How Royals Tested English Support for the Crown in the 17th Century

How Royals Tested English Support for the Crown in the 17th Century

For centuries, people have questioned the taxpayer’s role in funding the British royal family. During the reign of the Stuarts in the 17th century, that role was challenged to an extreme as a series of spendthrift monarchs treated their subjects like a bank that was always open to fund their lavish lifestyles.

James I of Scotland and England was the definition of the poor little rich prince. Son of Mary, Queen of Scots, James had essentially been orphaned as a baby, when his father Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was murdered and his mother imprisoned. He ruled over the warring, cash-poor nation of Scotland from the age of one and inherited the throne of England in March 1603 when the childless Elizabeth I died.

The first ruler of the Stuart dynasty, James was overwhelmed with the riches he encountered in England and started spending like the absolute monarch he was.

As historian Adrian Tinniswood writes in Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household: “Household economy—economy of any kind, in fact—was not James I’s strong point.”

READ MORE: The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

King James I Levies Multiple Taxes

James and his wife, Anne of Denmark, immediately began spending like they had just won the lottery. As C.N. Trueman notes in James I and Royal Revenue, the King excused his spending by saying he was “like a poor man wandering about forty years in a wilderness and barren soil, and now arrived at the land of promise.”

The Crown obtained money from a variety of revenue streams. There was “ordinary revenue” from the crown lands, court fees and monopolies. There were numerous taxes levied on British subjects—from custom duties on all movable goods to taxes on landowners, merchants, and tenant farmers. The Crown was also allowed to buy all food and goods at reduced prices under the much- hated system of purveyance.

But it was not enough. “By mid-September 1603,” writes Tinniswood, “when the king and queen were on progress through Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire, spending on the household looked as though it was reaching a rate of £100,000 a year, twice the amount that Elizabeth had spent. ‘Think what the country feels,’ wrote secretary of state Robert Cecil.”

The country—making its voice heard through the increasingly vocal House of Commons—reacted angrily as James levied new taxes to fund new peerages for his Scottish favorites, servants for his large family, a new luxurious wardrobe, and endless banquets. Queen Anne’s beloved court masques (entertainments) were particularly expensive. The highly problematic Masque of Blackness cost an estimated 8.5 million pounds ($11,750,400) in today’s money. According to Tinniswood, “by the time it was staged there were widespread grumblings of discontent at the lavish expenditure involved.”

When James didn’t get money he requested from Parliament, the unpopular King placed custom duties and taxes on middle-class merchants without their consent. He also took advantage of the popularity of his teenage heir, Henry, the future Prince of Wales.

“In 1609, the cash-strapped James I resurrected an all-but-forgotten feudal levy, ‘anciently due by the common law of England,’ which could be exacted for Henry’s knighting when he reached the age of sixteen,” Tinniswood writes. “The proceeds from this tax went towards paying James’s debts.”

READ MORE: Why We Pay Taxes

Parliament Tries to Reign in Royal Spending

It was still not enough. In 1610, Secretary of State Robert Cecil proposed “The Great Contract” to Parliament in an attempt to rein in royal spending. The proposed contract would give James a guaranteed, taxpayer-funded income of 200,000 pounds a year, and in exchange he would give up some royal rights. But the King balked at giving up privileges like purveyance, and the House of Commons worried about raising taxes yet again, so no deal was ever made.

By 1620, courtier Lionel Cranfield, who became Lord Treasurer, was attempting to put the King’s disastrous finances in order. Household expenses were cut by around 50 percent, but Cranfield’s overall corruption made Parliament’s already terrible relationship with the Crown even worse.

There was also the problem of Charles, the new Prince of Wales (Henry had died in 1612), who was gallivanting around Europe, spending a fortune on fine art and decorations. According to historian Breeze Barrington, author of the article How Charles I Lost his Head over his Lust for the World’s Greatest Art Collection, “An accounts book from the year 1623 documents vast sums of money spent on elaborate clothing, jewels and art, as well as an elephant and camels.”

Charles’s actions were deeply upsetting to his equally irresponsible father. “James wrote to his son begging him to come home, telling him that the royal purse was empty,” Barrington writes.

Only two years later, Charles ascended the throne upon his father’s death. His spending would be as out of control as his parents, and lead to dire consequences.

“He would continue to spend vast amounts of money on art, clothes and court entertainments,” Barrington writes. “He would ostracize an already distant parliament, and within four years of becoming king engage in an 11-year personal rule under which he would impose unpopular and barely legal taxes on his people.”

READ MORE: What Is the Queen's Role in British Government?

Charles I Executed

This abuse of the public purse enraged commoners and aristocrats alike, particularly the King’s use of “forced loans.” These loans were little more than a shakedown of landed gentry. Charles also hit merchants with exorbitant custom duties on goods that were not sanctioned by Parliament. This mismanagement led to 76 gentlemen being imprisoned for refusing to give the King money for his pet projects and wars.

All these actions led to the public rethinking the role of monarchy in their country. English general and statesman Oliver Cromwell leveraged discontent with the crown and led Parliamentary forces in overthrowing the king.

