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#otd in Royal History 17-31 December

#otd 17 - 31 December in royal history

17 December

Prince Rupert of the Rhine

17 December 1619

Prince, Rupert of the Rhine was born

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland, first came to prominence as a Royalist cavalry commander during the English Civil War. Rupert was the third son of the German Prince Frederick V of the Palatinate & Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James VI of Scotland & I of England. Thus Rupert was nephew of King Charles I, & first cousin of King Charles II, who made him Duke of Cumberland & Earl of Holderness. His sister Electress Sophia was the mother of George I of Great Britain.

Prince Rupert had a varied career. He was a soldier as a child, fighting alongside Dutch forces against Habsburg Spain during the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), & against the Holy Roman Emperor in Germany during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Aged 23, he was appointed commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War, becoming the archetypal "Cavalier" of the war & ultimately the senior Royalist general. He surrendered after the fall of Bristol & was banished from England. He served under King Louis XIV of France against Spain, & then as a Royalist privateer in the Caribbean Sea. Following the Restoration, Rupert returned to England, becoming a senior English naval commander during the Second Anglo-Dutch War & Third Anglo-Dutch War, & serving as the first governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. He died in England in 1682, aged 62.

Charles I (in blue sash) holding a council of war at Edgecote on the day before the Battle of Edgehill. Rupert, seated, commanded the King's cavalry.

Charles I (in blue sash) holding a council of war at Edgecote on the day before the Battle of Edgehill. Rupert, seated, commanded the King's cavalry.

Rupert is considered to have been a quick-thinking & energetic cavalry general, but ultimately undermined by his youthful impatience in dealing with his peers during the Civil War. In the Interregnum, Rupert continued the conflict against Parliament by sea from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, showing considerable persistence in the face of adversity. As the head of the Royal Navy in his later years, he showed greater maturity & made impressive & long-lasting contributions to the Royal Navy's doctrine & development. As a colonial governor, Rupert shaped the political geography of modern Canada: Rupert's Land was named in his honour, & he was a founder of the Hudson's Bay Company.


18 December

Edith of Wessex, wife of Edward the Confessor

18 December 1075

Edith of Wessex died

Edith of Wessex (born c. 1025) was a Queen of England. Her husband was Edward the Confessor, whom she married on 23 January 1045.

Edith of Wessex; was the daughter of Godwin, the most powerful earl in England. Her mother Gytha was sister of Ulf, a Danish earl who was Cnut the Great's brother-in-law. Edith was originally named Gytha, but renamed Ealdgyth (or Edith) when she married King Edward the Confessor. Her marriage to Edward produced no children. Edith was brought up at Wilton Abbey. She was an educated woman who spoke several languages, skills she probably acquired at Wilton.

As the king's wife, she was responsible for his regal presentation. She commissioned works for his personal ornament, & had at least one goldsmith among her tenants. The Domesday Book shows that she was the richest woman in England, & the fourth wealthiest individual, after the king, Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, & her brother Harold. She held land valued at between £1,570 & £2,000 per annum.

Edward the Confessor, enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry
Edward the Confessor, enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry

Upon Edward's death, on 4 January 1066, he was succeeded by Edith's brother, Harold Godwinson (Harold II). At the Battle of Stamford Bridge (25 September 1066) & the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066), Edith lost four of her remaining brothers (Tostig, Harold, Gyrth & Leofwine). Edith was therefore the only senior member of the Godwin family to survive the Norman conquest on English soil.

After King Edward's death Edith read the lives of English saints, & gave information about St Kenelm to his hagiographer, Goscelin. She died at Winchester on 18 December 1075. She was buried together with her husband in Westminster Abbey & her funeral was arranged by king William I.


18 December 1941

Prince William of Gloucester was born at Hadley Common, Hertfordshire

Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

His father was Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1900–1974), the third eldest son of King George V & Queen Mary. His mother was Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901–2004), the third daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch.

Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

In 1947, Prince William was a page boy for his cousin The Princess Elizabeth (Now Queen Elizabeth II) at her wedding to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The other page boy was Prince Michael of Kent. In 1953, he attended the coronation of Elizabeth II.

