Sunday, 12 July 2020

Third time lucky for Katherine Parr

Katherine Parr, Queen of England

On July 12th 1543, King Henry VIII married for the sixth time. He was 51 years old while his bride was almost twenty years younger. However, Katherine Parr was no stranger to marriage herself. As she said her wedding vows that day, at Hampton Court Palace, she turned Henry into her third husband. And this much married duo were more than a match for each other. Katherine even achieved the seemingly impossible when she outlived her third spouse, becoming the famous survivor. So why did Henry and Katherine Parr get married?

Saturday, 11 July 2020

The quiet bride who became a queen

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen married William, Duke of Clarence on July 11th 1818 in a discreet ceremony at Kew. In fact, it was so discreet, this royal bride didn't even get the day to herself. Her wedding was a double celebration with her groom's brother also saying 'I do' at the same time. Adelaide was easily the least showy of the four protagonists that day. But she kept on keeping on and ended up as Queen of England.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Was Lady Jane Grey really Queen of England

Lady Jane Grey

On this day, in 1553, a young woman with a sharp brain and a dash of royal blood found herself in a unique position. The Crown of England was offered to her and Lady Jane Grey stood on the brink of becoming the country's first female regnant. She accepted, unwillingly she said, and entered the Tower of London to prepare for a coronation that never took place. Nine days later, she was deposed and just seven months later, she was executed at the fortress she never left again. But should we count Jane as a Queen of England?

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Queen born to be a dowager

Marguerite of France was born to be a dowager. The quiet, unassuming, willing to help everyone royal had spent her entire queenship in the shadows of her predecessor so when she became a widow, she was ready to fade to grey one more time. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Katherine Parr, Regent of England

Katherine Parr, Queen of England

Katherine Parr, that much overlooked Queen of England, was at the height of her power in July 1544. As she approached the first anniversary of her marriage to Henry VIII, Katherine wasn't just consort. Her husband had headed to France for one last attempt at military glory and the person he chose to rule in his place during his absence was his wife. Katherine was now Regent of England.

Monday, 6 July 2020

The Coronation of Anne Neville

Anne Neville, crowned on July 6th 1483

Anne Neville, daughter of a kingmaker, was crowned as Queen of England on July 6th 1483. 

The Wedding of Queen Mary and King George V

Mary of Teck, George V, wedding

Mary of Teck, the fairytale princess who hid her story behind a wall of stone faced dedication to duty, was set on a path that would bring her a crown on July 6th 1893. On that summer's day, she married the future George V in a huge royal wedding that turned them into a king and queen in waiting.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

The Coronation of Queen Mary

This is a blog post all about feelings, a word rarely associated with Queen Mary. The consort of King George V has acquired a reputation for cool headedness, verging on the icy, and much of that, it has to be said, was of her own making. But perhaps that's why the feelings of Mary on the day she was crowned are so interesting to guess at. For Mary had carefully crafted her facade of duty above all when she was plucked from royal obscurity, if not shame, by Queen Victoria. She knew she had once been the laughing stock of the court but now she commanded it. Her feelings on the day of her coronation must have been intriguing.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Coronation of Catherine of Aragon

After years of waiting, Catherine of Aragon was finally crowned Queen of England on June 24th 1509. The Spanish princess who had arrived in the country almost eight years earlier as bride for the heir to the throne finally got her crown - with his brother at her side.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Accession of Queen Victoria

In the early hours of June 20th 1837, while she slept, Victoria became queen. The sun had already risen when she was awoken by her mother who informed her that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain of the Household wished to see her. Obediently, Victoria got out of bed. It was the last time she ever had to obey anyone. For as she walked into a draughty room at Kensington Palace, her visitors fell to their knees. The great reign had begun.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Katherine of Valois, her sons

Without her there is no Tudor dynasty and her descendants more than made their mark on England. In the month we celebrate 600 years since her famous royal wedding, I'm looking at several different aspects of the life of Katherine of Valois and today, it's her sons. Three of them became integral to the political development of her adopted country and through one of them, she is the ancestress of kings and queens scattered through European history. And this isn't just being sexist and forgetting the girls. Katherine is said to have had two daughters but they disappear from history quickly, if they ever existed. It's her three eldest children, all boys, who held the destiny of the crown in their hands and that's why I'm looking at the men who were the sons of Katherine of Valois.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Anne Neville: an unfortunate queen?

