It seems when Prince George gets tired of pretending to be bucolic and makes a run for the money he isn’t the only one cruising for a bruising. We return to Mr. Al’s weekly take on the life of George IV.
The Prince did find someone to bring the matter up before Parliament. This gentleman, Nathanial Newnham, did raise the subject of the Prince’s financial distress, but made no mention of his marital status. Prime Minister William Pitt tried to kill the subject by stating that only the King could ask Parliament for such a subsidy. His Majesty had not done so. End of discussion. Time to move on.
Mister Newnham let the matter drop for the time being. But he made it clear that he intended to bring the matter forward again, this time as a formal motion, during the May 4th session. Pitt tried to do an end run around Newnham by asking what, exactly, he intended to say? Newnham, realizing he was far out on a limb, stated that his only concern was for the Prince’s “embarrassed situation.” He would formally request that someone go to the King and ask that he place before Parliament a motion to vote money for his kid. That’s all!
Before the Prime Minster could breath a sigh of relief, up from the Tory benches rose one John Rolle, a solid Church of England squire from Devon. Mister Rolle said that the question of money for the Prince had serious implications. This was because it was “a question which went immediately to affect our constitution in Church and State.”
Uh-oh. The only question that he could possibly be referring to was, of course, the question of wither or not the Prince had married a Catholic. After a bit of hemming and hawing, throat clearing and pretending not to know what the speaker was referring to, Pitt tried to get Newnham to drop the whole matter. If Newnham did not, Pitt threatened, he might be forced to bring up the issue, “though with infinite reluctance, to the disclosure of circumstances which he should otherwise think it his duty to conceal.”
At this point, one of the Prince’s supporters, one who was “out of the loop” so to speak, rose to defend the Prince’s honor. Base accusations had been made! Ugly rumors were being circulated! This had to end! No, by God, they would not let the matter drop! The Prince’s own people had called Pitt’s bluff. Pitt had no more interest than the Whigs in exposing the Royal Family to such a scandal. The Tories, with more venom than foresight, were glad to help the Prince’s “supporters.”
It was Fox who would handle the matter for the Prince. What are friends for? Although Mrs Fitzherbert did not like Fox, and consequently the Prince had cooled noticeably toward him, Fox believed that a flat out declaration that the Prince had not, nor would he ever, marry Mrs Fitzherbert would best serve everyone. What could be simpler? After all, Fox believed it was the truth.
So that’s exactly what he did. On April 30 1787, Fox spoke to the House denouncing those who had spread vile rumors about his friend There was no truth, none at all, concerning a marriage between the Prince and Mrs Fitzherbert. The opposition was not convinced, but it had no proof. Fox left Parliament convinced he had done his best by his friend, his party, and his country.
Some time later, while having drinks at one of his clubs, he was approached by a gentleman who had some interesting news. “Mister Fox, I hear that you have denied in the House the Prince’s marriage to Mrs Fitzherbert. You have been misinformed. I was at the marriage.” Oh dear. Fox had been placed in a very difficult position. True, he placed himself there but that was only because his good friend the Prince had sworn on his dead granny’s Bible that he was not, and never had been married.
Fox was not the only one seeing red.