Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

Wow. I’m glad that The Opium War was won so things are kind of looking up. I have an idea to give George Cumberland more money. Just slash about 75% of the annuity of George Cambridge.
I hope George Cumberland and Auguste get to marry and be happy. Also hopefully marriage will improve George Cambridge's behaviour even if his choice of wife is wildly unsuitable.
As always, a huge thank you for all your lovely comments, I always greatly enjoy your feedback and it's so encouraging.

Just as a heads up, I was busy working on a new update to release today but the announcement from Balmoral has halted me in my tracks a little.

Let's see how things progress.
Mindful of Calbear's advice on the use of other threads, I'd just like to thank everybody for their patience as I decided to pause updates for a few days given the sad loss of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Sometimes we have to focus more on the moments of history we're living through.

I am happy to say that Crown Imperial will be returning tomorrow as I resume my regular schedule and once again, many thanks for your understanding.
Just a heads up that I've unfortunately had to delay the next chapter until tomorrow - it's a particularly tricky one to write and I can't afford to get anything muddled. So I'd rather hold off a day and double check my sources/references to ensure it's absolutely spot on rather than take a gamble on something I'm not 100% pleased with!

Many thanks for your continued patience! :happyblush
You’re doing fine. The timeline is perfect as it is. I would rather have one great update over a long period of time rather than several good updates over a short period of time.
GV: Part Three, Chapter Six: A King's Anger
King George V

Part Three, Chapter Six: A King's Anger

On the 15th of December 1785 in a splendid drawing room in a fashionable townhouse in Park Street, London, a very unusual wedding took place. Conducted by a Chaplain who had to be bailed out of Fleet Prison by the groom for the purpose, and witnessed only by two relatives of the bride, this ceremony was not only unconventional but the marriage it proclaimed was made in contravention of English law [1]. The groom was none other than the Prince of Wales (later known as the Prince Regent) who took his mistress Maria Fitzherbert for his wife knowing full well that such an action was in violation of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Perhaps this is why he made no attempt to gain his father’s consent before the ceremony was held, for King George III could never, would never, sanction such a union. The twice widowed Mrs Fitzherbert was not only unsuitable from a dynastic point of view but as a Roman Catholic, the Prince of Wales would be automatically disqualified from the line of succession to the British throne if his marriage to her was made valid under the terms of the Act of Settlement of 1701. Though this marriage was declared valid by the Pope in Rome, in England it was denied ever to have taken place and King George III ordered his son to marry a far more suitable bride. But even then the Prince did not marry in haste. After ten years, he finally consented to marry Caroline of Brunswick but in his will he made clear exactly where his loyalties really lay, bequeathing all his “worldly property to Maria Fitzherbert, my wife, the wife of my heart and soul”. In 1842, the Royal Marriages Act and the Act of Settlement were once again pushed to the forefront as spectres of the past seemed destined to return to haunt the British Royal Family.


Le Meurice in Paris today.

At Le Meurice on the Rue de Rivoli, Prince George of Cambridge gazed down from a window in his suite which overlooked the Grand Allée of the Tuileries Garden where Parisians strolled happily in the summer sunshine. Checking himself into Le Meurice as Mr Culloden, he paced nervously as he awaited the arrival of his intended, Franziska Fritz, from Hanover. This luxurious suite would become his cell for the next 7 days, emerging out into the Paris city streets only once during his stay to pawn a pocket watch so as to afford his ever-increasing hotel bill. When the Prince first arrived, he was full of optimism and hope for the future. He ordered a bottle of champagne and toasted his new-found freedom and perhaps a little in his cups, composed three letters to seal his chosen fate. The first was sent to Lord Hill, the ailing Commander in Chief of the Forces. When the Marsden Affair became public in 1840, Hill proposed that Prince George be allowed to resign from the British Army without a stain on his character in the hope that if the Marsden divorce case ruined the Prince’s reputation, it might at least leave the door open for a return to the military in the future when the Prince had been rehabilitated by a period of good behaviour. Now, the Prince informed Lord Hill that after much consideration he wished to take up this offer and hoped that he might be “relieved from my commission forthwith”.

His second letter was to his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, at Herrenhausen and this is a curious document for us to study as it appears the Prince deliberately fabricated a narrative which would serve to make his parents believe that his actions were irrevocable. Perhaps he envisioned his father dashing to Paris to order him home or maybe he believed diplomatic channels may be used to have his marriage nullified. Either way, in his letter dated the 1st of August 1842, Prince George states that he “had no other path to happiness open to me other than this. Our marriage now solemnised; I beg you to consider that my situation is now very much dependent on your charity. I ask you to understand that I have been tormented so very much by this decision but it is one that I have come to willingly and most sincerely, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my actions whatever they may be”.

In truth, Prince George had not yet married Franziska Fritz by the 1st of August 1842 because at that time, Fritz was still in Hanover. Worried that a young woman travelling such a great distance alone may arouse suspicion, Franziska told her maid of her plans and commanded the maid to accompany her. Though Fritz's servant initially agreed, she quickly came to think better of the plan Franziska had concocted and immediately informed Franziska’s father of the situation. Furious that his daughter should risk his carefully crafted reputation as a reliable and stately High Bailiff, Fritz locked his daughter in her room at Emmerke and set off for Herrenhausen without delay. He arrived in the middle of the night and refused to leave until he had seen the Duke personally. Cambridge listened as Fritz relayed the full story, saying nothing and merely shaking his head sadly.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were naturally horrified that their son had tried to convene such a marriage but in practical terms, they could do very little to admonish him there and then. In the days before text messages or private jets, all the Duke of Cambridge could do was wait to discover where his son actually was and try to convince him to return to Hanover. The one saving grace was that Franziska Fritz had been prevented from going to join Prince George in Paris and at this time, it is possible that the Duke thought the situation could be remedied. However, he had no idea that his son had committed his intentions to paper in a letter to Princess Augusta, or that she had taken that letter to the King who was now under the impression that his cousin had already married in Paris. At Buckingham Palace, Princess Mary (though naturally appalled by her nephew's behaviour) had tried to calm matters by consoling Princess Augusta and begging the King to wait a few days for more information before he acted. It was a pointless exercise. King George V was furious that his cousin had betrayed him at such a difficult time and he was deeply hurt that Prince George was seemingly so unappreciative of the lengths he had gone to in trying to salvage both Prince George's reputation and his military career.

The King had been labouring under the misapprehension that an engagement between between Prince George and Princess Alexandrine of Baden was just weeks away, after all, the Prince had told the King just 8 months earlier that he was still writing to Alexandrine. His Majesty fully expected a proposal to be given when the court went into half mourning for the late Queen but now it was evident that Prince George had merely flirted with the idea of taking Alexandrine for a bride, reneging on the agreement he had made with the King in the aftermath of the Marsden Affair. But even if Prince George had been a little wiser in his plotting and had not left a note for his sister which found its way to the King, his deception would have been unmasked by the end of August 1842 regardless. It was announced from the Grand Ducal Court in Baden at that time that Princess Alexandrine was to marry the Hereditary Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Hearing that Alexandrine was being pursued by Prince George, Ernst kicked himself for allowing himself to delay his pursuit of her and when Prince George's letters ceased, and when no indication came from the Cambridges that they wished to proceed with an engagement, the Badens happily accepted Hereditary Duke Ernst's proposal instead. The couple were married within four weeks in Coburg and Alexandrine would later remark, "I was spared a great suffering, for had I married Cambridge I know now that I should have always been miserable and never as loved so deeply as I have been here in Coburg with Ernst". [2]


The Duke of Sussex.

But Prince George had left another trace of his movements to be discovered in that the third letter he wrote from Le Meurice was dispatched from Paris to his uncle, the Duke of Sussex. The decision to write to Prince Augustus gives us some insight into what Prince George thought his long-term prospects might be. It appears that he did give some consideration to the aftermath of his actions and it seems he was reaching out to the one member of the Royal Family whom he thought might vouch for him. Sussex’s own marriage had been the cause of much animosity within the British Royal Family since he took Lady Cecilia Buggin as his second wife in 1831. He did not seek the necessary permissions from the Crown under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 and therefore, his marriage was declared invalid in English law. The Royal Family refused to accept Buggin and simply pretended she did not exist (much to the Duke's frustration) but in 1836, the Duke of Clarence as Regent relented somewhat. The Duke of Sussex was to go to Hanover as Viceroy and he did not wish to leave his wife behind, neither did he wish her to rank below the wives of the gentlemen of the court at Herrenhausen. Therefore, the Duke of Clarence made a small gesture in creating Cecilia Buggin (now known by Royal License as Cecilia Underwood) Duchess of Inverness in her own right. It was a kind gesture but it did not legitimise the marriage, neither did it herald a rapprochement within the ranks of the Royal Family, many of whom absolutely refused to receive the Duchess of Inverness even in private.

