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George III: The Mind Behind The Myth

2020 marked the bicentenary of the death of George III, the monarch most strongly associated with Kew. It was here that the young George spent much of his childhood, learning the art of kingship under the tutelage of some of the most celebrated theologians, architects and musicians of the day.

In later life, George was also treated at Kew for periods of mental and physical ill health resulting in his life and achievements being almost entirely eclipsed by the story of his still poorly understood 'madness'.

Celebrating the achievements of this remarkable King — and exploring his often cruel treatment at the hands of his doctors at Kew — a new display for 2021 considered the real man behind the much-peddled myth.


04 June - 19 September 2021

Exhibition information

This exhibition is closed.

Bringing together objects which revealed his diverse interests, from his world-famous library to his fascination with the natural world, the exhibition aimed to challenge what we think we know about this complex and brilliant man.

Among the items on display were notes made by George's doctors and instructions for the King's care written by his daughter, Princess Mary (pictured here).

These were contrasted with examples of the exquisite artworks he acquired for the Royal Collection and even a concert programme in his own hand, revealing his lesser-known passion for the arts.

How people think and talk about mental health today

White and silver waistcoat

As part of Historic Royal Palaces' plans to commemorate the life of George III, up to 10 objects submitted by members of the public formed a special display on the top floor of Kew Palace, as a means for inspiring thought, discussion and reflection on how we think and talk about mental health today. This is evermore important after the COVID pandemic which has had such a wide impact on everyone.


King George III's waistcoat, 1819. This waistcoat was probably one of the last items of clothing the King wore before his death in January 1820.

Shirt worn by King George III detail, c1810.

White linen shirt, detail. Worn by King George III (1760-1820). Showing the high standing collar, topstitched, with two Dorset buttons with corresponding button holes, and the vent below the collar edged with a linen ruffle. Photographed on a black background.
A recreation of a Toy Theatre inside the exhibition of George III: Mind Behind the Myth at Kew Palace

Our mental health journeys told in 10 objects

10 objects submitted by members of the public formed a special display on the top floor of Kew Palace.

As part of the exhibition, the contributors kindly told their stories about the objects in these short films.


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George III, the Complex King

Dutiful, intelligent and cultured, but cruelly labelled ‘mad’

The story of Kew Palace

Britain's smallest royal palace and George III's private retreat

The royal kitchens at Kew

The kitchens have survived, practically untouched

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