In 1649, Charles I was executed outside the banquet hall of the Palace of Whitehall. For 11 years, Great Britain had no monarch. Cromwell became Lord Protector of England and held the post until his death in 1658. After Cromwell’s son assumed his father’s role for a brief period, Charles II, was called back from exile and ascended the throne in 1660. King Charles initially promised to put an end to “those excesses which were known to be in great offices.”

But the pull of glamour and glory was too great—as it would be for all the male Stuart rulers. Soon Charles II was infuriating the public with his lavish spending (and cadre of mistresses and illegitimate children), and the cycle began again.


This 17th-Century Cookbook Contained a Vicious Attack on Oliver Cromwell’s Wife

The death of Oliver Cromwell, the embattled Lord Protector of 1650s England, didn’t stop his enemies from doing everything they could to tarnish his reputation. And these efforts included one very odd line of attack: namely, publishing a cookbook that claimed to offer recipes collected by the Parliamentarian’s wife, Elizabeth.

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Titled The Court & Kitchen of Elizabeth, commonly called Joan Cromwell, The Wife of the Late Usurper , the text clearly isn’t a cheery celebrity cookbook. Aside from the obvious attack represented by the word “usurper,” the name “Joan” is a reference to sex workers, not a nickname actually used by Elizabeth, writes scholar Stuart Orme for the Moment magazine.

The cookbook, newly republished by the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, contains 102 recipes, including barley broth, venison pasty and a rare Dutch pudding. Some ingredients listed, like eels from Cromwell’s native region of Fenland, may have been intended to paint the family as unsophisticated.

“There was a lot of snobbery going on,” Orme, the museum’s curator, tells ITV Anglia’s Matthew Hudson. “A lot of the recipes were very ordinary by the standards of the time, … [the] sort of dishes that would have been eaten by middle class people across England in the 17th century. Part of the argument that the Royalists were making was the Cromwells weren’t suited to rule because, quite frankly, they were a bit common.”

In the book, Elizabeth’s recipes are described as “the most usual Meat and Diet observed at her Table, most of them ordinary and vulgar, except some few Rarities.” An introductory essay filled with insults aimed at the Cromwells adopts a similar tone.

“It would be a bit like today, if you were to go out and buy a cookery book [supposedly] written by Michelle Obama and the first third of it was an essay by Donald Trump saying how awful Barack Obama was,” Orme tells Atlas Obscura ’s Anne Ewbank.

Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Oliver Cromwell was the first person who was not a member of the royal family to serve as Great Britain’s head of state. He helped lead the Parliamentarian side in the English Civil Wars of 1642�, contributing to the downfall of Stuart king Charles I and the temporary abolition of the monarchy itself.

Cromwell was a radical Puritan known for the brutal reconquest of Ireland in 1649. But after taking power as Lord Protector in 1954, he advocated against severe punishments for minor crimes, readmitted Jews to England and worked to improve education at all levels. Most modern scholars, wrote John Morrill for History Extra in 2014, view him as “a man of towering personal integrity [who] … believed in broad terms in social justice, equality before the law and the accountability of governors to the people.”

In the years directly following his 1658 death, however, Cromwell had a decidedly different reputation. Charles II reclaimed the crown in 1660, restoring the monarchy and ending the nation’s brief tenure as a republican commonwealth. He then ordered Cromwell’s body exhumed and, after a posthumous trial for high treason, “executed.”

Elizabeth, who was still alive at the time, bore some of the brunt of continuing anti-Cromwell propaganda designed to support the monarchy. She was targeted partly because of her class background: Though her husband had come from a somewhat prominent family—he was indirectly descended from Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII, and his grandfather was a knight who sometimes entertained royal hunting parties—Elizabeth (born Elizabeth Bourchier) was “a genuine commoner,” albeit one from a prosperous merchant family, according to BBC News. She died in 1665, seven years after Oliver.

As former Cromwell Museum curator John Goldsmith told BBC News in 2014, “The whole point of the curious [cookbook] is that she’s this ordinary Fen housewife and how ridiculous [it is] that she’s elevated to this position.”

Still, Orme tells Atlas Obscura, the recipes themselves aren’t bad. He recommends the carbonnade of beef, which, he says, is “really nice, actually.”

The newly published edition of the cookbook includes a glossary and introduction by Orme. The full text of the original book is also available online through the University of Michigan Library’s Early English Books Online program.

About Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance journalist based in New Hampshire. She has written for JSTOR Daily, the Daily Beast, the Boston Globe, HuffPost, and Vice, among others.


The Salem Witch Trials:

The Salem Witch Trials took place in Salem in the year 1692. Like many of the settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Salem was under a lot of stress at the time due to disease epidemics, warfare with local Native-Americans, crop failures and the political turmoil brought about by the colony’s loss of the original charter in 1684 and the establishment of a new royal charter in 1691. It is believed these issues were some of the underlying factors that caused the witch trials.

The trials began when a group of girls in Salem Village began behaving strangely in the winter of 1692 and a local doctor determined they were bewitched.

After the girls named three women who they believed were bewitching them, one of the women, Tituba, confessed that she was in fact a witch.

Tituba’s confession triggered a mass hysteria in the settlement which prompted the colonists to turn on each other and, as a result, kick started the infamous Salem Witch Trials during which hundreds of people were accused and 19 people were executed.

