Crown Imperial: An Alt British Monarchy

Now I have the following scene in my head - far far too melodramatic to be real - but perhaps not that unrealistic given the stories or Caroline of Brunswick hammering on the doors to Westminster during her husband's coronation.

It's some time after the current timeframe of your TL and Queen Louise dies, this means the ultimatum that the Dowager Duchess of Kent cannot return to Britain whilst the Queen is alive has ended. It is the Queens funeral.

Drina is sat with her FitzClarence cousins and her Uncle and Aunt, when the door to the chapel is flung open the Dowager Duchess enters. Heads turn, and one of the FitzClarence girls (perhaps Amelia, as she was the youngest) whispers to Drina, "Who is that?"

"Dear God, that's my mother ..."


Monthly Donor
Now I have the following scene in my head - far far too melodramatic to be real - but perhaps not that unrealistic given the stories or Caroline of Brunswick hammering on the doors to Westminster during her husband's coronation.

It's some time after the current timeframe of your TL and Queen Louise dies, this means the ultimatum that the Dowager Duchess of Kent cannot return to Britain whilst the Queen is alive has ended. It is the Queens funeral.

Drina is sat with her FitzClarence cousins and her Uncle and Aunt, when the door to the chapel is flung open the Dowager Duchess enters. Heads turn, and one of the FitzClarence girls (perhaps Amelia, as she was the youngest) whispers to Drina, "Who is that?"

"Dear God, that's my mother ..."
I love this! Not where I am planning to go with this TL but....wait....a TL based on a PoD from another TL? Has that ever happened? x'D
I'm conflicted. Victoria being separated from her mother is a good thing for her, but also forcefully separating a mother from her young child is horrible. As awful as she is, I feel bad for the duchess of Kent.
GIV: Part 9: Old Friends and New Favourites


Monthly Donor
King George IV

Part 9: Old Friends and New Favourites

By the time of the King’s coronation on the 1st of August 1820, the original budget of £60,000 allocated by the government had almost doubled. Despite limiting public entertainments and sacrificing part of the processional route, the cost had spiralled quickly with members of the Royal Family charging bills for their attire, carriages and servants to the coronation committee. The bills ranged from £3 to pay a Mrs Mary Jerrold, who supplied flowers to Princess Augusta and her household for a pre-coronation dinner, to £130 paid to Ede & Ravenscroft for the hire of coronets and robes for the King’s extended family. Ede & Ravenscroft had been working round the clock to provide robes for the peers who would attend the coronation, so much so that those who left it too late found themselves frantically consulting theatrical costumiers in the hope that nobody would be able to tell the difference. A popular joke at the time was that ermine was in such short supply, there wasn't a white cat to be found in all of London.

One person would be conspicuous by her absence at the ceremony. At Oatlands, Princess Frederica (the former wife of the King), was in such poor health that her household asked the King to dispatch Sir Andrew Halliday to examine her. The Princess had been consumptive for some time but now she seemed to be lapsing in and out of consciousness and her ladies in waiting were concerned that the end was near. Since the annulment of her marriage, she had refused to receive the royal physicians, especially the recently promoted Halliday who had all but declared her mad at the Court of Arches. Instead, a local doctor from Weybridge was asked to attend to Princess. When he saw Frederica, he knew she was in a very grave state of health indeed. “Do not trouble His Majesty”, the Princess said sadly, “I do not wish to add to his anxieties”.

The Princess was not invited to the coronation, presumably because she had been unwell for some time or because she had not attended court since the annulment of her marriage two years earlier. Both were sound reasons but naturally there was gossip (mostly manufactured) that the King had wished to invite her but the Queen had forbidden it. As the King prepared for the most important day in his life, he at least appeared to think of the Princess at Oatlands, writing to the housekeeper, Mrs Peverell, with instructions to “furnish the Princess with the finest food and wines in celebration of the day and of an old and cherished friendship”. The Princess could barely leave her bed, let alone enjoy such a repast. Still, on her orders, the King was told nothing of his former wife’s condition.

On the day of the coronation, the heavens opened. Whilst rain poured from the sky, the temperature stayed warm and very quickly the city was so humid that it was said that the cobbled streets steamed. At St James’ Palace, the Royal Family and members of the Household began dressing for the day’s events. One of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, Lady Campbell, recorded that, “every window in the palace had to be opened and even then there was no breeze to be had. The heat was truly unbearable and rainwater gushed in soaking everything it touched. The Queen was in a terrible temper and I had to soothe her with a handkerchief dipped in ice water as the other ladies tried to dress her”.

Because the Queen had been pregnant when her coronation gown had been commissioned, Ede & Ravenscroft had made three identical dresses hoping that one would fit her perfectly. None did. In the sweltering heat, the largest of the dresses had to be altered and the Queen sewn into it to prevent it from slipping. All was well until the heavy velvet and ermine robes were fixed to her shoulders and the front of the gown was forced downward exposing her bosom. Queen Louise flew into a rage as her ladies hastily made more alterations but by now, the Queen’s hair was soaking wet with sweat and had to be restyled. When her jewels were finally put on her by Lady Cholmondeley, the Queen burst into tears shrieking; “It is all too heavy! I cannot walk, I shall never be able to walk!”.


The Coronation Procession of King George IV and Queen Louise, 1820.

Meanwhile the King had been quite as badly affected by the heat but the Lord Chamberlain noted in his diary that “His Majesty had to be poured into his uniform like custard into a mould and everything was so sodden with sweat that he complained of painful rashes on his arms and legs within the hour”. Other members of the Royal Family began arriving from their respective residences. Princess Augusta refused to leave her carriage even in the pouring rain because “I should rather be drowned in the street than boiled alive in the palace”. But the balmy conditions did not deter the crowds who lined the route and many hoped to make extra money that day by selling street foods and souvenirs. The mood was joyous, the public fully embracing the pageantry of the occasion and forgetting any misgivings they might have had in years gone by about the Royal Family.

The Gold State Coach left St James’ Palace at 9.00am and began the procession toward Westminster Abbey. In days gone by, public entertainments would have been staged in the royal parks until the return of the King and Queen to the Palace but given the weather and the lack of anything much to do, the crowds quickly dispersed once the coach had trundled past them on it’s first outing. Escorted by the Life Guards, the route saw the King and Queen pass through Charing Cross before the Coach turned along Whitehall to the Abbey. The temporary stands for spectators which had been erected could hold up to three thousand people but on the day, they held significantly less.

Once they arrived at Westminster Abbey, there was a misunderstanding as to which door the King and Queen would be entering by. The Coach stopped early and they began to alight, aided by coachmen, heading towards the Central Doorway of the North Transept. The King noticed the error and taking the Queen by the arm, their enormously heavy robes carried by panicking and perspiring Pages, Their Majesties were forced to pretend this was a deliberate gesture as they walked across the grass to the courtyard of the West Entrance. The crowds were delighted by this, cheering and shouting at the royal couple and seizing the opportunity to get a far better view of them. But the carriages bringing other members of the Royal Family had stopped at the correction door and now the courtyard became a chaotic scramble for position as everybody tried to find their places.

The rest of the ceremony seemed to go pretty much as planned and was modelled closely on the coronation service of King George III in 1761. Though the traditional girding of the sword or donning of armills were omitted, and the Nicene Creed was spoken and not sung, everything else remained much as before with Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Hallelujah Chorus providing a suitably uplifting soundtrack to the proceedings. There was one small incident just before the crowning of the King in which one of the sapphires hired to be set into St Edward’s Crown came loose and rolled across the floor. Nobody dared retrieve it until after the ceremony by which time, a light-fingered guest had taken it home with them as a souvenir. But the King hadn’t noticed and looked “dignified and quite moved” as the Archbishop put the crown upon his head. Lady Campbell recalled; “Her Majesty shed a small tear for the King, which touched us all for she had been in such poor humour until that time. Then she went forward to be crowned herself and I suspected she may weep but she did not”. [1]

When the newly crowned King George IV and Queen Louise left Westminster Abbey (by the right door) at 3.30pm, the bells rang out and those who had bothered to remain along the route cheered them. But both must have noticed that the turn out was now a third of what it had been that morning, even with the rain holding off for most of the afternoon. The Gold State Coach splashed its way through puddles and mud until it reached Buckingham House where a “coronation breakfast” was to be held. Princess Sophia gave voice to everybody’s thoughts by asking, “Isn’t it rather late for breakfast?”. Nonetheless, the 200 guests invited enjoyed lavish hospitality that far exceeded the banquets of old, leading some to wonder why it had been replaced at all. A “coronation breakfast” was never held again and the banquet of old was revived the next time around.

