King Charles coronation: Trivia about the event, British Royal Family

A history and trivia of King Charles, the coronation and the House of Windsor, and all the divorce and scandals plaguing the British Royal Family.

 IN A full overnight coronation dress rehearsal, the Gold State Coach is ridden alongside members of the military, May 3. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
IN A full overnight coronation dress rehearsal, the Gold State Coach is ridden alongside members of the military, May 3.

Just imagine. If King Edward VIII had not met Wallis Simpson and fallen head over heels in love with her, there might not be a Charles III. The person that we know as King Charles would exist, but not by the title that he now bears.

Charles might be a prince – more likely a duke – but not a king.

King Edward’s short-lived reign, which lasted barely a year, ended with his decision to abdicate.

The crown was then placed on the head of his younger brother, Albert, who might have inherited the throne even if his older brother had not abdicated, as Edward died childless in July 1974.

There was one hitch. Albert, who became King George VI, died in 1952, and Edward outlived him by 22 years.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth poses after awarding Captain Tom Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain July 17, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/CHRIS JACKSON)Britain's Queen Elizabeth poses after awarding Captain Tom Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain July 17, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/CHRIS JACKSON)

Assuming for a moment that Edward had not abdicated, the next in line to the throne would have been the Duke of Gloucester, with the result that British history might be somewhat different from that which we know.

The Duke of Gloucester, for instance, was the first royal in line to the throne to be educated at school instead of by private tutors. His son Richard, the present Duke of Gloucester, at the time of his birth was fifth in line to the throne, but has plummeted to 30th due to the progeny of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Edward VIII, who after his abdication was known as the Duke of Windsor, lived in exile, mostly in France. When Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited him when he lay dying, his last wish, which the queen refused to grant, was that his wife be known as Her Royal Highness. Nonetheless, Edward and Wallis are buried side by side in the Frogmore burial ground at Windsor Castle.

Divorce and scandal haunting the British Royal Family

DIVORCE AND scandal seem to haunt the royal family. Although Queen Elizabeth had a very long and, by most accounts, happy marriage, three of her four children were divorced.

Charles would have liked to marry Camilla, who was somewhat flighty in her youth and was considered unsuitable. Diana Spencer was a ninth-generation descendant from the Duke of Marlborough, young, naïve and, perhaps most important at the time, a virgin. Various reports suggest that she and Charles realized that they were not really made for each other, but for the sake of duty and appearances, went through with the wedding. As Diana famously said afterward in a controversial BBC interview, there were three in that marriage.

For all that, the marriage did produce two sons, one of whom, Prince William, is next line to the throne. The other, Prince Harry, calls himself the Spare.

By the time Prince William got married, virginity was no longer an issue; and when Prince Harry got married to a divorcee, that too was no longer an issue, even though his American wife is far from the flavor of the month of Britain’s royal family.

The queen’s only daughter, Anne, was divorced from Captain Mark Phillips, and in December,1992 married her present husband, Sir Timothy Laurence.

The queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, married Sarah Ferguson in 1986. They separated in 1992 and were divorced in 1996 but continued to live in the same home, remained friends, and are fiercely loyal to each other. Despite her sometimes-scandalous behavior, Sarah Ferguson remained an accepted member of the royal family.

Prince Andrew’s involvement with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has led to considerable notoriety, which has had a negative impact on his status.

Prince Edward, the current Duke of Edinburgh who is 13th in line to the throne, married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. The couple has remained relatively scandal-free, other than the hacking of their bank accounts, and Edward is the only one of the queen’s children who neither got divorced nor was married to someone who had been divorced – or both.

The queen’s younger sister, Margaret, though beautiful and glamorous, was a tragic figure who was unlucky in love and also had serious health issues. In her early 20s, she fell in love with war hero Peter Townsend, who was her father’s equerry, and who was divorced. Margaret wanted to marry him, but the royal family objected precisely on the grounds that he was a divorced man.

Margaret then plunged into London’s arts and entertainments scene, where she met photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones, whom she secretly dated before their romance became public. They announced their engagement in February 1960 and married three months later.

Theirs was the first royal wedding to be televised. Margaret’s husband was given the title of Earl of Snowdon. They had two children: David, Viscount Linley; and Lady Sarah.

The marriage, which was initially a good one, gradually fell apart at the seams and ended in divorce in 1978. But before that, each had a series of romances highlighted in the British media. Margaret lost favor with the public when she had a long relationship with Roddy Llewellyn, a landscape gardener who was 17 years her junior.

Margaret was a more striking fashion plate than the queen, who loved color but depended on classics. Margaret’s attire was far more stunning. One of the stories about her fashion instincts was that she was aware that after a certain time, fashion trends repeat themselves. So she had a huge trunk into which her gowns were stored after two or three wears, and when the trunk was full, it was turned upside down, and the outfits that had been at the bottom regained their original place at the top, and no one noticed or remembered that this was something that Margaret had worn several years earlier. 

Princess Margaret died in 2002 at the age of 71, a far younger age than her mother, who lived to 101; her sister, who lived to 96; and her brother-in-law, who lived to 99. Her death was attributed to her lifestyle, her broken romances and her illnesses.

Although Charles waited a very long time to take his place on the throne and to make Camilla his queen, chances are that William will also have a relatively long wait if Charles has inherited the genes of his parents and his grandmother, with whom he was very close.

William sparked some public ire when he and his wife and children all traveled together, something which is generally a no-no in upper echelon royal circles in case there is some kind of serious accident which could result in the fatalities of both parents and children.

ONE PIECE of trivia about the royal family is that the males are circumcised. While it was known that Charles had been circumcised, it was not certain that the practice continued after him, especially as Diana was opposed to circumcision. But Prince Harry, in his autobiography Spare, confirmed that he had indeed been circumcised.

The coronation of Charles on Saturday will be far different from that of Queen Elizabeth’s. It may have a little less pomp and ceremony than in days of yore, but it will feature new, liberal elements, while simultaneously bowing to tradition and heritage.

Though Charles never knew his grandfather King George, he has chosen to wear the robes that his grandfather wore to his own coronation in 1937.

There will also be extreme media focus on the crown and the jewels that will be worn by Camilla, some of which had been worn by Queen Elizabeth, whose approval Camilla eventually won.

Psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller, who claims to be a mind reader heavily involved in counter-espionage, has pledged not to interfere with the coronation. Geller, who lived in Britain for many years before returning to Israel, has made a video based on an ancient gold spoon that has been used to anoint every British monarch since the 14th century.

Even then, says Geller, the spoon was already an antique. The anointing oil was allegedly produced in the Holy Land.

Geller, who has met the monarch, has promised not to do any spoon-bending in relation to the coronation, though he may get to see something that will be hidden from the general public. It is believed that the actual anointing ceremony will be screened off, but among Geller’s psychic gifts is remote viewing, which he says he did for the CIA.

Although the coronation will cost a huge amount, what it does for Britain’s image and economy, with the sale of souvenirs, tourism and more, will, in the final analysis, be worth the expense.  