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#otd in Royal History - 1-16 December


#otd in royal history December 1-16. The British Monarchy Blog. Prince Albert; Queen Alexandra; George VI; Anne of Denmark

1 December

King Henry I of England

1 December 1135

King Henry I of England died


In 1135, on campaign in France, Henry fell ill according to the chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, he ate an excessive number of lampreys against his physician's advice & his condition worsened over the course of a week. Once the condition appeared terminal, Henry gave confession & summoned Archbishop Hugh of Amiens, who was joined by Robert of Gloucester & other members of the court. In accordance with custom, preparations were made to settle Henry's outstanding debts & to revoke outstanding sentences of forfeiture.


The King died on 1 December 1135, & his corpse was taken to Rouen accompanied by the barons, where it was embalmed; his entrails were buried locally at Port-du-Salut Abbey, & the preserved body was taken on to England, & interred at Reading Abbey.


Miniature from Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum, c. 1253. The portrait is generic and depicts Henry holding the Church of Reading Abbey, where he was buried.

Miniature from Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum, c. 1253. The portrait is generic & depicts Henry holding the Church of Reading Abbey, where he was buried.


Early 14th-century depiction of Henry I, king of England
Early 14th-century depiction of Henry I of England

Henry I

Born: c. 1068 – died. 1 December 1135

Reign: 5 August 1100 – 1 December 1135

Coronation: 5 August 1100.

House: of Normandy


Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror & was educated in Latin & the liberal arts. On William's death in 1087, Henry's elder brothers Robert Curthose & William Rufus inherited Normandy & England, respectively, but Henry was left landless. He purchased the County of Cotentin in western Normandy from Robert, but his brothers deposed him in 1091. He gradually rebuilt his power base in the Cotentin & allied himself with William against Robert. Present at the place where his brother William died in a hunting accident in 1100, Henry seized the English throne, promising at his coronation to correct many of William's less popular policies.


He married Matilda of Scotland & they had two surviving children, William Adelin & Empress Matilda; he also had many illegitimate children by his many mistresses. Robert, who invaded in 1101, disputed Henry's control of England; this military campaign ended in a negotiated settlement that confirmed Henry as king. The peace was short-lived, & Henry invaded the Duchy of Normandy in 1105 & 1106, finally defeating Robert at the Battle of Tinchebray. Henry kept Robert imprisoned for the rest of his life. Henry's control of Normandy was challenged by Louis VI of France, Baldwin VII of Flanders & Fulk V of Anjou, who promoted the rival claims of Robert's son, William Clito, & supported a major rebellion in the Duchy between 1116 & 1119. Following Henry's victory at the Battle of Brémule, a favourable peace settlement was agreed with Louis in 1120.


Considered by contemporaries to be a harsh but effective ruler, Henry skilfully manipulated the barons in England & Normandy. In England, he drew on the existing Anglo-Saxon system of justice, local government & taxation, but also strengthened it with additional institutions, including the royal exchequer & itinerant justices. Normandy was also governed through a growing system of justices & an exchequer. Many of the officials who ran Henry's system were "new men" of obscure backgrounds rather than from families of high status, who rose through the ranks as administrators. Henry encouraged ecclesiastical reform, but became embroiled in a serious dispute in 1101 with Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, which was resolved through a compromise solution in 1105. He supported the Cluniac order & played a major role in the selection of the senior clergy in England and Normandy.


Henry's son William drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120, throwing the royal succession into doubt. Henry took a second wife, Adeliza of Louvain, in the hope of having another son, but their marriage was childless. In response to this, he declared his daughter Matilda his heir & married her to Geoffrey of Anjou. The relationship between Henry & the couple became strained, and fighting broke out along the border with Anjou. Henry died on 1 December 1135 after a week of illness. Despite his plans for Matilda, the King was succeeded by his nephew, Stephen of Blois, resulting in a period of civil war known as the Anarchy.


In addition to Matilda & William, Henry possibly had a short-lived son, Richard, with his first wife, Matilda of Scotland. Henry & his second wife, Adeliza of Louvain, had no children.


Henry had a number of illegitimate children by various mistresses; at least nine sons & at least fifteen daughters.


Early 14th-century depiction of the sinking of the White Ship at Barfleur on 25 November 1120

Early 14th-century depiction of the sinking of the White Ship at Barfleur on 25 November 1120



 

Alexandra of Denmark by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1864
Alexandra of Denmark by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1864

1st December 1844

Alexandra of Denmark was born


Alexandra of Denmark was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland & Empress of India as the wife of King-Emperor Edward VII.


