Monday, July 22, 2013

Don’t believe everything you read

...because the newspapers and the online stories often get it wrong.

Take today, for example, the day the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, is expected to give birth to another heir to the British throne.

In an online story earlier today, I read a caption under a photograph of Prince Charles, Prince William, and the aforementioned former Kate Middleton that said, “When the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby is born, it will be the first time in history that three generations of direct heirs will be in waiting while the sitting sovereign is fit and well.”

That is obviously not a true statement.

Even confining oneself to the British Isles (which is always difficult to do), it happened before during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901), when Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, the future Edward VIII, was born on June 23, 1894, to the future George V (born June 3, 1865) and his wife, Mary of Teck. George, a grandson of Queen Victoria, was the son of the Prince of Wales who would become Edward VII (born November 9, 1841) and his Alexandra.

Edward VII would reign from 1901 until his death in 1910, George V would reign from 1910 until his death in 1936, and Edward VIII ascended to the throne in 1936. Of course, he left it in 1936 as well (more on this below).

It (the three heirs scenario) could even be said to have happened twice because on December 14, 1895, eighteen months after Edward VIII was born, George and Mary had another son, Albert Frederick Arthur George, who became George VI when Edward VIII abdicated on December 11, 1936, to marry the woman he loved, the twice-divorced American, Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson Spencer.

Of course, George VI (who was known as Prince Albert) was never considered “the heir” to the throne because he was a second son, just as Prince Andrew is Prince Charles’s younger brother and Prince Harry is Prince William’s younger brother. But Prince Albert (“Bertie” to his family) did become a future monarch, just as his brother (who was known as Prince David) did.

So I guess what I’m saying is this:

Don’t believe everything you read in a photo caption either.

I should also alert you to the fact that if history is any indication, the name given to William’s and Kate’s imminent progeny will probably not be the name under which he or she will be known when and if he or she ascends to the throne. After all, not only did Prince David become King Edward VIII and Prince Albert (“Bertie” to his family) become King George VI, the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, could become Charles III or Philip I or Arthur I or George VII (I’m betting on George VII), if and when he ascends to the throne. And William could become William V or Arthur I (or II) or Philip I (or II) or Louis I, if and when he ascends to the throne.

Except for having to look up the birth dates, I have written all of this post from memory. Am I an Anglophile or what?

Yes, I am.

P.S. -- It also happens that three of George III’s descendants who became future English monarchs were alive during his reign (1760 - 1820). They were George IV (born 1762), William IV (born 1765), and Victoria (born 1819). The sitting sovereign was hardly fit and well, however. From 1811 until his accession, George IV served as Prince Regent during his father’s final mental illness. And since George IV and William IV were brothers, not father and son, and Victoria was the daughter of yet another brother, they represented only two generations, not three.

Perhaps this is too much information for the current crop of journalists to take in.


  1. You should be writing the articles rather than they as you know a hell of alot more about it I can tell you. The media here are awful for the most part, pandering to the lowest common denominator, dumbing things down, mush for the masses. Your post in contrast interesting and informative. I knew most of the details, but not all. My mother is staunch roaylist. I'm not much of one myself it would be fair to say, but find their history interesting.

  2. I have some insider news for you - culled from a royal footman called Bob - he reckons that if it's a girl she'll be called Britney after Britney Spears and if it's a boy he'll be called Robocop after William's favourite film and if it's a rabbit it will be called Brer.

  3. All Consuming, I don't know that I'm a royalist -- our country did fight a revolution, after all, to be free of the monarchy -- but I the pageantry is wonderful and, like you, I enjoy the long history of it all.

    Lord Pudding, much obliged for the info. I didn't realize there was a third choice, but Brer is the perfect moniker if it turns out to be a rabbit. And perhaps grandpa Charles could change his own name to Eeyore.

  4. no matter how weary I be, your posts put a smile on my face. In this part of the world there was more excitement about the blanket the baby was photographed in (perhaps it was NZ wool....) than the actual baby. and of course, as Wills had his first trip overseas to this fair land (and in fact swam in my friends pool I kid you not) this is of most interest to the quality broadsheets;)

  5. susan, thank you for commenting; I'm glad my posts put a smile on your face. Whenever I was in a pout, my dad would always say, "It takes more facial muscles to make a frown than to make a smile!" so here's to using as new muscles as possible....