Starter 1: Queen Caroline

Here is another cartoon by George Cruikshank which featured Caroline of Brunswick and George IV. [See the resource homepage for another example.]

The cartoon shows a weighing scale held by a hand descending from a cloud. On the left side of the scale George IV is shown seated and suspended. Six men are trying to pull the king to the ground. Several green bags are also used to weigh him down. On the other side of the scale, Queen Caroline is seated on a chair on the ground. A group of four soldiers stand nearby and toast the Queen. In the background, John Bull, holding a stick and hat, is shown cheering.

Cartoon entitled ‘Public Opinion’ by George Cruikshank published June 1820 by John Fairburn, Broadway Ludgate Hill, London. This is one of 91 coloured engravings in a volume held in the records of the government’s treasury solicitor Catalogue ref: TS 11/115/326 (28)

The cartoon concerns the royal divorce in 1820 between Caroline of Brunswick and George IV. Evidence for the  divorce trial was gathered in green bags. The ‘Pain and Penalties Bill was introduced into Parliament to deprive Queen Caroline of her position and grant a divorce. The Bill was eventually defeated in Parliament. The cartoon reveals Caroline’s popularity with the British public. She was, nevertheless, barred from George IV’s coronation and died shortly afterwards.


John Bull figure [holding a hat and stick] says: ‘Well done Caroline! They think to make light of you, but it won’t do. I’ll see fair play.’

‘Confound that Bull, what a row he makes.’

A group of soldiers raising their glasses are toasting the Queen saying: ‘The Queen, the Queen, the Queen.’

The some of the green bags are labelled: ‘Green bag’; ‘Secrets’; ‘Spies’.


  1. What is the title of this cartoon?
  2. How has the cartoonist portrayed Caroline of Brunswick in a favourable way?
  3. Why has the artist chosen to show both George and Caroline sitting on a pair of scales?
  4. What does the title ‘Public Opinion’, written below the scales, suggest about the king’s position compared to Caroline’s?
  5. What does the hand descending from a cloud holding the scales suggest?
  6. How and why has George IV been drawn in this way?
  7. Who does the character of John Bull (holding a hat and stick) in this cartoon represent?
  8. Which group of people are trying to help the king?
  9. Do they appear to have confidence in him according to the cartoon?
  10. What else is the king using to try and swing public opinion in his favour?
  11. How useful is this cartoon as of evidence on the royal divorce?
  12. How different are this cartoon’s techniques/methods from the one called ‘The kettle calling the pot ugly names’ on the resource homepage?