However, just three years later, the Duke of Sussex forced the issue of his marriage once more. Whilst in Pillnitz, and with the encouragement of the King of Saxony who created Cecilia Underwood Countess von Naumburg, the couple married for a second time so as to be received as husband and wife whilst on the continent. At first, King George V was livid that his uncle had taken such an action but eventually, he relented and proposed a deal. If the Duke of Sussex would agree to retire from all royal duties and give up any court positions he still held, and if he agreed to live discretely with his wife, then the King would recognise the marriage as valid and allow the Duke's wife to become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. Given that the Duke was in his late 60s and that the couple had no children, this seemed a harmless gesture at the time but in 1842, this move was to cause him a right royal headache. Prince George of Cambridge wrote to the Duke of Sussex with this precedent in mind; if the King could see his way to recognising the Sussex marriage then he hoped, in time, that His Majesty would do likewise in recognising Prince George's marriage to Franziska Fritz. He understood that it was a more complicated situation given that Fritz was a Roman Catholic, but he urged his uncle to "cite your own struggles but also your relief when all things were corrected". The Duke of Sussex, perhaps a little hypocritically, was in no way prepared to intervene on his nephew's behalf. Indeed, he wrote to his sister Mary that he considered Prince George to be "a shame and a disgrace to the family, an arrogant and spoiled brat of a child whom I should horse whip for the humiliation he has caused to us all if I were younger and in ruder health that I am presently". [3]

Just a day after Princess Augusta visited King George V at Buckingham Palace with her brother’s letter, His Majesty summoned two key figures in what would happen next; the Prime Minister, Sir James Graham, and the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Pollock. Prince George would later blame Pollock for “encouraging the King to take extreme measures against me” but in truth, it was Pollock who deliberately delayed his response to the questions the King put to him that day because he believed His Majesty to be “acting in haste whereby he did not see the precedents he might set”. In his memoirs, Sir James Graham seemed to allude to the Cambridge situation of 1842, stating that he “never once moved to introduce myself to the private business of His Majesty’s family, beyond those situations where my advice or support was especially sought out”. Certainly it appears that the King was in some way urged to wait for the response of the Cabinet (and the Attorney General) before he put anything to paper and it is likely that it was the Prime Minister who spared Prince George the worst of the King’s anger. Remarkably, this earned the Prime Minister a rare compliment from Princess Mary, for though she had an inexplicable dislike of Graham from the start, she wrote Sir James a note around this time thanking him for "every assistance given for which I shall always be most grateful and which was done very well".

We know from the estate papers of Sir Frederick Pollock that the King asked him to give legal counsel on three important questions, none of them offering much hope for Prince George or his parents that the situation at hand might follow the Sussex precedent. Indeed, it was the “Sussex precedent” that Pollock was asked to explore first, not because the King intended to give his consent to the Cambridge marriage (which it must be remembered had not yet taken place yet) but because he wanted to ensure that having validated his uncle’s marriage, a legal precedent had not been set which his cousin might take advantage of. When the King agreed to recognise the Duke of Sussex’s marriage, he was advised that there was no article in the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 which allowed the Sovereign to retroactively grant consent. However, there was a clause which allowed members of the Royal Family who were over the age of 25 to ask the Privy Council to validate their marriage with or without the permission of the Sovereign – though it was dependent on parliament raising no objection within the twelve months of the Privy Council giving it's assent. Whereas the regulation concerning the monarch’s consent was crystal clear, the clause handing this power to the Privy Council was vague in that it did not specify whether the consent could also be given after the marriage had been contracted. Where the Sussex situation was concerned, the Privy Council had simply issued an Order-in-Council which gave the Duke of Sussex permission to marry Lady Cecilia Underwood. Now it appeared they had been incorrect to do so.


Sir Frederick Pollock.

