Prince Regent

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Between 1811 and 1820, the title 'Prince Regent' (or 'The Regent') was the most common mode of referring to George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King George III and Queen Charlotte. The Prince was born on 12 August 1762. His father treated him with affection at first, but anxiety about the succession drove the King to adopt an increasingly stern and repressive mode of treatment. The Prince grew up profligate, lecherous and dishonest, a constant source of concern to his parents and a perpetual butt for satirists and cartoonists; on the other hand, he was a man of real taste in artistic and musical matters and he could be generous (albeit usually with other people's money). During the early part of the war against France he repeatedly petitioned for leave to serve his country as a soldier, but he was never allowed any responsible position. His marriage in 1795 to Caroline of Brunswick was a disaster, with many faults on both sides; they separated after bearing one child, Princess Charlotte, who bade fair to remedy her father's unpopularity but who died in childbed in 1817.

In 1811, when George III suffered his last and permanent lapse into what was then held to be madness, his son was appointed Prince Regent, and for the remaining nine years of his father's life he was King in all but name. During this time he was usually sadly at odds with his brother William, Duke of Clarence; in the Canon this enmity has a baleful influence on the fortunes of Jack Aubrey, who (like Lord Nelson) is close to the Duke. George succeeded his father as King in January 1820 and reigned for ten years.

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