1907: The discovery that Leopold, the eighth of Queen Victoria’s nine children, suffered from the hereditary genetic disorder haemophilia, meant that the queen’s daughters might also carry the defective gene. Even if they displayed no signs of the disorder, they could transmit it to their children.
Tag archive: Royalty
1903: Before dawn on 11 June, officers of the Serbian army forced their way into the royal palace in Belgrade. Alexander I was an unpopular monarch; he was high-handed, reactionary, and his marriage to a former lady-in-waiting had scandalised many. The officers had come to kill him. They blew in doors with dynamite and frantically searched the darkened palace. After two hours, the intruders discovered the royal couple in a concealed alcove. They killed the king and his queen, riddled their bodies with bullets, slashed them with sabres and tossed them into the garden.
1901: Queen Victoria died; Edward VII became king. If, however, the throne had passed to the firstborn child, regardless of sex, Victoria would have been succeeded by her daughter Vicky. And consider this: when Vicky died, as she did just a few months later, her eldest child, Wilhelm, would have become king. Already kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm would have also become William V of Britain.
Source: The Independent, 7 July 2006
1962: In his final year at Cheam prep school, Prince Charles was made captain of the football first XI. The team lost all its matches, scored just four goals and conceded 82.
Source: Anthony Holden, Charles, Prince of Wales (1979), p. 107
1905: One side effect of the dissolution of Norway’s union with neighbouring Sweden was a slump in the popularity of Oskar as a boy’s name in Norway – parents no longer wanted to name their sons after the Swedish king.
1972: On the evening of 27 May, the Duke of Windsor’s doctor was surprised to see that the duke’s favourite pug, which had seldom left its master’s bed during the previous few weeks, had moved on to the bedroom floor. Early next morning, the duke died.
Source: Michael Bloch, The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor (1989), pp. 425–6
1920: Bizarre royal death of the year: that of Alexander, king of the Hellenes. On 2 October, the king and his dog Fritz encountered two pet monkeys playing in a garden on the royal estate at Tatoi, near Athens. The monkeys scampered over, screaming, and one of them attacked Fritz. The king tried to separate the animals, whereupon the second monkey intervened, and in the ensuing scrimmage the king was severely bitten on the legs and belly. The wounds were not properly cleaned, infection set in, and on 25 October the king died of sepsis.
Source: John van der Kiste, Kings of the Hellenes: The Greek Kings 1863–1974 (1994), pp. 122–4
1915: Generations of Russian tsars marrying German or Danish princesses had reduced the proportion of Russian blood in the imperial veins close to vanishing point. Maurice Paléologue, the French ambassador in Petrograd, calculated that for Nicholas II the figure was one part in 128, and for the tsarevitch, Alexis, one part in 256.
Source: Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs (1923), vol. I, pp. 324–5
1997: Given the vigour with which Princess Diana campaigned against armaments – against land mines in particular – it was ironic that at her funeral her coffin was carried on top of a gun carriage.
Source: Personal observation
1956: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Britain, where he was charmed by Elizabeth II – “the sort of young woman you’d be likely to meet walking along Gorky Street on a balmy summer afternoon.”
Source: Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, ed. Strobe Talbott (1971), p. 406
1917: George V’s decision to change the royal family’s name from the distinctly un-British Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor raised a chuckle in Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm II announced he was going to the theatre to watch The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Source: Elizabeth Longford, The Royal House of Windsor (1984), pp. 20–3
1910: “You don’t seem to take your work seriously, nor do you appear to be very keen about it. My dear boy this will not do.” The exasperated parent was George V; the underperforming son was Prince Albert, the future George VI, a cadet at Osborne naval college. The royal hand-wringing had no effect, and in final exams in December, Bertie came 68th out of 68.
Source: Sarah Bradford, King George VI (1989), p. 45
1936: From the middle of January, King George V’s health deteriorated rapidly. By the evening of 20 January, he was clearly dying and not expected to survive the night. His personal physician, Lord Dawson, prepared the text of a final bulletin: “The King’s life is moving peacefully towards its close.”
The Prince of Wales had earlier told Dawson that neither he nor Queen Mary wished to see life prolonged unnecessarily. When the doctor judged that the time had come, he injected morphia and cocaine into the king’s jugular vein. “Intervals between respirations lengthened,” and just before midnight, “life passed so quietly and gently that it was difficult to determine the actual moment.”
Source: History Today, December 1986
1922: The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, toured India. At Gwalior, he shot seven tigers in four days.
Source: Kailash Sankhala, Tiger! The Story of the Indian Tiger (1978), p. 133