Princess Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, or "Alix", as her immediate family knew her, was born at the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, right next to the Amalienborg Palace complex in Copenhagen. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg & her mother was Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel.


Yellow Palace, Copenhagen: Alexandra's childhood home
Yellow Palace, Copenhagen: Alexandra's childhood home

Although she was of royal blood, her family lived a comparatively normal life. They did not possess great wealth; her father's income from an army commission was about £800 per year & their house was a rent-free grace & favour property. Occasionally, Hans Christian Andersen was invited to call & tell the children stories before bedtime. Her family had been relatively obscure until her father, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was chosen with the consent of the great powers to succeed his distant cousin, Frederick VII, to the Danish throne.


At the age of sixteen, she was chosen as the future wife of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent of Queen Victoria. They married eighteen months later in 1863, the same year her father became king of Denmark as Christian IX & her brother was appointed to the vacant Greek throne as George I.


1862-63 Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) when Princess of Wales  1862-63 by richard lauchert

Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) when Princess of Wales 1862-63 by Richard Lauchert.


She was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901, the longest anyone has ever held that title, & became generally popular; her style of dress & bearing were copied by fashion-conscious women. She hid a small scar on her neck, which was probably the result of a childhood operation, by wearing choker necklaces & high necklines, setting fashions which were adopted for fifty years. Alexandra's effect on fashion was so profound that society ladies even copied her limping gait, after her serious illness in 1867 left her with a stiff leg. This came to be known as the "Alexandra limp". She used predominantly the London fashion houses; her favourite was Redfern's.


Alexandra, Princess of Wales Photograph by W. & D. Downey, c. 1889
Photograph by W. & D. Downey, c. 1889

Largely excluded from wielding any political power, she unsuccessfully attempted to sway the opinion of British ministers & her husband's family to favour Greek & Danish interests. Her public duties were restricted to uncontroversial involvement in charitable work.


Portrait by Luke Fildes, 1905
Portrait by Luke Fildes, 1905

 

2 December

St Paul's cathedral

2 December 1697

St Paul's Cathedral was consecrated.


On 2 December 1697, 31 years & 3 months after the Great Fire destroyed Old St Paul's, the new cathedral was consecrated for use. The Right Reverend Henry Compton, Bishop of London, preached the sermon. It was based on the text of Psalm 122, "I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the Lord." The first regular service was held on the following Sunday.


St Paul's cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral, Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London.


Years built: 1675-1710


St Paul's cathedral

The cathedral is one of the most famous & most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1963.



St Paul's cathedral

Services held at St Paul's have included the funerals of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill & Margaret Thatcher; jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First & Second World Wars; the wedding of Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer; the launch of the Festival of Britain; & the thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden & Diamond Jubilees & the 80th and 90th birthdays of Queen Elizabeth II.


 

Queen Adelaide

2 December 1849

Queen Adelaide died aged 57


Adelaide died during the reign of her niece Queen Victoria on 2 December 1849 of natural causes at Bentley Priory in Middlesex & was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. She wrote instructions for her funeral during an illness in 1841 at Sudbury Hall: "I die in all humility", she wrote, "we are alike before the throne of God, & I request therefore that my mortal remains be conveyed to the grave without pomp or state…to have as private & quiet a funeral as possible.


"I particularly desire not to be laid out in state…I die in peace & wish to be carried to the fount in peace, & free from the vanities & pomp of this world."


Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was the queen consort of the United Kingdom & of Hanover as spouse of King William IV of the United Kingdom.


King William IV of Great Britain
William IV

Adelaide was born on 13 August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany. She married the Duke of Clarence & St Andrews (later King William IV) in a double wedding with the duke's brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, & his bride Victoria, Dowager Princess of Leiningen, on 11 July 1818, at Kew Palace in Surrey, England. They had only met for the first time about a week earlier, on 4 July at Grillon's Hotel in Bond Street. Neither William nor Adelaide had been married before, & William was twenty-seven years her senior.


They had two daughters who sadly died; Princess Charlotte of Clarence, was born on 27 March 1819 & died the same day, & Princess Elizabeth of Clarence was born on 10 December 1820 & died on 4 March 1821.


Queen Adelaide by Sir Martin Archer Shee, 1836
Queen Adelaide by Sir Martin Archer Shee, 1836

Did you know? Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is named after her.


 

3 December

Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom
Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom

3rd December 1935

Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom died.


