13. King’s Library [+]

King's Library of Royal Pavilion

Historic Image

Nash view of King’s Apartments, 1826.


These two rooms were the King’s Library and the Library Ante-Room. They’re far more serious and sombre than the rest of the Pavilion, reflecting George’s age and the burden of being King. During his stays in Brighton he received ministers and undertook state business here. But the rooms also reflect the sadness of the final years of George’s life. Within the space of only a few years after becoming King, he’d lost many of the people close to him, including both his parents, his only daughter, Princess Charlotte, and one of his brothers.

With this increasingly poor health, the journey to Brighton was almost certainly too arduous and uncomfortable and visited less and less. Throughout his life he had thrown himself into building projects but once they were complete, he moved onto the next one. This may well have been the case once the Royal Pavilion was complete and he chose to spend more time at Windsor and the newly-built Buckingham Palace. It might also have been because the Pavilion was conceived as a pleasure palace, built when he was still a young man. In his old age, when he could no longer go riding or enjoy the social whirl, the Pavilion, and Brighton itself, might have held less attraction.

Princess Charlotte

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopld betrothed, c1816.

Princess Charlotte was born in 1796, the only child from George’s marriage to Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Her parents separated before she was born, and Charlotte was condemned to a lonely, isolated childhood, surrounded only by ladies in waiting and elderly tutors, and frequently used as a pawn in the endless feud between her parents.

‘My mother was bad’, she wrote, ‘but she would not have become as bad as she was if my father had not been infinitely worse’.

George wanted Charlotte to marry William, Prince of Orange, but after months of negotiations, the headstrong Charlotte refused when it became clear she would have to leave England. Instead she found true love with Prince Leopold of Saxe Coburg, and the couple married in May 1816. Happiness soon turn to tragedy, though. After a long and painful labour, their first child was still-born. A few hours later, Charlotte herself died, in the early hours of the 6th of November 1817, throwing the nation into deep mourning

Although Charlotte’s grandfather, George III, had 15 children, up to her death, Charlotte was the only legitimate grandchild. The first of George’s brothers to produce an heir who survived into adulthood was Edward, Duke of Kent, who abandoned his long-term mistress, married Prince Leopold’s widowed sister, and eventually produced a Princess who was crowned Queen Victoria in 1837.

Had Charlotte and her son lived, it’s most likely that Victoria would never have been born, let alone succeeded to the throne. It would have been a Charlotteian Age, not a Victorian Age.

Furniture in the King’s Apartments

These rooms contain several wonderful examples of high style Regency furniture, some of which are derived from designs by the Regency connoisseur and collector, Thomas Hope. None is original to the Pavilion, however.

Thomas Hope was born in Amsterdam into a family of bankers. He fled to England in 1794 when Holland was occupied by France, and became an influential patron of the arts and highly original designer of furniture.

His influential pattern book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration ( 1807) was the first book to use the term interior decoration. His designs here include a pair of mahogany armchairs with X frames, which are based on a type of stool used by magistrates in Ancient Rome. Notice also a beautiful clock whose face is held by the Egyptian goddess Isis, symbolising the moon.

The two magnificent globes are by the well-known globe maker William Newton. One depicts the earth, while the other depicts the constellations.

There is further reference to Egypt in the spectacular low couch that resembles a crocodile.