A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

A Royal ExperimentReview by Lois Plale

This is a biography of King George III of England – the man who was king during the American Revolution.  This is probably one of the best and most readable biographies I have ever read.  I wanted to read it because I had learned almost nothing about this king and what I did “learn” was from American History classes, where we are told that he was an evil tyrant.  This book shows a very human side to the king and also shows that, rather than being a tyrant, he was actually quite moral.

The experiment that the title refers to is how he and his wife set out to show that, unlike their ancestors, the royal family could be the moral examples for England.  George grew up witnessing the immorality and fighting that went on in his family and was determined to not let it happen anymore.  He and his wife, Charlotte, had 15 children, 13 of whom survived childhood.  They were determined to be good parents and make sure their children were well-educated and had plenty of attention.  This book presents George as not only king, but as a son, husband, and father.  Unfortunately, with all his good intentions and, I would say, his lack of a good example, he falls short of being a loving father.

As is well-known, George eventually succumbs to mental illness and the author handles this with compassion and it is heartbreaking to see how his mind fell apart toward the end of his life.  This book is well-researched and almost reads like a novel, rather than a dry biography.

Check availability on A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III by Janice Hadlow

About the reviewer: Lois loves history and you can visit her at the circulation desks at Tredyffrin Public Library (both upstairs and down)!