Princess Victoria's last years were plagued with health issues. She suffered from neuralgia, migraines, indigestion, depression, colds & influenza. Princess Victoria died aged 67 at home on 3 December 1935. Her funeral took place on 7 December 1935 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, where she was initially buried. Her remains were later moved & reburied at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Windsor Great Park on 8 January 1936. Her death greatly affected her brother King George V, who died one month later.


Princess Victoria (full name: Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary; b.6 July 1868), was the fourth child & second daughter of King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra. As the granddaughter of the British monarch, in the male line, she was styled Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Wales. She was known to her family as Toria. The Princess was particularly close to her brother, the future King George V. Tsar Alexander II of Russia was among her godparents.


She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke & Duchess of York (future George V & Queen Mary) on 6 July 1893. Although she had a number of suitors, the most famous of them being King Carlos I of Portugal, Princess Victoria never married & had no children.


Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom by Philip de László, 1907
Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom by Philip de László, 1907

 

4 December

4 December 1745

Charles Edward Stuart's army reaches Derby, its furthest point during the Second Jacobite Rising.





 


A photo of the seal of William I, king of Scots

4 December 1214

William the Lion, King of Scots died.


󠁣󠁴󠁿William the Lion, (born c. 1142) reigned as King of Scots from 1165-1214.


He had the 2nd-longest reign in Scottish history before the Act of Union with England in 1707. James VI (reigned 1567–1625) would have the longest.


William was born c. 1142, during the reign of his grandfather King David I of Scotland. His parents were the King's son Henry & Ada de Warenne. On 9 December 1165, William ascended the throne. He was crowned on 24 December 1165. William was powerfully built, redheaded, & headstrong. He was an effective monarch whose reign was marred by his ill-fated attempts to regain control of his paternal inheritance of Northumbria from the Anglo-Normans.


In 1174, at the Battle of Alnwick, William recklessly charged the English troops himself, shouting, "Now we shall see which of us are good knights!" He was unhorsed; captured & taken in chains to Newcastle, then Northampton, & then transferred to Falaise in Normandy. Henry then sent an army to Scotland & occupied it. As ransom & to regain his kingdom, William had to acknowledge Henry as his feudal superior & agree to pay for the cost of the English army's occupation of Scotland by taxing the Scots. The cost was equal to 40,000 Scottish Merks (£26,000). The church of Scotland was also subjected to that of England. William acknowledged this by signing the Treaty of Falaise & was then allowed to return to Scotland. In 1175 he swore fealty to Henry II at York Castle.


The Treaty of Falaise remained in force for the next 15 years. Then the English king Richard the Lionheart, needing money to take part in the 3rd Crusade, agreed to terminate it in return for 10,000 silver marks (£6,500), in 1189.


William died in Stirling in 1214 & lies buried in Arbroath Abbey. His son, Alexander II, succeeded him as king, reigning from 1214 to 1249. Due to the terms of the Treaty of Falaise, Henry II had the right to choose William's bride. As a result, William married Ermengarde de Beaumont, a great-granddaughter of King Henry I of England, at Woodstock Palace in 1186. Edinburgh Castle was her dowry. They had 4 children including the future Alexander II of Scotland.


 

5 December

Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) is inaugurated in the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II when she speaks to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.

5 December 1958

Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) is inaugurated in the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II when she speaks to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.


Subscriber trunk dialling (STD), also known as subscriber toll dialling, is a telephone numbering plan feature & telecommunications technology for the dialling of trunk calls by telephone subscribers without the assistance from switchboard operators.

Switching systems to enable automatic dialling of long-distance calls by subscribers were introduced in the United Kingdom on 5 December 1958. The system used area codes that were based the letters in a towns name. A ceremonial first call was made by Queen Elizabeth II from Bristol to Edinburgh.



 

Princess Alice of Battenberg, Princess of Greece and Denmark

5 December 1969

Princess Alice of Battenberg died aged 84.


Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she grew up in Germany, England & the Mediterranean. She was congenitally deaf. After marrying Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark in 1903, she lived in Greece until the exile of most of the Greek royal family in 1917.


Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark by Philip de László, 1907. Private collection of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark by Philip de László, 1907. Private collection of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


On returning to Greece a few years later, her husband was blamed in part for the defeat of Greece in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), & the family were once again forced into exile until the restoration of the Greek monarchy in 1935. In 1930, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia & committed to a sanatorium in Switzerland; thereafter, she lived separately from her husband. After her recovery, she devoted most of her remaining years to charity work in Greece. She stayed in Athens during the Second World War, sheltering Jewish refugees, for which she is recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" at Yad Vashem. After the war, she stayed in Greece & founded an Orthodox nursing order of nuns known as the Christian Sisterhood of Martha & Mary.


