When you think of England, you might think of the country’s royal family. You know the one – they’re plastered relentlessly all over the telly, endlessly waving and politely smiling. Turns out they’re not particularly English anyway, and most of the royal families in Europe are connected in one way or another. Honestly, UKIP would go mental if they actually knew anything about English history.
Everybody knows France invaded and conquered England in 1066, but the monarchy was a bit French before that too – Edward the Confessor, who had reigned for 24 years prior, was half-French anyway and William the Conqueror’s second cousin. That’s why William decided that he was the rightful heir to the throne over Harold, Edward’s brother in law. The French are the country most tied into the history of the English monarchy – the House of Plantagenet was one of the most successful English dynasties, but they were all French. Seeing as Wales was conquered under the Plantagenet king Edward I, the Welsh can be annoyed at the French too.
About 50 years before the French invaded, England was run by King Canute of Denmark. He was simultaneously king of England, Denmark and Norway for the last seven years of his life. The Danes have had a lot of other genetic influence on the English monarchy ever since.
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was a German and famously brought over to England the central European tradition of the Christmas tree. Their five children and successive generations have collectively ruled over not only England, but Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium. Their grandson George V ruled England for over 50 years before he changed the name of his dynasty from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor – he felt it a sensible move due to Britain’s anti-German mood during WWI.
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, is a mix of German, Danish and Greek, and was actually born on the Greek island of Corfu. This means that basically all of the queen’s kids are Greek, German and Danish.
Prince Philip’s grandmother came from the House of Romanov, the last Tsarist dynasty in Russia before the communist revolution dethroned them. So, in addition to the 4 or 5 countries already in the mix, the modern Windsors are partly Russian too. Another fun fact: as well as being married, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are third cousins – their great grandparents were siblings and children of Queen Victoria.
Seeing as England invaded Ireland repeatedly and occupied it for hundreds of years, it seems ironic when you realise that the current English monarch is descended from Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland a thousand years ago.
King Canute’s mum was apparently Sigrid the Haughty, the daughter of Mieszko I, founder and King of Poland. Yes, even a thousand years ago, those Poles were over ‘ere takin’ our jobs.
Featured image by Wapster