Monday, 3 May 2021

Rewinding: a look back at The White Queen


Through May, I'm going to be celebrating the White Queen on the blog. This whole little project of mine started back in 2013 so I could write reviews of the TV series based on Philippa Gregory's  novel. I was a new mum at the time and this was the first show I'd actually watched properly since welcoming my son a few months earlier. Writing the blog was a chance to start taking just a few minutes a day for me amidst the all consuming and utterly enthralling job of being a mum. Eight years later, my son is happily reading his own books and writing his own stories so I'm taking myself back to that summer and how I felt about a TV show that was like water in a desert for me after months of no books or TV. I feel a little differently about it now but I'll save that for later in May. Let's enjoy the White Queen.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Hero or villain? The woman who took a throne unnoticed on May Day


A beautiful, ambitious, clever and successful woman who started wars and made kingdoms should really be a little bit more famous than Elizabeth Woodville. Her royal story began in earnest on May 1st 1464 when she married Edward IV in secret. In recent years her tale has become a little better known thanks, in part, to novels that have centred on her life. But they tend to veer between angelic consort and manipulative scheme. Who was the real Elizabeth Woodville?

Friday, 9 April 2021

Prince Philip has died at the age of 99


Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 99. The Duke passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle on the morning of April 9th 2021.

Philip, who was born on June 10th 1921, was the longest reigning consort in British history. He had been at The Queen's side since her record breaking rule started in 1952. The couple were married for over 73 years.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 1921 - 2021

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

The Queen's daughters: Matilda of Flanders


In Women's History Month, I'm going to take a look at the relationships of England's queens with other women in their families. One of the most crucial bonds is that of the consorts with their daughters, many of whom went on to have famous royal careers of their own. I'm starting with England's first post Conquest queen, Matilda of Flanders.

Henry VIII's most mysterious queen


Jane Seymour, Queen of England and only the second to die from complications of childbirth

Jane Seymour remains the most elusive and mysterious of all the women who married Henry VIII - and she had some competition.  The third queen of the eighth Henry died twelve days after the birth of her only child, the legitimate son that Henry longed for to secure his kingdom and his throne.  While little Prince Edward was being tended in his nursery, his mother died of the complications of childbirth - most likely a puerperal fever that came about from an infection not treated properly after the delivery of her baby. 

Monday, 1 March 2021

Matilda, Last Norman Queen

Monday means a Norman queen and this week, it's the last consort of the royal dynasty that changed England forever. Meet Matilda of Boulogne.

Celebrating England's queens in Women's History Month


I talk about women's history all the time on this blog so in a way, every month is women's history month. But in March 2021, I really want to put the focus on the amazing women in royal history as well as the female voices bringing them to life today.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Caroline of Ansbach, Queen of England

The first queen consort of England to bear the name  of Caroline was the wife of George II. Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Ansbach was always known by her last name and was queen consort from 1727 to 1737.  

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

The wedding dress of Wallis, so close to being Queen


It's one of the most famous blue wedding dresses in the world even it's usually seen in black and white. It's about as well known as a royal wedding gown gets even though it was worn to a ceremony that took place behind closed doors and which was recorded for posterity in a brief photo session in the hot French sun later on. Yet the dress worn by Wallis Warfield Simpson at her wedding to Edward, Duke of Windsor has a place in royal history all of its own. This is the gown worn to the wedding that changed the House of Windsor, and royalty, forever.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Kateryne The Quene


So how should we spell Katherine's name? You can see from that sentence that I'm a 'K' girl when it comes to my favourite queen. Yet, many history books, articles and references use the 'C'. So what is the right way and does it really matter?

Monday, 22 February 2021

Edith, England's first modern royal bride

Edith Dunkeld isn't exactly the most romantic name a royal bride has ever had but this Scottish princess who said 'I do' in Westminster Abbey in 1100 hadn't turned up for love. She was a practical and rather ambitious young woman who was well aware, as she became that famous church's first royal bride, that her union with Henry, King of England, would do both of their dynasties quite a lot of favours.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

The widowhood of Isabella of France


But did she do it? Isabella, Queen of England was widowed on September 21st 1327. But there were no widows weeds for this consort. Isabella had already helped usurp her husband in a coup months before his timely death in Berkeley Castle. But the question that's remained ever since is - did this Queen of England help finish off her husband?

