Duke of Cambridge, House of Battenberg, House of Burbon, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George III, King George V of Great Britain, Mary of Teck, Prince Adolphus, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Royal Marriages
My wife Sarah, and our dog Amadeus
I have always been a romantic at heart and the issue of royal marriages has always fascinated me. I robbed the cradle when I got married. My wife is 18 years younger than I am. There have been many marriages between kings and would-be king and princesses where age has been an issue. I can relate to the issues around marriages between spouses when age is a factor. Even when age has not been an issue these marriages were often arranged. For the most part they were arranged for political motivations, to shore up a treaty or to gain an alliance or to end a feud or to pass on the succession. Love was not a consideration although it was a positive side effect if and when it happened. Given the propensity for kings to collect mistresses, even if they did love their queens, the rules of marriage for royalty seem quite different to what the untitled person would expect. As time marched on and arranged marriages for political purposes waned, marriages for social status become the primary focus in selecting a suitable spouse.
Queen Victoria, and her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, seem to be a mixture of alliances, social obligation and love. Clearly Victoria was in love with Albert and Albert, for his part, does seem to have had fond feelings for his first cousin, but love was something that grew later for him. The Coburg family, Victoria’s maternal family, favored the match. With her uncle King Leopold I of the Belgians leading the charge, there was a desire to maintain some sense of power. Indeed prior to her accession Victoria was used as a pawn by many within the Coburg and Hanoverian families trying to maintain some type of control over her.
Her grandson, King George V, married his dead brothers fiancé, Mary of Teck. This marriage was based solely on the fact that Mary of Teck was seen as a person who would make an excellent queen consort and the British royal family did not want to loose her. The Teck family was “tainted”by the morganatic marriage of Mary’s grandfather, Duke Alexander of Württemberg (1804-1885), so her prospects within on the continent among the various German royal families were not good. In Britain, where she was born and raised, her mother being Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge a daughter of Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (7th son of King George III of Great Britain), were not against morganatic marriages.
George V’s cousin, Princess Victoria-Eugenie of Battenberg, (called Ena within the family) is a prime example of “rushing” into a marriage. I don’t blame her for this is how royal marriages were conducted many years ago. As royal marriages moved away from being political alliances the need for the marriage to meet social standards was emphasized more. King Alfonso XIII of Spain was one of those rare princes to be born a king. When he reached the age to marry he went bride shopping. He was attracted to Princess Ena and selected her to be his queen and they were wed on May 31, 1906. Princess Ena was the only daughter of Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, and her husband , prince Henry of Battenberg. The Battenberg clan was a morganatic scion of the House of Hesse and by Rhine. This taint of morganatic blood would cause undue suffering in Spain by those courtiers who were prejudiced toward the Battenbergs. The Spanish aristocracy saw the Battenbergs as semi-royal and were used to their queens coming from what was in their eyes the more noble houses of Bourbon and Hapsburg.
This situation paints a picture of what was problematic in these types of alliances. There was a growing allowance in these families that the future bride and groom have some type of feelings for one another prior to the marriage. What would often occur is that the prospective parties would meet and have some type of sexual chemistry between them and develop what we would call either a crush or lust for one-another. Other than social obligations, which required them to marry someone of equal or near equal status, these marriages were often moved forward based on these initial physical attractions. I don’t think a crush or initial sexual chemistry…or equal social rank…is a strong foundation on which to build a marriage. The case of Ena and Alphonse is a good example of this.
I will stop here. I enjoy this topic so I will continue looking at royal marriages on Tuesdays for a while.
Abdication, Buckingham Palace, Diamond Jubilee, Elizabeth II, Grand Duchy of Luxembourgt, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Kings and Queens of England, kings and queens of the United Kingdom, the prince of Wales, United Kingdom of Great Britain
I have always been against abdication but I have found that my position on abdication has softened a bit over the years. My position has come from the way I view kingship. It doesn’t stem from any religious theology. I certainly do not subscribe to any theory of the divine right of kings. I do see kingship differently from the position of an elected official. One of the aspects of monarchy is its continuity with the past. Here it is 2012 and Queen Elizabeth II is 86 and has been on the throne for 60 years. I can pop open a book and look at pictures of the queen as a young girl with her grandfather, King George V, who himself was a grandson of Queen Victoria. George V was born in 1865 and to me the queen represents an important bridge to both the past and the future. This bridge is weakened to some extent with abdication.
I also think the heart of monarchy is one of duty and dedicated service. The queen pledge her life to the duty and service of her country whether it be short or long. Thank God it has been a long life! With kingship being about service and duty to ones country and ones people and the fact that a constitutional monarch embodies the noble aspects of the country, kingship is more than just a job or a position. If kingship is just a job like any other job then why not just have an elected head of state like they do in other European countries?
Having said all of that I will say my position has softened a bit. Ironically the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II has helped me with this change. It has been quite a year for Her Majesty. She has had a full schedule of official visits and celebrations and twice her 90 year old husband was hospitalized with health problems. As if the year was not busy enough London hosted the Olympics this year with Her Majesty attending the opening ceremony and officially opening the Olympic games. The Duke of Edinburgh was in the hospital at that moment and Her Majesty certainly looked worn and ragged at that time and who could blame her?
People on average are living longer and as a Head of State she has access to excellent health care. As the role of Head of State is a demanding one, I do question the sensibility about working the queen so hard. Now I do not want to see the queen abdicate but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Prince of Wales beginning to take over more of the queens duties and give the poor gal a break. In having more understanding and compassion toward the heavy burden these monarchs carry as they age I have more empathy and understanding for those countries where abdication has become the tradition.
312 – Constantine the Great enters Rome after his victory at the Milvian Bridge, stages a grand adventus in the city, and is met with popular jubilation. Maxentius’ body is fished out of the Tiber and beheaded.
437 – Valentinian III, Western Roman Emperor, marries Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of his cousin Theodosius II, Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople unifying the two branches of the House of Theodosius.
1268 – Conradin, the last legitimate male heir of the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Holy Roman Emperors, is executed along with his companion Frederick I, Margrave of Baden by Charles I of Sicily, a political rival and ally to the hostile Roman Catholic church.
1422 – Charles VII of France becomes king in succession to his father Charles VI of France.
1618 – English adventurer, writer, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I of England.
1922 – The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, appoints Benito Mussolini as Prime Minister.
1017 – Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1056)
1875 – Queen Marie of Romania (d. 1938)
1038 – Aethelnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury
1138 – Bolesław III Krzywousty, Duke of Poland (b. 1086)
1268 – Conradin, Duke of Swabia (b. 1252)
1268 – Frederick I, Margrave of Baden (b. 1249)
1321 – Stephen Uroš II, King of Serbia (b. 1253)
1950 – King Gustaf V of Sweden (b. 1858)
Henry II of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King Charles II of England and Scotland, King Christian IX of Denmark, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, King George III of Great Britain, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
Many things came up yesterday and I was unable to write today’s featured monarch section. So what I thought I would do was list some of my favorite monarchs that I enjoy reading about. In the comments section below list your favorite royals and monarchs.
These are in no particular order.
Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
King Charles II of England and Scotland
King Henry VIII of England
King Henry II of England
King George III of Great Britain
King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
King Christian IX of Denmark
William I of England
Henry II of England
Although I enjoy many diverse time periods in history I guess my favorite in European history would be from 1837 to 1918.
The Swedish Royal Court confirmed the engagement of HRH Princess Madeleine to Mr. Chris O’Neill today. HM King Carl XVI Gustaf has given his official approval for the marriage as has the Swedish Government, securing the Princess’ place in the line of succession. Most likely following marriage, Chris will be known as HRH Prince Christopher, Duke of Hälsingland and Gästrikland.
Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Wessex, Gordonstoun, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Louis of Batenberg, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II, Sophie Rhys-Jones, St. George's Chapel, Tony Blair, Windsor Castle
HRH The Earl of Wessex
Today I would like to feature the Earl of Wessex. He is the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh. There is a lot about him that I can relate to. We are very close in age. I just turned 49 on Monday and he will be 49 this coming March. Both of our parents were about the same age too. My mother was born a year before the queen and my father was just 5 months older than the duke of Edinburgh.
I have said on this blog that I am a traditionalist when it comes to monarchy and to the most part I am. The Earl of Wessex represents a good mixture of both tradition and progressive attitudes when it comes to being a Prince of the United Kingdom. For the most part I am supportive of the non traditional paths that he has chosen although there are a couple of places where I disagree with those choices.
He was raised by a governess in the traditional style of his elder siblings. His very early education was at Buckingham Palace under tutors but by age of seven, Edward went to Gibbs School before attending, Heatherdown Preparatory School, near Ascot. After his stint there he followed in the footsteps of his father and elder brother, the Prince of Wales, and attended Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland. Edward spent his gap year abroad as a house tutor and junior master at the Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand. He attended college at Cambridge despite not having grades that were traditionally acceptable at the college. This created a bit of controversy at the time.
After graduating from Cambridge with a Master of Arts degree Prince Edward followed the very long line of tradition for British princes and joined the Royal Marines to train as an officer cadet. This did not last long. In January of 1987 the prince resigned after completing one third of the 12 month basic training course. Instead of the military Edward thereafter became more involved in theatre work. This was a big break from tradition. His father had been in the military, serving in the navy during World War II. The Duke of Edinburgh’s maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg (Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven) rose to the rank of Admiral and then First Sea lord in the British Navy. His son, Edward’s great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma, Last Viceroy of India, Admiral of the Fleet, also held the position of First Sea Lord. Many British monarchs themselves saw active duty in military service. Both he future William IV and George V saw active duty in the British Navy. I applaud Edward for bucking this tradition.
Edward worked for some major theater companies such as Andre Lloyd Webber’s productions until he formed his own film company, Ardent Productions, under the name of Edward Windsor. The company specialized in documentaries. In 2001 Edward’s company filmed his nephew, Prince William, while he was at St Andrews, University. The anger Prince William feeling it was an invasion of privacy. Edward gas since stepped down from the company which had reported financial losses and stepped down from the company although he still maintains contact as a non-executive director.
In 1993 at a tennis match Edward met his future wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones. The 1990s were a terrible time for marriages in the British royal family. All of Edward’s siblings, the Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal and the Duke of York were all divorced at some point in the 1990s. Edward and Sophie dated for many years and kept a low profile not wanting to make the same mistakes that his siblings had made.
Edward and sophie were married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on June 19th 1999. Compared to his siblings this wedding was very low-key and not as ostentatious. Edward and Sophie did not want their wedding to be turned into a state occasion. This decision lead to there being no ceremonial state or military involvement. This also meant that Prime Minister Tony Blair and other politicians did not have to be invited. Rather than formal court dress or military uniforms, the couple requested that guests attend wearing formal wear.
To keep these blog posts to a digestible level I will stop here. Next week in the feature on royal princes’ and princesses I will examine Edward and Sophie’s children which will allow me to discuss how Edward has broken with tradition in these matters.
473 – Emperor Leo I acclaims his grandson Leo II as Caesar of the Byzantine Empire.
1147 – The Portuguese, under Afonso I, and Crusaders from England and Flanders conquer Lisbon after a four-month siege.
1147 – Seljuk Turks completely annihilate German crusaders under Conrad III at the Battle of Dorylaeum.
1415 – The army of Henry V of England defeats the French at the Battle of Agincourt.
1760 – George III becomes King of Great Britain.
