Frequently Asked Questions
When did the last British King fight in
George II was the last British King to lead his army in person, during the War of the Austrian Succession, at the Battle of Dettingen in Bavaria, 27th June, 1743. The last English King to die in battle was Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire on 22 August 1485 defeated by Henry Tudor who became Henry VII ending the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster and starting the Tudor dynasty. The last British King to die in battle was James IV of Scotland killed at the Battle of Flodden Field in Northumberland on 9 September 1513 when the Scots invaded England hoping to take advantage of Henry VIII's absence in France, but were defeated by English forces under Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey.
How far back can the British Royal Family
trace their roots? Is Queen Elizabeth II really directly descended
from Alfred the Great?
She is the 32nd great granddaughter of King Alfred who 1,140 years ago was the first effective King of England. He ruled from 871 to 899.
I thought that American Independence was
in 1776. Why is it quoted as 1783?
The Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies declared independence in 1776. However, the war continued and independence from Britain was not achieved until the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
Was George III really mad?
For most of his reign King George III was an astute king and politician with a strong sense of duty. Later in his reign he suffered from recurrent and eventually permanent mental illness. This baffled medical science at the time, although it is now generally thought that he suffered from the inherited blood disease porphyria. He suffered his first attack in 1788 and by 1810 was unfit to rule. In 1811 his son George, Prince of Wales, became Regent for 9 years until his father died in 1820.
Who would now be King or Queen if Edward
VIII had not abdicated?
Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 less than a year after becoming King to marry Wallis Simpson. His younger brother Bertie became King George VI and was the father of Queen Elizabeth II. He died in 1952, and Edward who had no children died in 1972. So even if Edward had not abdicated Elizabeth would have come to the throne in 1972 instead of 1952.
Why did Edward VIII have to give up the throne to marry a divorcee but King Charles III did not. Royals who are divorced or marry divorcees do not lose their position in the line of succession. Edward VIII had a number of affairs with married women including Wallis Simpson who was already divorced and still married to her second husband. His parents King George V and Queen Mary did not approve and refused to meet her. When George V died Prime Minister Baldwin made it clear that the Government, popular opinion in the country and the overseas Dominions (now the Commonwealth nations) did not approve of his plans to marry Wallis. Social attitudes towards divorce and a women looking for a third marriage were considered scandalous at the time, and if Edward married against the advice of his Ministers it would have caused the Government to resign and a constitutional crisis. Edward chose to abdicate.
The 1772 Royal Marriages Act requires members of the Royal Family to obtain permission from the Sovereign to marry. Queen Elizabeth II gave her permission for Prince Charles to marry Camilla, and more recently for Prince William to marry Catherine Middleton and Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle.
Diana have become Queen?
If Prince Charles had become King during their marriage then she would have been his consort with the title Queen Diana. They divorced in 1996 and she died in a car crash in Paris on 31st August 1997. Although popularly known as 'Princess Diana' this was not her title - because she became a princess by marrying Prince Charles her title was Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales, or more simply Diana, Princess of Wales.
Who is Prince Henry shown as sixth in
line to the Throne? What about Prince Harry?
Prince Harry's name is Henry Charles Albert David. Harry is his nickname
Is Kate Middleton the first commoner
to marry an heir to the throne?
The Queen's husband Prince Philip is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria, Diana's family had titled ancestry and Camilla is the granddaughter of a baron. Prince William's wife Catherine (Kate) nee Middleton comes from a middle class background with no aristocratic or titled connections. She is not however the first commoner to marry a future king. Notably Anne Hyde first wife of King James II, and Elizabeth Woodville, who married King Edward IV in 1464 and became a key figure in the Wars of the Roses were commoners with no direct connections to nobility. Edward VIII married Wallis Simpson but had already abdicated as King.
What is the Royal Family's Second Name?
Members of the Royal Family who are titled His (or Her) Royal Highness do not traditionally need or use a surname. Windsor is the name of the Royal House to which they belong. Members of the royal family who are not HRH (for example Prince Edward's children Louise and James, and Prince Harry's son Archie) have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
Why is Prince Harry's son Archie not a Prince, when Prince William's children George
and Louis are?
Under a letter patent issued in 1917 by George V, the great-grandchildren of the monarch would no longer be princes or princesses, except for their eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. In 2012 Queen Elizabeth II issued a letter patent extending it to all Prince William's children.
So William and Harry as the sons of Charles, Prince of Wales, and grandsons of the monarch are both princes, and Prince William's children are Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, but as Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles his son Archie is not a prince.
Prince Andrew's daughters Beatrice and Eugenie are princesses as grand-daughters of the monarch, but Eugenie's son August does not have a title.
