The young George III was a poignant figure, humdrum on the surface, yet turbulent beneath: hiding his own passions, he tried hard to be a father to his siblings and his nation. This intimate, fast-moving book tells the intertwined stories. His sisters were doomed to marry foreign princes and leave home forever; his brothers had no role and too much time on their hands - a recipe for disaster. At the heart of Tillyard's story is Caroline Mathilde, who married the mad Christian of Denmark in her teens, but fell in love with the royal doctor Struensee: a terrible fate awaited them, despite George's agonized negotiations. Around this tragedy, Stella Tillyard weaves the dramas of the rakish Duke of York; the Duke of Cumberland, caught up in a notorious divorce; the Duke of Gloucester, secretly married, to the fury of the King. Desperate for control, George constructed the Royal Marriage Act, which still bedevils the royal family today. At the same time, he faced his tumultuous American colonies. And at every step, a feverish press pounced on the gossip, fostering a new national passion - a heated mix of celebrity and sex.
Tillyard conjures up a Georgian world of war and peace, the choppy seas and backwaters of international diplomacy in a changing world of ancient regimes and radical ideas - the history of private passions and public disgrace, rebellion and exile, in a curtain raiser to the revolutions, which convulsed two continents.
Stella Tillyard's bestselling Aristocrats, which started the vogue for eighteenth-century women's lives, was followed by Citizen Lord, her biography of the Irish rebel Edward Fitzgerald. She reviews for the Sunday Times and is a frequent contributor to Radio 4. She is married to the historian John Brewer, and lives in Oxford.