William Pitt the Younger was in power from his appointment in 1784 to his resignation in 1800. He then served a second term in office from 1804 to 1806, dying while still in office. There are many factors contributing to the fact that Pitt managed to stay in power for so long. While he himself played a part in being in power for so long, external factors such as the contribution of King George the Third and the incompetence of the Whig party at the time greatly helped him maintain his position.
King George had a large role in keeping Pitt in power for such a long period of time. The King bought Pitt into power in 1784, when George saw the opportunity to dismiss Fox over the India Bill. The King and Pitt together used the patronage system in Pitt’s favour, Pitt being the great beneficiary of the power that George wielded. When the King became ill during the Regency Crisis, what helped Pitt stop the Opposition from potentially gaining a lot of power was to deprive them of Patronage. The King also had control some very important and lucrative institutions such as the civil list, meaning he could tap into the treasury for funds, useful to fund bribes to secure Pitts position. He also controlled the Church offices that he could bestow on people if they supported him, as he had office power. The fact that the King had office power was incredibly important as he could fill these offices with supporters of Pitt and himself.
The King also had some measure of control over the House of Lords, having the ability to create peerages. What was also crucial in securing Pitt in his position was that George could bring in individual members of the House of Lords and persuade or force them to do his bidding. For example, the King had a letter sent out decreeing any in the House of Lords who support Fox’s India Bill would be his enemy. This was important, as the dismissal of Fox over his failure of the Bill was what allowed Pitt to take power. The Bill itself was badly handled by Fox, as it was open to serious charged of corruption, showing Fox in a bad light. In addition, the King used his power in elections, which helped Pitt maintain popularity. For example in the 1784 election, he leaned heavily on the constituencies where he had influence due to bribery, ensuring the vote go in Pitt’s favour. This all helped Pitt gain and maintain his position for such a long period of time.
The importance of the role of the King is highlighted during the Regency Crisis of 1788. When the King had appeared to been have taken ill, Pitt’s position was seriously threatened. The Prince of Wales was a supporter of Fox, and had the Prince gained control, Pitt would have been dismissed immediately in favour of Fox. This shows that without Royal Support Pitt wouldn’t have been in the position he was in.
However the Opposition at the time was led by a largely inept leader. Fox made several mistakes in his leadership that helped Pitt stay in power, such as the regency crisis, where he argued for more power for the Prince Regent. This showed him as a hypocrite, as one of his policies for the last four years was to argue against King power. Similarly, during the Fox-North and Fox-Grenforth coalition in the previous years, Fox abandons his principles. This shows that Fox does anything needed to stay in power. He also didn’t bring up Parliamentary Reform in these two coalitions. Contrastingly Pitt does stand by his principles, even if they are opposing to the Kings wishes, showing Pitt in a better light and making Fox lose supporters.
The Whig policy of being distrustful of the King helped Pitt maintain his position because without the support of the King it was incredibly difficult to get positions of power. It is going against where power lies, something that Pitt was always very careful not to do. There was no other supporter of the King that he could use. In this regard it helped Pitt maintain power, as by