March 17: Today in Royal History

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James IV, King of Scots. Photo credit: Wikipedia

March 17, 1040 – Death of King Harold I (Harefoot) of England at Oxford, England; buried at St. Clement Danes Church in London, England
Harold Harefoot (also known as Harold I) was the son of Cnut the Great, King of England, Denmark, Norway and his first wife Ælfgifu of Northampton. Cnut had decreed that any sons of his second marriage should take precedence over the sons of his first marriage. This meant that his son Harthacnut from his second marriage to Emma of Normandy was the legitimate heir to England and Denmark. Harold was elected regent of England following the death of his father in 1035. He initially ruled England in place of his half-brother Harthacnut, who was stuck in Denmark due to a rebellion in Norway. Although Harold had wished to be crowned king the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to do so. It was not until 1037 that Harold was officially proclaimed king.  24-year-old  Harold died after a reign of five years and was buried at St. Peter’s Abbey, the precursor to Westminster Abbey which would start to be built on the site two years later. Harthacnut arrived in England and ascended the English throne unchallenged. He had Harold Harefoot’s body exhumed, decapitated, and thrown into a swamp but then it was retrieved and thrown in the River Thames. Shortly afterward, Harold Harefoot’s body was pulled from the River Thames by a fisherman and was buried at St. Clement Danes Church in London which was originally founded by Danes in the ninth century.
Unofficial Royalty: King Harold I of England

March 17, 1473 – Birth of James IV, King of Scots, at Stirling Castle in Stirling, Scotland
James IV married Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England and sister of Henry VIII of England, as part of a treaty between Scotland and England. James IV and Margaret had four sons and two stillborn daughters. Only one of their children, James V, King of Scots, the father of Mary, Queen of Scots survived infancy. Despite the great hopes of peace between England and Scotland as symbolized by the marriage of Margaret and James IV, Margaret’s brother Henry VIII did not have his father’s diplomatic patience and was heading toward a war with France. James IV was committed to his alliance with France and invaded England. Henry VIII was away on campaign in France and Flanders in 1513 and he had made his wife Catherine of Aragon regent in his absence. It was up to Catherine to supervise England’s defense when Scotland invaded. Ultimately, the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Flodden near Branxton, Northumberland, England on September 9, 1513, and 30-year-old King James IV was killed in the battle. Catherine sent Henry VIII the blood-stained coat of his defeated and dead brother-in-law. James IV’s seventeen-month-old son succeeded his father as James V, King of Scots.
Unofficial Royalty: James IV, King of Scots

March 17, 1849 – Death of King Willem II of the Netherlands in Tilburg, the Netherlands; buried at the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, the Netherlands
When he was two years old, Willem’s family was forced into exile when the French invaded and occupied the Dutch Republic during the Napoleonic Wars. Willem spent his childhood at the Prussian court where he received military training, served in the Prussian Army, and then attended Oxford University in England. In 1811, he entered the British Army and was an aide-de-camp to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Willem’s family returned to the Netherlands in 1813 after the French retreated. In 1816, Willem married Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia and the couple had five children. Willem came to the Dutch throne in 1840 when his father King Willem I abdicated due to constitutional changes he did not agree with, anger over the loss of Belgium, and his desire to make a morganatic second marriage with Henriëtte d’Oultremont after the death of his wife. During Willem II’s reign, the power of many monarchs diminished. The revolutions of 1848 and 1849, in which Louis-Philippe of France was deposed and other European monarchs were forced by violence to make concessions, made him fear for his throne. Willem decided to institute a more liberal government, believing it was better to grant reforms instead of having them imposed on him on less favorable terms later. During the few months of his life, Willem had health issues. He died, aged 57, on March 17, 1849.
Unofficial Royalty: King Willem II of the Netherlands

March 17, 1886 – Birth of Princess Patricia of Connaught, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Buckingham Palace in London, England
Full name: Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth
Known as Patsy in the family, she was the daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia.  Upon her marriage to Sir Alexander Ramsay, she voluntarily relinquished the style of Royal Highness and the title of Princess of Great Britain and Ireland and assumed the style of Lady Patricia Ramsay. However, Lady Patricia remained a member of the British Royal Family, remained in the line of succession, and attended all major royal events including weddings, funerals, and coronations.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Patricia of Connaught

March 17, 1904 – Death of Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, son of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, at his home, Gloucester House in London, England; buried  in a  mausoleum at Kensal Green Cemetery in London, England
George was a male-line grandson of King George III, a first cousin of Queen Victoria, and the maternal uncle of Princess Victoria Mary (May) of Teck, the wife of King George V. Like his father, George had a career in the British army and was eventually Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. In 1847, George married actress Louisa Fairbrother in contravention of the 1772 Royal Marriages Act. The three children born of the marriage were considered illegitimate, and Louisa was not styled and titled as befitted the wife of George. Instead, Louisa was first known as Mrs. Fairbrother and later as Mrs. FitzGeorge, and her existence was ignored by Queen Victoria. In 1850, George’s father died and George became the 2nd Duke of Cambridge. Louisa died in 1890, at the age of 73. On March 17, 1904, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge died at the age of 84. Because George’s sons were illegitimate, his title Duke of Cambridge became extinct. 107 years later, the title Duke of Cambridge was created for Prince William, the great-great-great-great-grandson of George’s father Prince Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge, on the occasion of William’s wedding.
Unofficial Royalty: Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge

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