The following morning, the Queen complained of sickness and fatigue, no doubt brought on by the previous days weather and exertions. But when she had not shown signs of improvement two days later, the Mistress of the Robes, Lady Cholmondeley, asked for Sir Andrew Halliday to examine Her Majesty. To everyone’s surprise (and delight), the Queen was expecting again. The King was in such a joyous mood from the coronation that he was “practically floating on air” and even took a walk in Hyde Park with the Marquess of Cholmondeley, beaming at passers by as he went. Despite their differences, the King and Queen had learned to appreciate one another, at least enough to do their duty in the royal bedchamber. On Sunday 6th August 1820, the King and Queen attended church and prayers were said for the future prince or princess. In his contentment, the King had no idea that at Oatlands, Princess Frederica had just breathed her last.


Frederica, Princess of Prussia.

The news reached the King the following morning. Lord Bloomfield, acting as Private Secretary to the Sovereign, wrote; “When the King was consulted upon the subject of the funeral, he at once determined that every wish of his lamented former spouse should be complied with; and directions were accordingly given that the obsequies should be performed as she had requested, with as little ostentation as possible”. This was relayed to parliament and the press but again, the court gossip mongers saw to it that another version of events seeped out into the public arena. According to their account of things, the King had wanted to give his former wife a grand ceremonial funeral at Windsor with an internment at St George’s Chapel. The Queen had forbidden it. This caught the public imagination quickly, especially given the popularity of the late Princess. The diarist Charles Greville noted; “Probably no person in such a situation was ever more really liked than the Duchess of York. She has left £12,000 to her servants and to some children in the local village whom she had cause to be educated”.

The funeral was held at St James’ Church, Weybridge on the 13th of August. Several members of the Royal Family were in attendance and Frederica’s coffin was lowered into the chancel which the King later restored so that a permanent memorial could be installed. So grieved by her loss were the local villagers that they collected money to erect a sundial on the village green near Oatlands paying tribute to “Frederica Charlotte Ulrica Catherina, Duchess of York, who resided for upwards of thirty years at Oatlands in this parish, exercising every Christian virtue, and died, universally regretted on the 6th Day of August 1820”. The King was moved by the public outpouring of grief for his former wife and spent the night at Oatlands for the first time in well over a decade. He mourned her as an old friend and though Lady Campbell noted that the Queen showed “no jealousy or animosity to this”, the public thought otherwise. As Greville noted; “That the Queen could not bring herself to attend the funeral of the beloved Duchess is a stain on her character that the people will never allow to be purged. Diminished in mind she may have been, but in her heart, the Duchess was more good, more virtuous and more loved by this nation than her successor could ever be”. [2]


The memorial to Frederica in Weybridge.

Viscountess Sydney, one of the Queen’s ladies of the bedchamber, represented Queen Louise at Frederica’s funeral. Upon her return to London, the Queen asked for a report of the day’s events. Lady Sydney was in her early 80s and prone to displays of emotion. She felt the loss of the Princess very deeply as she had once been very close to her. She began to weep, relaying that the Princess was “very sincerely mourned by the people”. When she finished her account, the Queen stood up without a word and left the room followed by Lady Melville and Lady Campbell. When the poor Viscountess rose to do the same, the Queen barked; “Do not approach!” and the doors were closed leaving a confused Lady Sydney out of the royal presence for the rest of the day. This continued for a week until the Mistress of the Robes was forced to go to a frantic Lady Sydney and advise her that the Queen no longer required her services at court. The Viscountess had been in royal service for almost 60 years. She ended her days at Frognal in Sidcup, dying in solitude at a small dower house on the estate, at the age of 90.

Many feared that the Queen may battle with the Prime Minister again over appointments to her household but to everybody’s relief, she did not. Viscountess Sydney was replaced by Lady Elizabeth Somerset, the 23-year-old daughter of the Duke of Beaufort. Lady Elizabeth was the goddaughter of the Marquess of Cholmondeley, he being a close friend of the Beaufort family. Indeed, many historians suggest that it was the Marquess who proposed Lady Elizabeth as a candidate for the post of lady of the bedchamber to the Prime Minister after a weekend spent with the Beauforts at Badminton. Though she accepted the appointment in principle, the Queen made life difficult for Lady Elizabeth before relenting and allowing her to join her other ladies in her company to play cards. The Duke of Beaufort had hoped that by securing her a place in the Queen’s household, his daughter might make a good match. [3]

In September, the court moved to Windsor. The entire Royal Family were invited, including the Clarences. The Queen had insisted the Duchess attend even though she was heavily pregnant. The King wished to see his niece, Princess Victoria, who had been lodged with the Clarences since the departure of the Duchess of Kent earlier that year. The King noted that his niece was “a content fat little baby with a sweet nature” and Victoria was allowed to play in the nursery which housed her cousin, the Prince of Wales, who was equally fussed and fawned over by members of the extended family. But after a few days, the little Princess was growing restless and noisy and the Duchess asked Lady Elizabeth Somerset to take her for a walk in the park. The King also happened to be out walking that afternoon and stopped to admire his niece. He also found much to admire in Lady Elizabeth too.


Lady Elizabeth Somerset.

Over the coming weeks, the King seemed to spend more and more time with the Queen but only, Lady Campbell noticed, when Lady Elizabeth was present. He invited the Duke of Beaufort to Windsor for dinner where he “sang the praises of Lady Elizabeth most profusely, indeed, we thought the King had taken too much wine for he began reciting poetry, very romantic poetry at that, to the young lady in the company of the Queen. The Queen was not amused in the least and suggested Lady Elizabeth return to Badminton with her father for a few days on a little holiday. But the King would not allow it and said that he wanted Lady Elizabeth by the Queen’s side because, the Queen expecting once again, needed much attention and care”. Lady Elizabeth had captured George IV’s interest and their love affair began in earnest, the pair spending more and more time together privately away from the Queen.

The court was predictably discrete. It was not unusual for the King to take a mistress; it was less unusual that one of the Queen’s ladies might take his eye from time to time. As Duke of York, George IV had sustained several relationships whilst married to his former wife and though, until now, he had been faithful to the Queen, it was inevitable that one day he would enjoy a flirtation outside of the royal marriage. The Ladies of the Bedchamber were not in the least scandalised by the King’s interest in Lady Elizabeth and could not understand why, when the love affair became obvious to all, the Queen reacted quite so badly. “Her Majesty’s condition will undoubtedly make her prone to emotional outrages”, Lady Campbell noted, “But she seethes and sulks all day when she knows the King is with the young lady and makes the time very disagreeable. When Lady Melville asked, quite reasonably, if the Queen would like to take supper a little early, Her Majesty banished her from her presence and refused to eat, saying that poor Lady Melville had ruined her appetite”.

Whilst the Queen may have been a little naïve as to the conventions of royal marriages, the King seemed to become so besotted with Elizabeth Somerset that he occasionally failed to act with the discretion which usually came with such arrangements. Elizabeth was given an allowance to spend on clothes which none of the other ladies of the bedchamber had available to them and her collection of jewels began to increase rapidly. But where the King was foolish, Lady Elizabeth was sensible. She took every insult from the Queen with calmness, she did not flaunt her position as the King’s mistress too boldly and most importantly, she always gave the King what he wanted. As His Majesty’s mood improved; court life suddenly acquired a sense of fun it had not had for some time. On the 12th of November, a costume ball was held at Lady Elizabeth’s suggestion. The Queen did not attend and the King, dressed as his predecessor King Edward IV, spent the entire evening in the company of his mistress who just so happened to be dressed as Elizabeth Woodville. [4]

On the 10th of December 1820, the Duchess of Clarence gave birth to a daughter, Princess Elizabeth. The Duchess had lost both of her previous babies at birth and when the new Princess arrived six weeks early, there was panic at Clarence House. She was christened by the Bishop of London later that day at St James’ Palace in a sombre atmosphere. Nobody expected her to live. Meanwhile, the court returned to London from Windsor to celebrate Christmas but Queen Louise elected to remain at Windsor instead. Somewhat insensitively, she wrote a long letter to the Duchess of Clarence bemoaning her fate and complaining bitterly about the King’s “obsession with the Beaufort”. The Duchess replied full of kindness and generosity considering her situation but her ladies were quietly furious with the Queen for “adding to Her Royal Highness’ terrible burden with silly problems of her own”. Adelaide nursed her daughter for 12 weeks but in vain. Princess Elizabeth died on the 10th of March 1821.

