24 October 2018

Baby Sussex and the Other #7 Royals

By Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on October 15 that they are expecting a child in "spring 2019", the search term "When is spring?" spiked on the world's search engines. Every royal watcher in the world is closely watching the newest royal lady and a baby before the first anniversary is the greatest hope we could have. (Not to fall into the "just like Diana" category, but Diana delivered her first child 38 days before her first anniversary. If Meghan does the same -- though there is absolutely no reason why she would -- Baby Sussex will arrive on April 12.)

Whenever Baby Sussex arrives, he or she will fit into the Line of Succession to the throne at the #7 spot as follows:

1. HRH The Prince of Wales
2. HRH The Duke of Cambridge
3. HRH Prince George of Cambridge
4. HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
5. HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge
6. HRH The Duke of Sussex
7. Baby Sussex (either The Lady X Windsor or The Earl of Dumbarton)
8. HRH The Duke of York
9. HRH Princess Beatrice of York
10. HRH Princess Eugenie

Not many royal babies have been born at #7. In fact in the last 300ish years since the Hanoverians came to the throne, only nine babies have been born at the spot. Two of them, while members of the monarch's extended family, were not royal themselves. Such will be the case with Baby Sussex unless something changes. Under current guidelines, the great-grandchildren of the monarch do not get royal status. The only exception being the children of the first son of the Prince of Wales. So, as of now, Harry and Meghan's child will either be styled depending on gender as The Lady First Name Windsor or The Earl of Dumbarton, adopting Harry's secondary title. There are two circumstances that could alter this. First, and it does not bear consideration, would be the death or even more unlikely abdication of The Queen. If the Prince of Wales were to ascend the throne, the new baby would be a male-line grandchild of the monarch and therefore entitled to royal status and royal titles as HRH Prince or Princess First Name of Sussex. (This would also mean that the baby would be born at #6, as everyone would move one step closer to the throne.) The second circumstance would be for The Queen to make a special exception for Harry's children, as she did for Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, as the previous guidelines only provided for William's first child to have royal status.

One of the truths about being born at #7 is that the baby will likely move very far from the throne throughout its lifetime, as we shall see from the #7 predecessors. Moving down the line requires only the birth of more babies ahead of you, while moving up the line requires the far less frequent deaths of your higher-up relatives.

born February 1, 1723
died January 14, 1772 at #29
by Georg Desmarees, Gemaldegalerie
Alte Meister via Wikimedia Commons
Mary was born while her father was still Prince of Wales, but just a few years later, he became King George II and she became The Princess Mary. Of his eight children, only the three youngest (including Mary) were born in Britain. The older children were born in Hanover before their grandfather the King of Hanover became King of Great Britain. In fact, her oldest brother Frederick had been left in Hanover and Mary did not even meet him until she was five years old. Her mother died when she was just 14 and a few years later she was married off to an abusive husband, Frederick of Hesse Kassel. The couple separated after having four sons, one of whom died as an infant. A few years later, Mary's younger sister, Queen Louise of Denmark died at 27 following a miscarriage, Mary took her children to Denmark and helped raise her nephew and three nieces. Naturally, two of her sons married two of her nieces. Mary herself died somewhat young, aged just 48.

born May 22, 1770
died January 10, 1840 at #8
By Thomas Gainsborough
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Elizabeth was the seventh child of King George III, who notoriously had 15 children but only eight legitimate grandchildren, two of whom died as infants. With the birth of her five younger brothers, the male-preference succession rules of the day pushed her steadily down the line. Then, she bounced up and down in line as several of her brothers had children, then three of those children died and six brothers predeceased her. She never fell lower than 12th in line. Like all of George III's daughters, she lived a very sheltered life and was not allowed to marry as a young woman.  Even a potential marriage with the future French King Louis Philippe was denied due to religious concerns. However, after her father was declared mad, she demanded to be allowed to marry Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg. She was almost 47 years old at the time. She was finally able to establish her own household in Germany, but was not able to have a family of her own.