After the fall of King Constantine II of Greece & the imposition of military rule in Greece in 1967, she was invited by her son & daughter-in-law to live at Buckingham Palace in London, where she died two years later. Her remains were transferred to the Mount of Olives in 1988.


Her marriage produced five children;


  • Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark (1905-81),

  • Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark (1906–69),

  • Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark (1911-37),

  • Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark (1914-2001),

  • Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (1921-2021)


Princess Alice with her son Prince Philip, 1921
Princess Alice with her son Prince Philip, 1921

 

6 December

King Henry VI of England

6 December 1421

King Henry VI was born


King from 1422 to 1461 & from 1470 to 1471 & the last Lancastrian ruler of England, Henry's reign was dominated by the Wars of the Roses.


Henry was born at Windsor Castle. He was only nine months old when he succeeded his father, king Henry V. His mother was Catherine of Valois. He was crowned king of England in 1429 &, as result of his father's successes against the French, king of France in 1431. A regency council ran England until Henry was considered old enough to rule in 1437. In 1445, he married Margaret of Anjou.


Henry was a pious man whose interest in government was sporadic, who picked the wrong advisors & who was unable to prevent the power struggles that began to develop at court. Meanwhile, the dual monarchy proved too difficult to maintain; the successes of the Dauphin & Joan of Arc began to weaken England's grip on its French possessions & Normandy was lost in 1450. This only contributed to the erosion of Henry's prestige & authority.


In 1453, the king had a mental breakdown & Richard, Duke of York, was made protector. The king recovered in 1455, but civil war broke out between the Yorkist & Lancastrian factions. The ensuing struggle came to be known as the Wars of the Roses. While the Duke of York was the main figure on the Yorkist side, Margaret, Henry's queen, took charge of the Lancastrian cause. In 1460, York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield but his son took up the fight, defeating the Lancastrians at Towton in 1461 & crowning himself Edward IV. Henry fled into exile but returned & was captured by Edward in 1465.


The Earl of Warwick - previously an ally of Edward - now switched sides & restored Henry to the throne in 1470. Edward returned from exile & destroyed the Lancastrian forces at Tewkesbury in May 1471. Henry & Margaret's only son was among the Lancastrian dead. Henry VI, who had been imprisoned in the Tower of London, was murdered shortly afterwards.



 

7 December

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

7 December 1545

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was born (d. 1567)


Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. From his marriage in 1565, he was king consort of Scotland. He was created Duke of Albany shortly before his marriage. Less than a year after the birth of his & Mary's only child, King James VI of Scotland & I of England. In February 1567, Darnley's residence at Kirk o' Field was destroyed by an explosion, & he was found murdered in the garden. James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, & the following month he married Mary.


Many contemporary narratives describing his life & death refer to him as Lord Darnley, his title as heir apparent to the Earldom of Lennox, & it is by this appellation that he is known in history. On his mother's side he was a great-grandson of King Henry VII of England.


 

8 December

Mary, Queen of Scots

8 December 1542

Mary, Queen of Scots was born


Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567.


Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland (1512 – 1542) & Mary of Guise (1554–1560) was six days old when her father died & she acceded to the throne. She spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, & in 1558, she married the Dauphin of France, Francis. Mary was queen consort of France from his accession in 1559 until his death in December 1560.


Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her half-cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, & in June 1566 they had a son, James. In February 1567, Darnley's residence was destroyed by an explosion, & he was found murdered in the garden. James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, & the following month he married Mary.


Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southward seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed Queen Elizabeth I of England.


Mary had once claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own & was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving Mary as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles & manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen & a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth in 1586 & was beheaded the following year at Fotheringhay Castle. Mary's life, marriages, lineage, alleged involvement in plots against Elizabeth, & subsequent execution established her as a divisive & highly romanticised historical character, depicted in culture for centuries.


Mary, Queen of Scots


 

9 December

Detail from the charter of Malcolm IV, King of Scotland to Kelso Abbey showing Malcolm.

Detail from the charter of Malcolm IV, King of Scotland to Kelso Abbey showing Malcolm.


9 December 1165

Malcolm IV of Scotland died


Malcolm IV, nicknamed Virgo, "the Maiden" (born between 23 April & 24 May 1141, was King of Scotland from 1153 until his death. He was the eldest son of Henry, Earl of Huntingdon & Northumbria (died 1152) & Ada de Warenne. The original Malcolm Canmore, a name now associated with his great-grandfather Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada), he succeeded his grandfather David I, & shared David's Anglo-Norman tastes. Called Malcolm the Maiden by later chroniclers, a name which may incorrectly suggest weakness or effeminacy to modern readers, he was noted for his religious zeal & interest in knighthood & warfare. For much of his reign he was in poor health & died unmarried at the age of twenty-four.



