The British Monarchy has evolved over almost 2 millennium. This web site explores the history, chronology, and the multifarious and fascinating characters of the individual kings and queens from ad 839 until ad 2000
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London 7 May 1910. This is one day when “His Royal Highness” has not time to spare for his favourite pastime - browsing his stamp collection, which is said to be the most complete in existence. The day began early when he was told that his father had died just before midnight and that he was now King George V. He gave orders for the flag at home Marlborough House to be flown at full mast.
Caernarforn 13 July 1911. The 17-year-old Prince of Wales was today formally presented to the Welsh people in an elaborate ceremony held in the castle built by Edward I in the 13th century. After Winston Churchill, the home secretary, had announced the Prince’s many titles, his father, King George, placed a coronet on the young man’s head, a gold rod in his hand, a symbol of authority, and a gold ring of responsibility on his middle finger.
Delhi 31 December 1911. Wearing a £60,000 crown created specially for the occasion, King George V was presented to the Indian people as their king-emperor in a magnificent durbar in Delhi this month. Clad in the richest vestments and guarded by a colourful array of troops the king-emperor and the queen-empress sat enthroned beneath a gold dome
London 31 December 1914. The Royal Family is leading the nation’s war effort by example as well as position. King George V has carried out the first of a planned series of visits to his troops in the field. He finds it difficult to radiate warmth, but as he moves among the soldiers his concern for them and his no nonsense approach has won their respect.
France 11 November 1918. The war is over and the Prince of Wales will return to London something of a hero in the eyes of the world after his four years in the army. Not in his own eyes however, for he has not been allowed to serve in the front line where so many of his friends have died.
Canada 31 October 1919. The Prince of Wales is feeling the strain of his triumphant tour of Canada. His right hand is so bruised by thousands of hearty handshakes that he is having to use his left. He is surrounded by enthusiastic crowds wherever he goes, attends lunches, dinners and receptions makes speech after speech saying he is Canadian as well as English.
Buckingham Palace 26 May 1917. The king, pre-eminently an English country gentleman, has decided to cut his families last connections with its German origins. It now becomes The House of Windsor instead of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and members of the royal family have been asked to give up all their “German degrees, styles, dignitaries, titles, honours and appellations”.
This step, thought long overdue by many, has been forced on the king by anti-German agitation in this year of defeats abroad and hardship at home. There are ugly rumours about the king’s loyalty, and he is mindful of the fate of his cousins The Czar and Czarina of Russia
London 1920. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York do not have much in common but both have this year found themselves in love. The Prince left for his latest overseas tour in tears at the prospect of separation from Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward, while “Bertie” is smitten by the charms of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
Freda Dudley Ward first met the prince in the spring of 1918 when she sheltered from an air raid in the doorway of a house in Belgravia and was invited in. She is the same age as the prince and he is clearly besotted by her, despite her having a husband and two daughters.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon is altogether more suitable. She was born in 1900, the ninth child of the Earl of Strathmore, and brought up at Glamis castle. She met Prince Albert at a Mayfair ball on 10th June this year.
London 27 April 1923. Albert, duke of York and second son of George V married Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the ninth child of the Earl of Strathmore, yesterday. The marriage is a break with precedent in two ways: it was held in Westminster Abbey not the Chapel Royal at Windsor and a king’s son was marrying a commoner.
Sandringham 20 November 1925. Queen Alexandra, the Danish-born widow of Edward VII, died today after a heart attack. She was 80, very deaf, and increasing eccentric. Often dressed in her favourite parma violet, her face invisible beneath a heavy fishnet veil and her hair beneath a wig. Her death signals the end of the Edwardian era.
Westminster 21 April 1926. To the delight of a crowd of people who braved the rain to keep watch outside 17 Bruton Street, the Duke and Duchess of York celebrated the birth early this morning of their first child, Princess Elizabeth, third in line for the throne. The baby was delivered by caesarean section. The Duke is delighted at the birth of his daughter who he wants to call Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, after her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
London 12 December 1928. The king today underwent an emergency life-saving operation at Buckingham Palace. George had been unwell since November, and doctors had diagnosed first bronchitis then septicaemia (blood poisoning). They feared that his illness would weaken his heart. Bognor, West Sussex May 1929. King George today ended three months of convalescence following the illness which so nearly cost him his life last year.
