So. I watched The Queen yesterday, am listening to The Virgin's Lover (not as good as The Other Boleyn girl), and finished Shakespeare's Secret (a children's mystery involving a necklace belonging to Elizabeth I) last week. With all these Royal stories floating around in my mind, I have been prompted once again to sort out the history of the British Monarchy.
To quote Queenie (from Blackadder) "girls should be called Elizabeth...or Mary," so I don't feel too bad about not being able to keep at the Marys, Annes, Elizabeths, Catherines, Henrys, Edwardses and Georges straight. But, for someone who has always been fascinated by royal figures, I figured it was time to figure out their history...again.
The Official Website of the British Monarchy is an excellent resource. The history section provides overviews of the dynastic families of Scotland and England before 1603, and of the United Kingdom after 1603. PDF files of the each family tree certainly provide a helpful visual, but doesn't necessarily answer my next question...
How do the rules work? I would probably turn to a book for more in depth explanation of specific circumstances for particular successions, by for my purposes tonight, Wikipedia best provided the kind of answer I was looking for, and of course royal.gov.uk again offers the current list of succession as well as an overview of how the succession to the throne is governed by both descent and statute.
Other royal issues I can't seem to keep straight...
- Mary Queen of Scots was not the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, as I thought for years, but the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister Margaret, and mother to James I of England. She is the Mary that Elizabeth I had beheaded, though, as I thought.
- Prince Albert became King George VI in 1937 after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson. (Now, there's a grand gesture). King George VI's daughter is Elizabeth II. Neither of them wanted or expected the roles they held.
- Queen Mother is an official royal title, but Queen Elizabeth (mother to Elizabeth II) is one of the few who decided to use the term.
- Titles are declared and specific. For example, the title 'Prince of Wales' may be possessed only by the eldest son of a Sovereign.