George II may have been King of Great Britain, but what he really wanted in life was to get on the battlefield. The royal loved nothing more than a good fight—especially with members of his own family. But he was also hiding some racy secrets behind closed doors. This King was both a prolific lover and a serious fighter—and as if that wasn’t exciting enough, his life also held some seriously jaw-dropping twists. Read on for these facts about George II.
1. He Wasn’t What Most People Expected
Although King George II was one of Great Britain’s longest-serving monarchs and became an emblem of his age, he actually wasn’t even British. No, really. The Teutonic George was born in Hanover, Germany in 1683, and his noble parents actually taught him French as his first language, since it was the language of the court.
But when it comes to George and his family, that’s just the beginning of the surprises.
2. He Was A Mama’s Boy
George was born into a disgraced family. His parents, Sophia Dorothea and George Louis, were notorious philanderers of their time. They carried on multiple affairs, but in 1692, his mother took one extramarital lover too many—and paid a devastating price. In a scandal that rocked Europe, the Hanoverian court dissolved his parents’ marriage and imprisoned his mother in a castle.
The prepubescent George II would never see her again. That didn’t stop him from following in her footsteps…or bed sheets, as it were.
3. His Father Was A Mismatch-Maker
After his embarrassingly failed marriage, George’s father didn’t want his son to get stuck in a loveless, pre-arranged marriage like he had. But still, after his big scandal, he needed all the help he could get. George Louis started political negotiations for his son to marry Hedvig Sophia of Sweden.
But little Georgie-Porgy had a different plan.
4. He Rebelled Against His Father
George definitely didn’t want to end up like his parents—not least of all because royal prison suit orange just wasn’t his color. While his father was scheming to have him marry Hedvig Sophia, George hatched his own secret plan. There are reality TV show writers today who would be jealous of the cunning scheme that this royal rebel came up with.
5. He Was A Master Of Disguise
In June 1705, George put his plan to find true love in motion. The Hanoverian royal traveled to the court at Ansbach, Mission: Impossible-style. George—presumably wearing a digitally rendered, 3D-printed face mask—went undercover to Ansbach as “Monsieur de Busch.” He was determined to find someone who loved him for his true self…while using a presumed identity?
Much to everyone’s surprise, his little scheme worked.
6. He Got Caught
George’s plan was a little convoluted. But there was one person who saw straight through his disguise—probably because he was, you know, a European royal with his face plastered on paintings in every court from England to Russia. The dashing Caroline of Ansbach recognized George and the rest, as they say, is history. No actually. It is history.
7. He Was Handsome
George fell madly in love with Caroline of Ansbach—or, maybe Monsieur de Busch did, we’re not clear on that. And, for the most part, the feeling was mutual. Caroline found George to be handsome. No word on whether that was with or without the disguise. An English envoy at the time said that George “would not think of anybody else.”
Of course, that’s not entirely true.
8. He Married An Orphan
George and Caroline’s love story reads like a fairy tale—albeit, an adult fairy tale. Caroline of Ansbach was an orphan. Despite this, many considered her to be “the most agreeable Princess in Germany.” George was kind of her white knight—AKA secret, super-rich prince. There wasn’t much of a “happily ever after” though.
9. He Rushed Into Marriage
Love must have been in the air during the German summer of 1705. Just one month after they met in Ansbach, George and Caroline had finalized all of the details in their marriage contract—how romantic. And a month after that, they tied the knot. But the couple’s marriage got off to a rocky start. In fact, it almost ended even before it began.
10. He Was Lovesick
Not long after George and Caroline carried out their nuptials, tragedy struck. After giving birth to their first child, Caroline contracted smallpox. George just couldn’t bear the thought of losing his beloved wife and stayed by her bedside throughout her illness—but that was just the start of the terrible nightmare.
Thanks to his proximity to his sick bride, George fell ill as well. For a moment, things seemed extremely dicey for the young couple—but fortunately, both survived to love another day.
11. He Loved A Fight
George loved more than just his darling wife, Caroline. Apart from the love he had for her, George was passionate about fighting. The king-to-be was a military strategy fanatic. Against his father’s wishes, George participated in the Battle of Oudenarde. His marriage had nearly cost him his life through smallpox, but this next battle was even more dangerous.
