William IV of The United Kingdom - Reign - Early Reign

Early Reign

British Royalty
House of Hanover
George III
George IV
Frederick, Duke of York
William IV
Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg
Edward, Duke of Kent
Princess Augusta Sophia
Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg
Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge
Mary, Duchess of Gloucester
Princess Sophia
Princess Amelia
Charlotte, Princess Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
George V, King of Hanover
George, Duke of Cambridge
Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck
William IV

When George IV died on 26 June 1830 without surviving legitimate issue, the Duke of Clarence ascended the Throne, aged 64, as William IV, the oldest person ever to assume the British throne. Unlike his extravagant brother, William was unassuming, discouraging pomp and ceremony. In contrast to George IV, who tended to spend most of his time in Windsor Castle, William was known, especially early in his reign, to walk, unaccompanied, through London or Brighton. Until the Reform Crisis eroded his standing, he was very popular among the people, who saw him as more approachable and down-to-earth than his brother.

The King immediately proved himself a conscientious worker. The King's first Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, stated that he had done more business with King William in ten minutes than he had with George IV in as many days. Lord Brougham described him as an excellent man of business, asking enough questions to help him understand the matter—whereas George IV feared to ask questions lest he display his ignorance and George III would ask too many and then not wait for a response.

The King did his best to endear himself to the people. Lady Charlotte Williams-Wynn wrote shortly after his accession, "Hitherto the King has been indefatigable in his efforts to make himself popular, and do good natured and amiable things in every possible instance." Noted the diarist Emily Eden, "He is an immense improvement on the last unforgiving animal, who died growling sulkily in his den at Windsor. This man at least wishes to make everybody happy, and everything he has done has been benevolent."

William dismissed his brother's French chefs and German band, replacing them with English ones to public approval. He gave much of George IV's painting collection to the nation, and reduced the royal stud. George IV had begun an extensive (and expensive) renovation of Buckingham Palace; his brother refused to reside there, and twice tried to give the palace away, once to the Army as a barracks, and once to Parliament after the Houses of Parliament burned down in 1834. His informality could be startling: When in residence at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, King William used to send to the hotels for a list of their guests and invite anyone whom he knew to dinner, urging guests not to "bother about clothes. The Queen does nothing but embroider flowers after dinner."

Upon taking the throne, William did not forget his nine surviving illegitimate children, creating his eldest son Earl of Munster and granting the other children the precedence of a younger son (or daughter) of a marquess. Despite this his children importuned for greater opportunities, disgusting elements of the press which reported that the "impudence and rapacity of the FitzJordans is unexampled". The relationship between William and his sons "was punctuated by a series of savage and, for the King at least, painful quarrels" over money and honours. His daughters, on the other hand, proved an ornament to his court, as, "They are all, you know, pretty and lively, and make society in a way that real princesses could not."

Read more about this topic:  William IV Of The United Kingdom, Reign

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