The Baby Cambridge

I’ve heard that Americans might actually be more interested in the British Royals than the English.  But who can help but admire Queen Elizabeth for her starring role at the Olympics.  We are flying the Union Jack from the porch which over looks the site of an American Revolutionary War fort. (George Washington might be swallowing his false teeth about now.)  But we are excited on this side of the pond, also.

The fountains in Trafalgar Square are illuminated in blue to mark the birth of a royal baby boy.

The fountains in Trafalgar Square are illuminated in blue to mark the birth of a royal baby boy.

Earlier this summer I read Alison Weir’s biography of Elizabeth I so I was interested in the royal lineage laid out in the Guardian today.

Baby Cambridge will be the 43rd monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the English crown in 1066, but is also 41st in direct line of descent from Egbert, King of Wessex, who ruled from 802 to 839.

Through the paternal line, William and Kate’s first born is destined to be the great-great-great-great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria. And, once grandfather Prince Charles and William have served their time on the throne, he/she will become the eighth British monarch to descend from Victoria and Albert, whose descendants have populated many a European throne.

The Queen’s longevity means it is the first time in nearly 120 years that a still-serving sovereign has met a great-grandchild born in direct succession to the crown. Edward VIII was born in 1894, seven years before the death of Victoria. The infant’s royal lineage stretches back, on the throne of England, to the Anglo-Saxons through the Normans, Angevins, Plantagenets, Lancastrians, Yorkists and Tudors. Until 1603, English and Scottish crowns were separate, but following the accession of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England) to the English throne, a single monarch has reigned in the UK.

And assuming that Scotland doesn’t vote to become independent (which I understand would make many things very messy – like having to have their own currency and applying to be part of the EU)

The newborn will be the 20th monarch to do so since James VI of Scotland and James I of England (reigned 1603-1625), the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.

James took over after the death of Elizabeth I.

Moving on to more recent history

But it is through the House of Hanover that the new baby traces its direct lineage. When the Stuarts died out, the Hanovers came to power through James I’s granddaughter, Sophia, who married Ernst Augustus Elector of Hanover, and gave birth to George I, who would rule from 1714 to 1727. Hanoverian succession was a pretty straightforward affair for a while. George II (1725-1760), eldest son of George I and Sophie of Celle, married Caroline of Ansbach. Their grandson, George III (1760-1820), married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz .

Their eldest son George IV (1820-1830) married his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, and succeeded the throne after serving as prince regent during his father’s final mental illness.

George III was king during the American Revolution.

…George IV was succeeded by another brother, who reigned as William IV (1830-37). At the time of his death, William had no legitimate children, however, he was survived by eight of the 10 illegitimate children he had had by the actor Dorothea Jordan, with whom he cohabited for 20 years.

It was his niece, Victoria (1837-1901), the daughter of his younger brother, Edward, Duke of Kent, to whom the crown fell. The house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was established with Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert. Their eldest son, Edward VII (1901-1910) succeeded and his marriage to Alexandra of Denmark produced five children. The eldest, Albert, Duke of Clarence, was expected to succeed, but shortly after his engagement to Princess Mary of Teck in 1891, he died during a flu pandemic. Instead his brother, George V, inherited both the crown and his fiancee  and ruled from 1910 to 1936. It was George V who, given rife wartime anti-German sentiment, decided that Windsor was a preferable royal household name to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. And so Edward VIII would be Edward Windsor, until he became Duke of Windsor on his abdication less than a year into his 1936 reign. That abdication, and the fact Edward had no children, led to the present Queen’s father, George VI (1936-52), becoming monarch with Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at his side. Their eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, became the present Queen on his premature death.

I hope Queen Elizabeth lives on to enjoy her great-grandson for many years.

Photograph:  Bogdan Maran/EPA