Monarchy with David Starkey (2004–2007): Season 3, Episode 4 - Empire - full transcript

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DAVID STARKEY: ln 1714,
Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover,

was crowned King George l
of Great Britain.

It was an unlikely succession.

He was 52nd in line to the throne

and, aged 54, the oldest person
so far to inherit it.

And he was German.

But he did have the one thing
in his favour that mattered -

he was a Protestant.

For George owed his crown
to Parliament,

which, under the Act of Settlement,

had barred Catholics
from succeeding to the throne.



George l would be succeeded by
his son and great-grandson,

George ll and George lll.

These three kings!
relationships with Parliament

would change decisively
the way Britain was governed.

Britain in the 18th century

witnessed a major
political development,

the rise of a second parallel
monarchy - the premiership.

It was leaders ofthis new kind
who created the first British Empire

and the old monarchy
which presided over the loss of it.

The holders ofthis new position
of prime minister,

as it became known,

increasingly took control ofthe
running ofthe country from the king

and began to establish the pattern
of modern government we knowtoday.

When George l arrived in England
in 1714,



the English had, for the second time
in less than 30 years,

a foreign monarch.

Indeed, George was much more foreign,

since he was so unremittingly
resolutely German.

He arrived with German ministers,

German-speaking Turkish body servants
and a German mistress.

And, above all, with a determination
to protect the interests

of his German principality
of Hanover.

Subsequently, he never learned more
than a fewwords of broken English

and his interests remained
essentially German too.

In England, for the previous
30 years,

the two political parties,
the Whigs and the Tories,

had alternated in power.

The Tories were the traditional
supporters of monarchy,

the Whigs sought to restrict
royal power.

Broadly speaking, monarchs had tried
to preserve their freedom of action

by not aligning themselves fully
with either party.

But George l sawthings
very differently.

Passionately interested
in military affairs,

he had fought alongside the English
in the War ofthe Spanish Succession,

and he blamed the Tories
for the peace settlement

which had given back France
most ofwhat she!d lost in the war.

He distrusted the Tories even more

for their flirtations
with the exiled Catholic pretender

James Edward Stuart,

who claimed that he was
the rightful heir to the throne.

And George l lost no time
in making his feelings known.

The day after he landed in England,
George held his first royal court

here in the Queen!s House
at Greenwich.

The King paraded his high regard
for the notables ofthe Whig Party,

but he administered a very
public snub to the Tory leader,

allowing him to kiss his hands

but saying nothing in return
to his speech ofwelcome.

If George had anything to do with it,

the sun, it was clear,
would shine on the Whigs,

whilst the Tories
were destined for the wilderness.

And George did have
a lot to do with it.

Royal influence helped win the Whigs
a comfortable majority in the Commons

that would last for nearly a century.

The resulting long Whig domination

has been hailed as the restoration
of political stability.

It could equally
well be characterised as

six decades of one-party rule,

with all the problems of
one-party rule

that our own times
have familiarised us with once more.

For, with their Tory rivals
out ofthe way,

the Whigs fell to fighting
amongst themselves.

And this struggle
became linked with another

within the new German royal family.

The Hanoverians,
it!s been cruelly said,

like pigs, trample their young.

Worst was the mutual loathing
of fathers and eldest sons.

At first sight, George!s son
and heir, George, Prince ofWales,

was a much more attractive character
than his father.

He was married to a vivacious,
intelligent wife, Caroline.

He was as fond of public
pomp and circumstance

as his reclusive father detested it.

He had displayed conspicuous bravery
when, as a young German prince

fighting alongside the English
against the French,

his horse had been killed under him
in battle.

He spoke voluble
if heavily accented English

and he!d thoroughly familiarised
himselfwith English affairs.

Indeed, George played
the English card shamelessly,

proclaiming rather unconvincingly...

(lN GERMAN ACCENT) ..ffl have not
one drop of blood in my veins

ffthat is not English.!!

Tensions between father and son
came to a head in 1716,

when the King,
who!d been pining for Germany,

returned to Hanover
for a 6-month visit.

Custom dictated that the Prince
should have been left as regent.

