A Royal Scandal
A Royal Scandal is a 1996 British television docudrama produced and directed by Sheree Folkson. The teleplay by Stanley Price focuses on the ill-fated marriage of George IV and Duchess Caroline of Brunswick. Dialogue from actual historical records reveals how each party tries to humiliate the other, causing the monarchy to suffer great embarrassment. Narrated by Ian Richardson, the drama was broadcast by the BBC.
Saddled with debt, the Prince of Wales is promised financial support from his father, the reigning King George, only if he marries his coarse and vulgar cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, despite her many faults. The marriage is a disaster from the very start; her efforts to achieve a semblance of grace and majesty fail miserably, and George has no qualms about flaunting his ongoing relationship with Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey in front of his wife. The two formally separate after the birth of their daughter Charlotte, and George reunites with Maria Fitzherbert, whom he had wed years before meeting Caroline. The union was considered invalid because it had not been approved by the king and the Privy Council.
Caroline is banished to a private residence in Blackheath and her contact with her daughter is restricted. She acts as foster mother to several children, and it is rumored one of them is her biological son. An investigation fails to prove the allegation, but Caroline is accused of improper conduct. She leaves the country to travel abroad, and reports of her scandalous behavior reach her husband on a regular basis. While she's away, nineteen-year-old Charlotte dies after giving birth to a stillborn son.
George IV's accession to the throne brings Caroline back to Britain, and she is embraced by the public, much to her husband's distress. He orders his Prime Minister to destroy her reputation. Efforts to strip Caroline of the title of queen consort and dissolve her marriage by accusing her of committing adultery with commoner Bartolomeo Pergami fail, despite a long parade of witnesses. She arrives at Westminster Abbey to attend her husband's coronation on the arm of her loyal supporter, Lord Hood, but is turned away at the door.
That night Caroline falls ill with what is diagnosed as an intestinal obstruction and, certain death is imminent, requests she be buried in Brunswick. When she dies shortly after, her final wish is honored by her friends. A plaque reading "Caroline of Brunswick The Injured Queen of England" is affixed to her casket.
The film was made as a comparison between the Prince of Wales (later George IV)'s marriage and the current prince of Wales and his marriage to princess Diana. The film uses quotes from her Nov 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, 'three of us in this marriage', 'Queen of hearts'.
- Richard E. Grant ..... George IV
- Susan Lynch ..... Caroline of Brunswick
- Michael Kitchen ..... Lord Malmesbury
- Denis Lawson ..... Henry Brougham
- Frances Barber ..... Frances Villiers
- Irene Richard ..... Maria Fitzherbert
- Oliver Ford Davies ..... Lord Liverpool
- Stephen Boxer ..... Lord Hood