Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake

Khalid Elhassan - September 13, 2023

The monarch of The United Kingdom, in one of those quaint and cute bits of British monarchy trivia, owns all the swans in England. Another bit of British monarchy trivia, far less cute, is that the royal family were key players in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Below are twenty five things about those and other fascinating but lesser known British monarchy facts.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
The late Queen Elizabeth II owned all of England’s swans, as now does her son and successor, Charles III. Town and Country Magazine

All the Swans in England are the Property of the Monarch

Relatively few people nowadays have tasted swan, but among those who have, they are reputed to be quite tasty. As the once famous and now infamous chef Mario Batali described his experience with a Christmas swan hunted in Michigan: “It was delicious – deep red, lean, lightly gamey, moist, and succulent“. In England, even fewer people nowadays can claim to have tasted swan, since killing them has been illegal since the 1980s. In a twist, all swans in England are the property of the monarch. For centuries, eating swan had been a mark of high status. However, by default, all swans belonged to the king or queen, and to legally consume the majestic birds, one had to pay.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
A register of swan beak marks. Cabinet Magazine

England’s swans are deemed “royal fowl”, but for centuries, the upper classes could purchase from the monarch the right to own, sell, and eat them. Those who paid for the privilege were granted special “swan marks” to carve on the beaks of their birds. All swans not so marked remained the property of the monarch. Over time, elaborate rules and entire books were written to keep track of the markings. Swan’s popularity as a status meat began to wane in the eighteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, marking swan beaks came to be seen as animal cruelty, and the practice fell out of favor.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King Charles II. Royal Collection

Charles II and the Royal African Company

King Charles II (reigned 1660 – 1685) and members of the royal family at the time were major investors in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Within six months of ascending the throne, Charles granted a charter to a private joint stock enterprise, the Company of Royal Adventurers Into Africa. The company got a 1000-year monopoly over trade along Africa’s west coast, and the monarch lent them some royal ships, including one called the Blackamoor. From the start, slaves were the company’s chief trade item. That was made even more explicit in 1663, when the Royal Adventurers were granted a monopoly as the sole enterprise legally authorized to transport slaves from Africa to England’s American colonies. Within a year, the company delivered nearly 800 African slaves to Jamaica, and more than 3000 to Barbados.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Seal of the Royal African Company of England. British Museum

In 1672, by which time the demand for slaves in England’s New World colonies had grown by leaps and bounds, Charles granted a new charter to a reorganized and renamed Royal African Company of England. The king’s brother James, the Duke of York and future King James II, was the company’s biggest shareholder, and served as its governor. The company’s seal made no bones about its core business: it featured an elephant, to represent the ivory trade, and more prominently, two Africans, to represent the slave trade. Before they were shipped to the New World, slaves were branded with the letters DY, for “Duke of York”, or RACE, for “Royal African Company of England”. As one historian noted, the company: “shipped more enslaved African women, men, and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade“.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Elizabeth I. Luminarium

Queen Elizabeth I and the Slave Trade

Charles II was not the first British monarch to profit from slavery. Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558 – 1603) was one of the key early players who helped jump start the trans-Atlantic slave trade. British involvement began in the sixteenth century, when John Hawkins, an English naval commander, administrator, and privateer, became an early promoter of the slave trade. Indeed, he is the first known Englishman to have included African slaves in his cargo. Queen Elizabeth approved of the trade venture, and invested in it. Hawkins became the first Englishman to profit from the Triangle Trade. English goods were traded for slaves in Africa; slaves were shipped across the Atlantic and traded for New World goods; New World goods were shipped to England, and traded for English goods.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
John Hawkins. Wikimedia

