Category Archives: British Royals

Joan of Kent, 4th Countess of Kent, Princess of Wales

by Susan Flantzer

Joan of Kent was born September 29, 1328 at Woodstock Palace near Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. She was the third of the four children of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent and Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell.  Joan’s father was the younger of the two sons of King Edward I of England and his second wife, Margaret of France and was, therefore, a half-brother of King Edward II.

Through her second marriage to the eldest son of King Edward III, Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), Joan became the very first Princess of Wales. Besides Joan, there have been nine women who were Princess of Wales by their marriages to the Prince of Wales:

  • Anne Neville, wife of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (never became king, son of King Henry VI)
  • Catherine of Aragon, wife of Arthur, Prince of Wales (predeceased his father King Henry VII)
  • Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King George I, acceded to throne as King George II)
  • Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales (predeceased his father King George II)
  • Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King George III, acceded to throne as King George IV)
  • Alexandra of Denmark, wife Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Victoria, acceded to throne as King Edward VII)
  • Mary of Teck, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King Edward VII, acceded to throne as King George V)
  • Lady Diana Spencer, first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Elizabeth II, divorced August 28, 1996)
  • Camilla Parker Bowles, second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Elizabeth II), does not use the title Princess of Wales, known instead as the Duchess of Cornwall

Joan had three siblings:

Joan’s father Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent played an important role during the reign of his half-brother King Edward II, acting both as a diplomat and a military commander. Three years after King Edward II was deposed by his wife Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer and Edward II and Isabella’s 15-year-old son succeeded as King Edward III, Edmund was accused of high treason on charges of having attempted to free the former king from imprisonment. It later emerged that Roger Mortimer himself was responsible for leading Edmund into the plot to free the former king, in a form of entrapment.  Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent was executed at Winchester Castle on March 19, 1330. Joan’s mother Margaret was pregnant at the time of her husband’s execution and was confined to Arundel Castle with her young children where her last child was born.

After Edmund’s execution, the nobles begged the young King Edward III to assert his independence, which he did shortly before his 18th birthday. In October of 1330, a Parliament was summoned to Nottingham Castle, and Mortimer and Isabella were seized by Edward and the nobles. Isabella begged for mercy for Mortimer, but he was accused of assuming royal power and of various other crimes and was condemned without trial and hanged. Isabella was held under a comfortable house arrest until her death in 1358. After King Edward III regained his independence from his mother and Mortimer, he took in Margaret and her children and treated them as his own family. Joan and her siblings grew up with Edward III’s children, including Edward, Prince of Wales, Joan’s future husband.

Joan’s elder brother, five-year-old Edmund, inherited the Earldom of Kent in 1331, a year after his father had been attainted. His mother petitioned King Edward III who reversed the condemnation of Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent and recognized his heir as Earl of Kent. Little Edmund 2nd Earl of Kent died shortly afterward and his infant brother John became the 3rd Earl of Kent. Joan’s mother Margaret briefly succeeded her brother as 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell in 1349, but died during an outbreak of the plague that autumn. Upon his mother’s death,  John, 3rd Earl of Kent succeeded his mother as 4th Baron Wake of Liddell. John, 3rd Earl of Kent and 4th Baron Wake of Liddell died in 1352 and his only surviving sibling, Joan became 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell.

In 1340, 12-year-old Joan secretly married Thomas Holland without permission from King Edward III as was required. Thomas then left for overseas military duty and the Crusades. A year or two later, Joan was forced by her family to marry William de Montagu, 2nd Earl of Salisbury.  Lord Salisbury entered into the marriage in good faith, without knowing that Joan had secretly married Thomas Holland. Upon returning to England in 1348, Thomas Holland declared that Joan was his wife and demanded that she be restored to him. An inquiry determined that Joan had indeed been married to Thomas Holland and that that marriage was valid, and therefore, Lord Salisbury’s marriage to Joan was invalid. In 1352, when his brother-in-law John, 3rd Earl of Kent died, Thomas Holland became Earl of Kent in right of his wife. The couple remained together for eleven years until the death of Thomas Holland on December 26, 1360.