Images of Massachusetts in the 17th century. Top left: Image of the Mayflower arriving in New England. Top right: Image of the first Thanksgiving. Bottom left: Image of the Salem Witch Trials. Bottom right: Image of the pilgrims going to church

Sources:
LeVert, Suzanne and Tamra B. Orr. Massachusetts. Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. 2009.


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Royal inbreeding and ‘spare heirs’

By the 17th century, serial inbreeding had weakened many of the great dynasties of Europe. The most notorious inbreeders were the Habsburgs, who for generations married exclusively within their own dynasty, in a sequence of first-cousin and uncle-niece marriages, but the British monarchy was not immune to familial charms either: William III of Orange married his first cousin, Mary II. They were childless. Infertility in the dynasties of Spain and Britain meant that the Habsburgs and the Stuarts were short on heirs in the last decades of the 17th century, leading to the extraordinary development in which the second daughter of a second son, Princess Anne of York, came to be the only remaining Stuart heir, and thus ascended the throne as Queen Anne in 1702.

Two years prior, the dearth of Habsburg heirs in Spain left the world’s largest empire without a king upon the death of Carlos II, and drew Europe into one of its bloodiest conflicts, the War of Spanish Succession. The French Bourbons, in contrast, seemed to be doing very well, and in these same years had male heirs aplenty: in the spring of 1711 this included the king (Louis XIV) his son his three grandsons three great-grandsons a nephew and his son plus more distant cousins, all in line to succeed to the French throne (which, unlike the British throne, could pass to males only). But smallpox and measles posed a deadly threat, and by the end of 1712 the king had lost his son, his grandson and his eldest great-grandson to these diseases.

Religious restrictions

To add to the problem, most royal houses were increasingly restricted in their pool of marriage partners, along religious lines: the new dynasty in Britain, the Protestant Hanoverians, only married Protestants of equal rank, while French Bourbons had to marry other Catholics of royal rank. Sometimes these rules proved too restrictive, as the four younger daughters of Louis XV discovered in the mid-18th century: unable to find marriage partners of the appropriate rank and religion, these ‘spinster aunts’ spent decades at the French court playing only minor roles, and of course they required large sums to maintain the lifestyle of a royal princess.

Such numbers of ‘extra’ royal children were sharply on the rise in the 18th century – as medicine improved, more babies survived the first dangerous years, and royal dynasties were reinvigorated on a vast scale: the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria produced 16 children (10 of whom survived into adulthood) while George III of Great Britain was father to 15 (of whom 13 survived). All of these children were entitled to be called Royal Highness and required financial support to allow them to maintain their public appearance as princes, rather than subjects. The sons required public roles, mostly in the army or the navy, but also in the expanding colonial administration. The daughters needed dowries sufficient to obtain marriages worthy of their status. From 1760, the British government took over the financial management of the royal household (though this process had already begun back in the Glorious Revolution of 1689) and created the Civil List: the monarch gave the government the revenues from the Crown Estates and in return the government provided funds for him to carry out his duties and support his children and their households. With ever-expanding numbers of royal children, somehow this list had to be contained.

Halting HRH: Queen Victoria and the Romanovs

Louis XIV had already restricted the use of HRH (SAR in French, ‘Son Altesse Royale’) at the start of the 18th century, by ruling that only children and grandchildren of sovereigns were entitled to it. This annoyed the Duke of Orléans, the first prince of the blood [i.e. a prince by right of his royal descent], who therefore lost his HRH in 1723 when he succeeded to this title as a great-grandchild of a monarch. A rivalry was established between the senior and junior branches of the Bourbon dynasty that spanned the century and arguably led to the vote by a subsequent Duke of Orléans, Philippe Egalité, in favour of the execution of his cousin Louis XVI in 1793.

Similar restrictions were not put on the British royal family – George I had only one son, and George II had two, with his second son remaining unmarried. They were, however, limited by the Act of Settlement of 1701 which stated that no Catholic, or someone married to a Catholic, could inherit the throne of England.

By the 1830s, however, Queen Victoria found she had numerous aunts and uncles who had very little public responsibilities but voracious spending habits, as well as various cousins in the lines of Cumberland and Gloucester who all desired to be recognised as royal princes. The HRH style was soon limited to grandchildren of a monarch, so the more distant cousins were titled HH (His or Her Highness). HH was also used on the continent for princes of formerly sovereign houses in the now-defunct Holy Roman Empire, as was ‘His Serene Highness’ (HSH) for minor princes, a survival of which is seen today in the titles of the princes of Liechtenstein and Monaco.

During her reign, Victoria would further limit the use of HRH to children of a sovereign (of either gender) and grandchildren of a sovereign (in the male line). George V in 1917, when modifying the house rules (famously changing the name of the family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor), clarified this, and added the eldest son of the eldest grandson.

The Windsors were not alone in restricting the use of fully royal titles. The Romanov dynasty in Russia, which had only a single male heir in the 1760s, by the 1880s had more than 20 eligible male dynasts. Tsar Alexander III thus limited the use of the titles ‘Imperial Highness’ and ‘Grand Duke of Russia’ to the children and male-line grandchildren, as Victoria had done. The Habsburgs in Austria-Hungary had also multiplied, extraordinarily so: towards the end of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph there were 30 male heirs, all entitled to the style ‘His Imperial and Royal Highness, Archduke of Austria, Prince of Hungary’. Both Romanovs and Habsburgs were restricted, however, in a way not limited in Britain by house rules that demanded equal marriages. Ever since regulations passed in the 1820s and 1830s, a member of these royal houses had to marry someone from an equally royal house (and lists were carefully drawn up to say who qualified).