A month earlier, the King sold Oatlands Palace. Initially, George suggested that it was his intention to take a new country house as a gift for the Queen on the birth of her second child and the proceeds from the sale of Oatlands would pay for it. He had settled on Gloucestershire as a location for this generous present and was to head to the county for three weeks to inspect properties there. He would stay at Badminton House as a guest of the Duke of Beaufort. Nobody was fooled for a moment. The King wanted a bolt hole to entertain his mistress away from the prying eyes of the court – and the Queen. Whilst touring Gloucestershire with Lady Elizabeth, staying in some of the grandest houses in the country, it was suggested that His Majesty might consider a visit to Lechlade Manor which had recently come up for sale again.



Lechlade had been a manor in possession of the Crown until the 16th century when it was sold. [5] An imposing building with a considerable estate, it’s most recent occupant and owner was Sir Jacob Wheate, a Gloucestershire baronet who was forced to sacrifice Lechlade to pay his enormous gambling debts. The estate changed hands twice between 1777 and 1821 before it was put up for sale again with an asking price of £5,000 (the equivalent of around £460,000 today). The previous owners had refurbished the manor at great personal expense before moving on and thus Lechlade required no costly refurbishment. Whilst the furniture was not included in the price, the King decided he could easily kit out his new country house from what was currently in storage from Oatlands. Lechlade was perfect. The King purchased the house and upon acquiring the deed, placed it in a wooden box with a note witnessed by the Marquess of Cholmondeley which said that upon the King’s death, the house and all its contents were to be bequeathed to Lady Elizabeth Somerset.

Soon after the purchase of Lechlade, Lady Elizabeth left the Queen’s Household. She did not leave in disgrace, neither did the Queen force the King to have her dismissed by the Prime Minister. The most logical explanation is that the King had decided to prolong his relationship with her and did not wish her to remain in the household of his wife where her every movement would be followed by the Queen or her ladies of the bedchamber. But she did not disappear from court, rather, she attended as a personal guest of the King in her own right rather than as a member of the Royal Household. The King visited Elizabeth as often as he could at Lechlade and even invited her to join him on his proposed tour of Ireland in August.

In the past, courtiers had often felt sympathy for royal wives where the King’s mistress was concerned but nobody expressed any sentiment of regret for the hurt feelings of Queen Louise. Rather than accept her husband’s mistress as a somewhat unpleasant by-product of life as a Queen consort, Louise became even more ill-tempered and brusque than usual. Heavily pregnant, she refused to receive the King at all at Windsor and when she heard that he had purchased a country house, supposedly on the pretext that he wished to give her a gift to mark the birth of their second child, she swore never to set foot there. Most knew she was unlikely ever to receive an invitation to Lechlade anyway.

With tensions running high and the Queen’s ladies determined to try and find ways to please her, Lady Cholmondeley breathed a sigh of relief when the King instructed her to invite the Queen’s mother to England for last months of the Queen’s pregnancy. He also commanded the Marchioness to recruit the same medical team from Hanover which had delivered the Prince of Wales the previous year. Landgravine Caroline accepted and returned a letter with the names of the household and medical staff she intended to bring with her. One name on the list was new to Lady Cholmondeley, that of the recently appointed Deputy Steward of Landgrave Frederick’s Household at Rumpenheim. In a few months’ time, the entire court would know only too well the name Joachim Pepke.

[1] This account of the Coronation is a blend of a watered-down version of the Coronation of George IV (Prince Regent) in the OTL, which remains the most expensive on record, and a more traditional version than the OTL Coronation of William IV, which had to be changed to fit the political atmosphere of the day.

[2] Bloomfield’s words here are actually from an obituary of the Duchess of York in the OTL whilst I’ve added on a little to what Greville actually wrote in his diary to fit this TL. Otherwise it’s pretty much word for word.

[3] Beaufort was a Tory in good standing with many daughters available to attend the Queen consort. Lady Cholmondeley’s son in the OTL married a daughter of the Duke, Lady Elizabeth’s sister Susan, in 1830.

[4] Masquerades were all the rage at this time in the OTL with costume balls a particular favourite. The King and Lady Elizabeth’s costumes are not only a nod to their affair in this TL but to the Plantagenet Ball later held by Queen Victoria in the OTL in 1842.

[5] There may be a butterfly here but it’s not a huge one. Lechlade was almost definitely leased in 1821 but who actually owned the property is a little more vague. To save getting bogged down in 19th century deed ownership (!), I decided to eject the renters to make the house vacant possession for purchase.

[Note] The photograph of Lechlade used here is the Victorian rebuild and not the one the King would have known in this TL. Unfortunately I can’t find an image of the original Lechlade.
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GIV: Part 10: The Fawn of Rumpenheim


Monthly Donor
King George IV

Part 10: The Fawn of Rumpenheim

Landgravine Caroline of Hesse-Kassel-Rumpenheim arrived in England on the 23rd of March 1821 bringing with her a far bigger entourage than she had travelled with on her previous visits. Her status as the mother of the Queen of Great Britain was displayed for all to see as her procession of twelve carriages made its way to Royal Lodge, Windsor where the Queen had decided to spend her confinement. As well as Caroline’s ladies in waiting, she brought with her the medical team who had delivered the Prince of Wales and the Deputy Steward of her husband’s household, Joachim Pepke. A 32-year-old cavalry officer from Hanover, Pepke’s arrival created much the same stir in Windsor as it had in Rumpenheim. At 6ft 2” tall and with a mass of chestnut brown curly hair and wide brown eyes, Pepke’s beauty was unrivalled but it was his wit, charm and efficiency that impressed his employer most. He had become an essential part of the household at Rumpenheim and the Landgravine had insisted that he accompany her to England that Spring.


Landgravine Caroline.

When Caroline arrived at Royal Lodge, there was a tearful reunion between mother and daughter. Queen Louise was due to give birth in a matter of weeks but her husband was nowhere to be seen. Initially it had been proposed that the King stay at Windsor Castle where he could be kept informed of his wife’s condition as her delivery date drew near, but George had become bored and had set off for Lechlade. The royal marriage was the talk of the court and whilst many today may have sympathy with the Queen for being deserted during the last months of her second pregnancy, few in her employ felt anything other than indifference. Lady Melville wrote in her diary; “His Majesty is in such good humour but the Queen always finds a word to wound him and so he visits less and less. This in turn infuriates the Queen who turns her temper on her ladies who then feel very little sympathy for her situation”.

But the court had a new object of fascination outside of the royal marriage that Spring; Joachim Pepke. Predictably, the ladies of the court were enthralled by his presence from the off and Lady Campbell was reprimanded by Lady Cholmondeley for “thinking too well of him” when she was found walking in the grounds of Royal Lodge with Pepke when she should have been attending Her Majesty. As for Queen Louise personally, she did not meet Pepke for some time after his arrival, the only men allowed into her suite of rooms being those who comprised the Medical Household. But she was said to be intrigued by the stories her ladies told her about Pepke, and though most were probably exaggerated to amuse, it is said that it was Queen Louise who gave Pepke his nickname even before their meeting. At court, he became known as “the Fawn of Rumpenheim”, no doubt on account of his wide eyes which Lady Campbell noted as “by far his most endearing feature”.

On the 16th of April 1821, the Queen gave birth to her second child, a “healthy and fat little daughter” who was given the name Charlotte Louise Augusta in honour of her paternal grandmother, her mother and her maternal aunt, the Duchess of Cambridge. The King returned from Lechlade the moment he received news that his daughter had been born. He wrote that he was “greatly cheered” by the arrival of the little Princess who “brings with her much joy and happiness”. The King elected to remain in Windsor but not at Royal Lodge with his wife. Instead, he lodged himself at the Castle with Lady Elizabeth Somerset. Celebrations were held to mark the birth of the Princess but the Queen, still recovering from childbirth, was not present and remained at Royal Lodge. Landgravine Caroline was said to be furious when she arrived at the Castle to find Lady Elizabeth sat next to the King toasting the birth of her new granddaughter with fine wines whilst the baby’s mother was at Royal Lodge with only her ladies of the bedchamber for company.

