Happy Monday friends! I’m very excited to welcome back Victoria Kincaid to Austenesque Reviews today! I just read and ADORED one of her releases from last year – The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy (which is now available in Audible audiobook format! 🙌🏼) And I am super excited to see that her newest release – Darcy and Deception – again involves some danger and espionage! Today Victoria shares a bit about the Prince Regent’s role in her novel Darcy and Deception. We hope you enjoy!
Hello Meredith and thank you for welcoming me to your blog! In the process of conducting research into Brighton for Darcy and Deception I found that the Prince Regent’s presence loomed large over the town during the Regency era. In fact, the prince’s patronage made Brighton fashionable and helped it grow popular as a resort town.
He first visited Brighton in 1783 at the age of 21, enjoying the town’s entertainments. His doctor also recommended sea water as a treatment for his gout. Eventually he purchased a property and expanded the existing house through two impressive renovation projects to create the Royal Pavilion. His mistress, Maria Fitzherbert, owned a house in Brighton, not far from the prince’s residence.
His extravagance during the Regency time period was legendary. He spent days riding, promenading and sea-dipping, and whiled away his nights eating, drinking, and partying. His drinking and banqueting took a toll on his health. By 1797 he weighted 245 pounds (111 kg), and in his later years he suffered from arteriosclerosis, peripheral edema (“dropsy”), episodes of breathlessness, and possibly porphyria. Below is a lithograph of the prince’s profile, which certainly suggests he was on the portly side. Perhaps his doctors should have recommended a healthier diet rather than sea-bathing. 😊
The Prince Regent seemed to be so integral to the experience of Regency Brighton that I decided he should make a cameo appearance the novel. It was actually fun to imagine Darcy’s reaction to such a person.
Below is a brief excerpt from near the end of Darcy and Deception (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers about the book’s plot) when Elizabeth and Darcy unexpectedly encounter the prince regent on the streets of Brighton:
~ Excerpt from Darcy and Deception ~
“The prince leaned on a jewel-encrusted walking stick in one hand while a well-dressed, bosomy lady held his other arm. She appeared to be propping him up rather than using his arm to steady herself. This must be Mrs. Fitzherbert; she had been the prince’s mistress for many years.
Two liveried servants followed behind the prince, anxiously scrutinizing his every step. Perhaps their job was to catch him in case he should fall, although they hardly appeared equal to the task. Two additional guards made up the rear of the procession.
The prince regent appeared to be every inch the indolent and dissolute man described by rumors and broadsides—a man who had earned his subjects’ disrespect and scorn. As he passed, many people bowed or curtsied—and many did not—but he took no notice either way.
As the procession grew closer, Elizabeth tried to recall what she had learned about court manners. The presence of royalty required a special kind of curtsey, but she did not remember the precise form—or indeed if anyone had taught it to her. She had never anticipated having a need for it.
However, all the prince’s efforts were focused on walking in the heat; he was unlikely to notice if she curtsied incorrectly. With his head held high, his eyes touched the crowd only briefly, and he made no effort to interact with the bystanders.
In her mind, Elizabeth rehearsed the curtsey she believed to be the correct one and prepared to make it. But as the entourage neared them, the prince called a halt. “Darcy? Is that you? Darcy?”
Mr. Darcy took a deep breath, stepped forward, and made a low bow. Behind him, Elizabeth quickly made her curtsey. When Mr. Darcy straightened, he spoke in a solemn, even tone. “Your Highness, you look well.” Ah, thought Elizabeth, he does know how to lie.
“Thank you, but Brighton is deuced hot this time of year!” the prince grumbled as a servant handed him a handkerchief to mop his brow. “I would have remained in the Pavilion, but Maria did so long for a walk.” He absently patted the woman’s hand where it rested on his arm.
“It is a nice evening for a walk,” Mr. Darcy said.
“I did not know you were in Brighton.” The prince’s tone was almost peevish, as though Mr. Darcy was obligated to keep him informed of his whereabouts. “Where are you staying?”
“The Crescent, Your Highness.”
“Not a bad place. You should come to dine at the Pavilion.” The prince made a grand, expansive gesture. “I am contemplating more renovations to the place. As you know, Moghul and Indian designs are the very height of fashion. My architect—Nash is his name—has designed an addition with these wonderful turrets and domes. I could show you the plans!”
“That would be delightful.” Mr. Darcy’s voice was carefully neutral.
The prince wheezed a bit. “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” He teetered on his elegantly shod feet; for a moment it appeared the servants might be pressed into service to catch him. However, with the help of his mistress and the cane, the prince regained his balance. “Perhaps I should sit for a while.” He glanced about, but they were in the midst of a cobblestone street, now closed to carriage traffic; no benches or chairs were in evidence. “Hastings, find me a chair.”
One of the servants hurried into the nearest house, emerging immediately with a rather plain wooden chair that he set behind the prince, who sank into it with a sigh. “Damned gout!” he exclaimed. “Sea bathing is supposed to be beneficial for it, but I do not know.”
He peered up at Mrs. Fitzherbert, standing by his side. “Hastings, obtain a chair for Maria.” The servant repeated the process, retrieving a chair from the same house and setting it beside the prince’s. Standing in their doorway, the owners of the house were peering wide-eyed at the spectacle. They did not appear particularly well off, and Elizabeth wondered if their household owned additional chairs or if the prince had commandeered their entire supply. I hope the prince would not think to order chairs for us!
Now that he was seated, the prince seemed to be of a more amiable disposition, arranging his face in a rather grotesque smile. “Who were you walking with just now?” he asked Mr. Darcy. “Do you have a wife?”
“No, Your Highness.” Mr. Darcy gestured for Elizabeth to come forward. “This is my friend, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” She made another awkward curtsey, devoutly hoping it was the proper one.
Oh I’d so love to know what he says next!! Gah!!! How sneaky of you to stop it right there, Victoria! This sounds fabulous – I love the idea of Elizabeth being in Brighton instead of Lydia! And I’m all curiosity to know the relationship between the Prince Regent and Mr. Darcy!! Thanks so much for sharing, Victoria!
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Today, Victoria brings with her ONE ebook copy of her newly released novel, Darcy and Deception, for me to giveaway to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Victoria!!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Victoria!
- This giveaway ends January 28th!