born February 24, 1774
died July 8, 1850 at #12
Due to the deaths of his father, four older brothers and three nieces, he rose as high as #4 during the early years of his niece Queen Victoria's reign. Once she started her family in 1840, however, he was pushed steadily back down on an almost annual basis until his death in 1850. The seventh of George III's nine sons, Adolphus was the last boy to survive to adulthood. He was given the title Duke of Cambridge but educated primarily in the family's kingdom of Hanover, where he also pursued a military career, before returning to Britain to serve in the army there. In 1818, after the death of his niece Princess Charlotte of Wales, who had been the only heir in the next generation, he married Augusta of Hesse Kassel. They produced a son and two daughters, the youngest of whom, Princess Mary Adelaide (see my profile of Mary Adelaide) was the mother of Queen Mary, who was of course the current Queen Elizabeth's paternal grandmother. So, Queen Elizabeth has close connections to the Duke of Cambridge title that she granted to her grandson Prince William.

born September 21, 1845
died November 14, 1923 at #99
At least I think he was at #99 when he passed away. Only the descendants of Queen Victoria came before him, but they were multitudinous by the 1920s. Her nine children had produced 42 grandchildren, many of whom had grandchildren of their own by 1923. In fact, five of Ernst August's grandchildren were at least 30 places higher in the line of succession because their mother, was a great-granddaughter of Victoria. Plus, he would have been even lower in line had it not been for several QVDs (Queen Victoria's Descendants) who married Catholics like Marie of Edinburgh and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. However, Ernst August had been stripped of his British titles and his Garter knighthood in 1917 for fighting on the side of his own country against Britain. Ernst August was a great-grandson of King George III; his grandfather, the Duke of Cumberland, would have been King of the United Kingdom if Victoria had not been born. Instead, he inherited George's throne in Hanover, where female rulers were not allowed. He married Thyra of Denmark, a younger sister of Queen Alexandra, and had six children. The family was deposed from the Hanoverian throne after losing to Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. Ernst August gained a new title as Duke of Brunswick in 1879 after the death of a cousin. The current claimant to his titles is married, though estranged, to Princess Caroline of Monaco.

born April 6, 1871
died April 7, 1871 at #7
The third son and sixth child of the future King Edward VIII and Alexandra of Denmark was born prematurely, but he was not the first of their children to arrive early. Little Alexander John, however, did not thrive like his siblings. He was quickly christened and died just a day after his birth. Alexandra had given birth to six children in just over seven years. Although she was only 26 when they lost Alexander John, she had no children after him.

born August 21, 1924 
died February 27, 1998 at #47
Gerald Lascelles was the second grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, but he and his older brother were the sons of their only daughter Princess Mary, who was later named Princess Royal (see my profile of Mary Princess Royal). Therefore, they received no royal titles, instead being styled through their father, who was the 6th Earl of Harewood. Both Gerald and his brother led (let's say) interesting marital careers. Gerald was still married to his first wife Angela Dowding when he had a son by Elizabeth Colvin, who became his wife 16 years later after his divorce from Angela, by whom he had also had one son. Gerald served as president of the Racing Drivers' Club for 27 years and he helped compile a series of jazz compendiums. His oldest son Henry and Henry's son Maximilian are currently #70 and #71 in the Line of Succession, but his second son Martin was never legitimized and therefore is not in line.

born October 9, 1935
currently #36
Prince Edward of Kent was the first grandchild of King George V to be born to two royal parents. His father was the king's fourth son, George Duke of Kent, and to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. On his father's side, he is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and a second cousin of her husband who was born Prince Philip of Greece. When his father died in 1942, six-year-old Edward became the Duke of Kent. He graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy and served 20 years in the army, retiring with the earned rank of lieutenant colonel. He is the longest serving Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, is a Garter Knight, and Personal Aide-de-Camp to The Queen. He has represented her around the world and is the patron of dozens of organizations. He married a Yorkshire lass named Katharine Worsley. Today they have three children and 10 grandchildren. At 83 years old, he is the third oldest member of the current British Royal Family after Prince Philip and The Queen.