Historians agree that it was only after the birth of Princess Charlotte Louise that the Queen met Joachim Pepke for the first time. He must have become a regular fixture in her presence by the time of Princess Charlotte’s christening however because he is mentioned in a letter from Queen Louise to the Duchess of Cambridge in which she describes him as “our good friend Pepke”. For as long as her mother remained in England, Pepke became a permanent figure in the Queen’s Household and though he had no official post in England, he was included in almost every daily activity. His passions in life were artistic and he played the harpsichord “with an unrivalled talent”. The Queen began to stage concerts at Windsor at great expense bringing musicians from far and wide to play for him. Immediately after the christening of Princess Charlotte Louise on the 25th of May 1821, the Queen returned to London with her household (the King remaining at Windsor with Lady Elizabeth) and for the first time, she began to attend theatre performances at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden [1], the Adelphi and the Old Vic. She seemed not to mind the occasional booing as she took her place in the Royal Box, accompanied as she always was by two of her ladies of the bedchamber, her mother and of course, Pepke.

Rumours began circulating that the Queen had taken her revenge on the King for parading his favourite so openly. Pepke was not easily overlooked, his height and good looks setting him apart from the crowd. But his presence seemed to give Louise confidence and her public appearances increased, somewhat improving her poor reputation. These visits were mostly to art galleries or museums. It was Pepke’s influence that saw the Queen take a great interest in the redesign of the British Museum by Sir Robert Smirke which would later cause the King and Queen to come to blows. Following George III’s death, it was unclear as to what would happen to the enormous library he had collated and which had been stored at Buckingham House. There was some debate as to whether the library belonged to the Crown or to the King personally. George IV had no great interest in the library per se but he was keen that the library should be kept together. [2] It was sent to Windsor when building works at Buckingham House began and it was here that the Queen ordered an exhibition of some of the finer works to be displayed for Pepke’s pleasure.


The British Museum.

Pepke said that the collection was so fine it should be sent to the British Museum as a permanent exhibition for all to enjoy. The Queen took this advice as a kind of commandment from the man she was increasingly becoming infatuated with and without consulting the King, did just that. George IV was furious, demanding that the exhibition be cancelled and threatening to sell the entire library to the Russian Tsar to end the debate over its future once and for all [3]. For the first time, the King was annoyed by Pepke and somewhat ungenerously, asked to know when the Queen’s mother would be leaving, thus removing Pepke at the same time. Lady Melville recalled; “Their Majesties were, for the first time, very publicly opposed and there were raised voices and the atmosphere was most tense. We had expected the King to forbid the Fawn to see the Queen again, because His Majesty was very sore over the matter of the library, but he relented and to everybody’s great surprise, allowed Pepke to remain”.

There were several reasons why the King’s decision was not a great surprise to the men of the court. The first was that his presence seemed to please the ladies of the bedchamber and kept them from the petty rivalries and arguments that usually dominated the Queen’s Household. If they were vying for the attention of Pepke rather than the Queen, Her Majesty might find them easier to tolerate. The second was that the King needed the Queen to be in a forgiving mood. Unbeknown to anyone but the King and his closest advisors, “the Beaufort” had been sent to Lechlade and would not be attending court for the foreseeable future. She was expecting. It was inevitable that the Queen would notice or word would reach her and whilst previous consorts had been prepared to look the other way at the King’s mistress falling pregnant and birthing an illegitimate child, Queen Louise’s temperament suggested this was very unlikely. Thirdly, the King had been made aware of something about Joachim Pepke that made him certain that the friendship which existed between the dashing calvary officer from Rumpenheim and his wife was nothing more than that.

During their stay in London, the Queen had taken Pepke to Buckingham House to view the art collection which was to be put into storage at Kew whilst the redesign was taking place. She introduced him to Sir Thomas Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy, who had become an unofficial advisor to Louise when it came to purchasing works of art and Lawrence in turn, impressed by Pepke’s good taste, introduced him to a promising English artist at the Academy called Gilbert Cottesloe. Cottesloe was a 28-year-old portrait artist who had studied under Lawrence and had carved out a moderately successful career. His patron was his lover, the Tory politician William John Banks, a keen Egyptologist and amateur architect whom he met through Lawrence and who leased a house for Cottesloe in Brook Street. His neighbour was Sir Jeffry Wyatville, the architect who had once designed the controversial extension to Kew Palace. Pepke seems to have visited Brook Street for the first time in the first week of June 1821 where Cottesloe began painting his portrait having been commissioned to do so by the Queen.


Pepke by Cottesloe, 1821/22.

In the same week, Landgravine Caroline returned to Rumpenheim but Pepke remained in England. Whether at the Queen’s invitation or not is unclear but by July 1821, Pepke had been replaced in Rumpenheim as Deputy Steward and was permanently resident in London. His friendship with Louise continued to grow closer and when the Queen took Lady Elizabeth Somerset’s absence from court as a sign that her husband had grown bored of his mistress, there was a reconciliation between the King and Queen that came as a relief to the court given the Queen’s temper tantrums were diminished. Keen to find a more permanent reason to keep Pepke close, the Queen asked if he might be found a position in the Royal Household. The King, happy to keep his wife as calm and content as she had become, gained the approval of Lord Liverpool for Pepke to join the household of the infant Prince of Wales. This was more a ceremonial appointment, the Prince being barely more than a year old, but it did give Pepke a legitimate reason to spend time with the Queen.

With his wife preoccupied with entertaining her new favourite, the King proposed that it might not be a good idea for her to accompany him to Ireland in August. He reasoned that the journey was long and the crossing liable to be rough. He would much prefer it if she remained in England where he knew she would be well cared for. In reality, the King was simply taking an opportunity to solve a very different problem. Whilst the Duke of Clarence had many illegitimate children, Lady Elizabeth Somerset’s baby would be the first born to a reigning monarch since that of Melusina von der Schulenburg in 1693, the natural daughter of King George I and his mistress, Melusine, Duchess of Kendal. It would be far more prudent for Lady Elizabeth to accompany the King to Ireland where she could remain behind at Vice Regal Lodge to have her baby in peace – and far away from the Queen and her gossiping ladies. Lady Elizabeth was less than thrilled with this suggestion but she agreed.

The King arrived in Howth on the 12th of August 1821 and was greeted with a city enthused by the royal visit. Dublin was flooded with banners, flags and bunting and there was a firework display to mark the King’s arrival with free porter distributed to spectators paid for by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The following morning, His Majesty made his formal entrance into the city via Sackville Street with his carriage leading a procession of 200 dignitaries. Lady Elizabeth did not accompany him on this journey, remaining at Vice Regal Lodge where she entertained the wives of prominent Irish peers, most of whom had no idea who she was or why she was so important to the King. Regardless of any confusion, the King wooed the people of Dublin by “drinking toasts, shaking people by the hand and calling them all Jack and Tom, like a popular candidate come down upon an electioneering trip”. [3]


The visit of King George IV to Ireland.

The visit was so successful that there was even a suggestion that a petition be launched to fund the building of a Royal Palace in Dublin. The uptake was somewhat lacklustre but it did raise enough funds for a new bridge across the Liffey that would be given the name ‘King’s Bridge’ on its completion. But at the close of the visit, the King seemed to enjoy himself a little less. On a visit to the Albany New Theatre in Hawkins Street, he was said to be “somewhat morose” and instead of attending a grand supper as planned, he returned to Vice Regal Lodge to take his last dinner with Lady Elizabeth Somerset before his return to England. According to a letter written by Somerset to her sister Susan; “The poor dear man wept at the very prospect of our parting. He assured me that all would be well and that we would be reunited soon but I fear that he may grow distracted in England and I shall be left all alone here in this terrible place”. When the King left Ireland on the 3rd of September 1821, he was said to have remarked; “Whenever an opportunity offers wherein I can serve Ireland, I will seize it with eagerness”. He was soon to have a chance to prove his words were not hollow.

