A Royal Scandal (1997 TV Movie)
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Ian Richardson is an excellent narrator with the right tone of voice to narrate such a tale. Richard E. Grant gives an outstanding performance in his role as King George and Susan Lynch also gives us an outstanding and convincing performance as Princess Caroline of Brunswick. In fact all the actors and actresses in this TV movie are outstanding and their convincing performances are to be commended.
I found "A Royal Scandal" intriguing and enthralling and historically accurate. It draws upon personal correspondence and diaries that were kept at the time to help make the story complete. I would certainly label this as recommended viewing for anyone interested in watching a production that draws upon both real history and good cast members
At the end of the film THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III that monarch is furious with his son George ("Prinny"), Prince of Wales. Prinny had been angling with the Whigs to get a regency bill through putting him in charge of Britain because Daddy was crazy. But George III had recovered (if temporarily). George III waited for his chance.
If you saw either of the films of BEAU BRUMMELL you know that Prinny was tutored into being a cultured fop and gentleman by Brummell, but Prinny was also a gambler and spendthrift and rake. He had a girlfriend, Maria Fitzherbert, who was a Catholic, and whom he married because she requested this for her conscience. Mrs. Fitzherbert was an admirable friend/lover/pal for Prinny because she respected his rank and she was a sensible and intelligent woman. But her religion made her impossible for a Queen.
Prinny had debts, and his father refused to help pay them unless he got legally married (i.e. to a Protestant Princess) and produced an heir. He agreed, temporarily sending Maria away until he'd contact her again. King George and Prime Minister Pitt finally chose Princess Caroline of Brunswick (whose father was a leading European General). It was a disaster. Prinny, who had been a handsome youth, was putting on weight by this time due to the good food Brummell introduced him to. Caroline was also quite a heavy eater. Prinny prided himself on his fine clothing and appearance (despite the weight). Caroline wore loud patterns and clothing. Her manners were okay for a small German Principality or Duchy, but not on par with Prinny's. Still they did get married, and had one child. This was Princess Caroline, who would reach adulthood and marry, but die in childbirth with her child in 1817,
A long comedy of errors developed as Caroline took umbrage at her husband resuming life with Maria Fitzherbert, and began a series of affairs. In 1807 the government was forced to make "the delicate investigation", and found she was fooling around with members of Parliament (including, possibly, one future Prime Minister). Caroline was given a stern warning, and the now publicly humiliated Prinny waited for his revenge.
Thirteen years later, finally becoming George IV, Prinny ordered his Prime Minister to begin proceedings against Caroline for adultery. It should have been easy There were plenty of witnesses to her trysts. Her lover Razelli came to testify against her before the House of Lords. But Caroline had the services of Henry Brougham, the best barrister in England (and a future Lord Chancellor). Brougham destroyed Razelli's testimony by asking pointed questions about his own behavior with the Princess, and his taking money from the Government for his testimony (Razelli's phrase, "No me ricorde" - "I don't remember" - became as famous in the 1820s as "I plead the fifth amendment, as my statements may tend to incriminate me" in the testimony before HUAC or Kefauver's anti-Mafia committee in the 1950s).
Caroline was acquitted - a fact that did not sit well with King George IV. He still had one final card to play - and he did play it.
Ian Richardson did the dry, humorous narrative for the production. It was well acted, and well worth watching for an intriguing look at a scandal that shook up Britain for awhile.