Sympathetic Developments

David Starkey: Monarchy of Misfits?

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The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, when the second son of the Prince of Wales married a divorced American actress of mixed race and uncertain religion, was seen as marking a fundamental modernisation of the British monarchy.

Actually, it was only a return the 14th century when one of the many sons of King Edward III married a twice-divorced merry widow who’d eloped with her first husband at the age of 12; another a part-Moorish Spanish princess who (it is claimed) was a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad; while a third wed the au pair!

This talk traces the radically shifting marriage customs of the British monarchy, from the laxity of the Middle Ages, through the stringencies of the Hanoverians, to the house of Windsor and its sometimes contorted adaptations to the realities of modern family life.