Upon his return to England, the King’s mood was low. His obsession with Lady Elizabeth Somerset had boosted his mood considerably in recent months but it had also proved a distraction. The state of his marriage was the subject of constant gossip and chatter and without his mistress to occupy him, he tried to rekindle the early affection and friendship he had enjoyed with the Queen. He found the Queen almost entirely disinterested. Her priority was now her own favourite, Joachim Pepke. Indeed, at Christmas 1821, she all but demanded that the King create Pepke a Baron in Hanover and personally saw to it that he was given a far more generous salary than he had ever enjoyed in Rumpenheim. [5] The King knew that Pepke’s relationship with his wife was entirely platonic and yet plagued by his own lovesickness for “the Beaufort” could not see the potential Pepke’s presence gave for scandal.

Those “in the know” were amused when people suggested Her Majesty took Pepke to her bed. But because homosexuality remained a criminal offence in England, that could never be confirmed and London society had already decided that the Queen was cuckolding her husband with Pepke. If his sexuality were to be confirmed however, it still posed a problem that could perhaps become a far a bigger scandal than that of an extra-marital dalliance in the royal bedchamber. At first, Pepke had been discreet both about his position at court as the Queen’s favourite and about his sexuality, especially his relationship with Cottesloe. But now Cottesloe was joining Pepke at court regularly and though there were no open displays of affection between the two, the men of the court were well are of the situation between them.

As predicted, this only raised eyebrows at court but outside, the rumours concerning the true nature of the Queen’s relationship with Pepke were flying around London, embellished every time with even more shocking – but salacious – tittle tattle. It was even said that the Queen had refused to go to Ireland because she wanted to take Pepke and the King refused to allow it. Another version had the Queen threatening to leave England if Pepke was not made a Baron. The most damaging was that the Queen wished to divorce the King and marry Pepke instead. But some inside the court found it distasteful that the Queen was relying on “a man of that character who so openly displays it with a portrait artist already spoiled by yet another of that type”. [6]

Once again, the Queen found herself the subject of angry gossip. This time, the consequences were more serious. She was on her way to Moorfields where the London Dispensary for Curing Diseases of the Eye and Ear had just been relocated from its former site at Charterhouse Square. Louise had been invited to become its royal patron and to open the new hospital building. She was accompanied by Lady Cholmondeley and Baron Pepke in her carriage which passed through cheering crowds banking either side of City Road before coming to a halt at Peerless Street. As Lady Cholmondeley descended from the carriage, a woman rushed forward from the crowd screaming “Death to the Queen!” and attacked Cholmondeley, pushing the Marchioness to the ground before kicking her. The woman had no weapon and the quick thinking Pepke slammed the carriage door shut before it lurched forward. Lady Cholmondeley was aided into the building and given time to recover but was mostly unharmed spare for a few bruises. Still, it could have much been worse.

The event was reported nation wide but nobody seemed particularly shocked. Whatever the Queen did, whatever her reasons, however genuine they might be, she was decidedly unpopular. This marked a turning point too in that Pepke’s name could now be published. The press did not hold back and whilst they did not directly allege a love affair in so many words, a cartoon appeared in the Manchester Observer portraying Pepke as a poodle at the Queen’s feet with the caption “The Queen’s Most Favourite Pet”. This in itself was not so scandalous until one looked behind the Queen’s throne where the King was depicted weeping and sobbing with the caption “Tears of a Cuckold”. The Prime Minister decided to raise the matter in an audience with the King the following month. His upcoming address to parliament was worrying Liverpool far more than the so-called “War of the Favourites” between Lady Elizabeth Somerset and Baron Pepke.

It was Liverpool’s intention to introduce a bill to allow Roman Catholic peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords. Previous attempts at Catholic emancipation had been derailed and in 1801, Pitt the Younger had been forced to resign when his attempt to introduce concessions to Catholics had been strongly opposed by King George III who felt that the reforms contravened his coronation oath. Whilst as a royal duke King George IV had shown no great interest in politics, especially the issue of Catholic emancipation, the King’s brothers were not so shy about making their position known. The late Prince Regent had made it clear that he would never countenance the prospect of giving royal assent to any form of emancipation law on the same principle as his father. The 1822 bill was expected to pass House of Commons but in the House of Lords, the Duke of Cumberland had earned a reputation for delivering ferociously anti-Catholic speeches and Lord Liverpool was concerned that if the King took a position before the bill was introduced, Cumberland may rally support to defeat it.


Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

Liverpool asked to see the King at Windsor. Whilst it was true he had shown no great interest in politics outside of the military before now, the King regretfully explained to Lord Liverpool that he felt much the same as his father had about Catholic emancipation. Whilst he personally had no great issue with Catholic peers, his coronation oath demanded his loyalties must be with the Church of England. He reassured the Prime Minister that he would make no public indication of his views but he could not direct the Duke of Cumberland to remain silent on the bill, it was his right as a member of the Lords to make speeches and rally support against bills he did not agree with. Liverpool was disappointed, especially in light of the King’s statement in Ireland that he would “seize every opportunity” to help his Catholic subjects. He had hoped that the King might repeat the sentiment in his address to parliament but it was clear the King was not inclined to do so.

But Liverpool had another concern too; royal expenditure. Since his accession, the King had honoured his agreement to ask for no increase in the Civil List under the five-year plan which followed the Kew Scandal. His 1821 speech made no mention of royal finances at all but with the works at Buckingham House (now renamed Buckingham Palace) going well over budget, Liverpool anticipated that His Majesty intended to abandon his promise. “It is a matter of personal regret that I did not raise this matter with the King at Windsor”, Liverpool later wrote, “If I had, the course might have been very different indeed”. Instead, the Prime Minister urged the King to consider the importance of the Queen’s popularity (or lack of it) and whilst she had not attended the State Opening of Parliament since the accession due to pregnancy, her presence would prove to be “of great importance for the spectators”. The Queen declined. She preferred to remain at Royal Lodge, now her favourite residence, with Pepke where they had begun work on a tapestry depicting the Royal Family tree.

It was the Royal Family, or rather the extended Royal Family, who began to make the King consider the presence of Pepke at his court rather more seriously. In Leiningen, the Duchess of Kent had heard about the Queen’s new favourite and had wasted no time in embroidering the story to it’s very worst and sharing the gossip with her relatives in Coburg. In a complicated game of royal Chinese whispers, the end result was that Princess Augusta, the King’s sister, received a letter from Princess Elizabeth in Frankfurt which shocked her to the core. It appeared that every European royal court was gleefully indulging themselves on the Duchess of Kent’s stories from England which cast the King as a “silly old fool who has taken an ugly Duke’s daughter to his bed” and the Queen as “besotted with a man she frequently lays with and whom many believe is the true father of the little Princess”. This is why, it was explained to those feasting on the tale, the King had not been present for the birth of Princess Charlotte Louise and why she had not been made Princess Royal.


Princess Augusta.

This was categorically untrue, of course. Pepke had only arrived in England during the Queen’s second pregnancy and hadn’t met Louise until after Charlotte Louise was born. She had not been made Princess Royal because the King’s sister Charlotte (Queen of Württemberg) still held the title and it was simply not available. The King hadn’t attended the birth because he was at Lechlade with his mistress and for all her faults, the Queen could hardly be accused of bedding a man whom the entire court knew was actually deeply in love with a male portrait artist in Brook Street. Whilst Princess Augusta most likely knew this to be the case, she clearly felt the gossip damaging to her family and took Princess Elizabeth’s letter directly to her brother, the King. The entire family, she insisted, wanted to see Pepke dismissed and the Queen strongly disciplined for her behaviour. She said nothing of Lady Elizabeth Somerset.

Though she protested that the Duchess of Kent was always bound to be bitter and spread gossip after her departure from England, Queen Louise objected that the King knew there was no truth to the rumours circulating in Europe at all. She absolutely refused to give up Pepke and insisted she would never receive Princess Augusta again for “peddling vicious and filthy tales”. A compromise of sorts was made. Pepke could no longer accompany the Queen in public or attend court outside of his official post with the household of the Prince of Wales but he would be allowed to visit the Queen occasionally at Royal Lodge, Windsor. The Queen reluctantly accepted. on condition she was free to invite Pepke to Royal Lodge whenever she wished. The King agreed, feeling the bargain fair. Pepke would be out of the public eye yet his wife would still be content with a man she had come to rely on, if only for emotional support. Perhaps there was a trace of guilt too. In Ireland, the King’s mistress was only a few months away from giving birth to his illegitimate son.


Frogmore Cottage pictured in 1872.

