Described by the Duke of Wellington as ‘the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy and good feeling that I ever saw in one character in my life’, George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, later George IV, was a highly controversial figure. He courted both Whigs and Tories in his attempts to establish the Regency during the ‘madness’ of his father, George III. Scandalous liaisons with prostitutes and duchesses, and his ‘secret’ marriage to the Catholic Mrs Fitzherbert, tested his duty – to nation and to family. Yet his support for overseas campaigns against Napoleon, culminating in such historic victories as Trafalgar and Waterloo, consolidated Britain’s status as the pre-eminent world power amid the great social and economic upheavals of the Industrial Revolution.
Drawing on a wealth of original accounts of life in Georgian Britain, Saul David has created a masterly portrait – of a flamboyant, opportunistic and influential figure, and of a nation in a time of great change.