On this day in history….1st July 1969

On this day in history : 1st July 1969 – Prince Charles is invested Prince of Wales by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at Caernarfon Castle, in North Wales….

Caernarfon Castle prepared for the Investiture

Prince Charles had been created the Prince of Wales on the 26th of July 1958, when he was just 9-years-old – but it was 11 years later, when he was 20, that his investiture took place…. It is a title traditionally given to the eldest son of the reigning monarch…. Prince Charles is the longest serving Prince of Wales in British history, making him the longest waiting heir ever to become monarch….

The tradition began in 1301, when King Edward I of England gave the title to his son, Prince Edward (later to become King Edward II)…. It was after deposing the last native Prince of Wales, Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, following the conquering of Wales….

Millions of people watched the investiture of Prince Charles on television and huge crowds were attracted to Caernarfon – and to the castle which had seen the investiture in 1911 of Edward VIII before him….

Image credit : Journalist Geoff Charles – National Library of Wales CC0
Image credit : Journalist Geoff Charles – National Library of Wales CC0

The centuries old custom involved the Secretary of State for Wales, who read the Letters Patent in Welsh…. The Queen then bestowed upon Charles a sword, coronet, ring, the gold rod and the kingly mantle…. Prince Charles then took his oath….

“I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship and faith and truth I will bear unto thee to live and die against all manner of folks”….

He then gave a speech in both Welsh and English….

Image : Pinterest

On this day in history….28th June 1838

On this day in history : 28th June 1838 – The Coronation, at Westminster Abbey, of Queen Victoria – in a five hour long botched service full of mis-fortunate mishaps….

Sir George Hayter – Public domain

Victoria came to the throne after the death of her uncle, William IV, on the 20th of June 1837…. She was 18 years old and her Coronation took place a year later…. With a year to plan such an event one would imagine things to run smoothly on the day – but this was not entirely to be the case….

When writing in her diary to record the day Victoria remarked “I shall remember this day as the proudest of my life”…. There would have been those who remembered the day for very different reasons – but indeed Victoria had every right to feel proud – and not least for the way she managed to hold it together….

Sir George Hayter – Public domain

It could perhaps be said that Victoria was more than a little responsible for some of the difficulties of the day herself…. There had been very little rehearsal for the ceremony – she had only visited the Abbey on the eve of the Coronation and even then only after persuasion from Prime Minister Lord Melbourne…. She insisted she knew what she was meant to be doing – saying she understood where to stand and when to move throughout the ceremony – although it is highly likely she had forgotten half of it by the time came….

As the day dawned clusters of people began to gather in London…. With the advent of the railways it had become easy for people to travel – soon the numbers had swelled to some 400,000 – lining the route to Westminster Abbey….

The Gold State Coach – Image credit: Steve F.E. Cameron – own work – CC BY-SA 3.0

The lengthy service involved two changes of dress for the Queen and when not needed for the proceedings it had been arranged that the royal party should retreat to St. Edward’s Chapel…. Whilst a chapel in every sense of the word it certainly did not resemble one on this occasion…. The altar was piled with plates of sandwiches and bottles of wine….people’s possessions and paraphernalia were littered everywhere…. Victoria was quite appalled at the state of the place….

Placing the crown upon the Queen’s head went more or less according to plan – but it is a shame the same cannot be said for the Coronation ring…. The ring had been sized to fit Victoria’s little finger but the Archbishop forced it on to her ring finger…. After the ceremony Victoria had to painfully struggle to remove it – having to resort to soaking her hand in iced water to reduce the swelling….

The Bishop of Durham then gave her the ceremonial orb at the wrong time in the ceremony and the Bishop of Bath and Wells managed to turn over two pages of the order of service and missed out a crucial chunk of the proceedings – Victoria had to be called back so that it could be repeated….

If it wasn’t her bishops giving her grief it was her Lords…. As the peers came before the new Queen to pay their respects one in particular, Lord John Rolle, Devon’s wealthiest landowner at the time, came a right cropper! As he mounted the steps leading up to her he tripped – and in an action truly befitting his name – he dramatically rolled back down to the bottom…. Luckily he was unhurt – well, maybe his pride was a little dented – and he was determined to fulfil his duty….so started the ascent again…. Showing concern Victoria rose and went down the steps to meet him…. It was an act that was seen as being both gracious and kind by many – but there were those who were not willing to show such kindness towards his Lordship….

