain at least a semblance of amicable relations, and several observers commented that Frederick was especially polite and respectful towards his parents. This was not to last.
During this time the position of Prince of Wales had become a magnet for anyone with a grievance against the king, and a centre of opposition. At first, Frederick’s activities were confined more to cultural than political affairs. This did not make them necessarily any the less offensive to George II, a man with notoriously little time for books and a natural aversion to artistic endeavour. Frederick founded the Opera of Nobility in London, to directly rival the Second Royal Academy of Music, presided over by Handel and supported by the King and Queen. Frederick also patronised many of the most important artists of contemporary English Rococo. Frederick even wrote a play himself, under the pseudonym of Captain Bodkin, which was by all accounts so dire that it threatened to cause a riot when it was staged at Drury Lane (though riots were all part of the fun of eighteenth-century theatre-going). One member of the audience was moved to stand and declaim that ‘the highest power on earth could not force the free-born subjects of England to approve of nonsense’. The play ran for just two performances, though this was at least one more than the beleagured theatre manager had expected. One of Frederick’s more lasting legacies was commissioning James Thomson, a playwright and poet who wrote the words to Rule Britannia (later set to music by Thomas Arne), which has become an unofficial national anthem of Britain.
All of this served only to enrage his parents, who deplored his degenerate, extravagant lifestyle (including his habit of running up large debts) and refused to grant him the funds to which Frederick felt he was entitled. It is said that George II examined ways to remove Frederick from the succession, and even considered dispatching him to the colonies.
As the relationship deteriorates, it becomes harder and harder to discern who was responsible for each new offensive, or their reasons, but there was certainly much vitriol on both sides. Frederick offered sponsorship to a clutch of opposition politicians, and the King and Queen all but exiled him from court and any useful role. A low point seems to have come in 1737, by which time Frederick was openly ignored by his father, and not on speaking terms with his mother. Frederick’s wife, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, was pregnant with their first child. His parents, who questioned Frederick’s ability to father a healthy child, were suspicious and insisted that he and his wife remain at Hampton Court Palace for the birth, so that they could witness it (and perhaps prevent any other baby being substituted if Frederick’s child died). However, when Augusta went into labour during the night, Frederick had her spirited out of the palace, and they escaped to the privacy of St James’s Palace. There have been dark rumours since that Frederick and his wife feared the King and Queen might seek to murder their child, which, however implausible, are at least reflective of the truly rotten state of the relationship.
The King and Queen were furious, the Queen sending Frederick a message informing him that ‘Your Royal Highness deserves to be hanged’. When the Queen became seriously ill shortly afterwards, George II would not allow Frederick to see her. When death followed, he did not attend her funeral.
There would be no lasting reconciliation between Frederick and his father, and each continued to try in every way they could to limit each other’s power right up until Frederick’s death in 1751 (some said from being struck by a cricket ball, but more reliable sources attribute it to pneumonia). Frederick was said to take to family life well, abandoning the womanising ways of his youth and living a seemingly contented family life at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire. George II only seemed to soften once Frederick was dead, doting on his widow, and demonstrating such an excess of grief that some took it to be affected. Perhaps it was. But perhaps only now was George free from the profound sense of duty, propriety and responsibility which seemed to bind the hearts of the Hanoverians. Perhaps only now was he able to stop holding Frederick to impossibly high standards, and mourn a son he had never been allowed to know.
What is most saddening about the story of Frederick and his family is all the missed opportunities, the lost chances to break the patterns of coldness, mistrust and hatred already established by George II and his father. George II and Frederick failed to see how George I had played them against each other, and sacrificed their chances for family happiness. As it was, they went on playing George I’s game for him, long after his death might have ended it. This was a game that would continued to be played by Kings and Princes in the years to come, in particular in the case of George III and George IV.
So perhaps more is revealed by the sad story of Frederick than his invisible place in history suggests, and it’s time to question the verdict of one contemporary who, struggling to think of anything to say as an epitaph to Frederick, could only come up with