Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Handwritten George III letter to be auctioned in Cambridge

Auctioneers say i is rare to see letters like this go up for auction. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A handwritten letter by King George III showing his intent to take Britain to war with Napoleon and France in 1803 is being auctioned in Cambridge.

The document is dated the May 14 1803 - four days before Britain formally declared war on France.

It was written to Lord Hawkesbury, the then Secretary of State and is described as a "defining moment of history".

In the letter, the King wrote 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."

The letter is signed 'George R'. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The letter which is being sold by an anonymous vendor is signed George R.

"This letter is a defining moment of history showing the King's intention to go to war with France and Napoleon. The Napoleonic wars are iconic of the huge victories of the British army and these were defining moments in our country's history, laying the groundwork for the nation to rule the waves and put us at the forefront of European history. Whilst relations between Britain and France had been somewhat strained since the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, this letter marks the end of peacetime negotiations and contains the explicit instructions from the King to proceed with war."

– Charles Ashton, Cheffins auctioneers
Charles Ashton from Cheffins places the letter in a secure cabinet. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Letters fully written by George III are rarely seen at auction.