Category Archives: British Royals

Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort

by Susan Flantzer

NPG x24138; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by Vernon Heath, printed and published by Samuel E. Poulton

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by Vernon Heath, published by Samuel E. Poulton, albumen carte-de-visite, 1861 NPG x24138 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born at Schloss Rosenau near Coburg now in Bavaria, Germany on August 26, 1819. Albert was the second of the two sons of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his first wife Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert was christened with the German names Franz Albrecht August Karl Emanuel, but was called Albrecht, Albert in English. His godparents were:

Albert had one brother who was fourteen months older:

Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with her children, Albert and Ernst; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Since Albert and Ernst were close in age, they were also close companions during their childhood. However, their childhood was marred by their parents’ disastrous marriage, separation, and divorce. Albert’s mother and father were very different and drifted apart soon after Albert’s birth. Albert’s father was a notorious womanizer and as a result, his young wife Louise (who was 17 years younger than her husband) sought consolation with Baron Alexander von Hanstein, who was the Duke’s equerry. Louise was exiled from court in 1824 and divorced in March of 1826. Seven months later, Louise secretly married von Hanstein. She died in 1831 at the age of 30 from cancer of the uterus. After Louise’s exile from court in 1824, it is probable that she never saw her sons again. In 1831, the Duke married again to Duchess Marie of Württemberg, his niece who was the daughter of his sister Antoinette. The Duke and Marie had no children, but Marie had a good relationship with her stepsons (who were also her first cousins) and maintained a correspondence with Albert throughout their lives.

Albert was first educated at home by a caring tutor, Johann Christoph Florschütz, who had a lifelong correspondence with Albert. Albert then studied with private tutors in Brussels, Belgium (where his paternal uncle was King Leopold I of the Belgians) and then studied at the University of Bonn, which many German princes attended. While at the University of Bonn, Albert studied law, political economy, philosophy, and art history. In his free time, he played music and excelled in gymnastics, fencing, and riding.

The Coburg family had strong ties to the British royal family. Albert’s uncle Leopold (the previously mentioned King of the Belgians) had married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of King George IV, who had died in childbirth. His aunt Victoria had married King George III’s son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and was the mother of the future Queen Victoria. Plans for a possible marriage between first cousins Victoria and Albert had first been mentioned by their grandmother the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg in letters to her daughter the Duchess of Kent in 1821. The idea was later taken up by their uncle Leopold.

In 1836, the cousins met for the first time when Ernst and Albert were taken by their father on a visit to England. Seventeen-year-old Victoria seemed instantly infatuated with Albert. She wrote to her uncle Leopold, “How delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality that could be desired to make me perfectly happy.” In October of 1839, Albert and Ernst again visited England, staying at Windsor Castle with Victoria, who was now Queen. On October 15, 1839, the 20-year-old monarch summoned her cousin Albert and proposed to him. Albert accepted, but wrote to his stepmother Marie, “My future position will have its dark sides, and the sky will not always be blue and unclouded.” The couple was married in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace on February 10, 1840 at 1 p.m. Traditionally, royal weddings took place at night, but this wedding was held during the day so the Queen’s subjects could see the couple as they traveled down The Mall from Buckingham Palace.
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

NPG D11227; The Bridal Morn (Queen Victoria; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) by Samuel William Reynolds Jr, after Frederick William Lock

The Bridal Morn (Queen Victoria; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) by Samuel William Reynolds Jr, after Frederick William Lock, mezzotint, published 1844 NPG D11227 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Shortly after his marriage, Albert wrote to a friend, “I am only the husband and not the master in my house.” Albert was expected to be ready at a moment’s notice to go to his new wife to read aloud, play the piano, be petted, or blot her signature. Victoria was delighted to parade Albert before her court and, as she confided to her diary, to have him put her stockings on her feet. It was during Victoria’s early pregnancies that Albert showed a talent for diplomatic dealings with her ministers and an ability to understand complex government documents. Soon Albert was dealing with more and more of Victoria’s governmental duties and they worked with their desks side by side. As Albert’s influence over Victoria grew, she began to defer to him on every issue.

Victoria was quite temperamental and had a strong sexuality which Albert apparently met, as evidenced by the birth of nine children. Albert was somewhat prudish and his high moral standards would never allow extramarital affairs. He found marriage to Victoria a full-time job which exhausted him physically and mentally. Victoria rewarded Albert by creating him Prince Consort in 1857.

All of Victoria and Albert’s nine children grew to adulthood. However, their youngest son, Leopold, was afflicted with the genetic blood clotting disease hemophilia and two of their daughters, Alice and Beatrice, were hemophilia carriers.
Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Family

Victoria and Albert’s children and grandchildren married into other European royal families giving Victoria the unofficial title of “Grandmother of Europe.” Their grandchildren sat upon the thrones of Germany/Prussia, Greece, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom as monarchs or consorts. Through these marriages, Victoria and Albert’s daughters and granddaughters transmitted the genetic disease hemophilia into other royal families. Victoria and Albert’s descendants currently sit upon the thrones of Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Unofficial Royalty: Queen Victoria’s Children and Grandchildren

Victoria and Albert and their nine children in 1857; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Victoria and Albert, whose primary residences were Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, felt they needed residences of their very own. Albert’s architectural talents are evident in the seaside Italian style palace Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and in Balmoral, a castle in the Scottish highlands. Osborne and Balmoral became their favorite homes. Following Victoria’s death, Osborne was given to the state and served as a Royal Navy training college from 1903-1921. Today it is open to the public as a home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Balmoral Castle remains the private property of the monarch and is used by the British Royal Family for their summer holidays.
English Heritage: Osborne House
Official Website: Balmoral Castle and Estate

View image | Balmoral Castle in 1854


Besides helping Victoria privately with her paperwork, Prince Albert took on a number of public roles. He became President of the Society for the Extinction of Slavery. Slavery had already been abolished throughout the British Empire, but was still legal in a number of places including the United States and the French colonies. After being appointed Chancellor of Cambridge University, Albert was able to have the curriculum modified to include modern history and the natural sciences in addition to the traditional mathematics and classics.

Albert’s interest in applying science and art to the manufacturing industry led to the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Prince Albert, along with Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant and an inventor, organized the exhibition. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the exhibition allowed countries to show their modern and technological achievements. Queen Victoria opened the exhibition in a specially designed glass building known as the Crystal Palace on May 1, 1851. It was a huge success and a surplus of £180,000 was used to purchase land in South Kensington, London on which was established educational and cultural institutions, including what would later be the Victoria and Albert Museum.

NPG D16397; The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Plate 2. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash

The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Plate 2. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash, hand-coloured lithograph, published 1851, NPG D16397 © National Portrait Gallery, London

After years of mismanagement by the previous Hanover monarchs, Albert managed to modernize the royal finances and investments, and under his watch, the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, the hereditary property of the Prince of Wales, steadily increased. Today’s British royal family can thank Prince Albert for their financial situation.

On March 16, 1861, Queen Victoria’s mother died. Because of Victoria’s grief, Albert took over many of her duties despite the fact that he was chronically suffering from stomach problems. In the fall, Victoria and Albert learned that their 20-year-old eldest son Bertie (the future King Edward VII) was having an affair with an Irish actress. Devastated by this news, Albert traveled to Cambridge to discuss the matter with his son. On November 25, 1861, the two walked together in the pouring rain while Albert explained how horrified he and the Queen felt about the situation. Victoria later blamed her son for Albert’s final illness – “That boy…I never can, or ever shall look at him without a shudder.”

When Albert returned to Windsor Castle, he complained of shoulder, leg, back, and stomach pain and could not eat or sleep. He was examined by doctors who assured Victoria that Albert would be better in two or three days. Even while Albert was feeling ill, he was still working. When the Trent Affair, the forcible removal of Confederate diplomats from a British ship by Union forces during the American Civil War, threatened war between the United States and United Kingdom, Albert intervened on November 30, 1861 to soften the British diplomatic response. His action probably prevented war between the United States and the United Kingdom.

However, Albert’s condition continued to worsen. Victoria continued to hope for a recovery, but finally, on December 11, the doctors told her the dismal prognosis. At 10:50 PM on December 14, 1861, Albert died in the presence of his wife and five of their nine children.

Sir William Jenner, one of Prince Albert’s doctors, diagnosed his final illness as typhoid fever, but Albert’s modern biographers have argued that the diagnosis is incorrect. Albert had been complaining of stomach pains for two years and this may indicate that he died of some chronic disease, perhaps Crohn’s disease, kidney failure, or cancer.

L0021975 The last moments of HRH the Prince Consort.

The last moments of HRH the Prince Consort, Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London

Left a widow with nine children at the age of 42, the Queen’s grief was immense. She withdrew from public life and wore black for the 40 years that she survived Albert. The Blue Room in Windsor Castle where Albert had died was kept as it had been when he was alive, complete with hot water brought in the morning, and linen and towels changed daily. Among themselves, Queen Victoria’s family called December 14 “Mausoleum Day.” They were expected to attend the annual memorial service in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore where Albert was buried. After her death on January 22, 1901 at the age of 81, Victoria was interred alongside her beloved Albert in the Royal Mausoleum.

Tomb of Victoria and Albert; Photo Credit –, Scott Michaels

Wikipedia: Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Consort

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King James II of England

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Born on October 14, 1633 at St. James’ Palace in London, King James II of England, was the third, but second surviving son of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France, daughter of King Henri IV of France. He was designated Duke of York from birth, the traditional title of the monarch’s second son, but was not formally created until 1643.

James had seven siblings:

James and his siblings in 1637: Left to right: Mary, James, Charles, Elizabeth, and Anne; Credit – Wikipedia

James was educated along with his elder brother Charles by William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle and Brian Duppa, Bishop of Winchester and then later by John Earle, Bishop of Salisbury.

During the English Civil War, James remained in Oxford, the royalist stronghold, while his father fought against the forces of the Parliamentarians and the Puritans. When the city of Oxford surrendered in 1646, Parliament placed James under arrest in St. James’ Palace. In 1648, he managed to escape and fled to The Hague where his sister Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange lived. On January 30, 1649, James’ father King Charles I was executed.

Eventually, James sought refuge in France where his mother and sister Henriette were already living in exile, and where his young first cousin King Louis XIV sat upon the throne of France. James served in the French army under Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne. In 1656, when his brother Charles entered into an alliance with Spain, an enemy of France, James was forced to leave the French army. He then joined the Spanish army and served under Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé.

While he was still in exile in The Hague, James fell in love with Lady Anne Hyde, one of his sister’s ladies-in-waiting and the daughter of one of his brother’s strongest supporters, Edward Hyde, later 1st Earl of Clarendon.  James and Anne made a pledge to each other in what might have been a marriage ceremony on November 24, 1659. Anne became pregnant in 1660, the same year the monarchy was restored in England and James’ brother became King Charles II. When Anne became visibly pregnant, the King was consulted resulting in James and Anne being officially married at Worcester House in London on September 3, 1660, just seven weeks before the birth of their first child.