 

10 December

a recumbent effigy of Princess Elizabeth of Clarence (daughter of William IV) by William Scoular (died 1854) in the Grand Corridor of Windsor Castle.

Image: a recumbent effigy of Princess Elizabeth of Clarence (daughter of William IV) by William Scoular (died 1854) in the Grand Corridor of Windsor Castle.


10 December 1820

Princess Elizabeth of Clarence was born


Princess Elizabeth of Clarence was the second daughter & third child of Prince William, Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (later King William IV) & his wife (later Queen), Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.


She was a granddaughter of King George III of the United Kingdom & a first cousin of Queen Victoria. After having had one child who died on the day of her birth, Princess Charlotte (27 March 1819) & suffering a stillbirth, the third pregnancy of the Duchess of Clarence also did not go as expected. The Duchess delivered a girl, almost six weeks premature, on 10 December 1820 at St James's Palace. She was christened on the day of her birth at the Palace by William Howley, then Bishop of London. The Duke & Duchess of Clarence had wanted to name her Georgina, but King George IV asked that she be named Elizabeth instead. The couple agreed & christened her "Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide" (or Elizabeth-Georgiana-Adelaide).


She lived the remainder of her days at St James's Palace. After "being suddenly seized with the fatal disease, an intro-susception of the bowels" she died shortly thereafter on 4 March 1821, aged 12 weeks. After her death, her mother suffered three more stillbirths. Elizabeth was buried at Windsor Castle, in St George's Chapel, on 10 March 1821. During her short life, she was ahead of her cousin, the future Queen Victoria, in the line of succession.


Had the Princess outlived her father she would have become Queen Elizabeth II.


 

10 December 1936

Abdication Crisis: Edward VIII signs the Instrument of Abdication.


Edward VIII

Edward VIII

Edward VIII


At Fort Belvedere, on 10 December 1936, Edward signed his written abdication notices, witnessed by his three younger brothers: Prince Albert, Duke of York (who succeeded Edward as George VI); Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; & Prince George, Duke of Kent

.

Although Edward VIII had signed a declaration of abdication on 10 December 1936—he remained king until giving Royal Assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, which he did on 11 December, at 1.52 p.m., & the Act became immediately effective from that time.


Edward VIII abdication letter

Edward VIII abdication letter

Edward VIII abdication letter

Edward VIII abdication letter


Edward VIII (Penguin Monarchs): The Uncrowned King - Paperback

Buy this Edward VIII (Penguin Monarchs): The Uncrowned King - Paperback book & receive a free photo of Edward VIII.


 

11 December

King George VI

11 December 1936

Prince Albert, Duke of York becomes King George VI after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII.


King George V had severe reservations about Prince Edward, saying, "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry & that nothing will come between Bertie (George VI) & Lilibet (Elizabeth II) and the throne." On 20 January 1936, George V died & Edward ascended the throne as Edward VIII. In the Vigil of the Princes, Prince Albert & his three brothers took a shift standing guard over their father's body as it lay in state, in a closed casket, in Westminster Hall.


As Edward was unmarried & had no children, Albert was the heir presumptive to the throne. Less than a year later, on 11 December 1936, Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson, who was divorced from her first husband & divorcing her second. Edward had been advised by British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin that he could not remain king & marry a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands. Edward chose abdication in preference to abandoning his marriage plans.


Thus Albert became king, a position he was reluctant to accept. The day before the abdication, he went to London to see his mother, Queen Mary. He wrote in his diary, "When I told her what had happened, I broke down & sobbed like a child."


Albert assumed the regnal name "George VI" to emphasise continuity with his father & restore confidence in the monarchy. The beginning of George VI's reign was taken up by questions surrounding his predecessor & brother, whose titles, style & position were uncertain. He had been introduced as "His Royal Highness Prince Edward" for the abdication broadcast, but George VI felt that by abdicating & renouncing the succession Edward had lost the right to bear royal titles, including "Royal Highness".


On settling the issue, George's first act as king was to confer upon his brother the title & style "His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor", but the Letters Patent creating the dukedom prevented any wife or children from bearing royal styles. George VI was also forced to buy from Edward the royal residences of Balmoral Castle & Sandringham House, as these were private properties & did not pass to George VI automatically. Three days after his accession, on his 41st birthday, he invested his wife, the new queen consort, with the Order of the Garter.


