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Like millions of others around the world I was riveted to my TV on May 6 watching every moment of the coronation of King Charles III. And like any Regency aficionado, I could not help comparing it to the coronation of George IV.
With the death of his father, George III, on January 29, 1820, the Prince Regent for whom “our” era is named, became King George IV. King Charles’s coronation took place seven months after he acceded to the throne. George IV’s coronation, however, did not take place until July 19, 1821. It was originally scheduled for August 1820, comparable to Charles III, but it was postponed until the parliamentary proceedings aimed at divorcing his wife, Queen Caroline, and depriving her of her titles, could be completed. The bill to accomplish this was abandoned by November 1820 so no divorce, no stripping of titles. Instead she was simply written out of the coronation ceremonies.

Undaunted, though, on Coronation Day, Caroline attempted to enter Westminster Abbey anyway, but literally had the door (several doors) slammed in her face. She always had a great deal of support from the people, but lost much of it after this display.

Contrast this with the coronation of Charles III and Camilla. Charles deeply wanted Camilla to be his queen and, before her death his mother, Queen Elizabeth gave her approval. Camilla was crowned Queen Consort at the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

In 1821 George IV wanted his coronation to outdo Napoleon’s. Always flamboyant, his coronation outfit cost more than £27,000, and he insisted participants dress in Tudor and Stuart period dress. His red velvet robe had a train 27 feet long. Charles III, on the other hand, chose to wear previously worn garments. For the investiture, King Charles III wore the Robe Royal part of George IV’s coronation robes.

Charles and Camilla wore crowns that were already in the Royal collection. George IV, of course, commissioned a new crown. His coronation crown contained jewels that were worth almost £25,000 in that time period. The jewels were merely on loan for the crown and Parliament declined to purchase the crown as George IV wished. The crown was dismantled in 1823. Devoid of its jewels it is now part of the Royal Collection on view in the Tower of London.

Then there was the Coronation Banquet. George IV’s banquet was held in Westminster Hall. The hall was lit by 2,000 melting candles and the guests were occasionally pelted with hot wax falling from the chandeliers. The crowd was so huge that the dinner had to be supervised by horseback. Twenty-three makeshift kitchens had to be built to produce the food. Afterwards the spectators from the galleries were allowed down on the hall floor and proceeded to help themselves to everything–the leftover food, the cutlery, the crystal, silver platters. The gold coronation plates were saved by Lord Gwydyr and armed soldiers prevented the kitchens from being ransacked.

In contrast, Charles III had a private family luncheon after the coronation and later a coronation concert.

I must say, had I lived in the Regency, I would have wanted to be one of those spectators in the gallery. I would have wanted to see every minute of all that pomp, drama, and extravagance.

Would you?

At the end of the month I will be traveling to Scotland with Kristine Hughes Patrone of  Number One London Tours. We’ll be joining her Scottish Writers Retreat in Glasgow the second week, but first we’ll visit Edinburgh and sites between.

In August 1822 there was another momentous visit to Edinburgh. George IV traveled to Edinburgh on the first visit by a reigning monarch since King Charles I in 1633. The visit was encouraged by government ministers, because they wanted to keep Prinny from attending the Congress of Verona where the fate of post-Napoleonic war Europe was being decided.

There was another good reason for the visit, though. Scotland had been humming with unrest and the government was eager to avoid the revolutions that had rocked America and France. Even though George IV was rather unpopular, his visit was promoted by none other than Sir Walter Scott, who had been invited to dine with the King after the release of his popular novel, Waverley, which presented a romantic view of the Scottish Highlands that must have captivated Prinny as well as the general public.

Sir Walter Scott worked with others to plan the royal visit which was filled with the sort of pageantry that Prinny loved. Scott persuaded Prinny that he was entitled to call himself a Highlander, because of his Stuart bloodline. The King promptly ordered a highland outfit of bright red Royal Tartan, which he is shown wearing in the idealized portrait by David Wilkie.

I will be flying from London to Edinburgh, but Prinny arrived for his visit by ship and was met with the promised celebrations that had sent lowlanders and highlanders scrambling for the proper kilts. The celebrations lasted a little more than two weeks, almost exactly the amount of time I’ll be in Scotland. It also rained a lot and I am hoping that is not true for my visit.

I’ll be thinking of Prinny as I walk in his footsteps, walking the Royal Mile from Holyrood to Edinburgh Castle.

I just hope I won’t be carrying an umbrella?

Have you visited Edenburgh? What should we not miss seeing?

Read Diane’s latest!
A Lady Becomes a Governess, July 2018, Book 1 in the Governess Swap Series
Available now from online vendors.

When I was in New York City for the Romance Writers of America annual conference, one of the highlights was a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a group of friends, fellow members of the Beau Monde and Regency writers all. We spent the whole day in the museum.

First priority was a special exhibit on The Art of London Firearms, featuring firearms collected by The Prince Regent, later George IV.

This 1789 portrait by Sir William Beechey opened the exhibit. And, according to the Met, the Prince Regent was an excellent shot and an avid collector of firearms.

Here is a set of the Prince’s dueling pistols and their description:

A nice surprise at this exhibit was this 1815 gentleman’s navy wool tailcoat.

Next we wound up in a musical instruments section of the museum and among other beautiful instruments, we saw this early Italian pianoforte (1740) by the inventor of the pianoforte, Bartolomeo Cristofori.

On to the painting exhibits, there were surprisingly few items of British art, but there were these two treasures:

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds, ca 1825 by John Constable
Whalers, ca 1845
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner is one of my favorite British artists, so that was a real treat.

