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William IV
William IV

William IV (1765-1837) was the son of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was so delighted to become king, on the death of his brother George IV in 1830, that he drove round London personally greeting his new subjects. In his youth, William had served in the Royal Navy and commanded ships. He was made a Rear Admiral in 1789, the same year he was created Duke of Clarence. In 1811, William became admiral of the Fleet. William married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen in 1818. for the sake of this marriage William had to leave his longstanding mistress and their ten children.

Sadly, the two daughters of William and Adelaide, died in infancy and William's heir was his niece, Victoria. William became king at 65 and his great ambition was to live long enough for Victoria to reach her majority at age 18. William achieved his ambition in 1837 by a mere four weeks.

Three of England's greatest reforms were passed during his reign. They were the Reform Bill of 1832 which completely transformed the make-up of Parliament, the abolition of slavery in England's colonies, and factory reform that banned child labour.

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