Royal News: Friday 28 August 2015

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Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great)

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Note: “ap” means “son of”), later known as Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) was the longest reigning ruler of Welsh principalities, maintaining control for 45 years. He was was Prince of Gwynedd and Prince of Powys Wenwynwyn. In 1216, Llewellyn received the fealty of other Welsh lords and although he never used the title, was the de facto Prince of Wales. Llywelyn dominated Wales for 45 years, and was one of only two Welsh rulers to be called “the Great”, the other being his ancestor Rhodri the Great.

Medieval Principalities of Wales; Credit – Wikipedia

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth was born around 1173 and traditionally Dolwyddelan Castle has been cited as his birthplace. His parents were Iorwerth ab Owain, son of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of Gwynedd and Marared ferch Madog (Note: “ferch” means “daughter of”), daughter of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys.  In 1170, Llywelyn’s grandfather Owain died and there was a power struggle among his sons. Llywelyn’s father Iorwerth was the eldest son, but it appears he did not take part in the power struggle perhaps because he was disfigured and this excluded him. Eventually, Llwelyn’s uncles Dafydd ab Owain and Rhodri ab Owain split Gwynedd between them. It seems likely that Llywelyn was taken to his mother’s family in Powys after his father’s death and raised there.

In 1194, with the aid of his cousins Gruffudd ap Cynan and Maredudd ap Cynan, Llywelyn defeated his uncle Dafydd ab Owain at the Battle of Aberconwy. Llywelyn’s victory allowed him to claim the title of Prince of Gwynedd. Dafydd was exiled to England where he died in 1203.

To substantiate his position, Llywelyn married Joan (also known as Joanna), an illegitimate daughter of King John of England, in 1205 at St. Werburgh’s Abbey in Chester, Chesire, England. Llywelyn and Joan had at least two children:

Some of Llywelyn’s other recorded children may also have been Joan’s:

Joan and Llywelyn; stained glass windows of St. Mary’s Church, Trefriw, Conwy County, Wales

In spite of the marriage of Llywelyn and Joan, hostilities with England broke out in 1210. Wales was invaded and some territory was lost. However, the lost territories were regained in 1212 and over the next several years, Llywelyn gained more Welsh territory. Llywelyn had established himself as the leader of the independent princes of Wales.  In 1216, Llywelyn held a council at Aberdyfi to determine the territorial claims of the lesser Welsh princes, who affirmed their homage and allegiance to him. Llywelyn was now the de facto Prince of Wales.

Wales c. 1217: Yellow areas directly ruled by Llywelyn, Grey areas ruled by Llywelyn’s client princes, Green rules by Anglo-Norman lords; Credit – Wikipedia

Following King John’s death in 1216, Llywelyn negotiated the Treaty of Worchester with John’s successor King Henry III. This treaty confirmed Llywelyn’s possession of all his recent conquests. From then until his death, Llywelyn was the dominant force in Wales. Although there were some border issues, Llywelyn was careful not to provoke unnecessary hostilities with the English.

In 1229, Joan became involved in an affair with her son’s father-in-law William de Braose who was publicly hanged for his part in the affair in 1230. Joan was imprisoned for a short time, but was later released by her husband, who was genuinely fond of her. Joan died in 1237 and was buried in Llanfaes in Anglesey where Llywelyn founded a Franciscan friary in her memory.

It appears that Llywelyn suffered a stroke the same year that Joan died and thereafter his son and heir Dafydd took an increasing part in the rule of the principality. On April 11, 1240, Llywelyn died at and was also buried at the Cistercian Abbey in Aberconwy, which he had founded.

