Before succumbing to his illness, George III had a sometime tempestuous relationship with members of his family.
The king’s second son, Prince Frederick, Duke of York, found himself in a scandal, along with his mistress, Mary Ann Clarke. They were both accused of profiting from the sale of army promotions during the Napoleonic campaign. The Duke was found not guilty of corrupt practices, but he was relieved of his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. As the king’s favorite, this was a great blow to the Royal family. Earlier in his career, Frederick had fought a duel in defense of his brother, the Crown Prince. One of the queen’s ladies had insulted both Frederick and Prince George. Frederick gave the woman a good set down. Then the lady’s son challenged Frederick to a duel. His opponent came within an inch of placing his bullet in the prince’s head.
Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, was once brought under suspicion of murder. He was the least likeable of the king’s sons. Ernest was said to be vain and easily rowed to anger. He had an war injury, which caused his left eye to have a sunken look. Ernest often spread malicious gossip about his family members. Some felt that Ernest was “too fond” of his sister Sophia. Many thought the prince to be bisexual or homosexual. When the duke’s valet (Joseph Sellis) was found in the ducal apartments with his throat slit, people believed the two had had a homosexual relationship, and that the valet was blackmailing Ernest. Sellis’s death was ruled a suicide, but the finding was questioned. For the wound to be self-inflicted, Sellis would have had to be right handed. Ironically, the man was left-handed.
King George preferred Frederick to his heir, Prince George. The king found his eldest son too effeminate. By the Golden Jubilee, the king was 72 years old, and the Crown Prince was 50. By this time, the two very much despised each other…more than likely wishing the other would “meet his Maker.”
As George III prepared for his Golden Jubilee, his daughter, the Princess Amelia (age 27) lay dying within the palace. Amelia was George III’s youngest daughter. The girl had given her father a keepsake by which to remember her. It was a ring containing one of her jewels and a lock of her hair. The inscription read: “Remember Me.” Amelia had fallen in love with Charles Fitzroy, one of the king’s equerries, but had not been allowed to marry him. Ironically, she left everything to Fitzroy in her will.
By the Golden Jubilee, only Princess Charlotte had married. The king’s other daughters were approaching middle aged (for that time period). They were not “attractive” women, and they found few prospects.
The family spent a great deal of time trying to hide from the king the fact that Princess Sophia had borne an illegitimate child. Ironically, the child’s father was an ugly, dwarf, some 33 years older than Sophia.