I want to wish my Readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I want to say how much I appreciate all of you for reading my blog. I will be taking the week off and I will resume posting the first week in January!!
Peace and Love Bill!
I want to wish my Readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I want to say how much I appreciate all of you for reading my blog. I will be taking the week off and I will resume posting the first week in January!!
Peace and Love Bill!
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Here is more information on the law that is to be passed changing the succession to the throne.
Here are the main issues this bill will cover.
1. Gender: There was speculation that like the 1701 Act of Settlement which limits those eligible for the Crown to be the Protestant descendants of the Electress Sophia of Hanover, this new law would limit the succession to the Crown to the Descendants of George V. Instead the succession will go to the eldest child, regardless of gender, for those born after October 28, 2011.
2. Marriage to Roman Catholics: When this law passes those in line will be able to marry Roman Catholics without losing their place in the line of succession. The good news is that people who had married Catholics will be restored to their place in the succession. This means that Prince Michael of Kent for example, will regain his place in the succession. What is not known at this time is whether or not the Monarch themselves can be Catholic or marry a Catholic.
3. Sovereign’s consent for marriage: The 1772 Royal Marriage Act will be repealed. This act was created to prevent those in line from marrying unsuitable individuals and still retaining their right to the throne. However, the first 6 in line to the throne will be required to seek the sovereign’s consent before they can marry.
Here are some other amendments to the law: source: wikipedia.
Provisions in the Union with Scotland Act 1706, Union with England Act 1707, Union with Ireland Act 1800 and Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 involving the crown will be “subject to provisions of” this bill. Several clauses in Bill of Rights 1689 and Act of Settlement 1701nvolving marriages with “papists” will be repealed.
As the monarch’s eldest son would no longer automatically be heir apparent, the Treason Act 1351 will also be amended such that an act or attempt to murder the monarch’s “eldest Son and Heir” will become “eldest child and Heir”, while the “if a Man do violate […] the Wife the King’s eldest Son and Heir” will become “… son if the heir”. The result of the second amendment is that rape of the eldest son’s wife will only be high treason if that son is the heir apparent. That act already provided for high treason in the case of “if a Man do violate […] the King’s eldest Daughter unmarried”.
Some previous acts (like those mentioned in the two paragraphs from Wikipedia) will not be completely repealed but only amended.
What has not been mentioned is what to do with the title “Prince of Wales.” I am not sure if there is an Act or Law that covers this and maybe this title is under the Sovereign’s prerogative as the Font of All Honours and will be decided at a later date.
I am happy to see these changes and they are historical changes in the history of the British monarchy. I am pleased with the removal of the prohibition against Catholics. But what is even more fair, and makes me happy, is to see that those who have already married Catholics will be restored to their proper place in the succession.
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In the last section of this series I wrote of the battle for the throne between the three surviving sons of William the Conqueror. While that royal melee between the brothers really cannot be called a sucession crisis, the battle for an hier to the throne after the death of Henry I can be considered a crisis. It was a crisis that lasted almost 20 years.
Henry I had three children by his first wife Matilda of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots. The two eldest surviving children were William Adelin and Matilda. William was married Matilda of Anjou in 1119 when he was 16 and Matilda was only 8. Needless to say that when William drowned in the English channel the next year when his ship, The White Ship, sank, there were no children from the union. Henry I did remarry the next year. His new bride was Adeliza of Louvain, who was 18 while Henry was 53. No children were born of this union.
The other legitimate child of Henry to survive was Matilda who had married Holy Roman Emperor Hienrich V. That union gave Matilda the title of Empress and it is as Empress Matilda she is most known by. There were no children of this union and the Emperor died in 1125. Matilda remarried in 1128, Geoffery, Count of Anjou (who had the nickname Plantaganet) a prince which the powerful barons did not trust. This union provided Matilda with three healthy sons, Henry, Geoffery & William.
Henry I desired that his daughter would succeed him and had the Barons of the relm swear and oath to that aim. When Henry died on December 1, 1135 Matilda was in Normandy pregnant with her third child and her cousin, Stephen of Blois usurped the throne from her. Stephen had support from the Barons and was swiftly crowned King of England. Although Stephen held the crown Matilda did not just sit quietly. For almost the entierty of the reign of king Stephen there was civil war, which some historians call “the Anarchy,” which was settled shortly before his death in 1154. The agreement between the two factions was that Matiilda’s eldest son, Henry Fitzempress, would succeed as King of England upon the death of King Stephen.
When Stephen died on October 25, 1154, Matilda’s son became King Henry II of England. Matilda retired to Normandy and held court when her son was abscent from Normandy. She died in 1167 and was clearly the legal successor to her father. Since she was the legal heir and given the fact the she briefly held London when Stephen was captured and imprisoned, many consider her the first true Queen Regnant of England.
With the Norman Conquest and the Witan abolished the monarch had greater authority in name his successor. This authority later evolved into a more concise hereditary system.
William I “the Conqueror” divided his lands upon his death in 1087. This was a common practice in this age. This practice was continued in many German states leading to many problems…but I digress. William gave Normandy to his eldest son Robert, and the Crown of England went to his next surviving son, William Rufus. The third surviving son, Henry, received 5,000 pounds in silver and there is a legend that says that the old king, William I, had declared to Henry: “You in your own time will have all the dominions I have acquired and be greater than both your brothers in wealth and power.”
William Rufus was therefore the new and lawful king and is counted as William II and ruled until his death in a hunting accident in 1100. By that time the “prophecy” about Henry had come true. Robert II of Normandy was on a crusade in the Holy Land in August of 1100 when William II died in a hunting accident in the New Forest. With Robert far a way Henry claimed the throne. Did Henry usurp the throne from his brother Robert?
There had been an agreement between Robert II and William II to become one anothers hier should either of them die without issue. This was made in 1087 upon the death of the conqueror. This brotherly love did not last long for in 1088 the two rebelled against one another. This rebellion was spurred on by the barons in both Normandy and England. Dividing the lands between the two brothers created a problem for the barons. The Barons owned land in both England and Normandy and having to serve two different rulers created many difficulties so they sided with Robert II to defeat William II and take the Crown of England from him. The major problem with this rebellion is that when it became time Robert II did not arive at the battle for Rochester Castle and the rebellion swiftly ended.
From that time on who the legal successor to William II should be was never settled. The Crown was up for grabs until William could name a successor. He never got the chance. When he was killed in a hunting accident and with Robert too far away from England to claim the throne, Henry siezed the opportunity and was crowned King of England. In 1106 Henry I of England took Normandy from his brother thus unifying England and Normandy once again.
From a legal standpoint it seems that Henry can be considered the legal hier since the 1088 rebellion dissolved any agreement between William II and Robert II and in the abscence of a named heir the crown went to the first person to grab it.
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Another law that is being changed is the 1701 Act of Settlement. This Act was made when another succession crisis occured. In 1700 William III sat on the English and Scottish thrones. His wife, Queen Mary II, died in 1694 and they had no issue. The future Queen Anne (1702-1714) had terrible fortune with her pregnancies with many still-births and only one son that lived beyond a few months. Her only surving son, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, died on July 30, 1700 at the age of 11. Although the Anne was only 35 at the time of her son’s death, given her health problems and that in 1700 35 was old for child bearing, the need to find an heir had become a problem.
The top candidate for heir to the throne was her half-brother, Prince James, the Princes of Wales. The main problem with James was that he was a Roman Catholic. The Catholicism of his father, King James II-VII of England and Scotland, was part of the reason for his downfall. England, as a Protestant nation, did not want another Catholic to sit on the throne. Unable to convince Prince James into becoming a Protestant he was passed over for the succession.
Bill of Rights 1689 placed the succession on the Children of William III and Mary II and Princess Anne and her descendants. The Act of of Settlement confirmed the right of succession to any children William III had with a future wife if he ever remarried (which he did not) and the right of Princess Anne and her descendants. After the descendants of Princess Anne the right to succeed was placed in the person of the Elctress Sophia of Hanover, a grand daughter of king James I-VI of England and Scotland, the closest Protestant. The Act by passed any Catholic in line for the throne and also barred any Prince or Princess from marrying a Roman Catholic. To marry a Catholic meant that you would lose your place in succession. The Act assured that there never again would be a Catholic monarch sitting on the throne of Great Britain.
This is the way it has stood ever since. People have recognized the need for change in this Act for years. It took time, but gradually the prejudices against Catholicism has lifted. But from what I have read concerning the changes that will be made in this area I wonder if it doesn’t go far enough and in the end…has anything really changed?
From what I understand, the first 6-8 people in line for the throne will not be able to either marry a Catholic or convert to Catholicism and maintain their place in succession. This still assures that the monarch will stay in communion with the Church of England. People further down the line will be able to marry a Catholic and not loose their place in succession. I am not sure if they can convert and stay in line for the throne though. All this does is it throws a bone to those not close in line to the throne.
At the heart of the problem is that the monarch is also the head of the Church of England. There has been talk of disestablishing the monarch as head of the Church of England and I think this would give a true change and allow the possibility that the monarch could be Catholic if he or she so chooses. This would also require a change to the Constitution Oath the monarch takes which promises to uphold the Protestant Faith. Faith is personal and I think the monarch should be allowed to maintain their privacy in this manner. One of the ironic things about being in Communion with the Church of England is that it sets up the possibility of deception. A monarch, who may be an atheist at heart, would be more acceptible than a devout Catholic as long as that monarch lies that he is an Anglican. I have a hard time believing that all who have sat upon the throne since 1701 have truly been seriously religious.
I do find it rather sad that still 311 years later there still is opposition and prejudices toward Catholics and that the Protestant vs Catholic debate is still alive.
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With the announcement that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant the need to change the succession laws to absolute primogeniture have been kicked into gear. Her Majesty has spoken out in favor of this meassure. This will give the descendents of HRH The Prince of Wales right to the throne in order of birth regardless of gender. That means when the law is passed if the new baby is a girl she will have rights to the throne directly after her father, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, even if she has a brother born at a later date.
Although I have to be honest I feel twinges of sadness to see the centuries old Male Preferred Primogeniture dismantled, but the progressive and pragmatic side of me does view this as a step in the right direction. Since all European monarchies are symbolic and governed by a Constitution the need for a “males only” club is gone. Even history has demonstrated that there have been very capable women to rule in the past. Eleanore of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I of England, Catherine II the Great of Russia and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom are a few examples or women who ruled wisely and who also were very popular.
As most of my readers know I am a bity of a stickler for the correct usage of titles. As I mentioned in a previous blog post these change in succession laws will also require some changes in titles: Here are the two main issues.
1. The 1917 Letters Pattent limit the style of His or Her Royal Highness to and Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line. An exception is made for a male line great-grandson when it is the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. In this case that would mean if the Duke of Cambridge’s son is a boy then he will fall under the provisions of the 1917 Letters Pattent, but a daughter would nopt. However, the Palace has announced that a daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be a Royal Highness and a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That should mean the issuing of a new Letters Pattent but with the way the titles of both the children of the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cornwall have been handled, it remains to be seen what will happen.
2. Prince of Wales. This title has been traditionally held, since 1284, for the male heir apprarent to the throne. It is a title that is not hereditary and must becreated anew for each holder. The wife of the Prince of Wales has been traditionally been called the Princess of Wales. Now with the likelyhood that hier to the throne will be a female in the future I wonder if the title will be changed to allow gender nuetrality? If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has a daughter will she become a Princess of Wales in her own right?
There is also a double standard to be addressed. For example, in Britain the tradition is that wives will share in their husband’s title, which is why Kate Middleton became HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, when she married Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge. However, husbands have not shared in their wives titles which is why when Her Majesty the Queen mounted the throne in 1952 her husband, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, did not be come King.
I am not ready to see a change in that part of the double standard. I would be alright with the title of Prince or princess of Wales being limited to the hier to the throne only, while their spouse holds a different title. The current Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, are a good example of this. Even though legally the Duchess of Cornwall is by right HRH The Princess of Wales she just chosses not to use the title out of respect for the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
I also propose another solution. There is talk of the United Kingdom becoming less united and if Scotland does vote for independence, but still retaining the queen as head of state, this could give an opportunity to send the title Prince of Wales back to Wales. Let me explain. Even if Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom the title of Prince of Wales could become one of the titles for the monarch his or her self instead of keeping it for the hier. This would demonstrate the reality that the British monarch is also head of state in Wales. Then the title of Duke or Duchess of Cornwall could be used for the hier when in England and Duke or Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland (as it is now).
There is much more to this topic! Changing the succession laws also has to be done in all 15 Commonwealth countries of which the British monarch is head of state. Also, changes would have to be made to several key constitutional documents, including the Bill of Rights and Coronation Oath Act of 1688, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1706 Act of Union with Scotland. At the heart of one of these dicussions is removing the bar against Roman Catholics.
I will discuss that on Wednesday.
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I am glad to see that she has left the hospital. I just hope that she is able to get more rest and have this problem behind her.
As I have researched this topic it is rather complex so I will give the reader’s digest version.
At the time of the Norman Conquest (1066) it has been difficult for me to find any concrete rules regarding the succession to the throne. During the reign ogf the House of Wessex, who were just kings of only Wessex until they began to slowly unify England, the succession dopesn’t seem to have many hard and fast rules. Succession to the throne of Wessex/England was vested in the descendents of King Egbert. However, it was not by primogeniture. There were times when young children of the monarch were passed over in the succession for brothers or uncles of the previous monarch.
Another aspect of the monarchy at this point is the governing council, called the Witan or Witenagemot, which also served in electing the monarchy. Prior to hereditary kingship, which was a later development as families sought to consolidated power, the majority of monarchies were elective…even if that election was limited to one family. To this day historians debate the role of the Witain (even the name itself) but there is evidence that controlling the succession was one of their powers.
In 1066 King Edward the Confessor died without any issue (children) causing one of Enland’s first succession crisis. The legend goes that Edward promised the succession to William the Batsard, Duke of Normandy, a relative by marriage. There was also a co-claim that Harold Godwinson had received a similar promise. When Edward died early that January both men claimed that Edward had promised them the succession. Historians debate the legitimacy of both of those claims. Even in its time there were many conflicting accounts of these alleged promises. They possible were both manufactured by each party.
The truth it seems is that Edward had no power to name his successor and that the power to name the successor was vested in the Witan. They did choose Harold Godwinson, a member of a powerful noble family with connections to the rulers of Denmark. Therfore in the month of January Harold was crowned as Harold II, King of England. William, feeling that his inheritence was stolen from him, mounted an invasion of England. I won’t go into detail with the story as everyone is familiar with it. William invaded England from Normandy and defeated the forces of Harold II at Senlac outside of Hastings in October of that year.
After the defeat of Harold the Witan (including Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury & Archbishop Ealdred of York) tried to elect Edgar Atheling, the heir to the House of Wessex) as King of England but since military might was on the side of William this was an empty election. William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day of 1066. However, it took a few years to consolidate his rule and bring all of England under his thumb. Although at his coronation William desired to stress his legal right to the throne, Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury refused to place the crown on William’s head saying “to crown one who was covered with the blood of men and the invader of others’ rights.” Archbishop Ealdred of York was the one who actually placed the crown on his head.
The Witan was the legal body that regulated the succession in 1066. They chose Harld as the legal successor to Edward the Confessor and despite his claims of being the legal heir to the throne William I “the Conqueror” was clearly a usurper in the legal sense. When William came to the throne he abolished the Witan and replaced it with the “king’s court” or Curia Regis. He also took the power to name his successor and this power gradually made England a more hereditary monarchy.
William was not the first King of England although some book make him out to be just that. He did profoundly change England though. The amalgamation of old English and Norman culture forged the modern English culture. Every monarch since the Conquest is a descendent of his. When chronicler’s began numbering the kings of England the reign of William the Conqueror was the starting point.
Today I am going to return to some royal movie reviews. I was in a Queen Victoria mood recently so I watched both procuctions. The movie Young Victoria was a feature film while Victoria and Albert was a A&E mini series. Here is the review I initially wrote for Young Victoria.
This movie is a sumptuous feast for the eyes and it also gives the viewer a
glimpse into the world of nineteenth century Britain and the young queen who would come to define an era. Emily Blunt’s portrayal of Queen Victoria in her youth is brilliantly wrought with emotion, strength, weakness and romance and a gamut of other emotions which the young queen certainly experienced. The movie captured with accuracy the prison like atmosphere and the tumultuous relationships that the young Victoria lived through.
I found the pacing of the movie did not drag the story down. While there may be no question of the outcome of Victoria and Albert’s courtship the political and social intrigue and vying for control, power and position that surrounded the circumstances of their relationship does keep the viewer caught up in the drama of their lives with great interest.
The production values, the acting and the directing are all top notch my only complaints are with the historical inaccuracies. Generally I am not one to complain too much about historical inaccuracies in Hollywood films but a few in particular really change the tone of this film.
The first one is prince Albert’s love for Victoria. The film makes it seem like
Albert was a love-sick puppy pinning away for Victoria until she came to her
senses and agrees to marry him. In reality Victoria fell very hard in love with
Albert after she had about 3 years on the throne enjoying her single status. But Albert was a bit ambivalent about coming to England and marrying Victoria. His love for her was something that developed more after their marriage than before. Also, Albert was not hurt in the real life assassination attempt on Victoria and having him injured as depicted in the movie seemed a bit too manipulative. With Albert being the love struck puppy the entire nature of the relationship changes as does the tone of the film. It does give the movie a feel of a romance novel aimed at a certain demographic. I don’t think that was necessary because the truth of the story has enough drama and romance to make it satisfying.
I also didn’t care for how the relationship between Victoria and her first prime minister, Lord Melbourne, was depicted. In this movie he seems like a
manipulative smarmy character. In reality he was much older than depicted in this movie and although there was mutual love and respect between the two, and Victoria may well have had a crush on him, Lord Melbourne actually played more of a fatherly and mentor role with her. I much prefer the relationship as depicted in the A&E mini-series Victoria & Albert by Victoria Hamilton and Sir Nigel Hawthorne. Victoria & Albert
I actually like the A&E mini seires much better. In particular is the scene where Victoria finally is able to confront John Conroy her mother’s comptroller and advisor. I think the scene as depicted in Victoria & Albert is quite dramatic and significant while the movie Young Victoria depicts this incident rather anti-climatically and hardly filled with any tension.
The A&E mini seires has a more historically accurate portrayal of Albert. In that series he is not alove sick puppy but a strong willed man with ideas of his own and who agrees to marry Victoria more out of a sense of duty and what is expected of him rather than love. Love is something that developes over time.
The strained relationship between Albert and Baroness Lehzen is abscent from Young Victoria but dramatically played out in the mini series. Baron Stockmar and his role in the lives of both Victoria and Albert stands out in the mini series and is underplayed in the movie Young Victoria.
All in all both versions have their positive aspects but I greatly prefer the miniseries over the film. If you have seen both films I would love your thoughts!
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Duchess of Cambridge pregnant
The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James’s Palace has announced.
Members of the royal family and the duchess’s family, the Middletons, are said to be delighted.
A spokesman said the duchess has been admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London with very acute morning sickness and is expected to stay for several days.
Catherine and William were married at Westminster Abbey in April 2011
source: BBC NEWS