They were two bad lads.
One romped his way through Lewes with gay abandon while the other married twice, only to have both then annulled by their father.
One then became King and the other the first Duke of Sussex.
So, the new Baby Sussex, (who thought up that tinny title?) has plenty of precedent for either doing a Henry VIII and having more than one wife or taking a go-cart and hurtling down Keere Street at a great rate of knots!
So, one day, the new arrival will succeed his father to the Dukedom and the hiatus of 175 years will no longer have any bearing on the succession. Harry, you see, is the first royal to take the prestigious title since 1843, as Prince Augustus Frederick had no legal kids.
Of his two ancestors, ‘Prinny’s’ escapades are well documented. You can’t puff your way up Keere Street without being constantly reminded that George IV, while he was Prince Regent, drove a coach and four down it for a bet. Drawing huge crowds to Lewes Race Course and dashing up and down stairs with suspect maidens at the town’s fashionable hotels is equally common knowledge.
Less frequently documented is a naughty weekend with Mrs Maria Fitzherbert in Southover Grange, whom many believe he secretly married. Certainly, he had a very close relationship with her, enough for him to choose a royal wife, Caroline of Brunswick, whom he despised so much, he locked her out of his Coronation.
His younger brother, Augustus Frederick was the ninth child of a fertile father George III. Sickly as a youth he travelled widely and like his brother, managed to get into romantic trouble.
Loving ladies seemed to run in the family, although both boys were a big disappointment to their father, who was a strict dad and a faithful husband to his wife Queen Charlotte.
But despite their common predilection for illicit romance, the two Princes had little in common.
George continued his spendthrift ways after assuming the throne, while The Duke of Sussex became one of the longest Grand Masters of the Masonic movement and was favoured so much by Queen Victoria that he was asked to give her away when she married Prince Albert in 1840.
He was so overcome with the honour of the task at hand, that he is said to have sobbed throughout the entire ceremony.
But while his elder brother was kicking up his heels in Lewes, Frederick was roving about the continent, unable to settle. He was too sickly to become a soldier as his other brothers had before him and too frisky to settle with one lady until he met Lady Augusta Murray in Rome.
It’s interesting to note what the Royal family of the 19th century deemed a commoner.
Lady Augusta’s father was both an Earl and Governor of the Bahamas.
But the likelihood of brother George willingly giving them his blessing for them to tie the knot was considered unlikely.
The Royal Marriages Act passed in 1772 meant any royal prince required the consent of the monarch before he could marry. Lady Augusta was of insufficient rank to be considered a good match.
They were forced, therefore, to sneak about a bit and the thought of Fred tripping along a corridor, shoes in hand so as not to wake Augusta’s parents, seems highly amusing when compared with George’s flagrant visits to the Star Inn in Lewes in full view of titillated spectators.
But this Augustus did, finding a moment when her mother was at a party, to bring a clergyman into their rooms and get married.
All were sworn to secrecy, but mother somehow found out and the word then got back to brother George, who was furious.
The couple lived very happily for a while but then made a secret trip back to England in order to have the marriage confirmed and wed a second time under assumed names.
All to no avail.
Despite having two children together, the Dukedom of Sussex and twelve thousand quid being chucked into his bank account by parliament proved to be too tempting an offer, and Frederick dumped Augusta in 1801.
The good lady seemed to take it well, but in having the marriage annulled, Fred made his children illegitimate and therefore unable to benefit from his title or his funds.
He never remarried while Augusta was alive, but his passions were aroused a second time in 1831 and yet again he got his fingers burned.
He fell passionately in love with a lady named Cecilia Buggin, who was the widow of a Knight of the Realm, but still considered too common to fit the royal bill. Again, the marriage was annulled but Frederick cocked a snoot at his brother and publicly paraded his new wife as the Duchess of Sussex.
It was Queen Victoria who came to the rescue again, eventually giving Cecilia the title of 1stDuchess of Inverness, with some of the perks to which a royal princess was entitled.
He was loyal to Cecilia to the very end, and romantically, before he died in 1843, he requested that he should be buried in a public cemetery at Kensal Green London, rather than Windsor Castle, as that meant Cecilia could then be buried beside him. She duly was, in 1873.
But they had no children, and the title became vacant for 175 years, his two children by Augusta deemed illegitimate. Then it was conferred on Prince Harry in 2018.
In spite of his amorous adventures taking the spotlight, Augustus was a man who made a considerable contribution to the development of social services in Victorian England.
Even though he had no military training he became Commander in Chief of The Honourable Artillery, campaigned for the Reform of Parliament, the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of Catholics and Jews.
He was also appointed president of the Society of Arts and the Royal Society. In this capacity he went on to be associated with Gideon Mantel, the ‘Discoverer of Dinosaurs’ who lived on Lewes High Street.
Mantel was certainly present when King William IV and Queen Adelaide visited Lewes in 1830, he wrote an account of it. But was Augustus Frederick there?
There is little evidence that the Prince ever visited Lewes, or even liked the town as much as his elder brother did. But the civic lunch in the Town Hall for the King’s visit was largely about enhancing the royal image and also about dinosaurs. Augustus would almost certainly have been invited to something with which he was
so closely associated.
A painting of the occasion hangs in Lewes Town Hall and on close inspection it would seem the Prince is not there. He certainly received and welcomed a copy of Mantel’s Geology of the South East of England, in which he asked to be mentioned. But if he was a visitor to Lewes, the references are scarce.
One mystery associated with the painting and the visit is that a Princess Augusta was there, but no evidence it was his former wife. But there is a Miss Augusta Emma D’Este, the name given to his daughters after they were declared illegitimate. So, it appears the Duke of Sussex missed this grand occasion, but his close family did not.
The painting has now been restored and is hanging in the main ballroom of the Town Council building. What a golden opportunity to invite the new Duke of Sussex to take a peek. Something his great, great uncle never got the chance to do. And at the same time give Gideon Mantel credit for his work on dinosaurs, credit which some would say was stolen in his lifetime..
So both Harry and his newborn son have an ancestor that was both controversial, flamboyant, clever and socially conscious. But also, in his lifetime, showed he was sensitive and an avid reformer. Augustus and Harry.
Remind you of anybody?
And now Archie.
They were two bad lads.