Being a prince or princess goes through the male line, so the Queen's daughter Princess Anne has the title Princess Royal, but her children Peter and Zara do not have titles. It is traditional that they would have been made a Duke and Duchess or Earl and Countess, but it is understood that Princess Anne asked the Queen not to give her children titles so they could live as private individuals.
Prince Edward declined to be made a Duke on his marriage and became Earl of Wessex, so that his wife Sophie is Countess of Wessex. The Royal Family is descended directly from the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Wessex. On their marriage is was anounced that their children would not be titled Prince and Princess but as the children of an Earl, so they are Lady Louise and James Viscount Severn.
Why are Roman Catholics excluded from
the Line of Succession to the British throne?
In 1534 Henry VIII broke with the Church of Rome over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and made himself Head of the Church of England. Every King or Queen since Elizabeth 1 has held the title 'Supreme Governor of the Church of England' and 'Defender of the Faith'. As it is a Protestant Church all those in the Royal line of succession and their spouses have to be Protestants. The Act of Settlement (1701) laid down that only Protestant heirs of Princess Sophia, granddaughter of James I, may succeed to the British throne. Neither Catholics, nor those who marry a Catholic, nor those born out of wedlock, may remain in the line of succession. Prince Charles has let it be known that when he becomes King he will take the title 'Defender of Faith' instead of' 'Defender of the Faith' to include faiths other than the established Church of England.
In Aprl 2013 the Succession to the Crown Bill 2013 changed the succession laws so that a person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown as a result of marrying a Roman Catholic . They will however not be allowed to become a Roman Catholic as the British Monarch is head of the Protestant Church of England.
Why are younger brothers higher in the line
of succession than their older sisters?
The line of succession to the British throne used until recently the system of male primogeniture whereby younger sons have precedence over their older sisters. So Prince Andrew and Prince Edward are above their older sister Princess Anne in line of succession, and Prince Edward's son James is above his sister Louise. While male precedence may be considered to be out of line with current 'equal-rights' thinking, it has not prevented some of the most successful and longest reigning British monarchs from being queens including Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.
It does allow the succession to inherit through the female line, so the children of daughters can succeed to the throne as was the case with Queen Elizabeth II. The French and German monarchies used a system of Salic law whereby females had no right to inherit and could not pass it to their offspring. The last time that the British throne passed to a son in precedence to a first born daughter was when Queen Victoria's son Edward VII inherited the throne over his older sister Princess Victoria. Had she become queen she would have been Queen Victoria II and her son Kaiser Wilhelm II would have also been King William V and ruled over a huge combined British and German Empire. This could have significantly changed 20th century European history with the 1st World War unlikely to have happened as it did but replaced with other nationalist, republican and fascist struggles leading possibly to the downfall of both monarchies and a changed map of Europe.
In April 2013 the Succession to the Crown Bill 2013 changed the succession laws so that a person is able to marry a Roman Catholic and remain in the line of successsion, and the right of male primogeniture no longer applies to children born after 28 October 2011. It meant that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child had been a girl and their second a boy, male primogenture would no longer have applied and he would not have had precedence over his older sister. However, their first child born on 22 July 2013 was a boy Prince George so it did not apply. Their second child Princess Charlotte did not lose her place when her brother Prince Louis was born. This current line of succession is shown at Line of Succession.
Who was the oldest person to become king
King Charles III was the longest waiting heir to the British throne. He was 73 years old when he became king on 8th September 2022 following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II who had reigned for 70 years. King William IV was 64 years old when he became king in 1830 and succeeded his elder brother George IV. Edward VII
Was there a royal connection between Camilla's
family and the royal family before her marriage to Charles?
In 1889 Camilla's great-grandmother Alice Keppel was the mistress of Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales. Edward VII was the great-great-grandfather of Prince Charles the current Prince of Wales.
Why was the Queen's husband Prince Philip
not King Philip?
The husband of a queen is known as a Prince consort and does not become King. Queen Victoria's husband was Prince Albert, and Queen Elizabeth's husband was Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh. The wife of a king is a Queen consort and does take the title Queen although she does not rule as the monarch. Queen Camilla is Queen consort to King Charles III. The only exceptions were William III and Mary II who ruled jointly from 1689 until Mary's death in 1694.
Were Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
related before their marriage?
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were both great great grandchildren of Queen Victoria. The Queen was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria’s eldest son King Edward VII and the Duke of Edinburgh was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Alice.
What relation was Queen Elizabeth II to King
George III ?
