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British Monarchs without heirs


In British history, not all monarchs who ascended the throne are direct heirs or Heir Apparent, most of them were just mounted the throne surprisingly, either because the previous monarch did not get married or simply the consorts were barren or suffered miscarriages. Others were simply due to unlikely circumstances -- untimely death, killed in conflict, murdered or voluntarily abdicated.

Here are the names of monarchs who had no direct heirs (and why) from the Norman Conquest (year 1066):

William II (1056-1100) Reigned: 1087-1100
He succeeded his father, William I the Conqueror in 1100. But he did not marry nor produced any children and at the age of 40 was killed accidentally (or murdered as many books would claim) while hunting at the forest. His younger brother succeeded him as Henry I.

Richard I (1157-1199) Reigned: 1189-1199
He was the third son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, but his two older brothers predeceased his father, so he mounted the English throne upon the old King's death. He married Princess Berengaria of Navarre and spent less time together as he commanded several crusades to Jerusalem. His wife would later be known in history as "the only English queen consort who did not set a foot in England during her husband's reign". Richard I died without children so the throne was inherited by his younger brother, King John.

Richard II (1367-1400) Reigned:1377-1399
He succeeded his grandfather, Edward III during the Hundred Years of War (between England and France initiated by Edward III to claim the French throne as his) when he was only 10 years old, his father,  Edward, the Prince of Wales (also known as the Black Prince) died from a long battle of illness in 1376. Richard II married Princess Anne of Bohemia, but 12 years later, she died from plague without any children. It was thought possible that Richard II was sterile as his succeeding marriage to Princess Isabella of France did not produce any children, but it was later reputed that Isabella was only 13 years old when they married and the King was exiled three years after their wedding. His reign was marked with terrible conflict with other claimants until he was deposed by his Lancasterian cousin, who would later become Henry IV.

Edward VI (1537-1553) Reigned: 1547-1553
He was the only son of King Henry VIII by his third wife, Jane Seymour. He became King at the age of nine on the death of his father. Henry VIII, who had six wives during his lifetime, surprisingly mounted the throne when his older brother, Arthur, the Prince of Wales, died from illness. His first wife was his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon who bore him one child, the future Mary I, his second wife Anne Boleyn gave him the future Elizabeth I. It was only Jane Seymour who gave him his much desired-male heir, Edward VI. But Edward was a sickly boy, less than six years later, he died even before he can get married. So the throne passed to his half-sister, Mary.

Mary I (1516-1558) Reigned: 1553-1558
He was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. He married her second cousin, Prince Philip (who would reign later in Spain as King Philip II when his father, Charles V also a Holy Roman Emperor, abdicated the Spanish throne) but they did not have any children. Due to her reported obsession to provide the throne with heirs, Queen Mary made her believed she was pregnant twice, when each of this occurrence was proved untrue, she suffered from depression. She died in 1558 at the age of 42 possibly from cancer. She was succeeded by her half-sister who reigned as Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Reigned: 1558-1603
As history would have it, Elizabeth did not marry therefore no direct successors, on her death ended the once powerful House of Tudor. There are many versions of story why the Queen did not marry, she had many suitors though and one of them was the Duke of Anjou, Francis, who was considerably younger than her. But Elizabeth stubbornly refused to entertain marriage so upon her death, the throne passed to her nearest relative, King James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots (Henry VIII's great niece), who was held prisoner in England for 19 years and was ordered by Elizabeth to be executed on the ground of high treason. James VI reigned in England as James I and the personal union of England and Scotland was later formed giving birth the geographical name of Great Britain.

Charles II (1630-1685) Reigned: 1660-1685
Although legally, he became King on the death of his father, Charles I  (he was beheaded by the Cromwellians) in 1649. It was not until the death of military leader, Oliver Cromwell, in 1660 that the monarchy was restored. He married Princess Catherine of Braganza, but she was reportedly barren so the King had no legitimate heirs. Though Charles II had more than ten illegitimate children (two of them, the Duke of Richmond and the Duke of Grafton, were direct ancestors of Diana, Princess of Wales), none of them were eligible to succeed, so the throne passed to his younger brother, James II.