James and Anne Hyde in the 1660s, by Sir Peter Lely; Credit – Wikipedia

James and Anne had eight children, but only two survived childhood and both were Queen Regnants:

The Family of James, Duke of York. The Duke (later King James II and VII) and Duchess of York (previously Anne Hyde) were painted by Peter Lely in between 1668 and 1670. Their two daughters, Mary (left) and Anne (right), later Queen Mary II and Queen Anne, were added by Benedetto Gennari in or after 1680. Windsor Castle is in the background; Credit – Wikipedia

After the Restoration, James was appointed Lord High Admiral and was commander of the Royal Navy during the Second (1665-1667) and the Third Anglo-Dutch Wars (1672-1674). In 1664, after the British had conquered the Dutch territory New Netherlands in North America, the city of New Amsterdam was renamed as the city of New York in honor of James, Duke of York. 150 miles upstream on the Hudson River, the former Dutch Fort Orange was renamed Albany (now the capital of New York State) after Charles’ second title, Duke of Albany.

Both Anne and James had been exposed to Roman Catholicism while they were abroad, and Anne converted secretly in 1670. She was instrumental in James’ conversion to Roman Catholicism shortly afterward, although he continued to attend Church of England services until 1676. On March 3, 1671, Anne died of breast cancer at the age of 34, about six weeks after the birth of her last child (who lived only 10 months) and was buried in the vault of Mary, Queen of Scots in the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey.

After James’ conversion to Roman Catholicism, his Protestant opponents in Parliament were able to pass the Test Act requiring all civilian and military government employees to take an oath, which was incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church. They also had to receive Holy Communion according to the rites of the Church of England. James refused to take the oath and to receive Holy Communion according to the rites of the Church of England and resigned his post as Lord High Admiral. King Charles II insisted that James’ surviving daughters Mary and Anne be raised in the Church of England. Despite all this, King Charles II allowed his brother James to make a second marriage with the fifteen-year-old Catholic Mary Beatrice of Modena on September 20, 1673. Many British people distrusted the new Duchess of York and looked upon her as an agent of the Pope.

Mary Beatrice had several miscarriages and stillbirths and had seven live births, but only two of these children survived childhood.

James Francis Edward and Louisa Maria Teresa; Credit – Wikipedia

Although the James’ brother King Charles II is well known for his illegitimate children, James also had his share of children born from the wrong side of the sheets.

by Arabella Churchill

by Catherine Sedley

In 1677, James, Duke of York attempted to appease Protestants by allowing his daughter Mary to marry the Protestant William III, Prince of Orange, who was the son of his sister Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange. Despite this concession, the fear of a future Catholic monarch remained and was exacerbated by the failure of the marriage of King Charles II to produce any children. Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and others undertook attempts to exclude the Catholic James from the line of succession. Some even suggested that the eldest illegitimate son of King Charles II, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth should be the heir to the throne.

King Charles II died in 1685 after converting to Catholicism on his deathbed. Having no legitimate children, Charles was succeeded by his brother James, who reigned in England and Ireland as King James II, and in Scotland as King James VII. James and Mary Beatrice were crowned on April 23, 1685 following the Church of England rite but omitting Holy Communion. The previous day, they had been privately crowned and anointed in a Catholic rite in their private chapel at the Palace of Whitehall.

On June 11, 1685, James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, the eldest of the illegitimate children of King Charles II, claimed the throne as the Protestant champion. Monmouth’s forces were defeated by his uncle’s forces at the Battle of Sedgemoor.  The Duke of Monmouth was beheaded for treason on July 15, 1685.

James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth; Credit – Wikipedia

King James II was now set on a course of restoring Catholicism to England. He issued a Declaration of Indulgence removing restrictions that had been imposed on those that did not conform to the Church of England. England might very well have tolerated King James II knowing that his heirs were the Protestant daughters of his first wife Anne Hyde, Mary and Anne. However, on June 10, 1688, Queen Mary Beatrice, who had no surviving children, gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward. Immediately, false rumors swirled that the infant had been smuggled into the queen’s chambers in a warming pan.

Mary Beatrice and her son James Francis Stuart; Credit – Wikipedia

On November 5, 1688, William III, Prince of Orange, the nephew and son-in-law of King James II, landed in England vowing to safeguard the Protestant interest. He marched to London, gathering many supporters. James panicked and sent his wife and infant son to France. He tried to flee to France about a month later, but was captured. William III, Prince of Orange had no desire to make his uncle a martyr, so he allowed him to escape. James was received in France by his cousin King Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a pension.

Back in England, Parliament refused to depose James, but declared that having fled to France, James had effectively abdicated the throne and that therefore the throne had become vacant. James’s elder daughter Mary was declared Queen Mary II and she was to rule jointly with her husband and first cousin William, who would be King William III. At that time, William, the only child of King James II’s elder sister Mary, was third in the line of succession after his wife and first cousin Mary and her sister Anne. This overthrow of King James II is known as the Glorious Revolution.

James, his wife, and his son settled at the Palace of St. Germain-en-Laye near Paris, where a court in exile was established. James was determined to regain the throne and landed in Ireland with a French force in 1689. He was defeated by his nephew William at the Battle of the Boyne on July 1, 1690 and was forced to withdraw once again to France.

Battle of the Boyne between James II and William III by Jan van Huchtenburg; Credit – Wikipedia

James spent the rest of his life in France, planning invasions that never happened. In 1692, Mary Beatrice gave birth to a daughter Louisa Maria Teresa. His little daughter gave him great comfort as did letters from his daughter Anne who could never quite reconcile her betrayal of her father.

Louisa Maria Teresa; Credit – Wikipedia

James died from a stroke on September 16, 1701 at St. Germain. His remains were buried at the at the Chapel of Saint Edmund in the Church of the English Benedictines in the Rue St. Jacques in Paris and his viscera were buried at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In October of 1793, the Chapel of Saint Edmund and all the English Benedictines buildings were destroyed by a mob along with the remains of King James II. His viscera were rediscovered and reburied in 1824 at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In 1855, Queen Victoria paid for a memorial to James at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Memorial to James II at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Photo Credit –

Photo Credit –

Wikipedia: King James II of England

Wedding of Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom and Antony Armstrong-Jones

by Susan Flantzer

Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6, 1960.

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Margaret’s Background

Princess Margaret was the second daughter of King George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II. She was born Princess Margaret Rose of York on August 21, 1930, at her mother’s ancestral home, Glamis Castle in Scotland. At the time of her birth, she was fourth in line of succession to the British throne.

Six years after she was born, her grandfather King George V passed away and her uncle became King Edward VIII. Only eleven months later, he abdicated and Margaret’s father became King George VI. The family moved from their modest home at 145 Piccadilly in London to Buckingham Palace. Here, Margaret was a Brownie with the 1st Buckingham Palace Brownie Pack, and later a Girl Guide and Sea Ranger. These organizations held a special place in Margaret’s heart, and she remained involved with them until her death.

Margaret, along with her sister Elizabeth, was educated privately by her governess Marion Crawford, who later wrote a book about the Princesses which resulted in Miss Crawford being banished from royal life. During World War II, Margaret and Elizabeth lived at Windsor Castle, deemed safer than being in London. It was suggested that the two be sent to Canada for the duration of the war, but their mother quickly dismissed that idea. Despite the war, the two girls managed to enjoy a relatively ‘normal’ life at Windsor.

Sadly, in February 1952, her father King George VI passed away, and her sister became Queen. Margaret and her mother soon moved into Clarence House, along with the new Comptroller of her mother’s household, Group Captain Peter Townsend. Townsend had been an equerry to King George VI, and later Deputy Master of the Household. He and Margaret began a relationship and quickly fell in love. In 1953, he proposed and Margaret accepted. However, there were many obstacles at the time. He was 16 years older than Margaret, and he was divorced with two children.

At the time, the Church of England would not sanction a marriage of a divorced person. The Queen, who was preparing for her Coronation and then Commonwealth tour, asked the couple to wait a year. Hoping to dissuade them, she also had Townsend transferred to her own household. For the next two years, the couple waited, hoping to be permitted to marry. But the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, advised the Queen that Parliament would not approve the marriage unless Margaret were to relinquish her rights to the throne and her royal position. Margaret finally gave in. On October 31, 1955, she issued a statement in which she announced that she would not be marrying Group Captain Townsend. She chose to put her royal role and duties ahead of her personal happiness.

Antony Armstrong-Jones’ Background

 Antony with his mother

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, was the husband of Princess Margaret from 1960 until their divorce in 1978. On October 6, 1961, he was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley, just before the birth of his first child, David. A gifted artist and photographer, he remained close to the British Royal Family after the divorce.

He was born on March 7, 1930 to Ronald Armstrong-Jones, a barrister, and his first wife Anne Messel, later the wife of Michael Parsons, 6th Earl of Rosse, whom she had married in 1935. Antony had an older sister Susan, later the wife of John Vesey, 6th Viscount de Vesci, and three half-siblings from his parents’ other marriages. He was educated at Sandroyd School, in Wiltshire and Eton College and then enrolled at Jesus College, Cambridge University where he studied architecture. Following university, Armstrong-Jones began working as a photographer, later becoming known for his portraits, including those of several of members of the royal family.

The Engagement

Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, the daughter of Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire, was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth II and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret from the late-1940s until Margaret’s death in 2002. In 1958, Lady Elizabeth introduced Margaret to Antony Armstrong-Jones (Tony) at a dinner party. A few months later, Tony was chosen to take some photographs of Margaret. Used to being treatment with deference, Margaret had never met anyone like Tony. He treated her as he did all his other photograph subjects, making her change her clothes, jewelry, poses and regaling her with stories. Margaret decided that Tony had to become part of her circle. No one paid any attention to this newcomer to Margaret’s group of people even when Tony appeared at his first luncheon at Clarence House where Margaret lived with the Queen Mother.

Margaret and Tony began to meet each other, usually in the company of friends. By the summer of 1959, they were in love. In early October 1959, Tony stayed at Balmoral for the first time, but no significance was attached to his visit. It was assumed he was there as a photographer. The Queen Mother approved of Tony unlike some other members of the royal family. By Christmas, Margaret and Tony had decided to marry, but few knew. Friends provided their homes so the couple could stay away from the eyes of the media.

Queen Elizabeth II, who was pregnant with Prince Andrew, consented to the marriage but asked that the engagement announcement be delayed until after the birth of her child. Prince Andrew was born on February 19, 1960 and a week later, on February 26, 1960, the engagement of Princess Margaret to Antony Armstrong-Jones was announced from Clarence House: “It is with the greatest pleasure that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother announces the betrothal of her beloved daughter The Princess Margaret to Mr. Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, son of Mr. R. O. L. Armstrong-Jones, Queen’s Counsel, and the Countess of Rosse, to which union The Queen has gladly given her consent.” The announcement took the press by surprise as Margaret had successfully hidden the romance from reporters.

The engagement ring; Photo Credit –

Margaret’s engagement ring, a ruby surrounded by a marguerite of diamonds, had been designed by Tony to resemble a rose in honor of Margaret’s middle name.

Pre-Wedding Festivities

Princess Margaret and her fiance Antony Armstrong-Jones leave Clarence House to attend the pre-wedding ball at Buckingham Palace; Photo Credit –

Two days before the wedding, on May 4, 1960, a ball was held at Buckingham Palace, hosted by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, in honor of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones. Guests included Prime Minister Harold Macmillian; Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury; foreign ambassadors; young officers of the three armed services, friends of the couple and members of the British Royal Family.