George III was her 3rd great grandfather. If you you follow the line of succession on her grandfather's side - George VI (father), George V (grandfather), Edward VII (great grandfather), Victoria (2nd great grandmother) , Edward Duke of Kent (3rd great grandfather), George III (4th great grandfather) - then he was her 4th great grandfather. However her grandmother Queen Mary of Teck was also descended from George III - she and George V were 2nd cousins once removed. If you follow Queen Elizabeth's line through her grandmother - George VI (father), Queen Mary (grandmother), Mary Adelaide (great grandmother), Adolphus of Hanover (2nd great grandfather), George III (3rd great-grandfather) - he is more closely related as her 3rd great grandfather. You can see this on the Royal Family tree.
How rich was Queen Elizabeth?
Her estimated personal fortune is around £350 million (US $435M). The Duchy of Lancaster estate, a portfolio of land, property and assets, is held in trust for the monarch and worth around £348 million. She also owns properties privately that have never been valued, including Sandringham House, Balmoral Castle reputedly worth £160 million and the Castle of Mey. Her investment portfolio in blue-chip British companies is around £110 million, her personal art collection is worth at least £2 million, and she owns personal jewellery and a large stamp collection built up by her grandfather George V. Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Crown Jewels and the Royal Art Collection do not belong to her but are held in trust for the nation.
The Crown Estate, which manages on behalf of the monarch the property and land owned by the Crown, including properties in Regent Street and St James in London, Windsor Great Park, Ascot race course, offshore wind farms around Britain's coast and rural estates in Scotland, is worth around £13.4 billion and generates £345million (2019/2020) income a year that is paid to the national treasury. The Crown Estate does not belong to the King or Queen. It is an independent property business that manages the hereditary possessions of the Soveriegn that are held by the nation in 'Right of the Crown'.
The Royal Family receive a Sovereign Support Grant from the treasury which is based on a percentage (currently around 24.8%) of the income from the Crown Estate. This means that for the year from 2020-2021 the nation will keep £259.1 million of the Crown Estates income, and the monarchy will receive £85.9 million of the income towards the cost of the Royal household, their travel, attending formal functions and repairs to buildings including Buckingham Palace.
Does the King or Queen pay taxes?
Yes, in 1992 Queen Elizabeth II offered to pay income tax and capital gains tax on a voluntary basis. Since 1993, her personal income was taxable as for any other UK taxpayer.
Does the King rule or does Parliament?
The British Monarchy is a constitutional monarchy in which the King or Queen reigns as Head of State but with limits to their power, and the day-to-day government is carried out by Parliament. The political party with the most elected seats in the House of Commons elects a Prime Minister who is invited by the monarch to form a government. A new Parliament is opened by the monarch in an official ceremony, and the Prime Minister during his or her term in office regularly meets with the King or Queen to discuss political matters and events.
How many British Prime Ministers and US
Presidents were there during the Queen Elizabeth II's reign?
Queen Elizabeth II worked with 15 different Prime Ministers during her 70 year reign: Winston Churchill (1951-55), Anthony Eden (1955-59), Harold Macmillan (1959-63), Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64), Harold Wilson (1964-70 & 1974-76), Edward Heath (1970-74), James Callaghan (1976-79), Margaret Thatcher (1979-90), John Major (1990-97), Tony Blair (1997-2007), Gordon Brown (2007-2010), David Cameron (2010-2016), Theresa May (2016 - 2019), Boris Johnson (2019 - 2022) and Liz Truss (2022 - present).
There were 14 US Presidents during her reign: Harry Truman (1945-1953), Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61), John Kennedy (1961-63), Lyndon Johnson (1963-69), Richard Nixon (1969-74), Gerald Ford, (1974-77), James Carter (1977-81), Ronald Reagan (1981-89), George Bush (1989-93), William Clinton (1993-2001), George W Bush (2001-09), Barack Obama (2009-2017), Donald Trump (2017-2021), Joe Biden (2021 - present).
There were 7 Archbishops of Canterbury and 7 Popes during her reign.
Which King or Queen reigned for the longest time?
The longest reigning British monarch was Queen Elizabeth II who reigned for 70 years, 7 months and 1 day which is the longest reign in over 1,200 years of British History. On 10th September 2015 she surpassed her great great grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years, 7 months and 2 days from 1837-1901. See Kings and Queens by length of reign.
Which King or Queen reigned for the shortest time?
