George III and his Troublesome Siblings
The acclaimed, bestselling author of ARISTOCRATS returns with a stunning, major new book about a scandal-ridden family trapped between duty, desire and the protocols of royalty - the dramatic story of a king trying to hold family and state together, as both his siblings and his American colonies rebel... A sweeping picture of 18th-century royalty, politics and family affairs, impeccably researched, with glamorous settings, driving narrative, dazzling characters and provocative ideas.
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 ancien régimes 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.
“In this superbly engrossing and revelatory book, Tillyard's detective instincts and clever narrative structure...work together to inform and delight. She writes with a strong and well-planned energy”
Min Wild, Independent on Sunday
“A Royal Affair is a joy to read, fill of wit and fascinating detail. This is history told by a master story-teller”
Princess Michael of Kent, Mail on Sunday
“A very good read. There is pace, colour and well-researched writing”
Leslie Mitchell, Literary Review
“Dr Tillyard's masterful and entertaining accounts of the fates of George's brothers are poignant reminders of the curse of being born royal”
Ben Wilson, Spectator
“The numerous fans of her Aristocrats (in which number I include myself) will not be disappointed: here is the same judicious mixture of intimacy and scholarship”
Antonia Fraser, Sunday Times
“A Royal Affair is an entertaining tale ...Tillyard's account of the brothers is heroic...[she] tells this astonishing tale with bravura”
John de Falbe, Daily Telegraph
“She has returned to what she knows-and does-best, teasing out the bonds of love, hate and pretend indifference that bind siblings, no matter what their historical pedigree, into a cat's cradle of consequence”
“The story is brilliantly told. In its descriptive flourishes it is sometimes fearlessly novelistic, yet it travels long distances for scholarly scruples”
John Mullan, Times Literary Supplement