It has been the scene of countless dramas over its four hundred year history, but for once the theatrics will all be scripted in this forthcoming immersive theatre production at Kensington Palace.
The new show, which will be produced by the Olivier nominated theatre company Les Enfants Terribles, will tell the story of one of the 18th century’s most scandalous love triangles.
The blurb for United Queendom says: “it’s 1734 and you’re invited to an exclusive party at Kensington Palace to celebrate King George II’s birthday. Underneath the seemingly joyful occasion is an undercurrent of tension between Queen Caroline and her husband’s mistress, Henrietta Howard, who is desperate to leave and start a new life”.
Set in a series of rooms in and around the palace, audience members will be able to see the action unfold before their eyes in the actual rooms where the drama took place.
The Hanoverians arrived in Britain in 1714 after coming to the throne following the accession crisis. The crisis was precipitated by the death without issue of the previous monarch, Queen Anne. To ensure the continuation of Protestant rule, Parliament chose the Electress of Hanover, Princess Sophia, as the rightful heir to the English crown. After the death of Sophia in early 1714, her son George moved to Britain to claim the English Throne.
The new German born king was not an immediate hit with the British public. Speaking little English and with a habit of disappearing back to his native Germany at every occasion, the cheers that greeted the king’s arrival soon turned to jeers.
When George passed away in 1727, his son (also called George) came to the throne. A brave military leader, the new king was an instant hit with the British public, even if he was privately considered a bit of a bore, with a love of obscure facts and mind numbing details.
Caroline of Ansbach
George met his future wife Caroline in 1705, while on a visit to the Ansbach court. Seeking a suitable bride, the Hanoverian prince had come to see whether Caroline would fit the bill. Charming and intelligent, Caroline made an immediate impression on the prince, who left the Ansbach court determined to make her his wife.
The pair married later than year in a dazzling ceremony back in George’s native Hannover. By the follow May, Caroline was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Frederich.
By the time of George’s coronation in 1727, the couple would have added three more children – Anne, Amelia and Caroline – to their ever expanding family.
The Other Woman – Henrietta Howard
Even though the couple enjoyed a happy union, George still insisted on upholding the family tradition of keeping a mistress. The position would subsequently fall to Henrietta Howard, the daughter of Norfolk landowner Sir Henry Hobart, who joined the household as a chambermaid.
Howard had met the king (then Prince George) during a visit to Hannover with her then husband Charles Howard. The two hit it off immediately and the prince and Howard quickly began an affair.
This relationship was crystallised in 1723 when Prince George made a financial settlement with Howard’s husband that would allow her to continue in her role of royal mistress!
Howard was appointed a Lady of the Bedchamber and thus it was that the King, his wife and his lover all moved to Kensington Palace in 1727.
The Theatre Company
The award winning Les Enfants Terribles have been described as “one of the most innovative and exciting theatre companies working today”. The company’s internationally acclaimed work includes such productions as ‘The Trench’, ‘The Terrible Infants’ and ‘The Vaudevillians’ and a series of innovative immersive productions such as ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, and ‘The Game’s Afoot’. The group are principally known for their large-scale public events and installations in such prestigious venues as The British Library and the V&A.
United Queendom is now closed.