In the summer of 1820, King George IV demanded that his government secure the
punishment of his estranged wife, Queen Caroline, for her allegedly
adulterous behaviour. Ministers acquiesced, and introduced a bill of pains
and penalties to deprive the Queen of all royal titles and privileges, and
to affect a divorce. After lengthy consideration by the House of Lords the
bill was withdrawn, to the King's annoyance and the embarrassment of
his government. This chapter examines the bill procedure as a parliamentary
phenomenon. It conferred on Parliament considerable authority, but its
unusual process also subjected the legislature to considerable strain.
Caroline's 'case' was one that the government had tried hard
to avoid. Legally obscure, politically dangerous, and generating
considerable public disquiet, it had been forced upon ministers by the
refusal of both the King and Queen to compromise.
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