Magazine article The Spectator

Lampooning the Royals

Magazine article The Spectator

Lampooning the Royals

Article excerpt

After all the splendiferous photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, how about something more subversive? That is what Kew Palace delivers in its exhibition of George III caricatures from the collection of Lord Baker.

This is royalty filtered not through the flattering lenses of the modern photographer, but through the sharp nibs of 18th-century cartoonists such as James Gillray. The results are vicious. Delightfully so.

The fashion among Gillray and his co-conspirators was to lampoon the King for his interest in agriculture. 'Farmer George' is shown as more mouldy peasant than monarch, with billowing lips and the shoulder-heavy gait of an ox.

But this is nothing compared with the satirical treatment of his wife, Queen Charlotte. For reasons that are rather opaque now - and were probably rather opaque at the time - she is depicted as cruel, shrunken and avaricious. …

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