Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy (Belated) Birthday, George!

Today, I am reminded of birthdays.  For one, we have a little one who will be celebrating his first birthday shortly in my family.  For another, my grandmother would have been 102 today.  And August 12 marked one of the biggest birthday celebrations in the early nineteenth century, for it is the natal day of His Royal Highness George, the Prince of Wales, affectionately known as Prinny.
Marissa covered the interesting life of the man who would one day become George IV in several posts beginning here.  He could be as inquisitive and as capricious as a child, which is no doubt one of the reasons he sometimes insisted on a major blowout of a party on his birthday. 

For example, in 1814, he commissioned activities in all the public parks in London.  In Hyde Park and Green Park, he had booths and tents erected for a major fair with food, music, and dancing.  Little ships enacted a mock Naval battle on the Serpentine, and a balloon ascended from Hyde Park. The night ended with fireworks from an illuminated "temple." 

Meanwhile, over in St. James's Park, boats paraded in a regatta, and the military held an encampment through which the fashionable might promenade.  A Chinese pagoda built over the canal launched fireworks at the end of the night.

And while all this entertainment was open to everyone of any class for free, certain advertisements of the event stressed that the wealthy might purchase tickets:

"The rich may purchase the accommodation of a less occupied space, while the amusements of all will be equal and indeed universal," promised the Tradesman, an economic journal of the time.  "And the fund raised by the sale of the tickets (issued only, to be understood, for the due accommodation of certain classes) will be appropriated to some great and benevolent endowment, suited to the occasion and commemorative of it."

The rest of the cost, noted the Tradesmen, would be taken out of government funds, with each department contributing.  I guess that's one way to fund a birthday party!

And speaking of parties, Marissa and I will be doing something a little different than celebrating for the next two weeks as we prepare to tackle several important familiar milestones like the first year of college for two very special young ladies.  So, there will be no blog posts between now and September 6.

Time for a party, perhaps?


QNPoohBear said...

Happy Birthday George! In honor of his birthday, I went to see his banyan in the museum exhibit Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Man of Fashion. There was lots of Cruikshank prints, lots on Beau Brummel's influence on style and more. Check out my blog write-up

Leandra Wallace said...

Congrats on the little one's imminent bday! Those parties are so much to plan. And I would say enjoy your break- but getting kids off to college doesn't sound like much of one! =)

Regina Scott said...

Thanks for sharing, QNPoohBear! I love that banyan!

Thanks for the congrats and commiserations, Leandra! It's exciting to see your child taking wing, but bittersweet to be on the ground watching them go!