Whilst the King readied himself to address parliament, the Queen was at Royal Lodge with Pepke. Her relationship with her sister-in-law Augusta had been cordial and friendly since her arrival in England but now she made it clear that Augusta had blotted her copy book. She was not invited to join the Queen at any time during her stay at Royal Lodge and furthermore, the Princess would have to face the reason why on a daily basis. In the gardens of the Princess’ residence, Frogmore House, stood Frogmore Cottage built by Queen Charlotte in 1801. It had been vacant since the Queen’s death but now it was offered to the Queen’s favourite; Baron Pepke. Louise promised that he would be given a generous sum to refurbish it to his own taste and furthermore, he would be allowed a larger household staff which the Queen would personally pay for. When the Lord Chamberlain questioned the cost, the Queen said, “But we shall save a fortune now we are not bound to pay the debts of the Coburg creature”. To punish his sister-in-law for her gossiping, the King had suspended any future monies set aside under their agreement to pay the late Duke of Kent’s debts.

Money was the issue of the day in London too. As Lord Liverpool feared, the King made his address which included the following; “For as much as I appreciate the careful consideration of my Lords and Gentlemen assembled in my interest in the hereditary revenues of the Crown, it has been many years since these arrangements were advanced before you. Measures regarding this matter, in which I ask only for sensible progress, will be laid before you”. In the King’s presence, nobody dare make a sound but Lord Liverpool felt the weight of the world suddenly thrust upon his shoulders. The King had broken his promise. Not only that but he had forced Liverpool to lie to the House when just a few days earlier, the Prime Minister had asserted that there would be no increase to the royal expenditure. Whilst the King’s domestic troubles had thus far proven stressful, this was to be nothing compared to what was to come in the latter half of 1822.

[1] Now the Royal Opera House.

[2] A small butterfly here. In the OTL, George IV (Prince Regent) dragged this argument out until 1823 when he finally gave the library to the nation. Parliament then agreed the library should be stored at the British Museum. But it’s a useful tool for drama here and the George IV of this TL was a) distracted by other things and b) not nearly as interested in collecting as his late brother was.

[3] As the OTL George IV considered.

[4] This is modelled on the visit of the OTL George IV (Prince Regent).

[5] This wasn’t unusual. Louise Lehzen was created a Baroness in Hanover by George IV (Prince Regent) in the OTL so that Princess Victoria wasn’t served by commoners in the royal nursery.

[6] Obviously as a gay man myself this is not my attitude to homosexuality but a historical one included for accuracy!

[Note] All images from Wikipedia. The portrait of Pepke here is a work from around that time titled "Gentleman in Yellow" which seemed a good fit for the character, much like the portrait of an unknown woman used to represent Lady Elizabeth Somerset in the previous installment. The image of the Duke of Cumberland is from the NPG.
I’m far from an expert on British royals or court drama, but this is very well-written and the narrative is both detailed and engaging. I also liked the section about Pepke, and I hope he’ll be able to keep the Queen reasonably happy and avoid being the subject of any more nasty court drama. Even though her attitude is clearly causing problems at court, I can understand her frustration at having to grin and bear her husband’s infidelity and lacking a true support network of her own. Louise’s actions make her unlikeable, but she isn’t just a monster with cruelty as her one defining trait.


Monthly Donor
I’m far from an expert on British royals or court drama, but this is very well-written and the narrative is both detailed and engaging. I also liked the section about Pepke, and I hope he’ll be able to keep the Queen reasonably happy and avoid being the subject of any more nasty court drama. Even though her attitude is clearly causing problems at court, I can understand her frustration at having to grin and bear her husband’s infidelity and lacking a true support network of her own. Louise’s actions make her unlikeable, but she isn’t just a monster with cruelty as her one defining trait.
Thank you so much for your comments, I really appreciate this feedback! It's great to see people engaging with the TL and giving their opinions of the characters, it helps me when I come to write new installments. Thanks again!


Monthly Donor
Thanks guys! I've been under the weather for a week or so (thankfully not the dreaded Covid) but feeling much better and working on a new installment.
GIV: Part 11: Scotland's Beloved Sovereigns


Monthly Donor
King George IV

Part Eleven: Scotland’s Beloved Sovereigns

In the immediate aftermath of George IV’s address to parliament, Lord Liverpool met with the King at St James’ Palace. The audience was tense. The King had given no indication that he would submit proposals for an increase to the Civil List, or that he would break his promise just days after the Prime Minister had reassured parliament that he would not. Lord Liverpool made his position clear. Believing himself to have the full backing of his Cabinet, he threatened that the entire government would resign if the King insisted on bringing forward demands for an increase in the Civil List. But the King had already taken advice. Unbeknown to Lord Liverpool, there were those in his Cabinet who had dined privately with the King in the days that preceded George IV’s address and they were far more amenable to the King’s request. In reality, Lord Liverpool himself might have been agreeable to an increase too but feeling that the King had wrong footed him, not to mention forcing him to lie in parliament, the Prime Minister felt he had no other option but to resign. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nicholas Vansittart, followed suit. But the Tories had a strong majority and few in the Cabinet felt it worth risking for a matter that could easily be resolved through compromise.

The King asked Liverpool whom he should appoint as the Prime Minister’s successor. Liverpool proposed George Canning, the President of the Board of Control. Canning was popular both inside and outside of parliament and had been a strong supporter of Catholic Emancipation. But his recent attempts to introduce a bill to allow Roman Catholic peers had been defeated in the House of Lords, mostly due to the King’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, rallying support against it. Canning was received by the King on the 7th of February 1822 where the King asked if he would form a government. Canning had two conditions; that any increase to the Civil List would be delayed for a year and that the King would not speak publicly if a Canning administration tried to introduce further measures regarding Catholic emancipation. Whilst His Majesty was willing to compromise on the former, he could give no assurance to the latter and thus, Canning declined the appointment.

The King had honoured convention by asking the departing Prime Minister whom he should call as his successor but when Canning refused to take up the office, the field was widened to those the King felt he could personally rely on for support. Among the Liverpool ministry, the most obvious choice was Lord Eldon. Eldon had proved his loyalty to the Crown time and time again and was once regarded as “the Prince Regent’s man”, fighting his corner in parliament and in public whenever the opportunity arose. Eldon had continued to demonstrate that loyalty as Lord Chancellor during the latter years of the regency of George III, particularly in helping George IV put aside his first wife via the Court of Arches. The King trusted Eldon to sympathise with his demands for an increase to the Civil List but he also appreciated Eldon’s anti-Catholic zeal which had earned him a reputation as “the valiant Anglican”. Indeed, when Canning’s recent bill concerning Catholic peers had been defeated, Eldon was said to have “drank a toast to the year 1688 and the glorious and immortal memory of William III”. [1]


Lord Eldon, Prime Minister.

Lord Eldon was received at St James’ Palace on the 8th of February 1822 and accepted the King’s offer to form a government. He would replace Lord Liverpool as Leader of the House of Lords but required a staunch Cabinet ally to serve as Leader of the House of Commons; he found one in Robert Peel, the recently appointed Home Secretary considered to be a rising star among leading Tory parliamentarians. [2] The new Chancellor was a political ally of Peel, and like him, known for his anti-Catholic views; Goulburn was promoted from his post as Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. These appointments made clear the direction Lord Eldon would take as Prime Minister and unsurprisingly, staunch supporters of Catholic Emancipation such as the Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, were replaced in a reshuffle which would see the appointment of the so-called “Orange Cabinet”.

In the early days of the new government, the King chose not to press for his pay rise. Presumably because he believed Lord Eldon would introduce the measures in the coming weeks, George held audiences with the new Cabinet ministers before departing for Lechlade in the third week of February. The King waited anxiously there for the reunion he had longed for since his visit to Ireland the previous August; the Beaufort was returning to England. She was not alone. On January 14th 1822, Lady Elizabeth Somerset had given birth to a son. The question of what to do about the king’s illegitimate son had fallen into the lap of his newly appointed Private Secretary, Sir William Knighton. The auditor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Knighton had made financial arrangements to provide Lady Elizabeth and her child with a generous allowance during their time in Ireland and this would continue now they had returned to England. Knighton had also found a solution to the tricky matter of the child’s surname.