Instead, an obscure precedent
was dug out from the Middle Ages

and he was created
Guardian and Lieutenant ofthe Realm,

with severely restricted powers.

On 25 July, the Prince and Princess
and their daughters

moved to Hampton Court Palace, here,

where, with a short interval, they
remained for the ne four months.

The Prince, despite
the limitations on his powers,

was the figurehead of government.

And he and Caroline
determined to exploit the fact

for all that it was worth.

Hampton Court Palace had lain
unfinished and largely neglected

since the death ofWilliam of Orange.

But now it burst into life...

...as Prince George
and Princess Caroline

moved into these state apartments,

which had been
specially refurbished for them,

and kept the kind of splendid,
open court

which England had not seen
since the days of Charles ll.

George heard of his son!s popularity
with jealous rage.

And, when he returned from Hanover,

he entered, against all
his instincts and preferences,

into a public relations warwith him.

So, in the following summer of 1717,

the King too took up residence
here at Hampton Court,

alongside the Prince and Princess.

In uncomfortable proximity
in the same building,

the two adjacent but rival courts

continued to maintain
different styles.

The King!s studiously informal,

the Waleses! preserving something
ofthe traditional formality

ofthe English court.

Forwhich they needed
grand state apartments

like the Guard Chamber here,

designed for them by the brilliant
architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

But King George had his own genius
with whom to strike back -

George Frederick Handel.

(HANDEL!S fWATER MUSIC! PLAYS)

On 17 July 1717, just before
his departure for Hampton Court,

the King bade farewell to the capital
in fine style

with a grand water party
to and from Chelsea.

Accompanying the royal party
was a barge

with a large band of 50 musicians

who played the music that Handel
had composed for the occasion.

The King liked it so much

that he had it played over
three times going and returning.

And, no wonder, for it was
Handel!s fWater Music!.

Let the Prince ofWales
try to beat that!

The rift between
the King and the Prince

produced two rival royal courts -
the King!s and the Prince!s.

Those out of favourwith the King
gathered round the Prince,

and it was from the Prince!s faction
ofthe Whig Party

that there emerged the man
who would redefine the relationship

between the King and his ministers,

and, in so doing, create the role
of prime minister itself.

The rivalry between King George l
and his son, George, Prince ofWales,

came to a climax in 1717

when the King expelled
the Prince ofWales

from the royal residence
at St James!s Palace.

The Prince decamped
to Leicester Square,

where his house became
a rival, opposing court.

One ofthe leading followers
ofthe Prince ofWales

was the up-and-coming Whig politician
Robert Walpole,

the son of a middling Norfolk squire.

Walpole was a mountain of a man

with a gigantic appetite
for food and drink,

sex, money, power and work.

He was shrewd,
affable when it suited him,

and he knewthe price
of everything and everybody.

What he understood best of all,
however, was the House of Commons,

ofwhich he was long
the undisputed master.

For such a man, opposition,

even when it was sanctioned by
the Prince ofWales,

was of limited appeal.

And in 1720 he brokered
a general reconciliation of sorts

between the King and the Prince

and within the fractured Whig Party
itself.

This mediation restored Walpole
to the King!s favour.

But what propelled him
to undisputed power

was his handling of
the great financial crisis

known as the South Sea Bubble.

Aptly named, as it signalled the
arrival ofthe boom and bust economy.

The South Sea Company
had a valuable asset

in the slave trade monopoly
to South America.

But, in a frenzy of speculation,

the value of its shares
was talked up beyond all reason.

Bribes were doled out too to the
King, his mistress and his ministers.

A lucky few made easy profits,

but when the shares crashed,
everybody lost -

fortunes or reputations.

Everybody, that is,
apart from Walpole.

With his usual good luck,

he!d been out of favour
when the final scam was launched,

and so, for once in his life,
appeared as whiter than white.

He also used his financial skills
to wind the crisis down,

without provoking either a financial
or a political meltdown.

Walpole now emerged as
first or prime minister,

and he advertised the fact
to the world.

This is Houghton Hall,

which Walpole built on the site of
his modest ancestral home

in north Norfolk.

He moved with his usual
purposeful expedition.

Designs were commissioned in 1721 ,
the year his premiership began,

and 14 years later
the lavish building was complete.

