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The Kings and Queens of England

Updated on April 3, 2012

England is one the few countries left in the world that, wrongly or rightly, still maintains a monarch who has a constitutional role in the workings of government. Why? Why has Britain kept its monarchy in a modern world where 'divine royal birthright' makes little rational sense and the notion of aristocracy is, at best, an anochronism and at worst an affront to egalitarianism. Is it just for tourism? Tradition? An attempt to hold on to former glory? What would Britain be like without the Royal pomp and circumstance it has made its signature feature?

According to the official website of the Royal family:

The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.

This comes at a cost to the public as, even though cuts to the Royal expenses have been made, the extended Royal Family still costs British taxpayers millions of pounds. For example, it recently cost £14,756 in travel expenses for the Prince of Wales to take the Royal Train from London to Cumbria to launch the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. Similarly it cost £21,002 for the Royal Train to take the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to the Royal Variety Performance in December 2009. If that's the cost of just one outing, how much is the whole shebang? Anyone interested can find the finacial expenditure reports at the official British Monarchy website:

Royal Finances

The Oldest Form of Government

Monarchy is the oldest form of government in Britain, though the monarchy is no longer in posession of the abolute powers it once had. While the Queen is head of State, this is largely a figure-head postion, as the power to create legislation lies with Parliament.

However, certain powers do still remain and sometimes this causes controversy. In an episode of Australian history known as The Dismissal in 1975, the then Governor General, as a representative of the Queen, "sacked" the Priminister of the day and forced a general election causing a divisive and volatile reaction among politicians and the public alike. Questions were raised about the relevancy of the Royal family to Australia and the Republican movement was given an impetus.

Despite this, Australia too, has chosen to retain it's royal connections and in a referendum, the Republican option was rejected by the people. It seemed Australians wanted to hang on to their sovereign, though many believe when the present Queen leaves the throne, the Republicans will succeed.

The success and popularity of the monarchy has always depended to a very large extent upon the poularity of individual monarchs and throughout history, Britain has had it's share of great and not so great royal leaders.

A List of the Kings and Queens of England


William the Conqueror (Wiliam I) - 1066 to 1087

William Rufus (William II) - 1087 to 1100

Henry I - 1100 to 1135

Stephen - 1135 to 1154


Edward IV - 1461 to 1483

Edward V - 1483 to 1483 (four months)

Richard III - 1483 to 1485


Henry IV - 1399 to 1413

Henry V - 143 to 1422

Henry VI - 1422 to 1461

Richard I, "The Lionhearted"
Richard I, "The Lionhearted"


Henry II - 1154 to 1189

Richard I - 1189 to 1199

John - 1189 to 1216

Henry III - 1216 to 1272

Edward I - 1272 to 1307

Edward II - 1307 to 1327

Edward III - 1327 to 1377

Richard II - 1377 to 1399

Henry VIII and his wives
Henry VIII and his wives


Henry VII - 1485 to 1509

Henry VIII - 1509 to 1547

Edward VI -1547 to 1553

Queen Jane - 1553 to 1553 (fourteen days)

Mary I - 1553 to 1558

Elizabeth I - 1558 to 1603

A young Queen Elizabeth I
A young Queen Elizabeth I
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell


James I - 1603 to 1625

Charles I - 1625 to 1649

On the 19th of May, 1649, Oliver Cromwell overthrew the Monarchy and temporarily established a Republican Commonwealth and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658, fllowed by Richard Cromwell, who was Lord Protector from 1658- 59, after which the monarchy was restored.

Charles II - 1660 to 1685

James II - 1685 to 1688

William III and Mary II - 1689 to 1702

Anne - 1702 to 1714


George I - 1714 to 1727

George II - 1727 to 1760

George III - 1760 to 1820

George IV - 1820 to 1830

William IV - 1830 to 1837

Victoria - 1837 to 1901

Queen Victoria in her youth
Queen Victoria in her youth


Edward VII - 1901 to 1910

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II


George V - 1910 to 1936

Edward VIII - !936 to 1936 (abdicated)

George VII - 1936 to 1952

Elizabeth II - 1952 and still reigning


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