State of Change

May I see the wine list?

Late last night it was announced that, due to episodic mobility issues, Queen Elizabeth would not be personally present for the state opening of Parliament today. While the shortness of notice is unusual, it is far from unprecedented for a parliamentary session to begin without the monarch. The present queen missed the openings of 1959 and 1963 due to pregnancy. Victoria loathed to visit Parliament at all during her forty years of mourning. On those occasions the standard procedure was to open the session by commission, with the Lord Chancellor reading the speech. This time, perhaps in consequence of the shortness of notice, the full state ceremony went ahead but with the Prince of Wales reading the speech instead of his mother.

The last time an heir apparent opened Parliament in this way was 23rd November 1819, when the Prince Regent opened the second session of the sixth Parliament on behalf of George III, a mere nine weeks before actually ascending to the throne. Charles, of course, is not full regent, and performed today’s ceremony in his capacity as counsellor of state. Such counsellors are required to act in pairs, hence the first appearance of the Duke of Cambridge at the event.

It was reported in the BBC coverage that Charles was sitting on the consort’s throne, with the monarch’s throne being removed from the chamber completely. The Imperial State Crown was displayed on a small table to his right where the monarch’s throne would normally be, while his wife and son sat on the smaller chairs in the alcoves either side.

Convention has long been for the peer reading the speech to do so in first person, as the sovereign herself would have done, but Charles opted to switch to third person, repeatedly describing the government and its ministers as “Her Majesty’s” instead of “my”*. I do not know if he was making the substitution mentally or if the speech was actually printed again with altered wording – which would require a downgrade in materials.

Also last night it was announced that Professor Anne Curry had been appointed Arundel Herald Extraordinary. This did not make her a member of the College of Arms, but did allow her to take part in the procession with the other heralds.

This afternoon the House of Lords Flickr account published twenty photographs of the ceremony, taken by Annabel Moeller and licensed as CC BY 2.0, enabling me to quickly absorb them into Wikimedia Commons. It is unusual for us to have such number and quality of images for events like these. The trend towards releasing photographs in this way is encouraging, even if it is intermittent.

Given that this if the first time counsellors of state have been used to open a legislative session, and that the decision was not known until thirteen hours prior, one has to wonder how much improvisation was employed in today’s ceremony, for example:

  • Their Royal Highnesses travelled entirely by motorcar. Had there previously been plans to use the horse-drawn carriages?
  • The Prince of Wales was in full military uniform as for most state openings, but his wife and son were in morning suits as for the “dress down” occasions in June 2017 and December 2019. The inconsistency is inexplicable.
  • There was no mention of the Union Flag over the Victoria Tower being swapped for the royal standard. Was a banner of the heir apparent’s arms available?
  • The limousine carrying Charles had his own shield of arms mounted on the roof, but that carrying William used the generic red shield with a crown. Has a shield of William’s arms been made for this purpose?
  • The carpet on the lowest step to the throne was plain red, whereas previously the pattern of lions and roses continued all the way.
  • Sir Lindsay Hoyle is wigless for the third consecutive state opening, despite promising to wear it before his election. It can’t still be missing, can it?

When the ceremony is over, both houses debate a response to the address. Tradition dictates that the motion be introduced by a long-serving older member and seconded by a younger, recently-elected one. The role of the “old duffer” was this time fulfilled by my own MP, the “shy and retiring” Graham Stuart. He said of his constituency:

Beverley and Holderness comprises four towns—Beverley, Hornsea, Withernsea and Hedon—and many other hamlets and villages that are dotted across east Yorkshire. It is a beautiful part of the world and has history as well as charm. Beverley has contributed more than most places to the improvement of our democratic system over the years—admittedly chiefly by running elections in such a corrupt manner that the law had to be changed afterwards. After the unseating of the victorious candidate in 1727 by a petition, his agents were imprisoned and Parliament passed a whole new bribery Act. But Beverley’s notorious freemen were not to be put off so easily. Beverley continued to be a byword for electoral malpractice. The novelist Anthony Trollope stood in the Liberal interest, unsuccessfully, in 1868, and such was the level of wrongdoing that a royal commission was established especially and a new law passed disenfranchising the town and barring it from ever returning a Member of Parliament again. Obviously the law did change. Free beer and cash inducements were the electoral controversies then, rather than, say, beer and curry today. Never in the history of human conflict has so much karma come from a korma.