born July 4, 1942
currently #47
Amazingly, like his older brother Edward, Prince Michael of Kent was also born at #7 while Edward had moved up to #5. He moved up one spot when he was four months old upon the death of their grandfather King George V and one more spot 11 months later when their uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne. Both boys moved up a spot a few weeks after Michael's birth when their father was killed in a flying accident. Prince Michael was actually out of the Line of Succession from the time of his marriage to the Catholic Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz in 1978 until the laws were changed in 2013 to allow the spouses of Catholics to inherit the throne, as well as to allow for gender-blind accession. Unlike his brother, Michael does not receive money from the Privy Purse. However, he does carry out some royal duties and has represented The Queen at home and abroad. Often noted for a physical resemblance to his first cousin twice removed Tsar Nicholas II, Michael maintains an active engagement in Russia. He was one of the members of the Royal Family, who contributed DNA to prove the identity of the Russian Imperial Family's remains. He and Marie Christine, who is styled as Princess of Michael, have two children and two granddaughters.

born May 1, 1964 to HRH The Princess Margaret and The Earl of Snowdon
now known as Lady Sarah Chatto
currently #24
Embed from Getty Images
A professional artist, Lady Sarah is a granddaughter of King George VI but in the female line, so she did not inherit any royal titles. Her commoner father was given a title upon his marriage into the royal family, so she has always been styled as the daughter of an earl. She and husband Daniel Chatto have two sons, Samuel born in 1996 and Arthur born in 1999. She is a great favorite of her aunt Queen Elizabeth II and can be seen at almost every royal family occasion. She is also greatly admired by the public for her discretion, kindness and excellent style. Though born at #7, she is now at #24 following the births of The Queen's children and grandchildren and her brother's children. She has only moved up once in her lifetime at the time of her mother's death in 2002. (See my earlier profile of Lady Sarah.)

09 October 2018

A Princess Named Eugenie

By Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
When the Duke and Duchess of York announced their new daughter's name in 1990, people were surprised. There had not been a princess named Eugenie in the British Royal Family since the birth of Queen Victoria's youngest granddaughter over a century earlier. The bookmakers reported that not a single person had bet on the name. In retrospect, it was not at all an unusual choice for Eugenie's mother Sarah, who had already shown a strong interest in Queen Victoria and her family. Sarah had named her first child, Beatrice, after Victoria's youngest child. Why not name her second daughter after that first Beatrice's only daughter, Victoria Eugenie?

In fact, the name Eugenie has very few royal connections. The few times that the name has been used have all been very recent by royal standards. The name entered royal family trees through a bit of a side branch when Napoleon Bonaparte stormed across Europe, crowing himself Emperor of France and placing his friends and family on other thrones.

By Friedrich Durck
via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The first royal Eugenie was a Swedish princess. Her grandfather, King Carl Johan, had been one of Napoleon's best friends and top generals before being placed on the Swedish throne and her grandmother Desiree Clary was one of Napoleon's early loves. Carl Johan and Desiree's only child, King Oscar, married Josephine of Leuchtenberg, whose father Eugene de Beauharnais was Napoleon's stepson by Empress Josephine. When King Oscar and Queen Josephine decided to name their little girl in honor of Eugene de Beauharnais, she became the very first Princess Eugenie. She grew up in amidst a tribe of brothers, but her health was always fragile. Despite her ill health, she received several marriage proposals including one from the future Emperor Napoleon III, who found another Eugenie to marry. Instead of marrying, she was allowed to live independently. In fact, she was one of the first women in Sweden to assert her right to live outside of a male relative's guardianship. A talented woman, she was active as a painter and sculptor, a music composer and a poet. She was also active as a royal patron, sponsoring a children's hospital and founding an orphanage. Despite a lifetime of poor health and nearly constant illness, Eugenie lived into her late fifties, dying just one day shy of her 59th birthday.

by W&D Downey
via Wikipedia Commons
Eugenie de Montijo
Born four years earlier than Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway, Spanish noblewoman Eugenie did not reach royal (well, imperial) status until she married Emperor Napoleon III of France at the age of 26. Considered extremely beautiful, Empress Eugenie was highly celebrated as a leader of fashion. She also helped establish the template of modern royals, traveling widely within her country and around the globe to carry the flag. Her husband relied on her advice, though others questioned it, and sometimes lift her in charge. When the Franco-Prussian War lost him his throne, they ended up in exile in Britain with their only son. The emperor died soon thereafter and their son died six years later while fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War. Eugenie lived another 40 years in Britain and on the Continent, as a well-respected member of the elite. (See my full profile of her.)

