Category Archives: Kings – Queens

The English Reformation

English Reformation

If we ask the question, what if Henry VIII had not taken Catherine of Aragon to be his wife, would England have been a happier place to live?

The twelve-year-old Catherine of Aragon, had been betrothed to Henry’s older brother; Arthur. Catherine, aged sixteen, married the fifteen-year-old Arthur on the 14thNovember 1501 at St.Paul’s Cathedral. Arthur died a few months later, leaving a young wife.

Henry became the next in line, to the English throne, and sought to take Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon as his wife.

Catherine stated that her marriage to Arthus had not been consummated, and the Pope gave her the permission she sought, to marry Arthur’s brother Henry, the new heir to the English throne.

Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon married the new King of England; Henry VIII on the 11thJune 1509 at Friary Church in Greenwich.

Henry became obsessed, a desire to have a son to carry on the House of Tudor.  This was not to be with Catherine, for she produced many children, and all but one died; Mary her daughter who would become heir to the English throne.

Henry felt he had no choice, but to cast his wife and Queen aside, and seek another wife…  Henry knew the Roman Catholic Church would not approve his request for a divorce.  Maybe an annulment, based on the grounds, that his entire marriage to Catherine his brother’s widow, would be deemed invalid in the eyes of God!

Men of God, argued about his request.  On one side, one group maintained a marriage is a marriage for life, whilst the other side believed; a marriage is only a marriage if it has been consummated.  Two quotations were put forward by men of God from the Bible.

Book of Leviticus: You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife: she is your brother’s nakedness…  If a man takes your brother’s wife, it is impurity: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

Book of Deuteronomy: If brother’s dwell together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go into her, and take her as his wife.

Henry opted for the side which suited him best, and the Pope took the other side.  A stalemate had come to pass, and Henry took advantage of the Reformation, as it gained ground in Europe, by making himself “Supreme Head of the Church of England,” in 1531.  In the year 1533, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared the marriage between Henry and Catherine was void.

Barely three months earlier, Henry had secretly married Anne Boleyn.  She gave birth to a daughter; Elizabeth, and shortly thereafter was executed on Tower Hill, making way for him to marry Jane Seymour,  She who would bless Henry with a child, a long awaited son and heir; Edward VI.

Henry VIII, the Head of the Church of England, set about the destruction of England’s monasteries between 1536-1541.  So it was, the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” was so ordered by Henry VIII, for it was said, England’s monasteries owned a quarter of England’s wealth.

Finally it came to pass, the translation of the Bible into the English language, was officially sanctioned, with the first becoming available in 1539…  It was the duty of every church, to provide the English Bible for one and all to read.

King Henry VIII died on the 28thJanuary 1547, and was succeeded by his nine year old son; Edward VI.

Edward’s advisers believed in the reform of England’s Parish Churches, and were responsible for a directive, calling for the destruction of all things of a corrupt nature.  So it was, altars were replaced with communion tables, paintings trashed, statues destroyed, glass smashed and shrines removed.

England became a truly Protestant land during the short reign of Edward VI (1547-1553).  Edward and his advisers will be remembered, for they pushed forward the use of the “Book of Common Prayer” in 1549, and church services in England.  The practice of Catholic trappings, such as clerical vestments, church decorations and feasts dedicated to saints were reformed or abolished.

A succession crisis loomed over England in the opening months of 1553, with the young King Edward VI seriously ill, and death seemed the only outcome.

If we refer to the Last Will and Testament of King Henry VIII, he left additional instructions within. In the event that his son Edward VI should die without male heirs, England’s crown would pass first to Mary then Elizabeth.

On the 21stMay 1553, Guildford Dudley the son of the Duke of Northumberland, took the King’s cousin; Lady Jane Grey as his wife.  On the 12th June the dying Edward VI, had letters drawn up and signed off by him on the 13thJune, counter signed by 100 people (Councillors, Civic Dignitaries, Peers and Household Officers) on the 17thJune detailing who his successor would be.

On Thursday the 6thJuly, the Tudor Monarch King Edward VI died at Greenwich.  Two prominent claimants existed to England’s throne; the Catholic Mary Tudor, heir by law according to Henry VIII’s last wishes and Lady Jane Grey according to the wishes of Edward VI.

