Hervey tells the story – at once shocking and funny – of the feud between King George II and his son Frederick, Prince of Wales. The Hanoverian Royals were already notorious for their inability to get on with one another, but in 1737 their squabbling reached grotesque new heights: Prince Frederick, determined that his wife should not give birth beneath his parents’ roof, smuggled the poor woman – shrieking, fainting, her waters already broken – out of Hampton Court and back to a deserted St. James’s Palace, where she was finally allowed to finish the job between two tablecloths borrowed from the house next door. The sequel to this unpleasantness saw the Prince banished from court, his father racked by a mid-life crisis, and his mother – the vivacious Queen Caroline – die of mortification.
Hervey is based on the memoirs of the King and Queen’s Vice-Chamberlain, Lord Hervey of Ickworth, a waspish and witty aristocrat desperate to make his mark as a statesman but ending up as nothing better than their Majesties’ drudge. The narrative, humorous and pacey, reveals all the nastiness at work among the Royals, as well as the bitter-sweet longings of the man who served them.