I didn't get a chance to write about Anne Neville on the actual anniversary of her birth, June 11th. But given that it happened 564 years ago, it seems like a minor miss. I have to say I have always found Anne rather fascinating and rather sad in some ways. So my focus, a day late, is the misfortune of Anne Neville.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

The Second Wedding of Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon became a second time bride on June 11th 1509. After years of waiting, often in difficult circumstances, her story seemed to have finally reached a happy new beginning. Her wedding to Henry VIII ended a troubling period which had seen her bartered over and neglected. Her groom had insisted on marrying her in a sweeping rush to the altar that was as romantic as it was dramatic. And the events of June 11th began a new chapter in her story that would end in further trauma and an argument that changed Europe forever.

Friday, 5 June 2020

The Queens of Fontevraud Abbey

Fontevraud Abbey, France is the burial site of two Queens of England 
(By Pierre Mairé,CC BY 2.5, Wiki Commons)

It was one of the most well known religious houses of the 12th century, made more famous by its associations with the powerful dynasty that dominated parts of western Europe at the time. The Plantagenet links to the Abbey of Fontevraud were extensive. And in death it became the resting place of several of its most famous members. Among them, two Queens of England: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of Angouleme.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Death of a Queen: Isabella of Angouleme

Isabella, Queen of England died on June 4th 1246. Her tenure as consort was long over, almost three decades in the past but her reputation for controversy had continued until the moment she passed away.

Queen Jane of England

Jane Seymour was proclaimed Queen of England on June 4th 1536. It came just days after her marriage to Henry VIII. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Queens Born in June

Anne of Cleves

Two Queens of England have been born in June. So far. A medieval matriarch and a rejected consort who ended up being the biggest winner of the Tudor era - quite a collection of June queens.

Birthplace of a Queen: Hotel St Pol, Paris

On a street corner in Paris stands a faded stone wall. It's all that remains of a once famous royal residence that became the birthplace of a queen.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The Coronation of Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2nd 1953. Billed as the beginning of a new Elizabethan era, it was a groundbreaking coronation for a history making Queen. Shown on TV, it was the first time millions had been able to watch a queen regnant crowned. 

The Most Important Royal Wedding in English history?

It was a marriage years in the making that would have ramifications for a country and a continent for decades to come. The wedding of Henry V, King of England, and Katherine of Valois, changed England, France and Europe forever. And it all happened six hundred years ago today.

Monday, 1 June 2020

The Coronation of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England on June 1st 1533. The ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey after four days of pageants. It was a spectacle that cemented her place and her power as consort. The woman for whom a king had changed the known world was now, most publicly and definitely, Queen of England.

Katherine of Valois: parents of a queen

One of the most famous royal weddings in medieval Europe took place six hundred years ago this month. On June 2nd 1420, Katherine of Valois married Henry V of England in a ceremony that would seal the king's ambitions but set the course for decades of fighting. This month with be Katherine's month on the blog. And we'll start at the very beginning, with her parents.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Birth of the May Queen

She really was a May queen. Mary of Teck was born in May while perhaps the most significant moment of her royal career took place in its sunlit days. Those who loved her called her May for her whole life. She really was a May queen.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Anne Boleyn Day

It's amazing how history changes. Not the things that happened, but the way we tell them. Ten years ago, May 19th was a date that historians would note but that might pass unnoticed by others. Thanks to the reach of social media, for anyone interested in royalty, history or a combination of the two, it's now known as Anne Boleyn Day.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

To Crown a Queen

It is one thing to watch a coronation or to look at the images that are left or the words that remain long after this most impressive of royal ceremonies has taken place. But what is the experience of those few women who have been crowned as Queen? There are written records from the women themselves though they are rare. But among those who have committed their impressions to paper is Elizabeth, later Queen Mother, whose coronation as consort took place on May 12th 1937.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Coronation of a Queen: Elizabeth, May 1937

Elizabeth, Queen and Empress, was crowned on May 12th 1937. It was the culmination of a turbulent period which had seen her go from wife of the spare to one of the most powerful women in the world in less than a year. It was a role she never sought but which she seemed born to fulfil. Here's a look back at the day Elizabeth was crowned, in pictures.

What I'm reading now: The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor

Elizabeth I

Luckily, just before the libraries closed, I managed to get hold of a book I have wanted to read for a very long time. And right now, the lockdown list has arrived at 'The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor', by Elizabeth Norton. I've only just dipped into it but already I like what I see.

#OTD: Marriage of a Queen, Berengaria of Navarre

One of England's most forgotten queens took her throne, on this day, in 1191. Berengaria of Navarre, consort of Richard I, married her king on May 12th 1191 in a romantic wedding that promised much and delivered little.