The death of Edward VI was not announced for four days to enable preparations be made for the ascension of Lady Jane Grey, daughter-in-law of the Duke of Northumberland. On the 9thJuly Bishop Ridley announced that both Elizabeth the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, along with Mary the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, were bastards in the eyes of Parliament.

On the 10thJuly, the death of King Edward VI was announced, and Lady Jane Grey travelled by barge to the Tower of London where she was received as Queen.  That very same day she was proclaimed Queen at Cheapside.

Mary hearing Lady Jane Grey had been proclaimed Queen by England’s people mobilised her forces in East Anglia.

On the 12thJuly, the Duke of Northumberland’s forces left London to face Mary’s forces on the battlefield.  With Northumberland away from London, his councillors defected and proclaimed Mary as the true Queen of England on the 19thJuly.  Northumberland realised his cause was lost had no choice but to surrender. On the 23rdJuly Northumberland surrendered at Cambridge to Mary… no blood had been spilt.

On the 8thAugust 1553 King Edward VI was buried at Westminster Abbey.  On the 10thAugust Mary held an obsequy (Medieval Latin funeral rites), and on the 11thheld a requiem mass for him at the Tower of London.

On the 18thAugust, Mary issued a proclamation calling upon her subjects to follow her religion; Roman Catholic.  It wasn’t long before Mary became unpopular with her people; by burning Protestant martyrs to bring England under the rule of Rome.

On the 1stOctober 1553, Mary was crowned Queen Mary I of England at Westminster Abbey.

On the 12thFebruary 1554, Lady Jane and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were beheaded at the Tower of London.

The Execution of Lady Jane from the Chronicle of Queen Jane:

She being nothing at all abashed… neither with the sight of the dead carcass of her husband (Lord Guildford Dudley) she said…  “Good people, I am come hither to die, and by law condemned to the same.  The fact indeed, against the Queen’s highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and the desire thereof by me or on my (behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocence, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day,” and therewith she wrung her hands, in which she had her book…  Then she said the psalm of Miserere me i Deus, in English, in most devout manner, to the end…

Then the hangman kneeled down, and asked her forgiveness, whom she forgave most willingly.  Then he willed her to stand upon the straw; which doing, she saw the block.  Then she said “I pray you dispatch me quickly…” She tied the kercher (handkerchief) about her eyes: then feel for the block said.  “What shall I do?  Where is it?” One of the standers-by guiding her there unto, she laid her head upon the block, and stretched forth her body and said.  “Lord into thy hands I commend my spirit!”  And so she ended.

For a short time, Mary had achieved England’s reunion with Rome and the restoration of Catholic Worship. Condemned by ardent Protestants, it was popular with many of her subjects.  Priests were permitted to perform Catholic rituals.  Mary’s burnings proved brutal but an effective means of bringing people back to the Catholic faith.

On the 17thNovember 1558, Queen Mary I of England died, and on the 13thDecember a requiem mass was held, and on the 14thDecember she was buried at Westminster Abbey.

With the death of Queen Mary I, Henry II of France made unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Pope to recognise Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth’s cousin as Queen of England.

On the 12thJanuary 1559, Elizabeth travelled from Whitehall to the Tower of London by barge along the River Thames.  On the 14thJanuary, Elizabeth’s coronation procession travelled through the city of London, greeted by pageants that praised her dynasty and Protestant religion.  On the 15thJanuary, Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth I of England at Westminster Abbey by Bishop Oglethorpe.

Elizabeth like her father; Henry VIII became Head of the Church of England.  She inherited a country divided over religion; Catholic and Protestant.  Elizabeth set about tearing down Catholicism in England and promoting Protestant beliefs during her reign.

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Historic Tudor Law

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King Henry VIII

Henry VIII came to the throne on the 21stApril 1509, upon the death of his father, Henry VII.  On the 24thJune 1509, Henry married his brother Arthur’s widow, Catharine of Aragon after receiving special dispensation to marry her from the pope, and they had one child; Mary.

