A Royal Experiment

The Private Life of King George III

Janice Hadlow

Henry Holt and Co.

"A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

"[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III’s radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children

In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow’s groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.

He was the first of Britain’s three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.

Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.

The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.


Read an Excerpt


The Strangest Family


GEORGE III’S FIRST SPEECH FROM the throne was a resounding declaration of his particular fitness to take up the task before him. ‘Born and educated in this country,’ he pronounced, ‘I glory in the name of Britain.’1 It was not a statement any of his immediate predecessors could have made, which was of course precisely why he said it. From the very earliest days of his reign, he sought to mark himself out from his Hanoverian forebears. Neither George I nor George II had been born in Britain, and neither ever



Praise for A Royal Experiment

"Janice Hadlow's A Royal Experiment is a masterpiece. Beautifully written, impeccably researched, this heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire

"From the first pages of Janice Hadlow's enthralling A Royal Experiment you know you are in the hands of a master narrator as well as a profoundly perceptive historian. And like all great historical writing, the book transcends its immediate story—gripping and moving though that is—to be a timeless reflection on the human condition." —Simon Schama, whose works include The Embarrassment of Riches and The Story of the Jews

"Truly engrossing. George III and his relatives give us the ultimate family saga; it almost defies belief that these events really happened. A real-life period drama to lose yourself in." —Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces

[A] fascinating, story-filled account. . . . In this densely detailed yet fast-paced book, as drama follows drama, the interest never flags. Each story is a revelation. . . . [George III and his family’s] experience prefigures an enduring royal dilemma—how to live a private life in the glare of publicity.” —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

“In readable prose, with a welter of detail, Hadlow succeeds in her considerable task . . . . enlivened by Hadlow’s infectious enthusiasm.” —Matthew Dennison, The Telegraph

[A] colorful and brilliantly narrated royal chronicle . . . . Excellent both in her narrative skill and her scholarship, Hadlow . . . . has produced a perceptive, lively and wonderfully enjoyable book.” —Miranda Seymour, The Sunday Times

Engrossing . . . . Hadlow, an accomplished storyteller, assembles . . . a picture full of emotional colour and drama, which still resonates today.” —Lucy Hughes-Hallet, The Times

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Janice Hadlow

  • Janice Hadlow has worked at the BBC for 28 years, including more than 10 years as a top executive. She was educated at comprehensive school in Swanley, in north Kent, and graduated with a BA in history from King’s College London. She currently lives in Bath. A Royal Experiment is her first book.
  • Janice Hadlow Martin Davidson


Available Formats and Book Details

A Royal Experiment

The Private Life of King George III

Janice Hadlow



Henry Holt and Co.