FURTHER READING

*The version used on the Hansard website for both the Commons and the Lords is in third person as Charles delivered it, while that on the government’s site is in first person, as well as annotated with the names of the bills being described.

The Good Lancastrian?

Today’s virtual lecture was by Rory MacLellan at the Society for Court Studies.

To recap for those unaware: The Lancastrian dynasty came to power in England in 1399 when Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, deposed his cousin Richard II, and acceded as Henry IV. It was continued by his eldest son Henry V after 1413, and then grandson Henry VI after 1422. Richard II had no children or siblings, and Bolingbroke was his heir presumptive according to agnatic primogenture, but by the male-preference cognatic method that was the consensus then in England the throne should have passed to Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March. Even if Bolingbroke’s claim had been legitimate, the overthrow (and later probable murder) of his predecessor stained him in the eyes of his people, and of God. Henry V made some efforts to atone for his father’s treason. He won the respect of the population by his glorious victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and subsequent capture of the crown of France. Henry VI was beset by mental health problems and under his weak leadership English politics fell into severe disarray, resulting in the loss of most of the French possessions he had inherited. Opposition to his government was lead by Richard, Duke of York (Edmund Mortimer’s grand-nephew and Richard II’s cognatic heir), whose own son eventually unseated Henry to become Edward IV in 1461.

MacLellan’s research concerned the manner in which the three Lancastrian monarchs were officially remembered under the Yorkist regime. They were clear that the 1399 coup was illegal and that the Lancastrian line was thus illegitimate. Each was called “King in deed but not in right”. It was easy enough to condemn Henry IV for having committed regicide, and Henry VI for losing France, but Henry V presented a challenge – all the territories his son lost were only held by England in the first place due to the supreme military, chivalric and diplomatic skill of his father, whose accomplishments are revered even to this day and which the Yorkists themselves strove to honour.

Later historians have given differing reviews of how Henry V was regarded under Edward IV’s first reign (1461-70). Jonathan Hughes found “universal respect and praise” and Russell Butcher said “one of the most successful medieval kings was difficult to criticise”, but Alison Allan said he was “usually quietly ignored” so as to maintain the Yorkist line that Lancastrian rule was a misery.

The only positive comments by Yorkists about any Lancastrian were made in the 1450s while the latter dynasty still reigned, and while Richard still insisted he only opposed Henry’s advisors instead of Henry himself. Once the White Rose had supplanted the Red the line quickly changed, with Speaker Strangeways recanting the new official version to Parliament. An act was passed to overturn the 1415 treason conviction of Richard of Conisburgh (Edward’s grandfather), saying that “a pretensed session had reached an erroneous judgement”. All other official correspondence from this time made clear that Henry had been king by usurpation. Even during Edward’s own 1467-8 bid for France, when Henry V’s legacy would have been useful, it was kept under wraps.

In Edward’s second reign (1471-83), when the House of Lancaster had been extinguished, it was politically safe for his government to recognise the personal virtues and accomplishments of Henry V though still condemning his illegitimacy. MacLellan noted that whereas Edward had been hostile to Henry VI’s establishment of Eton College and King’s at Cambridge he still patronised the religious organisations (Syon Abbey and Sheen Priory) set up by his father. Richard III also owned several books that praised Henry V, such as The Book of the Order of Chivalry (Caxton’s translation) and The Book of Noblesse (William Worcester). Perhaps Richard could be somewhat more tolerant of the Lancastrian legacy, not being the first Yorkist king.

In the Q&A the only attendees (there were but twelve of us) to ask questions were myself and Fabianpersson. He asked how Henry V was perceived by other Lancastrians, and then by the early Tudors. MacLellan said that he was revered up until the point at which his French conquests were lost, after which they simply stopped mentioning him. To lean on his glory would only have served to highlight how poorly his son was performing by comparison. Even John Fortescue’s Commendation of the Laws of England, written for Edward of Lancaster, does not mention his grandfather. Henry VII rarely brought up his namesake-but-one, except for a pamphlet around 1510 using his precedent for another campaign in France. Fabian suggested that political memory fades after 20-40 years, though MacLellan countered that the Yorkist side still brought up precedents from as early as Henry I to support their cause. Fabian also asked how Henry VI’s perception was affected by that of his father and grandfather, and how either dynasty dealt with Richard II’s own problems. MacLellan said that it was risky to criticise the foundation of the Lancastrian dynasty while it still reigned. Henry VI had the advantage that he was born into an already-established succession rather than personally being involved in its installation, and that he was well-known to be much more pious than his grandfather. The Yorkists presented Richard II as entirely blameless in his own demise. Henry V made some effort to rehabilitate him, including a reburial, but it was still to early to cede much moral ground to the former monarch without jeopardising his own crown.

