George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (28 August 1592 – 23 August 1628) was the favourite, claimed by some to be the lover, of King James I of England. Despite a very patchy political and military record, he remained at the height of royal favour for the first two years of the reign of Charles I, until he was assassinated. He was one of the most rewarded royal courtiers in all history.
Following Villiers’ introduction to James during the king’s progress of that year, the king developed a strong affection for Villiers, calling him his “sweet child and wife”; the personal relationships of James are a much debated topic, with Villiers making the last of a succession of favourites on whom James lavished affection and rewards. The extent to which there was a sexual element, or a physical sexual relationship, involved in these cases remains controversial. Villiers reciprocated the King’s love and wrote to James: “I naturally so love your person, and adore all your other parts, which are more than ever one man had” and “I desire only to live in the world for your sake”. Restoration of Apethorpe Hall in 2004–2008 revealed a previously unknown passage linking his bedchamber with that of James.