By Philip Laszlo
via Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
The youngest of Queen Victoria's 22, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg is often considered one of the most beautiful. (See my post Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria.) Her mother, Princess Beatrice named her for her own mother, Queen Victoria, and her godmother, Empress Eugenie. Little Ena, as she was called, were raised in Victoria's household. Her father died when she was just eight years old, but she received plenty of support from the extended family. At age 17, she caught the eye of the young King Alfonso XIII of Spain. It was a love match but Ena had several strikes against her: her father wasn't truly royal, she was Protestant and she was likely carrying the hemophilia gene that Victoria's daughters and granddaughters had carried into other royal houses. The couple married nevertheless and despite a near-miss terrorist bomb attack on their wedding day, they were initially happy. However, of their five sons, one was stillborn, one became deaf and two were indeed hemophiliacs. (Their two daughters apparently did not inherit the faulty gene, or at least did not pass it to their offspring.) The health of their children and Alfonso's philandering drove the couple apart. The country was also coming apart. The family was eventually forced from the throne and into exile. (Read my post about Victoria Eugenie's escape.) The couple lived separately abroad until his death 10 years later. Ena lived long enough to see her grandson Juan Carlos recognized as the future king by Spanish dictator General Franco, and to attend the christening of her great-grandson, who is now King Felipe VI of Spain. She was the first royal Eugenie not to have a direct tie to the Bonapartes, her only connection being through her godmother.

Young Princess Eugenie with her mother
Princess Marie and brother Prince Peter
Edition Moos, Karlsruhe via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Although 11 years his elder, Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark was a first cousin of Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh. His father Andrew of Greece and her father George of Greece were brothers. Her mother Princess Marie Bonaparte was a granddaughter of Napoleon's rebellious younger brother Lucien. A well-known psychoanalyst, Princess Marie helped Sigmund Freud escape Nazi Germany, but Eugenie was already grown by then. Nevertheless, it can be see that she grew up under the direction of a mother who was both educated and influential. She also grew up in the shadow of her mother's famous sexuality. Marie's frustration in sexual climax led her to conduct both numerous affairs and direct scientific research. Eugenie would have known her little cousin Philip, as he spent part of his childhood in Marie's care and she helped pay for part of his early education. (Marie was one of the wealthier members of the by-then exiled Greek royal family.) Meanwhile Eugenie's dad Prince George may have had an inappropriately close relationship with his uncle Prince Valdemar of Denmark. It was a complicated childhood spent mostly in Paris and Vienna or travelling about this her mother and older brother Prince Peter. Eugenie married Prince Dominik Radziwill at age 28. The had a son and a daughter in the eight years before their divorce. A few years later, Eugenie married Prince Raymundo della Torre e Tasso and had one son with him. That marriage lasted twice as long as her first, ending in divorce after 16 years. She lived another 24 years, working on a biography of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaievich that was published in 1990, a year after her death.

Eugenie of York
The youngest daughter of Queen Elizabeth II's son Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Eugenie of York experienced her first moment of scandal as a toddler when she and her older sister Princess Beatrice were featured in holiday photos of their mother, the former Sarah Ferguson, cavorting with another man. The news rocked the royal family, especially when combined with the implosion of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales and that of Princess Anne, all amidst well-founded rumors of infidelity. Little Eugenie became a child of divorce at age six. However, her parents continued living together off and on over the years and vacationing together as a family. Both of their daughters have publicly declared them great parents. Both were at 12-year-old Eugenie's side as she underwent back surgery to correct a deformity caused by scoliosis, which has left her with titanium rods in her back and with a commitment to helping support scoliosis care specifically and children's healthcare in particular. In 2012, Eugenie became only the second woman in the British royal family to complete a university degree, following in the footsteps of her sister Beatrice. Since then, she has worked in the art world, most recently as director at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London. Although not an official working member of the British Royal Family, Eugenie has adopted many charitable causes outside of healthcare, including her mother's organization Children in Crisis, the arts, plastic pollution and human trafficking.

About Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of France
Charles Frederick Worth, The Empress Eugenie and the Invention of Haute-Couture on Napoleon.org
Consort Profile: Empress Eugenie of France on The Mad Monarchist
The Daily Diadem on The Court Jeweller
The Dentist and the Empress on American Heritage
Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie on Historical Men and Women
Empress Eugenie on History's Women
Empress Eugenie's Bow Brooch on Eragem
The Empress Eugenie in eighteenth-century costume on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Empress Eugenie: Her Unique Sense of Fashion with Diamond Jewels on Baunat
The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Ladies in Waiting on Napoleon.org
Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of the French on Unofficial Royalty
Eugenie the Tragic Empress on Victorian Paris
Impress of an Empress on Independent.co.uk
L'Imperatrice Eugenie on Napoleon.org
Marie Antoinette and Eugenie on Versailles and More
Obsession: Empress Eugenie's Shoe Collection on The Bowes Museum's Blog
Two Empresses and Their Sons on Wellcome Library

About Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of Princess Eugenie of Greece on The Royal Watcher

About Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The Delicate Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway on History of Royal Women

About Eugenie of York
Princess Eugenie on The Duke of York
Princess Eugenie index on Hello!
Princess Eugenie of York on English Monarchs
Princess Eugenie of York on The Royal Watcher
Princess Eugenie's Story on Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
What to Do about the York Princesses on Royal Musings

About Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain
Albert's Godmother on Mad for Monaco
Aunt Ena's Emeralds on Prince Michael's Chronicles
Consort Profile on The Mad Monarchist
Princess Victoria Eugenie and the Curse of Haemophilia on Kings and Queens
Queen Victoria Eugenia on Royal Magazin
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Royal Watcher
Royal Wedding #1 on Edwardian Promenade
The Stories of Queen Victoria's Granddaughters on Royal Central
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg - Queen of Spain on History of Royal Women
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain on Unofficial Royalty
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Former Paradise
Victoria Eugenie: The English Queen of Spain on Rebecca Starr Brown
Victoria Eugenie, Queen Consort of Spain on The Royal Court
Victoria Eugenie, une Reine d'Espagne en Exil on Point de Vue
Wedding of King Alfonso of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on Unofficial Royalty

03 October 2018

My Favorite Royal Ladies

by Nick Parfjonov 
via Wikimedia Commons
I first discovered real-life princesses when I was 10 years old, in the year of THE "Royal Wedding of the Century" -- a century that has long since ended. All of the attention generated by Diana Princess of Wales attracted my interest. Like so many royal-watchers in the early stages of royal watching, I was fascinated by where she went and what she wore. Then, in my very first book about the newly born Prince William of Wales, I found my first royal genealogy chart and that took me in a new and even more exciting direction. Soon, I was spending my Saturdays in the public library copying royal genealogies into stacks and stacks of three-ring binders and my evenings pouring through every issue of Royalty and Majesty magazines. I even managed to get a few of my "reader's letters" published. I felt so famous. When teachers allowed me to choose my own topics, they received essays, research papers and slide presentations about royal history. On my dinner breaks at my first fast-food job, I gave history lessons to my co-workers, who were amazingly attentive. (When I ran into one of those ladies again nearly 30 years later, she brought me a copy of the notes she had taken when I told her about the six wives of Henry VIII.)

For 37 years now, I have spent every moment I could exploring, discussing and writing about royal history. But no matter how many times I have been asked, there is still one question that I have never been able to answer: Why? I have tried to analyze my fascination, but can never find an explanation to satisfy myself, much less anyone else. Here is the best response that I can manage: 

We know so little of women's history. Not much of it has been recorded. What we do know often is about royal and noble women, whose rank and status made them of greater interest to contemporary chroniclers. For instance, even well-educated people can probably list no more than 10 women from the 12th century and I would venture to guess that most or all of those women were royal or noble.

