We’re a whole week into 2014 and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very happy new year! It looks to be an exciting one, both personally and historically.
Whilst we mark a tragic centenary in remembering the start of World War I, there are also happier anniversaries. Chief amongst these for me, of course, is the tri-centenary of the Hanoverian ascension to the British throne. That’s right; it was a whole three hundred years ago that the House of Stuart handed the reins (or reigns, if you’ll excuse the pun) over to a brand new dynasty. However, that wasn’t the last we heard of the Stuarts – they certainly weren’t going without a fight!
Actually there is some doubt as to whether Queen Anne really wanted to settle her country on the Hanoverians. She didn’t hold a high opinion of her intended successor’s son – later George I – and she fell out with the House of Hanover over the Treaty of Utrecht. There was enough prevarication to make the Hanoverians anxious Anne would change her mind before she died. Indeed, many Jacobites were later to claim Anne repented of her decision on her death bed, but didn’t have time to alter the legal succession. If that’s true, it’s very lucky for me!
A monarch from the House of Hanover sat on the British throne between 1 August 1714 and 22 January 1901: George I, George II, George III, George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria. Although the name of the royal house changed with Victoria and Albert’s son, our current royal family remain descendants of the Hanoverians.
There have been tantalising rumours about Victoria, which suggest she was actually a bastard child and not Hanoverian at all. With this particular theory, the visual evidence speaks for itself. I only have to look at a portrait or a photography of Victoria, no matter her stage in life, and I see the House of Hanover stamped all over her face. She has the protruding eyes, fleshy chin and high forehead characteristic to the family. She often reminds me of her grandfather George III, or her cousin Princess Charlotte of Wales.
I look forward to sharing more stories from the lives of these fascinating monarchs with you over the coming twelve months. Remember to celebrate the anniversary by visiting Historic Royal Palaces, who are planning many events!