Monday, 11 May 2020

#OTD: Coronation of a Queen, Matilda of Flanders

The first post Conquest Queen of England finally got her Crown on a May day. Matilda of Flanders, the consort who helped turn William, Duke of Normandy into a King, was crowned on May 11th 1068.

#OTD Anne of Bohemia, Queen of England is born

Anne of Bohemia, Queen of England was born on this day in 1366. The first consort of Richard II arrived on May 11th 1366 in Prague.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

#OTD: Mary of Teck becomes Queen of England

On this day, in 1910, Mary of Teck became Queen Consort. She took on the role on the accession of her husband as King George V. They were also now Emperor and Empress of India. They would reign for 26 years.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Did the White Queen really marry her king?

May 1st is traditionally the date given for one of the most famous and romantic royal weddings in history.  For it was on May Day 1464 that Elizabeth Woodville is said to have married Edward IV in a secret ceremony that turned her into Queen of England and altered royal history forever. But even now, five centuries and more on, the question remains - did the White Queen really marry her king?

Saturday, 25 April 2020

A queen at the bottom of a beer glass

The sign for the Queen Adelaide, London, SW18 - it's one of a handful of pubs in England that bear the name of this former Queen Consort

It's estimated that around 50 million pints of beer are at risk of going off as the UK's pubs remain shut. They were asked to bolt their doors as lockdown measures were introduced to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. Some of that beer is getting old in pubs bearing the name of a largely forgotten but really rather admirable queen consort. Ten or so pubs bear rejoice in the name of Queen Adelaide, a quiet princess who turned a drinking duke into a popular and successful king.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Celebrating Elizabeth the Great

It's never too early to call this one. On her birthday, the 94th if you don't mind, let's call a great by the name she deserves. The world is celebrating Elizabeth II and there's little doubt in anyone's mind, she really is a great monarch.

Naming a princess: politics and power

Elizabeth Woodville had been pretty unstoppable until 1466.  She had married a king, seen off those who wanted to denounce her marriage as invalid, been crowned queen of England and started to snap up some of the most eligible spouses in town for her siblings.  When she gave birth to her first baby with Edward in 1466 everyone expected it be a boy.  The queen had had two sons with her first husband and, what's more, until then Elizabeth and Edward got whatever Elizabeth and Edward wanted. They wanted a son and heir for the House of York. So the arrival of a little girl was a surprise, as was her name.  And their choice perhaps gives us more pointers to the politics of the court of the House of York.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Anne Neville, the odd queen out

Anne Neville (Faye Marsay) and Richard III (Aneurin Barnard) save money by being crowned at the same time in The White Queen

To catch a king - the romance and politics behind a royal marriage have long fascinated historians and novelists alike. What is it about the women who wear a consort's crown that makes them marriage material for monarchs?  The hint of a love story is enough to send hearts racing and pens pounding paper while the heartbreak of young women left in miserable marriages because it suited the ambitions of their husbands, fathers and brothers has a poignancy all of its own.  In England, monarchs have ascended the throne with a spare consort's seat to their left with astounding regularity.  Kings complete with queens on the day they took the throne were a rarity and from 1377 until the rise of the House of Stuart in 1603, just one queen was already wed to her king on the day of his accession.  And that was Anne Neville.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Maria, the unwilling queenmaker

History is full of ifs and buts.  If, if, if....the nagging wonder of what might have happened if just one thing had been slightly different.  But, but, but...but for a tiny moment, what might have been?  So how about this if?  If one woman, born in 1491, had been slightly more interested in song, dance and storytelling might the whole history of England have been different?

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Royal Travel: finding the women of the Wars of the Roses

The White Queen and her rivals are rare in English history - a group of women at the heart of the action and all from the British Isles.  Finding the birthplace of most queen consorts of England involves a ferry or plane trip to the continent and while there tracking down their burial place as many are interred abroad.  But the women of the Wars of the Roses spent most of their lives in the country they helped fight over so visiting the places they frequented is a bit easier if all you have is a spare Saturday afternoon and a roadmap. OK, you can't do it right now as we all stay inside to save lives but one day we will be able to venture out again. So either use this to make plans or just read and let your mind wander. Here's a wander in the footsteps of the women of the Wars of the Roses.

