Week of May 1 – British Royal Trivia

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The traditional “white wedding” came into vogue entirely because of one bride: Queen Victoria of England. Prior to her 1840 marriage to Prince Albert, it was common for brides to wear colorful dresses, and even black dresses. The concept of having a white gown that could only be worn for one day (unlike a gown in a color which would be more practical for future events) was a wild extravagance that was largely undreamt of before Queen Victoria.

The coronation of the new Sovereign follows some months after his or her accession, following a period of mourning and as a result of the enormous amount of preparation required to organise the ceremony. The coronation ceremony has remained essentially the same over a thousand years.  For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to the British Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, son of Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Queen Victoria herself remained a member of the House of Hanover. When George V came to the throne, he changed the family name to Windsor because of the anti-German feeling at the time.

The only time when there was no King or Queen in Britain was when the country was a republic between 1649 and 1660. (In 1649 King Charles I was executed and Britain became a Republic for eleven years. The monarchy was restored in 1660.)

In the British Monarchy, the husband of a female monarch does not have any recognized special status, rank or privileges.

The wife of a male monarch (e.g. the Queen Mother was wife of King George VI) takes on her husband’s rank and style upon marrying, becoming Queen.  She is known as the Queen consort (wife and consort of reigning king

King Henry VIII succeeded to the throne after his father’s death on 21 April 1509. He was 17 years old when he became king. He was handsome in his youth, but became bloated and fat (he had a 54-inch waist when he was 50).  He dressed lavishly, wearing a gold collar with a diamond as big as a walnut and many jewelled rings.  Henry VIII was famous for marrying six times and beheading two of his wives.

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