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OTD 24 October

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

On This Day In History 24th October;


Jane Seymour, Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 died aged 28

Hans Holbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jane Seymour

On the night of the 24th October 1537, just twelve days after giving birth to the future King Edward VI, Henry VIII’s third wife & queen, Jane Seymour, died of suspected puerperal fever (childbed fever) at Hampton Court Palace.

Jane had initially recovered well from her long & arduous labour, that lasted over two nights & three days, as the baby was not well positioned, but Jane started to go downhill in the days following Edward’s christening, suffering with a fever & delirium. On 17th October, her fever reached crisis point, & it looked like Jane would recover, but then it struck again.

On the 24th October her condition worsened, & she died that night.

Jane was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on the 13th November, although legend has it that her heart was buried in the Chapel Royal of Hampton Court Palace. Henry VIII chose to be buried beside the woman he regarded as his true wife, & he was laid to rest beside her after his death in January 1547.

DID YOU KNOW? Jane became a maid-of-honour in 1532 to Queen Katharine, but may have served her as early as 1527, & went on to serve Queen Anne (Boleyn). The first report of Henry VIII's interest in Jane Seymour was in February 1536, about three months before Anne's execution.

Jane was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, & his only consort to be buried beside him in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

More about Jane;

Jane was not as educated as Henry's two former wives but could read & write a little, Jane was more competent at needlework & household management, which were considered much more necessary for women. Jane's needlework was reported to be beautiful & elaborate; some of her work survived as late as 1652, when it is recorded to have been given to the Seymour family.

Hans Holbein [CC BY-SA 4.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons
King Henry VIII

Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, just one day after Anne Boleyn's execution! The outrageous charges against Anne that included adultery, incest & plotting to kill the king & even some mentions of witchcraft look to me like a complete set up to get her out of the way. That is my belief, but then history is open to interpretations.

Anyhow Henry & Jane were married at the Palace of Whitehall, Whitehall, London, on 30 May 1536. As a wedding gift the King made her a grant of 104 manors in four counties as well as a number of forests & hunting chases for her jointure, the income to support her during their marriage.

She was publicly proclaimed queen on 4 June 1536. Jane's well-publicised sympathy for the late Queen Katharine & her daughter Mary showed her to be compassionate & made her a popular figure with the common people & most of the courtiers. Henry may have been reluctant to have Jane crowned before she had fulfilled her duty as a queen consort by bearing him a son & a male heir.

DID YOU KNOW? She was never crowned because of plague in London, where the coronation was to take place.

Jane Seymour was said to be strict & formal. As Queen, Jane formed a close relationship with her stepdaughter, Mary (later Queen Mary I). Lavish entertainments, gaiety, & extravagance of the queen's household, which had reached its peak during the time of Anne Boleyn, was replaced by a strict enforcement of decorum. She banned the French fashions that Anne Boleyn had introduced. Politically, Seymour appeared to take a back seat. Her only reported involvement in national affairs, in 1536, was when she asked for pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry is said to have rejected this, reminding her of the fate her predecessor met with when she "meddled in his affairs". Her motto as a queen was "Bound to obey & serve."

Jane made efforts to restore Mary to court & to the royal succession, behind any children that Jane might have with Henry. Jane brought up the issue of Mary's restoration both before & after she became queen. While Jane was unable to restore Mary to the line of succession, she was able to reconcile her with Henry.

In January 1537, Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy, she developed a craving for quail, which Henry ordered for her from Calais & Flanders. During the summer, she took no public engagements & led a relatively quiet life, being attended by the royal physicians & the best midwives in the kingdom. She went into confinement in September 1537 & gave birth to the coveted male heir, the future King Edward VI, at two o'clock in the morning on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.

Edward was christened on 15 October 1537, without his mother in attendance, as was the custom. He was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII to survive infancy. Both of the King's daughters, Mary & Elizabeth, were present & carried the infant's train during the ceremony.

By Unknown (?Flemish School) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Edward VI

Jane was buried on 12 November 1537 in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after the funeral in which her stepdaughter, Mary, acted as chief mourner. A procession of 29 mourners followed Mary, one for every year of Queen Jane's life.

After her death, Henry wore black for the next three months. He married Anne of Cleves two years later, although marriage negotiations were tentatively begun soon after Jane's death. He put on a lot of weight during this time, becoming obese & swollen & developing diabetes & gout. Historians have said she was Henry's favourite wife because she gave birth to a male heir. When Henry died in 1547, he was buried beside her, on his request, in the grave he had made for her.

