Sunday, 1 May 2011

Royal Family Values: a historical fact sheet

In response to those who are worried that children are not taught enough about family values, monarchical traditions, and, above all, key dates from our history, I have compiled the following fact sheet to be distributed to all schools to help with the education of future generations:

Birth of the English Royal Family’s progenitor, William the Bastard, as he was known in his native France for being the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy.

William learnt that the Anglo-Saxon chiefs of England had by their custom discussed and agreed that Harold Godwinson should become their next king. So he invaded England, had Harold killed, proclaimed himself king, and seized land across the country to build up his family’s fortunes.

William’s grandchildren, Stephen and Matilda, contested the family will, and ruined the country as they fought for the crown. The throne would eventually go to Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet, who would continue the family tradition of speaking in French to the English natives.

Having inherited the crown from Henry II, Richard decided to spend his time fighting relatives on the continent and terrorising infidels in the Middle East, rather than stay with his family in England. For that, he would be revered as ‘Richard the Lionheart’.

John’s grip on the family business slipped when he was forced to sign the Magna Carta as a promise that he would consult the local barons before he took any key decision. He did not keep his promise.

Henry III and the three Edwards who came after him dedicated themselves to crushing the insolent barons, exploiting and then expelling the Jews, defeating the Welsh, challenging the King of France, and invading the Scots.

Family arguments got out of hand. Richard II was ‘removed’ by one of the Lancastrians who proclaimed himself Henry IV, but the usurper’s grandson, Henry VI was in turn eliminated by a Yorkist – Edward IV, who passed on the throne to his beloved son (Edward V) not knowing that his beloved brother would soon ‘take care of’ the 13 year old king and crowned himself Richard III. But Richard III reigned for just over two years before another Lancastrian killed him and became Henry VII.

Henry VIII wanted to divorce and marry as he pleased without interference from the Catholic Church. The Pope would not agree, so Henry set up his own Protestant Church, and transferred Catholic lands and buildings to his family property portfolio.

The family was torn between Catholics and Protestants, and supporters for either side were frequently imprisoned or burnt to death. The Protestant Elizabeth had her Catholic cousin Mary (Queen of Scots) held in custody for 19 years before finally ordering her execution. But she was content to pass the family throne to Mary’s son, James, because he was a Protestant.

James I’s son, Charles I provoked a civil war with Parliament and lost not only his throne, but his head. Yet after Cromwell failed to establish a stable republic, it was family business as usual and Charles II triumphantly returned from exile.

Forgetting that illegitimacy did not stop the first William from taking the throne, Charles II agreed not to pass the crown to any of the children he had with his many mistresses, but to hand it to his brother, James, a devout Catholic. This led Parliament to ask another foreigner called William – a Dutchman who was not only a nephew of James II but married to his daughter, Mary – to bring his troops to England to claim the throne. The invasion was a success and James II fled.

More infusion of foreign blood was added to the ruling family in Britain with the Hanoverian intake from Germany. The four Georges and William IV stopped family rows from escalating to murders and wars, and apart from George III losing the family’s entire American inheritance, they did not do too badly overall.

Under Victoria, the United Kingdom became an empire eclipsing that of the Romans, and British gunboats, opium, colonists moved freely around the world.

Victoria’s great grandson, Edward VIII, put his family under great strain. He befriended the Nazis, for which he was forgiven. But when he dared to suggest that he wanted to marry a divorced woman, he was asked to abdicate the throne in favour of his younger brother, Albert, who became George VI.

George VI’s daughter ascended to the throne as Elizabeth II. She would pass on to her children and grandchildren the important family name, not of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (from her father’s side) or Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gl├╝cksburg (from her husband’s side), but of Windsor.

The Windsor family business diversified into tourism, with a global PR campaign launched through the broadcast of the wedding between Elizabeth II’s grandson, William, and Kate Middleton, to billions of people around the world.

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