The morganatic marriage

A middle path was available, however: the ‘morganatic marriage’. The heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, for example, was allowed to marry a Bohemian countess, Sophie Chotek, in 1900, and was permitted to remain heir to the throne, but his wife was not given royal titles or any precedence in public ceremonies and their children were not eligible to succeed to the throne. Similar morganatic marriages can be seen in the Russian Imperial family and in other German royal families in the 19th century.

British royals were not held to the same strict regulations, though as of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 they did have to submit any choice of spouse to the monarch for approval. And of course, as the Act of Settlement remained in play, royal princes who married Catholics were removed from the line of succession (the clause restricting Catholics and those that married Catholics from the succession was overridden by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013). This happened as recently as Prince Michael of Kent in 1978, and George Windsor, Earl of Saint Andrews, heir to the dukedom of Kent, in 1988. Both are now restored to the line of succession, though as their positions in the hierarchy are in the 40s, this is unlikely to affect the monarchy in the United Kingdom.

The future of succession

Which brings us back to the present and whether this means much to the people of Britain today. While numbers of royal children born in the later 20th century remain healthy, and with legislation all across Europe now rectifying historic gender imbalances (there are now female heiresses to the thrones of Sweden, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands), succession is less of a concern in modern monarchies.

Across the world, however, there are monarchies in which these issues continue to be relevant: with too many potential heirs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (numbering in the hundreds), the future may see dynastic feuds and infighting. In contrast, with too few heirs in Japan, tensions are rising between traditionalists and progressives who see the current males-only succession rules as too out of step with modern values. The accession in May 2019 of a new emperor in Japan has once again drawn attention to this debate.

Royal baby names: does the Queen have to approve?

First names are carefully considered, and while there is no formal requirement for a sovereign’s approval on the naming of a royal child, behind closed doors there are certainly processes to ensure family solidarity. Several hundred years of dynastic tradition in Britain have generated a list of preferred names: Edward, William, Charles, James, George, Henry, and so on for boys Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, Alice or Charlotte for girls. Some nods have been made to a more Romantic ancient British past in names like Arthur, Alfred or Edgar, and for a time in the late 19th century dozens of royal children across Europe were called either Albert or Victoria.

More recently some new names have appeared in the British royal family: the traditionally French Louis (for Prince Charles’s favourite uncle and godfather, Louis Mountbatten) the historically Scottish Andrew (though in fact named for Prince Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece) or even the more exotic Eugenie (famously the wife of Emperor Napoleon III).

Dr Jonathan Spangler is senior lecturer in history at Manchester Metropolitan University. He specialises in the history of monarchy across Europe, and in particular royal ‘second sons’ such as Prince Harry. His publications include The Society of Princes(Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2009) and ‘The Problem of the Spare’ in The Court Historian (2014).

This article was originally published by History Extra in May 2019 and has since been updated


15. Subsidiary Title

Many members of the peerage—and for that matter, of the Royal Family—hold several titles simultaneously. (As well as being the Prince of Wales, for instance, Prince Charles is also the Earl of Chester, the Duke of Cornwall, and the Baron of Renfrew.) A complex set of rules dictates the correct order of importance of these different titles, but it’s usually only the highest-ranking of simultaneous titles that is given precedence. So because “prince” outranks “earl,” “duke” and “baron,” that’s the title Charles is usually given.


Why the princes in the tower are staying six feet under

It is one of the great mysteries of English history. Did Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets, really murder the princes in the Tower as his Tudor successors, including their greatest propagandist, William Shakespeare, always alleged?

Previously confidential correspondence reveals that the Church of England, with backing from the Queen and ministers, has repeatedly refused requests to carry out similar forensic tests to those used to identify the remains of Richard III this week to see if the bones buried in Westminster Abbey are those of Richard's two nephews.

DNA testing was refused on the grounds that it could set a precedent for testing historical theories that would lead to multiple royal disinterments. The church was also uncertain what to do with the remains if the DNA tests were negative, potentially leaving the church with the dilemma of how to manage bogus bones. Authorities also resisted on the grounds the tests could not finally establish "if Richard III is to be let off the hook".

Tudor and Stuart histories insist that the remains contained in an urn designed by Sir Christopher Wren are those of Edward V and Richard Duke of York who were "stifled with pillows . by the order of their perfidious uncle Richard the Usurper", as the 17th-century inscription puts it. A concerted attempt to get the urn opened was made by the Richard III Society, the group behind this week's confirmation of Richard III's remains, together with the BBC in 1993 and again by Channel 4 in 1995. A Home Office file shows the then dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Michael Mayne, strongly resisted both requests despite being "pressed very hard to agree" to allow the bones to be submitted to carbon dating, to match their deaths to Richard III's reign, and DNA testing to prove their identities.