Thomas Holland from the Bruges Garter Book, 1430/1440; Credit – Wikipedia

Joan and Thomas had five children. Through the daughters of their son Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, they are the ancestors of many prominent figures in the Wars of the Roses, including Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (father of King Edward IV and King Richard III), Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII) and his wife Elizabeth of York (daughter of King Edward IV), Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (the Kingmaker) and his daughter Anne Neville (wife of King Richard III). They were also ancestors of Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII.

Joan was a widow for less than a year before she married Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), her first cousin once removed and the son and heir of King Edward III of England, on October 10, 1361 at Windsor Castle. In 1362, Edward was invested as Prince of Aquitaine, a region of France which belonged to the English crown since the marriage of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and King Henry II.  Joan and Edward then moved to Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, where they spent the next nine years. Both of their children were born in France:

Edward of Angouleme and Joan of Kent, depicted  on the Wilton diptych, 1395; Credit – Wikipedia

Richard II of England, portrait at Westminster Abbey, mid-1390s; Credit – Wikipedia

On June 7, 1376, a week before his forty-sixth birthday, Edward, Prince of Wales died at the Palace of Westminster after suffering from an illness for ten years. His father King Edward III died a year later, on June 21, 1377, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson King Richard II, the surviving son of Joan and Edward.


Tomb of Edward, Prince of Wales at Canterbury Cathedral; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

Joan died at the age of 57 on August 7, 1385 at Wallingford Castle. She requested to be buried beside her first husband at the Church of the Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England which was destroyed during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Wikipedia: Joan of Kent

Works Cited
Joan. “Jeanne de Kent.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Oct. 1328. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
“Joan of Kent.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (The Black Prince)

by Susan Flantzer

Edward, Prince of Wales as Knight of the Order of the Garter, illustration from the Bruges Garter Book 1453; Credit -Wikipedia

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales was born at Woodstock Palace near Oxford in Oxfordshire, England on June 15, 1330. He was the eldest of the fourteen children of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Today, Edward of Woodstock is commonly referred to as “The Black Prince” although he was not called that in his lifetime. The first appearance of the reference occurred more than 150 years after his death. It is thought it may refer to Edward’s black shield, and/or his black armor or from his brutal reputation, particularly towards the French in Aquitaine.

Edward of Woodstock was one of the seven Princes of Wales who never became King. The others are:

Edward had thirteen siblings:

In 1333, three-year-old Edward was created Earl of Chester and four years later, he was created Duke of Cornwall, the first creation of a dukedom in England. In 1343, he was created Prince of Wales.  Marriage negotiations for a bride for Edward started when he was seven-years-old. His father’s first choice was a French princess, hoping that such a marriage would break up France and Scotland’s alliance, but nothing came of this possibility. Likewise, nothing came of negotiations with King Afonso IV of Portugal or John III, Duke of Brabant for the hands of their daughters.

Queen Philippa chose her almoner, philosopher Walter Burley, as Edward’s tutor. Edward was educated with a small group of companions. One of these companions, Simon de Burley,  a relative of Walter Burley, became a life-long friend of Edward and later was trusted with the education of Edward’s son, the future King Richard II. Edward’s knightly and military training was conducted by Walter Manny, 1st Baron Manny.  Manny taught Edward the code of chivalry as well as the art of jousting. Edward participated in small tournaments and served as a page to his father at large tournaments.

Battle of Crécy from an illuminated manuscript of Jean Froissart’s Chronicles; Credit – Wikipedia

Best known for his military career in the Hundred Years War, Edward accompanied his father to France in the summer of 1346 and participated in the Battle of Crécy, his first major battle, on August 26, 1346, where the English had a decisive victory. 16-year-old Edward, Prince of Wales commanded the vanguard with John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford, Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, and Sir John Chandos.  Edward was one of the 25 founding knights (the second knight after his father King Edward III) of the Order of the Garter in 1348. On September 19, 1356, Edward distinguished himself by winning a great victory at the Battle of Poitiers where he took King John II of France prisoner. Edward served as Lieutenant of Aquitaine from 1355 – 1372 and was created Prince of Aquitaine in 1362.

