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.