Trial by Media: The Queen Caroline Affair
As Prince of Wales, George IV had been forced into an arranged and loveless marriage with his German cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick. They separated soon after the birth of their daughter. He ascended to the British throne in 1820 following a decade as regent for his ailing father, George III. George IV’s enormous gambling debts and extravagant lifestyle made him deeply unpopular. His attempt to divorce Queen Caroline through a bill in Parliament gave his political opponents their opportunity to strike back. Accordingly, the reform movement adopted Caroline as their figurehead.
Drawing on the strengths of Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library in graphic satire and Lillian Goldman Law Library in trial accounts, “Trial by Media” examines the role of print media in documenting the Queen Caroline affair and shaping public perceptions. Today these sources serve as a lens for studying gender roles, class divisions, publishing, political satire, and British politics.
Cynthia Roman, Curator of Prints, Drawings & Paintings, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University
Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale University
Published March 13, 2020