You have now reached the age of 90, and Your loyal subjects salute You. You were born in the year of the general strike, but that was nothing to the strife and turmoil that Your line has lived through over the centuries.
Your line goes back to the Wessex kings, before even Alfred the Great. The Wessex bloodline continued after the Norman Conquest when Norman King Henry I married Matilda of Scotland. She was the daughter of King Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scotland and his Wessex wife “Saint” Margaret, who was the granddaughter of the Wessex king Edmund II (Ironside), who reigned briefly in 1016. Henry I and his Queen produced a daughter, also called Matilda, who ended up marrying Geoffrey of Anjou (Plantagenet) and had a son who became Henry II, the founder of the Plantagenet line that ruled England until 1485. The Plantagenet line included the famous Richard the Lionheart and the infamous King John. However, sometimes bad kings have good outcomes because John’s misrule resulted in the creation of the Magna Carta, which is a foundation stone of the legal systems of much of the free world to this day. The first Parliament, instigated by Simon de Montfort, appeared in the reign of John’s son Henry III.
The Wars of the Roses ended in 1485 when Henry Tudor took the Throne from Richard III in battle. As Henry VII, he had a somewhat tenuous claim to the Throne, through His mother Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. However he reinforced his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. This union resulted in the Throne passing to their son Henry VIII.
Henry VIII was one of the landmark Monarchs of England, whose reign changed England forever. In his desperation for a legitimate male heir Henry VIII got through six wives, and changed the religion of the country, creating the Church of England. The first two of his wives bore him daughters and the third bore him the son he craved. That son succeeded Henry as Edward VI, but died as a youth, without issue. Edward VI was succeeded by his half-sister Mary, who had been raised as a staunch Roman Catholic and did her best to restore England to Catholicism by force, marrying the Catholic Philip of Spain in the process. Mary died childless in 1558 and was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth I, who was probably the greatest Monarch to actually “rule” England, in the times before full Parliamentary democratic rule was introduced.
Elizabeth I had been raised a Protestant but had tried to bring a sort of religious tolerance to England. However, in 1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated her and relieved English Catholics of their duty of allegiance to her. This made every Catholic a potential regicide and so Catholicism had to be suppressed. The big fly in the ointment was the deposed, Catholic, Mary Queen of Scots, who was a great-granddaughter of Henry VII and next in line to childless Elizabeth for the English Throne. Mary was held in detention in England but she kept plotting the assassination of Elizabeth in order to put herself on the English Throne. Eventually this could no longer be tolerated and Mary was executed. This resulted in Elizabeth’s worst nightmare. She had been walking a tightrope between France and Spain to try and keep the peace, but Mary’s execution caused King Philip II of Spain to launch his Armada against England in 1588. The defeat of the armada was a combination of the skill and resolve of the English seamen, a spell of favourable weather, and a healthy slice of luck! Whilst waiting for the invasion with her troops at Tilbury Elizabeth gave them an address which could not have been more inspiring if Shakespeare himself had written it. A pertinent extract of this is as follows:
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a King of England too, and think foul scorn that [Duke of] Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my Realm;”
Regrettably, these days “princes” of Europe have “invaded” Your realm, and do rule here, and as far as our fisheries are concerned, the Spanish Armada has been victorious. However, Your loyal subjects are working on it!
Elizabeth I was succeeded by James, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, the nearest of the bloodline and raised as a Protestant. He was the first of the Stuart line, which saw one king executed and one king expelled. James I’s son Charles I fought Parliament and lost both his Crown and his head, leaving England under the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. On Cromwell’s death Charles son Charles II was recalled to the Throne, and on his death his brother James came to the Throne. James II was a staunch Roman Catholic and soon came into conflict with Parliament, who engineered His removal and installed his Dutch Protestant nephew William and his wife Mary, who was James’s daughter, as joint Monarchs. The Stuart line died out when Mary’s sister, Queen Anne, died childless in 1714. Under the Stuarts, the kingdoms of England and Scotland became united as Great Britain, and the role of Parliament in the governance of Britain was greatly expanded. The search was on for a suitable Protestant to take the Throne, as nobody wanted another Catholic Monarch.
King James I’s daughter Elizabeth had married Frederick, Elector of the Palatinate, and they had a daughter Sophie, who had married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, and had a son called George. George, as a great-grandson of James I was invited to ascend the British Throne as George I. Thus began the House of Hannover. As George I spoke no English he delegated much of the business of government to a senior minister, Robert Walpole, who became, effectively, Britain’s first Prime Minister, expanding the role of Parliament even more. Three more Georges and a William later, a Queen called Victoria ascended the Throne. She took as consort a German called Albert, and the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came into existence. This lasted until Victoria’s grandson King George V took the name “Windsor” during the First World War in order to distance the family from things Germanic. Edward VIII succeeded George V, but abdicated, putting his younger brother Albert on the Throne as George VI, and it was him that took the country through the Second World War.
When George VI died in 1952 the Throne passed to You, Your Majesty. You have served as our longest reigning Monarch, and the succession is secured for the following three generations. Your 90th birthday will be officially celebrated later this year, but on 23 June we, Your loyal subjects, hope to give You the best birthday present we can, by voting to end the EU occupation of Your realm and give You Your country back.
Happy birthday Your Majesty, Your loyal subjects salute You.