Llywelyn on his deathbed, with his sons, Daffyd and Gruffudd; Credit – Wikipedia

Llywelyn and his family are among the characters in Sharon Penman‘s historical fiction trilogy, The Welsh Trilogy:

Wikipedia: Llywelyn the Great

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

August 28: Today in Royal History

Prince William of Gloucester; Photo Credit –

August 28, 1481 – Death of King Afonso V of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal; buried at the Batalha Monastery in Leiria, Portugal
Wikipedia: Afonso V of Portugal

August 28, 1667 – Birth of Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, first wife of King Frederick IV of Denmark, in Güstrow (Germany)
Wikipedia: Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

August 28, 1789 – Birth of Stéphanie de Beauharnais, wife of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden, at the Palace of Versailles
Wikipedia: Stéphanie de Beauharnais

August 28, 1853 – Birth of Prince Franz I of Liechtenstein in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Wikipedia: Franz I of Liechtenstein

August 28, 1943 – Death of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria at Sofia, Bulgaria; originally buried at Rila Monastery, re-buried in the courtyard of the Vrana Palace during the Communist regime, at a later date the coffin was removed to an unknown location
Wikipedia: Boris III of Bulgaria

August 28, 1972 – Death of Prince William of Gloucester in an airplane accident at an air show at Halfpenny Green, near Wolverhampton, England; buried at Frogmore, Windsor
Prince William was a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and brother of the current Duke of Gloucester.  William would have been Duke of Gloucester had he lived.
BBC: On This Day – 1972 – 1972: Prince William killed in plane crash
Unofficial Royalty: Prince William of Gloucester

August 28, 1996 – Divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales
CNN: Text of Charles and Diana’s divorce decree

August 28, 1999 – Birth of Prince Nikolai of Denmark, son of Prince Joachim of Denmark, at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark
Full name: Nikolai William Alexander Frederik
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Nikolai of Denmark

Royal News: Thursday 27 August 2015

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David II, King of Scots

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

The second and last monarch of the House of Bruce, David II, King of Scots is one of the longest reigning monarchs of Scotland, having reigned for 41 years, 260 days. He became king in 1329 at the age of five and reigned until his death in 1371 at the age of 46. Born on March 4, 1324 at Dunfermline Palace in Fife, Scotland, David was the elder, but only surviving son of Robert I, King of Scots (also known as Robert the Bruce) and his second wife Elizabeth de Brugh.

David had a twin brother and two sisters:

  • Margaret (died 1346/47), married William de Moravia, 5th Earl of Sutherland, had one son who died at age 20 of the plague
  • Matilda (died 1353), married Thomas Isaac, had two daughters
  • John (March 5, 1324 – 1327), younger twin brother of David II

David also had a half sister, Marjorie Bruce (1296 – 1316), from his father’s first marriage to Isabella of Mar. Marjorie married Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland. Like her mother Isabella of Mar, Marjorie also died in childbirth at age 19. She was thrown from her horse and went into premature labor and died soon after delivering a son. Her son became Robert II, King of Scots, the first monarch of the Stewart dynasty. Marjorie’s descendants include the House of Stewart and all their successors on the thrones of Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

On July 17, 1328 four year old David married seven year old Joan of the Tower, youngest daughter of King Edward II of England and Isabella of France. David’s mother had died in 1327 and upon the death of his father on June 7, 1329, David succeeded to the Scottish throne. The child king and queen were crowned and anointed at Scone Abbey on November 24, 1331.

Joan and David II with Philip VI of France; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1332-1333, David’s brother-in-law, King Edward III of England, invaded Scotland in support of Edward Balliol‘s claim to the Scots throne, and defeated the Scots. David and Joan sought refuge in France and remained there from 1334 until May of 1341 when David returned to Scotland and took control of the government. King Philip VI of France persuaded David to invade England. However, the Scots forces were defeated at the Battle of Neville’s Cross on October 17, 1346 and David was taken prisoner. He was held by the English for 11 years and was finally freed in 1357 by the Treaty of Berwick which stipulated that a large ransom be paid over the next 10 years.

