Royal Tea: George I and George II


Valeria Velasquez

A student of royal family trees and history would easily spot this trend: the amount of problematic white men, as well as the list of European kings who just couldn’t keep it in their pants (not even for their half-sisters.) But, hey, who are we to judge such taboo circumstances when having a mini-army of mistresses and illegitimate children was a common expectation?
Like many things, strange, repulsive or taboo history is often just a product of its time. On this episode of Royal Tea, I’d like to try something different and discuss the noteworthy aspects of the lives of two royals with one similarity: they’re both named George.
King George I of England wasn’t truly “of England” at all. In fact, his only connection to the British throne was through his mother, Sophia of the Palatinate, who was the granddaughter of King James I of England. In 1682, George I married his cousin, Sophia Dorothea of Celle.
As the new king of England, George I had a hard time fitting in — he only knew a couple of English words when he first entered the throne. Aside from his political troubles and the birth of his two children followed by no other pregnancies, it seemed as if he and Sophie were rather distant. As with any good ol’ 17th century marriage, it only took a little bit of distance before a plethora of extramarital affairs followed.
Strangely enough, George’s mother and his estranged wife, both named Sophia, weren’t enough to cover his apparent “Sophia” addiction: many people found his close relationship with his younger half sister, Sophia Charlotte von Kielmansegg to be a little too close for comfort. Aside from potentially engaging in romantic relationships with his half (the half was probably very important) sister, he also engaged in a love affair with Madame Melusine Schulenburg. Comically enough, these two ladies, one very plump and the other stick thin, came to be known as “The Elephant” and “The Maypole” by the English public.
To put it bluntly, George II and his father, George I,despised each other. For starters, after George I discovered his wife’s affair with a man in the Swedish court, he locked up Sophia of the Palatinate in a castle far, far away in order to avoid any elopement scandal. Consequently, George II probably wasn’t too thrilled with his father’s bitter treatment of his mother, whom he had locked up for life.
As George II got older, the quarreling with his difficult father became more despicable, but George I did do his son a good service by allowing him to choose his wife so he didn’t have to enter a “loveless” marriage. After engaging in a little bit of “Undercover Boss,” which included dressing up and snooping around at a royal party, he set his eyes on Caroline of Ansbach, whom he met in disguise.
Even though Papa George had granted his son the choice to marry whom he wished, quarreling between the two only grew more intense to the point where George II was kicked out of the royal grounds.
After the death of George I, George II grasped the perfect opportunity to modify all of his father’s policies and establish his own legacies. George II tried his best to pave his own path and erase his father’s legacy, but karma took its exquisite bite at the relationship between George II and his son, Frederick, which mirrored the bitterness between George II and his own father.