In 1562, Hawkins transported 300 slaves to the New World. He exchanged them for sugar, ginger, and hides, with which he returned to England. The queen received a share of the profits, and for Hawkins’ next slave trade voyage, she contributed a ship by way of investment. In three separate voyages, Hawkins raided settlements in West Africa, and also seized hundreds of slaves from Portuguese ships and sold them in the Caribbean. Elizabeth continued to profit from slave trade ventures for the rest of her reign. In the meantime, more and more Africans arrived in England, and became a noticeable presence. The queen did not mind the profit from Africans, and even employed some African entertainers in her court. However, the noticeable presence of Africans in England bothered her, and in 1596 she issued a decree to expel Africans from her realm.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King George II at the Battle of Dettingen. National Army Museum, London

The Last British Monarch to Personally Lead an Army Into Battle

George II (1683 – 1760) was King of Great Britain, Elector of Hannover, and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1727 until his death in 1760. As Prince of Wales, he quarreled viciously with his father, King George I, and his residence became a gathering spot for dissidents. As a constitutional monarch, George II exercised little control over British policy, as that was controlled by Parliament. Nonetheless, his was a calm reign, and the British Empire prospered and grew in his years as monarch.

Born in Hannover, George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was also the last British monarch to personally lead an army into battle. The latter took place in 1743, in the War of the Austrian succession, when George commanded his troops in the Battle of Dettingen against a French army. Other than a scare in 1745, when Jacobins staged a failed rebellion to restore the ousted Stuart Dynasty to the throne, George’s time on the throne was relatively stable.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King George II. Wikimedia

The Monarch Who Died on His Bathroom “Throne”

King George II was not well-loved in Britain: he had been born in Hanover, and English was not his first language. He had a thick German accent, a short temper, and was widely criticized for his boorishness. Nonetheless, his years on the throne saw tremendous growth in British prosperity and prestige. In his time as monarch, the British Empire grew to become a globe-straddling entity. His death, though, was less regal than his reign, and gave fodder for amusement at the time and ever since.

George II’s undignified death came on October 25th, 1760. That morning began like all others, as His Majesty followed his usual routine: he woke up at 6AM, had a cup of hot chocolate, then went to the toilet. However, as he answered nature’s call, he overstrained himself and suffered a fatal aortic aneurism. When his valet heard a loud crash in the restroom, he rushed in to discover that the monarch had fallen from his… throne. He died soon thereafter.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
A teenaged Prince Albert Edward. Mia Art Collection

The Prince Who Disappointed Queen Victoria

Albert Edward (1841 – 1910), who went on to reign as King Edward VII of the United Kingdom from 1901 until his death, was no great shakes as a ruler. He was a bit of a mediocrity, both as a man and as a monarch. As a libertine, freak, and all around royal pervert, however, Edward VII shone. He stood in stark contrast to his notoriously straitlaced mother, Queen Victoria, who lent her name to an uptight and prudish age. As he grew up, the then-Prince Albert, or “Bertie”, was a disappointment to his prim and proper parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.

It began with Bertie’s first sex scandal, with a prostitute, when he was just sixteen-years-old. The queen was not amused. On the way back home from chastising Bertie for his wayward ways, his father caught a fatal bout of pneumonia. For the next four decades, Queen Victoria blamed Bertie for the death of her beloved husband, and actively tried to prevent his following her as monarch. She failed to get him removed from the line of succession, but often remarked that her longevity and long reign were due to her determination to outlive Bertie and prevent him from ever becoming king.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King Edward VII. Wikimedia

This Monarch Was a Total Freak

Queen Victoria tried hard and did her best to keep Prince Albert from the throne, but after a 64-year-reign, she finally died in 1901. After a long wait that he thought would never end, Bertie became King Edward VII at age 60. In his decades-long wait to succeed his mother as monarch, Bertie became notorious for his relentless quest to gratify his sexual appetites. Whether cheap hookers or top notch French aristocratic ladies and courtesans, and from discrete liaisons to well publicized affairs with famous actresses to wife-swapping orgies, Bertie was insatiable.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Siege d’amour, King Edward VII’s specialty sex chair. Edwardian Promenade

