King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The Duke of Wellington

Wellington's Administration

'Achilles in the sulks...''Achilles in the sulks...'Wellington's administration lasted two years, characterised by high drama over the granting of Catholic emancipation and a stubborn and ultimately doomed resistance to increasingly frantic demands for electoral reform and abolition of the Corn Laws both in the nation and among the political opposition.

Wellington's role was that of a pragmatic conservative reluctantly pushed by events into accepting reform.

However, the truth is probably that he was perhaps more politically nuanced and sophisticated that some have suggested.

Significantly, his experience as a protestant in an Ireland that had witnessed rebellion and mob violence only thirty years before, alerted him to the dangers of resisting an irresistible force.

Wellington's period as Prime Minister came to an end in 1830 following the death of George IV.

'The Prime-Ear''The Prime-Ear'Having set his face against the new Whig government's electoral reform bill, Apsley House felt the fury of the mob as the windows were pelted with stones a year later. Hours before, the sick Kitty had died with Wellington in attendance.

The Duke was undoubtedly uncomfortable with politics - subordinates invariably did not do as they were told. Nevertheless, he had quickly learned to deal with the political repercussions of military command, and was an experienced campaigner by the time he was appointed Prime Minister in 1828.

While his witty asides and appeals to public opinion were largely unscripted moments of theatre, he understood their power.

Despite his bluff exterior, he was protective of his reputation but not above exploiting it for his own advantage. Fundamentally, Wellington approached his political career as a duty that he owed to the nation.

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