I asked how the Tudor dynasty, which claimed to be the union of York and Lancaster, reconciled the competing claims of the two houses in their own official communications. MacLellan wasn’t sure about Henry IV, but said that later pamphlets were generally positive about both Edward IV and Henry V. The counterpart question to the original study- how was Edward IV was regarded during Henry’s readeption. MacLellan replied that what little had been written during Henry’s second reign was swiftly destroyed once Edward returned. He also surmised that the Lancastrians just weren’t as good at this sort of political propaganda as the Yorkists had been. I asked how long it took for historical tensions between York and Lancaster to finally subside, having heard from other historians that the controversy lingered well into Elizabeth I’s reign. He said it was slightly out of his period of study, but noted that there were still Yorkist claimants in the late fifteenth century and that it probably wasn’t until the next change of dynasty (with James VI of Scotland’s arrival) that the issue faded, though there remained a legal vaguery as to which claim was more legitimate. Finally I noted that there were many references in his own speech and in other historians’ accounts to Parliament praising whichever dynasty was then in power and condemning the one that had gone before, and asked to what extent the medieval Parliament of England simply acted to give a veneer of retroactive legitimacy to what had already happened by force. MacLellan said this was definitely the case, and that most of the parliamentary speeches that survive were written on behalf of the then-incumbent monarch so as to persuade other representatives of whatever narrative was politically convenient.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Warwick the Kingmaker by John Reid

Today I attended another virtual meeting of the Richard III Society Gloucester Branch. The presentation was by John Reid, discussing the historical reputation of Richard’s father-in-law Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, popularly nicknamed “The Kingmaker”.

Warwick has been hugely divisive to contemporaries as well as historians, Ricardians, Lancastrians and Yorkists. He was England’s greatest celebrity of the fifteenth century and his fame (or infamy) carried on into the twentieth). He even had a board game named after him.

He became the premier earl in England in 1449 due to lucky deaths. His family were great winners in the lottery of aristocratic marriages – picking up the estates of the Beauchamps and Despensers. His patchwork of armorial quartering reflects the complexity of his family connections. He had initially supported Henry VI, but changed sides in 1452 largely due to his inheritance disputes with the Duke of Somerset.

Henry VI, due in part to inherited mental health troubles, proved spectacularly incompetent, and many considered Richard, Duke of York to be king by right – though Reid showed us York’s signature on the letters patent of 1454 appointing Henry’s son Edward of Lancaster as Prince of Wales, clearly showing that even at this late stage he was not disputing the latter’s right. When eventually he rebelled against the Lancastrian crown he had Warwick’s invaluable support. York’s son Edward, Earl of March rescued Warwick from Margaret of Anjou and Warwick in turn arranged his coronation as Edward IV. For the first three years of Edward’s reign Warwick was thought “third king”, being virtual governor of the realm, acquiring even more land (after he confiscated the estates of the Percy and Clifford families, he wound up with lordships in twenty-eight English counties and a handful in Wales) and an annual income of at least £10,000 (nearly £11m in 2021 money).

Matters of matrimony spoiled his status: Warwick had spent months lobbying for a French princess to marry his king, and was humiliated by the revelation that Edward had already married – in secret – to Elizabeth Woodville, a dowager dame whose family had fought for the Lancastrian side. He described the parvenu Woodvilles as “grasping and charmless”, resenting how many titles, offices and marriages were given to them at the expense of his own dynasty, and how their influence over the crown came to displace his. Reid drew parallels with the modern-day rivalry between Carrie Symonds and Dominic Cummings.

Warwick’s first coup against Edward occurred in the summer of 1469. He launched his second in 1471, making a deal with Margaret of Anjou on 22 July and reinstating Henry VI on 3 October. He was killed at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471. Reid noted that this was the only time he had fought on foot rather than horseback, leaving him with no easy way to escape when the tide turned against him and he was isolated from his allies on the field. This was very similar to the way Richard III would die fourteen years later.

The earl was adept at his own spin so contemporary sources are often too kind to him. Later writers were often too harsh. In particular Burgundian writers made him a bogeyman, believing that his policies would lead to their absorption by France. He had something of a rehabilitation under the Tudors – Henry VII wanted Henry VI to be declared a saint.

In summing up, Reid discussed Warwick’s virtues and vices. He was confident, charismatic, charming, courageous and energetic. He was treated shabbily by Edward IV after 1464. He may have been the model for Sir Lancelot as envisioned by Sir Thomas Mallory. On the other hand he can be seen as seeking power only for himself and being motivated by personal feuds rather than the national interest. His military skill is doubted, as is his necessity in the Yorkist accession. Could Edward IV have made himself king without Warwick’s help? Were the Woodvilles any worse than the Nevilles?

After the presentation itself had concluded and most attendees had logged out, there was a lengthy discussion between one attendee (Sean O’Neill) and the host (Cynthia) over the intricacies of Zoom functions – because various buttons were appearing and disappearing depending on the settings of individual hosts and updates by the company. This led to an explanation of the difficulties of an organisation managing virtual meetings, then one into internet difficulties generally as well as experiences of coronavirus. I mentioned having tested positive in November, and my experience with Hubbnet. I remarked that I would have been truly screwed had the pandemic hit in the period of 2009-13 when my house relied on plugabble WiFi dongles for very limited internet access. The two were surprised to realise that I lived near Hull, the former having once lived in North Ferriby and the latter in Hessle. They started asking me if Kingston Telecoms or Kingston Communications still existed (they do).

The Trouble with Tombs

This was a presentation by the University of Liverpool, concerning the history, primarily between the seventh and nineteenth centuries, of how England has dealt with human corpses.

The main speaker was Ruth Nugent. She wanted to examine how the dead were handled literally, emotionally, ethically, spiritually and ideologically. She found that there was rarely much commentary on the relationship between bodies and tombs, students of other subjects would focus on associated details of architecture, geneaology, heraldry and religion but the principles of burial itself were often overlooked.

Until the eleventh century burial within a church building (as opposed to the yard outside) was reserved for royals, saints and clergy. Until the thirteenth it was monasteries that were most sought after as resting places. Due to the long-term problem of overcrowding it was common for bodies to be moved after a hundred years so that the plot could be used for someone else, or because the church was undergoing renovation work. There were cases of corpses stolen by one church from another, and legal disputes between families of the deceased over where the remains could be placed. Sometimes churchmen would claim to “discover” the bodies of legendary figures such as King Arthur. Epidemics, such as the Great Plague, put increased pressure on churchyards due to sudden mass burials. In the nineteenth century secular public cemeteries were opened to give alternatives to church burials, and cremation became more accepted. Laws were passed against intramural burials and exhumation to recycle spaces.

Physical upkeep was always a problem. Tombstones would be chipped away to make ingredients for magical medicines, and sometimes families would carry out clandestine removals of their own ancestors to escape from vandalism. Elizabeth I ordered churches to restore their tombs but often the churches lacked the money to comply. The Civil War left cathedrals in particularly poor condition and soldiers often looted graves. Large numbers of graves underneath churches could cause subsidence. Antiquarians (she named John Leland, John Stow, William Camden, John Waver and William Dering) determined to make written records of tombs and their contents in the hopes that the information could survive even if the physical structures didn’t – partly through interest in history, partly to safeguard their own futures.

The next speaker was David Monteith, who recalled his experience with the reburial of Richard III in 2015. Public consultation revealed a very wide spectrum of preferences for the appropriate manner in which to deal with the late king – some wanting a full tomb, others a simpler box. He noted that many people’s feelings about Richard were hard to separate from his Shakespearean portrayal, and that if the rediscovery had occurred a few years later he would have needed to contend with much more polarised attitudes to memorials. He said that even in Richard’s day it was normal for the dead to be moved or their surroundings altered – Edward IV rebuilt many tombs of his relatives, as later would Elizabeth I. Burial styles changed over the centuries and so there were many valid ways of disposing of Richard. He did, though, have to discourage visitors at Leicester Cathedral from taking photographs with the casket.