Buckingham Palace and then home secretary, Michael Howard, were consulted and both the Queen and the minister were in "full agreement" with the church authorities that matter should not be reopened. The dean took advice from the historian Lord Blake and an Oxford archaeology professor, Edward Hall, who said carbon dating of a sample from the late 15th century would only establish the accuracy of the bones within plus or minus 50 years. Richard III occupied the throne for two years between 1483 and 1485 before his death in the battle of Bosworth Field. "It could not therefore differentiate between Richard III or Henry VII – or another – being the guilty party. Nor would the C/14 technique give any clue as to the age at death of the children," the dean said.

In his response to the 1995 request he said he accepted that DNA and other techniques could now establish whether or not the bones in the Abbey were those of the princes, although he could not resist mentioning the fiasco of the Turin shroud in this context. But he pointed out that in itself could create further problems.

"A sample of bone (skin/hair/tissue) from a known individual related to the princes would be required, and that almost certainly means opening a second tomb in the Abbey or elsewhere. If the result is positive, the remains of the two princes are placed back in Sir Christopher Wren's urn. But what if they are negative: what do we do with the remains?

"Keep them in the urn in the royal chapels, knowing they are bogus, or re-bury them elsewhere? And what would we have gained, other than to satisfy our curiosity in one area. It would not bring us any nearer the truth of the affair."

He said Blake and Hall advised that carbon dating would throw no light on the cause of death, nor the identity of those who killed them. "So far as the latter point is concerned – and it is this that fascinates and is the real interest – the other techniques would hardly do so either," said the Dean. And he dismissed the claims that anthropological or dental techniques could reliably reveal the ages of the victims, saying it would have to be accurate to within months or even weeks "if Richard III is to be let off the hook".

However discreetly it was done, television coverage would lead to "a great deal of sensational speculation", the dean said.

He also had another concern. "There are others buried in the abbey whose identity is somewhat uncertain, including Richard II, and allowing these bones to be examined could well set a precedent for other requests. I do not believe we are in the business of satisfying curiosity, or of certifying that remains in the abbey tombs are what they are said to be."

Turi King, a Leicester University geneticist, said this week that if she could gather enough DNA material from the brothers' skeletons to establish a match with that from Richard III, it could show that they were related.

But a Westminster Abbey spokeswoman said: "The recent discovery of Richard III does not change the abbey's position, which is that the mortal remains of two young children, widely believed since the 17th century to be the princes in tower, should not be disturbed."


Sister-in-Law's Letter is the Smoking Gun

A leather book cover embossed with the crest of the House of Stuart led researchers to suspect that the objects have a royal connection. But when the artifacts were put on display a few weeks ago at the Kaap Skil Museum in Texel, the owner of the dress was unknown.

See the Royal Clothing Discovered in 1600s Shipwreck

Since then historians at Amsterdam and Leiden Universities have zeroed in on a letter written by the sister-in-law of Henrietta Maria, the French queen consort of King Charles I, who ruled England from 1625 to 1649.

Written in 1642, the letter describes how a baggage ship was lost in March of that year, when Henrietta Maria's retinue was sailing from England to the Netherlands. The baggage ship contained the wardrobes of her two ladies-in-waiting and their maids, as well as items from the queen consort's private chapel.

Researchers believe clothing found on the wreck belongs to the older lady-in-waiting, Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe, based on the size and style of the items. According to the museum analysis, "[t]he first impression is that the lady in question had a pretty hefty figure."

Queen Henrietta Maria was allegedly travelling to Holland to hand over her 11-year-old daughter to William II, Prince of Orange, who had married the princess a year earlier. However, the queen consort's primary goal was to sell the crown jewels in return for arms to support her husband the king, who was embroiled in a civil war with the English and Scottish Parliaments.

A selection of the artifacts are briefly on display at the Kaap Skil Museum, until May 16, after which they will undergo additional study before being put on permanent display. If you can't make it to the museum in time, click through the gallery above to admire these rare royal objects.


Expanding and Controlling the Rothschild Footprint

The Rothschild banking empire grew rapidly during the French Revolution. Mayer Rothschild facilitated payments from Britain for the hiring of Hessian mercenary soldiers.  

In the early 1800s, Rothschild sent his sons to live in Naples, Vienna, Paris, and London, in addition to keeping a son in Frankfurt. With Mayer Rothschild's children spread across Europe, the five linked branches became, in effect, the first bank to transcend borders. Lending to governments to finance war operations over several centuries provided the Rothschild family with ample opportunity to accumulate bonds and build additional wealth in a range of different industries.  

Before he died, Mayer Rothschild left strict instructions for his heirs on how they should handle family finances. He wanted to keep the fortune within the family and, as such, his will outlined a rigid patrilineal system of succession, whereby title and property could only pass through the male line and female descendants were excluded from any direct inheritance. This had the effect of encouraging marriages among family members.  

Between 1824 and 1877, there were 36 marriages of Mayer Rothschild's male descendants. Of these, 30 married within the family. Most married first or second cousins. During this time, only four Rothschild women and two men married partners to whom they were not related.  


The Surprising History Behind the Royal Family's Official and Unofficial Rules and Protocol

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have always done it their way.

The new parents officially introduced their first child to the world, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex presenting son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on Wednesday morning.

Since they first went public with their romance in late 2016, with Harry releasing an unprecedented public statement calling out the media's coverage of his new girlfriend and the "wave of abuse and harassment" she had been subjected to, the couple has found ways to put their own modern spin on centuries-long royal rules and traditions, earning praise and endless headlines with each bare leg photographed and selfie taken.

