Portrait of ‘illegal’ wife of George IV to go on show
A PORTRAIT of George IV’s favourite mistress and the woman he illegally married is going on show at Buckingham Palace.
George, Prince of Wales, who was famous for his extravagant lifestyle, became infatuated with Maria Fitzherbert, who was twice widowed, after meeting her when he was 22.
They were wed in secret a year later by a reverend whose debts George had paid off to secure his release from prison.
George’s father, George III, did not consent to the marriage and it was deemed invalid.
The Prince of Wales went on to marry his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, in 1795 in exchange for Parliament paying his debts.
He hated his wife, banned her from his coronation and wrote a will which would have left her with one shilling and given Fitzherbert the rest.
The couple lived together for about a year before George sought a separation.
He remained largely devoted to Fitzherbert, “the wife of my heart and soul”, despite having many mistresses
George commissioned Richard Cosway to make the pencil drawing in 1789 for the equivalent fee of £42.