Prince William spent his early childhood at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire & later in Australia, where his father served as Governor-General from 1945 to 1947. He received his education at Wellesley House School, a prep school at Broadstairs in Kent, then at Eton College. After leaving Eton in 1960, he went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to read history, graduating with a BA degree in 1963, subsequently raised to an MA (Cantab.) degree in 1968. After Cambridge, he spent a post-baccalaureate year at Stanford University, studying political science, American history, & business.

After returning to Britain, he took a position with Lazards, a merchant bank. Prince William was the second member of the British Royal Family to work in the civil service or the diplomatic service (the first was his uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent, in the 1920s). He joined the Commonwealth Office in 1965 & was posted to Lagos as the third secretary at the British High Commission. In 1968, he transferred to Tokyo to accept the post of second secretary (commercial) in the British Embassy.

In 1970, the health of his father, the Duke of Gloucester, was beginning to fail & Prince William was diagnosed as suffering from porphyria. Prince William resigned from the diplomatic service & returned to Britain. For the next two years, he managed Barnwell Manor & began to carry out public duties as a member of the royal family. Prince William served on some occasions as Counsellor of State in the absence of his cousin, the Queen.

As a licensed pilot & President of the British Light Aviation Centre, Prince William owned several aircraft & competed in amateur air show races. In August 1972, he was competing in the Goodyear International Air Trophy at Halfpenny Green, near Wolverhampton, with Vyrell Mitchell a pilot with whom the prince had often raced—listed as a passenger. Shortly after their takeoff & at a very low altitude, the Piper Cherokee banked abruptly to port, with an extreme increase in the rate of turn & corresponding loss of altitude; the wing hit a tree & sheared off, & the out-of-control plane flipped over & crashed into an earthen bank, bursting into flames. Prince William & Mitchell were killed. The crash happened before 30,000 spectators, the fire took two hours to control, & the bodies were identified at inquest next day from dental records.

His father, Prince Henry, was in such poor health at the time of his death that his mother hesitated whether to tell him. She later admitted in her memoirs that she did not, but that he may have learned of their son's death from television coverage. Prince William was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. The comprehensive school in Oundle, which he opened in 1971, was renamed Prince William School in his memory.

Prince William was the heir apparent of his father's peerages, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, & Baron Culloden. Upon his death, his younger brother Prince Richard of Gloucester became heir apparent, & succeeded to these peerages in 1974. He shared a close relationship with Charles, Prince of Wales, his seven-years-younger first cousin once removed. The Prince of Wales named his first son, Prince William, born in 1982, after him.


19 December

Henry II, king of England

19 December 1154

Henry II coronation at Westminster Abbey

Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189), was King of England from 1154 until his death in 1189. He was the first king of the House of Plantagenet. He was the eldest child of the Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I) & her second husband, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.

King Louis VII of France made him Duke of Normandy in 1150. Henry became Count of Anjou & Maine upon the death of his father, Count Geoffrey V, in 1151. His marriage in 1152 to Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Louis VII had recently been annulled, made him Duke of Aquitaine. He became Count of Nantes by treaty in 1185. Before he was 40 he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland & the western half of France; an area that was later called the Angevin Empire. At various times, Henry also partially controlled Scotland & the Duchy of Brittany.

Henry was an energetic & ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the lands & privileges of his grandfather Henry I. Henry's desire to reform the relationship with the Church led to conflict with his former friend Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This controversy lasted for much of the 1160s & resulted in Becket's murder in 1170.

12th-century depiction of Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine holding court
12th-century depiction of Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine holding court

Henry & Eleanor had eight children—three daughters & five sons. Three of his sons would be king, though Henry the Young King (died 1183) was named his father's co-ruler rather than a stand-alone king.

13th-century depiction of Henry and his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John

13th-century depiction of Henry & his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan & John

Henry II died on 6 July 1189 (aged 56) at Chinon Castle, Chinon, Touraine, Kingdom of France, & was succeeded by his son Richard I.

Henry II(Penguin Monarchs) paperback book, The British Monarchy Blog Shop


20 December

20 December 1192

Richard I of England is captured & imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade.

Richard I of England is captured & imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade.

