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The First British Consort – A Look at Prince George of Denmark

Prince George of Denmark and Norway was born on 3 April 1653 in Copenhagen Castle in Denmark, the son of King Frederik III of Denmark and Norway and his consort, Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

A committed Lutheran, he was a candidate for the throne of Poland, but which he was prevented from taking due to his refusal to convert to the Roman Catholic Church; the throne eventually went to John III Sobieski. He later distinguished himself as a soldier during the Scanian War between Denmark-Norway and Sweden.

Prince George married Anne, the daughter of the Duke of York and niece of the King of England, Scotland and Ireland in St. James’ Palace on 28 July 1683, becoming the son-in-law of the future James II/VII. The marriage was happy, and the two were faithful to each other, and they lived at Whitehall Palace, in the Cockpit-in-Court.

Anne became pregnant a few months following her marriage to Prince George, and was famously unlucky; the two had 17 children, of which only five children were born alive, and just one reached beyond early childhood.

Prince George was made an English subject in 1683 and was granted the title ‘Duke of Cumberland’ in 1689. Upon the death of the officially Protestant Charles II, his openly Catholic father-in-law became King. His wife became the heir to the throne when William III, Prince of Orange invaded England at the request of prominent members of the political nation and was crowned with Anne’s sister, Mary, as co-monarch.

Anne remained heir to the throne as William and Mary had no children and Prince George became royal consort upon the death of William III on 20 February 1702, after complications from a fall from his horse. Upon the unification of the kingdoms of England and Scotland, he became the first British royal consort, as opposed to being a consort of two realms.

His tenure as consort to the British monarch was cut short when he was taken seriously ill in 1706. He died on 28 October 1708, after suffering from severe asthma and dropsy. Queen Anne mourned his death, and the Duke of Cumberland was buried on 13 November of that year at Westminster Abbey. His wife was later buried in this vault when she died in 1714.

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