Now & Then: 'Wife of my Heart'

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The Independent Online
11-12 June 1799: Soon after his marriage in 1795 the Prince of Wales (the future George IV) attempted to be reunited with his former mistress, Mrs Fitzherbert. In a letter from Windsor Castle marked 'Private. Mrs Fitzherbert, to be delivered into her own hands only', he wrote:

'Oh God] Oh God] Who has seen the agony of my soul and knowest the purity of my intentions, have mercy, have mercy on me: turn once more I conjure thee, the heart of my Maria, to me, for whom I have lived and for whom I will die. You know not what you will drive me to from despair, you know you are my wife, the wife of my heart and soul, my wife in the presence of my God: 'tis the only only reprieve left . . . I will . . . relinquish everything for you, rank, situation, birth, and if that is not sufficient, my life shall go also . . .

'Wednesday morn. Four o'clock. It is now two hours since I wrote the above; I have calm'd myself . . . The wretched experiences of the last five years have made life only desirable in one shape to me and that is in you. I am wrapp'd up in you entirely; after 17 years' attachment nothing can alter me, shake me or change me. Alike yours in life or in death.

'And now, God bless you, my Maria, my only life, my only love, thine unalterably thine, George P'

(but the letter continues)

'Oh] my heart, my heart, but I am composed and calm. Whatever your answer may be and whatever the consequence still my blessings with my love will ever attend thee my Maria. Thy George P'

January 1993: After a Palace announcement that the Prince and Princess of Wales are to separate, a transcript of a telephone conversation, alleged to be of the Prince declaring his passionate love for Camilla Parker Bowles, is published.