I told that you that I didn't have a sufficient reason for my "obsession" but I'm sure all of you have quirky habits, too.

Having said all of that, I recently started wondering who my favorite royal ladies are. So, here they are for your enjoyment, in chronological order.

Detail of Eleanor's tomb
By Touriste via Wikimedia Commons
The earliest of my favorites is undoubtedly Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was long-lived, particularly for someone born in the 12th century. Eleanor lived to be at least 80 years old but that's not nearly the most remarkable thing about her. I love Eleanor because, no matter the many restrictions placed upon her as a woman, she often shaped the world to her own will. She was a powerful Duchess in her own right as a teenager. Despite many suitors, she held out for the top prize: the King Louis VII of France. She convinced him to let her go with him on Crusade and formed her own regiment of Crusading women. When she grew too constrained and unhappy in her marriage, she persuaded Louis that God disapproved of it. The moment the annulment was signed, she flew into the arms of her chosen new husband, the younger man and future King Henry II of England, adding three daughters and five sons to the two daughters that she already had. When she'd had enough of Henry, she fomented a rebellion among her young sons against him. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well for her and she became Henry's prisoner for the rest of his life, but she triumphed by outliving him. She became the top woman in the Angevin Empire during the reign of her son Richard the Lionheart. When he was taken hostage during his return from Crusade, she worked tirelessly to secure his release and to bring her renegade youngest son John under control. After Richard's death, she opted to ignore primogeniture, which would have placed her young grandson Arthur of Brittany on the throne and sided instead with John, though she didn't live long enough to see what a hash he made of it. One of her very last acts before retiring to a convent that she had founded was to travel to Spain to bring back one of her granddaughters to marry one of her first husband's grandsons, thus securing a new peace. It's as if she lived many lifetimes in one!

Juana of Castile
By Juan de Flandes via Wikipedia
I am also a great admirer of Isabella I of Castile and her daughters Juana of Castile and Catherine of Aragon. Recognized as the heir to the Castilian throne as a teenager, Isabella refused numerous political marriages negotiating secretly for her own choice, Ferdinand, the heir to Aragon. Together the two built the heart of what is now Spain, securing their lands against all enemies including the Moors, who for centuries had dominated the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Isabella is best known in the New World for sponsoring Columbus' voyages. She also did some awful things in the name of her faith (ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition), earning for herself and Ferdinand (and their heirs through today) the title of "Catholic Kings". Along the way, even when leading troops into battle, she delivered and raised numerous children. Two of these were the daughter Juana (later known as La Loca or The Mad) who would unite Aragon and Castile under one monarch, but whose father, husband and son conspired against her to control her territories for her. Consequently, she spent much of her life locked away "for her own good." If she wasn't crazy when they sent her away, she certainly became crazy as a result. Poor, sad Juana was also madly in love with her husband, remembered historically as Philip the Handsome, who was far less enamored of her. Through their marriage, the Austrian Hapsburgs added Spain and all of the Spanish territories in the New World to their massive empire. Meanwhile, little sister Catherine of Aragon had been sent to marry the English heir Arthur, who died soon after the wedding. Instead of sending the widowed teenager home, her father-in-law King Henry VII kept her and her dowry in England. When his own wife died, he even contemplated marrying her himself, which sent Isabella into fits of protests that might have led to war if he had not dropped the subject. Instead, Catherine married his other son after he became King Henry VIII at the age of 16. The couple were in love and appeared to be a real-life knight-in-shining-armor and damsel-in-distress romance. Their repeated fertility failures and the death of their infant son Henry Prince of Wales, however, placed great strain on the marriage. Nevertheless, they were both pleased with their bright and talented daughter Mary, who was expected to inherit the throne. That is, until King Henry met a mistress who wouldn't surrender her charms unless he married her. Soon, he became obsessed with his lack of male heir and convinced himself that God was unhappy with his marriage and was punishing him for it. When the Pope would not grant him a quickie annulment, he demanded a hearing. A Cardinal came to England, but Catherine refused to surrender her place as Henry's wife or as Queen of England. Since her nephew (Juana's son) was by then the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, the Catholic Church tended to side with Catherine. Henry found another way: he started his own church and made himself the head of it. Not surprisingly, he attained his annulment and declared Princess Mary a bastard, marrying his mistress Anne Boleyn, who soon gave birth to yet another daughter before suffering her own string of tragic pregnancies. Despite having been deprived of her titles, banished to dreadful houses with small households and budgets, and denied the company of her only child, Catherine remained true to her role as Henry's wife, declaring her love and loyalty to him, even at the end. (Read my full post about Catherine.)