Harold Mytum followed. The Church of England has policies for bodies found on consecrated land that parallel those of secular authorities. In medieval times English burials were much the same as continental ones, including frequent recycling of plots. Most above-ground interments in Europe lasted only twenty-five years before the cadaver was moved elsewhere. The Church has a duty to protect and respect human remains, but exhumation can be allowed if it serves the public interest, e.g. the advancement of science.

Andrea Bradley spoke of the challenges involved in securing land for HS2 – with its own bespoke system for the removal and reburial of human remains. They have a specific legal agreement with the Archbisop’s Council that corpses uprooted from consecrated ground must be put down in other consecrated ground.

Ian Dungavell said that burial spaces in cities are getting full again, and few now expect a large grave for themselves in perpetuity, instead accepting that after some time they will be relocated. Re-use of graves in this way has been allowed again (although only in London) since 2007 because there is no alternative possible.

Lin Foxhall, the host, took questions from the audience.

  • On the rise of digital commemoration, Nugent said to be wary of rapid-onset obsolescence. QR codes and URLs might not be functional a century from now and those without compatible technology – even today – would be locked out of interaction.
  • Asked why bodies were so obsessed over, even by cultures who insisted the soul was more important, Monteith suggested that without a standardised metaphysical understanding of death we fill the gap with fear.  He also wondered if we over-medicalise death nowadays.
  • Asked how common it was for bodies to be upgraded to higher-status graves, Mytum said that the emergence of non-religious cemeteries allowed greater commercialism in burial plans. Dungavell said that not everyone has detailed plans for their disposal, and that survivors sometimes need to “park” the body in a cheap grave for a few years while a more elaborate commemoration is organised.
  • Asked if future wills could contain clauses regulating future exhumations, Nugent said that such clauses are already in use. Foxhall said that ecological implications of burial and/or cremation are more closely observed now.
  • Asked if we should go back to communal burials, and why bones are seen as more important than ashes, Dungavell thought bones were treated brutally enough and Mytum said there are already commercial long-burrows.
  • I asked if something like the Necropolis Railway could reappear to allow urban residents to visit relatives’ graves far away. Dungavell said that the original company was unsuccessful as people wanted burials nearby. Ruth mentioned how railway companies had allowed corpses to go in sidings and embankments.
  • Asked about the changing nature of images on graves, Nugent said that some pictures could be very upsetting, especially if photographs peel off. Mytum noted that there had been changes in taste for memorials in the middle of the twentieth century, Foxhall noted very dark imagery in the eighteenth – such as cherubs becoming skeletons.
  • Asked about the need for different funeral and disposal styles for different cultures, Monteith noted he had already seen multi-faith crematoria for that purpose.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Guts for Garters

For the last few Decembers I have eagerly awaited the release of the new year honours list. Normally they arrive a few days before the actual new year, but this time around they came with barely an hour to spare.

There were, as to be expected, a great many awards given on ministerial advice for those involved in fighting COVID, but at the very top were three new appointments made at Her Majesty’s personal discretion to the Order of the Garter: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, her daughter-in-law; Valerie, Baroness Amos, former Lord President of Her Privy Council; and Tony Blair, her former Prime Minister.

While sons (and in modern times also daughters) of the reigning monarch are appointed to the order routinely it is rare for royals by marriage. The only examples in the past two hundred years are of those married to the sovereigns themselves – Albert two months in advance of his wedding, Alexandra, Mary and Elizabeth shortly after their husbands’ accessions. Camilla and the late Prince Philip are the only consorts to receive the garter while their spouses were not yet on the throne. I wonder if she shall use the same stall that he did?

Amos is a former leader of the House of Lords (like Lord Salisbury, and indeed others of that title before him). She also served a brief term as High Commissioner to Australia and an even briefer one as International Development Secretary.

Tony Blair appointed Amos to most of those offices. It used to be the norm for former Prime Ministers to join the order, up to and including John Major in 2005 it became rare to see party politicians appointed. It was long assumed that Blair had declined any honours if indeed he was ever offered them, whether that was due to his personal distaste for them (he portrayed himself as a moderniser rather than a traditionalist, and was often observed to behave more like a US President than a British minister), or potential public backlash over controversies stemming from his premiership. What has persuaded him to accept the award now, fifteen years on, is not yet known.

