George IV became King of Great Britain, Ireland and Hanover on 29 January 1820.

George IV became King of Great Britain, Ireland and Hanover on 29 January 1820. His long apprenticeship for the throne, as Prince of Wales and (after 1811) Prince Regent, made him a colourful and controversial figure. This exhibition, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of George’s accession, examines his life and reign, highlighting the contrasts between the King and his subjects.

The period 1820-1821 was a year of revolutions in Europe and the situation in Britain was hardly less threatening. The government fought to cope with the aftermath of ‘The Peterloo Massacre’ of 1819 and the difficult adjustment to peacetime conditions following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Barely a month into George IV’s reign, a plot to assassinate the cabinet was uncovered, whilst convention required both a General Election and coronation take place. The King also created a constitutional crisis by his determination to divorce his wife, Caroline, and prevent her from being crowned Queen.