The Wedding Attendants

Best Man

  • Dr. Roger Gilliat, a neurologist, husband of Antony’s good friend writer Penelope Gilliat and the son of the Queen’s gynecologist Sir William Gilliat


  • Princess Anne, age 9, the bride’s niece, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh
  • Marilyn Wills, age 12, daughter of Major and The Honorable Mrs. John Wills (Mrs. Wills was born The Honorable Jean Elphinstone, a maternal first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret)
  • Annabel Rhodes, age 8, daughter of Mr. and The Honorable Mrs. Denys Rhodes (Mrs. Rhodes was born The Honorable Margaret Elphinstone, a maternal first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret)
  • Lady Virginia Fitzroy, age 6; daughter of Hugh FitzRoy, 11th Duke of Grafton and the Countess of Grafton (The Countess was born Anne Fortune Smith and was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth II between 1953-66, and Mistress of the Robes since 1967)
  • Sarah Lowther, age 6, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Lowther (Mrs. Lowther, born Jennifer Jane Bevan, served as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret)
  • Catherine Vesey, age 6, the groom’s niece, daughter of John Eustace Vesey, 6th Viscount de Vesci and Viscountess de Vesci (The Viscountess was born Susan Armstrong-Jones, sister of the groom)
  • Lady Rose Nevill, age 9, daughter of John Nevill, 5th Marquess of Abergavenny and the Marchioness of Abergavenny (The Marchioness was born Mary Patricia Harrison, a friend and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth II)

The Wedding Attire

Princess Margaret’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, the favorite designer of the royals, and was made from silk organza. The skirt had 30 meters/33 yards of fabric. Piping ran from the neckline to the hem marking the twelve panels of the three-layered skirt. The dress had no embroidery or other embellishments. The whole design was made to accommodate Margaret’s short stature. The wedding dress now belongs to the British Royal Collection and is part of a display of royal wedding dresses at Kensington Palace in London.

 The Poltimore Tiara

A satin-bound silk tulle veil was attached to the Poltimore Tiara, a diamond tiara created by Garrards in 1870 for Lady Poltimore, the wife of Augustus Bampfylde, 2nd Baron Poltimore. It was purchased in 1959 at auction for Princess Margaret from the 4th Baron Poltimore for £5,500. After Margaret’s death, much of her estate was auctioned by Christie’s to cover the inheritance tax. The Politmore Tiara it was sold for £926,400 ($1,704,576).

The bridesmaids were dressed in copies of Princess Margaret’s first evening dress, a favorite of her father King George VI. The dresses were made with the same silk organza as the wedding dress, had short puffed sleeves, a Peter Pan collar tied with a blue ribbon bow, and had panels of eyelet embroidery slotted with blue ribbons.

Antony Armstrong-Jones wore a wedding morning coat, made by Denman & Goddard of Sackville Street, the tailors who had made suits for him since he was an Eton schoolboy.

The Wedding Ceremony

Princess Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6, 1960. The ceremony was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television and was watched by 300 million people worldwide. Princess Margaret arrived on time for the 11:30 AM ceremony after making the journey from Clarence House in the Glass Coach with her brother-in-law the Duke of Edinburgh. Carrying a bouquet of white orchids, she was escorted to the altar by the Duke of Edinburgh, where the groom and his best man Dr. Roger Gilliat were waiting. The traditional Church of England service was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, in which Margaret promised to obey her husband.

 Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh followed by The Queen Mother, Prince Charles and Queen Ingrid of Denmark leave Westminster Abbey after the ceremony

The ceremony was attended by 2,068 guests including the families of the bride and groom, diplomats from all over the world, Government and Commonwealth Ministers, foreign royalty and other special guests. Some of the foreign royalty who attended included Princess Margaret’s godmother Queen Ingrid of Denmark, King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louise of Sweden (maternal aunt of the Duke of Edinburgh), Prince Karl of Hesse (nephews of the Duke of Edinburgh), Prince Ludwig of Baden and Prince Maximillian of Baden (both nephews of the Duke of Edinburgh). Despite the public enthusiasm, some foreign royal families of Europe disapproved of a king’s daughter marrying a photographer and declined their wedding invitations.

The Wedding Reception

Tony led Margaret onto the Buckingham Palace balcony shortly after 1:00 PM.  Members of the Royal Family and the wedding party joined them and the cheering of the crowd grew louder and louder.

At the wedding breakfast for 120 guests, the band of the Grenadier Guards played Princess Margaret’s favorite songs from the musical Oklahoma!.  The Duke of Edinburgh made a short speech welcoming Tony as the newest member of the royal family, to which Tony replied before he and Margaret cut the wedding cake.

The wedding cake; Photo Credit –

Standing five feet tall and weighing150 pounds, the cake had three massive hexagonally paneled tiers. The sides of each tier bore Margaret’s coat of arms and the couple’s new monogram.

The Honeymoon

After the reception, Margaret and Tony drove in an open-topped Rolls-Royce to Battle Bridge Pier where the royal yacht Britannia was waiting. As Princess Margaret stepped on board, her personal standard was raised and five minutes later Britannia set off down the Thames. Their destination was the Caribbean for six weeks where they visited islands including Trinidad, Antigua, and Mustique.

Both Margaret and Tony were acquainted with The Honorable Colin (the future 3rd Baron Glenconner) and Lady Anne Tennant. Tony had photographed their wedding four years earlier, Lady Anne, daughter of Thomas Coke, 5th Earl of Leicester, had been one of Queen Elizabeth II’s Maids of Honor at the coronation in 1953. Colin was a close friend of Margaret’s and had been one of her escorts before his marriage. When the Tennants heard that Margaret and Tony were planning to go to the Caribbean for their honeymoon, they suggested that they make Mustique one of their stops. Colin had bought the beautiful little island in 1957 for £45,000 ($126,000).

Mustique, a small private island, is one of the Grenadines, a chain of islands in the West Indies and is part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. When Margaret and Tony arrived in Mustique, Colin Tennant gave Margaret her wedding gift, a 10-acre (40,000 m2) plot of land on Mustique, where she built a residence called Les Jolies Eaux. In 1979, Mustique was transformed from a family estate into a private limited company with the homeowners as shareholders. Margaret kept the home on Mustique until 1996 when she gave it to her son as a wedding present. He subsequently sold the property.


The couple arrived back in the United Kingdom on June 18, 1960. They moved into No. 10 Kensington Palace, a detached 18th-century house on the north side of the palace, while their apartment No. 1A was being restored. They had two children David, now 2nd Earl of Snowdon (born 1961), and Lady Sarah (born 1964). On October 6, 1961, Tony was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley, just before the birth of his first child David.  David used his father’s second title Viscount Linley as a courtesy title until he succeeded to the earldom.

Margaret and Tony’s marriage was anything but calm and peaceful. The two very strong personalities, often at odds, led to volatile rows and many affairs for both of them.  The couple divorced in 1978. Tony married again, but Margaret did not.

Having suffered from ill-health for many years, Princess Margaret made her last public appearance at the 100th birthday celebration for her aunt, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in December 2001. In a wheelchair for several years, she had suffered several strokes which left her a shell of her former self. On February 9, 2002, Margaret died after having suffered another stroke.

Despite no longer being married into the royal family, Tony had a close relationship with them. At Princess Margaret’s funeral in 2002, he was among the leading mourners, alongside the couple’s children, Queen Elizabeth II, and The Queen Mother, who died six weeks later. On January 13, 2017, Tony died peacefully at his home at the age of 86. His son David succeeded him as 2nd Earl of Snowdon. Tony’s former sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh along with their sons the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex and their grandson the Duke of Cambridge attended the memorial service for Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon on April 7, 2017 at the Church of St. Margaret, Westminster Abbey, on the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

Works Cited

  • “Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl Of Snowdon”. Unofficial Royalty. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “BBC – History – Princess Margaret’s Wedding (Pictures, Video, Facts & News)”. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “BBC ON THIS DAY | 6 | 1960: Margaret Weds Armstrong-Jones”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • Brough, James. Margaret: The Tragic Princess. 1st ed. London: W.H. Allen, 1978. Print.
  • Courcy, Anne. “Excerpt: The Princess And The Photographer”. Vanities. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Fashionable Pageant In London To Celebrate Princess Margaret’s Wedding”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “London In Gala Mood For Princess’ Wedding Today; THRONGED LONDON AGOG FOR WEDDING”. Web. “London In Gala Mood For Princess’ Wedding Today; THRONGED LONDON AGOG FOR WEDDING”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “MARGARET TO WED ON MAY 6 IN ABBEY; Canterbury Will Officiate — Duke To Give Bride Away MARGARET TO WED ON MAY 6 IN ABBEY”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Princess Is Betrothed To Photographer — Date Not Yet Set; Queen Is ‘Delighted’ At News Of Sister’s ‘Happy Match’ MARGARET TO WED OUTSIDE NOBILITY”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Princess Margaret, Countess Of Snowdon”. Unofficial Royalty. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Royal Flower Girls, Bridesmaids, & Page Boys Part One – My Blog”. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Royal Wedding And Ball Tonight Set Hectic Pace For Designers; Couture Works Extra Hours On Gowns”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “Top 10 Best Royal Wedding Dresses: #6. HRH Princess Margaret, Countess Of Snowdon”. Web. 22 May 2017.
  • “UK: PRINCESS MARGARET’s WEDDING”. Web. 22 May 2017.

Wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg

by Susan Flantzer

King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg were married on May 31, 1906 at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid, Spain.

King Alfonso XIII of Spain’s Background

King Alfonso XIII of Spain with his mother and sisters, 1897; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

On November 25, 1885, three days before his 28th birthday, King Alfonso XII of Spain died from tuberculosis at the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid, leaving two daughters and his queen pregnant with her third child. It was decided that Alfonso’s widow, born Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, would rule as regent until the child was born. If the child were a male, he would become king and if the child were a female, Alfonso and Maria Christina’s elder daughter María Mercedes would become queen.

On May 17, 1886, Maria Christina gave birth to a son. King Alfonso XIII of Spain was the Spanish sovereign from his birth until the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic on April 14, 1931. He was given the names Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Habsburgo-Lorena. His mother would remain Regent until Alfonso turned 16 and took control of the monarchy. He had two older sisters:

  • Infanta Mercedes, Princess of Asturias (1880 – 1904)
  • Infanta Maria Teresa (1882 -1912)

During Maria Christina’s regency, Spain lost its colonial rule over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War (1898). In 1902, at the age of sixteen, Alfonso XIII was declared of legal age and assumed the constitutional role of head of state. The week of his sixteenth birthday was marked by festivities, bullfights, balls and celebrations throughout Spain.

Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg’s Background

Princess Victoria Eugenie with her mother and brothers, 1900; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena of Battenberg (known as Ena, which will be used in the rest of the article) was born on October 24, 1887, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the only daughter of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. She had three brothers:

  • Prince Alexander of Battenberg, later Alexander Mountbatten, Marquess of Carisbrooke (1886-1960)
  • Prince Leopold of Battenberg, later Lord Leopold Mountbatten (1889-1922), hemophilia sufferer
  • Prince Maurice of Battenberg (1891-1914), killed in action during World War I

Raised in her grandmother’s household, the family moved constantly between Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle and Osborne House. In January 1896, Ena’s father died of malaria while en route to fight in the Ashanti War. Following his death, Queen Victoria gave the family apartments at Kensington Palace where they lived while in London. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Kensington Palace became their primary residence, along with Osborne Cottage on the grounds of Osborne House.

