Kings & Queens of England & Scotland: Sibling Rulers

"I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too."

- Elizabeth I

Since the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, there have been 41 Kings and Queens of England. And of that number, there have been eight sets of Royal siblings who ruled and reigned in the history of the United Kingdom. There were 17 Kings and Queens who changed their country's history, religion, and culture. 

The heart of every Monarchy is for them to pass on the crown to their children But what happens if a King or Queen dies without producing an offspring? Who would be the legitimate successor?

Royal Siblings Anne and Mary II of House of Stuart
The Stuarts part II: Mary II and Anne

Biology is the key

There have been several factors that merited siblings to rule one after the other. One major reason was that Biology has let them down. They could not produce a royal offspring who would inherit the crown and continue the line of succession.

The greatest victim of biology was Anne, the last Monarch of the House of Stuart. She was married to Prince George of Denmark and suffered miscarriages and stillborns. She had several children who survived their births but they would later die because of illnesses. Her son, Prince William, was the only child who lived until aged 11. 

Charles II and William IV had numerous illegitimate children but when it came to having a legitimate one with their Queens, they could not produce any. Charles II followed by his brother, James II. William's niece, Victoria became Queen after his death.

The Stuarts Part I

Richard I and Mary I had royal spouses but were childless. Richard I spent more time in Crusades and battlefields than with his wife, Berengaria of Navarre. His younger brother, John, inherited the kingdom as the last surviving son of Henry II.

portrait of Richard I and John
Richard I and John

Mary I married her nephew, Philip II of Spain when she ascended to the throne upon the death of her brother, Edward VI. Mary was already 38-years-old and had difficulty in getting pregnant. She could have been infertile due to a tumor that grew in her belly. She died because of this tumor in 1558. 

The joint rule of William III and Mary II happened because of the Glorious Revolution which saw the ouster of Mary's Catholic father, James II. This particular union was also unfruitful. William was plagued by various illnesses. 

Single for Life

Four of the Kings and Queens were bachelors and spinsters at the time of their reign. William II, who was rumored to be homosexual, inherited the throne from his father, William I

Edward VI was only nine when he ascended to the throne. He developed tuberculosis in 1552 and died because of it at age 15. His sister, Elizabeth I, was a self-proclaimed spinster. And thus, the House of Tudor ended after 118 years and five rulers, with her death in 1603.

The Tudor royal siblings
The Tudors: Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth II

Another lifelong bachelor was Edward VIII. He was 41 years old when his father, George V died in 1936. Within the year, he would abdicate when he decided to marry his twice-divorced American mistress, Wallis Simpson. His brother, George VI, succeeded him. 

The Windsors

If you be King, why should not I succeed?

When Edward IV died in 1483 in Westminster, his son and heir, Edward V was only 12 years old. Edward's younger brother, Richard III, then Duke of Gloucester seized the throne by declaring his nephews illegitimate. A few months after having imprisoned them at the Tower of London, the young princes were never seen again. Richard III ruled for barely two years before being killed at the Battle of Bosworth.

The Yorks: Edward IV and Richard III

William II was killed in a hunting accident that paved the way for his younger brother, Henry I to seize the Royal Treasury and Crown for his own. Insinuations at that time had Henry ordering and planning the death of his brother to usurp the throne. Call it Karma but Henry will also have problems with his legacy.

The Normans

When Princess Royal Charlotte, daughter of George IV, died in childbirth, her Uncles scrambled to marry royal princesses to produce a legitimate heir. William IV being the oldest surviving brother of George reigned after him.

The Hanoverians

Postscript: The British Monarchy is just like any family business or corporation. You want to pass it on to the next generation but challenges will arise and change the course. The important thing with the Monarchy is that it still stays within the family.

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