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Prince George of Denmark

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Prince George of Denmark

Prince George of Denmark (April 2, 1653 - October 28, 1708) was the Prince consort of Queen Anne of Great Britain.

He was born in Copenhagen, a son of King Frederick III of Denmark, and was considered a suitable partner for Anne, Denmark being, like Britain, a Protestant country; at that time, it was not considered likely that Anne would become queen. They were married on July 28, 1683, at St. James's Palace, London. George was subsequently created a British subject and a Knight of the Garter, and was given several titles, including Duke of Cumberland.

His marriage to Anne was successful, although from seventeen pregnancies between 1684c and 1700 only one son, William, Duke of Gloucester, survived infancy, only to die of smallpox in 1700 at the age of eleven. Like many other members of the royals and nobility, this low male birth rate and poor infant survival rate is fairly strong evidence that Prince George suffered from syphillis.

The social and political grouping centred on Prince George and Princess Anne was known as the 'Cockpit Circle' after the Cockpit, their London residence (on the site of what is now Downing Street in Westminster). Anne's older sister Mary (later Queen Mary II) had moved to the Netherlands after her marriage to William of Orange; Protestant opposition to James was therefore increasingly focussed on Anne and George instead of Mary, the heiress apparent. In 1688 the decision of William, Mary, George and Anne to desert the embattled James II was instrumental in whittling away the king's legitimacy and paved the way for the Glorious Revolution of 1689, which was led by William and supported by George, at the nominal head of the Lord High Admiral's Regiment, disbanded the following year. The Holland Regiment took its place as 3rd Regiment of Foot with Prince George as its honorary colonel.

William had apparently refused to attend James II's coronation in 1685 because George, as a senior member of a European royal family, would outrank him as elected stadholder of a republic; this mistrust was overcome during the revolution of 1688-89 but dogged relations between George and William during the latter's reign. Some degree of reconciliation was achieved on Queen Mary's sudden and unexpected death from smallpox in 1694; but George did not play a senior role in government until his wife Anne succeeded William in 1702.

George was an able administrator and military strategist, and as Lord High Admiral, 1702 - 08, officially headed the Royal Navy in support of the military activities of Anne's favourite, the Captain-General Lord John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. On his death in 1708, Anne was desolate, and although she refused initially to put the Navy into commission she was unable to bring herself to sign papers in George's stead.

King Charles II, his wife's uncle, famously said of Prince George, on the occasion of his marriage to Anne, 'I have tried him drunk, and I have tried him sober; and there is nothing in him'. He was not seen as one of the most colourful political characters of his day, but he was a skilled strategist and an able administrator, and a loyal and supportive husband to Queen Anne. By all accounts their marriage was a devoted and loving one in spite of their earlier personal tragedies.

His official portrait, signed by Sir Godfrey Kneller, is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

External links

Another Prince George of Denmark (1845-1913), was the brother of Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII.


Preceded by:
The Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery
Lord High Admiral
1702–1708
Succeeded by:
Queen Anne
Preceded by:
The Earl of Romney
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
1702–1708
Succeeded by:
The Duke of Dorset

Template:End box

Preceded by:
New Creation
Duke of Cumberland Succeeded by:
Title extinct
de:Georg von Dänemark, Herzog von Cumberland
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