Mary II (1662-1694) and William III (1652-1702) Ruled jointly from 1689
Mary II was the daughter of King James II and succeeded him after the King was forced to abdicate. She ruled jointly with her husband, William, a Prince of the Netherlands. But though the relationship was reportedly a loving one, the couple was not blessed with children. Upon Mary's death in 1694, her husband ruled the Kingdom alone until 1702 after which he was succeeded by Mary's younger sister, Anne.

Anne (1665-1714) Reigned: 1702-1714
She was the younger sister of Queen Mary II, she married Prince George of Denmark. The Queen gave birth to more than ten children  but none of them survived infancy so upon her death the throne passed to her nearest protestant heir, George I, the first of the Hanoverian Kings in England.

George IV (1762-1830) Reigned: 1820-1830
He was the eldest son of King George III. While still the Prince of Wales, George lived in grandeur and extravagance until he was buried with debt, his father refused to help him if he won't marry a royal princess and alas the King's choice was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, whom George detested, but because he couldn't go against his father's wishes, the Prince of Wales  relented and married Caroline and their union was almost disastrous. They became estranged after the birth of their only child, Princess Charlotte. Caroline was not allowed to enter Westminster Abbey during the coronation of her husband as King George IV and she was not installed as Queen Consort, she lived outside Great Britain since then. They did not divorce so the King couldn't contract another marriage legally, making her only child, Princess Charlotte, as his only legitimate heir. Charlotte married the handsome young Prince, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (maternal uncle of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) but she died shortly after undergoing a difficult childbirth. When George IV died in 1830, he was succeeded by his younger brother, William, the Duke of Clarence, who would reign later as King William IV.

William IV (1765-1837) Reigned:1830-1837
He was the third son of King George III, he succeeded his brother, George IV, in 1830 when the King's only child, Princess Charlotte, died in 1817 while giving birth. His other older brother, the Duke of York, predeceased George IV. Like the Duke of York, William too had no children as his Queen, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen suffered several miscarriages. He was succeeded by his niece, Victoria, an only child of his younger brother, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, who died when Victoria was only 9 months old.  William had many illegitimate children, one of them was the direct ancestor of the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron. William's death ended the reign of the House of Hanover in the United Kingdom, though Victoria inherited the British crown, she could not reign and carry the name Hanover because this German princely state maintained Salic Law, prohibiting a woman nor a claimant through a woman from succeeding. She reigned under the name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the royal house of her husband, Prince Albert. But this house would soon be replaced by the name Windsor in 1917 by her grandson, George V, due to bitter anti-German sentiments in England during World War I.

Edward VIII (1894-1972) Reigned: 1936 January until his abdication in December 1936
He was the second monarch to reign under the Royal House of Windsor, but eleven months after his accession he voluntarily abdicated after realizing he could not marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson. and remained King. He was created Duke of Windsor by his successor and endured a lonely exile away from his family for the rest of his life, all because of inappropriate marriage. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Prince Bertie, the Duke of York and reigned for less than 16 years as George VI, he was the father of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Harry of Wales

It might sound so absurd but what if one of these circumstances will be repeated in the years to come? Will Prince Harry prepared for the role? His training in the military, where he is recently promoted into the rank of  a Captain in the Army Air Corps, is an excellent one. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II who will celebrate her 60th year on the throne next year (2012), is still in her superior health and showed no sign of slowing down (she is still actively performing her duties even at the age of 85) and many believed she will continue to reign in the next decade, Harry's father is the Heir-Apparent and also in a superior health which means Prince William will have to wait for many decades and nobody knows what will happen in-between.

Anyway, just playing with the idea based on history.

Toast to the Queen's health

As the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and her realms, her subjects often toast to her good health and recited prayers for her long life. Whether their wishes are granted and their prayers effective, Her Majesty is really in her superior health ever since.
Prince Harry's grandparents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen followed a very healthy lifestyle (she doesn't smoke nor drink alcohol since her younger days) and no history of illness, in fact because of her shielded childhood, the Queen did not catch any contagious disease until in the late 70's when she was ill with chickenpox. Her mother, the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, lived until the age of 102.

Prince Charles might inherit this long life pattern, after all his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is also in a good health condition. The former Greek Prince will be celebrating his 90th birthday this coming June 10, 2011.

So it's not bad to speculate on Prince Harry's destiny, after all.












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