Hanging on to Hanover
Three hundred years ago, in August 1714, the Protestant Elector of Hanover ascended to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland, becoming George I. Graham Darby describes the latter phase of the personal union, which lasted until 1837.
The personal union between the monarchs of England and the state of Hanover, the outcome of the Protestant Settlement signed in 1701, came to an end with the death of William IV in 1837. The foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, was delighted:
The Hanoverian Dynasty, and German prejudices which belonged to it, and which for a century have embarrassed and impeded our march both at home and abroad will cease. The Sovereign of England will no longer be hampered by considerations belonging to the petty state of Hanover; and I believe that since the accession of George I, these German politics have more or less continually had their influence on the Councils of England.
Historians have long recognised that the Electorate of Hanover (so-called as one of eight states whose heads elected the Holy Roman Emperor) played an important role in British foreign policy under the first two Georges, the ‘German’ kings. It has been acknowleged more recently that Hanover was important to George III (r. 1760-1820), too, though he was careful to separate Hanoverian from British interests. During the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815), however, this became impossible.