The Heartbreaking True Story Behind The ‘Madness’ Of King George III

King George III sat on the throne for 59 years. it was a long and hugely significant reign in British history: George was in charge as Britain fought back against Napoleon’s France; he led his kingdom to victory at the Seven Years’ War; he was the monarch when revolution broke out and the Brits lost their American colonies. And yet his achievements as a ruler are often forgotten, overshadowed by his reputation as ”Mad King George.” The man suffered from severe mental health issues, and history has looked upon him unkindly as a result. But thanks to modern medicine, we now know that the nature of this king’s illness was misunderstood all this time.

Mad King George

“Mad King George” was considered to be a lunatic during his own day. The doctors tasked with helping him didn’t really have a clue how to treat him properly. If anything, it seems they may have actively made things worse. The meds they gave him, for instance, were far from suitable. It’s said they were toxic, which meant he was left in a worse state than he was already in whenever he took them.

A long, troubled reign

Things continued to deteriorate as the King aged. His son even had to step up to serve as Regent. George’s grip on reality left him, even as his kingdom came to acquire unprecedented levels of power. He passed away in 1820, aged 81, as the longest-serving monarch in British history at the time. It was far from a smooth reign, but might things have been easier for him if medical knowledge had been what it is today? Would the King’s “madness” have been treatable today in our present time?

A promising start

Things had started out so promisingly for George. His experience of mental illness only took a really bad turn fairly late in his life, with records stating that 1788 was the year things started to go seriously wrong for him. He would have been 50 by that point. Before that, though, his life and health had apparently been pretty normal. There were very few clues to suggest things would derail to the degree they ultimately did.

An early birth

The son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, George had been born on June 4, 1738. His birth had come early, which meant his chances of survival had initially seemed really slim. The notion that this weak, premature infant would one day rule Britain was, in that moment, unthinkable. But, of course, the baby did survive those early days and ultimately went on to be crowned King. Only Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have ever surpassed his time on the throne.