Edward, the Black Prince, is granted Aquitaine by his father King Edward III; Credit – Wikipedia

Edward married Joan, 4th Countess of Kent, his father’s first cousin, on October 10, 1361 at Windsor Castle.  Joan was the daughter and heiress of Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, the younger son of King Edward I of England by his second wife Margaret of France. In 1362, Edward was invested as Prince of Aquitaine, a region of France which belonged to the English crown since the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II.  Joan and Edward then moved to Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, where they spent the next nine years. Both of their children were born in France:

Edward of Angouleme and Joan of Kent, depicted on the Wilton diptych, 1395; Credit – Wikipedia

Richard II of England, portrait at Westminster Abbey, mid-1390s; Credit – Wikipedia

Around the time of the birth of his younger son, Edward was lured into an unsuccessful war on behalf of King Pedro of Castile.  Edward contracted an illness during this war that ailed him until his death in 1376. It was believed that he contracted dysentery, which killed more medieval soldiers than battle, but it is unlikely that he could survive a ten-year battle with dysentery. Other possible diagnoses include edema, nephritis, or cirrhosis. By 1371, Edward was no longer able to perform his duties as Prince of Aquitaine and returned to England. In 1372, he forced himself to attempt one final campaign in the hope of saving his father’s French possessions, but the prevailing winds off the shores of France prevented the ships from landing and the campaign was aborted.

Edward’s health was now completely shattered. On June 7, 1376, a week before his forty-sixth birthday, Edward died at the Palace of Westminster. His father King Edward III died a year later, on June 21, 1377, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson King Richard II, the surviving son of Edward the Black Prince. Edward had requested to be buried in the crypt at Canterbury Cathedral. However, his request was overruled and he was buried in a tomb with a bronze effigy on the south side of the shrine of Thomas Becket behind the choir. Edward’s heraldic helmet and gauntlets were placed above his tomb. Today, replicas hang above his tomb and the originals are in a glass case nearby. The epitaph inscribed around his effigy:

Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th’our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
On earth I had great riches
Land, houses, great treasure, horses, money and gold.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone.


Tomb of Edward the Black Prince; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer


Replicas of Edward’s heraldic helmet, gauntlets, etc. above his tomb; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

Wikipedia: Edward the Black Prince

Works Cited
“Edward, the black prince.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
Joelson, Annette. England’s Princes of Wales. New York: Dorset Press, 1966. Print.
Toulouse illustrée, Histoire de. “Édouard de Woodstock.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 23 June 1330. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway

by Susan Flantzer

Philippa by Reinhold Callmander on a window above her grave, 1890s; By Mariusz Paździora (photo); Reinhold Callmander (painting) – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Philippa of England was the second daughter and the sixth and youngest child of King Henry IV of England and his first wife Mary de Bohun, a rich heiress. Mary never became Queen of England because she died before her husband became King, shortly after Philippa’s birth at Peterborough Castle on June 4, 1394. When Philippa was five years old, her father deposed his first cousin King Richard II and became King Henry IV. Not much is known about Philippa’s childhood other than that she attended her father’s second marriage in 1403 to Joan of Navarre and that she made a pilgrimage to Canterbury in the same year. She mostly lived at Berkhamsted Castle and Windsor Castle.

Philippa had five siblings. Her father’s second marriage was childless.

Early in his reign, Henry IV tried to negotiate an alliance between England and the Kalmar Union, which united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway into one kingdom, with Queen Margrethe I of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He suggested a marriage between two of his children, his eldest son and heir Henry (the future King Henry V) and Philippa, with Margrethe I’s great niece and great nephew, Catherine of Pomerania and Eric of Pomerania. Terms for the marriages were not agreed upon at that time, however, in 1405, a marriage between Philippa and Eric of Pomerania, who was the heir to his great aunt’s throne, was arranged. Eleven-year-old Philippa was married by proxy to 24-year-old Eric on November 26, 1405 at Westminster Abbey in London. Philippa was formerly proclaimed Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on December 8. 1405 in the presence of the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian ambassadors.