London 3 October 1930. A select party at Buckingham Palace looked on today as the archbishop of Canterbury christened Princess Margaret Rose, the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York, Margaret, princess Elizabeth ‘s sister was born on 21 August in Tayside, in Scotland. In the six weeks since her birth there has been some controversy over her name.
London June 1934. The Prince of Wales has severed contact with Freda Dudley Ward, his closest friend and adviser for most of the past 16 years. On telephoning York house recently, Mrs. Dudley Ward - who had been preoccupied for several months by the illness of her eldest daughter - was shocked to be told by the switchboard operator: “I have orders not to put you through”. This comes just a month after the prince had dropped Thelma, Lady Furness, another important woman in his life
Sandringham 20 January 1936. At five minutes to midnight tonight King George V died. He was 70 and had done his duty to the very end, meeting three cabinet ministers at 12.15pm to approve the formation of a council of state to act on his behalf during his illness, he signed his initials and the ministers left in tears. A few hours later it was announced that “the king’s life is moving peacefully to its close”.
London 22 January 1936 Edward VIII was proclaimed king today at St. James’s palace and at three other places in London. The ceremony followed the 41-year-old king’s first public appearance yesterday, at the accession privy council, when he addressed more than 100 councillors in the banqueting hall. Edward promised to uphold constitutional government and to work for the happiness and welfare of his subjects, relying on “the loyalty and affection of my peoples throughout the empire.”.
London, 31 July 1936. The King has been criticised for neglect of duty at a presentation of debutantes at Buckingham palace. In consequence of the period of court mourning following the death of George V some 600 debutantes were awaiting presentation. It was decided to hold two garden parties. At the first event Edward, who had been seen looking bored, retired indoors during a shower and never re-emerged, giving orders that the presentations should be taken as having been made. He rarely attends church and has been censured by his staff for unpunctuality and lack of consideration.
Ipswich, 1 October 1936. Wallis Simpson will seek a divorce here later this month on the grounds of her husbands adultery, with a lady of the unlikely name of Buttercup Kennedy. It will be the second divorce for the woman from Baltimore whose charm and vitality have entranced the king. She was introduced to the king by Thelma, Lady Furness
London, 16 November 1936. The king today told his family and his prime minister the news that they had dreaded to hear: he intends to marry Wallis Simpson when her divorce becomes absolute next year. He has said that he would rather abdicate as king than to be denied the possibility of marrying the woman he loves.
London 3, December 1936. The people of Britain know today what the rest of the world has long known: the press silence over Mrs. Simpson has ended, and the lady herself tonight fled to France. Cannes France 7 December. Wallis Simpson today said that she was willing to “withdraw from a situation both unhappy and untenable”, but this seems unlikely to deflect the king from his determination to
The key protagonists in the drama over Mrs. Simpson from left are Stanley Baldwin, Major Alex Hardinge, Walter Monkton and Lord Beaverbrook
Windsor, 8 December 1936 The Duke of York today met the king’s legal adviser. Walter Monkton to discuss the plans now being made by the king and the government for Edward to abdicate later this week. The duke saw his brother last night after days of non-returned phone calls.
Windsor, 10 December 1936 The king this morning signed the “instrument of abdication” by which he declared his “irrevocable determination to renounce the throne for myself & my descendants”. This act unprecedented in more than 1,000 years of British royalty was witnessed by Edward’s brothers including the Duke of York.
Portsmouth, Hants, 12 December 1936. The king who was never crowned slipped quietly away from his former kingdom in the early hours of this morning. The Duke of Windsor, as Edward is now known left England aboard a warship, HMS Fury, after saying goodbye to his family at Windsor.
Norfolk 25 December 1936. George VI is spending his first Christmas as king at his father’s beloved Sandringham. More than 6,000 well-wishers turned out to cheer the royal family as they arrived at nearby Wolferton church for the morning service.
France 3 June 1937. The Duke of Windsor has finally married the woman for whom he gave up the crown At the Chateau de Cande near Tours today, Wallis Warfield (she had changed her name by deed poll) became the Duchess of Windsor. She will not be known as “Her Royal Highness” however.
London September 1940. King George and Queen Elizabeth narrowly escaped death this month when a lone German bomber flew up the Mall and dropped six bombs on Buckingham palace. Two bombs that fell on the Quadrangle exploded 80 yard from the room in which the King and Queen were sitting destroying the royal chapel.
Windsor 21 April 1944. Princess Elizabeth today celebrated her 18th birthday with a family luncheon party at Windsor. Her presents included pearls, a horse, and a new role as counsellor of state. She has grown up in the shadow of war which has exacerbated the private nature of a royal education that has relied overwhelmingly on her governess Marion Crawford.
