When we left off last week Prinny had gotten everything he wanted and then some. He didn’t loose his crown, and he wasn’t sleeping on the couch any longer. Let’s see how he handles it.
The faux orientalism that one sees at Brighton Pavilion today is not what guests to the first pavilion saw in the late 1780′s That pavilion was “a low Greco-Roman house faced with cream coloured tiles, the centerpiece of which was a domed rotunda encircled by six Ionic columns bearing classical statues. The handsome, bow-fronted wings which flanked the rotunda to the north and south were provided with those decorative iron-work balconies which were soon to become so distinctive a feature of the town.”
The interior was well done up in the French style that was so popular at the time. Hideously expensive, but that couldn’t be helped. And now that he was reconciled with Maria, The Prince was going to behave himself. Drinking and skirt chasing were off the agenda. Even the Morning Post, a paper that never shrank from reporting the grisly details of the Prince’s public behavior, had to inform it’s readers that The Prince was “gaining many hearts by his affability and good humor.”
They even went so far as to report that he “was certainly more sober” and that his company was “much better than it used to be.” High praise indeed! Mrs Fitzherbert received much of the credit for turning the Prince around. Even the Prince’s rakehell friends from London had to behave themselves when they came down to visit. Perhaps there was hope for him yet. Then again, perhaps not.
The Prince’s behavior was exemplary, but anyone who really knew him should have known that he did not have the self-discipline to maintain such a façade of respectability. The Prince was, so to speak, kindling waiting for a spark to set him aflame. That spark was provided by the return, in the summer of 1788, of his brother, the Duke of York.
The Duke had been away in Germany for six years. Part of that time had been spent on his education. But the main reason he had been gone so long was because that’s the way Dad wanted it. All the Prince’s brothers suffered the same type of exile to a lesser or greater extent. The Prince’s sisters suffered exactly the opposite. They were rarely allowed to go anywhere. Even under escort.
This bred resentment toward Mom and Dad in the girls that manifested itself quite differently than it did in the boys. If resentment was more anti-social, pronouncedly so, in the boys, it was only because the boys were given greater freedom of action. The girls were never let off the leash long enough to show how bad they could be. In reading their letters to their brothers one gets the impression that they wouldn’t have minded a little peril, to paraphrase Monty Python.
Not surprisingly, His Majesty was not in the least upset about his children’s feelings toward his paternal policies. He was King. Their duty was to obey. What could be simpler? His Majesty believed that if the Dukes were allowed to lollygag in England, they would turn out as bad as their eldest brother. It never occurred to him that treating them like pariahs as soon as they stopped being babies, shipping them off to foreign countries and forcing them to stay there, was not the ticket to producing model citizens.
Can you imagine getting George the III and his kids on “Oprah?” That would be something to see! Anyway, the Duke of York returned and Prinny was there to greet him. They traveled to Brighton so the Duke could meet Mrs Fitzherbert. He found her most gracious and charming. The two of them got on wonderfully. After a spell of catching up on family news, Prinny announced that he and his brother would be popping up to London for a bit of sport. Without Mrs Fitzherbert. The spark had been struck; the fire was just getting started.