by Bob Sparrow
Much of the world was watching Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on TV – it is said to be the most watched event in the history of television. I watched some of it, but soon tired of the bagpipes and pomp that accompanied the ceremony of a truly magnificent queen. Queen Elizabeth II, may have been the longest reigning English monarch, but her reign was far from the most interesting. Yes, we’re wondering if Harry and William will patch things up between them, if the ‘royal family’ will ever really accept Megan, or if King Charles will ever be forgiven for his distant relationship with Diana. But if you think there is drama in today’s royal family – this is nothing!!!
Here are a few ‘royals’ that Oprah would have given anything to interview back in the day.
I’d say King Henry VIII is probably at the top of the list of ‘most interesting monarchs’. He took the thrown when he was only 17, six weeks later he married Catherine ‘The Cougar’ of Aragon – who was 23 and happened to be the widow of Henry’s brother, Arthur. She was the daughter of Spain’s Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, and their marriage was an arrangement to strengthen the English-Spanish alliance. Like a good king’s wife, she bore him three sons and three daughters, unfortunately all were stillborn except one girl – who would become Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) – another great interview for Oprah.
Those who have a smattering of English monarch knowledge know some of the history of the five wives that ensued, each with their own story. Although some of Henry’s wives lost their heads, several of the marriages were annulled, with Henry breaking from the Catholic church and forming the Church of England. Additionally, Henry was known as the ‘Father of the Royal Navy’ – starting the dominance of England on the seas, that lasted for centuries. There is so much more, but let’s move on.
Two years before Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, was beheaded, she and Henry had a girl, which he essentially disowned after the beheading because she was not a male. Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, encouraged Henry to bring the daughter back into the fold, which he did. She, Queen Elizabeth I, became one of England’s most accomplished monarchs. She was called the ‘Virgin Queen’, although we’re not sure about that, but we do know that she never married.
Back to Elizabeth’s first cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, who many thought should be the Queen of England. Her relationship with Elizabeth was rocky, at best, in fact ultimately Queen Elizabeth had her imprisoned for 19 years! After her release, Mary was plotting to overthrow Elizabeth to become Queen of England, but Elizabeth found out and had her beheaded. Oops! Elizabeth’s reign was looked at as ‘The Golden Age’ of British history, both in exploration with Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as literature, with William Shakespeare.
Then there is Victoria, the 18-year-old, 4 foot 11, portly queen, who married her first cousin, Prince Albert. They had nine children and she sat on the throne for 63 years, (obviously a very sturdy throne!) a record broken by Queen Elizabeth II, who was her great, great granddaughter. But the record for all monarchs is held by Louis XIV of France, who took the throne at 4 years old and served for just over 72 years. They say, “Long live the king”, but Charles would have to live to be 145 to break Louis’ record!
And who can forget King George III, the king who married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a German, whom he met on their wedding day? Their marriage lasted . . . are you ready for it? Got ya! Fifty-seven years!!! They had 15 children! We, here in the colonies, of course, know George then best, along with the ineptness of the Earl of Sandwich, for losing the Revolutionary War.
Oprah would have had a field day!