Richard I of England is captured & imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade. b

Richard I of England is captured & imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade. c

Richard I of England is captured & imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade. d


Prince George, Duke of Kent

20 December 1902

Prince George, Duke of Kent was born.

Prince George was born at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. His father was George, Prince of Wales (later King George V), the eldest surviving son of King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra. His mother was the Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary), the daughter of the Duke & Duchess of Teck.

At the time of his birth, he was fifth in the line of succession to the throne, behind his father & three older brothers. As a grandchild of a British monarch in the male line, he was styled His Royal Highness Prince George of Wales.

Prince George Portrait by Philip de László, 1934
Prince George portrait by Philip de László, 1934

Prince George was the Duke of Kent from 1934 until his death in a military air-crash on 25 August 1942. He was married to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (daughter of prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark & Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia), they had three children; Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (born.9 October 1935); Princess Alexandra (born. 25 December 1936); & Prince Michael of Kent (born.4 July 1942)

The Duke and Duchess of Kent in 1934
The Duke and Duchess of Kent in 1934


21 December

21 December 2010

Zara Phillips & Mike Tindall announce their engagement

Buckingham Palace announced Zara's engagement to rugby union player Mike Tindall, who played for Premiership side Gloucester & the England national team. The couple met during England's Rugby World Cup-winning campaign in Australia in 2003 as required by the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the Queen gave her consent to their marriage in a meeting of the Privy Council on 10 May 2011. Their wedding was held on 30 July 2011 at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland. The couple has three children; Mia Grace (born 2014); Lena Elizabeth (born 2018); & Lucas Philip (born 2021).

Zara Tindall MBE OLY (née Phillips; born 15 May 1981) is a British equestrian, an Olympian, & the daughter of Anne, Princess Royal, & Captain Mark Phillips. She is the eldest granddaughter of her mother's parents Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, & is 21st in line of succession to the British throne.


22 December

King Stephen of England

22 December 1135

Stephen of Blois is crowned king of England

Nearly three weeks after the death of King Henry I of England, Stephen of Blois claims the throne & is privately crowned King of England.

Stephen (1092 or 1096 – 25 October 1154), often referred to as Stephen of Blois, was King of England from 22 December 1135 to his death in 1154. His reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin & rival, the Empress Matilda, whose son, Henry II, succeeded Stephen as the first of the Angevin kings of England.

Kings and Queens - Amazing and Extraordinary Facts Book


23 December

Effigy of Berengaria of Navarre in the chapter house of L'Épau Abbey, Le Mans
Effigy of Berengaria of Navarre in the chapter house of L'Épau Abbey, Le Mans

23 December 1230

Berengaria of Navarre died

She was Queen of England as the Queen consort of Richard I of England

Berengaria was born c. 1165–1170 & was the daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, called Sancho the wise, & Blanche of Castile.

Berengaria was chosen as wife to Richard I by Richard's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The marriage with Berengaria would bring a dowry that would help Richard finance his efforts in the Third Crusade.

Eleanor, though almost 70 years old, travelled over the Pyrenees to escort Berengaria to Sicily. In Sicily, Eleanor's daughter & Richard's sister, Joan of England, embarked with Berengaria to join Richard in the Holy Land. But the ship carrying Joan & Berengaria was wrecked off the shore of Cyprus. The ruler, Isaac Comnenus, took them prisoner. Richard & part of his army landed in Cyprus to free them, & Isaac foolishly attacked. Richard freed his bride & his sister, defeated & captured Comnenus, & took control of Cyprus.

Berengaria & Richard were married on May 12, 1191, & set off together to Acre in Palestine. Berengaria left the Holy Land for Poitou, France, & when Richard was on his way back to Europe in 1192, he was captured & then held prisoner in Germany until 1194, when his mother arranged for his ransom.

Richard Cœur de Lion, Carlo Marochetti's 1856 statue of Richard I outside the Palace of Westminster, London
Richard Cœur de Lion, Carlo Marochetti's 1856 statue of Richard I outside the Palace of Westminster, London

Berengaria & Richard had no children. After Richard's death in 1199, Berengaria as dowager queen retired to LeMans in Maine. King John, Richard's brother, seized much of her property & refused to repay her. Berengaria lived in virtual poverty during John's lifetime. Eleanor & Pope Innocent III each intervened, but John never did pay her most of what was owed to her. John's son, Henry III, finally did pay much of the overdue debts. Berengaria died in 1230, soon after founding Pietas Dei at Espau, a Cistercian monastery.

