Britain’s Royal Families – The Complete Genealogy by Alison Weir

In the run up to the Queen’s ‘official’ birthday on Saturday 11th June, I thought it would be corgi-tastic to have a Monarchy-themed week on Brontë’s Page Turners. Our Lilibet (or ‘Cabbage’ as the Duke of Edinburgh calls her…pervert) is, after all, the first British Monarch to reach 90, which is quite spectacular given all the money we’ve spent on royal healthcare over the past 1000 years.

Let’s start with a book that goes some way to answer the question: how does one become Queen? 22 years in the making, Britain’s Royal Families – The Complete Genealogy is an exhaustive look at Liz’s family tree – from AD800 down to the present day, it documents every English, Scottish and British King and Queen, and all their marriages and children (including the plethora of illegitimate ‘issues’ by unknown mothers, and heart-breaking records of miscarriages and stillbirths). It is essentially a reference book, but also serves as a great jaunt through British history – well, that royal bit, not the 99.9999% rest of population bit – and is full of interesting detail.

A few things came to mind when reading this book. Firstly, the long and winding road of war, conquest, births, marriages, deaths, and a flirty American called Bessiewallis, that led to Elizabeth Alexandra Mary being crowned Queen Elizabeth II on an apparently cloudy day in June 1953, is one based on happenstance. There’s a similarly random road behind Brontë Louise Turner being born in Edmonton on 8 September to a painter and decorator called Ian and his missus Donna. The pure accident of birth (if you take out the whole divine right malarkey, which I would, as it didn’t do a bloke called Chas much good back in 1649), compared to the privilege accorded to some births, does make one wonder, as the song goes.

Then you begin to wonder about what the long and winding road behind the accident of your existence looks like. Because, even though very few of us will be fortunate enough to have it as well-documented as Her Royal Highness, each one of us has a 300-page-long, 1000-year-spanning book of births, marriages and deaths behind us, stretching across time and even continents. Somewhere along the winding road of my backstory, there may have been a medieval wench who shared my trauma of an early frown mark borne from a pronounced ‘thinking face.’ Some Tudor geezer may have shared my dad’s habit of slapping his own forehead when irritated and refusing to let anyone else buy a round, and some Restoration madam may have also done that cute ‘bye bye bye bye’ thing my mum does when bidding farewell to her kiddies. Someone, back in Georgian England, may have had the exact same resting-bitch-face as my dear old Nanny Iris, or done the same unintentional boob-wobble thing when amused (yin and yang my friends, yin and yang).  It’s a thought both marvellous and gin-requiring – I’ve been thinking about this for an hour and I’ve already had two of those pre-mixed Pimms in cans you can get from Tescos.

Lastly you begin to wonder – how long can the royal family tree go on for? Another thousand years? Who knows. And I promise you, this will not be a week of soap-boxing about the rights and wrongs of this ancient institution. Politics don’t matter 2Night, as Prince might say. See you tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s