Some History on the British Monarchy

As I already told you in my last entry, I have been away from the blog lately as many changes and new projects have crossed my path these last few months. One of these projects was an online photography course that I took last week. I never thought you could do so many things with a camera. Let’s hope I can make better pictures for the blog in the future.

All this hustle made me lose some important events that took place in the UK lately, as the UK general election, or the birth of HRH Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the Princess of Cambridge, at the beginning of May. And this is why I would like to write some facts about the British Monarchy.

Charlotte is not the first Princess of Cambridge. Princess Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth of Cambridge, born in 1833, also held the title, as did her sister Princess Augusta, born in 1822. They also had a brother named George, and were the granddaughters of King George III. Of the two girls, Mary was the more charismatic one. As she was one of the earliest royals to support a wide range of charitable organizations, she was affectionately known as the “People’s Princess”, like Princess Diana. Mary is Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandmother as her elder daughter, also named Mary, was married to George V.

Princess Mary of Cambridge

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is fourth in line to the throne. In 2013, the Queen modified the law relating to the line of succession before Prince George’s birth, to ensure it would not be affected by gender. Previously, daughters came to the throne only when there were no sons. Under the Succession to the Crown Act, princes no longer take precedence over their sisters, bringing an end to the system of male preference which had been in place since the Act of Settlement of 1701. This means that the new princess will remain fourth in line to the throne regardless of whether or not her parents go on to have another son. It also grants the title of Princess to Charlotte, who otherwise would have only been referred to as Lady.

Elizabeth II has been on the throne for 63 years and she is only surpassed by Queen Victoria, who remained on the throne for 64 years. The British Royal Family belongs to the House of Windsor, but the throne has been occupied by several dynasties.

Athelstan is considered the first King of England as it was during his reign that the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were unified during the 10th century, giving rise to the Kingdom of England. In the early 11th century, England became part of the “North Sea Empire” of Cnut the Great, the King of Denmark. With the Norman Conquest, the kingdom became one of the territories ruled by the House of Anjou. The history of the kingdom of England from the Norman conquest of 1066 is conventionally divided into periods named after the ruling dynasty. The Norman dynasty survived until the House of Plantagenet came into the throne in 1154: the throne had been disputed by William the Conqueror’s granddaughter, Matilda and his cousin Stephen of Blois. It was eventually occupied by Matilda’s eldest son, who came to the throne as Henry II.

Richard II, the last of the Plantagenets, was forced to abdicate. The crown passed to two cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet: first the House of Lancaster and subsequently the House of York. The dynasty ended at last in 1485, when Richard III died. Both houses, Lancaster and York, fought in the War of the Roses, the civil war that covered England in blood in the 15th century. Both families pursued the throne of England as descendants of Edward III.

The War of the Roses ended when Richard III was defeated in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The final victory went to a claimant of the Lancastrian party, Henry Tudor, who married Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter and heiress of Edward IV, thereby uniting the two houses. The House of Tudor ruled England and Wales until 1603, when Queen Elizabeth I died with no descendants. During the Tudors England emerged as a political and maritime power and it was during this period when England started its colonial expansion over the world.

Henry VIII

 Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was succeeded by her nephew, King James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots. James came to the throne of England as James I and introduced the House of Stuart onto the English throne. The last of the Stuarts was Queen Anne, who became the first monarch of the newly merged Kingdom of Great Britain, uniting the crowns of England and Scotland. She died in 1714 leaving no direct descendants. She was succeeded by her distant relative George I (Anne’s closest living Protestant relative). George ascended the British throne as the first monarch of the House of Hanover, a German dynasty.

The House of Hanover was the dynasty ruling Great Britain when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established on January 1, 1801 under the terms of the Act of Union. This house continued in the throne until 1901, when Queen Victoria died and was succeeded by his son Edward VII, belonging to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, whose name was changed to Windsor in 1917 by King George V, during World War I. He decided to adopt an English name instead of the German origin of the previous one, as the United Kingdom was fighting Germany and there was an anti-German sentiment in the British Empire.

 Queen Elizabeth II, 1953

Would you be interested in getting to know more facts about the history of the British Monarchy? If so, please, let me know and I could write new articles on this matter. There are so many things to tell… For example, about the Tudor time. Or maybe, you want to see all these facts reflected on English literature (Shakespeare is a great example with all his plays on English Kings)… Just let me know and I’ll do my best to write on these issues in future posts.

Shakespeare - Henry V

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