“Then the trumpets braying, and the organ playing,
And the sweet trombones, with their silver tones,
But Lord Rolle was rolling; ‘twas mighty consoling
To think his Lordship did not break his bones!”
- Mr Barney Maguire

After this catalogue of events a new programme was put together ready for the next Coronation…. Thankfully they got it right the next time – but then they did have 63 years to plan it….

Coronation of Queen Victoria by Edmund Thomas Parris – Public domain

On this day in history….6th May 1910

On this day in history : 6th May 1910 – King Edward VII, known as ‘Bertie’ to his family and close friends, dies from a heart attack at Buckingham Palace….

Photograph of Edward VII 1900s W & D Downey – Public domain

Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, had been born at Buckingham Palace on the 9th of November 1841…. He was to become Prince of Wales a month later, on the 8th of December….

On the 10th of March 1863 he married Danish Princess Alexandra, at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor…. They were to have six children five of whom lived to adulthood – Prince Albert Victor, Prince George (later to become George V), Princess Louise, Princess Victoria and Princess Maud….

Edward and Alexandra on their wedding day 1863 – Public domain

Edward was to have many affairs during his marriage, including with actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry…. He also had relationships with Lady Randolph Churchill (the mother of Winston Churchill) and Alice Keppell (the great grandmother of Camilla, wife of Prince Charles)…. He had one particularly scandalous affair with an actress before his marriage…. Prince Albert was distraught over the disgrace it brought upon the royal family…. The affair ended – but two weeks later Albert died…. Queen Victoria blamed Edward for the death of her beloved husband – she never forgave him….

Edward (right) with his mother Queen Victoria, Tsar Nicholas II (left), Empress Alexandra and baby Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, 1896 – Public domain

Following the death of Victoria, on the 22nd of January 1901 Edward became King…. The Coronation was set for the 26th of June 1902 but Edward suffered appendicitis two days before – and it had to be postponed until the 9th of August 1902….

Edward was a heavy smoker, regularly smoking over 20 cigarettes a day and a dozen cigars…. In March 1910, whilst in Biarritz, France, he collapsed with a severe case of bronchitis…. He stayed in France to convalesce – his condition went unreported to the British public…. Edward faced much criticism for staying away at a time when political tensions were running high over the unresolved constitutional crisis of the ‘People’s Budget’….

On the 27th of April he arrived back at Buckingham Palace…. Queen Alexandra returned shortly after, having just visited her brother, King George of Greece, in Corfu…. On discovering the condition of her husband she called their children to inform them their father was seriously ill….

On the 6th of May Edward suffered a series of heart attacks – but refused to go to bed…. “No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end”…. At 11.30pm he lost consciousness and was carried to bed…. He died fifteen minutes later….

drawing of Edward on his deathbed by Sir Luke Fildes 1910 – Image : Wellcome Images CC BY 4.0

On this day in history….18th February 1478

On this day in history : 18th February 1478 – The private execution at the Tower of London of George, Duke of Clarence, for treason against his older brother, King Edward IV….

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George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence – by Lucas Cornelisz de Kock – Public domain

George Plantagenet was born on the 21st of October 1449 in Dublin…. His brother, Edward, became King in March 1461 and shortly after George was made Duke of Clarence and then in 1462 appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland….

George had always supported his brother, who had taken the crown from Henry VI in the Wars of the Roses – but he was to fall under the influence of his first cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick…. Edward had plans for his younger brother to marry Mary, the daughter of the Duke of Burgundy – but George had other ideas…. In defiance he married Isabel, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Warwick – and switched his allegiance from the House of York to the House of Lancaster in support of his father-in-law, who’s aim was to have the deposed Henry VI reinstated…. In return Henry VI made George next in line to the throne after his own son…. Power crazed Warwick then arranged for his younger daughter, Anne, to marry Henry VI’s son – thus making George’s likelihood of ever coming to the throne remote…. George began to realise his loyalty to Warwick was misplaced….