After a lovely, relaxing lunch in the fine dining room of the museum, we went in search of the room from Lansdowne House in London that Victoria Hinshaw said was acquired by the Met and on display. What a treat, we thought, to be able to see something she’d just talked about in her presentation on London mansions for the Beau Monde conference the day before. We walked through room after room of mostly French stuff until finally asking one of the museum guards. Turns out it was removed for renovation! Here, though, is what we might have seen, courtesy of Laurie Benson, my fellow Harlequin Historical author.

That was it!!! After a visit to the gift shop we were off to dinner!

I have a new “guilty pleasure” book for you. The Look Of Love: Eye Miniatures From The Skier Collection, the catalogue of the Birmingham (Alabama) Museum of Art’s exhibit of eye miniatures dating from the 1780s to the 1820s.

Jo Manning, author of My Lady Scandalous, the biography of famous courtesan Grace Elliot, and of many fine Regency romances, contributed fictional vignettes about certain eye miniatures, imagining the circumstances of the creations of the jeweled pieces of art. The addition of these vignettes to the catalogue seemed an inspired idea, because the identities of most of the subjects in the collection are unknown.

Apparently it was George IV, then Prince of Wales, who commissioned the first eye miniatures. When the Prince secretly married the Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert, they exchanged miniatures of their eyes, painted on ivory and set in jewels, as tokens of their love. Soon it became the fashion for lovers and loved ones to bestow these tiny portraits of a single eye, made into brooches, pendants, even rings, on their favored ones. It was the perfect love token for clandestine lovers–one eye was enough to spark the memory of the person, but not enough for another person to identify whose eye it was.

Some eye miniatures were not secrets. They might be gifts between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, betrothed couples. Some were sad mementos of a loved one who died. But the identities of so many miniatures that were gifts from secret lovers are lost to us.

What remains are beautiful, sometimes spooky, images set in gold, surrounded by gems, or decorating tortoiseshell boxes. Some of the jewelry include woven locks of hair on the underside of the miniature. One includes the miniature of a hand; others, inscriptions such as “Esteem the giver.” One of the most unusual settings is a tiny image of an eye on a toothpick box. Another, in the book but not in the exhibit, is an eye painted onto a porcelain teacup.

These were gifts whose only purpose was to convey love. What an inspiration for romance writers and readers!

Read Jo Manning’s guest blog on the exhibition at Number One London.
Here’s an article on the exhibition from Vanity Fair.
More information on eye miniatures from Antiques Roadshow.
Preview of a scholarly article from Jstor.

I found an artist who will paint an eye portrait, but I think one of us (Amanda???) once found someone else who accepted commissions for eye miniatures.

Have you read (or written) about eye miniatures in any Regency Historicals?


George_IV_1821_colorToday is a grand day in the United States of America. Inauguration Day! No matter what our political affiliations, Inauguration Day is a day we celebrate. In a way it is a celebration of our system of electing government.

In honor of Inauguration Day, I thought it would be fun to do some contrast between this day and the Coronation of George IV,  formerly the Prince Regent or informally, “Prinny.”


Our inauguration ceremony is not on the actual day of inauguration. The legal oath of office took place yesterday, November 20, but the ceremonial oath of office and parade are taking place today. George III died January 29, 1820, and upon his death, the Prince Regent became king, but he was not crowned king until July 19, 1821. George wanted a little time to plan…


CoronationServiceI suspect the planners of the Inauguration want it to stack up nicely with other inaugurations, especially those of the opposing political party. George IV had a similar (if exaggerated) bent. He was determined that his coronation would outshine Napoleon’s coronation of 1804, which was a lavish affair memorialized in a painting by David. George IV’s coronation painting by A.C. Pugin showcases the grandeur of Westminster Abbey as well as the pageantry of the ceremony.


Both ceremonies take place in/around famous buildings. President Obama’s inauguration will take place on the Capitol steps. George IV’s coronation took place in Westminster Abbey.


George IV’s coronation cost the equivalent of 15 million dollars, a little more than half of this amount was compelled to be paid by France, which was like thumbing his nose, I suspect. George IV’s coronation was Britain’s most expensive ever, but, shockingly, it does not compare to the cost of our inauguration. Estimates put that cost at $53 million (paid for by donations). Of course, there are costs for the inauguration that simply would not have existed in 1821. There will be a security force including 6,000 military personnel, 45 dog handlers, 7,000 police, as well as other expenses.

The Clothes

George_IV_coronationThe clothes that interest us at the inauguration are worn by the women. What will Michelle Obama wear? Jill Biden? Any of the other female dignitaries and guests? We’ll notice the men only if their suits are odd for some reason. But George IV was made of sterner stuff. He spent 24,000 pounds on a Coronation robe. It was made of crimson velvet with gold stars and ermine trim and a train that stretched 27 feet. George IV also commissioned a new crown adorned with 12,314 hired diamonds. The jewels were rented from Rundell & Bridge and were set so that light entered through the open back of the setting, like jewels are set today. The new king also acquired the Hope diamond. In addition to his own costume which included a brown wig and a black Spanish hat with ostrich feathers and a heron’s plume, George IV commissioned costumes for his participants in the Tudor style. One has to wonder what the various lords felt about such dress.

The Wives

QueenCaroline1820When our President takes the oath of office, standing next to him, looking as proud as a woman can look will be Michelle, his wife, the First Lady. All of our modern images of the inauguration ceremony include the wife. Caroline of Brunswick, the King’s wife, however, was banned from the ceremony altogether. The King had already tried and failed to get a divorce from Caroline; he was determined that she be banned from the coronation. He hired prizefighters dressed as pages to prevent her entrance into Westminster Abbey. Although she did try to gain entrance, crying, “I am the Queen of England,” she failed. She died 19 days later.

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