In August of 1406, Philippa left England to travel to Sweden and married Eric of Pomerania in person on October 26, 1406 at Lund Cathedral in Lund, Sweden. Documentation from the wedding indicates that Philippa wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with gray squirrel and ermine, making her the first documented princess to wear a white wedding dress. On November 1, 1406, Philippa was crowned Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

Eric of Pomerania; Credit – Wikipedia

Philippa was actively involved in state affairs. She was given large tracts of land in Sweden as her dower lands and acted as her husband’s representative in Sweden, where she spent much time. Her particular interest in Sweden was Vadstena Abbey, which came to be a refuge for her and a base whenever she was in Sweden. Philippa was regent for Denmark, Sweden, and Norway during Eric’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem from 1423 to 1425. Even after Eric returned from his pilgrimage, Philippa continued her commitment to the kingdom. She resolved disputes among her subjects, and in 1428 organized she successfully defended Copenhagen against attacking forces from the Hanseatic League cities.

After 23 years of marriage, Philippa gave birth, for the first and last time, to a stillborn boy in 1429. Her health deteriorated after the stillbirth and during a visit to Vadstena Abbey, Philippa died on January 5, 1430 at the age of 35. Her death was a great loss to both her husband Eric and the monarchy. She was buried in St. Anna’s Chapel, which she had built at the Vadstena Abbey church. In Philippa’s memory, Eric gave a generous sum of money to the abbey. In return, he demanded that the abbey employ ten priests who would pray and sing psalms around the clock for the salvation of Philippa’s soul. It turned out to be a very stressful “gift” for the abbey.

Gravestones of Queen Philippa at Vadnesta Abbey; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Philippa of England

Works Cited
“Philippa of England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
“Philippa af England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

“Victoria” on PBS in the USA and Unofficial Royalty’s Queen Victoria Resources

Queen Victoria replica by Sir George Hayter, oil on canvas, 1863 (1838), NPG 1250 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The much-anticipated series about Queen Victoria, Victoria, will begin an eight-week run on Masterpiece on PBS stations in the United States on Sunday, January 15, 2017 and continue through March 5, 2017. Check your local PBS station for the dates and time. The series was shown on ITV in the United Kingdom from August 28, 2016 through October 9, 2016. Jenna Coleman, who was in Doctor Who for three years, plays Queen Victoria. ITV has renewed Victoria for a second season, so we can expect to see the second season sometime in the future on PBS.

Here at Unofficial Royalty, we have a number of Queen Victoria resources. Please check out the links below. Enjoy!

Breaking News: Lord Snowdon, former husband of the late Princess Margaret, has died

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the White House in 1965; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, the husband of the late Princess Margaret, the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, died peacefully at his home on January 13, 2017 at the age of 86.  Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret married on May 6, 1960 and divorced in 1978.  The couple had two children, David Armstrong-Jones, who will succeed his father as 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Lady Sarah Chatto.  In 1978, Lord Snowdon married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg and they had one daughter, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones.  His second marriage ended in divorce in 2000.

Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester

by Susan Flantzer

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 15th-century drawing; Credit – Wikipedia

Born on October 3, 1390, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester was the youngest son and the fourth of the six children of King Henry IV of England and his first wife Mary de Bohun, who died before her husband became king. When Humphrey was four-years-old, his mother Mary died at the age of 25 giving birth to her last child.

Humphrey had five siblings:

Humphrey’s father King Henry IV, who usurped the throne from his first cousin King Richard II of England in 1399 and became the first Lancaster king, was the eldest surviving son of John of Gaunt (third surviving son of King Edward III of England) and his first wife Blanche of Lancaster. Nine-year-old Humphrey was knighted just before his father’s coronation and was made a Knight of the Garter the following year. A few months before he turned 13-years-old, Humphrey saw his first battle action at the Battle of Shrewsbury where his father King Henry IV defeated a rebel army led by Henry “Harry Hotspur” Percy.

Humphrey received an excellent education and it is thought he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford.  He had a great love of learning, was a collector of books and manuscripts, and commissioned translations of classical works from Greek into Latin. When Humphrey died, he donated his collection of 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford. The university built Duke Humfrey’s Library as a second story to the Divinity School in order to house his collection in 1450-80. Duke Humfrey’s Library still exists and it is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

Duke Humfrey’s Library; By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In 1413, Humphrey’s father Henry IV died and his brother succeeded him as King Henry V. Humphrey was appointed Lord Great Chamberlain of England in 1413 and was created Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Pembroke in 1414. During his brother’s campaigns in France, Humphrey proved himself as a successful commander. During the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, Humphrey was wounded and was protected by his brother King Henry V who fought off a group of French knights.

In 1422, King Henry V, aged 35, died of dysentery, a disease that killed more soldiers than battle, leaving a nine-month-old son, King Henry VI, to inherit his throne. The baby king, seated in his mother’s lap, presided over Parliament on September 28, 1423, when the nobles swore loyalty to him. One of Henry V’s surviving brothers, John, Duke of Bedford, was appointed Regent and put in charge of the ongoing war in France. During Bedford’s absence, the government of England was headed by Henry V’s other surviving brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was appointed Protector and Defender of the Realm.

Humphrey had two unsuccessful marriages. In February or March of 1423, Humphrey married Jacqueline, Countess of Holland, Zealand and Hainault.  Jacqueline had been previously married to Jean, Dauphin of France who died in 1417. She then married Jean IV, Duke of Brabant, who mistreated her.  Jacqueline fled to England and said she wanted her marriage annulled. She was an honored guest at the English court and was one of the godparents of the future King Henry VI.  Jacqueline received an annulment of her marriage to Jean IV, Duke of Brabant from Antipope Benedict XIII before she married Humphrey. However, the annulment was not recognized by Pope Martin V who declared Humphrey and Jacqueline’s marriage void in 1428. Even after the death of Jean IV, Humphrey and Jacqueline did not remarry.  Jacqueline returned to her homeland and married Frank II of Borssele.

Jacqueline, Countess of Holland, Zealand and Hainault; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1428, Humphrey made a second marriage to his mistress Eleanor Cobham who had been a lady-in-waiting to Humphrey’s first wife. Eleanor consulted two astrologers Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke to predict the future and one of the predictions was that King Henry VI would suffer a life-threatening illness in July or August 1441. The astrologers were arrested for treason and heresy, and when they were interrogated, they named Eleanor as the instigator so she was also arrested and tried. Eleanor denied the charges, but did admit to obtaining potions from Margery Jourdemayne, the Witch of Eye Next Westminster, who was convicted and burned as a witch. The two astrologers were also convicted, Southwell died at the Tower of London awaiting execution and Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn and quartered. Eleanor was also found guilty. She had to do public penance in London, divorce her husband, and was condemned to life imprisonment.

Illuminated miniature of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and his second wife Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester from the Liber Benefactorum of St Albans by Thomas Walsingham, 1431; Credit – Wikipedia

Humphrey had two illegitimate children. Their mothers may have been an unknown mistress or it is possible that Eleanor Cobham was the mother of one or both. The descendants of his illegitimate daughter Antigone of Gloucester are the only known descendants of King Henry IV still living after 1471.

After Eleanor’s trial, Humphrey withdrew from public life, but in February of 1447, he was summoned to a Parliament at Bury St. Edmunds. Humphrey had become the heir presumptive to the throne after the death of his older brother John, Duke of Bedford in 1435 and it was feared that if Henry VI left England, Humphrey could exercise his claim to be regent. Humphrey was hostile to the French while the English powers that be wanted peace. Humphrey was arrested and it appeared there would be a trial which would result in Humphrey’s disgrace or even a worse fate. However, there was no trial as five days later on February 23, 1447, Humphrey died. There is some suspicion that some kind of foul play was involved, but most likely Humphrey had a stroke because he was in a coma for three days died before he died. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester was buried at the Abbey Church of St. Albans. Before his burial, his body was displayed to dispel rumors that there had been foul play involved in his death.


Plaque marking the grave of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; Photo Credit –

After Humphrey’s death in 1447, thirty-two of his followers, including his illegitimate son Arthur of Gloucester, were arrested after being accused of holding a seditious meeting where they had agreed to kill King Henry VI and place Arthur’s father Humphrey upon the throne. On July 8, 1447, Arthur and four others were tried and condemned to be hanged, disemboweled, beheaded, and quartered for plotting treason against the king. However, Arthur and the others were pardoned without further punishment. There is no trace of Arthur of Gloucester after the pardon.