David II (left) and Edward III (right); Credit – Wikipedia

Joan, who had accompanied her husband in his exiles, died on September 7, 1362 at the age of 41, without giving her husband an heir. David married his mistress Margaret Drummond on February 20, 1364. He divorced her in 1370 on the grounds of infertility. However, Margaret successfully petitioned the Pope Urban V to reverse the divorce because it seemed likely that David was infertile as his 34 year marriage to his first wife produced no issue.

In the later years of his reign, David continued to pursue peace with England and worked to make Scotland a stronger kingdom with a more prosperous economy. David II, King of Scots, aged 46, died unexpectedly on February 22, 1371 at Edinburgh Castle and was buried at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, now in ruins. As both his marriages were childless, David was succeeded by his nephew, the son of his half sister Marjorie, who became Robert II, King of Scots, the first monarch of the House of Stewart.

Ruins of Holyrood Abbey; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: David II, King of Scots

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August 27: Today in Royal History

Bárbara of Portugal, wife of King Ferdinand VI of Spain; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

August 27, 1487 – Birth of Anna of Brandenburg, first wife of the future King Frederick I of Denmark, in Berlin (Germany)
Wikipedia: Anna of Brandenburg

August 27, 1758 – Death of Bárbara of Portugal, wife of King Ferdinand VI of Spain, at Palacio Real de Aranjuez; buried at Salesas Reales Church (Santa Barbara) in Madrid, Spain
Wikipedia: Bárbara of Portugal

August 27, 1968 – Death of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent at Kensington Palace in London, England; buried at Frogmore, Windsor
Princess Marina was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia. She was the last foreign princess to marry into the British royal family.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

August 27, 1975 – Death of deposed Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; buried at Holy Trinity Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Wikipedia: Haile Selassie

August 27, 1979 – Assassination of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Prince Philip’s uncle and a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, at Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland; buried at Romsey Abbey in England
Wikipedia: Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
BBC: On The Day – 1979: IRA bomb kills Lord Mountbatten

Royal News: Wednesday 26 August 2015

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Longest Reigning British Monarchs

Credit – Wikipedia; Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence –

On September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will surpass her great great grandmother Queen Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch. In honor of this milestone, we will be publishing a series of articles about the longest reigning British monarchs (listed below)  starting August 26, 2015 and continuing through September 8, 2015.

Top 10 Longest Reigning British Monarchs

  1. Queen Elizabeth II, reigned February 6, 1952 – Present
  2. Queen Victoria, reigned June 20, 1837 – January 22, 1901; 63 years, 216 days
  3. King George III, reigned October 25, 1760 – January 29, 1820; 59 years, 96 days
  4. King Henry III, reigned October 18, 1216 – November 16, 1272; 56 years, 29 days
  5. King Edward III, reigned January 25, 1327 – June 21, 1377; 50 years, 147 days
  6. Queen Elizabeth I, reigned November 17, 1558 – March 24, 1603; 44 years, 127 days
  7. King Henry VI, reigned August 31, 1422 – March 4, 1461 AND 31 October 31, 1470 – April 11, 1471; 38 years, 347 days
  8. King Æthelred II, reigned March 18, 978 – December 25, 1013 AND February 3, 1014 – April 23, 1016; 37 years, 362 days
  9. King Henry VIII, reigned April 22, 1509 – January 28, 1547; 37 years, 281 days
  10. King Henry I, reigned August 3, 1100 – December 1, 1135; 35 years, 120 days

Honorable Mention: Scottish and Welsh Monarchs Who Could Be Included in the List

  • King James VI of Scotland, reigned July 24, 1567 – 27 March 27, 1625; 57 years, 246 days (from March 24,1603, also King James I of England)
  • King William I of Scotland, reigned December 9, 1165 – December 4, 1214; 48 years, 360 days
  • Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, reigned January 1, 1195 – April 11, 1240; 45 years
  • King David II of Scotland, reigned June 7, 1329 – February 22, 1371; 41 years, 260 days

August 26: Today in Royal History

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (left) with his elder brother Ernest and mother Louise; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

August 26, 1551 – Death of Margareta Leijonhufvud, second wife of King Gustav I of Sweden; buried at Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden
Wikipedia: Margareta Leijonhufvud

August 26, 1819 – Birth of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Schloss Rosenau in Coburg (Germany)
Full name: Franz Albrecht August Karl Emanuel
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

August 26, 1850 – Death of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, in exile at Claremont, Surrey, England; buried at the Chapelle Royale in Dreux, France
Wikipedia: Louis-Philippe I, King of the French

August 26, 1944 – Birth of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire, England
Full name: Richard Alexander Walter George
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester

August 26, 1988 – Birth of Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este, daughter of Princess Astrid of Belgium, at the University Clinic St. Luc in Woluwe-St-Lambert, Belgium
Full Name: Maria Laura Zita Beatrix Gerhard
Wikipedia: Princess Maria Laura of Belgium

Windsor Castle

by Scott Mehl

Windsor Castle from the air. source: Wikipedia, photo by Mark S. Jobling

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II, and where she spends most weekends and several weeks each year. The castle is also used often as the site of State and official visits, and each year hosts the service for the Order of the Garter. With its imposing silhouette, Windsor Castle has become a symbol of the British monarchy.

Following the Norman invasion in 1066, William the Conqueror built a fortress on the site, which has been enlarged and expanded greatly by successive sovereigns. The original Round Tower was built and large walls surrounded the entire complex. A century later, King Henry II rebuilt much of the fortress in stone, including the Round Tower, outer walls and many of the other structures. These included the Upper Ward, which contained the Royal Apartments. Successive sovereigns made their own changes and expansions to Windsor Castle – Edward III added the St. George’s Hall for the newly created Order of the Garter, and Edward IV began the construction of St. George’s Chapel in the Lower Ward.

Windsor Castle in 1658. source: Wikipedia

It was King Charles II who, following the Restoration, set out to turn the Castle into a showplace, hiring the best craftsmen and artists to build and decorate new State Apartments in the northern wing of the Upper Ward. Most of these rooms still exist and are included in the public tours of the castle.

During the reign of King George III, he made further changes, installing his wife and large family in the east and south wings, while the King himself lived in a small suite of rooms in the northern wing. Due to his illness, he wanted to be sure that his wife and family were insulated from his bursts of madness. His successor, King George IV, also made significant changes to the castle – often credited with turning the mere ‘castle’ into a true ‘palace’. During his reign, the Waterloo Chamber was added to recognize Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Queen Victoria and her family used Windsor Castle quite often, and in 1861, it was where her beloved Prince Albert died of typhoid. The Queen turned his rooms into a virtual shrine to her late husband, insisting that they remain as they were the day he died. Following Albert’s death, the Queen spent even more time at Windsor, only using Buckingham Palace in London when absolutely necessary. Later generations have used Windsor quite regularly. During World War II, it is where the present Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, lived, along with other members of the extended royal family.

In 1992, on the Queen’s 45th wedding anniversary, a massive fire broke out at the castle. During some restoration work in the Private Chapel, a curtain came into contact with a spotlight and sparked a fire which damaged or destroyed over 100 rooms and took over 15 hours to contain. The subsequent restoration took nearly 5 years and cost £37million (the majority of which was met by opening the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace to the public). You can read more about the fire at Windsor Castle here.

Despite its grand State rooms and imposing stone walls, Windsor Castle today is very much a home to The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. As well as staying at Windsor on most weekends, The Queen officially takes up residence at the castle for a month in March or April, over Easter. She also spends a week in June, which coincides with Royal Ascot and the service for the Order of the Garter.

The Castle can be broken down into three sections – The Lower Ward, The Middle Ward and The Upper Ward.