👑 Did You Know? Berengaria is the only Queen of England never to set foot on the soil of England while Queen.

Kings & Queens Haynes Pocket Manual (Pocket Manuals)


24 December

King John of England

24 December 1166

King John was born

John was born on 24 December 1166 at Beaumont Palace, Oxford. His father, King Henry II of England, had inherited significant territories along the Atlantic seaboard – Anjou, Normandy & England – & expanded his empire by conquering Brittany. John's powerful mother, Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, had a tenuous claim to Toulouse & Auvergne in southern France, & was the former wife of King Louis VII of France.

As the youngest of the four surviving sons, he was nicknamed John Lackland because he was not expected to inherit significant lands. He became Henry's favourite child following the failed revolt of 1173–1174 by his brothers Henry the Young King, Richard, & Geoffrey against the King. John was appointed the Lord of Ireland in 1177 & given lands in England & on the continent. John unsuccessfully attempted a rebellion against the royal administrators of his brother, King Richard, whilst Richard was participating in the Third Crusade, but he was proclaimed king after Richard died in 1199.

He was King of England until his death in 1216. He lost the Duchy of Normandy & most of his other French lands to King Philip II of France, resulting in the collapse of the Angevin Empire & contributing to the subsequent growth in power of the French Capetian dynasty during the 13th century. The baronial revolt at the end of John's reign led to the sealing of Magna Carta, a document sometimes considered an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United Kingdom.

An original version of Magna Carta, agreed by John and the barons in 1215

An original version of Magna Carta, agreed by John & the barons in 1215

The Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain Colouring Book


Mary, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange Portrait by Bartholomeus van der Helst, 1652

24 December 1660

Mary, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange died of smallpox, at Whitehall Palace, London & was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Princess Mary Henrietta was born at St. James's Palace, London, 4 November 1631. Charles I designated her Princess Royal in 1642, thus establishing the tradition that the eldest daughter of the British Sovereign might bear this title. The title came into being when Queen Henrietta Maria, the daughter of King Henry IV of France wished to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the French king was styled (Madame Royale). Until that time, the eldest daughters of English & Scottish kings were variously titled Lady or Princess (The younger daughters of British Sovereigns were not consistently titled princesses of Great Britain & styled Royal Highness until the ascension of George I in 1714).

Mary, Princess Royal was Princess of Orange & Countess of Nassau as the wife of William II, Prince of Orange. William II died in 1650, also of smallpox. Their only child, William succeeded her husband as Prince of Orange-Nassau & later reigned as King of England, Ireland & Scotland.


William the Conqueror

25 December 1066

William, Duke of Normandy was crowned King of England

William I (born c. 1028 – died.9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror & sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.

William was the descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, & he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England & his continental lands & by difficulties with his eldest son.

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings.
Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings.

Afterwards he made arrangements for the governance of England in early 1067 before returning to Normandy. Several unsuccessful rebellions followed, but by 1075 William's hold on England was mostly secure, allowing him to spend the majority of the rest of his reign on the continent.

William's final years were marked by difficulties in his continental domains, troubles with his eldest son, & threatened invasions of England by the Danes. In 1086 William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, a survey listing all the landholders in England along with their holdings.

The White Tower in London, begun by William
The White Tower in London, begun by William

William died in September 1087 while leading a campaign in northern France, & was buried in Caen. His reign in England was marked by the construction of castles, the settling of a new Norman nobility on the land, & change in the composition of the English clergy.

He did not try to integrate his various domains into one empire, but instead continued to administer each part separately. William's lands were divided after his death: Normandy went to his eldest son, Robert, & his second surviving son, William, received England.

A Tudor Christmas - Hardover book


Portrait of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004), 1939 by Dorothy Wilding
Portrait of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004), 1939 by Dorothy Wilding

25 December 1901

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester was born.