He was a big fan of Paris’ elite brothels, especially its most exclusive whorehouse, La Chabanais. There, he had his own room, decorated with his coat of arms and furnished to his specific tastes. Those tastes included a specially designed love chair, named siege d’amour, which he installed in his whorehouse room. By the 1890s, Bertie was an obese, middle-aged, and out of shape man. He had the heavy duty love chair custom made to enable him to have sex without crushing his partners, and also to position them just right for royal access, with minimal exertion and contortions on his part.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
English Peasants’ Revolt. Flickr

The Great Rising

The Great Rising, also known as the Peasants’ Revolt or Wat Tyler’s Rebellion after one of its main leaders, was a major uprising that rocked England in 1381. The revolt’s roots traced back to the aftermath of the Black Death which killed a third to a half of the kingdom’s population. The depopulation led to a severe labor shortage. That allowed surviving workers to negotiate higher wages and better working conditions, particularly from landowners desperate to have their fields tilled. In response, landowners and employers got the government to enact the Statute of Laborers in 1351, which fixed wages at pre Black Death rates. Discontent amongst peasants and the laboring classes had simmered ever since. The discontent came to a boil in 1381, with the enactment of an unpopular poll tax.

That May, officials tried to collect the tax in Essex, and were violently resisted. The resistance spread, and caught the government of the then fourteen-year-old King Richard II by surprise with its vehemence and speed. Rebels seized and burned court and tax records, emptied the jails, and visited rough justice upon unpopular landlords and employers. They demanded an end to serfdom, lower taxes, the dismissal of unpopular officials and judges. To drive home their point, disparate rebel bands coalesced and marched on London. On June 13th, a Kentish contingent under Wat Tyler entered the city. There, they massacred Flemish merchants, destroyed the palace of an unpopular uncle of the king, and seized the Tower of London. The king’s chancellor and his treasurer, deemed responsible for the introduction of the hated poll tax, were captured and beheaded.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Wat Tyler killed as King Richard II looks on. Luminarium

The Young King and the Peasants

Richard II agreed to meet Wat Tyler and his contingent on the outskirts of London to hear their demands, but Wat Tyler was treacherously killed at the meeting. The young monarch then claimed that he would be the rebels’ leader. He promised reforms, agreed to their demands, and convinced them to disperse. As soon as sufficient military force was available, however, Richard reneged, and the peasants were brutally suppressed. When a peasant delegation reminded the king of his promises, he contemptuously dismissed them, and sneered “Villeins ye are, and villeins ye shall remain!

Unsurprisingly, Richard grew up from a nasty teenager to become a nasty adult. His dynasty, the Plantagenets, had long been prone to internal strife. Henry II, the dynasty’s founder spent much of his reign at war against his wife and sons. That set an unfortunate tone. The dynasty survived those early travails, but it did not survive another bout of intra-dynastic violence that began in the fourteenth century. It was triggered by the tyrannical rule of Richard II. He surrounded himself with corrupt officials, and ruled in an arbitrary and capricious manner. In response, many lords, whose numbers included some of the king’s Plantagenet relatives, rose up and seized power.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King Richard II. Luminarium

The Bad End of a Bad Monarch

In 1386, Richard II’s opponents rebelled, and formed a committee known as the Lords Appellant, which governed the realm and reduced the monarch to a figurehead. A Parliament, which became known as the “Merciless Parliament”, was called. It impeached several of the king’s favorites, confiscated their property, and ordered their execution. Richard bided his time, and slowly rebuilt his power. Then in 1397, he struck, reasserted his authority, and executed the most prominent Lords Appellant. One of the king’s opponents was Henry Bolingbroke, his cousin and the son of his uncle, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.