Lady Elizabeth’s son was named Granville Frederick Henry in honour of Lady Elizabeth’s brother Lord Granville Somerset, the King and Lady Elizabeth’s father, the Duke of Beaufort. He was given the surname Fitzroy Somerset, a clear confirmation of his royal parentage and on February 25th, 1822, he was baptised at St Lawrence’s Church in Lechlade with Letters Patent issued creating the baby boy Earl of Ulster, Viscount Fitzroy and Baron Lechlade. [3] He was to be raised at Lechlade but neither he nor his mother were to be kept away from court. Indeed, less than two months after her return from Ireland, Lady Elizabeth made the journey to Windsor. Lady Campbell recorded that “the Queen was furious to be confronted with the Beaufort and the bastard child in the courtyard and though at a distance, the Beaufort curtseyed which only seemed to anger Her Majesty more. She was in such a rage that she withdrew again to London and refused to receive His Majesty before departing”.

At court, there was absolutely no doubt that Lady Elizabeth’s child had been fathered by the King and many noted that His Majesty “doted on the little boy who was no stranger to the royal nursery whilst at Windsor”. Queen Louise was painfully aware that Lady Elizabeth was to remain a permanent fixture at court. According to Lady Campbell, “Her Majesty resigned herself to the fact but forbad any mention of the Beaufort or her child in her presence”. Frustrated and tired, the Queen took this opportunity to break her promise to her husband and travelled to London with Baron Pepke. They were once again seen in public together, the “handsome Baron resplendent in a fine military uniform with a glittering diamond at his breast said to be a gift from the Queen and purchased from the Raja of Jaipur by Her Majesty at great expense”.

Whilst the Queen may have taken some comfort in the fact that she still had the support and comfort of her close friend Pepke, the Baron himself was growing increasingly tired of life at court. Since being granted the use of Frogmore Cottage by the Queen, the renovations to the property had landed him in debt when the Lord Chamberlain refused to reimburse his costs. His early popularity at court had shifted to a general attitude of suspicion and disapproval and many of the gentlemen of the court refused to talk to him. Even the ladies of the bedchamber had begun to find Pepke tiresome, his enthusiasm for the arts, music and theatre forcing them to travel widely to take in performances or visit museums and galleries. But more than this, Pepke’s attitude had changed and he had begun to revel somewhat in his position as the Queen’s favourite. He was now becoming arrogant and far less discrete than he had been, installing his lover Gilbert Cottesloe with him at Frogmore.


Frogmore Cottage, said to have been painted by Cottesloe, 1821.

Queen Louise remained oblivious to both Pepke’s falling popularity and his growing disinterest in her. Whilst he was undoubtedly fond of the Queen and considered her a friend, the return of Lady Elizabeth Somerset had brought out a possessiveness in Queen Louise which Pepke found hard to take. She expected him to take breakfast with her every morning and when he was late after walking in the grounds of Royal Lodge with Cottesloe, the Queen sulked and forced him to sit alone in the library for hours, refusing him permission to leave. When he returned to his home in Brook Street instead of staying at St James’ Palace with the Queen on a visit to London, the Queen sent a carriage to collect him in the middle of the night and wailed and wept until he was brought safely back to her. Pepke needed an escape and fast. He knew he could not return to Rumpenheim, his reputation there had declined as court gossip had reached his former employers. Instead, he and Cottesloe decided to leave England for good on the pretext of a brief art tour. Like many homosexuals of the early 19th century, they had decided to resettle in the Mezzogiorno of Italy where homosexuality was tolerated if not fully accepted and which had drawn many British gay men to embrace Italy as their home.

Pepke’s plan backfired. When he informed the Queen that he was to tour Italy with a view to seeking out some new pieces for her collection, Queen Louise was delighted. So enthused was she by the idea that she insisted on accompanying Pepke. She immediately ordered her ladies of the bedchamber to begin preparations for “a grand tour” and even summoned the new Foreign Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, to ask for his help and advice on the matter. Sidmouth was clear that any such journey would be a private one with no public engagements scheduled or diplomatic meetings arranged. He also asked when the tour was proposed to begin. Following the success of the King’s visit to Ireland, the Liverpool government had begun to consider a similar visit to Scotland and the new Prime Minister, Lord Eldon, intended to stick with the proposal. The Scottish tour was scheduled for August and it was felt vital that the Queen accompany the King, her absence in Ireland the previous year not going without mention in the press. Sidmouth tried to impress the importance of the Queen’s presence in Scotland as much as he could, without drawing attention to the obvious; she was deeply unpopular and needed to grasp every opportunity she could to restore her reputation. But the Queen was unmoved.

The King’s visit to Scotland was by far the grandest event planned since his coronation and took many weeks of planning. The government asked Sir Walter Scott, the author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, to plan every detail of the visit with the aim of endearing the Crown to the people of Scotland and Scott immediately set about staging a visit packed with pageantry. When the committee planning the visit met with the King, Scott convinced him that he was not only a Stuart prince but also a Jacobite Highlander and as such, could rightly wear a highland outfit of bright red tartan complete with gold chains, dirk, sword and pistols. Greatly taken with this notion, the King commissioned George Hunter & Co of London to provide him with his “Scotlander Uniform” which he would wear as he greeted an impressive assembly of Highland societies and Clan chieftains. Every man in the royal party would wear a kilt, a form of dress once proscribed, but now given full royal approval.


The HMS Royal George at Leith.

The King and Queen were to stay at Dalkeith House some seven miles from Edinburgh as Holyrood Palace was not in a fit state to accommodate them. Their entry into the city was planned in such fine detail that a booklet was even published outlining what members of the public should wear; for gentlemen, a uniform blue coat, white waistcoat and a cockade in the form of St Andrew’s Saltire on a blue background and for women, “tartan ribbon to be worn as a sash over a white dress with the flowers of Scotland given priority over English blooms and blossoms”. The peers of Scotland would entertain Their Majesties at a “Highland Ball” and it was specified that “no Gentleman is to be allowed to appear in anything but the ancient Highland costume”. To everyone’s surprise, public enthusiasm for the visit skyrocketed and cities, towns and villages planned their own celebrations and events, even those miles from Edinburgh where the King and Queen were not scheduled to visit.

For as much as he believed his wife to be more popular than she was, the King was not as oblivious as she to the evident animosity that existed towards Queen Louise. He felt that her presence in Scotland could provide an opportunity for a clean break and a careful rebranding of her public image. He was also well aware that the royal marriage was the subject of intense gossip thanks to the return of Lady Elizabeth Somerset and the child in her arms. For Their Majesties to be seen publicly, united as a couple, devoted to duty and dedicated to their country, was crucially important. Furthermore, the government was placing the highest hopes for the visit to Scotland to go well and if it did not, they may be unlikely to remain sympathetic to the King’s requests for an increase to the Civil List. For the first time in their marriage, the King was to put his foot down and order his wife to obey him. She would not go to Italy. She would instead, accompany him to Scotland.

The Queen did not respond to the order well. In a fit of rage, she withdrew to Royal Lodge and forbad any of the King’s household into her presence to discuss the visit. She refused to be fitted for the gowns that had been designed for her to wear and feigned sickness when the King visited so that she didn’t have to converse with him. The King played his hand well. “If the Queen is unwell, she must not be bothered by frivolous people”, he commanded Lady Cholmondeley. Baron Pepke was not to visit the Queen and to make sure this arrangement was honoured; the King placed a guard outside Royal Lodge to ensure Pepke was not admitted. This suited Pepke who seized the opportunity to abandon Frogmore Cottage for Brook Street to prepare for his tour of Italy. After a few days of solitary confinement, the Queen softened somewhat. She agreed to view the proposed itinerary for Scotland. Her change of attitude did not last. Lady Elizabeth Somerset was to be included in the royal party.

The King and Queen would sail to Scotland aboard the royal yacht, the HMS Royal George, with a brief visit to Brighton en route to Southampton where work on the Royal Pavilion begun by the Prince Regent had finally been completed. The Pavilion was to play host to a garden party with the King and Queen receiving important local dignitaries and those who would join them on their visit to Scotland. It was during this garden party that those who hoped the royal couple might put aside their differences for the sake of duty grew concerned. After just ten minutes meeting and greeting invited guests, the Queen said that she had a bad headache and would prefer to rest. The King stayed but was visibly angry and was overheard to complain that the Queen was “an impossible woman”. Their overnight stay at the Pavilion gave the opportunity for a grand dinner which the Prime Minister attended as well as other members of the Royal Family; but the Queen was absent. “I shall not eat at the same table as the King’s whore”, she declared, “No man can ask that of me”.