12. He Made A Narrow Escape
George was on the winning side of the Battle of Oudenarde but that didn’t mean he had it easy. He only narrowly escaped with his life. His unit came under heavy attack and people were falling all around him like flies. Even the colonel from his side perished in the fight—but the worst was yet to come. Things got really scary when his horse fell in the battle.
Somehow, George got away unscathed…but not before doing something supremely stupid.
13. He Was In Charge
It might not have been luck that kept George alive and well at the Battle of Oudenarde. It might have been divine intervention. The Duke of Marlborough who led the forces in the fight wrote that the future King George II “distinguished himself extremely, charging at the head of […] the Hanoverian troops.” He was about to get a lot more popular too.
14. He Got In Line
At the time, Queen Anne was ruling over Great Britain, but she had no heirs. As a result, it was decided that her crown would go to her cousin George Louis—that’s right, George’s father—after her death. Finally, in 1714, she passed on. George Louis became King George I, and our George became Prince of Wales and heir to the throne. These title changes came with their share of danger, though…
15. He Had A Near Miss
While standing in for his father during a royal appointment, George attended the Theater Royal on Drury Lane. An unknown assailant attempted to do what even enemy forces hadn’t been able to on a battlefield. He tried to end George’s reign before it even began. The assailant managed to take out one person in the assassination attempt but, once again, George escaped totally unscathed.
Unfortunately, his good luck earned him one very powerful enemy.
16. He Was A Crowd Favorite
George had survived smallpox, battle, and an attempt on his life—all before the age of 35. The newly-minted Prince of Wales’ apparent invincibility made him wildly popular in his adopted country of England. And his father, the King of England, took note. Either out of jealousy or mistrust, the already strained relationship between George and his father took a nosedive.
17. He Threw Down The Gauntlet
George was skilled in battle, but political fighting was something else entirely. In a vindictive move, his father named the Duke of Newcastle as a baptismal sponsor for George’s second son…even though he knew George detested the duke. So, at the baptism, George threw out some fighting words which, unsurprisingly, the Duke interpreted as a challenge for a duel. This didn’t go well for anyone.
18. His Father Had Him “Confined”
George had brought his love of battle into his civilian life, and it wasn’t going his way. In order to prevent any further…hostilities, George’s father had to take action—and the path he chose was truly disturbing. Before the duel could happen, he confined (read: locked up) George and Caroline to their chambers. Like mother, like son, huh? But there may have been an even darker side to the situation.
The whole baptismal setup may have been a ploy by his deceptive and jealous father to sideline him. But George’s biggest fights were just getting started.
19. His Father Kicked Him Out
George’s family feuds completely dwarfed any of the action he experienced on the battlefield. After confining his son to his chambers, King George I ultimately decided that he didn’t want him or his daughter-in-law in the royal residences. Like, at all. The king banished George and Caroline from St. James’ Palace altogether.
And, in a cruel twist, history would repeat itself.
20. He Couldn’t See His Kids
Remember, after her imprisonment when he was just 10 or 11 years old, George hadn’t seen his mother. Well, his children were about to suffer the same fate. While George II’s father had banished him and Caroline from the palace, he made sure to keep their kids. The royal couple, knowing King George I’s cruelty, were totally distraught.
21. He Staged A Break-In
George couldn’t bear the thought of being without his children so, along with Caroline, he snuck into St. James’ Palace—and their reactions were utterly heartbreaking. Upon seeing their children again, Caroline fainted and George was, well, less than battlefield brave. The future king “cried like a child” after he reunited with his children. After this, the king relented and permitted his son to see his children…once a week.
22. He Snubbed The King
Even if George wanted to throw down with his dad for his cruelty, he couldn’t. Because, you know, his dad was the king, so that would be treason and he would lose his head. Still, time took care of that problem for him. In June of 1727, George’s father passed on. Then, George got the last laugh. In an unprecedented move, he did not attend his father’s—AKA the king’s—funeral.
23. He Was Well-Allowed
Once George became King George II, he wasted zero time indulging in the regal luxuries that his father had always denied him. After all, not only was he not banished from the palace, he had the keys to the whole kingdom. The new ruler decided to take an annual allowance of £800,000. That’s only like, £100million today.
But you know what they say, more money, more problems. So many more problems.
24. He Was Ready For A Fight
With his father out of the picture, George II had no one left to fight with, and he missed the excitement of his military days. He needed to go out and make some new enemies. Against the advice of his court, George II began making aggressive maneuvers along the Prussian-Hanoverian border. And he had to make it personal.