John of Gaunt had supported Richard. He helped him regain power, and acted as intermediary to his opponents, who included Gaunt’s own son. When John of Gaunt died in 1399, Richard decided to settle scores with his son. He disinherited Henry Bolingbroke, declared him a traitor, and banished him for life. Bolingbroke did not stay in exile for long. He returned a few months later, raised a rebellion, and proceeded to defeat and depose his cousin. Richard was captured, and quietly murdered. Henry Bolingbroke had himself crowned as Henry IV, and founded the Lancastrian branch of the Plantagenets. The Lancastrians ruled England until the crown was disputed by the Yorkists – Plantagenets descended from John of Gaunt’s younger brother Edmund, Duke of York – in the Wars of the Roses, below.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, father of kings Edward IV and Richard III, circa 1445. British Library

The Family War for the British Monarchy

The Wars of the Roses raged for 32 years from 1455 to 1487. They began when Richard, Duke of York, supported by the powerful Neville family, tried to seize the crown from his cousin, the feeble and mentally incapacitated King Henry VI. However, the attempt failed. The Duke of York was slain in battle along with his ally Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and father of Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick. The feud then passed on to the next generation of Yorkists, led by Warwick and the Duke of York’s son, Edward. Warwick was instrumental in securing victory for the Yorkists, who crushed the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in 1461. Henry VI was deposed and imprisoned, and his place was taken by the slain Duke of York’s son, who was crowned as King Edward IV.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
The Battle of Towton. British Battles

Edward was a great warrior, but was uninterested in government. So Warwick governed the realm on his behalf. It did not end well, and led to yet another twist in the family feud. The relationship between the monarch and his chief lieutenant soured when Edward impulsively married a commoner. That ruined years of negotiations by Warwick for a treaty between England and France, which would have been sealed by Edward’s marriage to a French princess. Things came to a head in 1470 when Warwick, aided by King Edward’s younger brother, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence – who had married Warwick’s daughter and thus became his son-in-law – deposed Edward.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Reenactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury. Wikimedia

The British Monarch Who Drowned His Brother in a Barrel of Wine

The Yorkist monarch was forced to flee England, while the deposed Lancastrian King Henry VI was released from imprisonment, dusted off, and restored to the throne. Warwick’s triumph was short lived, however: Edward returned to England in 1471, and raised a counter rebellion. At a critical moment, Warwick was betrayed by his son-in-law George, Duke of Clarence, who had a change of heart and defected back to his brother Edward. The two sides met in the Battle of Barnet on April 14th, 1471, in which the Lancastrians were defeated and Warwick was killed. Another and final Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury, May 4th, 1471, confirmed Edward IV’s return to power. The unfortunate Henry VI was deposed once again, and this time he was quietly murdered to eliminate the possibility of another restoration.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
The execution of the Duke of Clarence. Look and Learn

To be thorough, Henry VI’s only son, the teenaged Henry of Lancaster, was also killed. As to Edward IV’s wishy-washy brother George, Duke of Clarence, he continued to demonstrate his ingratitude to his elder brother. Understandably, that irked Edward IV, who had made George a duke in the first place, then made him Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the age of thirteen. That generosity was repaid with multiple conspiracies. When the Duke of Clarence was caught in yet another plot, the exasperated Edward IV finally had enough. He imprisoned his younger brother in the Tower of London, tried him for treason, and personally conducted the prosecution before Parliament. George was convicted, attainted, and sentenced to death. On February 18th, 1478, the Duke of Clarence was executed by wine: he was dunked into a big barrel of Malmsey wine, and forcibly held under until he was drowned.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Princess Elizabeth in childhood. Pinterest

Queen Elizabeth II in WWII

When World War II began in 1939, the late Queen Elizabeth II was thirteen-years-old. Like many British children, she was evacuated to the countryside to avoid the risk of German aerial attacks. Of course, she was not just like any other child: she was evacuated to a palace – Windsor Castle, about twenty miles from London. Still, she was separated from her family and loved ones, and felt it keenly. In 1940, she spoke about that in her first public address on BBC’s Children’s Hour, as part of an effort to boost public morale.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Children evacuated from London in WWII. BBC

The princess told Britain’s children: “Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all. To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country“. She participated in other public service activities as the war progressed, and eventually ended up in the military.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
A ‘Dig for Victory’ Poster. Imperial War Museums