Edward VI named his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor and she was proclaimed queen on July 10, 1553 by her father-in-law the Duke of Northumberland. She was 16 years old. Meanwhile Edward's half sister Mary eldest daughter of Henry VIII was also proclaimed queen. The situation was resolved 9 days later on July 19 1553 when Mary arrived in London and was proclaimed as the rightful queen. Mary was crowned Queen on Oct 1, 1553. Lady Jane Grey was executed on February 12, 1554. Another who was not crowned was Edward V. His father Edward IV died on April 9, 1483, but he was usurped by his uncle Richard III who proclaimed himself king 2 months later on June 26 and crowned on July 6, 1483. The date that Edward died is unknown - he was presumed murdered with his brother in the Tower of London at sometime in September that year. The shortest reigning crowned king was Edmund II for 7 months from 25 April - 30 November 1016. Kings and Queens by length of reign.
Which King had the most illegitimate children?
Henry I is purported to have had 20-25 illegitimate children by at least six women, but few details are known. Charles II famously fathered numerous illegitimate children, of whom he acknowledged fourteen. His mistresses included Lucy Walter (2 children), Moll Davis (1) , Nell Gwyne (2), Louise de Keroualle (1), Barbara Villiers (6), Elizabeth Killigrew (1), Catherine Pegg (1), Frances Stuart (became the face of Britannia on coins), and at least five others. William IV had 10 illegitimate children born between 1794 and 1807 by his mistress actress Dorothea Bland (known as Mrs Jordan).
How big was Henry VIII?
When Henry VIII came to the throne in April 1509 he was 17 years old, 6ft 2in tall, and had pale skin, blue eyes and auburn hair. He was physically active and enjoyed sport, hunting and jousting. A Venetian visitor described him as 'His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on, a vigorous player of tennis, rider of horses, and skilled wrestler'. However he became fatter with age and gluttony. His suits of armour show that in 1512 he had a 32 inch waist , which increased to 35 inch by 1520s, and then grew to an enormous 54 inch by 1545. He suffered increasingly of ill health, swelling of the joints and an ulcerated leg claimed to have been caused by a jousting accident. His pain added to his mood swings and unpredictable temper. In 1544 his portrait shows him puffy and bloated. By 1546 he could hardly walk and was carried around on a wooden chair . He had to be winched on to his horse and his armour cut open to accommodate his swollen legs. He is estimated to have weighed 25 stone (350 lbs or 158kg) when he died in January 1547.
Why was Queen Mary I known as Bloody Mary?
Queen Mary's father Henry VIII split with Rome over his divorce from her mother Catherine of Aragon and made himself head of the Protestant Church of England. When she became queen, Mary sought to re-establish Roman Catholicism as the official religion and carried out persecution of Protestant clergy and followers. Over 200 died including Thomas Cranmer and several bishops who were burnt at the stake between 1555 and Mary's death in 1558. She was succeeded by her half sister Elizabeth I, daughter of Ann Boleyn, who re-established Protestantism as the official Church of England.
How many British monarchs have been killed
while they were king or queen?
- King Edmund I was killed in 946 during a feast at Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, by an outlawed robber.
- King Edward The Martyr was murdered by members of Aethelred's household at Corfe Castle in 978
- King Edmund II Ironside was assassinated in London in 1016
- King Harold II was killed by an arrow in his eye at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
- King William I The Conqueror suffered a fatal internal injury in 1087 after being thrown against the pommel of his saddle near Nantes in France.
- King William II Rufus was killed in 1100 with an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. Supposedly an accident, it has been suggested that he was shot deliberately on the instructions of his brother Henry.
- Richard I The Lion Heart was killed by a crossbow bolt while besieging Châlus-Chabrol in France in 1199.
- Edward II was murdered in 1327 at Berkeley Castle on the orders of his wife, Isabella
- Richard II was starved to death in 1400 while imprisioned in Pontefract castle. He had been forced to abdicate in 1399 by his cousin Henry IV Bolingbroke.
- Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London in 1471 during the 'Wars of the Roses' between the Lancastrians and Yorkists.
- Edward V and his younger brother were imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1483 and never seen again. Their fate remains a mystery but the two princes are believed to have been murdered on orders from their uncle Richard III.
- Richard III was killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
- Henry VIII executed two of his six wives, Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Catherine Howard in 1542.
- Charles I was executed by Parliament in 1649 following the Civil War.
Scottish Kings killed include James II at Roxburgh in 1460 when a cannon exploded, James III in battle near Stirling in 1488 by supporters of his son, James IV by Henry VIII's forces at Flodden in 1513, and Mary Queen of Scots executed in 1587 on orders from her cousin Elizabeth I.
Why was Edward I not Edward IV as he followed Edward the
Elder, Edward the Martyr & Edward the Confessor?
The practice of using Roman numerals to distinguish kings and queens started only after there had been several with the same name, and particularly when there was a succession of father, son, grandson like Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III. Before then it was common for chroniclers and historians to use sobriquets such as Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr, Edward the Confessor, Edmund Ironside, Aethelred the Unready, Alfred the Great, Harold Harefoot etc before this became impractical.
