NPG Number
999
Mkey
36
Sitter/Title
The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820
Qualifier
by
Artist(s)
SirGeorgeHayter
Date made
1820-1823
Medium
oil on canvas
Credit line
© National Portrait Gallery, London
the trial of queen caroline 1820

36

999

The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820

by

Sir George Hayter

1820-1823

oil on canvas

© National Portrait Gallery, London

The 'trial' of Queen Caroline in 1820 was not technically a trial but a parliamentary debate on a bill designed to grant the King a divorce. After separating from {George IV|mp1751}, Caroline lived in England until 1814, and then travelled in Europe and the East. Her adulterous relationship with her Italian valet {Count Pergami|mp62910} caused a scandal. On George IV's accession in January 1820 Caroline made haste for England to claim her throne as Queen. She was greeted by cheering crowds who, fuelled by their hatred of the King, dubbed her the 'people's queen'. Hayter's painting shows the House of Lords on the sixth day of the trial, with {Lord Grey|mp1912} questioning the Italian {Majocchi|mp2922} who repeatedly denied any memory of Caroline's sexual indiscretions. Other prominent figures are Caroline herself, {Henry Brougham|mp583} her lawyer and the {Duke of Wellington|mp4752}, standing under the left hand balcony. The proceedings ended in a compromise and the anticlimax of Caroline's acquittal, but not before it had provided a feverishly partisan England with one of the last great spectacles of the Regency.