Princess Elizabeth Does Her Bit for the War Effort

Britain had long relied on imports from around the world to feed her population and supply her industries. Enemy submarines and bombers crimped British supply lines in WWII. Between that and the urgent needs of the military, the country experienced many shortages. As result, many food items and other goods were rationed. To supplement rations, the government encouraged the populace to grow as many foodstuffs as they could in their gardens and any other small plots of land suitable for agriculture. The royal family was subject to rationing, just like everybody else. Princess Elizabeth avidly participated in what came to be known as the “Dig for Victory” drive. In 1943, she was photographed as she tended her allotted plot of land at Windsor Castle.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
A teenaged Princess Elizabeth inspects troops during WWII. War History Online

As heiress to the British throne, Elizabeth was designated honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards regiment. At age sixteen, she performed her first inspection of a military unit at a Windsor Castle parade. However, she was not content to simply inspect troops. She wanted to personally serve in uniform. In WWII, Britain made extensive use of women in the war effort, and unmarried women under age thirty had to either work in the fields or factories, or serve in the military. Women made weapons and munitions in armaments factories, and served in Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), a female branch of the British Army. As seen below, Princess Elizabeth did her bit.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Princess Elizabeth in uniform, April, 1945. Imperial War Museums

A Future Monarch in Military Uniform

Many stories describe how Princess Elizabeth drove ambulances in the Blitz in WWII, as German bombs fell upon London. It would have been awesome if true, but alas, they are not – although she probably would have loved to do that. The fact of the matter is that Elizabeth was a child, only fourteen-years-old during the Blitz, and thus too young to serve. What she did when she turned eighteen in 1944 was to join the ATS, the British Army’s female auxiliary branch. Her father, King George VI, made sure she received no special rank or privileges. The princess was duly commissioned as a subaltern, later promoted to junior commander – the equivalent of a captain. She began to train as a mechanic in March, 1945, just a few weeks before WWII ended in Europe.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Princess Elizabeth, far left, with her family and Prime Minister Winston Churchill at a Buckingham Palace balcony during the victory celebrations at the end of WWII in Europe. Wikimedia

Elizabeth learned how to drive and maintain army vehicles at the Mechanical Transport Training Section in Camberley, Surrey. The press dubbed her “The Princess Mechanic”. Germany surrendered on May 8th, 1945, before she saw action. Britain erupted into victory celebrations, and the princess, dressed in her ATS uniform, slipped incognito into the crowd with her sister to enjoy the festivities. As she recalled decades later: “I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and reliefI remember we were terrified of being recognized so I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes“.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Edward II and Piers Gaveston. Flickr

The Flighty Edward II

King Edward II of England (1284 – 1327) was the anti-knight and the opposite of the chivalric ideal. He differed greatly from his father Edward I, perhaps England’s greatest monarch. A weak and flighty ruler, Edward II raised favorites who misgoverned the kingdom in his name. To compound the problem, he did little to counter the perception that those favorites were his gay lovers. Poor governance and perceived effeteness in a homophobic age were a toxic mix. It earned Edward the contempt of his barons and subjects, and brought him to grief in the end.

Early in his reign, Edward enraged his barons when he made an earl out of Piers Gaveston, a frivolous favorite and his rumored lover. The barons demanded that their monarch banish Gaveston, and assent to a document that limited royal power over appointments and finances. Edward caved in and banished Gaveston, but soon thereafter allowed him to return. The exasperated barons seized and executed the royal favorite. In 1314, Edward led an army into Scotland, but was decisively defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn. He lost at a stroke all the hard-won gains his father had made with years of great effort and expense to assert English control of Scotland.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Edward II in effigy. Wikimedia