These are the first appointments to the order since 2019. There were no Garter Day ceremonies in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. This year is set to be Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, so one presumes that the Firm will be keen to make up for lost time.

Today’s news will have interesting ramifications heraldry-wise: Camilla has of course been openly armigerous since 2005, and Sodacan has already updated his graphic of her arms to include the Garter circlet. Amos has been a peeress all my life, and typically appears early on in the pages of Burke’s and Debrett’s, but has never been shown with any armorial design. She may therefore receive a brand new grant in the coming months. Blair is especially confusing, though he is joining an English order of chivalry, he may be Scottish for heraldic purposes and so it would be Lyon not Garter arranging his grant.

SEE ALSO

State Occasions

The York Herald’s Twitter feed recently led me to discover the 1960 short documentary series Look at Life, episode 7 of which is State Occasions. It follows the then-Earl Marshal (Bernard, 16th Duke of Norfolk) around the State Opening of Parliament and the Garter Day procession, as well as giving a tour inside the college of arms.

The narrator gives a concise but comprehensive overview of the college’s work and of heraldry as an artform, with ample footage of officers and artists going about their business as well as detailed closeups of the fruits of their labour.

It’s well worth a look.

Matters of the Harp

Heraldists and historians will know that there have long been two versions of the British royal arms. Prior to the death of Elizabeth I the arms of England had been three yellow lions passant guardant on a red background, while those of Scotland had been one red lion rampant on a yellow background. When James VI of Scotland ascended to the English he quartered the arms of both countries to indicate their personal union, albeit varying the precedence so that each kingdom had its own arms in both the first and fourth quarters with the other’s confined to the second. This duality continued even after the 1707 union into Great Britain, although the “English” version is the standard one used internationally, with the Scottish version being purely for internal purposes. Though the first, second and fourth quarters of the shield have chopped and changed much over the centuries, the third quarter of both shields has consistently been Azure a harp Or stringed Argent. This represented the Kingdom of Ireland since its creation in 1542, though its usage in other capacities can be traced back much further. Prior to 1603 Ireland was not referenced in the English royal arms. What is a little perplexing to those interested in this subject is that neither James nor his successors ever created a distinct Irish arrangement of the shield as he had English and Scottish ones. Instead it seems that Ireland (both before and after the 1801 union) used either the same arrangement as in England or the harp alone.

One might have expected some other curious heraldist to have come up with such illustrations by now – for the interpolation is fairly simple – but I could not find any, so set about performing the thought experiment myself. After a few hours of cutting and splicing Sodacan’s familiar pictures I had produced Irish arrangements not just of the royal arms in their present state, but for every other variation that has occurred since the union of the crowns.

There were some aesthetic challenges here, the most prominent of which is that the harp in the fourth quarter has to be significantly smaller than that in the first to fit the curve of the shield, though that would be alleviated if the instrument would face right rather than left (as in the Guiness logo). It also produces some interesting colour combinations – especially in the 1714 version where the impalement of England & Scotland lines up perfectly with that of Brunswick & Lüneburg.

Readers will note that I have only made shields here, not full achievements. That is largely because I was unsure what the other elements would be. While the crowns, supporters, mottos and crests for England and Scotland solidified long before their personal union and have been consistent ever since despite numerous changes to the shield, those of Ireland are much less clear. A crest was designed for James I (A tower triple towered Or from the portal a hart springing Argent attired and unguled also Or) but it was not much used, and neither supporters nor motto were granted at all. Occasionally depictions can be found which copy those pieces from the English achievement, but this is the result of artistic fancy rather than official sanction. I would hesitate to put the Order of St Patrick around the shield, since it was only instituted in 1783 and became dormant in 1974, never achieving the same prominence as the Garter or Thistle nor appearing much in heraldic art. Certainly the present Republic of Ireland uses the shield alone and the achievement of the government of Northern Ireland from 1924-1972 is of sufficiently different appearance and origin to be ruled out as any indication of what to use here.

On a different note, the YouTube channel Terrier55Stepney recently put out a video documenting another visit to the Talyllyn Railway. Fifteen minutes in the camera points at a framed page of drawings and blazons for Sudrian heraldic devices. I mentioned this before but this time I could see the whole page (though the legibility of the handwriting remains a difficulty). I hope to have illustrated at least some of them fairly soon.