The Engagement


In 1905, nineteen-year-old King Alfonso XIII of Spain toured Europe seeking a bride, and he made a stop in the United Kingdom where the press speculated that Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Patricia of Connaught, known as Patsy, would most likely catch Alfonso’s eye. At a dinner at Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria’s eligible granddaughters were seated around the dinner table, all aware that they had a possibility of being the next Queen of Spain. Alfonso had been seated next to Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Helena who answered his questions about the princesses. When his eyes fell on seventeen-year-old blonde Ena, Alfonso was immediately smitten and asked, “And who is that young lady with the nearly white hair?”

Alfonso saw the tall, blond, dignified Ena again the next night at a reception. However, he forgot her name and referred to her as “the fair-haired one” and his feelings were reciprocated by Ena. A ball was held at Buckingham Palace on the third evening and it was the first time Alfonso and Ena could speak privately with each other. Because Alfonso’s English was limited and Ena spoke no Spanish, they spoke French. While dancing together, Alfonso asked Ena if she collected postcards, a common hobby for well-born women. When Ena said she did, Alfonso promised he would send her some postcards if she promised to reply.

After the London visit, the couple exchanged letters and Alfonso regularly sent her postcards, and it was through this correspondence that their courtship developed. However, there were several problematic issues. The first issue was religion. Alfonso was Catholic while Ena was Protestant. It was unthinkable that a Queen of Spain not be Roman Catholic. The second issue was the potential of Ena bringing hemophilia into the Spanish royal family. As Ena’s brother Leopold suffered from the disease, there was a chance that Ena herself was a carrier. Today we know that there was a 50% chance that Ena would be a hemophilia carrier. However, with little known about the disease at the time, Alfonso did not seem too concerned. The third obstacle was Alfonso’s mother, Maria Christina. She did not feel the Battenbergs were royal enough due to the morganatic marriage which started that family and wanted her son to marry a member of the Habsburg dynasty of Austria.

Nevertheless, Ena and Alfonso met again in Biarritz, France in January 1906 where they became unofficially engaged. Six days later, Ena went to Spain for the first time and met Alfonso’s mother at Miramar Palace in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain. Maria Christina finally agreed to her son’s choice of a bride and sent a letter to Princess Beatrice, Ena’s mother, telling her about the love Alfonso felt for her daughter and seeking unofficial contact with the King Edward VII, Beatrice’s brother and Ena’s uncle. Several days later at Windsor Castle, King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement.

Ena agreed to convert to Roman Catholicism and she started religious instruction with Monsignor Robert Brindle, Bishop of Nottingham. She was officially received into the Roman Catholic Church on March 7, 1906 at Miramar Palace, and the engagement was officially announced on the same day. On April 3, 1906, King Edward VII elevated his niece’s style from “Her Highness” to “Her Royal Highness” thereby softening Maria Christina’s objection that the Battenbergs were not royal enough.

The terms of the marriage were settled by two agreements, a public treaty and a private contractual arrangement. The treaty was executed between Spain and the United Kingdom in London on May 7, 1906. One of the provisions of the treaty stated that Ena “forfeits for ever all hereditary rights of succession to the Crown and Government of Great Britain.” This was solely because by marrying and becoming a Roman Catholic, Ena lost any right to inherit the British crown as a consequence of the Act of Settlement 1701. Any of Ena’s descendants who did not become Roman Catholic or marry a Roman Catholic would remain in the line of succession to the British Throne.

Wedding Preparations

Royal Palace of Madrid; Photo Credit – By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,

On May 24, 1906, Ena arrived in France on board a British warship and took a special train to the Spanish border where she was met by Alfonso, the Spanish Prime Minister and the Spanish Foreign Minister who accompanied her to the Royal Palace of El Pardo in the Fuencarral-El Pardo district of Madrid. Enormous crowds assembled outside the gates of Pardo Palace and greeted the king and their future queen with loud cheering and cries of “Long live the King!” and “Long live the Queen!” Once they entered the palace, the gates were opened and the crowds were admitted to the palace grounds. Alfonso appeared on the palace balcony holding Ena’s hand, thrilling the crowd. Later in the evening, Alfonso returned to the Royal Palace of Madrid and Ena stayed at Pardo Palace with her mother until the wedding.

The Royal Palace of Madrid was a scene of constant reception of arriving delegations, many of them bringing splendid presents. Presents already fill three large salons at the palace. On May 29, 1906, many foreign royals and envoys arrived in Madrid. That night, festivities were held at Pardo Palace for guests, including a theater performance.

The streets of Madrid were colorful and full of activity. Trains continued to arrive with thousands of Spaniards and foreigners and the streets were packed with throngs of people in bright summer attire. The streets along the cortege route were colorfully decorated with floral arches, British and Spanish flags, and floral garlands on balconies. 1,200 tons of flowers had been ordered from the Canary Islands and parks and other public places were transformed into gardens by planting thousands of palms and rose bushes. Many buildings were decorated with huge crowns that sparkled at night with electric lights. Even the trolleys were decorated with streamers.

Alfonso’s presented jewelry to Ena said to be worth over one million dollars (in 1906 dollars!) including a gold crown with brilliant-cut diamonds to be worn on state occasions; a diadem; two collars (necklaces), one of pearls and the other of rubies and sapphires; a pair of gold bracelets; a pair of magnificent pendants; and a large diamond brooch. Ena gave Alfonso an exquisite jeweled sword designed in Toledo, Spain.

Wedding Guests

The Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom) arriving at the church; Photo Credit – Archivo HUM historia urbana de Madrid

Below is a list of some of the wedding guests. It is assumed that spouses of guests were also invited, but the only spouses listed are the ones found in sources.

Family of the Groom

  • Queen Maria Christina, mother of the groom
  • Infante Carlos de Borbón y Borbón, brother-in-law of the groom
  • Infante Alfonso de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Borbón, nephew of the groom, heir presumptive to the Spanish throne
  • Infanta Isabel Alfonsa de Borbón, niece of the groom
  • Infanta Isabel de Borbón y Borbon, Countess of Girgenti, aunt of the groom
  • Infanta Maria de la Paz de Borbón y Borbón, Princess of Bavaria, aunt of the groom
  • Infante Fernando de Baviera y Borbón, cousin of the groom
  • Princess Pilar of Bavaria, cousin of the groom
  • Infanta Eulalia de Borbón y Borbón, Princess of Orleans, aunt of the groom
  • Infante Alfonso de Orleáns, cousin of the groom
  • Prince Genaro de Borbón-Dos Sicilias, distant cousin of the groom
  • Prince Raniero de Borbón-Dos Sicilias , distant cousin of the groom
  • Prince Philip , de Borbón-Dos Sicilias, distant cousin of the groom

Family of the Bride

  • Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, mother of the bride
  • Prince Alexander of Battenberg, brother of the bride
  • Prince Leopold of Battenberg, brother of the bride
  • Prince Maurice de Battenberg, brother of the bride
  • The Prince of Wales, cousin of the bride, and The Princess of Wales (future King George V and Queen Mary)
  • The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Dowager Duchess of Edinburgh, aunt of the bride
  • Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, cousin of the bride
  • Princess Alicia of Albany, cousin of the bride, and her husband Prince Alexander of Teck
  • Princess Maria Carolina of Battenberg, Princess of Erbach-Schönberg, aunt of the bride

Foreign Princes

  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne) and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg
  • Prince Albert of Belgium (future King Albert I of the Belgians)
  • Crown Prince Constantine of Greece (future King Constantine I of Greece) and Crown Princess Sophie (born Princess Sophie of Prussia), cousin of the bride
  • Prince Andrew of Greece
  • Hereditary Prince Louis of Monaco (future Louis II, Prince of Monaco)
  • Prince Heinrich of Prussia, cousin of the bride
  • Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia
  • Prince Albrecht of Prussia, Regent of Brunswick
  • Prince Luís Filipe, Duke of Braganza (heir apparent to the throne of Portugal)
  • Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia
  • Prince Tommaso of Savoy, 2nd Duke of Genoa
  • Prince Eugen of Sweden, Duke of Närke

Other Guests

  • Segismundo Moret, President of the Council of Ministers
  • Álvaro de Figueroa y Torres, Count of Romanones, Minister of Interior
  • Juan Manuel Sánchez Gutiérrez de Castro, Duke of Almodovar, Minister of State
  • Manuel García Prieto, Minister of Justice
  • Amós Salvador Rodrigáñez, Minister of Finance
  • Agustín de Luque y Coca, Minister of War
  • Víctor María Concas, Minister of the Navy
  • Vicente Santamaría de Paredes, Minister of Education and Fine Arts
  • Antonio de Aguilar y Correa, Marquis de la Vega de Armijo, President of the Congress of Deputies
  • José López Domínguez, President of the Senate
  • Ciriaco Sancha and Hervás, Archbishop of Toledo
  • José María Martín de Herrera, Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela
  • Salvador Casañas and Pagés, Bishop of Barcelona
  • José María Salvador y Barrera, Bishop of Madrid-Alcalá
  • Eduardo Martínez del Campo and Acosta, President of the Supreme Court
  • Carlos Martinez de Irujo y Alcáza, Duke of Sotomayor, Majordomo of the King
  • Manuel Falcó y Osorio, Marquis de la Mina, Equerry of the King
  • Sir Maurice de Bunsen, British Ambassador to Madrid
  • Luis Polo de Bernabé, Spanish Ambassador to London
  • William Miller Collier, American Ambassador to Madrid
  • Frederick Wallingford Whitridge, American Special Envoy

Wedding Attire

Ena’s Wedding Dress; Photo Credit –

Ena’s wedding dress was made by the Madrid dressmaker L. Heroe, who submitted several designs to Alfonso and Ena for their approval. The fabric was white duchesse satin which was embroidered by hand. In addition, point d’aiguille Brussels lace was used on the dress, veil, and train.

The bodice and skirt were embroidered with intertwined wreaths of silver roses and orange blossoms, bordered with fleur-de-lys, a symbol of the House of Bourbon. To support the enormous train, there was a court mantle, also of white satin and with the same decorations as the dress. In accordance with the strict observance of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, the dress did not expose the bride’s decolletage or shoulders. The entire dress was given to the shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paloma (Our Lady of the Dove) in a poor part of Madrid.

Ena wore a tiara resting on a wreath of orange blossoms. The impressive tiara, a wedding gift from Alfonso and known as “The Fleur-de-Lys Tiara”, is still in the possession of the Spanish royal family and is nicknamed “La Buena” (“The Good One”).  Set in platinum, the tiara features three large fleur-de-lys motifs, each filled with large round diamonds, and connected by swirls and scrolls of larger-sized diamonds.   The tiara is part of the jewelry that is passed down to Queens of Spain. Queen Sofia, the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, often wore the tiara and Queen Letizia, the wife of King Felipe VI, continued the tradition of wearing the tiara.

 Queen Letizia wearing the Fleur-de-Lys Tiara in February 2017


King Alfonso XIII wore the Spanish Army’s Field Marshal uniform with the blue and white sash of the Order of Carlos II. On his uniform, wore the Order of the Golden Fleece and British Order of the Garter.

Wedding Ceremony

Alfonso and Ena leaving the church

Earlier in the morning, Ena and her mother traveled from Pardo Palace to the Ministry of Marine in the center of Madrid where they would prepare for the wedding. At 8:30 AM, the wedding procession started from the Royal Palace. Church bells were ringing, artillery salutes were firing and crowds of cheering people lined the procession route.