A King and His Scorned Queen

Humiliated by his defeat in Scotland, Edward II was unable to resist his magnates when they formed a baronial committee that sidelined the monarch and ruled the realm. It lasted until Edward found another favorite and rumored lover, Hugh Despenser, and raised him. As with Gaveston, the barons demanded that Edward banish Despenser, but this time Edward fought back. With the Despenser family’s support, the monarch defeated the barons and regained his authority in 1322. However, his public displays of affection for Hugh Despenser humiliated and alienated Edward’s queen, Isabella.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. When she was on a diplomatic mission to Paris in 1325, Queen Isabella became the mistress of Roger Mortimer, an exiled baronial opponent of Edward. Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March (1287 – 1330) was a powerful English nobleman who fell out with the king over his maladministration and employment of corrupt royal favorites. Mortimer led a baronial revolt, but it was crushed in 1322, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He eventually escaped and fled to France, where he plotted payback.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer. British Library

The Horrific End of an Unfortunate Monarch

In 1326, Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella invaded England. They executed the Despensers, and deposed Edward II. They replaced him with his fourteen-year-old son, who was crowned Edward III in January, 1327, with Mortimer as regent. That April, Mortimer heard of plots to rescue the deposed monarch, so had him relocated to a more secure site. Reports of fresh plots to free Edward caused Mortimer to order him moved to various locations in the spring and summer of 1327. Eventually, the fear that one of the numerous plots might finally succeed led Mortimer to decide to end the problem once and for all. He would put Edward II beyond rescue by having him killed.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
A young King Edward III seizes Roger Mortimer in 1330. The New Yorker

Edward’s killers did not want to leave marks of murder on the royal body. Contemptuous of the flighty monarch and his perceived effeminacy and homosexuality, they held him down and shoved a red hot poker up his rectum to burn his bowels from the inside. Another version has it that a tube was first inserted in his rectum, then a red hot metal bolt was dropped down the tube into his bowels. However he came to his end, Edward’s dying screams were reportedly heard for miles. Mortimer retained power as regent until 1330, when Edward III decided he was old enough to rule, seized Mortimer, and had him executed.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. Pinterest

A Lunatic in a Queen’s Bedroom

The security at Buckingham Palace has often been lax. A laxity that dates as far back to the reign of Queen Victoria, whom many a stalker got dangerously close to. The fact that they had done so, without hindrance, was a black eye for the palace’s security. A century and a half later, palace security got a worse black eye when yet another stalker got close to another queen. Early on July 9th, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II was awoken by unusual noises in her bedroom. When she opened her eyes, there was a strange man seated at the edge of her bed. Blood seeped out of a cut in one of his hands, and he held a shard of broken glass in another.

The queen talked to him, and realized that he was a disturbed individual. So she phoned the palace switchboard and asked that police be sent over. None arrived. She phoned again, but again, no help was sent. So Her Majesty left the bedroom, and personally summoned the police, who eventually came in and arrested the intruder. The man, Michael Fagan, had simply walked into the queen’s bedroom. Apparently, the armed police officer appointed to guard her door had left his post before his replacement had arrived.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Michael Fagan, the Buckingham Palace intruder. Shutterstock

Buckingham Palace Security’s Dismal Failures to Protect the Monarch

Subsequent investigation revealed that the security lapse was not a one-off. Apparently, it was the second time that Michael Fagan had simply walked into Buckingham Palace, and freely wandered all over the place. A few weeks earlier, he had shimmied up a drainpipe and startled a maid, who called security. By the time they arrived, Fagan was nowhere to be seen. The guards dismissed the maid’s report of an intruder as a figment of her imagination. In the meantime, Fagan entered the palace through an unlocked window, and ambled about for three hours. Nobody stopped him, as he snacked on cheese and crackers.