Buckingham Palace 10 July 1947. The king today announced the engagement of “the Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN”, adding that he had “gladly given his consent”. The couple had been unofficially engaged for some time, and the official announcement had been scheduled for the 15 July but had leaked out. Cape Town 21 April 1947. Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday today, not, as she might normally have expected to do in England, but in South Africa. - the first heir to the throne to celebrate such an occasion in the Commonwealth.
London 20 November 1947. Princess Elizabeth the heir to the British Throne, was married today in a ceremony which brought some glitter and cheer to the austerity of post-war Britain. Her husband was listed as Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, in order of service but he was given the title of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by the king.
London 14 November 1948. At 9.14 this evening Princess Elizabeth gave birth to a son. The child, who will be known as Prince Charles, was delivered with the help of forceps by the gynaecologist Sir William Gilliat in Buckingham Palace.
London 30 April 1948. King George and Queen Elizabeth have celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in style. Thousands jammed the streets as they drove to to a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s cathedral..
Sandringham 6 February 1952. His Majesty King George VI died in his sleep during the night. He had been at Sandringham for a short holiday to recover from an operation last autumn to remove his right lung. His doctors then diagnosed that he had lung cancer - he was a heavy smoker - but the king had not been told and thought the lung had been removed because of a bronchial blockage. He had been shooting yesterday, protected by a special electrically-heated waistcoat, and after dinner had been entertained by Princess Margaret playing the piano.
London 12 May 1937. On a day originally chosen for the coronation of King Edward VIII, the nation today celebrated the crowning of his brother as King George VI. The ceremony in Westminster abbey was attended by Queen Mary the widow of the late George V.
London 2 June 1953. Vast crowds who ignored the rain and camped out last night along the coronation route were rewarded this morning with over two hours of pageantry as guests and VIP’s made their way to Westminster abbey. Finally, at just after half-past ten, Elizabeth and Philip rolled out of the gates of Buckingham Palace in the magnificent ornate gold state coach guarded by “Beefeaters”. The Queen was the last to arrive at the abbey, a splendid sight in a diamond diadem and crimson velvet robes trimmed in ermine.
London 14 June 1953. The rumours started less than two weeks ago at her sister’s coronation. At the end of the service Princess Margaret went up to a tall handsome RAF officer, spoke for a few moments and affectionately brushed a loose thread off the breast pocket of his tunic. Cameras clicked and the next day American newspapers carried the story of Margaret’s affair with a divorcee Group-Captain Peter Townsend.
London 31 October 1955. After two weeks soul-searching, and intense press speculation, Princess Margaret tonight declared that she would put duty before love and not marry Peter Townsend.
Washington 18 October 1957. The United States ecstatic welcome to the Queen and Prince Philip as they near the end of their first tour of North America since the coronation. Thousands lined the streets of the American capital tonight to glimpse the royal couple as they returned from the White House after a state banquet with President Eisenhower.
London 31 December 1959. As the 50‘s ended, 58-year-old Norman Hartnell - whose name is now synonymous with royal dressmaking - can look back on more than two decades of the top couturier. When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were crowned in 1937, he was called upon to glamourise the new queen’s wardrobe. With the use of light colours to help her stand out.
London 8 February 1960. Queen Elizabeth has changed the surname of the royal family. Today she declared her “will and pleasure” that in future her descendants will be called Mountbatten-Windsor. She and her own children will continue to be the House of Windsor. The change is intended to be used by those members of the family not entitled to be known as His or Her Royal Highness and therefore have greater need of a surname. Mountbatten is not the name of either Philip’s father or his mother: it is the name first taken by the Battenbergs of his mother’s family in 1917.
London 19 February 1960. The nation is rejoicing at the birth of a second son to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The baby boy is almost ten years younger than his sister Anne and over 11 years younger than Charles. The parents are planning to christen him Andrew.
London 1964. This has been a vintage year for royal births, headed in the spring by the queen’s fourth child. Edward Antony Richard Louis was born on 10 March when the queen was almost 38. Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden had their second child, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, on 1 May. The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Princess
Caernarfon 1 July 1969. To the relief of the royal family, the organisers of the magnificent ceremony and a world-wide television audience of 200 million, the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon castle today passed off without violent incident. It was here in 1282, that King Edward I - having killed the Welsh prince Llwelyn ap Gruffudd - declared his own son the first English Prince of Wales.
