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A romantic drama by W. P. Lipscomb.
[Starring] Jeannette Sterke, Tony Britton, Lucie Mannheim, Marius Goring
The action of the play begins on December 15, 1785, in Maria Fitzherbert's house in Pont Street, London, and continues in Brighton and at the Court of St. James's.
A Tempestuous Romance
It was a tempestuous romance: he pursued her, she fled from him, exiled herself to the Continent; he pursued her again, and at last she gave way. A parson was found, a marriage in secret was arranged. By the Royal Marriage Act there could be no 'royal marriage' without the consent of the King. It would therefore not be recognised in law. Maria cared nothing for that: she was married in the sight of God, for an Anglican priest performed the ceremony.
Only a woman of great courage could have faced the issue subsequently. The Prince's astronomical debts finally obliged him to give way to parental command and make the required marriage with the bride chosen for him, Princess Caroline of Brunswick. All Maria's courage and loyalty were put to the test. She suffered great indignities, yet she had but to wave her certificate of marriage and the whole project of a royal marriage would have been blown sky-high. But had she done so, the Prince would have been obliged to abdicate. She loved him too much to see him denied his right to the throne. So she held her peace. Maria could have had anything from the Prince; she asked for nothing.
By the way, although the song 'Lass of Richmond Hill' is always associated with the Prince and Maria it was actually written about Richmond in Yorkshire. But the words 'I'd crowns resign to call thee mine' so aptly fitted the suspected marriage that London adopted it.
Dickens was spoilt for me in the early days because the covers of the novels showed a fierce old gentleman as formidable as Mr. Barrett. Nobody asked me to think of him as a young man in his early twenties who wrote Pickwick, or the man who wrote six best-sellers before he was thirty. Bernard Shaw is apparently always ninety; Ibsen is invariably boxed in with whiskers.
Similarly the Prince Regent is always Robert Morley at his weightiest. At any attempt to show the Prince as he was at twenty-three, the cry goes up that we are whitewashing him. But there is no need for whitewash. At twenty-three the Prince was a graceful, gay, handsome, popular, athletic, and madly passionate young man.
Because he was so madly in love with Maria Fitzherbert (a woman of excellent family), he did in fact marry her. That the Prince regarded himself as married is beyond all doubt. In his will written in his own hand on January 10, 1796, he refers to her as 'Maria Fitzherbert, my wife, the wife of my heart and soul'. There are three other references to 'my real and true wife,' and the words are underlined by the Prince.
H.R.H. George, Prince of Wales:
Richard Brinsley Sheridan:
King George III:
Princess Caroline of Brunswick:
Ellen, Maria's confidential maid:
Henry Errington, her uncle:
Jack Smythe, her brother:
The Rev Robert Burt:
Weltje, major domo:
Courtiers, servants, workmen:
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Sunday-Night Theatre presents: The Lass of Richmond Hill
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