His appointed nominee Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the son of a Suffolk wool merchant, handled the administration of the state. Later, was to become Bishop of London, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor, and at one time considered more powerful than the king himself.

His zest for a male heir and son to the English Throne, led to his request to have his first marriage to Catherine, annulled.

Cardinal Wolsey was dispatched to Rome to mediate on his behalf, with the Pope.  English Tudor King; Henry VIII was refused the right to have his marriage to Catharine of Aragon annulled by the Pope.  He who sought to marry Anne Boleyn…he who sought a male heir.

Cardinal Wolsey’s failure had a consequence to pay, he was replaced by Thomas Moore, but all too quickly he opposed the divorce, and paid for his opposition with his head.

Bad feelings erupted between Henry and the Church in Rome.  In 1534 an act was passed making Henry head of the Church of England, not the Pope.

Henry then used Parliament to achieve his goal, by declaring his first marriage be void, leaving him free to marry Anne Boleyn.  She who had promised Henry an heir received disapproval from him, by giving birth to a daughter.

Henry held resentment towards the churches wealth and power, until it finally erupted with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.

For it was in 1538, Henry took his most forceful step against the power of the church.  The start of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  To avoid a mass outcry, smaller and less provincial houses had their property confiscated by the crown, and their buildings destroyed beyond use. The larger houses followed in 1539.

Henry’s resentment at the churches wealth and power, led to his decision in an effort to suppress the Monasteries.  Much of their wealth found it’s way directly or indirectly into the royal treasury.  Monastery buildings were sold to the wealthy gentry.  Those who bought monastic property or lands were more inclined to support Henry in his break with Rome, if it was in their self-interest.

Those who benefited by the Dissolution was not the King, for in his haste to acquire funds, sold off monastic land at a fraction of its true worth.  This led to a new class of person, becoming one of a selected breed of gentry in this our land.

One Tudor Legacy… When local rectors owned land in the parish, they were held responsible for repairing the chancel using money produced from the land.  Monasteries often acquired this land together with the responsibility for paying for the repair of the chancel.  When Henry VIII sold the monasteries land, the liability to pay for the repair of the chancel remained with the land sold.

Move through history some 480 years, we find some 500,000 property owners are affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries to this day by a historic law known as “The Chancel Repair.”

Property owners became liable for keeping the Chancel – Altar area – Choir stalls and east end of building in good repair, wind-proofed and water tight.

What had become a blessing for vicars, knowing there is an archaic fund out there to pay repair bills, has become a curse for local residents whose property fall within these boundaries.

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A Kings Qualities…

Henry I

The qualities an English King would be expected to have:

 

  • A military leader and strategist.
  • Leader of men by physical strength and word of mouth.
  • A law giver.
  • Religious head.
  • Producer of sons, heirs to reign after him.
  • A hunter.
  • He would be expected to marry for political reasons, and take a mistress, (King Henry I took many mistresses and fathered twenty plus illegitimate off-spring) whilst others have not taken a mistress.

Mary Queen of Scots

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary, Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace on the 8thDecember 1542, to parents King James V and Marie de Guise.

James V had been defeated at the “Battle of Solway Moss” by English forces commanded by Oliver Sinclair. James chose to retire to his hunting lodge at Falkland Palace in Fife out of disgrace, and on the 14thDecember he died.

Henry VIII, called off the war against Scotland, and sought to negotiate a marriage between Mary and Prince Edward VI heir apparent to the English throne, then aged five.

The Regent of Scotland, The Earl of Arran was in favour of the marriage, and so the Treaty of Greenwich was entered into, thus Mary and Edward were betrothed to each other. However, opposing factions saw it as a threat to Scottish nationality and their Catholic religion.  Pressure was brought to bear on the Earl of Arran, to withdraw from the treaty, and seek an alliance with France.

On the 9thDecember 1543, Mary was crowned Mary, Queen of Scots at Stirling castle.

In 1558, Mary married Francis the dauphin of France at Notre Dame in Paris, and on the 10thJuly 1559, Mary ascends to Queen Consort of France, when her husband becomes King Francis II of France.

