Last modified: 1 January 2021
The state is known as the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The country is being reigned by the Windsor dynasty.
The history of the British monarchy begins with the Anglians and Saxons, who arrived in England in the 4th century. The first kings were tribal chiefs. King Alfred the Great (849-899) united the various kingdoms in England. The Anglo-Saxon kings were driven away by Danish kings. In 1066 William I the Conquerer became king of England, after he defeated King Harold II in the Battle of Hastings. The various dynasties who reigned afterwards are all related to eachother. In the 15th century the reign of the House of Plantagenet was over and the War of the Roses began between the Houses of Lancaster and York. The Tudors reigned after 1485. The last reigning Tudor was Queen Elizabeth I, who died in 1603 and gave the throne to King James VI of Scotland, who reigned over England and Scotland as King James I. His son King Charles I was beheaded in 1649, because he wished to reign without a parliament. In 1660 Great Britain became a monarchy again with King Charles II. James II was a Catholic and driven out of the country by his son-in-law and his own daughter, who afterwards reigned as King William III and Queen Mary II.
After the death of Mary II’s sister Queen Anne in 1714 the throne went to the closest protestant relative, which was George I, son of Sophia of Hannover -granddaughter of King James I. In 1817 no male member of the royal family had an heir, so that a few of the men were forced to marry. Finally the Duke of Kent got a daughter in 1819 that was named Victoria. In 1837 she succeeded her uncle King William IV. Queen Victoria in 1876 became Emress of India. She didn’t die until 1901 and can be seen as the Grandmother of Europe as she now has over 1000 descendants. King Edward VIII in 1936 was forced to abdicate as he wanted to marry the American Wallis Simpson, who already had divorced twice. His younger brother suddenly became King George VI. During his reign India became independent in 1947.
The current sovereign is Elizabeth II Alexandra Mary Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She was born at 17 Bruton Street in London, Great Britain, on 21 April 1926.
She is the daughter of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1895- 1952) and his wife Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002).
Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father King George VI after his death on 6 February 1952.
The coronation took place at Westminster Abbey, London, Great Britain, on 2 June 1953.
The Queen’s motto is Dieu et mon droit, which means God and my right.
The Queen is the head of the Anglican Church of England and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. She herself is Anglican.
Marriage and descendants
Queen Elizabeth II was married to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (1921-2021) since 1947. He was known as The Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
- Charles The Prince of Wales (born 1948)
- Anne Princess Royal (born 1950). 1973-1992 she was married to Mark Phillips (born 1948). In 1992 she married Sir Timothy Laurence (born 1955). She has one son, Peter Phillips (born 1977), and one daughter, Zara Phillips (born 1981). Peter married Autumn Kelly (born 1978) in 2008, and had two daughters, Savannah Phillips (born 2010) and Isla Elizabeth Phillips (born 2012). Zara married Michael Tindall in 2011, and had two daughters, Mia Tindall (born 2014) and Lena Tindall (born 2018), and one son, Lucas Tindall (born 2021).
- Andrew The Duke of York (born 1960). He was married 1986-1996 to Sarah Ferguson (born 1959). The couple had two daughters, Princess Beatrice (born 1988) and Princess Eugenie (born 1990). Princess Beatrice in 2020 married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Princess Eugenie in 2018 married Jack Brooksbank (born 1986) and has one son, August (born 2021).
- Edward The Earl of Wessex (born 1964) is married to Sophie Rhys-Jones (born 1965) since 1999. The couple had two children, one daughter, Lady Louise Windsor (born 2003), and one son, James Viscount Severn (born 2007).
Heir to the throne
Charles Philip Arthur George, The Prince of Wales, was born at Buckingham Palace in London, Great Britain, on 14 November 1948.
He is the 21st to hold the title of The Prince of Wales. Upon the accession to the throne of his mother on 6 February 1952 he automatically received the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke ofRothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles. He became Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester also on 26 July 1958. He was invested as Prince and Great Steward of Scotland on 6 February 1962, and as Prince of Wales at Carnarvon Castle on 1 July 1969.
The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997) in 1981, and divorced her in 1996. He married secondly in 2005 Camilla Parker Bowles née Shand (born 1947). She is known as the Duchess of Cornwall.
- Prince William (born 1982). In 2011 William became The Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, upon his marriage to Catherine Middleton (born 1982). The couple had two sons, Prince George (born 2013) and Prince Louis (born 2018), and one daughter, Princess Charlotte (born 2015).
- Prince Henry “Harry” (born 1984). In 2018 Harry became The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, upon his marriage to Meghan Markle (born 1981). They have one son, Archie (born 2019), and one daughter, Lilibet (born 2021).