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Queen of Scotland, Queen of England

Anne of Denmark is where the title of Queen of England meets a changeover. For Anne was Queen of England but she was already Queen of Scotland and her tenure marks the start of the period of unification. So, by rights, this first consort of the English House of Stuart should be really rather well known. Instead, like many of the royal wives of her time, she has fallen into something of an historical shadow. She is a pretty much forgotten queen, dismissed by some as frivolous and passed over in the history books. But Anne's story holds plenty of intrigue.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Joanna, Queen of Dowagers

A later imagining of Joanna of Navarre who became Queen of England in 1403 but whose role as dowager put her very life in danger

No one did as good a turn as a dowager in the 15th century than Joanna of Navarre.  The queen of Henry IV had already been duchess of one of the most powerful areas of France before she decided that middle age would be quite nice spent as a consort.  She was the only queen England had in 1414 as her husband had died the year before and his son and successor, Henry V, wouldn't marry for another six years as he established his rule.  But while the dowager queen was left to mourn and get used to her new role in 1414, her future in England would be much more dramatic.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The (second most) famous royal Charlotte


Queen Charlotte with two of her fifteen children

To be fair to her, she managed to be the most famous royal with the name for over 250 years but Queen Charlotte has now had to take a back seat on the global celebrity front as her seven times great granddaughter made the name her very own.  Until May 2nd 2015, this German princess turned Queen of England was perhaps the most famous royal Charlotte of all.

The birth of England's first Queen Regnant

Mary I, Queen of England, born February 18th 1516

The little girl born at the Palace of Pleasance in London on this day in 1516 had, quite literally, a whole world at her feet.  And yet this same baby princess would grow up into a sad, lonely woman who could not get happiness to stick at her side however hard she tried.  Mary, princess of the House of Tudor and descendant of some of Europe's greatest monarchs, would make history by becoming England's first queen regnant.  But despite claiming that historic crown - as much through her own determination and charm as through birthright - Mary I, Queen of England is remembered by history as Bloody Mary, as a shadow that had to pass before the brightness of the reign of her half-sister, Elizabeth I.  And much of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the man who celebrated her birth so fervently on this day in 1516, her father - Henry VIII.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The House of Windsor: queens and consorts


The House of Windsor came into being on July 17th 1917 when George V issued a royal proclamation changing the name of his family and his house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha due to growing anti German sentiment in World War One. From that moment onwards, the dynasty was known as Windsor. In the following 103 years, there have been just three consorts but but what a trio they are. Two queens, one prince, three royal stories that take some telling. Welcome to the consorts of the House of Windsor.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Being Anne Boleyn

The ultimate marmite queen - from the day she became noticed at court to the present day, Anne always gets people talking

She's about to get a whole new interpretation of her tumultuous reign so now is perhaps the right time to ask - has history really got Anne Boleyn that wrong? That's a difficult question to address because history presents us with several different Annes.  There's the sexy, sultry, super clever seductress who wound one of England's most powerful kings around her little finger and got him to change his known world to make her queen.  There's the woman killed by her husband after a show trial, a martyr.  There's a clever political adviser who was as integral a part of Henry's council as any man but who got too powerful for her enemies.  There's the social climber who bit off more than she could chew.  Or how about the over ambitious girl who thought her king loved her so much she could do whatever she wanted - and who got things fatally wrong?

Monday, 15 February 2021

Adeliza the Unique

Many royal names are so well known we reel them off without even thinking. Elizabeth, Mary, Anne and Catherine abound in royal history. But others are less usual. This occasional series will look at the name only ever used by one Queen consort. We start with a very unusual offering from the House of Norman.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Queen's hat trick of new descendants


The Queen is to become a great grandmother again. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will welcome a new baby this year. Harry and Meghan's child, a little sister or brother for Archie, will be one of three great grandchildren to join Her Majesty's family this year.

Marguerite, Queen of England and the disappearing castle

It was a grandly named dower house where a Queen of England died. Now it has disappeared into the mists of time. Marlborough Castle, last home of a devoted wife and consort, is now little more than a mound. But at one time it was an important royal possession and part of the story of Marguerite, Queen of England.

Anne Boleyn: psychology, terror and a new queen on the block

Meet Anne Boleyn's latest incarnation. The most talked about Queen that England has ever had continues to fascinate, five centuries after her death. And now Jodie Turner-Smith is glimpsed bringing her to life for the first time.

A Queen's Christmas: Eleanor of Aquitaine's special day


Christmas 1166 was one to celebrate for one of England's most celebrated queens. Eleanor of Aquitaine was at the height of her powers, one of the most important people in Europe with political influence and cultural kudos that few could match. And as the festive season got under way, she also had a very personal reason to celebrate. For on Christmas Eve 1166, Eleanor gave birth to a son.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

The political princess who became a forgotten queen

Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland painted by Anthony Van Dyck

On June 13th 1625, a young French princess walked into a church in Kent and emerged as Queen of England.  Henrietta Maria arrived in her future kingdom as a pretty, cultured woman who had already been used to commanding a court.  She left, 40 years later, as a largely unpopular woman who got little sympathy - even when her husband was executed during the Civil War that tore her adopted country apart in the 1640s.  In fact, there were plenty who blamed Henrietta Maria in part for the conduct of her husband in the conflict and who were willing to lay many of the problems of the Royalist faction at her feet.  Henrietta Maria is one of just a handful of women to have been wife to one king and mother to two more but in her lifetime she was, for some, a villain and now she is an unpopular queen that history has largely forgotten.