For the fGreat Man!,
as Walpole soon became known,

nothing but the best would do.

He built with the best materials.

He employed the finest architects
and designers, like William Kent,

who was responsible for these
opulently gilded interiors

and furniture.

And he embellished the house
with what was then

the biggest and the best collection
of pictures in England.

The result was perfection.

According to one
contemporary connoisseur,

it was the greatest house
in the world for its size.

And a pattern for all great houses
that may hereafter be built.

But at first it seemed as though

Walpole!s monumental edifice
to his own glory

had been built rather prematurely.

For, on 22 June 1727, George l died,

fittingly, on the way to stay
in Hanover.

At first his son
refused to believe the news,

fearing that it was a trick
played by his father

to entrap him into
incautious expressions ofjoy.

But when George ll
was persuaded of its truth,

he made clear that he intended
there would be a newworld.

He indulged his love of splendour

by having a magnificent coronation
with music by Handel,

whose great anthem
fZadok the Priest!

Has been played at
every subsequent coronation.

And he told Walpole,

whom he!d never forgiven
for transferring his loyalties

to his hated father, George l,

to take his marching orders.

But Walpole kept his head

He proved his usefulness by
getting Parliament to vote George

a bigger civil list, or income,
than his father.

And, above all,
he!d kept his friendship

with George!s able wife,
Caroline, green.

Other politicians paid court
to George!s insipid mistress,

but Walpole knew better.

Ffl!ve got the right sow by the ear,!!
he boasted ungallantly.

Walpole!s friendship with Caroline
was real,

but it was also a matter
of mutual self-interest.

He recognised her power
over her less intelligent husband.

She realised that he was
the best man to manage Parliament

on her husband!s behalf.

With her unflagging support,
his premiership was secure once more.

George and Caroline had
an odd marital relationship.

He snubbed her all the time,

she refused to be put down
and always bounced back.

Nevertheless, when Caroline
fell fatally ill in 1737,

George was heartbroken

and tearfully refused her deathbed
injunction to remarry by exclaiming,

ffNo, l!ll have mistresses.!!

Walpole!s premiership survived

even the loss of so powerful an ally
as Caroline,

but now his enemies
were gathering strength.

Most important was the group
known as fCobham!s cubs!

Who gathered round Richard Temple,
Viscount Cobham,

soldier, statesman
and landscape gardener.

This is Stowe in Buckinghamshire,

the great landscape garden
created by Cobham.

Vistas, trees and water are
punctuated by artfully sited temples,

triumphal arches and columns,

to create
an idyllic classical landscape.

It!s intended to delight the eye.

But also to exercise the mind,

for each feature

is imbued with layers of
political allegory and meaning.

The Temple of British Worthies
is a Whig pantheon,

with, on the left,
the proponents of political liberty,

like the poet John Milton...

...and the philosopher John Locke.

And, on the right,

the heroes ofthe struggle
against Catholic Spain and France...

...like Elizabeth l

and William of Orange.

There used to be another
very different temple nearby,

satirically entitled
the Temple of Modern Virtue.

It was built as a deliberate ruin,

while the ugly, headless torso
represented the Great Man,

Walpole himself.

For Cobham, the architect of Stowe,
believed

Walpole had comprehensively
betrayed Whig principles

by stealing the Tories! clothes.

The Whigs had been
the great anti-court party,

determined to keep the powers
ofthe king within bounds.

But Walpole discovered
that the way to keep office

was to cultivate the king!s favour

and then use the royal patronage
oftitles, jobs

and straightforward bribes
to control Parliament.

Concerned primarilywith
foreign policy, the army

and their native electorate
of Hanover,

George l and ll
were content to leave Walpole

to direct domestic
and financial affairs.

Here he was remarkably successful,

thanks to his adoption of
another Tory policy - peace.

For Walpole believed it was peace
that nurtured a strong economy.

But Cobham and his friends
argued on the contrary

that warwith France
was both Britain!s destiny

and the route to riches,

and theywere increasingly
winning the argument.

Faced with mounting opposition,

in 1742 Walpole won what amounted to
a vote of confidence,

but by only three votes.

The margin ofvictorywas too small
and three weeks later he resigned.

