PRINCELY ANECDOTES

Georgeiv1780

George, Prince of Wales, at about the time when Louis first became his tailor.  Painting by Richard Cosway.

There are of course many anecdotes about the prince and his self-indulgence, particularly in the matter of dress.

“… if any doubt survived as to whether the Prince was worthy to be enrolled amongst that select body of dandies which arrogated to itself the direction of the fashionable world this was soon dispelled by the costume he donned at the first Court ball he attended.  His coat was pink silk with white cuffs we are told his waistcoat was white silk embroidered with various coloured foil and adorned with a profusion of French paste, his hat was ornamented with two rows of steel beads five thousand in number with a button and loop of the same metal and cocked in a new military style.  Could anything have been more elaborate?   One would think not until descriptions are found of his attire on subsequent occasions.   Thus we learn when he took his seat in the House of Lords he wore a black velvet suit richly embroidered with gold and pink spangles and lined with pink satin and shoes with pink heels a la Macaroni of an earlier era while to give appropriate finish to the costume his hair was pressed much at the side and very full frizzed with two small curls at the bottom.  But Prince Florizel was not yet at the end of his resource and to prove that in this matter he could out- Herod Herod he devised a costume for a Brighton ball that dazzled all beholders.  He made his appearance in a velvet suit of a dark colour with green stripes embroidered down the front and seams with silver flowers a waistcoat of white and silver tissue similarly ornamented, the ribbon of the Garter fastened with a shoulder knot of brilliants and the usual accessories of the stars of various other Orders.  Even the imagination of the heir apparent could go no further and he rested content the most over dressed man of his day!   Expense being no object to George since for what he could not pay he was content to owe…”
[Louis Saul Benjamin; The Beaux of the Regency]

“The son of the old king was very wild in his youth and he never became a really good man.   He had been declared Prince Regent in consequence of his father’s insanity.   In 1820 he was crowned as King George the Fourth.  Even when he was quite an old man this king cared as much about dress as any young coxcomb. He had a great deal of taste in such matters and it is a pity that he was a king because he might otherwise have been an excellent tailor.”
[Samuel Griswold Goodrich, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Manning
Hawthorne;  Peter Parley’s Universal History]

[The above remark may be based on the reported words of Caroline of Brunswick, who was disastrously married to the Prince in 1795: “I ought to have been the man and he the woman to wear petticoats … he understands how a shoe should be made or a coat cut, … and would make an excellent tailor, or shoemaker or hairdresser, but nothing else”.]

“The Regent was singularly imbued with petty royal pride.  He would rather be amiable and familiar with his tailor than agreeable and friendly with the most illustrious of the aristocracy of Great Britain…”
[Rees Howell Gronow; Reminiscences of Captain Gronow]

“When I was presented to (him), HRH the Prince Regent (was) in the uniform of the Hussars, viz. a yellow jacket pink pantaloons and silver lace morocco boots and a light blue pelisse lined with ermine, the Prince himself the model of grace and elegance in his time, a coat of which the waist buttons were placed between his shoulder blades and which if worn by a man now would cause boys to hoot him in Pall Mall…”
[W. M. Thackeray; Sketches and travels in London]

“In this the last year of his life the country will be gratified in knowing that his tailor’s bill was between ₤4,000 and ₤5,000 and he was employed in devising new dresses for the guards.  The subject of a dress for the guards evidently grew upon his Majesty’s mind, for a month later we find a record to effect that no council had been held as the King was occupied in altering the uniforms of the guards and has coats with various colors submitted to him every day. The Duke of Cumberland assists him and this is his occupation He sees much more of his tailor than does of his ministers…
The morning hours which a patriot prince would have employed in devising measures for the good of the country were idled away with a favorite tailor taking measures of the royal person and receiving his valuable information on the decided superiority of loose trousers to tight pantaloons.”
[John Banvard;  The Private Life of a King Embodying the Suppressed Memoirs of the Prince of Wales]

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