George III (George William Frederick)
1738 - 1820 (reigned from 1760, though his son was regent from 1810)
Married Sophia Charlotte, 1761
15 children (9 boys and 6 girls)
Purchased Buckingham House (now Palace) in 1762
American connectons: the state of Georgia is named after him. The largest city in North Carolina is named after his wife. Ummmm. And something else...
In 1785, the first American ambassador the the Court of St. James's, John Adams, presented his diplomatic credentials to the king.
Can you imagine what that meeting might have been like? Not long before, Adams (and many other American "Founding Fathers") had a price on his head and would have been hanged on sight by the British. And now, here he is, alone in the same room, one-on-one, with the most powerful man in the world, a man he had committed treason against. Talk about tension being thick enough to cut with a knife!
The very fact that the king was receiving Adams carried with it the implication that Great Britain now recognized America as separate and sovereign. This was a pretty momentous day for the Americans. And I can't help but wonder just how fast John Adams' heart was thumping as the door closed behind him and he stood alone before the king.
Of course we don't have to guess at these things: history always affords written records of such important meetings. But of course more went on in the room than Adams later wrote down. I wonder. Hardly any small talk, one would think.
Adams made his small speech, introducing himself. Very much agitated and nervous, as he later wrote. The king was polite but also affected by the moment of the occasion. The king made a comment about Adams' affection for France (Adams was recently the American minister to France) and Adams replied that he really loved only one country, his own, to which the king replied simply, "An honest man will have no other."
Adams, of course, was not able to completely follow the king's conversation (George III was a pronounced stutterer) but he was able to follow the drift of it. The audience was short. Not friendly exactly, but amicable enough.
After John Adams came a long line of distinguished American Ambassadors - the United Kingdom, after all, is very important to the United States. President John Kennedy's father was one of these ambassadors. The current ambassador to the U.S. is one Nigel Sheinwald. I got an email from him just the other day (or at least from the British Embassy's news department) telling me that Her Majesty's Prime Minister was pushing for the American Congress to pass the $700 billion bank bailout legislation promptly, in the interest of the world's economy. He didn't mention whether or not the UK would help pay it back. I am guessing "no." Sigh.
Times change. Or do they?