Wikipedia: Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Works Cited
“Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
Jones, Dan. The Wars of the Roses. New York: Viking, 2014. Print.
Plantagenet ancestry: A study in colonial and medieval families, 2nd edition .. N.p.: Douglas Richardson, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

by Susan Flantzer

18th-century engraving; Credit – Wikipedia

Edward of Westminster was one of the seven Princes of Wales who never became King. The others are:

Edward of Westminster was born on October 13, 1453 at the Palace of Westminster in London. He was the only child of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou. In 1454, Edward was created Prince of Wales.

Shortly before his son was born, Henry had some kind of mental breakdown. He was unable to recognize or respond to people for over a year. These attacks may have been hereditary. Henry’s maternal grandfather King Charles VI suffered from similar attacks, even thinking he was made of glass. Sometimes Henry also had hallucinations which makes some modern medical experts think he may have had a form of schizophrenia. Porphyria, which apparently afflicted King George III, has also been suggested as a cause. During Henry’s incapacity, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and the next in line to the throne after Henry’s son, governed as Lord Protector.

Even before Edward’s birth, factions were forming and the seeds of the Wars of the Roses were being planted. Edward’s mother, Margaret of Anjou, was an intelligent, energetic woman and realized that she would have to take on most of her husband’s duties.  She aligned herself with Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Margaret believed her husband was threatened with being deposed by Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York who thought he had a better claim to the throne and would be a better king than Henry. After Henry’s recovery in 1455, the Duke of York was dismissed, and Margaret and the Duke of Somerset became all-powerful. Eventually, things came to a head between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, and war broke out.

At the First Battle of St. Albans on May 22, 1455, the Duke of Somerset was killed. Afterward, there was a peace of sorts, but hostilities started again four years later. On July 10, 1460, Henry was captured at the Battle of Northampton and forced to recognize the Duke of York as his heir instead of his own son. Margaret rallied the Lancastrian forces and was victorious at the Battle of Wakefield on December 29, 1460. The Duke of York and his second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland were both killed in the battle.

The leader of the Yorkists was now the late Duke of York’s eldest son Edward, Earl of March. During the Second Battle of St. Albans on February 17, 1461, Henry’s freedom was secured and it is alleged that he laughed and sang insanely throughout the battle. The Yorkists regained the upper hand at the Battle of Towton on March 29, 1461, when Edward, Earl of March defeated the Lancastrian forces in a snowstorm. Henry fled to Scotland, and England had a new king, as Edward, Earl of March became King Edward IV from the House of York.

Henry returned from Scotland in 1464 and took part in an ineffective uprising. In 1465, Henry was captured and taken to the Tower of London. Margaret, exiled in France, wanted to restore the throne to her husband. Coincidentally, King Edward IV had a falling out with his major supporters, his brother George, Duke of Clarence and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker. Margaret, Clarence, and Warwick formed an alliance at the urging of King Louis XI of France. Edward IV was forced into exile, and Henry VI was restored to the throne on October 30, 1470.

Margaret of Anjou was suspicious of Warwick and to ease her suspicions, Warwick betrothed his daughter Lady Anne Neville to Edward, Prince of Wales. On December 13, 1470, 17-year-old Edward and 14-year-old Anne were married in Angers Cathedral in France, and Anne became Princess of Wales.  It is suspected that the marriage was never consummated.

However, once again, Edward IV got the upper hand. Edward IV returned to England in early 1471, and killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. The final decisive Yorkist victory was at the Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4, 1471, where Margaret led the Lancastrian forces and her son Edward, Prince of Wales was killed.  The only Prince of Wales to be killed in battle, he was buried at Tewkesbury Abbey where a plaque on the floor in the center of the sanctuary marks his grave.  The plaque has an inscription in Latin, translated into English says: “Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth. Anno Domini 1471, May 4th. Alas, the savagery of men. Thou art the sole light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race.”


Plaque marking the grave of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales; Photo Credit –

Henry VI was returned to the Tower of London and died on May 21, 1471, probably murdered on orders from Edward IV.  Edward, Prince of Wales’ widow Anne Neville married Edward IV’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who eventually succeeded to the throne as King Richard III in 1483.

Wikipedia: Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Edward of Middleham was one of the seven Princes of Wales who never became King. The others are:

Edward of Middleham was probably born in December of 1473 at Middleham Castle, near York, England. At the time of his birth, his parents were the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the future King Richard III and his wife Lady Anne Neville. Edward was a sickly child and spent most of his time at Middleham Castle.