Jane had given the king the son he so desperately needed, helped to restore Mary to the succession & her father's affections, & used her influence to bring about the advancement of her family. Two of Jane's brothers, Thomas & Edward, used her memory to improve their own fortunes. Thomas was rumoured to have been pursuing the future Elizabeth I, but married the queen dowager Catherine Parr instead. In the reign of the young King Edward VI, Edward Seymour set himself up as Lord Protector & de facto ruler of the kingdom. Both brothers eventually fell from power, & were executed.



Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, later Queen of Spain was born

Brief biography;

Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena was Queen of Spain as the wife of King Alfonso XIII.

Victoria Eugenie was born on 24 October 1887 at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland. Her father was Prince Henry of Battenberg, the fourth child & third son of Prince Alexander of Hesse & by Rhine by his morganatic wife Countess Julia Hauke, & her mother was Princess Beatrice, the fifth daughter & youngest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom & Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

As Prince Henry was the product of a morganatic marriage, he took his style of Prince of Battenberg from his mother, who had been created Princess of Battenberg in her own right. As such, Henry's children would normally have been born with the style "Serene Highness"; however, Queen Victoria had issued a Royal Warrant on 4 December 1886 granting the higher style of "Highness" to all sons & daughters of Prince Henry & Princess Beatrice, thus she was born Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. She was named for her grandmother Victoria & for her godmother Eugénie de Montijo, the Spanish-born French empress who lived in exile in the United Kingdom. To her family, & the British general public, she was known by the last of her names, as Ena.

Victoria Eugenie grew up in Queen Victoria's household, as the British monarch had reluctantly allowed Beatrice to marry on the condition that she remain her mother's full-time companion & personal secretary. Therefore, she spent her childhood at Windsor Castle, Balmoral, & Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousins, the Duke (later King George V) & Duchess of York on 6 July 1893. Her father died while on active military service after contracting fever in Africa in 1896. After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Battenbergs moved to London & took up residence in Kensington Palace.

Princess Victoria Eugenie married King Alfonso XIII of Spain at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid on 31 May 1906. Present at the ceremony were her widowed mother & brothers, as well as her cousins, the Prince & Princess of Wales. They had six children & one stillborn son.

The Spanish royal family went into exile on 14 April 1931 after municipal elections brought Republicans to power in most of the major cities, leading to the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII had hoped that his voluntary exile might avert a civil war between the Republicans & the Monarchists. The royal family went to live in France & later Italy. Victoria Eugenie & Alfonso later separated, and she lived partly in the UK and, after being invited to leave Britain by its government, in Switzerland. She purchased a chateau, the Vieille Fontaine, outside Lausanne.

Alfonso XIII, feeling his death was near, transferred his rights to the Spanish crown to his son, the Count of Barcelona. On 12 February, Alfonso suffered a heart attack & died on 28 February 1941.

Queen Victoria Eugenie returned briefly to Spain in February 1968, to stand as godmother at the baptism of her great-grandson, Infante Felipe, the son of Infante Juan Carlos & Princess Sophia of Greece & Denmark. Felipe became King of Spain after his father, King Juan Carlos I, abdicated in June 2014. Victoria Eugenie died in Lausanne on 15 April 1969, aged 81, exactly 38 years after she had left Spain for exile.



Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (later later Duchess of Edinburgh & Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha died

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (later Duchess of Edinburgh & Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; 17 October 1853 – 24 October 1920) was the fifth child & only surviving daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia & his first wife Princess Marie of Hesse & by Rhine. She was the younger sister of Alexander III of Russia & the paternal aunt of Russia's last emperor, Nicholas II.

In 1874, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; she was the first & only Romanov to marry into the British royal family.

The couple had five children: a son, Alfred, & four daughters: Marie, Victoria Melita, Alexandra, & Beatrice. For the first years of her marriage, Maria Alexandrovna lived in England. She neither adapted to the British court nor overcame her dislike for her adopted country. She accompanied her husband on his postings as an Admiral of the Royal Navy at Malta (1886–1889) & Devonport (1890–1893). The Duchess of Edinburgh travelled extensively through Europe. She visited her family in Russia frequently & stayed for long periods in England & Germany attending social and family events.

In August 1893, Maria Alexandrovna became Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when her husband inherited the duchy on the death of his childless uncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She enjoyed life in Germany where she was active in cultural endeavours & charitable work. To her daughters, she gave all her support, but she was critical of her wayward son who died young in 1899. Her husband died the following year.

