I’ve written posts about the Prince Regent and his lavish lifestyle before. Click here, here and here to read a few of them. The Prince’s association with Jane Austen is minor but crucial: He admired her novels, and she dedicated Emma to him.
The conventional wisdom is that Austen tried to squirm out of the tribute to the Prince. Was it “incumbent on [her] to shew her sense of the Honour” by dedicating her forthcoming novel to His Royal Highness? she asked Clarke. “It is certainly not incumbent on you” to do so, he responded, “but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part” (16 November 1815). – Colleen A. Sheehan, Jane Austen Society of North America
Aside from his admiration of Jane Austen, this extravagant, dissolute prince was known for sponsoring major building and park projects that transformed London, including the renovations of Carlton House in London and the sumptuous Pavilion at Brighton. Both were designed in the neoclassical and Gothic styles we’ve come to associate with the Regency era’s furnishings, fashion, and architecture.
Carlton House, sumptuously decorated in the height of fashionable Francophile taste in line with the prince’s Whig sympathies by the important architect Henry Holland (1745–1806), was the setting for a series of the extravagant parties which the prince so loved to give, culminating in the famous Carlton House fete in 1811 on his appointment as Regent. The dazzled Thomas Moore wrote to his mother about this fete, detailing the delights of the indoor fountain and the artificial brook that ran down the centre of the table, and concluding, ‘Nothing was ever half so magnificent. It was in reality all that they try to imitate in the gorgeous scenery of the theatre’ (quoted in Hibbert, 1973, p.371). (A Prince at Seaside, Learning Space)
(Image from Old London Maps)
You can view some of the rooms at Carlton Hose, such as the crimson drawing room, in this link to Decorative Arts and Design History in this link.
Blue Closet, Carlton House, The Royal Collection
The Prince Regent’s friends were also known as the ‘Carlton House Set.’ Read a detailed description of the Prinny’s high roller friends in this link: The Prince Regent and His Set from the Georgian Index.
From left to right depicted are the Earl of Sefton, The Duke of Devonshire, Lord Manners, “Poodle” Byng, Byng’s poodle (name unknown), and the Duke of Beaufort.
Post script: Today is the one-year anniversary of this blog! Since early April of this year, over 20,000 of you have dropped by to visit, and I want to thank you for your support.
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