Within three years, deprived of
the energising effects of power,

Walpole was dead.

Walpole was the first

and still remains the longest-serving
British prime minister.

He created the office,
but it was William Pitt, the Elder,

the protégé ofWalpole!s great enemy,
Lord Cobham,

who would first realise
the power of a minister

to reshape the nation!s destiny.

William Pitt had first met Cobham
in his 30s,

when his dazzling parliamentary
oratory against Walpole

had immediately made him
one ofthe leading cubs.

He became a frequent visitor
to the Temple of Friendship,

where a circle of
like-minded political friends met

at the symbolic landscape
created by their mentor, Lord Cobham.

Pitt later sealed the connection
by marrying Cobham!s niece, Hester.

Hester often acted as
her husband!s secretary.

Even more importantly,
she was his nurse,

for Pitt was subject
to swings of emotion -

from elation to prostration -

that were so ereme as sometimes
almost to amount to madness.

At theirworst, Pitt!s mood changes
laid him low for months on end.

At their best, they drove him
to heights of oratory

that convinced his hearers
that he was the voice of destiny -

Britain!s destiny.

And that national destiny too
is prefigured here

at the Temple of British Worthies
at Stowe.

Here is King Alfred, honoured
as founder ofthe English Na.

Sir Francis Drake,
who first sailed round the globe

in an expedition of
magnificent, insolent plundering

ofthe riches ofthe Spanish empire.

Sir Walter Raleigh,
Drake!s younger contemporary,

who first projected an English
colonial empire in America.

And, finally, the Elizabethan
merchant prince, Sir Thomas Gresham,

who stabilised the coinage
and founded the Royal Exchange.

Pitt, himselfthe grandson

of a merchant robber baron
cum empire builder,

took these ideas
and made them his own.

The result can be boiled down
to three axioms.

That the proper field of British
endeavourwas worldwide and overseas,

not Continental and European.

That the na and not the army

was the right instrument
to advance British power.

And that overseas trade
was the means to the wealth

and hence to the power
ofthe British nation.

All this was guaranteed to set Pitt
on a collision course with George ll.

For the King regarded the army
as his own peculiar pride and joy.

He!d even, at the ripe age
of almost 60,

become the last British monarch
to lead his troops

personally into battle
in a victory over the French.

He was also as devoted to
his native Hanover as his father,

and, like him, regarded foreign
policy as his personal prerogative.

This was bad enough.

But what made matters worse

was the characteristically
exalted violence of language

with which Pitt
distinguished his position

from that ofthe King
and his ministers.

FfThis great, this powerful,
this formidable kingdom,!!

He protested in the Commons,

ffis considered only as a province
to a despicable electorate.!!

Such language was unforgivable

and George was a good haterwith
an excellent memory for slights.

The result was that Pitt,
in the mid-1740s,

spent a decade in a kind of limbo.

He was too dangerous
to be left out of government

but was powerless within it
through the royal veto.

His public quarrel with
the irascible King George ll

had left the brilliant but
unpredictable minister William Pitt

in the political shade for a decade.

For a man of Pitt!s abilities
this was hugely frustrating.

But Pitt!s moment came.

The Seven Years War, as it was to be
known, broke out with France in 1756.

And it began disastrously for Britain

with the loss of Minorca and
the control ofthe Mediterranean.

On his return,
the commanding officer, Admiral Byng,

was arrested, court-martialled

and condemned to death
for dereliction of duty.

Pitt deplored the death sentence,

but even he was powerless
against the tide of public opinion

at the King!s view
that Byng was a coward.

The Admiral was shot
on his own quarterdeck.

(GUNFIRE)

William Pitt,
the boldest politician in Britain,

seized the moment of defeat.

Ffl know,!! he said, ffl can save
this country and no-one else can.!!

Both the people
and the politicians believed him,

and George was forced to appoint Pitt
as secretary of state

with the direction ofthe war,
albeit with a bad grace.

Almost immediately
the tide ofwar began to turn,

for Pitt was a new sort of minister

who demanded and got
a new sort of control

over both policy
and its detailed execution.

There was a uniform,
overarching strategy

which combined Continental
and overseas war.

