, in rising to move for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the Act of 12th George 3rd, cap. 11, called an Act for the better regulating the future marriages of the Royal Family, said, that his object was, to procure the repeal of an Act from which, as experience had proved, no good, but much mischief, had followed. He had intended to introduce to the House the opinions of many persons, both in that and the other House of Parliament, expressed at the time of passing this Bill, with regard to the propriety of such a measure. Many potent reasons were then advanced against it, and he must say, that the balance of wisdom was to be found in opposition to it. The Bill had been originally introduced, not as a national, but as a court measure, and it had been proportionably hurried through Parliament, for, though introduced into the House late in February, it was passed on the 3rd of March. The Bill provided that no member of the royal family should marry without giving notice to the King 805 in council twelve months before, and that such marriage should be only valid if Parliament in the meanwhile should express no disapproval of it. He thought that such restrictions upon the exercise of their choice in the selection of their partners for life by the members of the royal family were exceedingly mischievous. It placed the male members of it especially in a situation different from the rest of the world, and in a situation that by no means conduced to the morality of the country. This Bill had been passed because two royal Dukes had married Englishwomen. The Act, in restricting the choice of the members of the royal family, had done an immensity of mischief. He would just mention one or two instances in proof of the assertion. The Duke of York never saw his wife until he was married to her, and the consequence was, that they were soon separated. His affections had been won by another woman, perhaps an unworthy object. That House shortly afterwards rang with discussions about Mrs. Clarke, to the no great promotion of morality or the edification of the country. The late King, too, married a foreign princess whom he had never seen, and the results, the disgraceful results, were too well known to the country. He would call the attention of the House also to the pernicious and tyrannical effect of such a measure upon the female members of the royal family, who were thereby prevented from marrying the objects of their choice, and were necessarily debarred, in many instances, from gratifying their inclinations. The effect of the measure had been to make our princes send to Germany for wives, instead of selecting them amongst their English countrywomen. When George 3rd came to the Throne he was made to boast that he was the first English King of his race. It was true that he was an Englishman by nativity, but he was not so by principle. His German mother infused into him principles that had subsequently caused the greatest evils to the country. She it was who taught him that he should be a king—that was to say, in other words, a German despot; and the war with America, and the war with France, were entirely owing to the impressions he had derived from his German mother. In his opinion this evil ought to be remedied. He believed it was a maxim of the Constitution that foreigners should not be allowed to exercise any office of power or trust in this country, and, in accordance with that principle, he would 806 say, that no foreign influence should be allowed to have authority in this kingdom. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that the hon. Gentleman had brought forward this Motion at an extraordinary late period of the Session, and with more business before the House than it could well dispose of.
said, that he had no intention to press the Motion, if the noble Lord would allow the Bill to be introduced, and read a first time.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that this was a subject of the greatest possible importance, and that he should be wanting in his duty if he allowed even the first reading of such a Bill without the subject undergoing the fullest and most complete discussion, which it would be impossible to obtain for it at this period of the Session, and in the present state of the House. He was well aware, that there were grave authorities who had disapproved of this measure; but there were also high opinions in favour of it, and a measure of such importance was not to be touched upon light consideration. He would not now go into the details of the question, for he hoped that the hon. Member would not persist in his Motion.
said, that the only argument he had ever heard against allowing the members of the royal family to marry English wives was, that their doing so might give a preponderance to particular families in the country. In the present state of the country and of that House, he did not look upon such an argument as of any importance.
§ The Solicitor General
was anxious not to permit the idea to go abroad, that the Act in question prevented the marriage of members of the royal family with English women. That was a vulgar, but a gross mistake, with regard to it. The Act provided that no descendant of George 2nd should marry any subject without the consent of the reigning Sovereign, but if the consent were given, the marriage would be valid. The hon. Member should be aware that, by the common law of England, independently of the Marriage Act, the reigning Sovereign had always the right to control the marriages of his children and heirs, and of the heir presumptive to the Throne. The Royal Marriage Act only provided that no descendant of George 2nd should have a right to marry without that consent. 807 The law of England in that respect appeared to him to be just and salutary.
§ Colonel Williams withdrew his Motion.