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Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe) (1756-1837), Famous beauty; morganatic wife of George IV

Sitter in 24 portraits
A woman of tact and discretion, Mrs Fitzherbert was one of the great beauties of her day. Although a Catholic and a widow she was persuaded to marry the Prince of Wales in a secret ceremony in 1785. The marriage was illegal. The Prince did not have the King's approval and the heir could not marry a Catholic without forfeiting the right to the throne. Mrs Fitzherbert was condemned to a life of deception as the Prince's 'mistress'. She patiently maintained this position for almost a decade after George's official marriage to Caroline of Brunswick in 1795.

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D12871

'Visiting the sick'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published 28 July 1806
NPG D12871

D15167

Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe)

by Thomas Holloway, published by John Sewell
line engraving, published 1786
NPG D15167

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