But what was decisive
in the wider struggle

was the superior quality
ofthe British Na.

With dominance ofthe seas,

the whole world was now a stage
for Pitt!s great imperial drama.

The warwas fought across the globe
in four principal theatres -

Canada, the Caribbean,
lndia and Africa -

both on land and at sea.

Everywhere Britain was victorious.

And the smashing ofthe French fleets
in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean

gave Britain what she often asserted
but rarely held -

absolute maritime supremacy.

Britain!s victory in
the Seven Years War

was a triumph celebrated in stone
by Pitt!s patron here at Stowe.

This is the obelisk
erected in memory of General Wolfe,

who had been killed
at the moment ofvictory at Quebec.

And here is the Temple of Concord
and Victory,

whose pediment celebrates
an enthroned Britannia

receiving tribute from
the rest ofthe world.

Pitt was not only uniquely successful
militarily,

he also exercised
a new sort of power.

He!d been called to office,
he asserted, by his sovereign,

which was conventional,

and by the voice ofthe people,
which was not.

Pitt translated his war aims
into bold and vivid language

which had a resonance in the country
beyond Parliament.

And he used the newly developing
popular press

to marshal public opinion behind him,

just as would another
great, populist war leader.

Winston Churchill,
who resembled Pitt in so manyways,

called the Seven Years War
the first world war.

When it began, Britain was only
one of four leading European powers.

When it ended, she was all-powerful -

mistress of a world empire
and ruler ofthe seas.

But George wasn!t there to see it

and Pitt wasn!t in office, either.

The morning of 25 October 1760
began like any other

for King George ll
at Kensington Palace.

The King rose early,
drank his chocolate

and retired to relieve himself on his
closed stool, or portable lavatory.

But there, without a moment!s warning
or a day!s illness,

he died at about 7:30am.

The gruff 76-year-old
was succeeded by his grandson,

the fresh-faced George lll, aged 22.

The young King George lll
had been a late developer.

Sulky, idle and apparently
rather dim at first,

he!d been transformed in his
late teens, by a sympathetic mentor,

into a paragon of hard work
and self-discipline.

Above all,
unlike his two predecessors,

he was English through and through
by birth and inclination,

and he embraced his duty
as a patriotic British king.

The clash with the great war minister
William Pitt,

who saw himself as having something
of a monopoly on patriotism,

came within hours.

In his accession speech,

given at 6:30pm on the day
of his grandfather!s death,

the new king referred to the bloody
war in which Britain was engaged.

At Pitt!s outraged insistence,
this was toned down to

ffexpensive butjust and necessary
war!! in the published version.

The row over adjectives showed
that the minister and the King

took a very different view
ofthe war.

Unwilling to compromise,

it wasn!t long before Pitt
had resigned from government.

With the departure of
the great war minister,

peace was soon made with France,

and despite some concessions
to French pride,

it brought the Seven Years War to
a triumphant conclusion for Britain.

With the French expelled
from North America,

Great Britain and King George lll
were masters of a global empire.

But such a prize didn!t come cheaply.

The new empire needed
protecting and administering.

The cost of maintaining
the American establishment alone

had increased more than fourfold,

and this burden fell on a British
population of only 8 million.

FfWhy shouldn!t,!!
British ministers naturally asked,

ffAmerica bear its share
ofthe burden?!!

After all, the war,
as Pitt had repeatedly stated,

had been fought on America!s behalf,

and Americans had been
its principal beneficiary

with the removal ofthe threat of
the French in Canada

and ofthe French allies
amongst the lndian tribes.

And there!s no doubt that
British America had deep pockets.

Freed from the threat ofwar at home,

the economies ofthe 13 colonies
were rapidly expanding.

Prosperous and fast-growing cities
such as Philadelphia,

NewYork and Boston had begun to
rival their European counterparts.

And theywere only the urban centres
of an overwhelmingly rural economy

in which about 2 million people
were thinly scattered

over a thousand-mile coastal strip,

which was already four or five times
the size of old England.

The ruling class
ofthis affluent land

considered themselves fully
the equals oftheir British cousins.

They had the same rights
and liberties

and they created similar institutions
of self-government.

