This print is a caricature made by George Cruikshank. It mockingly depicts an event in 1813 when the Prince Regent investigated the tomb of two former English kings.
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Below we’ve highlighted some of the people depicted in the picture. You can read a longer story about the event on the Royal Pavilion & Museums main blog.
George, Prince Regent
The Prince Regent is the figure in red. He had recently become the ruler of Britain after his father, George III, became too ill to govern.
The Prince had commissioned the construction of a new burial chamber in Windsor Castle. It was this work that lead to the accidental discovery of the sealed tomb.
Sir Henry Halford
Henry Halford was the king’s personal doctor. When the tomb was discovered, George invited Halford to inspect the bodies.
Halford published a written account of his investigation, which Cruickshank would have read.
King Henry VIII
Henry VIII had died about 270 years before the tomb was discovered. According to Halford’s written account of his investigation, facial hair could still be seen on the body.
Henry VIII famously had six wives. At the time this print was produced, George was stuck in an unhappy marriage with Caroline of Brunswick.
King Charles I
Charles I was executed in 1649 during the English Civil War. Until this tomb was discovered, his burial place had been a mystery.
While George is fascinated by Henry’s whiskers, Charles raises his severed head as a warning of what happens to unpopular kings.
The Jacobins were a radical political faction during the French Revolution. Usually depicted as thin figures wearing red and blue, they often appear in the work of Cruickshank and other caricaturists of the day.
Jacobins were used to represent the threat of radical ideas. In this picture, he whispers to an oblivious George about how good a king can look without a head.
Lurking in the bottom right of the picture, a fiery devil looks up from down below.
It’s a suggestion that radicalism can open a path to hell.
Author: Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager