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January 5, 1066 – Death of Saint Edward the Confessor, King of England in London, England; buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England
Edward the Confessor was the eldest of the three children of Æthelred II (the Unready), King of the English and his second wife Emma of Normandy. Before Edward became King of England in 1042, two half-brothers Edmund I and Harthacnut (son of Edward’s mother and Cnut the Great) and three Kings of Denmark, Sweyn Forkbeard, Cnut the Great, and Harold Harefoot, reigned in England. Upon his accession, Edward realized that his kingdom was divided between Saxons, Danes, and Norse with powerful earls from all three factions but to his credit, he succeeded in governing his kingdom despite those issues. In 1045, Edward married Edith of Wessex, daughter of the powerful Godwin, Earl of Wessex, the father of the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II Godwinson, King of England, who was defeated by William II, Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror) at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The marriage was childless and Edward treated Edith with great respect and endowed her with valuable property all over England. In 1042, Edward began rebuilding St. Peter’s Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church, the first Westminster Abbey. It is possible that Edward had a series of strokes in 1065. He was too ill to attend the dedication of Westminster Abbey, on December 28, 1065, and died several days later. Edward was buried before the high altar in his new Westminster Abbey. In 1245, the construction of the second and present church was begun by King Henry III who selected the site for his burial. King Henry III oversaw a grand ceremony on October 13, 1269, to rebury Edward the Confessor in a magnificent new shrine, personally helping to carry the body to its new resting place.
Unofficial Royalty: Edward the Confessor, King of England
January 5, 1209 – Birth of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, son of King John of England, at Winchester Castle in Winchester, England
In 1231, Richard married 30-year-old, widowed Isabel Marshal, daughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who had served three kings: Henry II, Richard I, and John, and had been the protector of Richard’s brother King Henry III, and regent of the kingdom. Isabel died in delivering her fourth child who also died. In 1243, Richard married Sanchia of Provence, who was the sister of Eleanor of Provence, the wife of his brother King Henry III. The couple had two children and Sanchia died in 1261. The displeasure of the English nobility with King Henry III ultimately resulted in a civil war, the Second Barons’ War (1264–1267). The leader of the forces against Henry was led by his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, who was married to Henry’s sister Eleanor. Richard was a supporter of his brother during the Second Barons’ War. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lewes and was imprisoned until his nephew the future King Edward I led the royalists into battle, defeating and killing de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. 60-year-old Richard made a third marriage to 15-year-old Beatrice of Falkenburg in1269. In 1271, Richard had a stroke that paralyzed his right side and caused him to lose the ability to speak. He died one year later at the age of 63.
Unofficial Royalty: Richard, Earl of Cornwall
January 5, 1430 – Death of Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, daughter of King Henry IV of England and wife of Eric of Pomerania, King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway at Vadstena Abbey in Sweden; buried in St. Anna’s Chapel, which she had built at the Vadstena Abbey Church
In 1405, a marriage was arranged between Philippa and Eric of Pomerania, who was the heir to his great aunt Queen Margrethe I of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In 1406, at Lund Cathedral in Lund, Sweden, 12-year-old Philippa and 25-year-old Eric were married. Documentation from the wedding indicates that Philippa wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with gray squirrel and ermine, making her the first documented princess to wear a white wedding dress. Philippa was actively involved in state affairs. She was given large tracts of land in Sweden as her dower lands and acted as her husband’s representative in Sweden, where she spent much time. After 23 years of marriage, Philippa gave birth, for the first and last time, to a stillborn boy in 1429. Her health deteriorated after the stillbirth and during a visit to Vadstena Abbey, Philippa died at the age of 35. Her death was a great loss to both her husband Eric and the monarchy.
Unofficial Royalty: Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway
January 5, 1589 – Death of Catherine de’ Medici, wife of King Henri II of France, at Château de Blois in Blois, France; originally buried at Saint-Sauveur Church in Blois, reburied at the Basilica of Saint-Denis near Paris, France
Catherine de’ Medici was a member of the Italian House of Medici, a banking family and political dynasty that first came to prominence during the first half of the 15th century in the Republic of Florence. Catherine and her sister became wealthy heiresses after the early deaths of their parents. Their wealth did not go unnoticed by François I, King of France, Catherine’s future-father-in-law. In 1533, Catherine married Henri, Duke of Orléans, the second son of François I, King of France. At this time, Henri’s elder brother François III, Duke of Brittany, Dauphin of France was the heir to the throne and there was little prospect of Henri becoming King of France. In 1536, Henri’s elder brother François died at the age of 18 and Henri became the heir to the French throne. Catherine and Henri had ten children, seven surviving to adulthood. Henri succeeded his father as King Henri II of France on March 31, 1547, his 28th birthday. In 1559, King Henri II, aged 40, died due to injuries suffered while jousting in a tournament, Catherine played an important role in the government of France as three of her sons reigned as King of France: François II (the first of the three husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots), Charles IX, and Henri III. Catherine died at the age of 69 from pleurisy.
Unofficial Royalty: Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France
January 5, 1762 – Death of Elizabeth, Empress of All Russia at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia; buried at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
During the ten-year reign of her cousin Anna, Empress of All Russia, Elizabeth had been gathering support in the background. After the infant Ivan VI succeeded Anna, a conspiracy soon arose with the aim of obtaining the Russian throne for Elizabeth Petrovna, the only surviving child of Peter I the Great, Emperor of All Russia. A coup took place during the night of December 5-6, 1741 with financial support from France and military support from the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Empress Elizabeth never married and a particularly difficult problem for her was the succession. She had appointed her nephew Peter Feodorovich, her sister’s only child, born Karl Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp, as her successor. Elizabeth did not love her nephew and his political views did not suit her because he was an admirer of her enemy Friedrich II (the Great), King of Prussia. On January 3, 1762, Elizabeth had a massive stroke and the doctors agreed she would not recover. Elizabeth, alert and clear-headed, showed no signs of wishing to change the succession. She asked her nephew Peter to look after his son Paul, who she dearly loved. Peter quickly promised to do so, knowing that Elizabeth could change the succession with a single word. Elizabeth died two days later at the age of 52. The reign of Peter III, Emperor of All Russia lasted only six months. He was deposed by his wife, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, who reigned as Catherine II (the Great), Empress of All Russia.
Unofficial Royalty: Elizabeth, Empress of All Russia
January 5, 1827 – Death of Frederick, Duke of York, son of King George III of the United Kingdom, at Rutland House, Arlington Street in London, England; buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England
Prince Frederick, Duke of York was the second son of King George III. In 1780, King George III decided that Frederick would have a career in the army and made the 17-year-old a colonel. Frederick attained his highest rank as Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces of Great Britain and Ireland in 1795. As Commander-in-Chief, Frederick instituted a number of reforms in the British Army. In 1801, he supported the founding of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst for training infantry and cavalry officers. He was also in charge of the preparations against Napoleon’s planned invasion of the United Kingdom in 1803. In 1791, Frederick married Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. The marriage was unsuccessful. Frederick was unfaithful and the couple was unable to have children. In 1794, the couple separated and Frederica lived out her life at Oatlands Park in Weybridge, Surrey England. With Frederick’s death in 1827 at the age of 63, King George III’s third childless son William, Duke of Clarence (the future King William IV) became the heir to the throne and Frederick’s seven-year-old niece, the only child of King George III’s fourth son Edward, Duke of Kent, moved a step closer to the throne she would inherit as Queen Victoria.
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Frederick, Duke of York
January 5, 1901 – Death of Karl Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, now in Thuringia, Germany; buried in the Weimarer Fürstengruft in the Historical Cemetery in Weimar
In 1842, Karl Alexander married Princess Sophie of the Netherlands, the daughter of King Willem II of the Netherlands and Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia. As their mothers were sisters, Karl Alexander and Sophie were first cousins. They had four children but their only son predeceased his father and so he was succeeded by his grandson Wilhelm Ernst. Karl Alexander became Grand Duke upon his father’s death in 1853. He was a great supporter of the arts and developed numerous friendships with some of the greatest writers, poets, and musicians of the day. Karl Alexander died at the age of 82.
Unofficial Royalty: Karl Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
January 5, 1909 – Birth of Princess Ileana of Romania, Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany in Bucharest, Romania
Ileana was the daughter of King Ferdinand I of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. In 1931, she married Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany. Ileana’s brother King Carol II of Romania banished the couple from the country, claiming that the Romanian people would never tolerate a Habsburg living on Romanian soil. They settled at Castle Sonnenburg, just outside of Vienna, Austria and the couple had six children. After World War II, Ileana and her husband lived in Argentina before purchasing a house in Massachusetts, to allow for proper schooling for the children. Ileana and Anton divorced in May 1954, and Ileana remarried a month later, to Dr. Stefan Issarescu. This marriage would also end in divorce. In 1961, Illeana entered an Orthodox monastery in France, eventually becoming a nun, and taking on the name Mother Alexandra. Returning to the United States, she founded a monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and served as abbess. She retired from her position as abbess in 1981 but remained at the monastery for the remainder of her life.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Ileana of Romania, Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany
January 5, 1921 – Birth of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg at Berg Castle in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg
Full name: Jean Benoit Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano
Grand Duke Jean was the eldest of six children of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma. During World War II, Jean joined the Irish Guards of the British Army on the advice of King George VI of the United Kingdom. After some preliminary training, Jean completed his military education at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and later was promoted to lieutenant. Jean landed near Bayeux, Normandy five days after D-Day. He took part in the Battle for Caen and the liberation of Brussels. On September 10, 1944, he took part in the liberation of Luxembourg before participating in the invasion of Germany. In 1953, Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, daughter of Léopold III, King of the Belgians and the couple had five children. In 1964, Jean’s mother Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated and he became Grand Duke. Grand Duke Jean then reigned until 2000, when he abdicated in favor of his eldest son Henri. Jean died on April 23, 2019, at the age of 98, after being hospitalized with a pulmonary condition.
Unofficial Royalty: Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
January 5, 1938 – Birth of King Juan Carlos of Spain in Rome, Italy
Full name: Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María
The son of Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona, son of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and Princess María Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Juan Carlos was born in Rome where his family had settled after the monarchy was overthrown in 1931 and Spain became a Republic. In 1962, Juan Carlos married Princess Sophia of Greece, daughter of King Paul of Greece and Princess Frederica of Hanover. The couple had two daughters and one son. In 1969, the Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco formally named Juan Carlos as his successor, giving him the newly created title ‘The Prince of Spain’. Franco died in 1975, and Juan Carlos was proclaimed King of Spain by the Cortes, the Spanish legislature. In June 2014, King Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his son who became King Felipe VI of Spain. In 2019, he retired completely from official duties. During recent years, Juan Carlos has been the subject of several corruption investigations. King Felipe VI announced that he would renounce any future inheritance from his father that was connected with his foreign bank accounts and he also stripped Juan Carlos of his annual stipend. In 2020, Juan Carlos informed his son, via a letter, of his decision to leave Spain because of increased media press concerning his business dealings in Saudi Arabia. The Royal Household confirmed that Juan Carlos was in the United Arab Emirates. His wife Queen Sofia remained in Spain and continued with her activities.
Unofficial Royalty: King Juan Carlos of Spain
January 5, 1946 – Birth of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa (Japan) in his father’s family home in Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan
Tomohito was the grandson of Emperor Taishō, the nephew of Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa), and the first cousin of Emperor Akihito. He graduated from Gakushuin University in Japan with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. He then studied at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. While studying at the University of Oxford, Prince Tomohito met Nobuko Asō whom he married in 1980. The couple had two daughters. Tomohito had serious health issues. In 1991, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer which went into remission. Over the years, Tomohito was treated sixteen times for various forms of cancer including larynx cancer, throat cancer, and recurrences of the cancers. He died in 2012 from multiple organ failure due to the cancers.
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Tomohito of Mikasa
January 5, 1997 – Death of Prince Bertil of Sweden, Duke of Halland at his home, Villa Solbacken in Djurgården, Sweden; buried at the Royal Cemetery at Haga Park in Solna, Sweden
Bertil was the son of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife Margaret of Connaught, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who died before her husband became King of Sweden. Bertil served as an active naval officer. While serving as a naval attaché at the Swedish Embassy in London, Bertil met Welsh-born Lilian Craig (born May Lillian Davies) who was married to Scottish actor Ivan Craig. Bertil and Lilian soon became a couple, but their relationship remained a secret to the public for a long time. Craig was serving in World War II and when he returned home in 1945, the couple had an amicable divorce. At that time Bertil was third in the line of succession to the Swedish throne. By the time his father came to the throne in 1950, Bertil was now second in the line of succession. His elder brother Gustaf Adolf had been killed in a plane crash in 1947, leaving an infant son, Carl Gustaf, the future King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, the heir to the throne. With the likelihood of Bertil being called to serve as Regent for his young nephew, he and Lilian chose not to marry so that he could retain his position in the Royal Family. Bertil’s father died in 1973, and Bertil’s nephew became King Carl XVI Gustaf. The rules, as well as the times, were beginning to change. In 1976, King Carl Gustaf married a commoner, Sylvia Sommerlath, and soon after, he granted his formal permission for Bertil and Lilian to marry. The couple married on December 7, 1976, at the Drottningholm Palace Chapel in the presence of the king and the queen. Bertil and Lilian had no children. Prince Bertil, aged 84, died after several years of declining health. Princess Lilian survived her husband for sixteen years, dying in 2013, at the age of 97.
Unofficial Royalty: Bertil of Sweden, Duke of Halland
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