George III, unlike his father and grandfather, was born in England. He became heir to the throne when his father Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in 1751 from a lung abscess (believed to be caused by a blow on the chest from a cricket ball) before he could succeed his father. George was shy and stubborn but well educated in science and arts. He became King George III in 1760 following the death of his grandfather. In 1761, after an official search for a suitable wife, he married Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz whom he first met on his wedding day. The couple enjoyed a happy marriage and he never took a mistress. They had 16 children including George (later George IV) and William (who became William IV) and they were married for 57 years. In 1762 he purchased Buckingham House in London which later became Buckingham Palace. George had high moral standards, and appalled by the loose morals of his brothers introduced the Royal Marriage Act in 1772 which made it illegal for members of the Royal Family to marry without the consent of the Sovereign. He was interested in agricultural improvement, and during his reign there were advances in manufacturing mechanisation including the spinning frame and steam engine.

George was determined to be thrifty with his own and public expenses. He handed Parliament the right of income from Crown Estates in return for a Civil List annuity for the support of his household and expenses, an arrangement that continues today. Britain had been fighting a colonial war against France since 1756 with military success but at high financial cost. George appointed Lord Bute to negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1762 to end the Seven years war. This caused patriotic outrage for the concessions it gave to the French including the rights of French colonists in North America to remain in Quebec and New Orleans. Lord North became Prime Minister determined to make the colonies pay for their own security. The Stamp Act of 1765 levied a tax on every official document in the British colonies and high customs duties introduced. These were mostly repealed in the face of American protests, with the exception of the tax on tea. In 1773 colonists threw chests of tea overboard in Boston harbour in a protest know as the ‘Boston tea party’.

The American War of Independence began in April 1775 when colonists fought British troops at Lexington. George Washington was appointed commander of the Continental Army. On 4 July 1776 the Continental Congress under leadership of John Hancock declared independence. Fighting continued until 1781 when the British were defeated by Americans and French at Yorktown. In the Treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain agreed to recognise American independence. King George took the loss badly and considered abdication before facing the political and military realities. 1788 he suffered his first attack of insanity (now believed to be the result of the inherited disease porphyria) which was to plague him for the rest of his life. His son George, Prince of Wales, was made temporary regent an arrangement which became permanent in 1810.

In 1789 France was shaken by revolution and King Louis XVI guillotined in 1793. Britain was once more at war with France. Attempted revolution by Catholics and French troops in Ireland was crushed and eventually union with Ireland was passed in 1801. By 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte was assembling a fleet for the invasion of England, but the French fleet was defeated by Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle Trafalgar in 1805. Napoleon defeated the Russians at Austerlitz but was forced to withdraw from Moscow by the Russian winter. The battles continued with the Peninsular War in which the British fought to drive the French from Spain. Napoleon was eventually defeated by British and German forces at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. George III died at Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820, after a reign of almost 60 years - third longest in British history, and was succeeded by his son George IV (Royal family history: