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Elizabeth II, Happy Birthday, Kings and Queens of England, kings and queens of Scotland, kings and queens of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Taken earlier this year! Not sure who took this picture but it is wonderful! Wonderful picture of HM the Queen with HRH The Prince of Wales!
EDIT: Info from my friend Karen. The photo was taken by photographer Nick Knight back in May, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle before the night of the celebrations at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Today HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland marks the 64th year on the throne. Her father, King George VI, died on this date, February 6, 1952. Last September 2015, Her Majesty became Britain’s longest ruling monarch when she surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who reigned for 63 years and seven months.
Her Majesty is also the oldest sovereign to reign. Queen Victoria also held that record. She was 82 when she passed away in 1901. At age 89 Her Majesty broke that record seven years ago. This April 21, Her Majesty will turn 90 and many celebrations are planned in Britain for this momentous milestone.
Almost 90 and having been queen for 64 years Her Majesty shows no sign of slowing down. Her calendar is full, although maybe not as full as years past for the Prince of Wales has taken over some of her work. Still, unless some heath crisis appears Her Majesty will continue to press forward.
Although today we mark the 64th year Her Majesty came to the throne, within the Royal Family itself these dates are rarely acknowledged publicly. For royal historians such as my self and other royal enthusiasts this is a special day, for Her Majesty this is the day her father died and that is something to be noted but not celebrated. What we will celebrate is the dedication and the long life of service to her country and long may she continue to reign.
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In my series “British or German” I discussed the Teck family and its connection to the British royal family. Today I want to again feature Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone. To be more precise, I want to focus on his German ancestry. He was born in London to the Duke and Duchess of Teck and despite his German Teck origins and the loss of that royal title in 1917, in my eyes he never ceased to be a dignified “British” Prince.
Even though any title he had prior to 1917 came from his German father, a morganatic scion of the House of Württemberg, I consider the Earl of Athlone a British Royal due to his being born in Britain and his many blood connections to both King George III and Queen Victoria and all of his many British Royal cousins via his mother. He certainly was considered a member of the British Royal Family. Despite my view that he was a British “prince” I don’t want to ignore his strong German Noble ancestors.
Before I dive into that topic I will remind my readers of some basic information about him: Major-General Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone (born HSH Prince Alexander of Teck; April 14, 1874 – January 16, 1957) and lived to the ripe old age of 82. He was the son of HSH Prince Francis, Duke of Teck and HRH Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge. The Earl was a British military commander and major-general who served as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, the country’s fourth, and as Governor General of Canada, the 16th since Canadian Confederation.
Here is a quick summary of his British connections: His mother was HRH Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge, a first cousin to Queen Victoria and both ladies were the royal granddaughters of King George III of Great Britain. Queen Victoria was the daughter of HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (4th son of King George III) and Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge was the daughter of HRH Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (7th son of King George III). He was the brother of Queen Mary (Princess Mary of Teck), making him a brother-in-law of King George V.
The Earl of Athlone was married to his cousin HRH Princess Alice of Albany, daughter of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, 4th son of Queen Victoria and HRH The Prince Concort (Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). The Earl’s wife was also a first cousin to King George V. Being a brother to Queen Mary and brother-in-law to King George V, the Earl of Athlone was therefore uncle to both King Edward VIII and King George VI, and a great-uncle to the present Queen, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. That’s enough to make your head spin!!
The Earl’s father was HSH Prince Francis, Duke of Teck (August 28, 1837-January 21, 1900). Francis was born Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander on August 28,1837 in Esseg, Slavonia (now Osijek, Croatia). Francis’ mother was Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde (1812-1841) and she was married in 1835 to Duke Alexander of Württemberg (1804–1885), the son of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg. Since Duke Alexander and Claudine were not of the same social status the marriage was morganatic, his wife would not carry any of her husband’s titles and their children had no succession rights to the Kingdom of Württemberg. Francis’ mother was created Countess of Hohenstein in her own right by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria shortly after her marriage. Therefore from his birth until 1863 he known as Count Francis von Hohenstein, a title he derived from his mother.
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On this date 1819, birth of the future Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. She was christened HRH Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent and was the only child of HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III, and HSH Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18 upon the death of her uncle, King William IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, King of Hanover. At this time since women were barred from the throne of Hanover, her uncle, HRH The Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale became King Ernst-August of Hanover.
In 1840 Queen Victoria married her first cousin HSH Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. They had nine children and his death in 1861 put Queen Victoria in mourning for the rest of her life. She oversaw the British Empire at its zenith. In 1876 she was proclaimed Empress of India. She died on January 22, 1901 having reigned for 63 years and 216, the longest reigning British monarch. She was succeeded by her eldest son the Prince of Wales as King Edward VII of the united Kingdom of Great Britain.
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Today will begin a new series on how the line of succession has changed over the years. I will pick random and important dates and will examine who was in line for the throne at that time. Although my main focus will be the British line of succession I will also include other monarchies from time to time. Although this is a new series I won’t be doing it week-to-week, it will reoccur randomly.
At first there was just four. It was mid 1977 when I began to research the royal family and the Kings and Queens of Britain. At that time there were just four descendants of HM. The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. These four were also the top four in line to the succession to the throne:
1. HRH The Prince of Wales
2. HRH The Prince Andrew
3. HRH The Prince Edward
4. HRH The Princess Anne
Except for the Prince Charles, none of the Queen’s children had any titles yet. Princess Anne would not be given her title, The Princess Royal, until ten years later in 1987. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward would not be given their titles until they married. In 1977 the Queen had been on the throne 25 years and it was also the year of her Silver Jubilee. Her Majesty was 51 years old (the same age as I am now) and would be a first time grandmother that November when Princess Anne would give birth to her first child Peter Philips.
Flash forward 38 years and a lot has changed! Her Majesty is now 89 and has celebrated her Golden Jubilee celebrating 50 years on the throne in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 celebrating 60 years on the throne. This September The Queen will be on the throne one day longer than Queen Victoria and will be come Britain’s longest reigning monarch at 63 years, 217 days. Instead of her descendents occupying the first four places in the succession they now occupy the first 17 places in line for the succession! Here they are in order.
1. HRH The Prince of Wales
2. HRH The Duke of Cambridge
3. HRH Prince George of Cambridge
4. HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
5. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
6. HRH The Duke of York
7. HRH Princess Beatrice of York
8. HRH Princess Eugenie of York
9. HRH The Earl of Wessex
10. Lord Severn
11. Lady Louise Windsor
12. HRH The Princess Royal
13. Peter Philips
14. Savannah Phillips
15. Isla Phillips
16. Zara Tindall
17. Mia Tindall
It is very interesting to see how the line of succession changes over the years. It is fascinating to compare today’s line of succession to February, 1952 just prior to the death of HM King George VI.
1. HRH The Prince Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh
2. HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh
3. HRH Princess Anne of Edinburgh
4. HRH The Princess Margaret
5. HRH The Duke of Gloucester (Prince Henry)
6. HRH Prince William of Gloucester
7. HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester
8. HRH The Duke of Kent (Prince Edward)
9. HRH Prince Michael of Kent
10. HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent
11. The Princess Royal, Mary, Countess of Harewood
12. The Rt Hon The Earl of Harewood
13. David Viscount Lascelles
14. Gerald Lascelles
15. HH Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife
16. James Carnegie, 3rd Duke of Fife
17. HM King Olav V of Norway
Today, 63 years later only the top two remain in the top twenty inline for the throne. The Prince of Wales (HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh at the time) moved up one place and has remained. His sister, The Princess Royal (HRH Princess Anne of Edinburgh at the time) has gone from 3 (she was actually at number 2 until the birth of the Duke of York in 1960) to number 12. The next living member on the list is number 7, HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester, the current HRH The Duke of Gloucester who moved to his current 24th inline to the throne. Incidentally, the Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. He is the first inline to the throne who is not descended from King George VI. He is also the senior male line descendant of Queen Victoria.
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Some interesting facts about the new Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and the history of the name in the Biritish Royal Family.
Princess Charlotte is 4th in line to the throne after her grandfather, The Prince of Wales, her father, the Duke of Cambridge, and her brother Prince George of Cambridge. Should she have a younger brother he will not supplant her in the line of succession due to the change in succession laws. She is the first female in line to the throne. She will only be supplanted in the succession if and when her brother Prince Gorge of Cambridge has children in the future. God forbid anything happening to Prince George of Cambridge, but if it did Charlotte would become her father’s heir and eventually Queen Regnant. This would happen even if Charlotte were to have younger brothers.
She is the first Princess of Cambridge born since 1833 when HRH Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge (1833-1897) was born. Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge was the daughter of HRH Prince Adolphus-Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850) (7th son of King George III) and HSH Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel (1797-1889). Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge was a first cousin of Queen Victoria and married Francis, Duke of Teck (1837-1900) in 1866. Their daughter, Mary of Teck (1867-1953) married the future King George V of the United Kingdom 1893 making her the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. This means that Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge is the great-great-great-great grandmother of the newest Princess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
There have been other Princesses named Charlotte in the Royal Family. First of all there was Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) wife of King George III of the United Kingdom. Queen Charlote was born HSH Princess Sophia-Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and daughter of Duke Carl-Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1708-1752) and HSH Princess Elizabeth of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1713-1761). It has been said that Queen Mary resembled her great-grandmother Queen Charlotte and that in turn, Queen Elizabeth II resembles Queen Mary and conversely, Queen Charlotte.
The eldest daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte was HRH The Princess Charlotte, The Princess Royal (1762-1828). In the future she would marry King Friedrich of Würrtemberg (1754-1816) as his second wife. This is the same royal dynasty that produced Francis, Duke of Teck.
King George III’s eldest son, the future George IV (1761-1820), had only one daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796-1817) from his disastrous marriage with his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. In 1817 Charlotte married HSH Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Sadly, Princess Charlotte of Wales never lived to succeed her father as Queen. She died in childbirth in 1817. Her husband went on to be elected King of the Belgians in 1831.
Another aspect of the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is that everyone in line after her takes one step back in the sucession. Princess Charlotte’s uncle, Prince Harry of Wales, is now 5th in line to throne. He was born 3rd in line. But who it affects most is Princess Beatrice of York who falls beck to 7th in line to the throne. Under the new laws of succession only the first 6 in line to the throne have to seek permission of the Sovereign to marry. This means that Princess Beatrice of York does not have to ask the Queen permission to marry. Should the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have another child this would push the Duke of York to 7th inline to the throne meaning he would no longer need his mother’s permission to marry once again.
Lastly, The Duke of Cambridge’s uncle, The Earl Spencer, has a two year old daughter named Lady Charlotte Diana Spencer. So the name Charlotte has a strong history behind it!
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You would think this was harmless and fun without much controversy… but you’d be wrong!! You wouldn’t know it from reading the comments on this blog because they are 99% very positive. However, I also run my own royal history page on Facebook (link below) and while that page is also pretty civil you will see some squabbling from time to time. If you’re on Facebook you can follow that page if you’d like.
I would to mention a few of my observations to why discussing royalty can be controversial.
1. First of all not everyone is following royalty for the same reasons. Plus, some peoples interest in the topic may not be as deep or as intense as others which lead me to this observation. Before I relate what it is I want to say, I imply no judgment at all. It seems there are two groups of people that are interested in royalty. One group, I call royalty watchers, follow royalty like they would follow any celebrity, be they an actor or an actress, singer or musician or sports figure. Often, as I have observed, many of these types of royalty watchers began watching royalty due to the influence of Diana, Princess of Wales. Therefore, there interest may be limited to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales, and may be extended to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and other immediate members of the British Royal Family. But there is a limited focus and interest.
2. The other group that are interested in royalty are like myself, they are more of an historian than royalty as celebrity watcher. That means often our knowledge and interest is not just with the British Monarchy (although it may be our favorite) or the current British Royal Family; our interests stretch far back into history and across all monarchies of Europe and even the world. Again, both groups are fine. If you’re interest is not that deep, whatever level you enjoy royalty is fine!
The problem, as I have observed, these two groups often clash.
3. It seems as if they clash over two areas. These two areas are Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) and the knowledge and usage of titles and correctly addressing the members of the royal family. I apologize for generalizing the situation so if you don’t fit in these categories I understand. It seems the more historical minded people have no problem accepting the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) into the royal family and seeing her one day being queen along side her husband, future King Charles III. The more casual royalty watcher, those that began watching royalty due to the influence of Diana, Princess of Wales, tend to still hold Diana in very high esteem and cannot stand either the Prince of Wales or the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) very much. With some there is outright hated. So that can be a controversial topic and an area of conflict.
Another topic that is surprisingly controversial is the usage of titles. Now, I must admit the proper usage of styles and titles is a bit confusing and can take a while to learn, but it can be done. I have found that the more historically minded the royalty watcher they generally do know this information. What I see in the casual royalty enthusiasts can be divided into three categories: a) There are those who do not understand the proper usage of titles or the laws governing how titles are created and inherited and what happens to some of them when the heir to the throne becomes the sovereign or the title becomes extinct. This group is eager to learn about these things. b) The second group may have some knowledge on the subject but they are grossly misinformed and are often wrong. I find this group to be a challenge to deal with because they often do not like to be corrected when they’re wrong and will often stubbornly cling to their misinformation. c) That last group are the very casual royalty watcher who could care less about this topic!
The proper usage of titles and the rules and laws governing them was a big interest of mine so I don’t think I am being too pedantic about this topic considering how much misinformation there is and given the fact that there are people that do want to understand how the system works. Someone has to set an example or all we get is this misinformation! Even keep in mind often the American media and even the British media gets this stuff wrong!!! (even a King got it wrong once)*
Here is a quick run down about how to refer to the members of the royal family. One thing many royalty watchers get upset about is the fact that the press on both sides of the pond still call the wife of Prince William (HRH The Duke of Cambridge) Kate Middleton!! The proper way to refer to the wife of HRH The Duke of Cambridge is, simply, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. It is not Princess Catherine or Duchess Catherine. You do not call members of royalty by their first name if they have a peerage title. For example, its not proper to say “Prince Charles” he is to be called HRH The Prince of Wales. It is alright to drop the HRH and call him the Prince of Wales.
We do not call the Queen, Queen Elizabeth or just Elizabeth, it is proper to refer to her as Her Majesty, The Queen or simply The Queen. Her husband is not to be called “Prince Philip”, he is to be referred by his title, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Now if members of the royal family are not the sovereign and they do not have a peerage title, you refer to them by their style Prince of Princess, their first name and the territorial designation they would inherit from their father. For example, Prince Harry is officially, HRH Prince Henry of Wales because he is the son of the Prince of Wales. The Duke of Cambridge was HRH Prince William of Wales until he received his peerage title.
Princess Beatrice is HRH Princess Beatrice of York because her father is HRH The Duke of York. The Queen, incidentally, was born HRH Princess Elizabeth of York for at the time of her birth her father, future King George VI, was HRH The Duke of York.
For those Princes or Princess without a peerage title to be able to use the predicate “The” in front of their name is reserved only for the sons and daughters of the sovereign. For example, if tomorrow the Prince of Wales were to ascend the throne as king, HRH Prince Henry of Wales would then become HRH The Prince Henry. He would be known as that until he is given a peerage title. Also, if the Prince of Wales were to be king tomorrow, the Duke of Cambridge would automatically inherit the titles Duke of Cornwall in the Peerage of England and the titles Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, and High Stewardship of Scotland, which are the Heir Apparent’s titles in the Peerage of Scotland. The titles Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester are not hereditary and would merge with the crown when the current Prince of Wales becomes king. King Charles III would then be able to re-create his son Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester whenever he sees fit. Until then he known by his double peerage titles while in England, HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge.
That is only the tip of the iceberg. I am sure I will type more about this in the future. Suffice it to say whenever the question of titles and its rules and regulations come up there is often some misinformation which leads to debate and conflict. I don’t claim to be the font of all knowledge on this topic for I am still learning myself. I know a few royal authors that know quite a bit more than I.
Even sometimes the sovereign himself doesn’t know the rules! * In 1947, Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark renounced his Greek and Danish titles to become a British subject (something he already was, but that is another story) in order to marry the heiress presumptive to the throne, HRH Princess Elizabeth of York. He became Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (taking the Anglicized name of the Princely House of Battenberg that his mother was from). The day before the wedding King George VI endowed Philip with the style His Royal Highness and the titles, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. However, this did not create him a Prince of the United Kingdom as many, including the King, thought! Despite renouncing his Greek and Danish titles (not legally recognized in Britain anyway) HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was not a Prince! But that didn’t stop the press from continuing to refer to him as Prince Philip. I have a book on the royal family from 1951, a year HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh became queen, and it refers incorrectly to the Duke of Edinburgh as “Prince Philip.”
Some say King George VI did this intentionally and that is the point of debate. However, the matter was left unsettled for ten years. Various dignitaries of State suggested titles for the Duke of Edinburgh. They ranged from Prince Consort, the title Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria held, to the unusual, Prince of the Commonwealth or Prince of the Realm. The Duke of Edinburgh himself did not want any elevation of his titles. In the end The Queen, issued Letters Patent on February 22, 1957 giving her husband the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He has henceforth been known as His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with the capitalized definite article “The”normally restricted to the children of the Sovereign.
I guess it can get complicated and no wonder titles can be quite the controversial subject!!!
Today Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II turns 89! Happy birthday!
In a few short months Her Majesty will become the longest reigning monarch in British history when she will beat, by one day, the 63 years, 216 days, that her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria reigned. So I want to take a moment and recognize what a great monarch Elizabeth has been over the years. During the 1990s when her children were causing so many negative stories in the paper Her Majesty never missed a step. It has been a pretty flawless reign where she has maintained the dignity of the crown. At 89 Her Majesty is still going strong and I hope she can continue for many more years.
I have said this before but it bears repeating. Here in the US in 2016 we will have an election for President, our Head of State and Head of the Government, so as candidates have already started running I have 20 months of mudslinging and attacks and hatred being spewed by both parties to look forward to. One of the reasons I admire the British system is that it has evolved to where the Head of State and Head of the Government are separate. Leaving the mud slinging to the politicians gives the chance for the Head of State to be the Symbol of the Nation for all people not just those of a specific political party. So I think the British people are fortunate to have a Head of State that embodies all that is good about Britain and I hope the British people do appreciate her hard work, service and dedication to her people. You are fortunate to have her. Happy Birthday your Majesty and long may you reign and God Save the Queen!
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Part II of this topic on the titles of the Wessex family now turns to the Earl himself and his inheritance of the title Duke of Edinburgh the title his father, Prince Philip, currently holds. There are two camps concerning this issue.
Camp I: This group believes that the titles must follow the 1947 Letter Patent (LP) wherein when HRH The Duke of Edinburgh dies while the Queen is still alive the title will pass to his eldest son, The Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales will hold this title along with the others he holds until he becomes king. At that time these titles will merge with the crown making them available to be created anew. In the case of the title Prince of Wales, Charles, as king, can create his son, The Duke of Cambridge (the Duke of Cambridge will automatically inherit the hereditary title of Duke of Cornwall), The Prince of Wales any time he desires. Charles will also be able to create his brother, The Earl of Wessex, the new Duke of Edinburgh. If the Queen should die before the Duke of Edinburgh then Charles will be king and when Philip dies his title will automatically merge with the crown.
Camp II: This group believes that in 1999 Her Majesty bestowed on Prince Edward the title of the Earl of Wessex with the intent he would directly inherit the Duke of Edinburgh’s title upon his father’s death. This was the sole reason why Prince Edward was created an Earl and not a Duke when he married in 1999. Therefore when Philip dies his titles will go directly to Prince Edward instead of the Prince of Wales. This goes against the Letters Patent of 1947 that was issued when King George VI created Philip Mountbatten (ne Prince Philipos of Greece and Denmark) which leaves the title to the eldest son as is traditionally done. However, this camp believes that Her Majesty, as the Font of All Honors, doesn’t always have to issue Letter’s Patent to change things and that her word and will are sufficient to override the 1947 LP. If that is true then Edward will directly inherit the 1947 creation of the Duke of Edinburgh title.
What will actually happen remains to be seen. For a long time I was firmly in the first camp and felt that the 1947 Letters Patent will be followed and that the Prince of Wales will inherit his fathers titles and will not be able to create his brother the Duke of Edinburgh until that title merges with the crown. Now, however, I am questioning this position and I do think that since the creation and governing of titles is part of her Majesty’s Royal Prerogative which remains at her discretion, then her will may be sufficient and Letter’s Patent are not required.
But we shall see how this actually plays out. I personally hope the Duke of Edinburgh lives for many many more years in excellent health and that we do not have this question answered for many years to come.