And their handling of Archie's arrival and debut was no exception as even the literal handling of Archie, with Harry holding him going against the long tradition of the mother being the one to present the royal baby in their arms.

After much speculation about how and when Harry and Meghan would present Baby Sussex to the world, Buckingham Palace finally released a statement in April.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby. Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family."

Their decision to keep the plans completely private was in stark contrast to how Prince William and Kate Middleton have previously handled their three children's birth announcements, with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis' arrivals being documented and reported on with precision. Who can forget when William and Kate stepped out of the hospital for their first photo op with Louis mere hours after she had given birth, looking ready and fit for royal duty.

While many royal watchers may have expected Harry and Meghan to follow suit with Baby Sussex, who arrived on May 6, the practice of presenting a new royal baby to the public actually doesn't go too far back in the royal family's centuries-long history: Prince Charles and Princess Diana established the trend when they posed on the hospital steps with Prince William, who also happened to be the first heir born in a hospital at Charles' request.

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And yet, Harry and Meghan had earned their fair share of backlash over choosing to keep the arrival of Archie private until they were ready to share the news, with many criticizing them for breaking yet another royal rule, even though they did no such thing. Even

So how did all of these royal rules—official and unofficial—actually come to be? And how serious are they really? We decided to do some digging, looking into the history of how royal protocol is established and how it's evolved over the centuries, from Queen Victoria to Meghan Markle.

Beginning with Queen Victoria in the 17th century, posing for official photographs became an essential aspect to life as a member of the royal family.

"Photography provided a close look into royal family life, their domestic life," Charlotte Bolland, a senior museum curator at London's National Portrait Gallery, told The Guardian. "There was huge interest in the couple [Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, who had nine children], and with photography, people could be brought into a faux intimacy with them."

As the centuries have gone on, the portraits have become more and more relaxed, with Bolland explaining, "The royal family is very aware of the images and what they are communicating."

For Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's engagement photo, for example, the couple displayed a surprising amount of affection at the time, and they were the first couple to show off the engagement ring in their portrait. (It became a standard practice moving forward, with the portraits taking on a slightly less formal tone before William and Kate and Harry and Meghan's vastly more intimate offerings the latter even released a candid from the photo shoot.)

Royals have long had portraits commissioned for engagements, weddings, birthdays and other major milestones, giving the public a rare peek behind the gates at life at Buckingham Palace. While celebrated photographers are usually commissioned to take the portraits, Kate has actually snapped the photographs for the majority of the official photos of her three children.

So you've just gotten engaged! Congrats! Now sit down for an interview in which your every word, facial expression and hand movement will be analyzed and dissected!

This tradition actually started with Charles and Diana after they announced their engagement in 1981, with mostly every royal couple that followed them also giving an interview (if there was enough public interest, too, of course). The proposal story, the soon-to-be-Royal family member's first meeting with the Queen, plans for children in the future and many other questions your friends and family would ask you are presented to the couple.

When Harry and Meghan sat down for their joint interview following their engagement in November 2017, the couple hand-picked respected BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain as their interviewer, while William chose ITV's Tom Bradby, whom he considered a close friend, when he sat down with Kate for their post-engagement chat in 2010.

Before any member of the royal family can even think about proposing to their significant other, they must first get the Queen's approval. In accordance with the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the ruling monarch must give formal consent in order to make sure the union would not "diminish the status of the royal house." In 2013, there was a change in the law that made it mandatory for the six people closest in line to the throne to get written permission. (We're looking at you, George, Charlotte and Louis!)

The biggest issue after that is religion: The Act of Settlement of 1701 declares no one in the direct line of succession can marry a Catholic, as the monarch also serves as Head of the Protestant Anglican Church of England. In 2015, this was amended slightly, allowing royal family members to wed a Roman Catholic and still keep their right to the throne.

If you ever see a male member of the Royal Family out and about without his wedding band on, don't fret they don't actually have to wear one.

"There is no royal tradition for men wearing or not wearing a wedding ring," British and European royalty expert Marlene Koenig told Town & Country.

Both Prince Charles and Prince William have opted not to wear one, with a royal spokesperson at the time of the latter's wedding telling People, "There is only going to be one ring, in accordance with the couple's wishes."

Prince Harry has bucked that aristocratic tradition, choosing to wear a band.

In 1978, Queen Elizabeth infamously barred her beloved sister Princess Margaret from marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend, who had worked for the royal family for years before quietly beginning a relationship with her younger sister. The problem? He was divorced, a major no-no at the time, especially because his former spouse was still alive. (Highly recommend reliving the drama of it all in The Crown!)

In fact, divorce is the main reason Queen Elizabeth ended up on the throne, as her father became king only after her uncle Edward VII abdicated the throne to marry two-time divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Of course, this rigid ruling against divorcees joining the royal family has been all but forgotten now, with Princess Margaret eventually going on to get divorced and remarried, and the future king Prince Charles being allowed to wed fellow divorcee Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after his scandalous split from Princess Diana.

So really, Meghan is just the latest divorcee to be welcomed into the royal family by Queen Elizabeth.

It's rare wedding parties require babysitters. unless it's at a royal wedding, it is tradition to have children serve as bridesmaids and pageboys.