Lady Alice was born, in Montagu House, Whitehall, London, on Christmas Day 1901 as the third daughter of John Montagu Douglas Scott, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, and the former Lady Margaret Bridgeman, daughter of George Bridgeman, 4th Earl of Bradford. She was therefore a descendant, in an unbroken male (though illegitimate) line, of King Charles II.

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, born Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott; was the wife & then widow of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of George V & Mary of Teck.

The daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry, Scotland’s largest landowner, her brothers Walter & William and her nephew John were all Conservative MP's. She was sister-in-law to Edward VIII & George VI & aunt to Elizabeth II.

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1900-74) and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004) 12 - 12 May 1937
The Duke & Duchess of Gloucester, 12 May 1937

Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

She was the mother of Prince William of Gloucester, who died at age 30, & Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Her first cousin, Marian Montagu Douglas Scott, was the paternal grandmother of Sarah, Duchess of York, wife of Alice’s great-nephew, Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Princess Alice's niece, Princess Alexandra, shares the name Christabel in honour of their shared birth date, Christmas Day.

Princess Alice died on 29 October 2004 in her sleep at Kensington Palace at age 102.



25 December 1936

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy was born.

Princess Alexandra was born on 25 December 1936 at 3 Belgrave Square, London. Her parents were Prince George, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George V & Queen Mary) & Princess Marina of Greece & Denmark, a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece & Denmark & Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra; her grandmother, Princess Nicholas of Greece & Denmark; & both of her maternal aunts, Countess Karl Theodor of Törring-Jettenbach & Princess Paul of Yugoslavia. She received the name Christabel because she was born on Christmas Day, like her aunt by marriage, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.

Her birth was the last to have the tradition of having the Home Secretary present to verify the birth of potential heirs to the throne. Secretary Sir John Simon was present & was the last to do this. As a male-line granddaughter of the British monarch, she was styled as a British princess with the prefix Her Royal Highness. At the time of her birth, she was sixth in the line of succession to the British throne, behind her cousins Elizabeth & Princess Margaret, her uncle the Duke of Gloucester, her father the Duke of Kent, & her elder brother Prince Edward. She was born two weeks after the abdication of her uncle King Edward VIII.

She is a first cousin of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, & since her mother was a first cousin of the queen's husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, she was also his first cousin once removed.

Princess Alexandra, 29 June 1961
Princess Alexandra, 29 June 1961

On 24 April 1963, she married Angus James Bruce Ogilvy (1928–2004), the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie & Lady Alexandra Coke, at Westminster Abbey. Angus Ogilvy was knighted in 1988 (when Princess Alexandra assumed the style of The Hon. Lady Ogilvy), later being sworn of the Privy Council in 1997. Princess Alexandra & Sir Angus had two children, James & Marina, & four grandchildren: James Robert Bruce Ogilvy (born 29 February 1964) & Marina Victoria Alexandra Ogilvy (born 31 July 1966).

Since the late 1950s, Princess Alexandra has carried out an extensive programme of engagements in support of the monarch, both in the United Kingdom & overseas. Taking part in roughly 120 engagements each year, Princess Alexandra was one of the most active members of the royal family.

Alexandra lives at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond, London, a Crown property purchased on a 150-year lease from the Crown Estate Commissioners by Sir Angus Ogilvy after their wedding in 1963. She also has use of a grace-&-favour apartment at St James's Palace in London.


26 December

26 December 2004

Sir Angus James Bruce Ogilvy died.

He is best known as the husband of Princess Alexandra, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Angus Ogilvy was born in London, the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie & Lady Alexandra Coke, the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Leicester. His grandmother, Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, was a close friend & Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Mary. His father was a lord-in-waiting to George V & Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother).

On 24 April 1963, Ogilvy married Princess Alexandra of Kent, a granddaughter of George V & a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding ceremony was attended by all the members of the royal family & was broadcast worldwide on television, watched by an estimated 200 million people. The couple had two children, James (born in 1964) & Marina (born in 1966).

Ogilvy died in Kingston upon Thames, London, on 26 December 2004 after spending three months in hospital with cancer-related illnesses including acute pneumonia. His funeral took place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor in Windsor Castle on 5 January 2005. He was buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore at Windsor.


28 December

Queen Mary II of England

On This 28th December 1694

Queen Mary II died

Queen Mary II was aged 32 & apparently fit; she would regularly walk between her palaces at Whitehall & Kensington. In late 1694, however, she contracted smallpox. She sent away anyone who had not previously had the disease, to prevent the spread of infection.

Her sister Princess Anne (later Queen Anne), who was pregnant, sent Mary a letter saying she would run any risk to see her sister again, but the offer was declined by Mary's groom of the stole, the Countess of Derby. Mary died at Kensington Palace shortly after midnight on the morning of 28 December. the king ( William III) who had grown increasingly to rely on Mary, was devastated by her death, & told Burnet that "from being the happiest" he was "now going to be the miserablest creature on earth".

She was widely mourned in Britain. During a cold winter, in which the Thames froze, her embalmed body lay in state in Banqueting House, Whitehall. On 5 March, she was buried at Westminster Abbey. Her funeral service was the first of any royal attended by all the members of both Houses of Parliament. For the ceremony, composer Henry Purcell wrote Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary.

Mary II (30 April 1662 – 28 December 1694) was Queen of England, Scotland, & Ireland, co-reigning with her husband, William III & II, from 1689 until her death in 1694.

Mary was the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, & his first wife Anne Hyde. Mary & her sister Anne were raised as Anglicans at the behest of their uncle, King Charles II, although their parents both converted to Roman Catholicism. Charles lacked legitimate children, making Mary second in the line of succession. She married her Protestant first cousin, William of Orange, in 1677. Charles died in 1685 & James took the throne, making Mary heir presumptive. James's attempts at rule by decree & the birth of his son from a second marriage, James Francis Edward, led to his deposition in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 & the adoption of the English Bill of Rights.

Mary's husband, William of Orange, by Godfrey Kneller
Mary's husband, William III, by Godfrey Kneller

William & Mary became king & queen regnant. Mary mostly deferred to William, a renowned military leader & principal opponent of Louis XIV, when he was in England. She did, however, act alone when William was engaged in military campaigns abroad, proving herself to be a powerful, firm, & effective ruler. Mary's death from smallpox at the age of 32 left William as sole ruler until his death in 1702, when he was succeeded by Mary's sister, Anne.

👑 Did You Know? Mary is credited with influencing garden design at Het Loo & Hampton Court Palaces, & with popularising blue & white porcelain & the keeping of goldfish as pets.


Princess Caroline portrait by Jacopo Amigoni
Princess Caroline portrait by Jacopo Amigoni

28 December 1757

Princess Caroline of Great Britain died.

Princess Caroline was born at Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, Germany, on 10 June 1713. Her father was George Augustus, Hereditary Prince of Hanover (later King George II of Great Britain). Her mother was Caroline of Ansbach. As a granddaughter of the Elector of Hanover, she was styled Her Serene Highness Princess Caroline of Hanover at birth.

Under the Act of Settlement 1701, she was seventh in the line of succession to the British throne. In 1714, Queen Anne died, & Caroline's grandfather became George I & her father Prince of Wales. At one year old, Caroline accompanied her mother & elder sisters, the Princesses Anne & Amelia, to Great Britain, & the family resided at St James's Palace, London. She was then styled as a Princess of Great Britain, & was known as HRH Princess Caroline, & later HRH The Princess Caroline when her father succeeded as George II in 1727.

In 1722, at the direction of her mother, she was inoculated against smallpox by variolation, an early type of immunisation popularised by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu & Charles Maitland. Princess Caroline was her mother's favourite, & became known as "the truth-telling Caroline Elizabeth" (or "the truth-loving"). When any disagreement took place among the royal children, her parents would say, "Send for Caroline, & then we shall know the truth!" According to Dr. John Doran, "

According to popular belief, Caroline's unhappiness was due to her love for the married courtier Lord Hervey. When Hervey died in 1743, Caroline retired to St. James's Palace for many years prior to her own death, accessible to only her family & closest friends. She gave generously to charity. She was so unhappy that she wanted only to die. Princess Caroline died, unmarried & childless, on 28 December 1757, aged 44, at St James's Palace. She was buried at Westminster Abbey.