1102 – William Clito, Count of Flanders (d. 1128)
1330 – Louis II of Flanders (d. 1384)
1510 – Renée of France, French princess (d. 1574)
1683 – Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton, British politician (d. 1757)
1921 – King Michael I of Romania
304 – Pope Marcellinus
625 – Pope Boniface V
1047 – King Magnus I of Norway (b. 1024)
1154 – King Stephen of England (b. 1096)
1200 – Conrad of Wittelsbach, German Archbishop
1415 – Killed in the Battle of Agincourt:
Charles d’Albret, Count of Dreux and Constable of France
John I of Alençon (b. 1385)
Antoine, Duke of Brabant (b. 1384)
Frederick of Lorraine (b. 1371)
Philip II, Count of Nevers (b. 1389)
Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk (b. 1394)
Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York (b. 1373)
1478 – Katarina Kosača, queen consort of Bosnia
1495 – King John II of Portugal (b. 1455)
1760 – George II of Great Britain (b. 1683)
1920 – King Alexander I of Greece (b. 1893)
King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Here are the answers to yesterdays quiz. I thank all who have participated!!
1. The English Royal Houses of Anjou, Lancaster and York were all ruled by which family?
2. Which King of Scots was Elizabeth, The Queen Mother directly descended from?
I have to apologize for this one. I was going on memory and my memory was wrong. I thought it was James II, King of Scots but it was Robert II. Robert II had a daughter Jeanne who married Sir John Lyon of Glamis a direct ancestor to the Bowes-Lyon clan.
3. What names were Queen Victoria christened with?
c) Alexandrina Victoria
4. King Henri IV’s claim to the French throne was through his descent from which French king?
c) Louis IX ~ His son Robert, Count of Clermont married Beatrice of Burgundy, heiress of Bourbon and had the following issue: Louis I, le Boiteux (1279–1342), first Duke of Bourbon and from him descends the House of Bourbon which mounted the French throne in 1589.
5. What European prince was briefly considered for the position of King of the United States of America?
a) Prince Henry of Prussia (1726–1802) , in 1786, was suggested as a candidate for a monarch for the United States.
6. Which of my favorite singers met Diana, Princess of Wales and accidentally called her “darling?”
c) John Denver. John met Diana while he was touring Britain in the early 1990s and called her darling at one point for which her said he received a rather very stern look from her.
7. Name the royal that acted in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager?
b) King Abdullah II of Jordan. The king is also an acknowledged fan of the science fiction saga Star Trek. In 1996, while he was still a Prince, he appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Investigations”. It was a non-speaking role as he was not a member of the Screen Actors Guild. A Star Trek theme park will open in 2014 as part of the $1.5-billion Red Sea Astrarium project in Aqaba, with the King being the majority local investor.
8. The year Princess Anne was given the title Princess Royal?
9. Although The Princes of Wales will more than likely reign as King Charles III what other name has it been rumored he may reign as?
d) King George VII.
10. Did Queen Victoria really say “We are not amused?”
b) No, she didn’t. According to her granddaughter Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone this was not something she ever said.
I am in a Tudor mood. So for the next few Wednesdays I will be reviewing Tudor related movies.
The movie I want to review today is Henry VIII. It was not a theatrical movie it was two-part British television serial produced principally by Granada Television for ITV in 2003. The movie chronicles the life of Henry VIII of England from the collapse of his first marriage to his death following a stroke in 1547 and depicts his other marriages. In some ways this seems more like a remake of the 1970s BBC production of the Six Wives of Henry VIII.
The movie and subsequent DVD are divided into two parts. The fist part deals mainly with the ending of Henry’s marriage to Infanta Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Bolyn. The second part encompasses Henry’s other 4 marriages and for that reason the second part seems a little crammed and rushed. I would have liked to have seen the movie done in three parts with each part addressing two of the six marriages.
The main star of the movie is veteran British actor Ray Winstone as King Henry VIII and Helena Bonham Carter (herself the queen of period pieces) as the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. Part two stars Emily Blunt as Catherine Howard another of Henry VIII’s ill-fated queens. Actually, her pleas not to be executed are pretty heart wrenching.