"It's a British tradition to have children in the wedding party as flower girls or 𧮫y bridesmaids' and pageboys," royal expert Anne Chertoff explained to InStyle. "The children are made up of the couple's nieces and nephews, godchildren, cousins, children of close friends or their own kids, and can be as young as 2 and as old as 17."

It's also rare to have a maid of honor or best man, though Prince William bucked this long-standing practice when he asked Prince Harry to serve as his best man, with Kate also having her sister Pippa Middleton act as her MOH. (Typically, they are called "supporters," with Prince Andrew serving as Prince Charles' support when he married Diana.)

Years later, Prince Harry returned the favor by asking Prince William to serve as his best man at his 2018 nuptials, with Meghan opting not to have a maid of honor.

Did you know only married women can rock a royal tiara if they are not an official member of the royal family?

"It signals the crowning of love and the loss of innocence to marriage," Geoffrey Munn, the author of Tiaras - A History of Splendour, explained to Forbes. "The family tiara was worn by the bride, and from that moment onwards it was the groom's jewelry she was expected to wear. It was a subliminal message that she had moved from her own family to another."

The first time Kate or Meghan wore a tiara was on their wedding day, and the usually are only worn at formal occasions thereafter. Long ago, the tiara was a symbol that a lady was taken and not looking for a husband, while it was an indication for men to not make any advances. Also, tiaras are generally reserved for 6 p.m. and after.

Leading all the way up to the 1950s, it was rare for a female member of the Royal Family to step out without a hat on at any official gathering. "It was not considered 'the thing' for ladies to show their hair in public," Diana Mather, a senior tutor for The English Manner etiquette consultancy, explained to the BBC. "But all that has changed and hats are now reserved for more formal occasions."

That is why female guests are required to wear hats and fascinators at royal weddings.

Messy buns are also rarely seen, with Meghan causing a small outcry when she sported a more relaxed updo during an official outing in 2018. While a sleek, refined updo is not technically official protocol, it's rare to see flyaways. (Meghan has also foregone another standard practice: using a hairnet to combat unruly weather messing with her hair.)

"When Meghan's hair is tied back, she is able to shake hands, give hugs, and meet people without her hair getting in the way," Christine Ross of Meghan's Mirror explained to E! News of her fondness for updos.

One of the earliest royal rules Meghan was accused of breaking was not wearing tights when she stepped out with Prince Harry for the engagement photo call.

Calling nylons a "royal fashion rule" in "most circumstances," Meghan's Mirror's Christine Ross told E! News, "The perception is that pantyhose are more modest and feminine, but given how chilly London can be, it may be a practical choice more than anything!"

She continued, "Although pantyhose are not required for every event, they are generally a rule for more formal or conservative royal events."

Meghan has since adhered to the unofficial rule on occasion, but still isn't afraid to bare her bare legs.

Female royals have always sported hosiery, as tradition long dictated they wear dresses or skirts while out at public events. In fact, Queen Elizabeth has only once officially been photographed in pants, which she wore during her royal tour of Canada in 1970.

While Kate has worn pants on occasion, the newest member of the royal family has favored pants, with Ross saying, "She may not be the first but Meghan certainly is wearing them in a much different context—she's making a statement."

Look through a few photos of female royals out at official events and they are usually carrying a purse or clutch in their left hand. This is for several reasons, as it allows them to wave with their right hand and also presents a justifiable reason to avoid shaking hands, especially if it's a clutch, so they can keep their hands busy.

That's also where gloves come in, with Queen Elizabeth known for wearing them to most events.

"They're number one: style. Number two: practical," Genevieve James, Creative Director of Cornelia James, the Queen's preferred glove manufacturer, revealed to Good Housekeeping. "They're necessary because if you're the Queen, you're shaking a lot of hands, so they protect her hands as well."

Princess Diana was one of the first members of the royal family to stop wearing gloves.

"[Princess Diana] abandoned the royal protocol of wearing gloves because she liked to hold hands when visiting people or shake hands and have direct contact." Eleri Lynn, who curated Kensington Palace's exhibition, Diana: Her Fashion Story, told People.

Heads up if you ever randomly run into a royal: Don't ask for a selfie or autograph! 1. It's sort of against protocol (though they've been known to do it on rare occasion), with an autograph potentially allowing their signature to be forged. 2. They don't really like it.

"No, I hate selfies," Prince Harry infamously told one teenage admirer in 2015 while visiting the Australian War Memorial. "Seriously, you need to get out of it. I know you're young, but selfies are bad." He then posed for a regular photograph, which we agree is much better.

But Meghan and Prince Harry have broken to be more than willing to stop and take photos with fans, shake their hands and even hug them, something the younger generation of royals tend to do, especially with young children.

Another old unofficial rule that that Fab Four are slowly chipping away at is the no PDA clause: since the royals are considered "working representatives of British Monarchy," any major kissing or touching is considered a no-no. Still, that hasn't stopped Harry and Meghan from holding hands and embracing on occasion.

While there's no official rule regarding when it comes to a royal's manicure and pedicure routine, it's rare that you'll see black, bold or any bright colors anywhere near a lady's cuticles. In fact, it's often rare they wear any nail polish aside from one classic color favored by the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth has famously worn Essie's nude "Ballet Slippers" for 28 years, which Meghan chose to wear on her wedding day. Kate, meanwhile, wore the same company's "Allure," another pale classic, on her wedding day.

