History

King George III Letter Expressing War Intent Sells For £11,430 At Auction

The 1803 letter fetched more than 11 times its pre-sale estimate...

The King describes the conduct of France as "unfair to the last"(Picture: SWNS).

A handwritten letter in which King George III signals his intent to go to war with France and Napoleon has sold at auction for £11,430.

The document, sold by an anonymous private vendor, is dated 14 May 1803, four days before Britain formally declared war on France.

It was sold at Cheffins in Cambridge to a private collector who bid for it by telephone, with the letter fetching more than 11 times its pre-sale estimate of £500 to £1,000.

The letter was first sold in 1935 at Maggs Bros, one of the world's largest and oldest antiquarian booksellers, for £38.

Charles Ashton, a director at Cheffins said: "This letter is a defining moment of history showing the King's intention to go to war with France and Napoleon."

The letter was written by King George III to Lord Hawkesbury, then Secretary of State (Picture: SWNS).

The King wrote in the letter that he had "perused the dispatch and private letter from Lord Whitworth", a British politician and diplomat who at the time of the letter was ambassador in Paris.

"The conduct of France has been equally unfair to the last," he wrote.

"And though conscious of the Evils that must be entailed on many Countries by the renewal of War, yet the conviction that by the restless disposition of the Ruler of France this event could not long have been kept off, it seems necessary to attend alone to the best modes of repelling the violence with effect, and the attacking those objects which our present means render attainable.

"The King will remain in Town to execute any Steps that the present moment may require."

He signs off the letter as "George R".

A full-length portrait of King George III in coronation robes by Allan Ramsay.

The French war lasted for 12 years and saw a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies.

It was led by Napoleon I - French statesman and military leader - against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom.

Napoleon was decisively defeated at Waterloo, and he abdicated again on 22 June.

The Treaty of Paris, signed on 20 November 1815, formally ended the war.