This is the Capitol building
in Williamsburg,

the 18th-century seat ofthe General
Assembly ofthe Colony ofVirginia.

The colonial government here
was the closest in structure

to the Westminster Parliament.

And, like Westminster,

it was dominated
bywealthy landowners,

such as Richard Henry Lee.

Lee!s ancestral home, Stratford Hall,

is an American version
of an English country house.

And the Lees -

theirwealth derived from
tobacco plantations

cultivated by dozens of
black slaves -

lived a colonial version

ofthe lives of
the English country gentlemen

who made up the great bulk
of British MPs.

And they displayed
a similar self-confidence

and sense oftheir own importance.

12 February 1765 was a quiet day
in the House of Commons,

with only a minor bill
to tap American wealth

by imposing stamp duty on
American property transactions.

As colonial business
rarely aroused much interest,

the bill was nodded through
an almost-empty chamber

with minimal opposition.

But the Stamp Act set America alight.

For the British Parliament

was not the only parliament
in the British Empire.

Indeed, here in America,
there were 13 such assemblies -

one for each colony.

And each one ofthese assemblies,
in its own little world,

thought of itself as fully the equal
ofthe Westminster Parliament.

Thus it was on 30 May 1765
that the Virginian Assembly,

with the Lees in the lead,

passed the first resolution
against the Stamp Act.

This solemnly declared that
the taxation ofthe people,

by themselves or
by their chosen representatives,

was a distinguishing characteristic
of British freedom

without which the ancient
constitution could not exist.

This was Whig language
turned against the British Parliament

which had first invented it.

Less decorously, as the date
for the coming into operation

ofthe Stamp Act approached,

Richard Henry Lee
organised a protest procession

featuring his own slaves in costume

and the mock hanging of
the collector of stamp duties.

Similar resolutions and protests,
many ofthem violent,

spread like wildfire
across the colonies

and British America
became ungovernable.

The British made a final attempt
at economic and military coercion.

(GUNFIRE)

But instead of being cowed,
the Americans, in 1774,

summoned the First
Continental Congress

here at the Carpenters! Hall
in Philadelphia,

with representatives from
all 13 colonies,

to coordinate their efforts against
the coercive British measures.

In response to American resistance,

King George lll threw his weight
behind the British Parliament,

supporting its determination

to impose its will
on the rebellious colonies.

Indeed, the King,
now served by a weak prime minister,

increasingly emerged as
the figurehead ofthe struggle.

Troops, including German regiments
personally raised by the King,

were dispatched.

And, in April 1775,

the first armed clash

in which the colonials acquitted
themselves surprisinglywell

against seasoned professional troops,

took place near Boston, at Lexington.

The Americans took this
as a declaration ofwar.

Congress put the colonies into
an immediate state of defence.

They authorised a continental army
of 20,000 men

and appointed George Washington
as commander-in-chief.

As the stage was set forwar,

George Washington
began to prepare his army.

It wouldn!t be an easy task.

But Congress couldn!t have chosen
a better leader,

for Washington, though not
a great general, was a great man.

(THUNDER RUMBLES)

As commander-in-chief,

Washington found himself
in charge of a motley crew-

badly armed, badly fed and clothed

and badly paid
when theywere paid at all.

To keep them in the field
required tact,

occasional firmness
and infinite dogged patience.

Washington had them all.

He also had the natural leadership of
a born-and-bred American gentleman.

Washington was another product
ofthe planter gentry ofVirginia,

where his familywere neighbours
ofthe Lees of Stratford Hall.

As a landless younger son,
a military career beckoned,

and Washington became an officer
in the Virginian militia.

He played an honourable part in the
Seven Years War against the French

and tried but failed to get
a commission in the British Army.

Marriage to a rich widow
and deaths in his own family

now enabled him to acquire
his own plantation at Mt Vernon here,

where the mansion house,
modest at first,

was steadily enlarged and beautified
over the years.

But despite his new-found wealth
and status,

Washington never lost
his interest in military affairs.

And when the Congress reconvened
the following year,

here, in Philadelphia,

he turned up in uniform using
his rank of colonel in the militia.

The fighting had hardened positions
and, in June 1776,

Richard Henry Lee ofVirginia
moved a resolution for independence.

