IF you thought the Tudor royals were shocking, you should try the lives of the Georgians, who were, if anything, even more scandalous (if less bloody). Hervey, a new play at Bridport Arts Centre on 27th October, tells the story of the feud between King George II and his son Frederick, Prince of Wales, as seen by the Vice Chairman, Lord John Hervey.
The Hanoverian royals were already notorious for their inability to get on with one another, but in 1737 their squabbling reached grotesque new heights – Prince Frederick, determined that his wife should not give birth beneath his parents’ roof, smuggled the poor woman, shrieking, fainting, with her waters already broken, out of Hampton Court. He took her back to a deserted St. James’s Palace, where she was finally allowed to finish the job between two tablecloths borrowed from the house next door.
The sequel to this unpleasantness saw the Prince banished from court, his father racked by a mid-life crisis, and his mother – the vivacious Queen Caroline – die of mortification.
Hervey is based on the memoirs of the King and Queen’s Vice-Chamberlain, Lord Hervey of Ickworth, a waspish and witty aristocrat desperate to make his mark as a statesman but ending up as nothing better than their Majesties’ drudge.