I have read that there was controversy surrounding the casting and performance of Ray Winstone as the king. He is noted for playing many tough guy roles and people who are thugs and that his portrayal of the king was anything buy kingly and aristocratic. I can have empathy for the critics on that point. Henry does not come across as particularly regal or aristocratic. However, that doesn’t really bother me too much even though I do acknowledge that point of view. What Ray does provide for the role is sense of power, authority and ruthlessness along with strength and selfish ambition. These are all qualities I can envision Henry VIII having.
I do enjoy the series even though it is a bit uneven. Part one being the better of the two if only for the presence Helena Bonham Carter and the chemistry between her and Ray.Carter does a great job of bringing Anne Boleyn to life. She is depicted not only as a person who was grabbing power for herself she is also depicted as a victim of a system that literally killed if one did not produce results. As I mentioned above part two just seems too rushed for my tastes. I do think that Emily Blunt does a very good job depicting the young Catherine Howard but since she seems to be only window dressing around which the plot unfolds she is not given the opportunity to flesh out her character. If they had devoted more time to that marriage I think Emily Blunt would have shined even more.
Despite of those flaws I mentioned I do enjoy the two part movie a great deal. Henry VIII is a great study. I would not say I admire him because I think he was a blood thirsty tyrant in many ways. He is a good study on the abuse of power and the role of monarchy in the 16th century. I will close this review with my disclaimer. Do not get your history lesson from a movie. Let a movie give you the sense of how things looked and felt during the time period, let it come alive through costumes and setting and let the movie be a spring board to searching out and understanding the real events. Sorry, don’t mean to sound too preachy.
Here is a list from wikipedia on the historical inaccuracies of the film.
Anne Boleyn was not brought to court to wait on Queen Catherine on Henry’s instructions. She had been in the service of his sister for several years before she transferred to his wife. He courted her sister for several years before he became fixated on her. In the film Mary Boleyn is pregnant by the King and Anne is engaged to be married (see below) when he first meets her.
Mary Boleyn is depicted as being pregnant but unmarried. In reality she had been married for over a year to William Carey before her affair with the king began and so would not have needed Wolsey to arrange a marriage to “render her respectable”.
Anne’s father Thomas Boleyn is portrayed as being given the title Earl of Essex. In reality, the Earldom he was given was Wiltshire, not Essex. (Wiltshire was ironically the home county of Anne’s successor Jane Seymour.)
The relationship between Henry Percy and Anne Boleyn was, in real life, a secret affair as Percy was already betrothed. He would not have appeared before the King to ask for his blessing to marry Anne as the series portrays.
The Duke of Norfolk is portrayed as a young man when in fact he would have been middle aged by the times of the events in the show. As is the Duke of Buckingham, who was not in fact in his late fifties at the time of his execution, he was in his late thirties to early forties.
Anne Boleyn is seen wearing a lace headdress in numerous shots. In reality she would have been the only woman to expose her hair which would have been considered immodest, but which she did to maintain an illusion of chastity. Likewise for Catherine of Aragon, who famously only ever wore English or Spanish-styled gable hoods; her hair would never have been exposed as it is the show.
Mary Tudor was not present with her mother on her deathbed as the show implies. In truth Mary and Catherine were separated shortly before Henry and Anne were married and never saw each other again.
Ambassador Mendoza is shown urging Catherine of Aragon on her deathbed to encourage her nephew, the powerful Emperor Charles of Spain, to lead an invasion against Henry, which she steadfastly refuses to do. In reality Ambassador Mendoza had returned to Spain long before and was replaced by the wily Eustace Chapuys, who did in fact visit Catherine of Aragon just before she died.
Henry’s son Edward was not present by his father side when he died, nor was his last wife Catherine Parr.
Joss Akland plays a dying King Henry VII of England at the start of the film. Henry VII is depicted as being a very old man in that scene when in fact Henry VII was only 52 when he died.