Fagan checked out the royal portraits, sat on the throne for a bit, drank half a bottle of wine that he had found, then eventually got bored and left. As he roamed the palace, he tripped two intruder alerts. Rather than respond, palace security turned them off because they thought it was just a faulty alarm system. At the time, Fagan’s intrusions into the palace and the queen’s bedroom were civil offenses rather than criminal ones. So he was only charged with theft of the wine that he drank on his earlier visit. That charge was eventually dismissed when he was committed for psychiatric evaluation. He was institutionalized for three months, and released in early 1983.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
William, center, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, with his half-brothers Odo, left, and Robert, right. Wikimedia

The Bastard Who Became King

Before he became England’s monarch, William I (circa 1028 – 1087) had been one of two illegitimate children of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and the pretty daughter of a tanner. Duke Robert’s illegitimate son was widely known as William the Bastard. He grew to become one of the Middle Ages’ most formidable warriors and rulers, and in 1066, the bastard successfully invaded England. Thereafter, he was known to history as William the Conqueror. People had mocked William as “William the Bastard” since childhood, so he had a chip on his shoulder from early on. When he was eight, William’s father named him heir, then went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but died en route.

Since Duke Robert had no legitimate children, the Norman barons accepted his eldest biological son, William, as their new lord. The underage duke was unable to control his unruly barons, who took advantage of his tender years to defy his authority. Nobles built private castles, usurped the duke’s power, and turned to private warfare to settle scores and enrich themselves. Before long, Normandy was plunged into anarchy. In that atmosphere, William’s early reign was precarious in the extreme, and he was under the constant threat of getting deposed. Three of his guardians were murdered, and as a child, he witnessed his steward get his throat slit by a Norman rebel.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
William the Conqueror. Essentially England

A Duke’s Quest to Become Monarch

Duke William hung on, and his hard and dangerous childhood turned him into a hard and dangerous man. He combined daring with prudence, and knew when to strike, and when to withdraw if he found himself at a disadvantage. By his early twenties, William was a ruthless warrior and ruler. He finally got his turbulent barons under control by resort to exemplary brutality: he cut off the hands and feet of rebels. His greatest accomplishment came in 1066, when William, a cousin of England’s King Edward the Confessor, claimed the throne after the latter’s death without issue. His claim was contested by Harold Godwinson, whom the Anglo-Saxon lords of England had crowned as their monarch.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
English coin of William the Conqueror. Wikimedia

So William gathered an army, secured the Pope’s blessing for his cause, and sailed to England in September, 1066. On October 14th, he met and defeated the Anglo-Saxon army at the Battle of Hastings, in which King Harold was killed. After his victory, the Duke of Normandy conquered England and crowned himself King William I, with momentous consequences. Centuries of Anglo Saxon independence ended, and were replaced by Norman rule. For generations, England had been oriented towards the Germanic world from whence the Anglo-Saxons came, and after the Viking Era began, to the North Sea and Scandinavia. William and the Normans reoriented England towards France, the Western European mainstream, and the Mediterranean world.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Queen Elizabeth II. Town and Country Magazine

The Legacy of Britain’s Longest Serving Monarch

The late Queen Elizabeth II held various records. Until her recent demise, she was the world’s longest reigning current monarch, and also the oldest and longest serving current head of state. She was also the longest lived and longest serving monarch in British history. Additionally, she was the longest serving queen in history, and got close Louis XIV’s record as longest-reigning monarch of a major state – a record she would have broken had she lived until 2024. Her reign, which began in 1952, witnessed major changes. Not least among them was the decolonization and dissolution of the British Empire, once history’s largest, and one over which the sun literally never sent.

Her reign also saw major constitutional changes in the UK, such as the devolution of statutory powers from the Parliament in Westminster to Scotland, Wales, Northern Island, and London. At the time of her death, she was queen and head of state not only of the United Kingdom, but also of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as eleven other countries that became independent after she was crowned: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
King Charles III. BBC

King Charles III is Descended From the Prophet Muhammad

King Charles III is descended from the Prophet Muhammad. In 1986, Burke’s Peerage, an authority on British royal pedigree, traced the ancestry of his mother Queen Elizabeth II back 43 generations, and determined that she was descended from Islam’s founder. Burke’s research revealed that the queen’s bloodline runs through a fourteenth century Earl, to medieval Spain, and eventually to Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Those findings were supported by records from Middle Ages Spain, which in turn have been verified by a grand mufti – the highest Islamic religious scholar – of Egypt.