Thomas Jefferson,

who came from the same Virginian
landowning background as Lee,

drafted the declaration itself.

Following on from
his seminal pamphlet,

the fSummary View ofthe Rights
of British America!,

the declaration embodies Jefferson!s
belief in the Whig idea

that all government depends
on a social contract

freely entered into by the people.

The declaration,
with its ringing assertion

that all men are born free and equal,

became the ark ofthe covenant
ofthe new republic.

Contemporaries were
more interested

in its violent and highly personal
repudiation of allegiance

to George lll as a tyrant

and unfit to be the ruler
of a free people.

FfThe history of
the present King of Great Britain

ffis a history of repeated injuries
and usurpations,

ffall having, in direct object,

ffthe establishment of an absolute
tyranny over these states.!!

King George lll was nowthe focus
for the Americans! anger.

In NewYork City,
crowds responded to the declaration

by tearing down the King!s statue.

But the immediate importance
ofthe declaration lay elsewhere.

In its claim that as independent
and sovereign states,

the united colonies
were entitled to contract

whatever foreign alliances
they pleased.

And there!s no doubt where
their best hope of an ally lay -

in their and Britain!s old enemy,
France.

And French help
was desperately needed

since, despite
all Washington!s efforts,

the Americans barely hung on.

NewYork and Charleston
remained in British hands

and the most likely outcome seemed
a stalemate.

The deadlockwas broken
here at Yorktown,

a few miles to the south-east
ofWilliamsburg,

where Lord Cornwallis,

the commander-in-chief
ofthe British Army in America,

established his headquarters in 1781 .

Yorktown lies on a narrow peninsula

between the estuaries of
the James and the York rivers

as they debouch into
the mighty Chesapeake Bay.

So long, therefore,

as the British Na
retained control ofthe seas,

Cornwallis was impregnable.

However, the French fleet

managed to secure a temporary
but vital control ofthe bay.

And, with the British Naval Relief
Force too far away to be of any help,

Yorktown was quickly surrounded
and besieged from land and sea.

Under hea cannon fire
for 20 days...

...Cornwallis!s options
began to run out.

The result was that
Cornwallis found himself

caught between a strong French fleet,
which blockaded the James River,

and Washington!s army,

into which the French
had also poured money and troops.

Hopelessly outnumbered
by more than two to one,

and beyond hope of rescue,

Cornwallis sent his deputy
to surrender to Washington...

...here, in this field, on 19 October,
with the whole British Army.

FfOh, my God, it!s all over,!!

The British Prime Ministerwailed
when the news ofYorktown arrived.

It was, though it took George lll
some time to realise it.

Faced with the humiliating,

and now inevitable loss of
the rebellious American colonies,

which were the better half
of his dominions,

King George lll resolved to abdicate

and to withdrawto his ancestral
electorate of Hanover in Germany.

He even went as far as
drafting his abdication address.

MAN: Hís Majesty,
wíth much soffow,

fínds he can be ofno further
utílítyto hís natíve country...

...whích dríves hím to the paínful
step ofquíftíngítforever.

In consequence, Hís Majesty
resígns the Crown ofGreatBrítaín

to hís son and lawfulsuccessor,
George, Prínce ofWales...

...whose endeavours forthe
prosperíty ofthe Brítísh Fmpíre,

he hopes, mayprove
more successful.

The King drafted and redrafted
his abdication address,

but never actually
quite did the deed.

In the newly independent America,
there would be no king.

Instead, the offices of head of state
and chief minister,

held in Britain by the monarch
and prime minister,

were combined in one person -
the president.

But it is the continuities
that strike

in the newAmerican capital,
Washington -

the monuments, lawns
and grand sweeping vistas

are the lineal descendants of
the landscape gardens of Stowe.

Similarly, it is America today

which embodies,
for better and forworse,

the Whig ideas of freedom,
power and empire,

which inspired William Pitt
in the reign of George lll,

the king who lost America.

Continental statesmen confidently
predicted that Britain,

shorn of her American colonies,

would now shrivel to a second-rank
power like Sweden or Denmark.

But, then, statesmen
often get things wrong.