25. He Fought His Family
The Prussian ruler whose borders George II was trampling on just so happened to be a near relation of his. Frederick William I of Prussia wasn’t just George II’s brother-in-law , he was also his first cousin. But quite apart from the fact that Frederick William I was family, there was another reason why George II was picking a losing fight.
26. He Met His Match
The truth is, Frederick was just as much of a fighter as George II, and he wasn’t going to back down. The saber-rattling between the two cousin-kings got so intense that an all-out conflict seemed inevitable. To stave off total disaster, diplomats from both countries suggested that the two kings settle the matter with a duel.
For a guy who loved a fight, George II’s response was…unexpected.
27. He Picked The Wrong Fight
Instead of picking up his sword and fighting mano-a-mano, George declined the offer of a duel. See, part of being a good military strategist is knowing when you’re beaten, and George II was a good military strategist. After all, Frederick William I’s subjects called him the “Soldier King,” and George didn’t like the sounds of that.
That didn’t stop his hissy fits though.
28. His Son Was Just Like Him
If George II couldn’t fight with his brother-in-law, then, he decided, he would have to fight with another relation. Namely, his estranged son. While George II had been feuding with his own father in England, his son, Frederick, had been growing up in the Hanoverian court. By the time George II brought him to England 14 years later, father and son had nothing in common.
Except, maybe, a love for blood feuds.
29. He Abandoned His Kingdom
George II might have been King of Great Britain, but he was Hanoverian by birth, after all. By 1736, the homeland was calling to him, and George made the trip over. As it turned out, this was a horrible idea. Even though he had every intention of returning, his English subjects were not impressed with their abandonment.
As a result, George had to make plans to sail home ASAP. Cue: Disaster.
30. He Sailed Into A Storm
George II was eager to return to England before his subjects could get too angry with him. Apparently, he did not check the weather report before sailing off into the English Channel. The foolhardy king sailed directly into a giant and terrible winter storm that was raging on the high seas. And he definitely was not a sailor at heart.
31. He Was Lost At Sea
Back at home in England, things looked absolutely dire. Weeks went by without any sign of George II or his ship. Among his subjects, gossip began to swirl around that George II had perished in the wintry storm. But anyone who knew George II knew that he wasn’t an easy man to get rid of. One month later, the king of Great Britain miraculously emerged from the shore.
He wasn’t entirely unscathed this time though.
32. He Changed For The Worst
Not long after his miraculous return to England, George II retreated from the public eye once again. The king’s harrowing voyage had taken its toll on him and he fell ill with a fever and piles—that’s a fancy way of saying that he had a terrible case of hemorrhoids. Frederick, George II’s son, began spreading rumors that his father wasn’t going to make it.
Obviously, junior didn’t know his daddy.
33. He Kept Up Appearances
George II knew that his son was angling for his throne—he was, after all, no stranger to father-son feuds. When he heard that Frederick was spreading rumors that he was about to kick the can, George II pulled himself out of bed and attended a social event—fever and all. I don’t imagine that anyone was eager to share a dance with him.
34. He Wasn’t There For His Grandkids
Frederick was downright disappointed that his dad managed to survive. But there were other ways to send his father to an early grave—like a broken heart. In order to get back at his father, Frederick banned George II and Caroline from the birth of their first grandchild. Once again though, it was George II who would have the last, cruel laugh.
35. He Was A Chip Off The Old Block
George II couldn’t tolerate his son’s insubordination—maybe, now, he was beginning to understand his own father’s actions. So, George II reached deep into his emotional baggage and pulled out an old trick his father had used on him. George II banished Frederick from the royal palace. Boy, the apple really does not fall far.
36. He Lost His Love
Instead of driving the family apart, King George II should’ve been keeping it together—because a heartbreaking tragedy was about to strike. George’s wife Caroline of Ansbach passed on after an extended—and excruciating—battle with a strangulated bowel. George II, who had never stopped loving her, was utterly grief-stricken.
According to many eyewitnesses, the bellicose and belligerent king displayed “a tenderness of which the world thought him before utterly incapable.”
37. He Made A Strange Vow
There was definitely no doubt that George II loved Caroline and mourned her bitterly. But that didn’t mean that her final moments had to be tragic. In fact, they were kind of comedic. With her final words, Caroline urged George II to remarry. George II refused, saying, “No, I shall have mistresses!” That was a little, um, misleading.