The sad end of the House of Tudor's most tragic queen


On a cold winter's day, the teenager who had once been Queen of England met a tragic fate within the walls of her former realm's greatest fortress. Catherine Howard, consort to Henry VIII for 15 brief months before her downfall, was executed at the Tower of London on February 13th 1542. Her title of queen had been removed almost three months earlier as she faced allegations of betraying the king through adultery. And on that grey morning, the final part of her story unfolded.

Friday, 12 February 2021

The White Queen's daughters


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 Elizabeth and Edward got whatever Elizabeth and Edward wanted and 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.  But the choice of names for the daughters of Edward and Elizabeth is pretty intriguing all round, starting with the first.  And their naming decisions perhaps give us more pointers to the politics of the court of the House of York.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

The Queen who wouldn't go away

Caroline of Brunswick is a marvellous Queen Consort.  On paper, she had nothing going for her at all.  But she ended up far more popular than her husband and she's one of the most recognizable of all consorts.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

The Daughters of the House of Windsor


On July 17th 1917, George V issued a royal proclamation changing the name of his royal house and family to Windsor. It was the beginning of dynasty that would set records and change the concept of modern monarchy. And it's a house built on and by women. Four women have been born to the monarchs of the House of Windsor, all of them hugely important. This is a piece I first wrote in 1917 for the centenary of the dynasty but I really like it so I am sharing it again. Here are the daughters of those who have worn the Crown in the 104 years and counting of the House of Windsor.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Tudor Queens and the name Catherine


It's got quite the claim to being THE Tudor name for Queens. Three of Henry VIII's consorts were called Catherine. They spelled it differently to one another but it's the same name. And there is every chance two of his six wives were only called Catherine because of another of his queens who may well have been given the name because of a scandalous affair that threatened the stability of the monarchy centuries earlier.

Monday, 8 February 2021

The Queen who put her husband's mark on history: did Matilda of Flanders create the Bayeux Tapestry?

England’s first post Conquest queen is surrounded by much myth and legend. And among the most intriguing story about Matilda of Flanders is that she helped create one of the most famous tellings of one of the most seismic moments in English history. So is the Bayeux Tapestry the creation of Queen Matilda?

Queens and Consorts: what to expect on the blog

I've been looking at how I want to use this blog and while some things are still falling into place, I'm making plans to post every day again. One feature will be a daily focus on the queens and consorts of each royal house so this is a little rundown of what to expect when. Plus, I need the crown in this photo.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Monday, 18 January 2021

Third time lucky for a princess who might have been England’s first queen regnant


On January 18th 1486, Elizabeth of York wed Henry Tudor. It was a marriage designed to end the so called Cousins’ War, the battle between Lancaster and York for the throne of England which had plunged the country into civil war for decades. Henry, of the House of Lancaster, had conquered his Yorkist rival, Richard III, in August 1485 and claimed the throne. He had made it clear he would wed Elizabeth in an act of peace from the very start. Yet he waited almost six months to make good on his promise and had ensured he had been crowned before he married her. For Elizabeth had a better claim to rule than him. And her wedding ensured she finally became Queen of England, the third time the title had been linked to her.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Queen makes a bold statement with just a few lines


The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have both been vaccinated against Covid-19. The couple received the jabs at Windsor Castle on January 9th 2021.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Did Eleanor Talbot's secret marriage make her Queen of England?

Royal weddings are now major celebrations, glittering events that capture the imagination and draw huge crowds who cheer the vows and shout demands for a kiss when the deal is done. However, in centuries past a royal union might be a discreet event, witnessed by just a handful of people. And for that reason, rumours were able to grow of secret weddings, hidden spouses and possible threats to thrones. In the first of a new series, Royal Central looks at the scandalous suggestion that the House of York’s most celebrated king, Edward IV, tied the knot, secretly, with a minor noble called Eleanor Boteler.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Adeliza, the forgotten queen


Nine hundred years ago, a young woman was preparing to leave her homeland and travel to another country to marry a man several decades older than her. In the chilly days of early January, she made her way to a new world. Many hopes were pinned on her although the greatest of these would come to nothing. It's perhaps why history allowed her to fade into obscurity. This is the story of Adeliza, the forgotten Queen of England.