Many in England feared this marriage could have long term consequences.  For Mary was now queen Consort of France, Queen of Scotland, and declared herself as the true Queen of England, whilst her husband became King Consort of Scotland and King of France, this royal alliance had united French and Scottish crowns.

On the 5thDecember 1560, Mary’s husband King Francis II of France died.

In 1560, Mass performed in Latin became illegal, according to the law laid down by the Scottish Parliament, as the Protestant faith, spread across much of Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots found herself a widow at eighteen, and returned to her homeland of Scotland in 1561, to take up her position as Queen of Scotland.  She a Catholic, in a predominately Protestant country, forced into accepting her Scotland was now led by a Protestant Government.

In 1565, Mary marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, her cousin, believing upon the death of Elizabeth I; with him on her side, any claim to the English throne would be increased. They married at Mary’s private chapel in Holyrood House on the 29thJuly.  The marriage was a failure, for Darnley wanted to be joint ruler with Mary.

Mary appointed one David Riccio an Italian as her personal secretary, and on the 9thMarch 1566, Darnley burst into her chambers at Holyrood House with fellow conspirators in a jealous rage, and murdered Riccio.

On the 19thJune 1566, Mary gave birth to a son; James at Edinburgh Castle, who would grow up to become King James VI of Scotland, and baptised on the 12thDecember at Stirling Castle.

Early in 1567, Darnley was known to be plotting against Mary’s life.  Then on the 9thFebruary Stuart Darnley, the King of Scotland was strangled to death in the grounds of Kirk O’Fields, following an explosion.  Then in the May, the Earl of Bothwell believed to be behind the murder marries Mary, Queen of Scots.

On the 15thJune 1567, Protestant Lords confronted Mary at Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, where she surrendered and was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.  Pressure was brought to bear, forcing her to abdicate in favour of her infant son; James.

Mary escaped in 1568, defeated in the “Battle of Langside” on the 13thMay, and fled south, crossing the border into England, expecting Elizabeth to support her … how wrong she was.

Mary found herself a prisoner, first at Carlisle Castle, then Bolton Castle.

In October of 1586, Mary found herself on trial for treason against the life of Elizabeth, through correspondence with Anthony Babington.  On the 25thOctober she was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to death.

On the 8thFebruary 1587, Mary Queen of Scots, she who sought help from Elizabeth and England, a conspirator against the life of Elizabeth, lost her own life to the executioner… at Fotheringhay Castle, and was buried first at Peterborough Cathedral, then in 1612 moved to Westminster Abbey.

The Windsor Monarchy

Windsor Timeline

When George V became King in 1910, the family name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which was the family name of his father, Edward VII, and his grandfather Prince Albert.  For the first seven years of his reign, he kept this German surname, but in 1917, in recognition of anti-German feelings, by his people, he changed the family name to Windsor.  It was a symbolic and popular gesture by a King who took his role seriously.

George V adhered strictly to the constitution and knew both his rights and his responsibilities.

When he succeeded he was immediately plunged into a major constitutional crisis over the powers of the House of Lords.  The Prime Minister asked the King to create additional new peers to vote through a bill to reform the Lords, but George objected in which his position was being abused.  He felt it was the monarch’s duty to keep out of party politics, and politicians to avoid dragging him in.

Further controversy amongst the Royal’s would shock the Royal Family and Parliament alike. Edward VIII the son of George V decided to abdicate his position as King of England, rather than give up the woman he loved.  His brother George VI restored honour to the family, becoming a much loved king, and sharing the dangers of the Second World War with his people.

King George V
King George V

King George V: George Frederick Ernest Albert was born on the 3rdJune 1865 at Marlborough House in London, to parents Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark.

At the age of twelve joined the Royal Navy, and served until 1892, when his elder brother Albert, the Duke of Clarence died, and he became heir to the English throne.

His father Edward VII, died in 1910, and he ascended to the post of King George V of England at his coronation on the 22ndJune 1911, at Westminster Abbey.

In 1917, anti-German feelings by the British People, and the slaughter of British soldiers during the war, by German forces, made it essential to drop the family name.  So it was, the family name of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was replaced with Windsor.