Sir Frederick’s investigation of this process reassured the King that he had not set a legal precedent beyond the existing legislation by validating his uncle's marriage but there was a problem. Whilst the Duchess of Sussex had been gazetted as such (with royal rank) and whilst the King regarded his uncle to be legally wed to her, the Attorney General declared that they were not in fact married at all – merely, they had permission to marry. One of Pollock’s predecessors, Lord Campbell, had advised the King on the Sussex marriage at the time and had assured him that the Order-in-Council was sufficient but Pollock disagreed. His advice to the King was therefore that whilst Prince George of Cambridge could petition the Privy Council in the future (when he turned 25), the Privy Council would not follow the Sussex precedent because it was unlikely that they would act contrary to the King’s wishes which were well known to them. If the Prince did push for such recognition, parliament would have to be consulted and they too were likely to follow the Sovereign’s lead and deny their consent which under the terms of the Royal Marriages 1772 meant “expressing their disapproval” within the 12 months preceding the marriage. But Pollock also concluded that Campbell had been wrong and that the Sussexes were not in fact legally husband and wife.

Pollock had seemingly raised more questions than he had answered but on the King’s next two points of inquiry, fortunately things were far more simple – though again, they would do little to console the Cambridge family. In his report to George V, we see that the King had inquired as to whether he could (without recourse to parliament) remove royal rank from his cousin. Before 1843, the children of the Sovereign and his grandchildren in the male line, and so on, were entitled to be styled His/Her Royal Highness Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. But Pollock’s report made clear that this was very much a courtesy style in the gift of the Sovereign, that is, the King retained the sole right to grant, withhold or remove these styles at will. Furthermore, it was these styles which conferred royal rank. In theory therefore, the King could recognise the Cambridge marriage but deny Franziska Fritz the style of Her Royal Highness or Princess George of the United Kingdom etc. What the monarch could not deny however, and what George V in his anger seemed determined to do, was to prevent a member of his family from inheriting a peerage given by the Crown for which they were in remainder.

It is likely that George V spoke in anger when he asked Pollock to look into whether Prince George could be denied his inheritance of the Dukedom of Cambridge but nonetheless, he asked for counsel on whether the 1801 Letters Patent which created the title could be amended. Pollock’s reply was twofold. Letters Patent could, and had been, amended. The most famous example of this can be found in the 1706 amendment to Letters Patent which regulated the Dukedom of Marlborough. In this case, an amendment allowed for the Dukedom to be inherited by the 1st Duke’s daughter Harriet Churchill because his only legitimate son, the Marquess of Blandford, predeceased him. After Harriet’s death however, the usual rules of succession applied and only her male heirs could inherit the Dukedom unless the Churchills found themselves in a similar situation in the future whereby the 1706 amendment would come into force once again to prevent the title dying out. But this amendment had only been possible because an act of parliament sanctioned such a change - and because the King's ministers approved of it's introduction. Pollock stressed that whilst parliament could deprive Prince George of his peerage after he had succeeded to it, the path to disinheritance before he succeeded was likely to prove a legal minefield that could set dangerous precedents, even if parliament passed such a bill in the first place. It was here that the Prime Minister, Sir James Graham, seems to have stepped in to say that his government would not be minded to pursue such legislation because of those dangerous precedents Pollock alluded to.

Sir James had managed, though barely, to contain at least part of the recriminations the King had in mind for his cousin though he certainly agreed that the Prince had behaved badly and that the King was well within his rights to sanction him. Graham later told Benjamin Disraeli that had Prince George presented his case at any other time, he believed George V might not have reacted quite so forcefully - though often in hindsight all things seem possible. It must be remembered that the King was still deep in grief and at this time was slowly finding his feet again after the death of his late wife. Prince George had handed his cousin not only a bitter family rift to preside over but he had set the monarchy on course for yet another public scandal. Princes had married without consent before to muted reaction from the people but this particular marriage had a unique circumstance which was likely to excite people into animosity far more readily; Prince George of Cambridge intended to marry a Roman Catholic.

Catholic emancipation in England had been hard won and by the early 1840s, many of the restrictions placed on Roman Catholics in public life had been lifted. But this did not mean to say that Catholics in England did not still face hostility. As St John Henry Newman put it, the Catholics in Great Britain were “a gens lucifuga, found in corners and alleys and cellars and the housetops, or in the recesses of the country”. Chapels were scattered, the Catholic hierarchy was divided and unclear and the nature of pre-Second Vatican Council worship meant that non-Catholic Britons tended to regard Catholics as foreigners who spoke a different language, formed closed communities and most importantly, gave their allegiance to the Pope in Rome over the King in England. But in 1842 this anti-Catholic sentiment was particularly strong because of the rise of the Oxford Movement. Led by Anglican clerics such as John Keble and John Henry Newman, this movement came to prominence in the 1830s and related its new philosophy via its own magazine, the Tracts for the Times, from which those who followed the movement took the name Tractarians. Angered by the more modern forms of worship that came from the evangelical movement led by men such as John Wesley, and resentful of the reorganisation of the Church of England under the Whig government, their objections quickly gained attention in what those who opposed them described as “a new counter-reformation”. [4]


St John Henry Newman.

