Британская монархия


English Monarchs 400ad-1603

The history of the English Crown up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 is long and eventful.

The concept of a single ruler unifying different tribes based in England developed in the eighth and ninth centuries in figures such as Offa and Alfred the Great, who began to create centralised systems of government.

Following the Norman Conquest, the machinery of government developed further, producing long-lived national institutions including Parliament.

The Middle Ages saw several fierce contests for the Crown, culminating in the Hundred Years War.

The conflict was finally ended with the advent of the Tudors, the dynasty which produced some of England’s most successful rulers and a flourishing cultural Renaissance.

The end of the Tudor line with the death of the ‘Virgin Queen’ in 1603 brought about the Union of the Crowns with Scotland.

English Monarchs (400 AD — 1603)

English Monarchs (400 AD — 1603)

The Anglo-Saxon kings

The Normans

♦> The Angevins

The Plantagenets

The Lancastrians

The Yorkists

The Tudors


United Kingdom Monarchs (1603-present)

Until 1603 the English and Scottish Crowns were separate, although links between the two were always close — members of the two Royal families intermarried on many occasions. Following the Accession of King James VI of Scotland (I of England) to the English Throne, a single monarch reigned in the United Kingdom.

The last four hundred years have seen many changes in the nature of the Monarchy in the United Kingdom. From the end of the 17th century, monarchs lost executive power and they increasingly became subject to Parliament, resulting in today’s constitutional Monarchy.

The Stuarts

♦> The Hanoverians

♦> Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

The House of Windsor

The Stuarts

The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James I of England who began the period was also King James VI of Scotland, thus combining the two thrones for the first time.

The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war.

It was an age of intense religious debate and radical

politics. Both contributed to a bloody civil war in the mid-seventeenth century between Crown and Parliament (the Cavaliers and the Roundheads), resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell and the dramatic execution of King Charles I.

There was a short-lived republic, the first time that the country had experienced such an event.

The Restoration of the Crown was soon followed by another ‘Glorious’ Revolution. William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism, followed by Queen Anne, the second of James II’s daughters.

The end of the Stuart line with the death of Queen Anne led to the drawing up of the Act of Settlement in 1701, which provided that only Protestants could hold the throne.

The next in line according to the provisions of this act was George of Hanover, yet Stuart princes remained in the wings. The Stuart legacy was to linger on in the form of claimants to the Crown for another century.

The Hanoverians

The Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the stability of British society. The first of their Kings, George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant according to the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed Stuart king, threatened to take the throne, and were supported by a number of’Jacobites’ throughout the realm. For all that, the Hanoverian period was remarkably stable, not least because of the longevity of its kings. From 1714 through to 1837, there were only five monarchs, one of whom, George III, remains the longest reigning king in British History.

The period was also one of political stability, and the development of constitutional monarchy. For vast tracts of the eighteenth century, great Whig families dominated politics, while the early nineteenth century saw Tory domination.

Britain’s first ‘Prime’ Minister, Robert Walpole, dates from this period, and income tax was introduced. Towards the end of the Hanoverian period, the Great Reform Act was passed, which amongst other things widened the electorate.

It was also in this period that Britain came to acquire much of her overseas empire, despite the loss of the American colonies, largely

through foreign conquest in the various wars of the century.

By the end of the Hanoverian period, the British Empire covered a third of the globe.



The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to the British Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, son of Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Queen Victoria herself remained a member of the House of Hanover.

The only British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was King Edward VII, who reigned for nine years at the beginning of the modern age in the early years of the twentieth century.

King George V replaced the German-sounding title with that of Windsor during the First World War. The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha survived in other European monarchies, including the current Belgian Royal Family and the former monarchies of Portugal and Bulgaria.

The House of Windsor

The House of Windsor came into being in 1917, when the name was adopted as the British Royal Family’s official name by a proclamation of King George V, replacing the historic name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It remains the family name of the current Royal Family.

During the twentieth century, kings and queens of the United Kingdom have fulfilled the varied duties of constitutional monarchy. One of their most important roles has been acting as national figureheads lifting public morale during the devastating wars of 1914-18 and 193945.

The period saw the modernisation of the monarchy in tandem with many social changes which have taken place over the past 90 years. One such modernisation has been the use of mass communication technologies to make the Royal Family accessible to a broader public all over the world.

George V adopted the new relatively new medium of radio to broadcast across the Empire at Christmas; the Coronation ceremony was broadcast on television for the first time in 1953, at The Queen’s insistence; and the World Wide Web has been used for the past seven years to provide a global audience with information about the Royal Family.

During this period, British monarchs have also played a vital part in promoting international relations. The Queen retains close links with former colonies in her role as Head of the Commonwealth.

This section looks at the lives and work of members of the Royal Family who have passed away since The Queen’s Accession in 1952: Diana, Princess of Wales,Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Alice.