Yesterday for this topic I covered the Kingdom of England, today my focus will be on the union of England and Scotland. With numbering the kings and queens of Scotland there does not seem to be any similar problems as there was with England. It isn’t until England and Scotland are united does a problem begin to appear. In 1603 Queen Elizabeth I of England died without issue and was succeeded by James VI, King of Scots. Since he was the first king of England by that name he became known as King James I of England.
Although England and Scotland shared a monarch they remained separate countries and retained their separate governments as well as ordinals for their monarchs accordingly. During this time period there were monarchs that had dual ordinals and some that did not. For example, Charles I and Charles II were the first two of that name in either England or Scotland so that did not present a problem. Charles II’s successor was his brother James who was known as King James II of England and James VII, King of Scots. King William III of England was also William II, King of Scots and these are two examples of monarchs that technically had dual ordinals, although you may not often see them regarded in that fashion.
In 1707 during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) the Parliaments of England and Scotland were finally united creating the kingdom of Great Britain. When Ireland joined in 1801 the nation became the United Kingdom of Great Britain. This meant the separate titles of King or Queen of England and Scotland ceased to exist. There was also no need for two separate ordinals for the monarchs. This did not matter for the first four successors to Queen Anne, all named George, because there had never been a King George in either England or Scotland until that time.
After the reign of King George IV, who died in 1830, it seemed that the ordinal numbers used in Scotland were to be ignored and those that had been used in England would take precedence. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 1830 with the accession of the Duke of Clarence as King William IV he was not called William III in Scotland and no one seemed to mind. He could have been called King William of the United Kingdom to reflect the new nation-state but I find no evidence if that option was ever considered.
A little trouble was stirred up in 1901 with the accession of King Edward VII (1901-1910). Some theorized that since the United Kingdom was a new nation Edward VII and Edward VIII should or could have been called Edward I and Edward II.
The problem really reared its head in Scotland with the accession of Elizabeth II. Elizabeth I was queen of England only and the Scots never had a queen named Elizabeth reigning over them. An example of one of the objections made at the time of her accession was the use of the Royal Cypher “EIIR” anywhere in Scotland. The use of that particular cypher even instated violence. Today the cypher that is used in Scotland on all government and Crown property has no lettering and displays an artistic rendering of the Crown of Scotland from the Honors of Scotland.
In order to prevent any further problems with the numbering of the monarchs in the United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill suggested that in the future the monarch should use the higher of the two numerals from the English and Scottish sequences. Therefore if there is another King James he will not be James III but James VIII. If there is a King Robert he will be Robert IV since there were three kings of Scotland by that name.
The last issue in numbering the British monarch is the use of the numeral “I.” In some monarchies a monarch with a new name previously not used will be called the first. Britain does not follow this tradition. That is why you do not see Queen Victoria being called Queen Victoria I. In Britain a monarch will not get a ordinal number until there is another monarch with the same name. Until there is another Queen by the name of Victoria the first Queen Victoria will simply remain Victoria. The same goes with king’s Stephen, John and Queen Anne.
One aspect Britain shares with other countries is that consorts are not numbered. The only acceptation are those that ruled jointly, where sovereignty was vested in both individuals. With King William III and Queen Mary II this is clearly evident as Parliament vested sovereignty in both people. Mary was the rightful successor to her father King James II-VII of England and Scotland but Mary refused to rule without her husband, Prince Willem III of Orange. He was also her cousin and he did have succession right but only after Mary’s sister Anne. The question about a consort receiving an ordinal number arises with Queen Mary I of England and her husband King Felipe II of Spain. He was the only male consort of a queen regnant in England to be given the title of King. Will there ever be a King Philip II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain? It remains to be seen. I will discuss that part of the issue in Part III tomorrow.