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King George III letter signalling war intent sells at auction for £11,430

The document fetched more than 11 times its pre-sale estimate.

A letter written by King George III, dated May 14 1803, which sold for £11,430 at Cheffins auctioneers in Cambridge (Cheffins/ PA)
A letter written by King George III, dated May 14 1803, which sold for £11,430 at Cheffins auctioneers in Cambridge (Cheffins/ PA)

A handwritten letter in which King George III signals his intent to go to war with France and Napoleon has sold at auction for £11,430.

The document is dated May 14 1803, four days before Britain formally declared war on France.

It was sold at Cheffins in Cambridge to a private collector who bid for it by telephone, with the letter fetching more than 11 times its pre-sale estimate of £500 to £1,000.

The letter was written by King George III to Lord Hawkesbury, then Secretary of State.

Charles Ashton, a director at Cheffins said: “This letter is a defining moment of history showing the King’s intention to go to war with France and Napoleon.”

The King wrote in the letter that he had “perused the dispatch and private letter from Lord Whitworth”, a British politician and diplomat who at the time of the letter was ambassador in Paris.

“The conduct of France has been equally unfair to the last,” he wrote.

“And though conscious of the Evils that must be entailed on many Countries by the renewal of War, yet the conviction that by the restless disposition of the Ruler of France this event could not long have been kept off, it seems necessary to attend alone to the best modes of repelling the violence with effect, and the attacking those objects which our present means render attainable.

“The King will remain in Town to execute any Steps that the present moment may require.”

He signs off the letter as “George R”.

The letter was sold by an anonymous private vendor.

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