Maria Alexandrovna continued to live in Coburg. The outbreak of World War I divided her sympathies. She sided with Germany against her native Russia. Her only surviving brother, Grand Duke Paul, her nephew Tsar Nicholas II & many other relatives were killed during the Russian Revolution & she lost her considerable fortune. From 1893 until her death, she had the distinction of being a Russian grand duchess (by birth), a British princess & royal duchess (by marriage), & the consort (& later widow) of a German sovereign duke.

After World War I, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the duchy her husband & nephew had ruled, ceased to exist in November 1918. Maria Alexandrovna died two years later while living under reduced circumstances in exile in Switzerland.


Lady May Cambridge married Henry Abel Smith

Lady May Cambridge brief biography;

Princess May of Teck was born at Claremont House, near Esher in Surrey, England, the only surviving child of the German nobleman Prince Alexander of Teck, later granted the British title of Earl of Athlone, the youngest son of Francis, Duke of Teck by his wife the German-born Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the youngest surviving son of King George III & Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her mother was Princess Alice of Albany, the daughter of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, youngest son of Queen Victoria, by his wife Princess Helena of Waldeck & Pyrmont. As a daughter of Prince Alexander of Teck, May was styled at birth Her Serene Highness Princess May of Teck.

During World War I, anti-German feeling in the United Kingdom led Princess May's uncle King George V, to change the name of the British royal family from the Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the more British-sounding Windsor. The king also renounced all Germanic titles for himself & other members of the British Royal Family who were British subjects.

In solidarity, May's father, Prince Alexander of Teck, renounced his title of a Prince of Teck in the Kingdom of Württemberg in Germany, & the style His Serene Highness. Alexander, along with his brother, Prince Adolphus of Teck, adopted the surname Cambridge, after their grandfather, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge.

The king elevated Alexander to the Peerage of the United Kingdom as Earl of Athlone & Viscount Trematon. Alexander was now styled The Right Honourable Earl of Athlone. His daughter then became styled as Lady May Cambridge, befitting a daughter of an Earl, & his surviving son adopted as a courtesy title his secondary title of Viscount Trematon, as befitted the eldest son of an Earl. Alexander's wife, Alice, born as a British princess, retained her title & style, Her Royal Highness, & became known as Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

DID YOU KNOW? She served as a royal bridesmaid in 1922 to Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles; & in 1923 to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on her marriage to Prince Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI.

The Wedding;

Lady May married British army offier Henry Abel Smith (later Sir Henry) in Balcombe, Sussex on 24 October 1931.

The bride was attended by four child bridesmaids: Princess Elizabeth of York (later Queen Elizabeth II), Rosemary Madeline Hamilton Fraser, Jennifer Bevan & Kathleen Alington. Her eight adult bridesmaids were the Hon. Imogen Rhys (daughter of Walter Rice, 7th Baron Dynevor); Lady Mary Whitley; Phyllis Seymour-Holm; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester; Princess Ingrid of Sweden; the future Princess Sibylla of Sweden; Verena Seymour (daughter of Sir Edward Seymour & granddaughter of the 4th Marquess Conyngham;, & Wenefryde Tabor. The best man was Cecil Weld Forester, 7th Baron Forester of Willey Park.

Princess Ingrid of Sweden, future Queen Consort of King Frederick IX of Denmark, introduced her fellow bridesmaid, Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (daughter of Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and former Duke of Albany – grandson of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert through their son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany) to her brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf (father of King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden), whom Princess Sibylla married a year later (20 October 1932) at the Kirche St.-Moritz Coburg.

Sir Henry & Lady May Abel Smith were married for over 60 years & had three children:

  • Anne Mary Sibylla Liddell-Grainger (née Abel Smith; born 28 July 1932)

  • Colonel Richard Francis Abel Smith (born.11 October 1933)

  • Elizabeth Alice Abel Smith (b.5 September 1936)

Lady May, did not carry out any royal duties. She did attend some major royal events such as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II & the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer.

Between 1958 & 1966, Sir Henry Abel Smith served as the Governor of Queensland. May accompanied Henry to Brisbane, as vice-regal consort. They retired in 1975 to Barton Lodge at Winkfield in Berkshire, England.

Lady May died one year after her husband. They are both buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, not far from Windsor Castle. Her funeral was held at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Windsor, on 9 June 1994. It was attended by the Duke of Gloucester & Princess Alexandra, representing the royal family.


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