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“The die is now cast,” wrote the king to his First Min­is­ter, Lord North. “The colonies must ei­ther sub­mit or tri­umph. I do not wish to come to sev­erer mea­sures, but we must not re­treat.”

King Ge­orge III of the United King­dom casts a long shadow, but like all shad­ows its as­pect is mis­shapen and its fea­tures are stretched out of all pro­por­tion.

Ge­orge III is short­hand for “mad­ness” (thanks to the film, see page 98) and (es­pe­cially in the US) “tyranny”, but although its un­writ­ten con­sti­tu­tion was still in the process of be­ing (un)writ­ten, the United King­dom was a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy at the time of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion.

So how can a king whose au­thor­ity is ex­er­cised through Par­lia­ment be a tyrant? And to what ex­tent did Par­lia­ment’s re­ac­tion to the dis­grun­tled colo­nials re­flect the views of the monarch? Those are ex­actly the ques­tions that All About His­tory’s staff writer and in-house her­ald Jes­sica Leggett poses in her fea­ture on page 28, as she re­veals whether or not Ge­orge III de­serves his ma­ligned rep­u­ta­tion.

Satirist James Gill­ray de­picts Ge­orge III and Queen Caro­line claim­ing the moral high ground by ab­stain­ing from sugar, when the king ben­e­fited per­son­ally from sugar cane plan­ta­tions

James Hoare Group Ed­i­tor

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