George IV and Queen Louise arrived in the Firth of Forth at noon on the 14th of August 1822 but the landing had to be postponed due to torrential rain. Despite the weather, Scott rowed out to see the King and presented him with a jewel designed and embroidered by the ladies of Edinburgh. Encrusted with rubies, emeralds, brilliants and topaz, the jewel was inscribed with “Righ Albainn gu brath” – “Long Life for the King”. For the Queen, there was also a gift of jewellery in the form of a tiara, again designed by the ladies of Edinburgh but presented as “a token of great esteem and affection by the Chieftains of the Clans of Scotland”. Nicknamed the Clans Tiara, the bandeau is formed of diamonds and sapphires with five detachable buttons which can be worn as brooches. “The Queen was in good cheer at the presentation of the gifts and thanked Sir Walter most charmingly”, recalled Lady Melville, noting also that Scott presented her with a bouquet of wildflowers and heather “which delighted her”.


Sir Walter Scott

When they finally landed the following day at the quayside of The Shore in Leith, Their Majesties stepped ashore onto a red carpet strewn with flowers to greet the crowds. The Times reported that those who had assembled to greet them “were counted into many thousands” and that “the rowdy and loud shouts from the Scots people amused and cheered the King and Queen greatly”. As they entered their carriage, there were cheers and applause, the King impressing his Scottish subjects when he noticed a little girl holding a bunch of heather trying to force her way through the legs of a crowd of adults. Bending down, the King lifted the little girl aloft and took her to the side of the carriage where she handed the Queen her gift. The Queen smiled warmly and stroked the little girl’s hair with her gloved hand. Putting her back down, the King laughed gaily and waved triumphantly to the crowd which roared with approval. As they approached a specially constructed gateway to the city of Edinburgh, the King was presented with the keys to the city and in an impromptu address, he thanked the people of Edinburgh for their kind welcome which “won all hearts”.

Those in the Royal Household accompanying the King and Queen noted that in public, both were careful to appear happy and contented. In private, the Queen was still hurt that the King had included Lady Elizabeth Somerset in the party but any feelings of jealousy or anger were suppressed as Louise seemed to grasp the importance of their tour. She stuck fast to her rule that she would not dine with her husband’s mistress and, perhaps as a peace offering, the King struck his mistress from the guest list of all public dinners. In private, he dined with Lady Elizabeth alone as the Queen ate with her ladies of the bedchamber. On the 15th of August, the royal schedule was cleared to allow the King and Queen a day of privacy at Dalkeith but they spent only an hour in each other’s company. The Queen had still not given up hope of joining Pepke in Italy and raised the matter with the King as they took tea together. Without a word, the King slammed his hand down upon the tea table and marched out of the room.

The pageantry for the visit was far more medieval than it was Highland and perhaps because of this, accounts of the tour captured the public’s imagination in England as well as in Scotland. Indeed, many Britons in border towns risked making the long journey to Edinburgh hoping to catch sight of the royal couple. Since their marriage, Queen Louise’s public appearances had been few and whilst she was unpopular on the whole, many were intrigued to see if the woman they had been led to dislike was really as bad as was suggested. The public’s affection for the King however had not been dampened by the change of government and his role in it. Whilst naturally there were still radical anti-monarchist elements in the north of England, Lord Eldon had slowly relaxed some of the harsher restrictions on public assembly imposed by Lord Liverpool following Peterloo and many made the assumption that this was somehow the result of the King’s influence. The Times spoke of George IV as “an enlightened prince” and “a man of great dedication and duty to his subjects, indeed, he has travelled the length of his Kingdom within just a few years of his accession to greet his people who prove time and time again they are devoted to the man himself and the Crown he represents”. In Scotland, newspapers hailed the King and Queen as “Scotland’s Beloved Sovereigns”.

On the 20th of August, a ceremony dubbed The King’s Drawing Room was held wherein 457 ladies were presented to His Majesty. Custom required that he kiss each one on the cheek and the King was said to find the whole event so amusing that he frequently collapsed into giggles, the young ladies doing likewise and leading all present to comment on his good humour and sense of fun. The Queen too seemed to have relaxed into the visit by this time and was reported to have stood beside her husband as he greeted the ladies of the Drawing Room, tears of laughter streaming down her face and quickly taking up the custom herself, kissing the chuckling debutantes as they passed by. Both the King and Queen had greatly taken to the Scottish people and seemed to genuinely enjoy their tour. There was rapprochement too. On the evening of the Drawing Room, the King arranged for Lady Elizabeth Somerset to be entertained by Walter Scott at his home whilst the King and Queen spent the evening together for the first time in months. They played cards, drank wine and even sang a little together as Louise played the harpsichord. In his diary, the King noted “A forgotten love was rekindled in Scotland”.

Over the next few days, the schedule became somewhat more gruelling. There was a Grand Procession in the driving rain from Holyrood to Edinburgh Castle, the King refusing to close his carriage so that he could be seen. When an official commented on the weather, George declared loudly, “Rain Sir? I feel no rain! I am here to cheer the people as they have cheered me”. Following the procession, there was a visit to Portobello Sands where the King and Queen honoured the Clans with a quick journey back to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for a grand ball where a display of Scottish country dancing was staged. Though they did not know the steps well, “Their Majesties entered into the spirit, both clad in Highland dress, and attempted a reel much to the delight of the assembled company”. After further visits to St Giles’ Cathedral, a civic dinner at Parliament House and a visit to the theatre to see a performance of Scott’s Rob Roy, the final engagement was a tour of Hopetoun before joining the royal yacht once more at South Queensferry.


Their Majesties arrive at Hopetuon.

Boarding the yacht, the King could not help but notice that Lord Cholmondeley appeared distracted. The Marquess had received an urgent bulletin from London and took the King to one side to inform him of a gruesome discovery. On the 20th of August 1822, as the King and Queen laughed gaily with the ladies of the King’s Drawing Room, a man called Wilbur Rossington, a friend of Joachim Pepke, had arranged to meet the Baron at the Royal Academy. When Pepke failed to appear, Rossington made his way to Brook Street where he found the door slightly ajar. Upon entering the house, nothing seemed to have been disturbed with the exception of an open trunk in the morning room which looked to have been turned over. Mounting the stairs to the second floor of the house, Rossington saw no sign of Pepke’s servants or of the man himself. Nonetheless, the door being ajar concerned him and so he decided to inspect the house thoroughly. Making his way down to the basement where the servants’ quarters were located, he noticed a trail of blood leading to the open door of the coal cellar. In the dim light, Rossington made out two bodies slumped against a built-up pile of coal. They were the bodies of Pepke and Cottesloe.

[1] In the OTL, Eldon did this in 1825 at the defeat of Francis Burdett’s Emancipation Bill but with this change in government, that won’t be brought forth and the anecdote serves best here.

[2] In the OTL, Peel was still very much against Catholic Emancipation. He didn’t change his position on the issue until 1828.

[3] This is based on the titles granted to the eldest illegitimate son of William IV in the OTL. After he became King, he created his son George FitzClarence ‘Earl of Munster, Viscount FitzClarence and Baron Tewksbury’. In this TL, George IV held the title of Earl of Ulster until his accession as King.

[Note] Apologies that this new installment took a little while, I hope to be putting up regular installments again from now on! The visit to Scotland here was adapted from the OTL visit to Scotland of George IV (Prince Regent). All pictures are from Wikipedia.
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Monthly Donor
I'm just waiting for more, and hoping you continue this past King George IV's reign...
Thanks so much! I wasn't sure if I would continue this past 1827 but I spent the last few days reworking the Royal Family trees of Europe into the modern day. My plan at the moment is to continue this TL past George IV up until 2021 if possible but I might diverge a little into mini biographies of some of the key figures/other Royal Houses to see how they were affected by the absence of Queen Victoria from the OTL.
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In the dim light, Rossington made out two bodies slumped against a built-up pile of coal. They were the bodies of Pepke and Cottesloe.
Oh no 😧 is this going to turn into a court murder mystery or is there something else going on??

Great update by the way!


Monthly Donor
Oh no 😧 is this going to turn into a court murder mystery or is there something else going on??

Great update by the way!
Certainly there's a few people at court who wouldn't mind seeing Pepke dispatched...

Really glad you enjoyed the update!