George VI's coronation took place on 12 May 1937, the date previously intended for Edward's coronation. In a break with tradition, Queen Mary attended the ceremony in a show of support for her son.



George VI (Penguin Monarchs): The Dutiful King Paperback + free photo

Buy this George VI (Penguin Monarchs): The Dutiful King Paperback & get a free photograph of George VI.


Did You Know? George VI, when Prince Albert competed at Wimbledon in the men's doubles.




 

12 December

Portrait of Anne of Denmark; oil on panel, National Maritime Museum, London

Portrait of Anne of Denmark; oil on panel, National Maritime Museum, London


12th December 1574

Anne of Denmark was born


Anne of Denmark was Queen consort of Scotland, England, & Ireland as the wife of James VI & I.


Anne was born on 12 December 1574 at the castle of Skanderborg on the Jutland Peninsula in the Kingdom of Denmark. She was the second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at age 14 & bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I. Anne appears to have loved James at first, but the couple gradually drifted & eventually lived apart, though mutual respect & a degree of affection survived. In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to patronage of the arts & constructed her own magnificent court, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe.


After 1612, she suffered sustained bouts of ill health & gradually withdrew from the centre of court life. Though she was reported to have been a Protestant at the time of her death on 2 March 1619, evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism sometime in her life. Historians have traditionally dismissed Anne as a lightweight queen, frivolous & self-indulgent. However, recent reappraisals acknowledge Anne's assertive independence &, in particular, her dynamic significance as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age.


Anne of Denmark, c. 1614, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Anne of Denmark, c. 1614, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

 


12th December 1992

Anne, Princess Royal married Timothy Laurence.


Anne, Princess Royal married Timothy Laurence, then a commander in the Royal Navy, at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral Castle, on 12 December 1992. The couple chose to marry in Scotland as the Church of England did not routinely allow divorced persons whose former spouses are still living to remarry in its churches, while the Church of Scotland did under certain circumstances. In participating in this ceremony, Anne became the first Royal divorcée to remarry since Victoria, Grand Duchess of Hesse & by Rhine, did so in 1905.


Like Phillips* before him, Laurence received no peerage, & the couple leased a flat in Dolphin Square, London. They later gave up this city home & now reside between an apartment at St James's Palace & Gatcombe Park. Anne has no children by Laurence. The current title of Laurence is; Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.


* The Queen had offered Phillips an earldom on his wedding day, as was customary for untitled men marrying into the Royal Family. However, Phillips did not accept the offer.


 

13 December

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent Portrait by Philip de László, 1934
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent Portrait by Philip de László, 1934

13th December 1906 - Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark was born


Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, (born Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark was the wife of Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George V of the United Kingdom & Mary of Teck.


Princess Marina's marriage was the most recent occasion on which a foreign-born princess married into the British royal family.


Princess Marina was born in Athens, Greece, on 13 December 1906. Her father was Prince Nicholas of Greece & Denmark, the third son of George I of Greece. Her mother was Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. She was the youngest of the couple's children. One of her paternal uncles was Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark, the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


She was baptised near the end of 1906, & her godparents were: the King of Greece (her paternal grandfather); the King of the United Kingdom Edward VII (her great-uncle by marriage); the Princess of Wales (later George V); Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark (her paternal uncle); Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia (her maternal uncle); & Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (her maternal aunt).


The family was generally poor & forced into exile when she was 11, following the overthrow of the Greek monarchy. They later moved to Paris, while the Princess stayed throughout Europe with her extended family.


Princess Marina on her wedding day, 1934
Princess Marina on her wedding day, 1934

She married Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George V in 1934. They had three children: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, & Prince Michael.



Queen Mary with the Duchess of Kent and her children, Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael of Kent 1943

Queen Mary with the Duchess of Kent and her children, Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael of Kent, 1943.


The Princess was widowed in 1942, when her husband was killed in a plane crash on active service. In later life, she carried out many royal engagements, including the independence celebrations for Ghana & Botswana.


She served as the first Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury from 1963 until her death from a brain tumour at Kensington Palace at 11.40 am on 27 August 1968, aged 61.



 

14 December

James V, king of Scots
King James V

14 December 1542

James V of Scotland died at Falkland Palace, Fife, Scotland.


