King of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Hanover, 1830-37
William IV was king of the United Kingdom from 1830 until his death in 1837. He was born at Buckingham Palace, but as the third son of King George III and Charlotte Mecklenberg-Strelitz, William Henry (as he was christened) was not expected to ever take the throne. William joined the navy in 1779 and spent his teen years at sea. Much of his adult career was connected to the navy; he held the posts Admiral of the Fleet (1811) and Lord High Admiral (1827-28), and later was popularly known as the "Sailor King." William's father, King George III, was succeeded by William's oldest brother, George IV, in 1820. William's next brother, Frederick, died in 1827, so when George IV died without an heir in 1830, William became king at the age of 64. A supporter of Whig policies as a young man, he sided with the Tories as king and resisted calls for democratic reforms, but ultimately agreed to several liberal changes under the Reform Act of 1832. A more popular monarch than his brother had been, William IV was still considered by many of his subjects to have a touch of the goofiness that plagued his father, King George III. William and his wife, Adelaide (the oldest daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen), had no surviving children, so William was succeeded on the throne by his brother Edward's daughter, Victoria.
William IV lived for many years with well-known actress Dorothy Jordan before he married Adelaide in 1818. He and Jordan had ten children together, and this branch of the family became known as the FitzClarence line. It was reported in 2005 that British Prime Minister David Cameron is the descendant of one of those ten children, Elizabeth FitzClarence. Cameron is William IV's great-great-great-great-great grandson... William IV was the last king from the House of Hanover.
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