Day in History – March 24: James VI of Scotland Ascends to the English Throne

March 24 was a pivotal day in English and British monarchical history. Exactly 410 years ago, in 1603, Elizabeth I died and James VI of Scotland ascended to the English Throne as James I, creating Personal Union of Crowns of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. A century later, on 1 May 1707, the Acts of Union were signed, officially uniting the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain. The question of James VI’s accession will be discussed in this article, while the Act of Union – in a separate one to be published on May 1.

James VI and I of Scotland and England

James VI and I of Scotland and England

Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 marked the end of the House of Tudor which had ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms for 118 years, since Henry Tudor (Henry VII) defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field. Elizabeth was childless and the last of Henry VIII’s legitimate children, so the line ended with her. She named as her successor her closest surviving male relative, James VI of Scotland. James VI was her second cousin once removed as both were descendants of Henry VII Tudor: Elizabeth was Henry VII’s granddaughter (Henry VII -> Henry VIII -> Elizabeth I), while James was his great-great-grandson through two lines (Henry VII -> Margaret Tudor -> James V of Scotland -> Mary, Queen of Scots -> James VI, and Henry VII -> Margaret Tudor -> Margaret Douglas -> Lord Darnley – James VI). James VI’s accession to the English Throne as James I met virtually no resistance, yet the interesting thins is the fact he wasn’t legally an Heir to the English Throne at all.

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Day in History – 20 February: Coronation of Edward VI

On 20 February 1547, the Coronation Ceremony of Edward VI took place in Westminster Abbey. The nine year old King was the only son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward VI’s coronation featured many new and unique aspects created or adapted specifically for him.

Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England

The pre-ceremonies actually started the day before. On the afternoon of Saturday the 19th February, the boy King processed out of the Tower of London. He was dressed in white velvet embroidered with silver thread and decorated with lovers’ knots made from pearls, diamonds and rubies. Even the horse he was riding was decorated: it was in crimson satin adorned with pearls. The procession consisted of the King’s messengers, the King’s gentlemen, his trumpeters, his chaplains and esquires of the body, all walking. Then came the nobility and members of the council along with foreign diplomats, followed by gentlemen ushers and Henry Grey, the Marquis of Dorset (the Constable of England) bearing the sword of state. Finally, there was the boy King himself escorted by the Duke of Somerset and followed by the Sir Anthony Browne (the King’s master of the horse), the henchmen, the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, the pensioners and the guard.

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Coronation of The Queens Consort: History and Ceremony

The Coronation of the British Monarch is an elaborate and relatively well-known ceremony. Every detail of the service is full of tradition and symbolism, every element is carefully thought through and has a deep meaning. Yet very little information exists on the coronation of the Queens Consort; their simple ceremonies are simply lost in the midst of splendour of the King’s coronation.

Uncrowned Queens of England and Britain

Uncrowned Queens of England and Britain

Before the Norman conquest of England, few Queens were actually crowned. In fact, the only Anglo-Saxon Queen Consort who is known to have had a coronation was Aelfthryth, the wife of Edgar the Peaceful. After William the Conqueror came to power and established a new Royal House new traditions appeared as well, including a coronation ceremony for his wife, Matilda of Flanders. Since then, only eight Queens Consort had no coronations, and four of them were married to the same man: Margaret of France (second wife of Edward I), Jane Seymour (third wife of Henry VIII), Anne of Cleves (fourth wife of Henry VIII), Catherine Howard (fifth wife of Henry VIII), Catherine Parr (sixth wife of Henry VIII), Henrietta Maria of France (the wife of Charles I), Catherine of Braganza (the wife of Charles II), Caroline of Brunswick (the wife of George IV). (more…)