Prince Charles tells schoolchildren that mad King George III is monarch he most respects
The Prince of Wales spoke to schoolchildren while on tour of Pimlico Academy, London, to mark 10th birthday of the Prince's Teaching Institute While visiting the academy, Prince Charles laughed as he tried his hand at playing the steel drums
20:51 GMT, 11 December 2012
22:22 GMT, 11 December 2012
Anniversary visit: Prince Charles shares a joke on a visit to Pimlico Academy to mark ten years of the Prince's Teaching Institute
Infamous for 'losing' America and going mad during his reign, George III has hardly gone down in the annals of history as the finest monarch ever to grace the throne.
But Prince Charles, the man who is of course next in line to the crown, told school pupils that the King who reigned in the 18th and early 19th century is the monarch he most respects.
The Prince of Wales was grilled by 14-year-old pupils Marilyn Goncalves and Joshua Ashworth on a visit to Pimlico Academy, London, today.
The pair were asked to help lead Charles on a tour of the school to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI), and took the opportunity to quiz the Prince as they entered a history lesson.
After the tour, Marilyn said: 'We asked him the question: “Which monarch do you most respect” And he said George III, because he thought he was a really good man.
'People thought he was mad, but really [Charles] said that the people misunderstood and that he just had an illness.
'He thought that he was a really good king.'
Joshua added: 'He said he also believes that his mother was really important in stabilising Britain throughout many years.'
George III reigned from 1760 to 1820 and is accused by some quarters of failing to properly protect Britain's interests.
He is described by the British Monarchy's official website as 'widely remembered for two things: losing the American colonies and going mad'.
But Professor Stephen Conway, an expert in 18th-century British history who teaches at University College London, said that Charles's choice may reflect a fairer image of George III.
Grilled: When quizzed by pupils, Prince Charles said that the monarch he most respects is George III
Musical: Charles listened to students play several songs on the steel drums and then appeared delighted to have a go himself
He said: 'I think perhaps what Prince Charles wanted to emphasise was more the fact that George III, in the aftermath of the loss of the American colonies, became a symbol of the nation, national resilience and the determination to bounce back.'
Tour: The Prince of Wales was shown around the school by two 14-year-old pupils
Charles visited the academy to mark the 10th anniversary of the PTI, which aims to bring together and inspire teachers from secondary state schools.
Past speakers at PTI events have included Sir Tom Stoppard, Simon Schama, Michael Palin, Jools Holland and Stephen Fry.
The Prince met teachers who attended PTI and also those on the Teach First scheme which encourages top graduates to enter state school teaching.
He has been Patron of Teach First since June 2008.
The Prince also listened to the school's steel drum band play Vibes Cyah Done by Machel Montano and Do I Do by Stevie Wonder, to which he could be seen tapping his feet and nodding his head.
He later got a chance to play the steel drum himself as he hit some chords under the guidance of one of the pupils.
Before Charles left the school his two young tour guides got to congratulate him on the news that he is to become a grandfather.
Marilyn said: 'He said that it makes him feel a bit older now.'
Laughs: The Prince laughs while attempting to play the steel drums with Pimlico Academy pupil Kari-Ann Desilva
KING GEORGE III – MAD OR MISUNDERSTOOD
Nigel Hawthorne as King George III in the 1994 film The Madness of King George
George III reigned from 1760 to his death in 1820 – one of the longest reigns by any British monarch in history.
He is most remembered as the king who lost the American colonies and went mad and was famoulsy depicted in Nicholas Hytner's 1994 The Madness of King George.
The eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, George succeeded his grandfather George II at the age of 22, becoming the third Hanoverian monach to reign.
He was the first Hanoverian to have been born in England and the first to speak English as his first language.
According to the Monarchy's official website, George's direct responsibility for the loss of the colonies is not great.
He opposed their bid for independence to the end, but he did not develop the policies (such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend duties of 1767 on tea, paper and other products) which led to war in 1775-76 and which had the support of Parliament.
These policies were largely due to the financial burdens of garrisoning and administering the vast expansion of territory brought under the British Crown in America, the costs of a series of wars with France and Spain in North America, and the loans given to the East India Company (then responsible for administering India).
By the 1770s, and at a time when there was no income tax, the national debt required an annual revenue of 4 million to service it.
The declaration of American independence on 4 July 1776, the end of the war with the surrender by British forces in 1782, and the defeat which the loss of the American colonies represented, could have threatened the Hanoverian throne.
However, George's strong defence of what he saw as the national interest and the prospect of long war with revolutionary France made him, if anything, more popular than before.
The American war, its political aftermath and family anxieties placed great strain on George in the 1780s.
After serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801, George became permanently deranged in 1810.
He was mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign; his eldest son – the later George IV – acted as Prince Regent from 1811. Some medical historians have said that George III's mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.