Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prinny's Scottish Obsession

In 1822, shortly after he became king, George IV made an important trip to Scotland, in order to gain support from that part of the kingdom and quell radical opposition. No British monarch had visited Scotland since 1650, and this event proved to be a great success. The famous Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott, took the opportunity to orchestrate the reception of the king, with the main motive of reviving ancient Scottish identity. The elaborate pagentry included the use of clan tartans and the wearing of the kilt, which had gradually disappeared over the years. Since that time, kilt-wearing has become a fixed feature in Scottish culture. George appeared in Scottish garb and the press reported that the king was "a portly handsome man looking and moving every inch a King". The caricature artists depicted him as less than regal. When some complained that George wore his kilts too short, Lady Hamilton-Dalrymple wittily responded "Since he is to be among us for so short a time, the more we see of him the better." In case anyone is wondering what George wore under his kilt, it was a pair of flesh-colored tight pantaloons.

The Scottish visit was a smashing success, mainly on the part of Scotland, which received a much needed boost in national pride. The Act of Union in 1707, in which the United Kingdom appropriated a bankrupted Scotland in exchange for paying its debts, had left many Scots bitter. The wearing of clan tartans and Scottish regalia had been banned from 1746-1782, because it signified Jacobite support. Robert Burns' 1791 poem Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation, exemplified the general feeling still burning in the Scottish heart. It's one of my favorites set to music by my beloved Steeleye Span.

It reflects the times that an Ackermann fashion print of the time includes a little boy sporting the same costume worn by the king.

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