So naturally Meghan made headlines and caused a mini-scandal when she made a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards in London and was sporting dark nail polish. But relax: she didn't break any rules.

"There's no actual protocol about dark nail polish," royal correspondent Omid Scobie told Bazaar.com. "It's simply about being appropriate—weɽ never see this at a royal engagement. [The British Fashion Awards ceremony] is a celebration of fashion and there's a lot more flexibility on what one can wear."

It's also not the first time a royal has gone rogue: Kate has been photographed with non-nude or light pink colors on her toes.

Meghan made royal history in 2017: She was the first fiancé to ever spend Christmas with the royal family, with the holiday festivities reserved for official family members and spouses only, per longstanding protocol.

Prince Harry reportedly asked the Queen for permission for Meghan to attend, an exception that had never been made before she agreed.

"Now they are engaged it was unthinkable that they would be apart for Christmas," a friend of Harry's told the Sunday Times. "The royal family have fully welcomed Meghan into the fold."

She joined them on Christmas Eve at Buckingham Palace to attend the Queen's pre-Christmas lunch, and then attended their traditional holiday service at the Queen's Sandringham estate on Christmas Day.

"It was fantastic. She really enjoyed it. The family loved having her there," Harry said on BBC Radio 4's Today. "[With] the family part of Christmas, there's always that work element as well and I think together, we had an amazing time, we had great fun staying with my brother and sister-in-law and running around with the kids."

And it wasn't just special holidays Meghan was invited to attend before officially marrying into the family high-profile events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Summit are usually only attended by official royals, but Meghan attended while engaged to Prince Harry.

Known for her penchant for colorful-yet-monochrome ensembles (making it easier to spot her in crowds), the only time Queen Elizabeth wears black is for somber occasions, like a funeral or the Remembrance Sunday service, and it's a guideline most other members of the Royal Family have adhered to, rarely wearing black to high-profile events. (Naturally, Meghan earned criticism when once wore an all-black ensemble to an official outing.)

Each member of the Royal Family also reportedly travels with an all-black mourning outfit after Princess Elizabeth was on a trip to Kenya when her father unexpectedly passed away in 1952. She was unable to step out of the plane until an appropriate ensemble had been delivered to her after arriving back in England.

Another somber travel protocol? Two royal family members who are in the line of succession can't fly together.

Yes, Prince George always looks adorable in his signature shorts. But they're also required until he turns eight years old.

"Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England," British etiquette expert William Hanson told Harper's Bazaar UK.

This dress code for young royal boys stems back centuries, with gowns and dresses in the place of shorts.

"Thankfully in late 19th Century and early 20th Century this developed into shorts," another etiquette expert Grant Harrold said. "This tradition is carried on by the royal family to this very day."

If you really want to be a royal, prepare to give up a lot of seafood.

According to the BBC, members of the royal family must avoid shellfish, due to its higher risk of food-borne illnesses, as we as ll rare meat and foreign water while traveling to avoid any potential food poisoning or hazards that could impact their schedules and duties.

There's also another surprisingly common ingredient that is not used in dishes when you dine with the royals: garlic.

"At Buckingham Palace you don't cook with garlic," John Higgins, a former palace chef, once revealed to the National Post. "I suppose in case you get the royal burp."

The Queen is also not a fan of starches served at dinnertime, so stock up on bagels in the morning.

When Meghan made her first solo appearance as a member of the royal family in September 2018, royal watchers were shocked to see she shut her own car door, with journalist and royal biographer Christopher Wilson noting on Twitter, "First time I've seen an on-duty princess shut her own car door…"

Too bad it's been done before (by the Queen and Kate, to name a few daring royals) and isn't really a breach of protocol, as car doors are usually opened for royals due to security reasons.

"Usually, if you are a member of the royal family or a dignitary, you have a member of staff to open and close a car door for you," etiquette expert William Hansen explained to Radio 1 Newsbeat, adding it's not done for "airs and graces."


Transforming Nottingham House

In 1689, the King and Queen commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to draw up plans, but the Queen herself, excited by the project, took charge of the project to transform this little house into a palace.

Enthusiastic Mary made regular visits to check on progress and to hurry the work along. While a huge workforce was labouring with the building, a team of designers were already preparing decorative schemes for the new rooms.

However, Mary’s urging on the workmen had disastrous consequences. In November 1689 part of a newly-built wall collapsed. One man was killed and others badly injured. It happened minutes after the Queen had toured the site. A shaken Mary wrote to her husband of the incident: ‘It shewed me the hand of God plainly in it, and I was truly humbled'.

Despite the setback, the palace was soon finished, and the King and Queen moved in on Christmas Eve 1689.

The party palace

William and Mary began an era of magnificent balls in a golden three-year period, beginning in 1691. They used their new ornate rooms, elegant staircases and impressive halls to great effect. Guests ate, drank, gambled and flirted until dawn.

Once or twice a week the King and Queen held Drawing Rooms, where they mingled with distinguished visitors such as ambassadors or foreign princes.

Image: The Drawing Room was the focal point of court life where the king would meet members of the court, dressed in their finery.


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