Day in History – February 13: William and Mary are declared co-regnant Monarchs

On 13 February 1689, the Prince and Princess of Orange formally became the new King and Queen Regnant of England. Their official titles and styles upon accession were “By the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Stadholther of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, Defenders of the Faith, etc.”

William and Mary’s reign is unique because they were both co-regnant Monarchs with equal powers and prerogatives, and not a Monarch and his/her Consort. Before 1689, the closest precedent in England for such an unusual arrangement was the joint reign of Mary I of England and Philip of Spain. Back then, Mary I’s husband had been declared King of England with almost all the powers and prerogatives of a Monarch; it was actually an act of treason to deny his authority. William III also derived his powers from his wife and reigned jure uxoris (in right of the wife). However, there were important differences between William and Philip’s situation.

William III and Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III and Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland

Philip could only reign for the duration of his wife’s reign: in case of her death or a divorce, his reign ended (he stopped being a King of England as soon as Mary I died and Elizabeth I ascended to the Throne). William was a reigning Monarch in his own right and would continue to rule until his death. The other difference was that Philip was not in command of the English Army; according to the marriage treaties, England was not bound to provide assistance for Philip’s wars (a condition that was quite futile because Mary I always supported her husband’s campaigns which eventually cost England the port Calais). William had all the powers and prerogatives an English Monarch could have. Perhaps more crucially, in the event Mary II predeceased him, his children from a possible subsequent marriage were given succession rights.

Now, a little information on how things came to that in the first place.

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Queen Beatrix’s Abdication: Changes and Traditions

With the announcement Her Majesty Queen Beatrix will formally abdicate, let’s have a look at the changed the Dutch Monarchy will undergo as an immediate result of the abdication.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Her Majesty the Queen will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace, Amsterdam  on April 30, 2013 – the 33rd anniversary of her reign. Abdication itself is nothing new or unusual for the Dutch Royal Family; in fact, Her Majesty will be the third successive Dutch Monarch to voluntarily abdicate the Throne, following her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, and her mother, Queen Juliana.

The most obvious change is of course the fact the Netherlands will have a new Monarch – the first King in 122 years (Queen Beatrix had succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana, who herself had succeeded her own mother, Queen Wilhelmina). The current Prince of Orange will reign as King Willem-Alexander, and not King Willem IV as had been expected. His wife, Princess Maxima, will be his Queen– the first Dutch Queen Consort since Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont.

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