The Oxford Movement wished to see some of the older Christian traditions of faith reinstated and felt that they should be reflected into Anglican liturgy and theology. To their supporters, the Tractarians were fighting to preserve the Church of England from becoming a Methodist free-for-all but to their detractors, they were simply seeking to romanize the Anglican Church. The result of this ongoing feud within the ranks of the church meant that many were deeply sensitive to everything which resembled a return to anything which vaguely resembled Roman Catholicism and in the midst of this fierce debate, it would emerge that a member of the Royal Family who was 8th in the line of succession to the British throne had sought to take a Catholic bride. King George V was himself more ecumenical than his predecessors. As we have seen, he was not particularly conventional in his form of worship and he often remarked that whilst he was Defender of the Faith; “I am a King, not a Bishop”. But he took seriously his oath and commitment to upholding the Protestant Succession and his role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England – at least outwardly. Whilst it’s unlikely that he would have followed the rise of the Oxford Movement with any great interest, he would certainly have been aware of it and he was wise enough to realise that Prince George’s choice of bride stood to inflame tensions on all sides.

It is likely that Sir Frederick Pollock raised this issue when he confirmed the legal position which would have been very familiar to the King; that if Prince George married Franziska Fritz, he would lose his place in the line of succession by virtue of the fact that he had taken a Roman Catholic for his spouse. But it appears that it was Sir James Graham who offered a far more forceful evaluation of the situation - if Prince George of Cambridge married a Roman Catholic, regardless of whether the marriage was recognised or not, the public would be outraged and their anger could make itself known to the monarchy as a whole rather than to just one rogue member. Though King George V was in no way minded to recognise the marriage and had taken legal advice to strip his cousin of royal rank (a clear and very public sign of his displeasure and disapproval), Graham had concerns that the state of excitement which existed in the country regarding the current debate on the future of the Anglican Church would prove fertile ground at a time when anti-monarchy sentiments were already being expressed in the towns and cities where strike action had taken hold. Admittedly, republicans were few in number and the vast majority of Britons held no sympathy at all for their point of view - but in the Prime Minister's view; "It only takes one to exploit this situation and inflame matters, spreading the rot of republican feeling further than it might have otherwise travelled - and this may be just the thing to set such a course before us".

Despite Princess Mary's pleas for him to wait a little longer, the King - now backed by his Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Attorney General - set down to compose a letter which he dispatched from Buckingham Palace to Herrenhausen without further delay. It was written at a time when the King believed that Prince George of Cambridge had already married Franziska Fritz but one might ask, if this was the King's reaction when he had been calmed somewhat, how explosive must his initial reaction have truly been?

Here, for the first time, King George V's letter to the Duke of Cambridge can be printed in full:-

Sir, Uncle,

The situation at present grieves me more than I can possibly express. My affection for you, and for my aunt, has always been extended – I think you will agree – to your children whom I have always regarded as closely as I do my own sister. In the years past, I have sought to put that affection at the forefront in all matters concerning your son out of a sense of loyalty and indeed gratitude for the unique role you have played in my reign and as a token of the high esteem in which I have always held you as a senior and beloved member of my family. The late Queen and I owe to you both, dear Uncle, a most enormous debt and since the death of my darling Sunny, you have sought to comfort and counsel, an expression of sympathy and love for which I shall forever be grateful. But I must tell you that in recent days I have, with the deepest reluctance, been forced to lay aside those sentiments for the actions of your son have caused the greatest possible distress to me. I am compelled to act in this not as your nephew but as your Sovereign and as Head of the family, which is both my duty and my right by the Grace of God. What I say to you hereafter, I say in that spirit and I trust that both you, and my aunt, and your family, will respect this for I know you are aware of the heavy burden laid upon me by virtue of the Crown which I must always elevate before all else.

