“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