Portal:Biography/Selected article/July 17

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Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1816.

William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of Hanover and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 26 June 1830 until his death. William, the third son of George III and younger brother and successor to George IV, was the last king and penultimate monarch of the House of Hanover. He served in the Royal Navy in his youth and was, both during his reign and afterwards, nicknamed the Sailor King. He served in North America and the Caribbean, but saw little actual fighting. Since his two older brothers died without leaving surviving legitimate issue, he inherited the throne when he was sixty-four years old. His reign saw several reforms: the poor law was updated, child labour restricted and slavery abolished throughout the British Empire. One of the most important pieces of legislation was the Reform Act 1832, which refashioned the British electoral system. Though William did not engage in politics as much as his brother or his father, he was the last monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament. During his reign, his other kingdom, Hanover, was granted a short-lived liberal constitution. At his death William had no surviving legitimate children. He was succeeded in the United Kingdom by his niece, Victoria, and in Hanover by his brother, Ernest Augustus. (Read more...)