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Henry VI – Public domain

George was secretly reconciled with his brother and for a while things were fine between them…. Warwick was killed in battle in April 1471 – and then in 1475 George’s wife gave birth to a son – followed by another the next year…. However, two months later, on the 22nd of December she died – George was convinced she had been poisoned by her lady-in-waiting, Ankarette Twynyho…. Historians today think it is more likely Isabel died from a postpartum infection or consumption…. Edward had Ankarette brought to trial and then bullied the jury into finding her guilty; she was hanged (but later posthumously pardoned by Edward in 1478)….

George had designs on marrying Mary, Duchess of Burgundy – although Edward had originally thought this a good match he now rejected the idea and refused permission…. George was furious; his mental health had always been questionable but by now it was rapidly declining…. His relationship with his brother became extremely sour…. Eventually he was accused of slandering Edward and plotting against him – accusations reinforced by the confession – extracted under torture – from one of his own attendants….

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Edward IV – Public domain

George was arrested for high treason in 1478 and taken to the Tower of London…. He was not present at his trial and a Bill of Attainder was passed in Parliament declaring him guilty…. On the 18th of February a private execution took place in the Bowyer Tower…. A later exhumation of his body revealed he had not been beheaded as was the usual form of execution for a nobleman…. Rumours at the time claimed that he had been drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine….

On this day in history….12th February 1554

On this day in history : 12th February 1554 – The executions of Lady Jane Grey – also known as ‘The Nine Days Queen’ – and of her husband Lord Guildford Dudley….

Jane was the great-granddaughter of King Henry VII (through his daughter Mary) and cousin to King Edward VI…. Her parents were proud of this royal heritage – and being the committed Protestant family that they were – swore their allegiance to King Edward and renounced the Catholic faith….

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Lady Jane Grey – Public domain

In May 1553 a triple wedding took place at Durham House, the London Town house of the Bishop of Durham…. 16-year-old Lady Jane married a 19-year-old Lord Guildford Dudley, an English nobleman – her sister, Catherine, married Lord Herbert and Lord Guildford’s sister, Katherine, tied the knot with Henry Hastings…. The wedding breakfast that followed afterwards must have been quite a celebration!

Edward VI, the son of King Henry VIII, had been crowned King of England at just 9 years of age…. The Third Succession Act 1544 restored Henry’s daughters’, Mary and Elizabeth, rights to be in line for succession to the throne – even though technically they were still regarded as being illegitimate (on account of the father’s marriages to their respective mothers being annulled)….

In January 1553 the now 15-year-old Edward became unwell with a fever and cough – which continued to worsen…. Edward wanted to protect the reformed Church of England – he didn’t want the crown to fall into the hands of his Catholic half-sister Mary Tudor…. In fact he didn’t want either of his illegitimate sisters to take the throne should anything happen to him….and so he decided to change his will…. He nominated his cousin Lady Jane Grey – and her male heirs after her – as successors to the throne….

Edward died on the 6th of July 1553, although his death was not announced until 4 days later – his cause of death was probably tuberculosis…. Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England on the 10th of July – something she was not overly happy about, she was reluctant to accept the crown and refused to name her husband King – making him Duke of Clarence instead….

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The crown offered to Lady Jane Grey, as imagined in the 1820s : Jane and Guildford standing – after C.R. Leslie – Public domain

Of course, Mary Tudor was not going to take all this lying down – as soon as news broke of Edward’s death she began to muster her supporters…. She was in fact the popular choice of the people – and it wasn’t long before the Privy Council (the then body of advisers to the Sovereign) switched their allegiance to Mary…. On the 19th of July Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England….

Jane and Guildford were imprisoned at the Tower of London – she in the Gentleman Gaoler’s quarters and he in Beauchamp Tower….

At the trial Jane was referred to simply as Jane Dudley, wife of Guildford…. She was charged with high treason, as was her husband, two of his brothers and former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer…. All were found guilty – and all were sentenced to death…. Her crime being that she had assumed the title and power of Monarch….the evidence – documents she had signed ‘Jane the Quene”…. I’ll bet she didn’t half curse Edward!

On the morning of the 12th of February Guildford was taken to Tower Hill to be publicly beheaded…. Lady Jane would have seen his departure from her rooms….just as she would have seen the horse and cart arrive back with his headless corpse…. It is said that she cried out “Oh Guildford, Guildford!” …. Then she was taken out to Tower Green to meet the same fate….

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The execution of Lady Jane Grey, by French painter Paul Delaroche, 1833 – National Gallery, London – Public domain