The Abbey c1711 prior to the western towers being built
The Abbey c1711 prior to the western towers being built

28 December 1065

Westminster Abbey was consecrated

The recorded origins of the Abbey date to the 960s or early 970s, when Saint Dunstan & King Edgar installed a community of Benedictine monks on the site.

Between 1042 & 1052, King Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St Peter's Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church. It was the first church in England built in the Romanesque style. The building was completed around 1060 & was consecrated on 28 December 1065, only a week before Edward's death on 5 January 1066. A week later, he was buried in the church; & , nine years later, his wife Edith was buried alongside him. His successor, Harold II, was probably crowned in the abbey, although the first documented coronation is that of William the Conqueror later the same year.

The only extant depiction of Edward's abbey, together with the adjacent Palace of Westminster, is in the Bayeux Tapestry. Some of the lower parts of the monastic dormitory, an extension of the South Transept, survive in the Norman Undercroft of the Great School, including a door said to come from the previous Saxon abbey. Increased endowments supported a community that increased from a dozen monks in Dunstan's original foundation, up to a maximum of about eighty monks.

This painting of the church by Canaletto was created shortly after the completion of the western towers.
This painting of the church by Canaletto was created shortly after the completion of the western towers.

Construction of the present church began in 1245 on the orders of King Henry III.

Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English & British monarchs have occurred in Westminster Abbey. Sixteen royal weddings have occurred at the Abbey since 1100.

The Abbey is the burial site of more than 3,300 persons, usually of prominence in British history: at least 16 monarchs, 8 Prime Ministers, poets laureate, actors, scientists, military leaders, & the Unknown Warrior.

Westminster Abbey, London

29 December

Earliest known portrayal of Thomas Becket's murder in Canterbury Cathedral.
Earliest known portrayal of Thomas Becket's murder in Canterbury Cathedral.

29 December 1170

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II

Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket (21 December 1119 or 1120 – 29 December 1170), was an English nobleman who served as Lord Chancellor from 1155 to 1162, & then notably as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint & martyr by the Catholic Church & the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights & privileges of the Church & was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.



30 December

The red rose of Lancaster & white rose of York
The red rose of Lancaster & white rose of York

30 December 1460

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Wakefield.

The Battle of Wakefield took place in Sandal Magna near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire in Northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses.

For several years before the battle, the Duke of York had become increasingly opposed to the weak King Henry VI's court. After King Henry became his prisoner for the second time, he laid claim to the throne, but lacked sufficient support. Instead, he accepted the title of Protector, & a promise that he or his heirs would succeed Henry. Margaret of Anjou & several prominent nobles were irreconcilably opposed to this accord, & massed their armies in the north. Richard of York marched north to deal with them, but found he was outnumbered.

The opposing forces were an army led by nobles loyal to the captive King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster, his Queen Margaret of Anjou & their seven year-old son Edward, Prince of Wales on one side, & the army of Richard, Duke of York (father of Edward IV & Richard III), the rival claimant to the throne, on the other.

The Battle of Wakefield by Graham Turner
The Battle of Wakefield painting by Graham Turner

CLICK HERE for full information about this picture on - Image copyright Graham Turner.

Although he occupied Sandal Castle, the Duke of York sortied from the castle on 30 December. His reasons for doing so have been variously ascribed to deception by the Lancastrian armies, or treachery by some nobles & Lancastrian officers who York thought were his allies, or simple rashness or miscalculation by York. The Duke of York was killed & his army was destroyed, many of the prominent Yorkist leaders & their family members died in the battle or were captured & executed.

One near-contemporary source (Gregory's Chronicle) claimed that 2,500 Yorkists & 200 Lancastrians were killed, but other sources give wildly differing figures, from 2,200 to only 700 Yorkist dead.


Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

30 December 1460

Richard, 3rd Duke of York died at the Battle of Wakefield.

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, 6th Earl of March, 4th Earl of Cambridge, & 8th Earl of Ulster, conventionally called Richard of York (born. 21 September 1411) was a leading English magnate, a great-grandson of King Edward III through his father & a great-great-great-grandson of Edward III through his mother.

He inherited great estates, & served in various offices of state in France at the end of the Hundred Years' War, & in England, ultimately governing the country as Lord Protector during Henry VI's madness.