James V (born. 10 April 1512) was King of Scotland from 9 September 1513 until his death. He was the third son of King James IV of Scotland & his wife Margaret Tudor, a daughter of Henry VII of England & sister of Henry VIII,


He became king at just 17 months old when his father was killed at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513. He was married twice, firstly to Madeleine of Valois (1520-1537), on 1 January 1537 at Notre Dame de Paris. Madeleine was a daughter of King Francis I of France. Plagued by ill health, Madeleine died in her husband's arms in July of the same year.


Portrait of James V and Mary of Guise, anonymous artist, c. 1542, at Falkland Palace
James V & Mary of Guise, anonymous artist, c. 1542, at Falkland Palace

James then married Mary of Guise, daughter of Claude, Duke of Guise, & widow of Louis II d'Orléans, Duke of Longueville, by proxy on 12 June 1538.


They had 3 children;


  • James, Duke of Rothesay (22 May 1540 - 21 April 1541).

  • Arthur or Robert, Duke of Albany (12 April 1541,– 20 April 1541)

  • Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587).


Additionally, James V had nine known illegitimate children, at least three of whom were fathered before the age of 20.


In 1542 his army suffered a serious defeat to the English at the Battle of Solway Moss. He took ill shortly after this, on 6 December; by some accounts this was a nervous collapse caused by the defeat, & he may have died from the grief, although some historians consider that it may just have been an ordinary fever.


He was succeeded by his six-day old daughter Mary, Queen of Scots.


 


14th December 1861

Prince Albert died


Albert died at 10:50 p.m. on 14 December 1861 in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle, in the presence of the Queen & five of their nine children. The contemporary diagnosis was typhoid fever, but modern writers have pointed out that Albert was ill for at least two years before his death, which may indicate that a chronic disease, such as Crohn's disease, renal failure, or abdominal cancer, was the cause of death.


Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later The Prince Consort; b.26 August 1819) was the husband of Queen Victoria. He was born in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs.


Prince Albert portrait by John Partridge, 1840
Prince Albert portrait by John Partridge, 1840

At the age of 20 he married his first cousin, Queen Victoria, with whom he would ultimately have nine children. At first, Albert felt constrained by his position as consort, which did not confer any power or duties upon him. Over time he adopted many public causes, such as educational reform & a worldwide abolition of slavery, & took on the responsibilities of running the Queen's household, estates & office. He was heavily involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Albert aided in the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to show less partisanship in her dealings with Parliament, although he actively disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary.


Early daguerreotype with hand-colouring, 1848, by William Edward Kilburn
Early daguerreotype with hand-colouring, 1848, by William Edward Kilburn

He died at the early age of 42, plunging the Queen into a deep mourning that lasted for the rest of her life (the Queen wore black for the rest of her days). Upon Queen Victoria's death in 1901, their eldest son, Edward VII, succeeded as the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, named after the ducal house to which Albert belonged.


Prince Albert, Queen Victoria and their nine children. From left to right: Alice, Arthur (later Duke of Connaught), The Prince Consort (Albert), The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), Leopold (later Duke of Albany, in front of the Prince of Wales), Louise, Queen Victoria with Beatrice, Alfred (later Duke of Edinburgh), The Princess Royal (Victoria) and Helena

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria & their nine children. From left to right: Alice, Arthur (later Duke of Connaught), The Prince Consort (Albert), The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), Leopold (later Duke of Albany, in front of the Prince of Wales), Louise, Queen Victoria with Beatrice, Alfred (later Duke of Edinburgh), The Princess Royal (Victoria) & Helena



 

Princess Alice by Franz Backofen, 1871
Princess Alice by Franz Backofen, 1871

14 December 1878

Princess Alice of the United Kingdom died


On 14 December, the anniversary of her father's death (Prince Albert) , she became seriously ill with the diphtheria caught from her son. Her last words were "dear Papa", & she fell unconscious at 2:30 am. Just after 8:30 am, she died. Alice was buried on 18 December 1878 at the Grand Ducal mausoleum at Rosenhöhe outside Darmstadt, with the Union Flag draped over her coffin. Alice was the first of Queen Victoria's nine children to die, & one of three to be outlived by their mother, who died in 1901


Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (born .25 April 1843); later Princess Louis of Hesse & Grand Duchess of Hesse & by Rhine) was the third child & second daughter of Queen Victoria & Albert, Prince Consort.


Princess Alice with her husband Louis, 1860s
Alice with her husband Louis, 1860s

On 1 July 1862, Alice married the minor German Prince Louis of Hesse, heir to the Grand Duchy of Hesse, they had seven children.


