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The Ithaca College London Centre

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Posted by Bill Sheasgreen at 10:12AM   |  Add a comment


Why the ICLC is located in a royal borough or 9/15

London has 33 boroughs, three of which, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston and Greenwich, have the status of ‘royal’ boroughs. The first such royal borough is ours, Kensington. Edward VII, long the Prince of Wales [not unlike the current PoW], conferred the honour on the borough in memory of his recently deceased mother, Victoria, who grew up here and cherished it until her death.

Illegitimacy, barrenness and widowhood best explain the circumstances.  In a previous blog I mentioned two monarchs, Charles II and Anne, both Stuarts, the Scottish dynasty that came south  to rule England in 1603 when Elizabeth, the virgin queen ,died.  It goes without saying, ‘without issue’. The 6 Stuarts who reigned between 1603 and 1714 had mixed luck when it came to legitimate children. For example, Charles II littered the aristocracy with his bastards, but never divorced his wife, Catherine, who had no children. Anne had 17 pregnancies but only 1 child reached the age of 10. The death of each, in 1685 and 1714 respectively, created mini crises of succession. Anne’s older sister, Mary, ruling jointly with her Dutch husband William between 1688 and 1694, was also childless, as was her widower who died in 1701.

But the Dutch William, an asthmatic, contributes greatly to the story. He and Mary purchased a house in the outlying village of Kensington and turned it into a major royal palace. The next dynasty, the German Hanoverians, continued to use Kensington. The George’s initially had much better luck in the marriage bed.  George III and his German wife Charlotte were prolific in producing 15 children, 9 of whom were sons. The growing family might have been a reason to desert Kensington for the larger and more central Buckingham house. Since then, Kensington palace has been the home of minor royals, those past their prime [Diana?], and those whose time has yet to come [William and Kate].

9/15 is a pretty good ratio of sons, one which Henry VIII would have been accepted. The next generation fared badly in the progeny stakes, no one more so than the Prince of Wales, the bane of his father, after running up enormous debts and secretly marrying a widowed Catholic – come in Edward VIII, you are forgiven!  George despised his wife so much that they produced only one child, a daughter, who died in childbirth in 1818.  When it became apparent that his 3 older brothers would not produce a legitimate heir, Edward, Duke of Kent, fifth child and fourth son, hastily married, impregnated a German princess and lived just long enough to greet his daughter Victoria. [NB. the crown skipped over George’s 4th child, a girl, to the daughter of the fifth child, a son. The law has only recently changed giving daughters the same rights as their brothers]. The rest of the Royal family ostracised the newly widowed Duchess of Kent and sequestered her and her baby daughter, Victoria, in the ‘home for troublesome royals’, i.e., Kensington Palace. So the little princess grew up in Kensington and loved it so much that she introduced her beloved Albert to love it in turn.

ISSUE: would we have had a reformation in the 16th century had Henry VIII produced 9 sons out of 15 legitimate children?


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