His conflicts with Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, & other members of Henry's court, as well as his extremely strong competing claim on the throne, were a leading factor in the political upheaval of mid-fifteenth-century England, & a major cause of the Wars of the Roses.

Richard eventually attempted to take the throne but was dissuaded, although it was agreed that he would become King on Henry's death. Within a few weeks of securing this agreement, he died in battle., Although Richard never became king himself, he was the father of Kings Edward IV & Richard III.

31 December

31 December 870

The Battle of Englefield

The Battle of Englefield was a West Saxon victory against a Danish Viking army c.31 December 870 at Englefield, near Reading in Berkshire. It was the first of a series of battles that took place following an invasion of Wessex by the Danish army in December 870.

By 870, the Vikings had conquered two of the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Northumbria & East Anglia. At the end of 870 they launched an attempt to conquer Wessex & marched from East Anglia to Reading, arriving on about 28 December. Three days later they sent out a large party under two earls to forage & reconnoitre, & it was met at Englefield by an army of local levies under the command of Æthelwulf, Ealdorman of Berkshire. After one of the earls was killed & a large part of the Danish army was overthrown the Viking force broke & ran.

Æthelred I as depicted in the early-fourteenth-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England
Æthelred I as depicted in the early-fourteenth-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England

The victory was short lived. Four days later, the main West Saxon army, led by King Ethelred & his brother, the future King Alfred the Great attacked the main Danish encampment at Reading & were bloodily repulsed in the Battle of Reading. Among the many dead of both sides was Æthelwulf. Further battles followed, including the Battle of Ashdown, a West Saxon victory, & the Battle of Meretun, when the Danes prevailed. Soon after Easter, which fell on 15 April in that year, Æthelred died & was succeeded by Alfred.

A map of the route taken by the Viking Great Heathen Army which arrived in England from Denmark, Norway, and southern Sweden in 865

A map of the route taken by the Viking Great Heathen Army which arrived in England from Denmark, Norway, and southern Sweden in 865.

The Battle of Englefield can be dated because Bishop Heahmund of Sherborne died in the Battle of Meretun, & it is known that he died on 22 March 871. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that the Battle of Basing was two months earlier, dating it to 22 January, Ashdown fourteen days before that on 8 January, Reading four days earlier on 4 January, Englefield another four days earlier on 31 December 870 & the arrival of the Vikings in Reading three days earlier on 28 December. However, as the two month interval between Meretun & Basing is probably not exact, the earlier dates are approximate.

A page in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describing the Battle of Englefield

A page from the C manuscript of the en: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It shows the entry for the year 871. British Library Cotton Tiberius B i.


Catherine of Braganza

31 December 1705

Catherine of Braganza died

She died at the Bemposta Palace in Lisbon & was buried at the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora Lisbon.

Catherine of Braganza (born.25 November 1638) was Queen of England, Scotland & Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II. She was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house of Portugal, which became Portugal's royal house after Catherine's father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV after deposing the House of Habsburg in 1640.

Owing to her devotion to the Roman Catholic beliefs in which she had been raised, Catherine was an unpopular consort for Charles II. She was a special object of attack by the inventors of the Popish Plot.

In 1678 the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was ascribed to her servants, & Titus Oates accused her of an intention to poison the king. These charges, the absurdity of which were soon shown by cross-examination, nevertheless placed the queen for some time in great danger. On 28 November Oates accused her of high treason, & the Commons passed an order for her removal & that of all Roman Catholics from Whitehall. A series of fresh depositions were made against her, & in June 1679 it was decided that she must stand trial; but she was protected by the king, who in this instance showed unusual chivalry, for which he earned her gratitude.

Catherine had three miscarriages & produced no heirs. Her husband kept many mistresses, most notably Barbara Palmer, whom Catherine was forced to accept as one of her Ladies of the Bedchamber. Charles fathered numerous illegitimate offspring by his mistresses whom he acknowledged.

Did you know? She is accredited with introducing shorter dresses for ladies & famously for making the drinking of tea popular, a custom she brought with her from Portugal.



Thank you for reading


Wishing you a very Happy Christmas & a Happy New Year..

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

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