The crowds were thrilled when the royal coaches, each drawn by eight white horses with golden and silver harnesses wearing colored plumage on their heads, appeared: the Amaranth Coach for the ladies-in-waiting, the Cypher Coach for the lords-in-waiting, the Coach of the Ducal Crown for the Infantas and Infantes, and then and the Shell Coach for Queen Mother Maria Christina. Next came the Grandees of Spain, the highest-ranking members of the Spanish nobility, in twenty-five coaches drawn by only two horses according to the Spanish protocol. The coaches of the visiting foreign royalty followed.

Next came a coach bearing a royal crown carrying King Alfonso XIII, his witness Infante Carlos de Borbón y Borbón, the widower of Alfonso’s elder sister María de las Mercedes, and four-year-old Infante Alfonso de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Borbón, son of Carlos and María de las Mercedes, nephew of the groom, and heir presumptive to the Spanish throne.

Immediately following the king’s coach came the bride’s procession with more gala coaches carrying the lords and ladies-in-waiting and princes and princesses of the House of Battenberg. Finally in a beautiful mahogany coach, came Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (Ena) with her mother Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom.

The Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo was regally decorated. Over the entrance was a huge canopy of red and yellow velvet embroidered with Spanish heraldic symbols and supported by gold-tipped lances. Royal guards and halberdiers stood awaiting. As the procession entered the church, the Spanish national anthem was played.

Inside the church, a majestic canopy with the arms of Spain in gold embroidery hung over a raised dais on the left side of the altar. On the dais, was a throne and two beautiful gilded armchairs with silk cushions. On the opposite side of the altar were gilded chairs for Queen Maria Christina, Princess Beatrice, the Spanish Infantas and Infants and the members of the Battenberg family. Besides them were the foreign princes and princesses.

Credit –

As the royal procession entered the church, the congregation stood and a 200-voice choir sang a processional march. Alfonso looked calm and happy, but as usual, slightly pale. Ena entered with her mother, eldest brother, and Queen Maria Christina. Alfonso advanced to meet Ena and they stood together as the ceremony, officiated by Cardinal Ciriaco Sancha, Archbishop of Toledo, began. The hour-long ceremony ended with the Papal Nuncio, the Pope’s representative in Spain, pronouncing the papal blessing of the newlyweds and the chanting of the Te Deum, a hymn of praise.

The Bombing

Photograph taken moments after the assassination attempt on Alfonso and Ena on their wedding day; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

At the end of the ceremony, the newlyweds left the church while the joyful crowds cheered, church bells rang, and cannons boomed. Alfonso and Ena entered the royal coach for the journey through the streets back to the Royal Palace. Crowds along the route shouted, “Long live Queen Victoria!” However, the happy day soon turned into a tragic day when a bomb, concealed in a floral bouquet, was thrown at the royal coach from a third-floor window of an inn on Calle Major, a main street in Madrid.

Building from where the bomb was thrown; Photo Credit – By Basilio – Treball propi, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The bomb hit the ground and exploded to the right of the royal coach between the last pair of horses and the front wheels of the coach. It would have hit the coach and most likely killed Alfonso and Ena if the bomb had not been deflected by an electric wire. Alfonso and Ena were not hurt, but the bomb killed 23 people and injured more than 100. Blood of the victims had spattered Ena’s wedding dress. Screams of the terrified crowd combined the groans of the injured and dying.

The dead included the Marchioness of Colosa and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Don Antonio Calvo and his six-year-old niece, Captain Barros who commanded the king’s escort, two other officers and six soldiers, a groom who was leading the horses, and two of the horses who were drawing the royal coach.

The sound and shock of the explosion were massive. The Duke of Cornachuelos immediately rushed forward, opened the door of the royal coach and helped out Alfonso and Ena, who entered another coach and were quickly taken to the Royal Palace. The next day, Alfonso and Ena appeared in public in an open automobile without a military guard to reassure the people of Madrid.

Mateu Morral Roca, a Catalan anarchist, was responsible for the bombing. After the bombing, Morral tried to get lost in the crowd and was then helped and hidden by journalist José Nakens. Morral managed to escape from Madrid with the help of Nakens, but on June 2, 1906, he was recognized by several people in a village near Torrejón de Ardoz where he stopped to eat. These people warned a local policeman and after some inquiries, the policeman decided to follow Morral.

What happened next is unclear. The official investigation says that Morral surrendered peacefully, but while he was being led by the policeman to the Torrejón de Ardoz jail, Morral shot dead the policeman and then committed suicide. However, a forensic examination of the four photographs taken of Morral’s corpse indicates that the bullet wound in his chest is incompatible with both a close-shot range and the Browning pistol Morral allegedly carried.


 Queen Victoria Eugenie in 1918, with her six children: (from left to right) Infanta Maria Cristina, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, Infante Gonzalo, Infante Juan, Infante Jaime and Infanta Beatriz

Unfortunately, Alfonso and Ena’s marriage was not a happy one. After the birth of their first son Alfonso in 1907, it was discovered that he was suffering from hemophilia. Despite having known the risks beforehand, King Alfonso blamed Ena, and it began a rift in their marriage which would never fully heal. Their fourth and last son Gonzalo also had the disease. Both hemophiliac sons died young from internal bleeding after separate car accidents. See Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Descendants.

From 1914 on, Alfonso had several mistresses and fathered five illegitimate children. A sixth illegitimate child had born before his marriage. Following the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the family went into exile. Settling first in France, and then Italy, the couple eventually went their separate ways. Alfonso remained in Rome, while Ena eventually settled in Switzerland.

On January 15, 1941, feeling that his life was coming to an end, Alfonso formally abdicated his claim to the defunct Spanish throne in favor of his third son, Juan, Count of Barcelona, the father of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. His two older sons, Alfonso who had hemophilia and Jaime who was deaf, had both renounced their claims to the throne in the early 1930s. Just weeks later, on February 28, 1941, King Alfonso XIII died at the Grand Hotel in Rome.

In February 1968, Ena returned to Spain for the first time since going into exile in 1931. Staying at the Palace of Liria with her goddaughter, the Duchess of Alba, Ena was there to serve as godmother to her new great-grandson, the future King Felipe VI. Her trip to Spain would be one of her last public appearances. She returned to her home in Switzerland, and soon her health began to fail. Ena died on April 15, 1969 at her home, surrounded by her family.

Both Alfonso and Ena were buried outside of Spain due to the rule of dictator Francisco Franco. In 1969, Franco formally named Alfonso and Ena’s grandson Juan Carlos as his successor, giving him the newly created title ‘The Prince of Spain’. Franco died on November 22, 1975 and Juan Carlos was proclaimed King of Spain. Eventually, both Alfonso and Ena’s remains were returned to Spain where they were interred in the Pantheon of the Kings in the Royal Crypt of the Monastery of El Escorial.

Works Cited 

  • “ALFONSO PREDICTS ASSASSIN’s SUCCESS; Is Resigned, But Regrets He Brought Victoria To Spain. BOMB THROWER’s SUICIDE Morales Killed A Guard Before He Killed Himself — Was Intercepted By An Observant Watchman.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
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  • “MADRID FETES GO ON AMID FEAR AND GLOOM; King And Queen Drive Unattended In An Automobile. WEYLER SERIOUSLY INJURED Twenty Killed On Thursday And Five Of The Wounded Are Dying — An Englishman Arrested.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “Mateo Morral”. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 May 2017.
  • “PRINCES REACH MADRID FOR ALFONSO’s WEDDING; British, German, Russian, And Other Royalties There. OUR SPECIAL ENVOY ARRIVES City Beautifully Decorated — Performance At The Pardo Theatre — Ascension Of Twelve Balloons.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “PRINCESS ENA SAVES A CRIMINAL’s LIFE; Pardon Arrives As The March To The Scaffold Is To Begin. WEDDING DRESS IS SPANISH Only The Lace Imported — Cabinet Ministers Are Enthusiastic Over The King’s Bride.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “SPANIARDS CAPTIVATED BY ALFONSO’s FIANCEE; All Classes Share The Admiration For Princess Ena. KING’s SPLENDID PRESENTS Sovereign Gives Jewels Worth Over $1,000,000 To His Bride — Palace For The American Envoy.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “SPLENDID WEDDING CORTEGE.; Brilliant Scenes In The Streets — The Marriage Ceremony.”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “Victoria Eugenie Of Battenberg”. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
  • “Victoria Eugenie Of Battenberg, Queen Of Spain”. Unofficial Royalty. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.

The Duke of Edinburgh to retire from public engagements

Photo Credit – Wikipedia, Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Sudden news of a Royal Household staff meeting scheduled for the morning of May 4, 2017 caused a night of speculation regarding the health of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.  In addition to staff in London, staff from Windsor Castle, Sandringham, and Balmoral were called to an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace in London.   In the morning, Buckingham Palace released the following announcement:

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen.

Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.

The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.

Prince Philip will celebrate his 96th birthday next month and has been supporting his wife in her duties since their wedding 70 years ago. He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.  Like his wife, Prince Philip is a great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, but through her daughter Princess Alice who married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.  Prince Philip carried out 110 days of engagements in 2016, making him the fifth busiest member of the royal family.  He had carried out an engagement on May 3, 2017 at Lord’s Cricket Ground to open a new stand where he joked that he is the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”.

In 1956, Prince Philip founded The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which recognizes young people for completing a series of self-improvement exercises modeled on Kurt Hahn’s solution to the “Six Declines of Modern Youth.”  The program now exists in 144 countries.  In recent years, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex have taken on most of the duties related to the program.

Prince Philip will accompany Queen Elizabeth II today, May 4, 2017, to a service for members of the Order of Merit at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace. Afterward, they will host a luncheon for those attending the service.

The remaining engagements for Prince Philip on Buckingham Palace’s Future Engagements:

  • 9 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit Pangbourne College, Pangbourne, Reading, Berkshire, to celebrate its Centenary.
  • 14 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh will present the prizes for the DAKS Challenge Trophy, at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
  • 15 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Chartered Management Institute, will attend the President’s Dinner at Banqueting House, Whitehall
  • 16 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 17 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Cormorant, will attend the Cormorant Club’s 70th-anniversary Reception, at the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall, London, SW1.
  • 18 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, the Pakistan Society, will attend a Dinner marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pakistan, at Mansion House, London, EC4.
  • 19 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will hold a Dinner at Frogmore House, Home Park Windsor.
  • 21 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will attend the Regimental Remembrance Service at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1.
  • 22 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will attend the First Guards Club Dinner, at the Cavalry and Guards Club, London, SW1.
  • 22 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit the Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
  • 22 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will hold a Regimental Council Meeting at Buckingham Palace.
  • 24 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will hold Receptions for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in the Award, at Buckingham Palace.
  • 30 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, the Air League, will hold a Reception at St. James’s Palace.
  • 31 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, London Youth, will hold an afternoon Reception at Buckingham Palace.
  • 1 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 7 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, will hold a Reception at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.
  • 8 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Member, Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, will attend a Dinner at 1 Great George Street, London, SW1.
  • 13 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend Evensong at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace to celebrate the Centenary of the Companions of Honour.
  • 14 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Plan International UK, will hold a Reception to mark its 80th anniversary, at Buckingham Palace.
  • 16 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will hold the Senior Colonel’s Conference at Buckingham Palace.
  • 19 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend a Service for the Order of the Garter at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
  • 27 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Fellow, Zoological Society of London, will present The Prince Philip Award for Contributions to Zoology, at ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park, London NW1.
  • 30 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Member, The Coaching Club, will attend a dinner at the Visitor Centre Restaurant, Sandringham House.
  • 3 July 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Member, Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow, will attend a Reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Prince Philip Prize, at Trades Hall, 85 Glassford St, Glasgow.
  • 4 July 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 12 July 2017 to 14 July 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will host The King and Queen of Spain during their State Visit to the United Kingdom when they will stay at Buckingham Palace.