With the fall of the Romanov dynasty, George’s cousin, Tsarina Alexandra wife of Tsar Nicholas II, were executed along with their children by revolutionaries at Ekaterinburg. There was much critism, why he didn’t rescue them … his reply being, it could incite a British revolution.

In 1922, the Monarchy of Greece was overthrown, and George V sent in HMS Calypso to rescue them, which included the one-year old Philip, now the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1932, he started the Royal tradition; the Christmas broadcast to the people.

On the 20thJanuary 1936, King George V dies of pleurisy at Sandringham and is buried at Windsor Castle.

Edward VIII
King Edward VIII

King Edward VIII: On the 23rdJune 1894, Edward Albert Christian George was born at White Lodge in Richmond, to parents King George V and Queen Mary.

He became a celebrity playboy about town, and had several affairs with married women, and high on the list was; Mrs Wallis Simpson.

On the 20thJanuary 1936, King George V died, and Edward ascended to the English throne. In 1936, Mrs Wallis Simpson obtained a divorce from her second husband, it was clear to see, Edward wanted to be husband number three.

In November of 1936, the uncrowned Edward sent shock waves through Parliament and family.  The two were very much in love, and Edward had to choose Wallis Simpson or the English throne.  She a divorced woman would have been an unacceptable Queen.  On the 11thDecember 1936, Edward abdicated, which meant any children he might have, were excluded from succession to the English throne.

King George VI
King George VI

King George VI: Albert Frederick Arthur George was born on the 14thDecember 1895 at Sandringham, to parents George V and Mary of Teck.  In World War One, he served as a young naval officer, in the “Battle of Jutland.”

In the December of 1936, following the death of his father; King George V and the surprise abdication by his brother, he became King George VI of England at his coronation on the 12thMay 1937, held at Westminster Abbey.

In 1940 King George VI instituted the George Cross and George Medal for acts of bravery by citizens. In 1942 the George Cross was awarded to Malta, in recognition of their heroism and resistance to the enemy siege.

In 1939, King George visited France and the British Expeditionary Force, North Africa in 1943 after the victory of El Alamein.  In 1944 visited the army on the beaches of Normandy, ten days after D-Day.

On the 8thMay 1945, a day which will be remembered VE (Victory in Europe) Day. The war, the King and his duty to his people had created a bond between them.

Britain had overcome the hardships of the post-war years, but the strain incurred by the Second World War had taken their toll on the King.  On the 6thFebruary 1952, King George VI died in his sleep, at Sandringham.  He laid in state at Westminster Hall.  The funeral was held at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he is buried.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II: Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on the 21stApril 1926, to parents George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Bruton Street, London.

In 1947, Philip Mountbatten became a British subject, converted from Greek Orthodox to Anglican and renounced any claims to the Greek crown.  On the 9thJuly 1947, Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten were officially engaged and married on the 20thNovember at Westminster Abbey.

With the death of her father; King George VI Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II of England at her coronation on the 2ndJune 1953, and Prince Philip her consort.

The Queen’s political powers these days are largely of a ceremonial nature, however she holds powers which can be used to expedite situations.

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Saxe-Coburg Gotha Queen: Alexandra of Denmark

Queen Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark

Alexandra of Denmark was born on the 1stDecember 1844 at Yellow Palace in Copenhagen, to parents; Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg and Louise of Hessel-Cassel.

Alexandra was one of six children, four would occupy thrones; Frederick became Frederick VIII of Denmark, William would be George I of Greece and Prince Valdemar of Denmark. She had two sisters; Dagmar, who married the Tsar Alexander III, became Empress of Russia and Thyra, Crown Princess of Hanover.

Albert, the Prince Consort and husband of Queen Victoria, proposed Alexandra of Denmark as a suitable wife for Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales.

Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales proposed to Alexandra of Denmark on the 9thSeptember 1862, and the couple were married on the 10thMarch 1863 at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Children:

Albert Victor Christian Edward, was born on the 8thJanuary 1864, and later created as the Duke of Clarence and Avondale.

George Frederick Ernest Albert, was born on the 3rdJune 1865, and would become King George V.

