08:00AM, Saturday 28 January 2017
New insights into the life of George III, Britain's longest reigning king, are promised as a new global online portal launches today (Saturday).
The Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) will allow scholars and the public to access a remarkable collection of papers from the period, the majority of which have never been published before.
By 2020 there will be 350,000 available to view, including intimate letters between the king, who ruled from 1760-1820, and Queen Charlotte, household bills, menus and detailed notes about the war in America.
From today the first 33,000 digitally photographed pages will be published online and open to anyone to access, a major milestone in the five-year project.
Since 1912, the papers have been stored, with restricted access, within the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle's Round Tower, which has been refitted over the last year to allow the work for the project to begin.
Further refurbishments have created a new research room, open five days a week, increasing the capacity to support external research.
The GPP is a partnership between Royal Collection Trust, lead academic partner King's College London and international participants, including key US institutions such as the Library of Congress, and has the full backing of the Queen, having been launched in her presence at Windsor in 2015.
Oliver Urquhart Irvine, librarian and assistant keeper of the Royal Archives said: "Her Majesty fully supports the work currently underway to make the historic treasures of the Royal Archives widely accessible to the world through digital technology.
“This enables us to open to the many, what was previously only accessible to a few. Seeing original documents is utterly compelling. You can feel the passion, personality, worries and triumphs of individuals who have shaped major events. It can change your perspective on history."
Since the launch, acclaimed documentary producer John Bridcut and writer and presenter Robert Hardman have been following the initial stages of the project.
Their film, George III – The Genius of The Mad King, will be broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday.
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