St. George’s Chapel. photo © Susan Flantzer

St. George’s Chapel. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Lower Ward contains St. George’s Chapel, The Albert Memorial Chapel (originally The Lady Chapel) and the Horseshoe Cloister. It also contains lodgings for the Military Knights of Windsor and the residence of the Governor of the Military Knights.

The Round Tower. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Round Tower. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Middle Ward consists primarily of The Round Tower, which stands at the in the center between the Lower and Upper Wards. The Round Tower was part of the original fortress, and was rebuilt by King Henry II in 1170. Today, it houses the Royal Archives.

The Queen reviewing troops during the Diamond Jubilee Parade and Muster, May 2012, in the quadrangle of the Upper Ward. To the left is the Guest Entrance, and to the right is The Queen’s Entrance. source: Wikipedia, Defence Imagery under the Open Government License v1.0

The Upper Ward is the primary section of the castle, and contains the State Apartments as well as the private apartments of the Royal Family. Built around a large quadrangle, the the Upper Ward has over 950 rooms, and about 225 of those are bedrooms!

The State Apartments are located in the northern wing. These include the apartments of King Charles II and Queen Catherine (Catherine of Braganza). Also within the State Apartments are:

St. George’s Hall during the State Visit of the President of Ireland, 2014. source: Irish Independent

St. George’s Hall runs along the northern wing of the Upper Ward, overlooking the quadrangle. The majestic hall is the site of State dinners.

The Waterloo Chamber. source: The Daily Mail

The Waterloo Chamber was created in the 1820s, and displays portraits which commemorate Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Today, it is often used for receptions and luncheons, including the luncheon for Knights and Ladies of the Garter prior to the Garter service at St. George’s Chapel each June.

The Semi-State Apartments, located in the eastern wing, are also considered part of the Private Apartments. Some of the prominent rooms include:

The Crimson Drawing Room, the principal room in the private apartments, is often used for private meetings and official functions. Located in the eastern wing of the Upper Ward, it is often used for official functions and private meetings. This is one of the rooms which was destroyed by the fire in 1992.

The Green Drawing Room, at one time the library, is next to the Crimson Drawing Room in the eastern wing. IT is also used for formal entertaining. During State visits, it often features a display of items from The Royal Collection pertaining to the country of the visiting Head of State. It is also used occasionally for meetings of the Privy Council.

The White Drawing Room, in the eastern wing, is typically used for official visits. It is often where The Queen meets with her ministers and foreign guests. It was also the site of the formal photos taken after the wedding of The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.

The State Dining Room, located in the northeastern corner of the Upper Ward, is used for smaller functions and meetings.

The Garter Throne Room is used primarily during the investiture of new Knights and Ladies of the Garter. It is located in the northern wing, overlooking the North Terrace.

The eastern wing, overlooking the East Terrace. source: WIkipedia, photo by David Stanley

The actual private apartments of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are in the eastern wing, overlooking the East Terrace and Gardens. These are accessed through the Queen’s Entrance, located in the south-eastern corner of the quadrangle.

Frogmore House in the Home Park. source: Wikipedia, photo by Gill Hicks

Outside the castle walls is the Home Park. Located primarily to the east of the castle, the Home Park is the private park of the castle, and covers about 655 acres. Within the Home Park are The Frogmore Estate, two farms, the Windsor Farm Shop, and the Windsor Home Park Lawn Tennis Club. The Home Park is also the site of the Royal Windsor Horse Show each year.

The Copper Horse, Windsor Great Park.  source: The Crown Estate

The Copper Horse, Windsor Great Park. source: The Crown Estate

Extending further to the south is Windsor Great Park. Covering over 5,000 acres, and managed by the Crown Estate, Windsor Great Park includes the majestic Long Walk, which extends from the southern wing of the palace and proceeds 2.65 miles to The Copper Horse, a statue of King George III on horseback. Also within Windsor Great Park are several other royal residences including Royal Lodge, Cumberland Lodge and Fort Belvedere.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!