It would be interesting to consider how Queen Elizabeth II would be known if she were to be referred to in this way. 'Elizabeth the Kind', 'Elizabeth the Great', 'Elizabeth the Dutiful', have been suggested, as well as 'Elizabeth the Diplomat' for her work and visits to so many countries, 'Elizabeth the Survivor' referring to her reign as the longest in British history,'Elizabeth the Wise', 'Elizabeth the Magnificent', 'Elizabeth the Supreme', 'Elizabeth the Faithful', 'Elizabeth the Enduring', 'Elizabeth,the Benevolent', 'Elizabeth,the Tolerant', 'Elizabeth the Stalwart', 'Elizabeth the Beloved', 'Elizabeth Britannia', and 'Elizabeth the Steadfast' for her untiring service over 70 years to her people and the Commonwealth. If you have a suggestion please contact us.
What about King Arthur of the knights
of the round table and Camelot?
King Arthur is a legend and folklore of a Celtic king who fought to defend Britain from Saxon invaders in the 6th century. There is no historical evidence that he existed. Interestingly, Henry VII sought to revive the legend naming his eldest son Arthur. Unfortunately Prince Arthur died in 1502 aged 15 before he became King. His younger brother Henry followed his father instead and became Henry VIII.
Why was there no king or queen between
1649 and 1660?
The English Civil War (1642-1649) was fought between the royalist forces loyal to King Charles I and the parliamentarians led by Oliver Cromwell. The Royalist were defeated at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 and following attempts to organize a Scottish invasion, Charles was caught and executed on January 30, 1649. It was the first time a British monarch had ever been publicly executed in recorded history. After the execution of the King, a republic was declared known as the Commonwealth of England (1649-1653) and then the Protectorate (1653-1658) with rule by parliament under Cromwell. Following his death in 1658, Cromwell was succeeded briefly by his son Richard before the monarchy was restored and Charles II became king in 1660.
When was Buckingham Palace built?
The original building started in 1633 was known as Goring House in Charles I's time. It then became Arlington House, Buckingham House in 1703 when it was remodelled for the Duke of Buckingham, Queen's House when it was occupied by George III's wife Queen Charlotte, and then Buckingham Palace in around 1830 when it was extended by William IV and from 1837 lived in by Queen Victoria. It is the official London residence of King Charles III.
What is the Stone of Destiny?
The Stone of Destiny is a symbolic stone that was used in the crowning of Kings of Scotland at the Palace of Scone in Perthshire, Scotland. It is a block of sandstone which measures approximately 26 inches long x 16 wide x 11 high which rested beneath the throne. According to legend it was brought to Scotland by Fergus Mor from Ireland, where it had reached by way of Spain and Egypt from the Holy Land. It was used in the crowning of kings from Kenneth MacAlpin in 841 to John Balliol in 1292. In 1296 King Edward I of England took the stone to London where it was kept in Westminster Abbey for use in coronations. In 1950 a group of students stole the stone and took it back to Scotland in two pieces which were repaired by a Glasgow stone mason. They left it at Arbroath Abbey from where it was returned to Westminster Abbey. In 1996 the British Government decided in response to calls by Scottish nationalists to return it to Scotland. It arrived back on St Andrews Day 30 November 1996, almost exactly 700 years after it had been removed by Edward, and is now in Edinburgh Castle.
When did Wales become part of the United
Wales became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, after it had been annexed by Edward I of England in 1282. Edward dubbed his eldest son Edward Prince of Wales, since which time the eldest son of each English monarch has borne the same title. In the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Wales became legally part of the Kingdom of England, and subsequently part of the United Kingdom.
When did Scotland become part of the United
The Crowns of England and Scotland were united in 1603 when James VI King of Scotland became James I King of England. In October 1604, one year later , he decreed that the Royal Title would use the term Great Brittaine to refer to the "one Imperiall Crowne" made up of England and Scotland. However despite James' wishes political union between Scotland and England did not take place until 1707 in the reign of Queen Anne. See union of the United Kingdom.
When did Ireland become part of the United
Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1800 when the Act of Union with Ireland was passed by both the Irish and British parliaments
Why is Northern Ireland part of the United
Kingdom when Southern Ireland is a different country?
Northern Ireland, predominantly Protestant, and Southern Ireland, Catholic, split in 1920 with 6 of the 9 counties of Ulster remaining within the United Kingdom, and the remaining 26 counties being given home rule under the Government of Ireland Act. In 1922 the Southern counties became the Irish Free State and then since 1949 the Republic of Ireland.