Alice was a prolific patron of women's causes & showed an interest in nursing, especially the work of Florence Nightingale. When Hesse became involved in the Austro-Prussian War, Darmstadt filled with the injured; the heavily pregnant Alice devoted much of her time to the management of field hospitals. One of her organisations, the Princess Alice Women's Guild, took over much of the day-to-day running of the state's military hospitals. As a result of this activity, Queen Victoria became concerned about Alice's directness about medical, & in particular, gynaecological, matters.


Princess Alice was the mother of Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia (empress consort of Tsar Nicholas II), maternal grandmother of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy of India, & maternal great-grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II. Another daughter, Elisabeth, who had married Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, was, like the tsaritsa & her family, killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.


 


14 December 1895

King George VI was born


George VI was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria. His father was Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), the second & eldest-surviving son of the Prince & Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra). His mother was the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), the eldest child & only daughter of the Duke & Duchess of Teck.


His birthday was the anniversary of the death of his great-grandfather, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort. Uncertain of how the Prince Consort's widow, Queen Victoria, would take the news of the birth, the Prince of Wales wrote to the Duke of York that the Queen had been "rather distressed". Two days later, he wrote again: "I really think it would gratify her if you yourself proposed the name Albert to her". Queen Victoria was mollified by the proposal to name the new baby Albert, & wrote to the Duchess of York: "I am all impatience to see the new one, born on such a sad day but rather more dear to me, especially as he will be called by that dear name which is a byword for all that is great and good".


Consequently, he was baptised "Albert Frederick Arthur George" at St. Mary Magdalene's Church near Sandringham three months later. As a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, he was known formally as His Highness Prince Albert of York from birth. Within the family, he was known informally as "Bertie". His maternal grandmother, the Duchess of Teck, did not like the first name the baby had been given, & she wrote prophetically that she hoped the last name "may supplant the less favoured one".



Albert, as he was known, was fourth in line to the throne at birth, after his grandfather, father & elder brother, Edward. In 1898, Queen Victoria issued Letters Patent that granted the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales the style Royal Highness, & at the age of two, Albert became His Royal Highness Prince Albert of York.


George VI was King of the United Kingdom & the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was the last Emperor of India until August 1947, when the British Raj was dissolved.



 

15 December

Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1785
Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1785

15 December 1785

George, Prince of Wales (later King George IV) married Maria Fitzherbert


Portrait of Maria Fitzherbert (1756-1837)
Portrait of Maria Fitzherbert (1756-1837)

Soon after he reached the age of 21, the Prince became infatuated with Maria Fitzherbert. She was a commoner, six years his elder, twice widowed, & a Roman Catholic. Despite her complete unsuitability, the Prince was determined to marry her. This was in spite of the Act of Settlement 1701, which barred the spouse of a Catholic from succeeding to the throne, & the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which prohibited his marriage without the consent of the King, which would never have been granted.


Nevertheless, the couple went through a marriage ceremony on 15 December 1785 at her house in Park Street, Mayfair. Legally the union was void, as the King's consent was not granted (& never even requested). However, Fitzherbert believed that she was the Prince's canonical & true wife, holding the law of the Church to be superior to the law of the State. For political reasons, the union remained secret & Fitzherbert promised not to reveal it. The Prince remained attached to Maria Fitzherbert for the rest of his life, despite several periods of estrangement.


The Prince of Wales had large debts & his father (George III) refused to aid him unless he married his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick. In 1795, the prince acquiesced; & they were married on 8 April 1795 at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.


 

16 December

Fformerly Catherine Parr, in 2012 this was re-identified as Catherine of Aragon
Formerly Catherine Parr, in 2012 this portrait was re-identified as Katharine of Aragon

16 December 1485

Katharine of Aragon was born at Archiepiscopal Palace of Alcalá de Henares


Katharine was Queen of England from 1509 until 1533 as the first wife of King Henry VIII; she was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Prince Arthur.


She was three years old when she was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir apparent to the English throne, son of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York. They married in 1501, & Arthur died five months later. In 1507, she held the position of ambassador for the Spanish Court in England, becoming the first female ambassador in European history.


Katharine married Arthur's younger brother, Henry VIII, in 1509. For six months in 1513, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Katharine played an important part.


By 1525, Henry VIII was infatuated with his mistress, Anne Boleyn, & dissatisfied that his marriage to Katharine had produced no surviving sons, only his daughter Mary. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England's schism with the Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was declared invalid & Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Katharine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England & considered herself the King's rightful wife & queen, attracting much popular sympathy.


Despite this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle & died there on 7 January 1536. Katharine's English subjects held her in high esteem, & her death set off tremendous mourning among the English people. She is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.



 


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