Friday, 17 April 2020

The actress who could never be queen

Mrs Jordan was one of the best known actresses of her day but her fame increased greatly when she became the lover of Prince William, Duke of Clarence...third son of King George III
(portrait by Hoppner via Wiki Commons)

For twenty years the woman at the side of one of the most popular dukes of his day was an actress, among the best known of her day.  They shared a home and a family while her fame and fortune sometimes eclipsed his. Dorothea Bland, better known as Mrs Jordan, never expected her prince to marry her.  But soon after they separated, his prospects changed entirely.  Dorothea's former lover went on to be King William IV.  

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Queens married to a psychopath

Guess who might have had a hubby fitting that bill?

Today, I'm revisiting one of the stories I've found most interesting in all the time I've had this blog and it's one from the very early days. It's all about royal psychopaths. The research, from 2013, probably wouldn't hold too many surprises for Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard.  The two cousins who lost their heads after stealing Henry VIII's heart would most likely agree with the modern expert who believes their shared royal husband to have been a psychopath.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

How Britain's missing Prince Consort founded a new royal dynasty

King Philippe of the Belgians is 60 today. He seems like a very nice man and despite never expecting to rule and being labelled dull in his younger years, he's become a very successful monarch. Seven years into his unexpected rule, plenty are ready to celebrate this king. But the reason that Philippe and his equally popular queen, Mathilde, have a kingdom to rule at all began 190 years ago in rather more dramatic circumstances.  And it ended with the accession of a man who, by that time could have been King of Greece or Prince Consort of the United Kingdom.  Instead he became the first King of the Belgians and went on to make royal marriages and families across Europe.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The White Queen: a new mystery

This blog began as The White Queen hit TV screens so it seems quite appropriate that as I reboot and refocus, Elizabeth Woodville takes centre stage again. This still controversial queen constantly calls for re-examining and today, I'm looking back at research published just a year ago which throws a different light on how she spent her final days.

Queens of England: the House of Norman

Four women wore a consort's crown during the time the House of Norman held the throne. Powerful in their own rights, they became architects of England's new regime. Meet the Norman Queens of England.

Monday, 13 April 2020

A hat trick of Windsor April brides

Wedding season has begun. While all eyes might be on May this year for the first big royal marriage of 2018 (yes, we're looking at you, Meghan), April has produced its fair share of Windsor royal brides. From the most famous regal wedding of recent times to one that caused a fair share of controversy to another starring a princess with her own fairytale romance, these are moments for and from the history books. Here's a hat trick of Windsor royal brides....

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Royal Wedding Tiaras: the Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge made her tiara debut on April 29th 2011, the day she got married

Something old, something new, something borrowed....Kate Middleton managed to trump the entire world with her something borrowed as she took loan of a sparkling diamond tiara that is very much a part of the modern House of Windsor and made it her own. On the day that Catherine Elizabeth Middleton became HRH The Duchess of Cambridge she wore the Cartier Halo tiara, borrowed from her new husband's granny. That really takes some beating.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Royal Travel: following Henry VIII's fourth bride

Poor Anne of Cleves. She's gone down in history as the frumpy bride who left the always lascivious Henry VIII so cold, he rejected her within weeks of their wedding to marry someone else. However, his fourth queen is far more interesting than all that. Apart from the fact her contemporaries found her quite lovely, she also played Henry so well that following their divorce she ended up with a healthy set of lands and houses not to mention the title of Queen's Sister. And she kept her head which in any separation negotiation with Henry was a win and then some. Although we can't go there right now, Anne is a great queen to start with for royal travel ideas. Enjoy the thought now and plan for happier days ahead with a few ideas of places to go to get the vibe of Anne as a bride.

Three Medieval Royal Marriages on May 19th

It became famous in recent times as the wedding date of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but May 19th already had a pretty impressive pedigree when it came to regal marriages. Three rather important medieval unions took place on May 19th with the couples involved all related to Harry. Nothing like keeping it in the family.  Here are three unions that  put May 19th in the royal wedding history books....

Friday, 10 April 2020

Birth of a Queen: Alexandra of Denmark

Alexandra, Queen of England, was born on December 1st 1844

Daughter to an unexpected king, daughter in law of an unexpected queen, wife to a merry monarch and mother to a regnant and consort, Alexandra of Denmark's calm gaze belies the impact she had on modern royal history. Her royal story began on December 1st 1844 and, 175 years later, it continues to unfold.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Queens in extraordinary times

I haven't been here for a while, what with life and all that. But life has taken a strange turn. The arrival of coronavirus has changed the way we're all looking at things. And we may all well have more time on our hands. So I'm going to use it doing what I love, writing this blog.