Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Chap: The Prince of Whales

The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the Chap Magazine on the fat dandy Prince George IV:

...While the crowned heads of Europe were sweating at the thought of separation from their royal torsos, George IV, then Prince of Wales, saw a singular opportunity presented by the revolution in France. Along with the refugee noblemen arriving at Dover came some of the greatest unemployed chefs in all of Europe, and the hungry Prince was ready to put them through their paces. The aristocratic English diet at the time was centered on heroic portions of beef, and the Prince himself, in his typical pre-Brumellian attire of pink and white silk coats and waistcoats, spangled breeches, lacy-sleeved shirts, all embroidered with heraldic devices and flowers, dotted with silver and precious stones, and treated to generous applications of colorful foil, genuine diamonds, and French paste, attended regular dinners at Covent Garden’s  “Sublime Society of Beef-Steaks,” at which he and his vulgarian crew of noblemen would put away several pounds of cow flesh washed down with an ocean of arrack punch....
...It’s no wonder that by the age of fifty the Prince weighed 17 stone, ballooning to over 22 stone by the time he died. He did his best to control his 50-inch waist with whalebone corsets and stays, but it would seem that most of his astounding wardrobe, which included hundreds of suits, thousands of shirts, dozens of elaborate military uniforms, silk bathing gowns, white beaver robes for lounging, astrakhan caps in the Polish style, underpants of black silk, muffs made of Muscovy sable and sea otter, doeskin pantaloons, scarlet flannel waistcoats lined in calico, muslin-and-gold woven handkerchiefs costing about £1800 each at today’s rates, velvet nightcaps, boots with gold and silver tassels, and a dozen different jeweled eyeglass cases, along with thousands of snuffboxes, brooches, clasps, and rings, was outgrown at a ludicrous rate.The impression of a human disco ball – spherical and covered in diamonds – isn’t too far off from the truth. George, now King, spent his later years being helped into the ocean to bathe (infrequently,) by a lever and pulley-operated harness system installed at the Brighton Pavilion and shoved up ramps onto unfortunate horses in order to take exercise (even less frequently.)... 

No comments:

Post a Comment