Charles II speech to be auctioned off

THE original handwritten script for a king’s speech, delivered to Scottish parliamentarians nearly 400 years ago by the semi-captive King Charles II, is to go under the hammer at a London auction house later this month.

King Charles II . Picture: PA
King Charles II . Picture: PA
King Charles II . Picture: PA

The speech, penned by the so-called “merry monarch” himself, was written in 1650, the year after after the execution of his father Charles I by Oliver Cromwell, at period in British history when the UK teetered on the brink of permanent republicanism.

Experts said today that it was “a remarkable document, full of human interest.”

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The speech, delivered by Charles II in Perth on October 6, 1650, was an apology to members of the Scottish Parliament for an awkward episode in which the 20-year-old king had attempted to escape from their control.

The handwriting exposes the pressure he was under in trying to reclaim the throne, as he wrote: “I must confess I never did any thing that has troubled me more, than my late unhappie departure from this towne, both in consideration of the sinne, as well as the follie of it.”

The manuscript, in a 17th century docket titled “The kings Speach when he Cam back from Clowa to St Jonston”, is to be sold at Bonhams in Knightsbridge in London on March 18 2015, and is expected to fetch between £2,000 and £4,000.

Roy Davids, an Oxfordshire-based expert in rare manuscripts and a previous owner of the manuscript said: ”This is a remarkable king’s speech.

“No other autograph manuscript of a royal speech of this period is known to exist outside public collections.

“That it is the text which Charles used in delivering the speech is evident from the way the manuscript is written down one side of the page, and then folded into four panels with gaps left between each panel, thereby enabling the king to read the successive panels folding them from one to another in the palm of his hand.”

The Scottish Parliament declared Charles II the legitimate King of Great Britain soon after the execution of his father Charles I in 1649.

He arrived in Scotland in June 1650 to claim the throne.

But the Parliament was dominated by Protestant Covenanters, who demanded in return that Charles pledge to spread Presbytarianism throughout Britain.

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In September 1650, Oliver Cromwell and an English army routed Charles and his supporters at the Battle of Dunbar.

Charles escaped to Perth, then known as St Johnstone, but wearied of the Covenanters and on 4 October tried to flee, telling them he was going hawking.

He was counting on Royalist supporters to rally to him, but after a damp evening in a cottage in the nearby village of Clova, an “overwearied and very fearful” Charles was found on 6 October and taken back to Perth.

He found common cause with the Covenanters and was crowned King of Scotland the following year.

After Cromwell’s death in 1658, Charles ruled Britain until his death in 1685.

Felix Pryor, a consultant in fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams said today/yesterday [THURS]: “We are hoping it will sell well as it is on sale for a fairly modest price.

“King Charles II had a reputation for being the merry monarch as a young man.

“It’s all about him trying to reclaim back the throne after his father had his head chopped off.

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“King Charles was fed up of being a semi-prisoner and he did a bunk.

“He was then dragged back and made the apology.

“I think he was rather scarred by this full episode.

“It is a remarkable document and it is full of human interest.”