Cambridge October 1969. As he approaches his 21st birthday, the Prince of Wales is back in Cambridge for his last year at Trinity college before taking his finals.
London 14 November 1973. Captain Mark Phillips of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards today became a member of the Queen’s own family. He married Princess Anne just nine months after the princess had said “we are not engaged and there is no prospect of engagement”.
London 19 March 1976. Weeks of gossip and years of speculation came to an end today when Buckingham palace announced that Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon are to separate. They have been married for 15 years.
Montreal 31 July 1976. Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips are heading home with the rest of Britain’s equestrian team after failing to win any medals in this years Olympic Games, which ended today. They were selected for the games after their successes last year - Anne, for example, won a silver medal in the European Championships. They insisted on living with the rest of the team flying economy class and queuing at the buffet.
London 24 February 1981. Months of speculation about the latest love in the life of Prince Charles were ended today when Buckingham Palace announced his engagement to 19-year-old Diana Spencer. Lady Diana, who has earned the title “Shy Di” because of her habit of dropping her head whilst being photographed is a popular choice with the public because of her innocent charm and sense of humour.
London 30 July 1981. A commoner turned into a princess at 11.15am yesterday when Lady Diana Spencer married the Prince of Wales at St. Paul’s cathedral. The service, which was watched by 750 million TV viewers around the world, was attended by virtually every crowned head of Europe and many world leaders.
London 28 June 1982. The Prince and Princess of Wales today finally chose the names for their baby son - the first child to be born to a prince and Princess of Wales since 1905. He will be called William Arthur Philip Louis and is second in line of succession to the throne. Diana followed modern royal tradition by having her child outside Buckingham Palace, the gynaecologist, George Pinker, who delivered Princess Anne’s children, led the medical team.
Auckland 23 February 1986. The Queen was today pelted with eggs thrown by pro-Maori protesters. She was visibly shaken as one egg splattered on her thigh and ran down her pink coat. A second egg shattered against the windscreen of her open vehicle. Prince Philip, who was with her helped her wipe off the mess during a drive about among 42,000 school children.
London 6 January 1987. Prince Edward resigned from the Royal Marines today after just four months training with the elite fighting force. Prince Philip, who is the marines honorary captain-general, is said to be furious with his 22-year-old son for failing to win the commandos coveted Green Beret. He was due to report back to his base at Lympstone, Devon after Christmas break, but officials said that he had flu. Edward’s abiding interest is the theatre.
London 31 August 1989. In the end they gave up the pretence. The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips officially announced their separation yesterday. Buckingham palace said that the couple had no plans for divorce and that Captain Phillips would continue to manage their Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire and live on the farm.
London 1 August 1990. The Queen Mother renewed her friendship with the east end of London today - 50 years after it began. Half a century ago, she gave comfort to thousands of cockneys as she stepped through the rubble of the Blitz with her husband King George VI. As the nation prepared to celebrate her 90th birthday on 4 August she returned and said “Its good to be back”.
Here are the current top 25 : -
1. The Prince of Wales
2. Duke of Cambridge
3. Prince George
4. Prince Henry of Wales
5. The Duke of York
6. Princess Beatrice
7. Princess Eugenie
8. Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex
9. Lady Louise Windsor
10. Princess Anne, The Princess Royal
11. Peter Phillips
12. Zara Phillips
14. Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones
15. The Duke of Gloucester
16. The Earl of Ulster
17. Lady Davinia Windsor
18. Lady Rose Windsor
19. The Duke of Kent
20. Baron Downpatrick
21. Lord Nicholas Windsor
22. Lady Helen Windsor
23. Lord Frederick Windsor
24. Lady Gabriella Windsor
25. Princess Alexandra
26. James Ogilvie
After a year of archaeology an anthropology, the prince is keen to study the British constitution. As at school, the prince finds his position an obstacle to close friendships, but enjoys taking part in undergraduate revues; the sight of him on stage in a dustbin in a show called Revolution this year sparked world-wide interest.
Lincolnshire 20 August 1971. At RAF Cranwell today Prince Philip looked on proudly as his eldest son was awarded his flying wings by Air Chief Marshall Sir Denis Spotswood. The Prince of Wales who took up flying in 1968, has spent the past five months on a jet conversion course at Cranwell.
Prince Albert &
Elizabeth Bowes- Lyon
Thelma, Viscountess Furness
George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspect bomb damage
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