YORK researchers have shed new light on a lovelorn Royal and his relationship with his family's governess.

A series of 240 letters between the future George IV and Mary Hamilton, written in 1779, has been transcribed in a project led by the University of York and the University of Manchester.

A spokesperson said the previous focus had been on the Prince of Wales' side of the correspondence - “love letters” that revealed a softer side- but the research revealed that Hamilton’s response to his attention was decidedly negative, perceiving his pursuit as dangerous, with the potential to damage her reputation.

In an excerpt she said: “I am tortur'd with some uneasy reflections which I cannot stifle… remember Sir my fame is dearer to me than life. for however innocent the motives which influence, the world would naturally… put a cruel construction upon a secret & clandestine correspondence were it ever to transpire.”

Dr Sophie Coulombeau, of the University of York said: “Gossip in Georgian high society could be ruthless towards women caught up in scandal, and Mary Hamilton's maintenance of a virtuous reputation was crucial for her marriage prospects."