38. He Had Multiple Affairs
If we know anything about George II, it’s that he was very much the product of his parents. Affairs included. Despite his intense love for Caroline, George II carried on numerous affairs throughout his marriage. But don’t worry about poor old Caroline, as George II kept her informed about all of them. More than that, some of his affairs might have “bore fruit.”
39. He Was A Baby Daddy
One of George II’s longest love affairs—marriage aside—was with a Hanoverian noblewoman, Amalie von Wallmoden. Their affair went on for nearly 30 years, which was more than enough time for George II to maybe get Amalie pregnant. One of her two sons might actually have been George II’s progeny, though he never acknowledged the child.
Considering his treatment of the kids he did acknowledge, that was a blessing.
40. His Son Was A Schemer
While George II was busy ignoring the existence of the boy who might have been his son, his actual son was very busy—with an absolutely devious plan. After his mother’s passing, Frederick conspired against his father by entertaining George II’s political opponents at his home. But if Frederick was planning a coup, it would never come to fruition.
41. His Son Suffered An Unexpected Fate
George II’s unbelievable luck continued. His scheming son, Frederick, passed on rather unexpectedly from what historians believe to have been a pulmonary embolism. Those can be induced…just saying. Whatever the cause, George II’s biggest political opponent was out of the picture. Sadly, the hits just kept coming for George II.
42. He Lost Another Child
George II was just recovering from his “grief” at his son’s passing when tragedy struck again. Later that same year, George II lost his daughter, Louisa. All in all, it was shaping up to be the worst year of George II’s life. Of course, there was one loss he wasn’t too sad about.
43. His Kids Annoyed Him
George II certainly loathed his eldest son, Frederick, but he liked to spread the hate around. Evenly. Reflecting on the untimely passing of his children, Louisa and Frederick, George II wrote, “I know I did not love my children when they were young: I hated to have them running into my room; but now I love them as well as most fathers.”
Sure, that’s believable, considering his track record…
44. He Was A Disappointed Daddy
It wasn’t long before George II was wishing that another one of his sons would just go away. Permanently. Namely, George II had grown more than a little tired of his third son, the Duke of Cumberland. His crime? Negotiating a peace treaty that George II didn’t like. According to George II, Cumberland had “ruined me and disgraced himself.”
45. His Grace Did Not Age Gracefully
After more than three decades on the throne—and a few close calls—George II’s love and feud-filled life finally took its toll. The aging king became blind in one eye and suffered from hearing loss. Somehow, he still found a way to enjoy the finer things in life. Like a cup of hot chocolate at six o’clock in the morning.
46. He Had A Final “Meal”
George II was something of an early bird. Maybe his alarm was the cries of the children he forgot to mourn. Nevertheless, on the morning of October 25, 1760, George II woke up at six as always. He sipped a cup of hot chocolate while attending to his, ahem, morning movements. If he had known what was coming, he probably would have gotten extra marshmallows with that hot chocolate.
47. He Had A Humbling End
George II’s end was an utterly humiliating one. A few moments after he went to his chambers, George II’s valet heard a loud sound. It wasn’t the sound of a healthy bowel movement—not that that would have been any more pleasant to hear. The valet rushed in to find George II on the floor. His physician noted that the king “appeared to have just come from his necessary-stool[…]” That paints a picture.
48. He Didn’t Get To Say Goodbye
George II’s attendants lifted him into his bed and called for his daughter, Princess Amelia. Sadly, by the time the princess arrived, George II had already passed. And he gave very specific instructions of what the palace was to do with his kingly corpse. Actually, it’s kind of sweet. In a worms-and-rotting flesh way.
49. He Made A Bizarre Request
In the end, George II just couldn’t wait to reunite with his dearly departed wife, and his last wishes were to be with her. Or, more specifically, with her rotting remains. He requested his attendants to bury him next to his wife, but that’s not the unusual part. He wanted the sides of their coffins removed so that “their remains could mingle.” Nothing says, “I love you,” quite like putrefaction.
50. He Was Lover—Or A Fighter
In the end, George II was probably more of a lover than a fighter. You know, if you exclude his father, his brother-in-law, his son, and his other son. And that time that he charged into a bloody battle. Either way, history looks kindly on George II. As one source claimed, “His character would not afford subject for epic poetry, but will look well in the sober page of history.”