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The Queen Caroline Affair :: Crime, Scandal, Spectacle

The Queen Caroline Affair

After twenty-five years of marriage, the birth of a daughter, and the death of the same, George IV, King of England introduced a Bill of Pains and Penalties to the House of Lords with the intent of ending his marriage and dethroning his queen. The King charged Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel with the crime of adultery. Three readings of the bill and three subsequently unsuccessful votes to convict Queen Caroline of adultery ultimately doomed the bill and George IV’s attempt to divorce his wife (Davis 97). The failure to pass the bill forced the charges against the Queen to be dropped. Amidst overwhelming evidence against Queen Caroline, why did the House of Lords fail to convict? The following research suggests that the popularity of the Queen, so widespread as a result of the growing power of the press, saved her title.

This project will specifically investigate, not only the popular support enjoyed by Queen Caroline, but the ways in which her adopted people manifested this support. Newspaper articles provided the most direct means by which I might engage with the popular opinions of the day – directly through the words of the people. In examining articles that endorse Queen Caroline as well as condemn her, it quickly became evident that a greater number articles were written in support of the Queen than not. This suggests the popular support of the English people lay with their Queen, not with their King. This incident, which became known as the Queen Caroline Affair, helped establish newspapers as an outlet for the ideas that would influence popular opinion; this event demonstrates the growing power of the press and its ability to allow a queen to keep her throne.

– Samantha Sisler

Historical Background

“The Affair”

The Bill of Pains and Penalties

The Power of Public Opinion

The Press

The Trial and Conclusion of the Affair

The Dawn of the Age of Reform

Works Cited

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