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Prince George
Duke of Cumberland
Consort to the English and Scottish monarch; later Consort to the British monarch
Tenure 8 March 1702 – 28 October 1708
Spouse Anne of Great Britain
Issue
Prince William, Duke of Gloucester
House House of Oldenburg
Father Frederick III of Denmark
Mother Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Born 2 April 1653(1653-04-02)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died 28 October 1708 (aged 55)
Kensington Palace, London
Burial Westminster Abbey, London
Religion Lutheran

Prince George of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Cumberland PC Danish: Prins Jørgen, hertug af Cumberland (2 April 1653 – 28 October 1708) was the husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain.

Contents

Life in Denmark

Prince George was born Prince Jørgen, in Copenhagen, the third son and sixth child of Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The young prince's governor from 1661 to 1665 was Otto Grote.[1]

In 1674 he was a candidate for the Polish elective throne, backed by King Louis XIV of France.[2] However, George was brought up as a strict Lutheran, and accepting the Polish throne would mean conversion to Roman Catholicism.[1] George was considered a suitable partner for Anne, Denmark being, like Britain, a Protestant country; at that time, it was not considered likely that Anne would become Queen. Anne's uncle Charles II of England had decided that Anne should marry George and her father James, duke of York agreed. Louis XIV was content, but Anne's brother-in-law, William of Orange, was not.[3 ]

Anne's husband

George and Anne were married on 28 July 1683, at St. James's Palace, London.[1] Called George in England, the prince was subsequently created an English subject and a Knight of the Garter, and was created Duke of Cumberland, Earl of Kendal and Baron Wokingham.[1] George was given a revenue of ƒ10,000 a year, while the Parliament voted Anne ƒ20,000 a year.[3 ]

Although he was Protesant all his life, he never became a member of the Church of England, which was headed by his wife during her reign - he remained Lutheran even after her accession and he had his own personal chapel.[1]

His marriage to Anne was successful, although from 18 pregnancies between 1684 and 1700 only one son, William, Duke of Gloucester, survived infancy, only to die of smallpox in 1700 at the age of 11. As with many other members of the royals and nobility, this poor infant survival rate is fairly strong evidence that Prince George suffered from syphilis. Another theory is that Anne passed haemolytic disease of the newborn to her babies (Rhesus disease).

The social and political grouping centred on Prince George and Princess Anne was known as the "Cockpit Circle" after the Cockpit, their London residence (part of the Palace of Whitehall on the site of what is now Downing Street in Westminster). Anne's older sister Mary (later Queen Mary II) had moved to the Netherlands after her marriage to William III of Orange; Protestant opposition to James was therefore increasingly focused on Anne and George instead of Mary, the heiress presumptive. In 1688 the decision of William, Mary, George and Anne to desert the embattled James II was instrumental in whittling away the king's legitimacy and paved the way for the Glorious Revolution of 1689, which was led by William and supported by George, at the nominal head of the Lord High Admiral's Regiment, disbanded the following year. The Holland Regiment took its place as 3rd Regiment of Foot with Prince George as its honorary colonel.

William had apparently refused to attend James II's coronation in 1685 because George, as a senior member of a European royal family, would outrank him as elected stadholder of a republic; this mistrust was overcome during the revolution of 1688–89 but dogged relations between George and William during the latter's reign. Some degree of reconciliation was achieved on Queen Mary's sudden and unexpected death from smallpox in 1694; but George did not play a senior role in government until his wife Anne succeeded William in 1702.

George was an able administrator and military strategist, and as Lord High Admiral, 1702–08, officially headed the Royal Navy in support of the military activities of Anne's favourite, the Captain-General Lord John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. On George's death in 1708, Anne was disconsolate. Although she refused initially to entrust the duties of the Lord High Admiral to a commission, she was effectively forced to when she found herself unable to bring herself to sign papers in George's stead.

Personal traits and portrayal

Charles II, Anne's uncle, famously said of Prince George, on the occasion of his marriage to Anne, "I have tried him drunk, and I have tried him sober; and there is nothing in him". George was considered a fine-looking man, being tall and blond. He was neither clever nor learned - he represented a simple man without envy or ambition.[3 ]

He was not seen as one of the most colourful political characters of his day, but he was a skilled strategist and an able administrator, and a loyal and supportive husband to Queen Anne. By all accounts their marriage was a devoted and loving one in spite of their earlier personal tragedies.

His official portrait, signed by Sir Godfrey Kneller, is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

George I of Greece is also sometimes known as "Prince George of Denmark" (1845–1913), in a confusion of his regnal name, George, and his pre-regnal title, Prince William of Denmark. He was the brother of Alexandra of Denmark, consort of Edward VII.

Issue

Arms of Prince George, Duke of Cumberland.
Name Birth Death
Stillborn Daughter 12 May 1684 12 May 1684
Mary 2 June 1685 8 February 1687
Anne Sophia 12 May 1686 2 February 1687
Miscarriage January 1687 January 1687
Stillborn Son 22 October 1687 22 October 1687
Miscarriage 16 April 1688 16 April 1688
William, Duke of Gloucester 24 July 1689 29 July 1700
Mary 14 October 1690 14 October 1690
George 17 April 1692 17 April 1692
Stillborn Daughter 23 April 1693 23 April 1693
Stillborn Child 21 January 1694 21 January 1694
Stillborn Daughter 18 February 1696 18 February 1696
Miscarriage 20 September 1696 20 September 1696
Stillborn Daughter 25 March 1697 25 March 1697
Miscarriage December 1697 December 1697
Charles 15 September 1698 15 September 1698
Stillborn Daughter 25 January 1700 25 January 1700

Ancestors

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Prince George of Denmark, engraved by Sheppard
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Titles

  • 2 April 1653 – 6 April 1689: His Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark
  • 6 April 1689 – 28 October 1708: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cumberland

Honours

Nicknames

Est-il-possible? (Fr. is it possible?) was the nickname given by James II to Prince George due to his invariable exclamation on hearing one after another had deserted the Stuart cause; he ended with deserting it himself.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Michael A. Beatty, The English Royal Family of America, from Jamestown to the American Revolution
  2. ^ Zbigniew Wójcik, Jan Sobieski, p. 215. Warsaw 1982
  3. ^ a b c Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough

External links

Prince George of Denmark
Born: 2 April 1653 Died: 28 October 1708
British royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Mary of Modena
as Queen consort
Royal consort of England
1702–1707
Merged into Great Britain
Royal consort of Scotland
1702–1707
Royal consort of Ireland
1702–1708
Vacant
Title next held by
Caroline of Ansbach
as Queen consort
New title
Previously royal consort of England and Scotland
Royal consort of Great Britain
1707–1708
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Pembroke
Lord High Admiral
1702–1708
Succeeded by
The Queen
Preceded by
The Earl of Romney
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
1702–1708
Succeeded by
The Duke of Dorset
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Cumberland
1689–1708
Extinct

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