London SW1A 1AA
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. The British throne is hereditary according to the right of the first born in the descendance of Sophia Princess of Hanover (1630-1714). Until March 2015 sons of a sovereign had priority over the daughters, who had the priority over the descendance of the brothers of a sovereign. Until they were 25 years old descendants of King George V had to ask the permission of the sovereign when they want to get married. Princes and Princesses who married a catholic were ruled out of the succession. The Sovereign must be in communion with the Church of England and must swear to preserve the established Church of England and the established Church of Scotland. A monarch is not allowed to marry a Roman Catholic.
The succession to the Crown Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013, and became an Act of Parliament (law). The changes were already agreed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia in October 2011. The law was to be approved by all 15 Commonwealth countries where the monarch is head of state: Australia, Barbados, Canada, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Nine Realms concluded that the legislation was not necessary: Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. The last country, Australia, voted yes on 26 March 2015. As of that date the provisions of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 came into force. The act ends discrimination on both religious (partly) and gender grounds. However as a monarch still must be a protestant and is the head of Church of England, catholic descendants are still excluded from succession. The firstborn child, whether a girl or a boy, will be the heir to the throne. In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person’s descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born). A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith. This applies also in relation to marriages occurring before the time of the coming into force of this section where the person concerned is alive at that time (as well as in relation to marriages occurring after that time). A person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of the monarch before marrying. Where any such consent has been obtained it must be signified under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, declared in Counsil and recorded in the books of the Privy Council. The effect of a person’s failure to comply with this is that the person and the person’s descendants from the marriage are disqualified from succeeding to the Crown. The Royal Marriages Act 1772 (which provides that, subject to certain exceptions, a descendant of King George II may marry only with the consent of the Sovereign) is repealed. A void marriage under that Act is to be treated as never having been void if neither party to the marriage was one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown at the time of the marriage, no consent was sought under section 1 of that Act, or notice given under section 2 of that Act, in respect of the marriage, in all the circumstances it was reasonable for the person concerned not to have been aware at the time of the marriage that the Act applied to it, and no person acted, before the coming into force of this section, on the basis that the marriage was void.
The Queen is Her Majesty, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The eldest son of a monarch is from birth Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Great Steward of Scotland. Later on he normally also gets the titles Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester. The children of a sovereign, the children of his/her sons and the oldest son of the oldest son of a Prince of Wales are Royal Highness, Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The great-grandchildren of King George V are styled Lord/lady Windsor. In 1960 Queen Elizabeth II decided that her descendants in male line from the 3rd generation who are no Royal Highness and Prince/Princess will bear the name Mountbatten-Windsor. Further the eldest daughter of a monarch can be styled Princess Royal (which doesn’t happen each generation), but there only can be one Princess Royal alive.
Roughly there are three categories of royal residences. There are official royal residences that are still in use nowadays, furthermore there are private estates owned by the monarch, and there are unoccupied royal residences which once housed members of the British royal family and therefore are of historical interest.
The official royal residences are held in trust for future generations. they are homes and offices for members of the royal family and their staff, or they are used as location for events and ceremonies. Buckingham Palace in London has been the official residence of the sovereigns of Great Britain since 1837. It is also the administrative headquarters of the monarch. Another official residence of the monarch is Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II loves to spend her weekends. She takes up official residence at Windsor Castle for a month over Easter and for a week in June for the service of the Order of the Garter and Royal Ascot. The monarch’s official residence in Scotland is the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The Queen usually spends one week here at the end of June or the beginning of July.
Clarence House in London was the official residence of the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother from 1953 to her death in 2002. Nowadays it is the official London residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as of Prince William and Prince Harry. The family home of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall is Highgrove House near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. St. James’s Palace in London is the home of several members of the royal family and their offices. Kensington Palace in London is the home of a number of members of the royal family and holds some offices.
The best known private residence is Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Queen Elizabeth II and her family usually spend August and September here. Sandringham House in Norfolk, England, is the place where Queen Elizabeth II and her family spend Christmas. They usually stay here until February.
Several royal residences are open the whole year, or a part of the year.
The Kings and Queens of Great Britain since 1714
|George I (1660-1727)||1714-1727|
|George II (1683-1760)||1727-1760|
|George III (1738-1820)||1760-1820|
|George IV (1762-1830)||1820-1830|
|William IV (1765-1837)||1830-1837|
|Edward VII (1841-1910)||1901-1910|
|George V (1865-1936)||1910-1936|
|Edward VIII (1894-1972)||1936-abd.1936|
|George VI (1895-1952)||1936-1952|
|Elizabeth II (1926-)||1952-|
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