When The Monarch Dies: Royal Titles and Arms

by Scott Mehl

Letters Patent creating Prince Charles as Prince of Wales, 1958

Royal Titles

As already discussed, when the Monarch dies, the heir apparent immediately takes the throne. This includes all of the titles and trappings of the monarchy. The titles of the Monarch remained relatively unchanged from the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 (with the exception of the title Emperor/Empress of India, which was held from 1876 until 1947). Currently, the British monarch is also the monarch of 15 other realms, and is titled differently in each one:

United Kingdom
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Antigua and Barbuda
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

The Bahamas
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbardos and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Belize and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Grenada and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

New Zealand
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Papua New Guinea
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Papua New Guinea and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Christopher and Nevis and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Lucia
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Lucia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Solomon Islands
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Solomon Islands and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Tuvalu and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

The monarch also immediately becomes Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, and Sovereign of all of the Honours and Orders of Chivalry both in Britain and the other realms.  It is expected that the titles will remain the same, with the possible exception of ‘Head of the Commonwealth’. In 1949, King George VI became the first Head of the Commonwealth, and the role and title passed to his daughter Queen Elizabeth II upon her accession. When the Commonwealth was formally established, the Declaration states that the King will serve as Head of the Commonwealth. In keeping with that sense of heredity, when Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales in 1958, the Letters Patent issued stated that he, and his heirs, will serve as Heads of the Commonwealth. However, there are those who feel that, when the current reign ends, the various members of the Commonwealth should collectively determine who will succeed in the role.

Upon becoming monarch, any and all titles held by that person revert to the Crown, meaning that they cease to exist. For example, Prince Charles will cease being Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, etc., the moment he becomes King. Some of his previous titles will pass automatically to the new heir apparent, and others must be specifically granted. You can read more about those titles in our previous article – When The Monarch Dies: Immediately and Automatically.

Titles and Styles of the Descendants of the Monarch

For the most part, the titles and styles of a Monarch’s descendants are determined by the Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917. Under these LPs, the style of ‘Royal Highness’ and title of ‘Prince/Princess’ is granted to:

  • children of the monarch
  • grandchildren in the male line
  • the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales

Several additional LPs have been issued since then, which make some alterations to the original LPs:

  • 1948 – King George VI issued LPs declaring that all children of then-Princess Elizabeth would be styled as HRH, and titled as Prince/Princess. Without these LPs, Charles and Anne would not have become HRH until The Queen’s accession in 1952. Instead, they would have been styled as children of a Duke. Charles would have been Charles Mountbatten, Earl of Merioneth (using his father’s most senior subsidiary title by courtesy), and Anne would have been Lady Anne Mountbatten.
  • 1957 – Queen Elizabeth II issued LPs creating her husband a Prince of the United Kingdom. Until that point, he was merely HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and not ‘Prince Philip’ as the media often referred to him.
  • 2012 – Queen Elizabeth II issued LPs declaring that all children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales would be styled as HRH, with the title Prince/Princess. While this had no effect on Prince George, who was already entitled as the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, it did affect his younger sister Princess Charlotte. Were it not for these LPs, Charlotte would be styled Lady Charlotte Mountbatten-Windsor until her grandfather became King.

Children of the Monarch

Upon the accession of a new monarch, two changes take place when it comes to the titles and styles of the monarch’s children. Children of a sovereign are formally styled with the article ‘The’ preceding their names. They also cease using any territorial designation. For example, Prince Harry of Wales, upon his father’s accession, will become The Prince Harry. Should he have a peerage by that point, he would continue to be formally styled as such – ‘HRH The Duke/Earl of XXX’.  These changes remain in place, even after that monarch has passed away.  For example, the younger daughter of King George VI became The Princess Margaret upon her father’s accession in 1936, and remained so for the rest of her life.  That style did not end upon her father’s death.

Based on the assumption that the current line of succession remains unchanged, the following changes will occur with the next reign: Prince Charles will become HM The King; Prince William will automatically become HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, and Prince George will become HRH Prince George of Cornwall and Cambridge. (Note that the Cornwall title always precedes any other peerage titles.) It would then be expected that Prince William would at some point be created Prince of Wales. At that time, Prince George and Princess Charlotte would take ‘of Wales’ as their territorial designation.

Here’s a great article which explains further – Unofficial Royalty: What’s In a Title: The Changing Royal Style


Royal Arms

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. photo: By Sodacan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Royal Arms have remained unchanged since Queen Victoria’s accession in 1837. On the shield, they feature the three gold lions in the 1st and 4th quarter (representing England), the red rampant lion in the second quarter (representing Scotland), and the gold harp in the 3rd quarter (representing Ireland).  There is also a second version used in Scotland which features the Scottish emblem in the 1st and 4th quarter, with the English in the 2nd.

Arms of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria), featuring the Arms of Saxony. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Until 1917, when King George V changed the name to the House of Windsor and removed all German styles and titles, the arms of male-line descendants of Queen Victoria also featured in inescutcheon of the Arms of Saxony in recognition of their descent from Prince Albert (who was a Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and a Duke of Saxony).

Children and grandchildren of the monarch, in the male line, are typically granted their own coats of arms around the time they reach the age of 18, and all are based on the Royal Arms. They are made unique by the use of a label – with three points for children of a monarch (and the eldest son of the Prince of Wales), and five points for grandchildren.

The Arms of The Prince of Wales. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The arms of the Prince of Wales feature a plain three-point label and also feature an inescutcheon of the traditional arms of the Principality of Wales. As Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, he also has a different coat of arms (here).

The labels on the arms of children and grandchildren of the monarch also feature a mark of cadence on one or more of the points. This makes each coat of arms unique to that person. For example, Prince Harry’s arms feature a five-point label (as a grandchild of the monarch), with a red scallop shell on the first, third and fifth point. These are taken from the Spencer arms, used by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Similar marks of cadence appear on all of the arms granted to children and grandchildren of the monarch.

These arms are granted for the person’s lifetime, and do not pass to their children. They do, however, change slightly when there is a new monarch. A grandchild who now becomes a child of the monarch will see their label change from five points to three. And the new heir apparent – once created Prince of Wales – will assume the arms of the Prince of Wales.

Arms of the Duchess of Cambridge. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, Based on: BBC News and Official website, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Wives traditionally use their husband’s arms impaled with their own (or their father’s) arms. Such is the case with the arms of the Duchess of Cambridge seen above. They feature the Duke of Cambridge’s arms on the left, and the arms of her father on the right.

Up until 1975, none of these individual grants of arms were heritable. But in 1975, The Queen issued a Royal Warrant declaring that the arms of grandsons of a monarch (other than the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) are heritable with appropriate differentiation. This means that the arms of the current Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, as well as Prince Michael of Kent, will pass on to their eldest sons.

British Monarchy: Coat of Arms
Wikipedia: Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom
Unofficial Royalty: English Royal Heraldry

When The Monarch Dies: Royal Wills and Inheritance

by Scott Mehl

While wills are typically public record, those of members of the royal family are traditionally sealed. This goes back to the death of Queen Mary’s younger brother, Prince Francis of Teck, in October 1910. (One very notable exception is the will of Diana, Princess of Wales, which was made public after her death in 1997. You can read her will here.)

Born in 1870, Prince Francis was the third of four children of Francis, Duke of Teck, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. In addition to being a career military officer, Frank – as he was known – was also known for his love of gambling and women. He never married, but had a long affair with The Countess of Kilmorey (née Ellen Constance Baldock), a former mistress of King Edward VII.

When Francis died suddenly of pneumonia in 1910, he left a large collection of emeralds to The Countess of Kilmorey in his will. These emeralds, known as the Cambridge Emeralds, had a very interesting history. Years earlier, Francis’s grandmother, The Duchess of Cambridge (née Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel), had won a box of emeralds in a charity lottery during a visit to Frankfort. Believed to be between 30-40 cabochon emeralds, they passed to Francis’s mother in 1889, and upon her death in 1897, they passed to Francis.

Mary – who had become Queen several months before Francis’s death, and was due to be crowned several months later – was mortified that the jewels would be passing out of the family, and to a mistress no less! She quickly set out to get the emeralds back, and ended up purchasing them from The Countess for £10,000. Queen Mary was also very aware that the details of the will, and Francis’s affair, would cause a public scandal and could potentially tarnish the monarchy, so she successfully petitioned The High Court to have her brother’s will sealed. (Queen Mary later used the emeralds in creating some of the jewelry for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. To read more about the emeralds and the jewelry that was created, check out this great article from our friends at From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault — CLICK HERE!)

Even though the wills are sealed, there are several clear traditions for how some assets are passed from one generation to the next. By tradition, Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House – both of which are personal property – pass from monarch to monarch. For the most part, this has been a smooth transition. However, when King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, the properties remained his personal property, and the new King George VI was forced to purchase them from his elder brother.

The Queen Mother wearing the Oriental Circlet and crown rubies

A similar tradition applies to some of the more important pieces of jewelry. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, she designated several items as jewels of the Crown – meaning that they pass automatically from monarch to monarch. Some of these include the Coronation necklace and earrings, the Oriental Circlet and Queen Victoria’s ruby necklace and earrings.

We must remember that many of the monarch’s assets aren’t technically his or hers to give away, but are instead simply held by the monarch in trust for the nation. These include the royal palaces, the Crown Jewels, and much of the Royal Collection. These belong to the Sovereign, although not to the individual who holds the title.

As for personal property, the majority is usually left to the new monarch. A 1993 agreement with the government allows for bequests from monarch to monarch (or consort to monarch) to be free from inheritance tax. This arrangement avoids the need to sell assets into order to pay the nearly 40% inheritance tax when a monarch or consort dies. Sadly, many other royals have been forced to sell jewels and other assets in order to pay the tax bill, and historic pieces have left the family.

When The Monarch Dies: The Coronation

by Susan Flantzer

King George V and Queen Mary seated on the Chairs of Estate in front of the royal box at their coronation in 1911. It was the first time any part of the service had been photographed; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

After a period of mourning, the new monarch is usually consecrated and crowned in Westminster Abbey. Normally, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiates, although the monarch may designate any other bishop of the Church of England. A coronation is not necessary for a monarch to reign. King Edward VIII was never crowned, yet during his short reign was the undoubted king. The length of time between accession and coronation varies. Below are the dates for accessions and coronations since Queen Victoria.

  • Queen Victoria: Accession – June 20, 1837; Coronation – June 28, 1838
  • King Edward VII: Accession – June 22, 1901; Coronation – August 9, 1902 (Coronation was scheduled for June 26, 1902, but was postponed because the king had an appendectomy on June 24, 1902.)
  • King George V: Accession – May 6, 1910; Coronation – June 22, 1911
  • King Edward VIII: Accession – January 20, 1936; No coronation, but it had been scheduled for May 12, 1937
  • King George VI: Accession – December 11, 1936; Coronation – May 12, 1937 (Preparations had been underway for Edward VIII’s coronation, so the date and the preparations were passed on the George VI)
  • Queen Elizabeth II: Accession – February 6, 1952; Coronation – June 2, 1953

The United Kingdom is the only European kingdom that still has coronations. The other kingdoms that still crown their rulers are Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Thailand, and Tonga.