Princess Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar, was born on the 20thFebruary 1867, and became the Duchess of Fife.

Princess Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary, was born on the 6thJuly 1868.

Princess Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria, was born on the 26thNovember 1869, and became the Princess of Wales.

Alexander John Charles Albert, was born on the 6thApril 1871, survived barely a day, and was buried in Sandringham churchyard.

Queen Victoria purchased the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, which became the family retreat for Edward and Alexandra.  Edward like many of his predecessors had a string of mistresses, yet Alexandra was faithful to her husband, and accepted his way of life.

Alexandra suffered from hereditary deafness, caused by hereditary otosclerosis.

Their son Albert Victor was engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, but fate intervened, and was a victim of the influenza pandemic of 1889-1892, turning to pneumonia and death, aged just twenty-eight.

Princess Mary married Prince George with Alexandra a doting grandmother to their children.

Queen Victoria died in 1901, and King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were crowned as King and Queen of England in August of 1901 at Westminster Abbey.

King Edward was prone to severe bouts of bronchitis, and his last attack occurred in March of 1910, whilst in Paris.  He returned to London, and by May his condition was causing anxiety.  The Queen was in Corfu, visiting her brother; George I of Greece.  She immediately returned to London.  As a touching gesture, she summoned her husband’s current mistress, Mrs Keppel, allowing her to say her final farewell, after which the King breathed no more.

Her son became King George V with his wife Queen Mary, and occupied Buckingham Palace.  Alexandra moved into Marlborough House and retained Sandringham for the duration of her life.

Alexandra’s daughter, Victoria never married and became her companion.

With the fall of the Romanov dynasty, her nephew, Tsar Nicholas II (son of her sister Dagmar) his wife Alexandra and their children were executed by revolutionaries at Ekaterinburg.  In 1919, a British ship rescued Dagmar from revolutionary Russia, and brought her to England and safety, to be with her sister Alexandra.

In 1920, Alexandra burst a blood vessel in her eye, causing partial blindness; speech became impaired and suffered from mild senile dementia.

On the 20thNovember 1925, Alexandra of Denmark suffered a heart attack, which took her life whilst at Sandringham.  She was buried beside her husband at St.George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

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Saxe-Coburg Gotha King: Edward VII

King Edward VII
King Edward VII

Albert Edward was born on the 9thNovember 1841 at Buckingham Palace to parents Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha.

As Prince of Wales, Edward was brought up under a very rigorous educational regime by his parents, who had unrealistic expectations of his abilities.

In 1863 he married Alexandra of Denmark and they had six children; George V, Princess Victoria, Prince Albert Victor, Prince Alexander John, Maud of Wales and Louise the Princess Royal.

Life for Alexandra meant tolerating his string of mistresses which included; Lily Langtree, Lady Churchill, Sarah Bernhardt and Alice Keppel.

During the reign of his mother; Queen Victoria, he undertook public duties on her behalf, but was excluded by his mother from acting as her deputy until 1898.

Queen Victoria died in 1901, and Edward aged 59 ascended to the post of King Edward VII of England, and was crowned on the 9thAugust 1902 at Westminster Abbey.

During his mother’s reign, he had become known as a playboy, much to his mother’s disgust.  His interests lay in horse-racing, shooting, drinking and mistresses.  When King his interests included Foreign affairs, military and naval matters.

Most of his brothers and sisters had married leading heads of European countries, thus he was related to most Continental Sovereigns, which gave him the name; “Uncle of Europe.”

Edward was fluent in French and German, and travelled abroad much, meeting heads of state, and assisting in foreign policy matters.

In 1904, he played a major role creating the triple “Entente Cordiale” between Britain, France and Russia. This agreement ended Anglo-French rivalry, and played a major role in the First World War.

In the years following the Boer War, Edward played an active role, pushing forward military and naval reforms, including the building of the Dreadnought battleships and the Army Medical Service.

During the latter part of his life, he was involved in politics, when the Conservative majority in the Lord’s threw out the Liberal budget of 1909.

On the 6thMay 1910, King Edward VII suffered multiple strokes which took his life, and was buried in St.George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

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