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The Trial and Conclusion of the Affair :: Crime, Scandal, Spectacle

The Trial and Conclusion of the Affair

Trial of Queen Caroline – House of Lords (1820)

The trial in the House of Lords was a bit of a farce. Italians refused to testify for fear of mob lynchings. (Hibbert 167) Bribery also occurred, especially from the defense. (Hibbert 169) Most of the evidence presented in court came to be viewed as almost entirely unreliable. (Hibbert 175) The first voting on the Bill took place on 6 November. 95 peers (Lords) voted ‘Not Content’ on the Bill and 123 voted ‘Content.’ (Hibbert 183) A second voting on the Bill proposed the removal of the divorce clause. The House of Lords defeated this vote by a large majority. (Hibbert 184) The third and final reading of the Bill produced a narrow margin for the Bill; however, the marginal passing vote from the House of Lords in combination with the Queen’s significant popularity with the common people led many to believe the Bill would never be passed in the House of Commons. (Hibbert 184) Thus the Bill was abandoned.

The English people celebrated with pomp and circumstance the triumph of their Queen. Celebrations were held in the streets including bonfires and fireworks, parades and dances. (Hibbert 186) The festivities were not to last. The people grew tired of the scandal of the trial. Although the Bill never passed, the Queen was never officially crowned. Her name was excluded from the Church liturgy. (Fraser 452) The government increased her annuity and Caroline retired from public life having lost all of her political power and much of her popular support. (Fraser 452) She lived quietly for the next year until passing away in August 1821. Rumors persisted that the Queen was poisoned; modern thought suggests that Caroline did die of natural causes. She simply lost the will to live. (Fraser 461)

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