Practices in other European kingdoms:

  • Belgium: The monarch’s formal installation requires only a solemn oath on the constitution in parliament symbolizing the limited power allowed to the monarch under the 1831 Constitution. Belgium has no crown or regalia.
  • Denmark: Coronation was abolished with the introduction of the Danish Constitution in 1849. The public announcement of a monarch’s accession is made from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, with the new monarch being acclaimed by her Prime Minister. The crown of Denmark is only displayed at the monarch’s funeral when it lies on top of the coffin.
  • Liechtenstein: Traditionally, the Sovereign Prince attends a mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Vaduz, followed by a choral display.
  • Luxembourg: The Grand Duke or Grand Duchess of Luxembourg is enthroned at a ceremony held in the nation’s parliament. The Grand Duke of Grand Duchess takes an oath of loyalty to the state constitution and then attends a solemn mass at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Luxembourg has no crown or regalia.
  • Monaco: The Sovereign Prince or Sovereign Princess attends a special investiture ceremony, consisting of a festive mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, followed by a reception where the new Sovereign Prince or Sovereign Princess meets his people. Monaco has no crown or regalia.
  • The Netherlands: The Dutch monarch is sworn in and inaugurated in Amsterdam at a public joint session of the two houses of the States General held at the Nieuwe Kerk. The crown, orb, sword of state and scepter are placed on cushions surrounded by a copy of the Dutch constitution. During the ceremony, the monarch is seated on a throne opposite the crown, regalia, and constitution as he or she takes his formal oath to uphold the kingdom’s fundamental law and protect the country with everything within his or her power. After the monarch has taken the oath, all members of the States General pay homage to the new monarch by taking an oath of loyalty to him or her.
  • Norway: The Norwegian constitution of 1814 required the Norwegian monarch to be crowned, but this requirement was repealed in 1908. Since then, the monarch has only been required to take a formal accession oath in the Council of State and then in the Storting (parliament). King Olav V, desired a religious ceremony to mark his accession to the throne in 1957, and so he instituted a ceremony of royal consecration. This consecration took place again in 1991 when King Harald V and Queen Sonja were similarly consecrated. Both consecrations were held where the coronation rite had formerly taken place, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
  • Spain: The Spanish monarch appears at the Cortes (parliament), where he or she takes a formal oath to uphold the constitution. The crown is at the ceremony, but it is never placed on the monarch’s head.
  • Sweden: The coronation rite was last used to crown King Oscar II in 1873. Subsequent monarchs of Sweden chose not to be crowned, but there is no law preventing a coronation. The current monarch King Carl XVI Gustaf, during a meeting of the cabinet, took the then-required royal assurance (in Swedish Konungaförsäkran) to fulfill the duties associated with the office and not exceed them. The Riksdag Act of 1974 no longer requires that the monarch take the royal assurance, but says the monarch “can” take the royal assurance before the Riksdag (parliament). After King Carl XVI Gustaf took the royal assurance, he was enthroned in a simple ceremony in the throne room of the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The crown jewels were displayed on cushions to the right and left of the throne, but were never given to the king. From the throne, King Carl Gustaf made an accession speech.

Coronation of King Harold II at Westminster Abbey in 1066 from the Bayeaux Tapestry; Credit – Wikipedia

We can assume that future coronations will be similar to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. The main elements of the coronation service and the earliest form of the oaths taken can be traced to the ceremony devised by Saint Dunstan for the coronation of King Edgar in 973 AD at Bath Abbey. Westminster Abbey was closed for five months prior to the Elizabeth II’s coronation so that the construction needed for 8,000 people to attend could be completed. Elizabeth II’s coronation was televised and we can expect lots of media coverage for future coronations.

Queen Elizabeth II traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach which was built in 1762 and has been used for the coronation of every monarch since King George IV.  It is estimated that 3 million people lined the streets of London that day.

Wikipedia: Gold State Coach

Gold State Coach, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Upon arrival at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth was attended by six aristocratic young women who served as Maids of Honor.

    • Lady Moyra Hamilton, 22, daughter of the Marquess of Hamilton, later 4th Duke of Abercorn
    • Lady Anne Coke, 20, daughter  of the 5th Earl of Leicester
    • Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 20, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry
    • Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, 19, daughter of the 12th Earl of Haddington
    • Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 18, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ancaster
    • Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, 23, daughter of 10th Duke of Marlborough

 The Queen arrives at Westminster Abbey


After the Queen’s procession into Westminster Abbey, the coronation service started.

An Anglican Liturgical Library: Form and Order of the Service of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Westminster Abbey Music Played at the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Recognition: The Archbishop of Canterbury along with Lord Chancellor, Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord High Constable, and Earl Marshal proceeded to the East, South, West, and North sides of the coronation theater.  Each time the Archbishop said, “Sirs, I here present unto you Queen ELIZABETH, your undoubted Queen: Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, Are you willing to do the same?”  The People replied each time, “God Save Queen Elizabeth.”

The Oath: The Queen, seated in the Chair of Estate, took the Coronation Oath administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  She then proceeded to the altar and solemnly swore the Oath with her right hand on the Bible.  Afterward, she kissed the Bible and signed the Oath.

The Communion Service: Traditional service of the Anglican Church

The Anointing:  After being disrobed of her crimson robe, the Queen sat in King Edward’s Chair.  Four Knights of the Garter held a canopy over her.  The Dean of Westminster took the Ampulla which held the Holy Oil and poured some into the Spoon.  The Archbishop then anointed the Queen in the form of a cross on the palms of both hands, the breast, and the crown of the head.  The canopy was removed and the Queen was dressed in the Colobium Sindonis, a simple sleeveless white linen shift,  and the Supertunica, a long coat of gold silk which reaches to the ankles and has wide-flowing sleeves.

British Crown Jewels

Regalia used in the coronation; Photo Credit –

The Presenting of the Spurs and Sword, and the Oblation of the Sword of State: The Spurs were brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster, and given to the Lord Great Chamberlain who presented them to the Queen.  Afterward, the Spurs were returned to the altar.  Next, the Archbishop took the Sword from the altar and assisted by the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Winchester put the Sword the Queen’s hands and said a prayer.  The Queen then went to the altar, returned the sword to its scabbard, and sat down in King Edward’s Chair.

Dressed in the Sindonis and Supertunica, the Queen returns the Sword of State to the altar, Photo Credit –

The Investing with the Armills, the Stole Royal and the Robe Royal: and the Delivery of the Orb: The Dean of Westminster delivered the Armills to the Archbishop, who said a prayer while putting them on the Queen’s wrists.  The Queen stood and was clothed with the Robe Royal.  After she sat down, the Sovereign’s Orb was brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster and delivered into the Queen’s right hand by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Queen then gave the orb to the Dean of Westminster who returned it to the altar.

Sovereign's Orb

Sovereign’s Orb; Photo Credit –

The Investiture per annulum, et per sceptrum et baculum: The Keeper of the Jewel House gave the Queen’s Ring, which was set with a sapphire and a ruby cross, to the Archbishop of Canterbury who put it on the fourth finger of the Queen’s right hand, and said a prayer.  The Dean of Westminster brought the Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove to the Archbishop, who put it in the Queen’s left hand and said a prayer.

The Putting on of the Crown:  The people stood up and the Archbishop of Canterbury took St. Edward’s Crown from the altar, then laid it back on the altar, and said a prayer.  The Archbishop then proceeded to the Queen who was sitting in King Edward’s Chair.  The Dean of Westminster brought him the crown and the Archbishop reverently put the crown on the Queen’s head.  The people repeatedly shouted, “God Save The Queen.”  The Princes and Princesses, the Peers and Peeresses put on their coronets and caps, and the Kings of Arms their crown.  Trumpets sounded, and the great guns at the Tower of London were fired.


The Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to crown the Queen;


The crowned Queen; Photo Credit –

The Benediction:  Now that the Queen had been anointed and crowned, and had received all the signs of the sovereign, the Archbishop of Canterbury blessed her and all those assembled at Westminster Abbey replied with a loud Amen.

The Enthroning:  The Queen went to the throne, and was lifted up into it by the Archbishops and Bishops, and other Peers of the Kingdom.  Lords bearing the regalia stood on the steps around the throne.

The Homage: After the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Edinburgh offered their fealty to the Queen, all princes and peers present did likewise, saying to her, ” I, (name) Duke, or Earl, etc., of (name) do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God.”


The Communion: Queen Elizabeth knelt and took communion, in a service that included a general confession and absolution, and, along with the people, recited the Lord’s Prayer.

The Recess: The Queen proceeded to Saint Edward’s Chapel, gave St. Edward’s Crown and the Sceptre and the Rod to the Archbishop of Canterbury who laid them on the altar in the chapel.  The Queen was then the Queen disrobed of the Robe Royal and clothed in a Robe of purple velvet and the Imperial State Crown.  The Archbishop of Canterbury put the Sceptre with the Cross into her right hand and the Orb in her left hand.  The Queen left the St. Edward’s Chapel to the singing of the National Anthem and then proceeded up the aisle.

Queen Elizabeth proceeding up the aisle of Westminster Abbey after her coronation, Photo Credit –

When The Monarch Dies: The Burial

by Susan Flantzer

Westminster Abbey in London; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

The traditional burial places of English/British monarchs since the Norman Conquest in 1066 have been Westminster Abbey in London and St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Three of the seven Norman and Angevin monarchs were buried in France in lands they held as Duke of Normandy or Count of Anjou. The tombs of several monarchs have been destroyed. The fate and the burial place of Edward V, one of the “Little Princes in the Tower,” is unknown. James II who lived out his life in exile after he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was buried in France. The first Hanoverian king, George I, was traveling to back to his homeland when he suffered a stroke, died, and was then buried in Hanover. While we associate grandiose tombs with royalty, it is interesting to note that some monarchs have no tomb or memorial, but simply a plaque in the floor and a few monarchs had no plaque, memorial or tomb.

 Conservation work being done in the chapel of Edward the Confessor’s shrine. Tombs of kings and queens are around the perimeter of the chapel.

In 1042, Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St. Peter’s Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church, the first Westminster Abbey. Construction of the second and present church was begun in 1245 by Henry III who selected the site for his burial. In 1269, Henry III oversaw a grand ceremony to rebury Edward the Confessor in a magnificent new shrine, personally helping to carry the body of the saint to its new resting place. When Henry III died in 1272, he was buried in the original coffin of Edward the Confessor. Eventually, a grander tomb was built for Henry III and in 1290, his remains were moved to their current location in Westminster Abbey, in a tomb directly north of Edward the Confessor’s shrine. Nearby the shrine of Edward the Confessor, kings, their wives, and their relatives were buried over the years.

 Henry VII Chapel: In the vaults under the chapel, many royals are buried. The tomb of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York is in the center of the photo.

In 1502, Henry VII started the rebuilding of the Lady Chapel, devoted to the Virgin Mary, at Westminster Abbey. The old Lady Chapel was demolished in 1502, construction began in January 1503 and was completed in 1509. The beautiful chapel, known as the Henry VII Chapel, is famous for its spectacular pendant fan vault ceiling. Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York are buried in the chapel in a magnificent tomb. The vaults under the chapel became the burial place for many of his successors and members of the royal family. George II was the last monarch buried there. In 1790, the last British royal was buried at Westminster Abbey, Prince Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and a younger brother of George III.