By Sir Thomas Lawrence from

the National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons
An even more tragic princess makes my list -- and probably tops it. I've certainly spent more time studying Princess Charlotte Augusta than anyone else. (You can read my biographical post about her on the Cross of Laeken blog.) As the only legitimate grandchild of the prolific King George III, who had 15 children, Charlotte was set to lead the British Empire through most of the 19th century. Her life, however, was a travesty from the beginning. Her parents, George Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent and then King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick, despised each other with the red-hot heat of the blazing sun. They were horrified upon their first meeting and things only got worse. The prince was even drunk at the wedding and only could bring himself to have sex with Caroline for a few days. Fortunately, these were the days when she was apparently fertile and Charlotte arrived nine months later. The parents never lived together again and Charlotte rarely lived with either of them. Instead, she was set up with a household of her own, with rare visits to her disinterested father and even rarer access to her increasingly eccentric mother. She did, however, get to enjoy some time with her grandparents, Queen Charlotte and King George, before his illness led to his internment at Windsor Castle. She even occasionally got to go on holiday. Charlotte grew up headstrong (not surprisingly perhaps) and soon became aware of her value to the nation as its only young heir. When her father proposed a match for the teenage princess with the future Dutch King, Charlotte put her foot down. She refused to make a marriage that would require her to live outside of her own future kingdom. Her father would not back down. So Charlotte, on the eve of a contentious election, ran away to her mother's house. Several of her royal uncles and others were sent to persuade her to come back. She finally relented only on the condition that she could choose her own husband. The people rejoiced at her display of patriotism and spirit. In a royal family that was greatly despised, she was truly the People's Princess. For her husband, she chose the handsome and penniless Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who had built some respect in the Imperial Russian Army as it triumphed over Napoleon. The spirited Charlotte and sober Leopold seemed well-matched and were great favorites among the public. When Charlotte lost her first pregnancy, everyone thought there would be plenty of time for more babies. Her second pregnancy stretched well beyond her expected due date. When she finally went into labor, it lasted for three days and ended with the delivery of a stillborn son. Hours later, Charlotte also died and the nation lamented. (Read my full post about the death of Charlotte and her son.) Her royal uncles rallied to find wives and beget more heirs because her parents certainly weren't having more children. Leopold's sister even married one of the royal dukes and gave birth to a little girl we all remember as the Queen who led the British Empire through most of the 19th century, Queen Victoria. Leopold was later offered the throne of the newly created Kingdom of Belgium. He married a French princess and named his only daughter Charlotte. (You can read his daughter's sad story here.)

Of course, I have many more favorites like the long-suffering Catharine of Braganza, the do-it-your-way Catherine the Great, the dramatic but effective Queen Marie of Romania, the beautiful but tragic Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, the inspirational Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the steady and reliable Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the long-lived Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester, the no-nonsense Anne Princess Royal, the brilliant Empress Frederick, the motherly Princess Alice Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt, the orphaned-by-guillotine Marie Therese Madame Royale, the very beloved Eleanor of Castile, the larger-than-life Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the ethereal Empress Elizabeth, the determined Empress Matilda, the finally-married Katherine Swynford, the lovely and steadfast Alice of Albany, etc. etc. etc.

And now you know why I have a blog about princesses....so many princesses to write about and so little time!