It is therefore with the deepest regret that I must inform you that I have had prepared an Order-in-Council which shall deprive your son of the style and rank of a Royal Highness and of a Prince of my United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In doing so, I seek only to prevent the nobility of such rank being tarnished by his actions. I concede that he shall one day succeed you as Duke of Cambridge this being his birth right and the course being not open to me to deny him that station. But I shall not, and cannot, extend to him any longer the privilege of royalty which is in my gift and my gift alone. I must also inform you that from the moment of his marriage, he shall cease to hold any post in my service, no duties on my behalf shall be proffered to him and all military appointments or honours granted in my name shall forthwith be withdrawn. He shall no longer be welcomed at my court, neither shall I extend to him a residence or annuity. This grieves me deeply, but I am advised that there is no other course for me to pursue given what has transpired and in recognition of the strong public feeling that is likely to engulf us in the coming days.

But I must reaffirm to you, dear Uncle, that my affection for you, for my darling aunt, and for the Princesses Augusta and Mary Adelaide, remains in no way diminished by this. I do not seek to apply these conditions beyond the sole member of your family who has brought shame and disgrace to us and I pledge to you that you shall always find a loving and sincere welcome at my court and in my presence. Let what has been done be forgotten and never discussed between us for I should grieve the loss of that bond of trust and love which has existed between us for so very long.

Your affectionate nephew,

George R.

Meanwhile in Paris, Prince George of Cambridge believed that Franziska Fritz had abandoned him. He was no longer staying at Le Meurice but in a run-down boarding house on the Rue de la Folie. When Fritz did not arrive as arranged, the Prince panicked. He had nothing left to pawn and could only afford half of his hotel bill, leaving in the dead of night with his debt behind him. The hotel manager contacted the British Ambassador at the Hôtel de Charost on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré to tell him that one of His Majesty’s subjects, a well-dressed young man of some means and evidently belonging to the nobility, had failed to settle his bill. It did not take a genius to link Mr George Culloden to Prince George of Cambridge and after two days of further investigation, the Prince was tracked down to his grim bedsit in the Rue de la Folie. The British Ambassador, Lord Cowley, brother to the Duke of Wellington, went to the hotel personally where a stunned Prince George found himself threatened with arrest if he did not consent to go back to Hanover immediately. In a state of shock, George agreed but Lord Cowley took no chances. He dispatched two senior Embassy officials to go with him to ensure that he did not disappear en route. In their official report to Cowley, they note that the Prince "did not seem to object to returning home for he said he had found no good in Paris and that all things were ruined there".


Prince George of Cambridge.

By the time the Prince arrived at Herrenhausen, the King’s resolution on the situation had been received by the Cambridges. It should come as no surprise therefore that they were deeply distressed. The prodigal son was not welcomed home with a fatted calf, instead, his father refused to receive him and locked himself away in his study, unable to bring himself to look his son and heir in the eye. The Duchess of Cambridge, who had always spoiled her eldest son and who had so proudly proclaimed him as her favourite (even in the company of her two daughters), could not close her door to George but his arrival brought out the very worst of her temper. The moment he stepped into her salon, the Duchess flew at him and slapped his face sending him recoiling backwards as he fell onto the floor.

“Mama….”, he began pathetically, looking up at his mother who now loomed over him, her teeth bared and her face flushed red, “Please…”

“You dare to insult me in this way?”, she hissed, “That it should be you, my own son, who makes such a fool of me, that it should be you, who humiliates me…do you have the first idea of what you have done? And for what? Some whore from the backfield? You…you are a disgrace to me. You have poisoned everything!”

In a flurry of tears, the Duchess dashed from the room, her maid following quickly behind, shooting the Prince a furious glare as she made her way past him. As he rose to his feet, he became aware of his father’s presence behind him. The Duke’s eyes were red from tears, his skin pale, his body slumped with disappointment. He said nothing, slowly moving forward, holding out the King’s letter for George to read. A dangerous silence hung in the air.

“And that is what you want is it boy?”, he said softly, “To throw away your birth right? To cast your entire future into the pit? To disgrace us and to make yourself an exile?”

“Papa, I…”

“No George”, the Duke said quietly, “There is nothing more to be said. Your words have no worth in them. They never did. Here…”

Cambridge handed his son a small envelope.

“There is a small sum of money”, he explained, still refusing to make eye contact with the Prince, “You may stay here tonight, in your room. Take the things you need. And then go from here. I care not where you go but go quietly. I could not bear to hear your mother even more distressed than you have made her already.”

Prince George’s eyes filled with tears.

“But Papa, I don’t want to go…I came here because…”

“It is done my boy”, the Duke said sadly, turning away and leaving the room slowly, the weight of the world upon his shoulders, “It is done”.


[1] The Reverend Robert Burt was a Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Prince of Wales who was released from prison when the Prince paid his debts which amounted to a whopping £500 - the equivalent of £60,000 today.

[2] We've delayed the Coburg marriage here just by a few months but a similar situation developed in the OTL. Ernst delayed (because he was advised by his doctors that he should not marry Alexandrine whilst he was still undergoing treatment for syphilis) and this saw other interested parties approach the Badens to discuss alternative matches for the Princess. Ernst panicked at the thought of losing Alexandrine, whom he seems to have genuinely loved, and proposed marriage immediately.

[3] The Duke of Sussex was at this time suffering from erysipelas which was later given as the cause of his death.

[4] As always, researched from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia;

With my apologies for the delay on this chapter, it is a little longer than usual because it had so much to pack into it - and it took an awful lot more research than usual! I confess to introducing Fritz so that we could explore religion in England at this time and the Oxford Movement especially. I haven't mentioned Ireland here but we will be returning there shortly and so this seemed a good background to put in now.

But I also have to admit to a slight SNAFU. When I researched how the Sussex marriage might be recognised, I was under the impression that such a marriage could be recognised after the event with an Order-in-Council. That was not the case and further research into the Royal Marriages Act 1772 for this scenario in particular revealed that marriages can't be validated retroactively - at least not in the way I had previously described. That said, I think the way I've corrected this actually gave a more interesting plot point in that the poor old Duke of Sussex will have to be three times lucky and get married again. Apologies for this oversight in a past chapter but this is fairly weighty stuff and sometimes, these things happen. I only hope everyone approves of the way I've set this situation right and that you don't feel it disrupted the timeline in any way.

As things stand, we shall have to wait and see what becomes of Prince George of Cambridge but I think this leaves no doubt as to whether the King stands. I specifically added in Sir James Graham's point of view that had Prince George waited a while, the King might not have been so drastic in his response. But we know he has a short temper and we also know that he values family loyalty above almost everything else. And naturally, he's still in a very delicate state following the loss of his wife.

Again, many thanks for your patience and thank you so much for reading!
As things stand, we shall have to wait and see what becomes of Prince George of Cambridge but I think this leaves no doubt as to whether the King stands. I specifically added in Sir James Graham's point of view that had Prince George waited a while, the King might not have been so drastic in his response. But we know he has a short temper and we also know that he values family loyalty above almost everything else. And naturally, he's still in a very delicate state following the loss of his wife.
Honestly, marrying a low born Catholic wasn't exactly gonna be a cakewalk at the best of times.

George being well, George, pretty much ensured that was not gonna happen. Between his misdeeds in the past and picking probably the worse possible time to try this? Yeah, this ended about as well as it could've ended.
Honestly, marrying a low born Catholic wasn't exactly gonna be a cakewalk at the best of times.

George being well, George, pretty much ensured that was not gonna happen. Between his misdeeds in the past and picking probably the worse possible time to try this? Yeah, this ended about as well as it could've ended.
Absolutely! Franziska only really needed to be divorced to complete the trifecta of unsuitability as a royal bride and as you say, what a time to pull such a stunt! So it really couldn't end any other way. But as things stand of course, the ball is very much in Prince George's court. He knows what the outcome will be if he pushes ahead with this. We shall see what he does with that. Thank you for reading!
Absolutely! Franziska only really needed to be divorced to complete the trifecta of unsuitability as a royal bride and as you say, what a time to pull such a stunt! So it really couldn't end any other way. But as things stand of course, the ball is very much in Prince George's court. He knows what the outcome will be if he pushes ahead with this. We shall see what he does with that. Thank you for reading!
I hope he does push ahead with it, actually. If he does, and the world doesn't fall in, we might not have a Princess Margaret/Peter Townsend or a Charles and Diana analogue in this universe, which can only be a good thing... As much as I admire the Royal Family, they handled those couples appallingly. Margaret should have married Townsend and Charles Camilla from day one...