St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; Photo Credit – By Aurelien Guichard from London, United Kingdom – WindsorUploaded by BaldBoris, CC BY-SA 2.0,

By the time of George II’s death in 1760, the royal burial vaults at Westminster Abbey were quite crowded. His successor, his grandson George III, decided to build a new royal vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. St. George’s Chapel was built during the reign of Edward III (reigned 1327-1377) The new Royal Vault was constructed in 1804 under what is now the Albert Memorial Chapel, which had originally been intended to serve as a chapel for the tombs of Henry VII and his successors. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, is not buried there, but his son Prince Leopold and his grandson Prince Albert Victor (Prince Eddy) are.

 An artist’s view inside the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel

Above is a view inside the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel. Caskets were placed on the shelves along the sides. The bench in the middle was used as a temporary place for caskets waiting to be buried elsewhere. None of the Hanovers buried in the Royal Vault have a memorial except Princess Charlotte of Wales, who tragically died in childbirth at age 21 and most likely would have succeeded her father George IV to the throne.

Memorial to Charlotte; Photo Credit –

The vault is accessible from the Choir of St. George’s Chapel where a portion of the floor could be raised for lowering coffins into the passage that led to the vault. In 1873, steps to the vault were added behind the high altar and a mechanically-operated platform was installed to ease the lowering of coffins into the vault. In the photo below, the Royal Vault is open as the coffin of King George V has been lowered into the vault following his funeral.

Princess Amelia, the youngest child of George III, was the first person buried in the new Royal Vault in 1810. George III’s two youngest sons, Prince Alfred who died at age two in 1782 and Prince Octavius who died at age four in 1783, were both originally buried at Westminster Abbey.  Their remains were moved to the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on February 11, 1820, shortly after their father’s death.  Burials in the Royal Vault continued until 1927.

Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore; Photo Credit – By, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In 1928, the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, adjacent to Queen Victoria’s mausoleum and near Windsor Castle, was consecrated as a cemetery for junior members of the British Royal Family. One monarch, Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936 after ten months on the throne, was buried at the Royal Burial Ground. At the time of the consecration, eight coffins of junior royals were moved from the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel and interred at the new Royal Burial Ground. Presumably, the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel could then be used for the burial of future monarchs and their consorts. Since that time, there have been no permanent burials in the Royal Vault. Many remains interred at the Royal Burial Ground temporarily rested in the Royal Vault before transfer to Frogmore. The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore is the final resting place of Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. A crypt below Victoria and Albert’s tomb has nine spaces that were reserved for the couple’s nine children, but none of them were buried there.

Queen Victoria’s Royal Mausoleum in Frogmore with the Royal Burial Ground in the front; Photo Credit – By Gill Hicks, CC BY-SA 2.0,

It is assumed that there are burial plans for Elizabeth II, but they have not yet been announced to the public. The most likely burial place is at St. George’s Chapel, but there is available space at the Royal Burial Ground and in Queen Victoria’s mausoleum, although those possibilities seem unlikely. It is also possible that a new tomb or mausoleum could be built for the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch.

 Interior of the Royal Mausoleum, burial place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

It seems there is a history of constructing tombs after a death. Four days after the death of Prince Albert in December 1861, Queen Victoria ordered a mausoleum to be built at Frogmore in Windsor Great Park where both she and Albert would be interred. Albert was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault and in March 1862, construction of the mausoleum began. In December 1862, Albert’s coffin was transferred to the Royal Mausoleum. When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, her coffin rested in the Albert Memorial Chapel for two days after the funeral and then it was transferred to the Royal Mausoleum.

Tomb of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Photo source:

Elizabeth II’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, but not in the Royal Vault. Her great-grandfather Edward VII who died in 1910, was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault while a tomb with recumbent effigies was completed on the south side of the high altar in St. George’s Chapel. When Edward VII’s wife Alexandra died in 1925, the king’s coffin was removed from the Royal Vault and placed with his wife’s in front of the altar in the Albert Memorial Chapel. On April 22, 1927, both coffins were placed in the tomb.

Tomb of King George V and Queen Mary; Photo Credit –

George V, the grandfather of Elizabeth II, died in 1936 and was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault. A tomb with recumbent effigies was built at the west end of the north aisle of the nave of St. George’s Chapel. George V’s coffin was removed from the Royal Vault and interred in the tomb on April 23, 1939. He wife Mary was interred in the tomb when she died in 1953.

King George VI Memorial Chapel; Photo Credit – Connie Nissinger

Elizabeth II’s father, George VI died in 1952, and like his two predecessors was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault. After lengthy discussions, a memorial chapel was built on the north side of St. George’s Chapel between 1967-1969. This was the first major addition to St. George’s Chapel since 1504. In March 1969, George VI’s coffin was transferred from the Royal Vault to the new King George VI Memorial Chapel. When his wife Elizabeth The Queen Mother died in 2002, her coffin was interred there along with the ashes of her daughter Margaret who had died in February 2002.

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

Recommended Book
The Royal Tombs of Great Britain by Aiden Dodson

Westminster Abbey – Royals
St. George’s Chapel – Royal Burials
Wikipedia: Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore

Below is some brief information about the burials of English/British monarchs since the Norman Conquest in 1066. For more information, see Unofficial Royalty: British Royal Burial Sites

House of Normandy

House of Angevin

  • Henry II: Abbaye de Fontevraud in Anjou, France, remains destroyed by French Huguenots in 1562, effigy survived
  • Richard I: Abbaye de Fontevraud in Anjou, France, remains destroyed by French Huguenots in 1562, effigy survived
  • John: tomb in Worcester Cathedral

House of Plantagenet

  • Henry III: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Edward I: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Edward II: tomb in Gloucester Cathedral
  • Edward III: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Richard II: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London

House of Lancaster

  • Henry IV: tomb in Canterbury Cathedral
  • Henry V: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Henry VI: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

House of York

  • Edward IV: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
  • Edward V: unknown
  • Richard III: buried at Greyfriars Church in Leicester which was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, remains discovered in a car park and were re-interred at Leicester Cathedral in 2015

House of Tudor

  • Henry VII: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Henry VIII: buried in a vault in the Choir of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, plaque in floor
  • Edward VI: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Jane: after execution buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London
  • Mary I: shared tomb with Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey in London
  • Elizabeth I: shared tomb with Mary I at Westminster Abbey in London

House of Stuart

  • James I: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • Charles I: buried in a vault with Henry VIII in the Choir in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, plaque in floor
  • Charles II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • James II: buried in Chapel of Saint Edmund at the English Benedictines in Paris, France which was destroyed during the French Revolution, viscera rediscovered and reburied in 1824 at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
  • Mary II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • William III: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • Anne: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor

House of Hanover

  • George I: buried at the Chapel of Leine Castle in Hanover, Germany; re-interred in the mausoleum at Herrenhausen in Hanover, Germany in 1956
  • George II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • George III: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • George IV: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • William IV: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • Victoria: tomb in Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, adjacent to Windsor Castle

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

  • Edward VII: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

House of Windsor

  • George V: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
  • Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor): Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, adjacent to Windsor Castle
  • George VI: buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

When The Monarch Dies: The State Funeral

by Susan Flantzer

The funeral procession of King Edward VII in Windsor; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

In the United Kingdom, a state funeral is usually reserved for the monarch or for a very distinguished person with the approval of the monarch and Parliament such as Sir Winston Churchill‘s funeral in 1965. While there are funeral plans for Queen Elizabeth II, they have not been made public.  There could possibly be changes from the past state funerals of monarchs such as the place of the funeral and/or the burial place.  While there has not been a monarch’s funeral at Westminster Abbey since King George II’s funeral in 1760, it is quite possible that the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be held there.  It is expected that most of the traditions outlined here will be followed.

The members of the British Royal Family who have had state funerals since 1901 are:

1901: Queen Victoria at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1910: King Edward VII at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1936: King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1952: King George VI at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Another classification of funerals in the United Kingdom is ceremonial funerals, usually reserved for senior members of the Royal Family, generally for those who hold high military rank, the consort of the monarch and heir to the throne, and high-ranking public figures such as the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1979 and Baroness Thatcher in 2013.

The members of the British Royal Family who have had ceremonial funerals since 1952 are:

1953: Queen Mary, wife of King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1974: The Duke of Gloucester, son of King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, former wife of The Prince of Wales at Westminster Abbey, London
2002: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, wife of King George VI at Westminster Abbey, London

Other members of the British Royal Family have private funerals such as the funeral of Princess Margaret in 2002.

Parliament: State and Ceremonial Funerals

State funerals of recent past monarchs have had the features below with the exception of the state funeral of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria wanted no public lying-in-state and therefore the only public event in London was a gun-carriage procession from one train station to another. She had died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and her coffin was transported via boat and train to Waterloo Station in London. Then the coffin was transported by gun carriage to Paddington Station for the train journey to Windsor.

Coffin is brought to Westminster Hall in London: From the place of death, the coffin is transported to London, if necessary, and then brought by horse-drawn gun carriage escorted by military, officials, and mourners to Westminster Hall for the lying-in-state.


Lying-In-State in Westminster Hall: During the lying-in-state period, which occurs before the funeral, the coffin rests on a raised platform in the middle of Westminster Hall. Each corner of the platform is guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry.  Members of the public file past the coffin and pay their respects. See Unofficial Royalty: When The Monarch Dies: Lying-In-State in Westminster Hall


Coffin is brought from Westminster Hall to Windsor: The gun carriage carrying the coffin is hauled from Westminster Hall to Paddington Station by sailors from the Royal Navy accompanied by several military contingents, State office-holders, the Royal Household and the deceased monarch’s personal staff and servants. The late monarch’s equerries serve as pallbearers and walk alongside the coffin which is escorted by the monarch’s bodyguards: the Gentlemen at Arms and the Yeomen of the Guard. The Royal Family (as chief mourners) follow the coffin, along with foreign and Commonwealth representatives. The journey from Westminster Hall to Paddington Station takes two hours. The coffin, mourners, and officials then travel by train to Windsor, where the procession re-forms for the short journey to Windsor Castle.


St. George’s Chapel, Windsor; Photo Credit – By Andrewkbrook1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Funeral service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle or Westminster Abbey, London: The funeral service for the monarch is the same as for a commoner, the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer. See Church of England: The Outline Order for Funerals and The Funeral Service. If the funeral is at Westminster Abbey, it is probable that the coffin will be transferred to Windsor for burial as described above.



Burial: King Edward VII, King George V, and King George VI were all buried at St. George’s Chapel.  Before the burial, the Garter King of Arms pronounces the formal style of the deceased monarch. As the coffin is lowered into the vault, the Lord Chamberlain breaks his white stave of office to symbolize the end of his period of service to the late monarch. After Queen Victoria’s funeral, her coffin rested for two days in the Albert Memorial Chapel in St. George’s Chapel. Her coffin was then taken by horse-drawn gun carriage the short distance to Frogmore Mausoleum to rest beside her husband Prince Albert. See Unofficial Royalty: When The Monarch Dies: The Burial. (published 4/13/17)

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

For more specific information on funerals of recent monarchs, see: