King George III exhibition asks Londoners to share their mental health stories

Londoners are being encouraged to talk about their mental health as part of an exhibition about George III.

Clothes and other possessions belonging to the monarch, played by Nigel Hawthorne in the Oscar-winning 1994 film The Madness Of King George, will go on show at Kew Palace.

They will be joined by exhibits contributed by the public, who are being asked to nominate objects that reflect their own experiences.

Rachel Mackay, the manager of the palace, said the idea was inspired by visitors to the historic building grounds, which served as a regular rural retreat for George III before his death in 1820.

She said: “We’ve been noticing in the past couple of years people want to know more about him and when you talk to people about somebody with mental health problems in history, it encourages them to open up and talk about their own lives.

“We get that a lot and we get a lot of visitors making these disclosures to our staff and we just felt there was an opportunity here to open up a bigger conversation.

“Mental health at the moment is part of the national conversation and we have this amazing story here, perhaps the most famous mental health problem in British history, and we felt we couldn’t ignore it.”

George was dubbed the “Mad King” and witnesses describe him in his last years “crying every day”. The exact nature of his illness is still disputed, though some experts believe he may have been bipolar.

Exhibits will include a waistcoat that was altered to make it easier for his servants to dress him when he was ill and instructions about how to take care of him, written by his daughter Princess Mary, which discuss his “grievances, real or imaginary”.

Ms Mackay added: “We’re asking people to find us an object or tell us about an object that relates to their own mental health journey, in the same way we’re doing for George, and we’re going to display that with their personal stories because I think the more we can open up the story and make it relevant for the 21st century, the more impact it will have.”

George III: The Mind Behind The Myth opens on April 3

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