Burke’s noted that: “It is little known by the British people that the blood of Mohammed flows in the veins of the queen. However, all Moslem religious leaders are proud of this fact“. In a letter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Burke’s cautioned that the queen’s bloodline would not protect her from Islamic radicals. As they put it in a letter to the Prime Minister: “The royal family’s direct descent from the prophet Mohammed cannot be relied upon to protect the royal family forever from Moslem terrorists“. As seen below, the key link between the line of Islam’s founder and that of the British royal family is a medieval Muslim princess who fled to the Christian kingdom of Castile.

Bizarre British Monarchy Facts That Sound Fake
Through his mother, Elizabeth II, Charles III is descended from Islam’s founder. The Times

The Descent of Britain’s Monarch from the Founder of Islam

A descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, named Abu al Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad, became ruler of Seville in 1023. In 1091 the Almoravids, a Berber Muslim dynasty from Morocco invaded Muslim Spain, and Abu al Qasim’s grandson, al Mu’tamid ibn Abbas, lost his throne. His daughter Zaida fled Seville, and took refuge in the Christian kingdom of Castile. There, she became a mistress of its ruler, King Alfonoso VI. Zaida eventually converted to Christianity, and took the name Isabella. When Alfonso’s sickly wife died, he married Zaida, and she bore him three children. Two centuries later, Maria de Padilla, a descendant of Zaida and Alfonso became the mistress of King Pedro “The Cruel” of Castile. She bore him four children, and two of her daughters, Constance and Isabella, married sons of King Edward III of England.

Constance married Prince John of Gaunt, and became Duchess of Lancaster. Isabella married John of Gaunt’s younger brother Edmund of Langley, and became Duchess of York. Isabella bore Edmund Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge. He in turn became the grandfather of kings Edward IV and Richard III, and an ancestor of the Hanoverian line from which King Charles III is descended. As it stands at present, the king’s official title is Charles III, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her Other Realms and Territories King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. It seems that if he so wished, Britain’s monarch could add something along the lines of “and Direct Descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, Founder of Islam“.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Andrews, Allen – The Follies of King Edward VII (1975)

Atlas Obscura – Why the King Owns All the Swans in England

Bates, David – William the Conqueror (2004)

Bond, Jennie – Elizabeth: 80 Glorious Years (2006)

Cracked – 14 British Monarchy Strange Now-You-Know Facts

Dobson, Richard Barrie – The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 (1983)

Dodd, Gwilym – The Reign of Richard II (2000)

Douglas, David C. – William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England (1964)

Economist, The, April 7th, 2018 – Muslims Consider Queen Elizabeth’s Ties to the Prophet Muhammad

Edwardian Promenade – The Amorous Life of Edward VII

Esquire – Why Not Eat a (Black) Swan on Oscar Night?

Grunge – Great People of History Who Died on the Toilet

Haines, Roy Martin – King Edward II: His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath, 1284-1330 (2003)

History Collection – 40 Violent Realities in the Making of the British Empire

History Network – Is Queen Elizabeth Related to the Prophet Muhammad?

Jones, Dan – The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England (2014)

Mortimer, Ian – The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Ruler of England, 1327-1330 (2003)

National WWII Museum – A Princess at War: Queen Elizabeth II During World War II

New York Times, July 22nd, 1982 – Text of Scotland Yard’s Report on July 9 Intrusion Into Buckingham Palace

Slate – Throne of Blood: It’s Time for the British Monarchy to Make Amends for Centuries of Profiting From Slavery

Spartacus Educational – King Richard II

Thought Co – Wars of the Roses: An Overview

Times, The, April 12th, 2018 – The Queen May Be a Child of the Prophet Muhammad

UK National Portrait Gallery – The Slave Trade