Middleham Castle; By CJW – CJW, Attribution,

Two years before Edward’s birth, his paternal uncle King Edward IV had once and for all defeated King Henry VI and the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. On April 9, 1483, King Edward IV died, several weeks before his 41st birthday, and his 13-year-old son became King Edward V with his uncle (and Edward’s father) Richard, Duke of Gloucester as his Lord Protector. Richard feared that the Woodvilles, the family of Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville, would attempt to take control of the young king. Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, the young king’s maternal uncle, and Sir Richard Grey, the young king’s half-brother, were arrested and executed.

The Duke of Gloucester had his nephew brought to the Tower of London on May 19, 1483 to await his coronation, which never happened. The widowed Elizabeth Woodville and her children sought sanctuary at Westminster Abbey, fearing the Duke of Gloucester’s further actions. Elizabeth was persuaded to let her second son, Richard, Duke of York, leave sanctuary and join his brother, who was lonely, at the Tower of London. Richard joined his brother on June 16, 1483. The two boys, who were Edward’s first cousins, were seen less and less until by the end of the summer of 1483, when they disappeared from public view altogether. Their fate is unknown.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester was then informed that Edward IV’s marriage was invalid because he had previously contracted to marry Lady Eleanor Butler, who was living when the marriage to Elizabeth took place. This made Edward IV and Elizabeth’s children illegitimate and upheld Richard’s claim to the throne. The citizens of London drew up a petition asking Richard to assume the throne, which he agreed to on June 26, 1483. On July 6, 1483, Richard and his wife Anne Neville were crowned in Westminster Abbey, but their son Edward did not attend, probably due to illness.

On August 24, 1483, Edward was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.  During the summer of 1483, King Richard III and Queen Anne made a royal progress of their kingdom.  Edward joined them at Pontefract Castle and accompanied them to York.  On September 8, 1483, Edward’s ceremonial investiture as Prince of Wales was held at York Minster.

Contemporary illumination of Richard III, his queen Anne Neville, and their son Edward the Prince of Wales; Credit – Wikipedia

King Richard III and Queen Anne were on a royal progress and had reached Nottingham when they heard the news that on April 9, 1484, Edward died of unknown causes at the age of ten at his birthplace, Middleham Castle. The Croyland Chronicle reported, “You might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering madness, by reason of their sudden grief.”  His burial place is unknown.  For a very long time, it was thought that a cenotaph (empty tomb) with an effigy of a young boy in St. Helen and Holy Cross Church in Sheriff Hutton was Edward, but it is now thought to be an earlier member of the Neville family.

Edward’s mother Anne survived her son by less than a year, dying most likely of tuberculosis, on March 16, 1485 at the Palace of Westminster. Her husband King Richard III survived her by only five months, losing his crown and his life on August 22, 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Works Cited
“Edward of Middleham, prince of wales.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Oct. 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Susan. “Anne Neville, queen of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 19 June 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Christmas 2016: Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas Broadcast

On each Christmas Day at 3 PM United Kingdom time, Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas Broadcast is viewed by families across the United Kingdom, even by the Royal Family who sit down to their Christmas dinner at Sandringham House at 1:15 PM so they will be ready to watch the broadcast together. This year’s broadcast can be viewed at

Official Website of the British Monarchy: History of the Christmas Broadcast

Queen Elizabeth II misses Christmas service because of a “heavy cold”

Queen Elizabeth II missed Christmas services for the first time in 28 years because of a heavy cold.  A palace spokesperson said, “Her Majesty the Queen will not attend church at Sandringham this morning. The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery. Her Majesty will participate in the Royal Family Christmas celebrations during the day.”  Zara and Mike Tindall were not seen as the Royal Family made their annual walk to Christmas services.  It was announced yesterday that the Queen’s granddaughter had suffered a miscarriage.  However, her mother Princess Anne, The Princess Royal and her brother Peter Phillips and his family attended the Christmas services. Click on the links for more photos.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are spending Christmas with the Middleton family in Bucklebury, Berkshire and attended Christmas services there.