Who am I to Judge?

This has been a busy week for state ceremony, yet you wouldn’t know it from the news.

Friday 1st October was the beginning of the legal year 2021-22 in England & Wales, marked by the procession of hundreds of judges in their full dress uniform to a special service at Westminster Abbey. This included readings by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, as well as a sermon by the preacher of Lincoln’s Inn.

The legal year in Scotland began on Monday 27th September. It featured similar events at the Court of Session and St Giles’s Cathedral. The Lyon Court was one of the bodies involved and a number of new officers of arms had their inaugurations.

On Saturday 2nd October the sixth devolved Scottish Parliament had its ceremonial opening, though of course it has been sitting and legislating since May.  The Queen visited the chamber, accompanied by the Duke & Duchess of Rothesay and Edinburgh. Many heralds were in attendance carrying with them the crown of James V.

It is a little disappointing that these events were so ill-publicised, even accounting for the distraction of party conferences and fuel queues. Rather than major newspapers I have mostly had to piece together details of all three ceremonies from the websites and social media accounts of the people involved.

Curiously this is not consistent across time – footage of judges’ processions from a few years ago can be found on YouTube, and some from many decades back are archived by British Pathé.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Judges at Westminster Abbey

Heralds at the Court of Session

The Scottish Parliament

Discerning Dukes

This afternoon I missed a turnoff on the way to my second COVID vaccination. While navigating back to where I should have been I discovered Church Street where there was a pub called the Duke of York. This struck me because the pub’s sign showed an illustration of the duke’s coat of arms which I instantly recognised as Sodacan’s illustration from Wikimedia Commons. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to stop and take a photograph and what I can find in the pub’s own galleries or on Google Street View isn’t very clear, so I cannot work out which particular duke is being honoured here.

The Prince Andrew, Duke of York since 1986, uses the royal arms of the United Kingdom differenced by a label of three points Argent, the centre bearing an anchor Azure. This same cadency label was also used by his grandfather George VI from 1920 to 1936, and by his father George V from 1892 to 1901. It plainly cannot be George V represented here since his arms as Duke of York included the inescutcheon of Saxony. The main identifier, therefore, is the harp of Ireland – versions made during the present reign use a plain harp, while those issued in earlier reigns show a woman’s head and chest carved into the side. I think that this pub sign shows the modern version but the image resolution is too low to be sure.

Ever to Succeed

News has broken that two days ago Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, Mrs Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, gave birth for the first time. Her yet-unnamed daughter is eleventh in line to the throne. I wished to edit the relevant Wikipedia article accordingly, but that proved difficult as the list had multiple levels of indentation to reflect the generations and all the numbers had to be changed manually.

There is a challenge in deciding just how many names to include on the page. The legitimate non-Papist descendants of George I’s mother number well into the thousands nowadays and the vast majority of them are non-notable. The editors have here decided to limit the display to the descendants of the sons of George V. In practice this just means Bertie, Harry and Georgie, since David and John both died without issue. Even that restricted selection comprises sixty-three living people, of whom thirty-two have no pages of their own.

The clumsiness of editing this list brought up an idea I had some years ago for giving each member of the diaspora a numerical code to indicate their position within the succession. The electress herself, being the origin of the succession, would be 0. Her eldest son Georg Ludwig would be 1, her next son Frederick Augustus 2, Maximilian William 3 and so on. For each generation a digit is added, so Georg’s offspring George Augustus and Sophia Dorothea would be 1.1 and 1.2, while George Augustus’s children would be 1.11, 1.12, 1.13 and so forth. Under this system Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent & Strathearn would be 1.11141 while Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York would be 1.111411221. Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark would, I think, be 1.111416331. The beauty of this system is that the crown always goes to the living person with the lowest number, rather than each new birth or death close to the throne forcing everyone downstream to be renumbered.

There are downsides, of course. First, there is always the danger of one day discovering a missing sibling who died young and was forgotten to history. Second, until the commencement of the Perth Agreement the crown followed male-preference primogeniture, so any girl’s code was liable to change upon the arrival of a brother. Third, if any person in the line has more than nine legitimate children then the numerals would be inadequate (as in George III’s case, though perhaps there one could only number his nine sons and omit his nine daughters, none of whom had surviving children of her own), and an alphabetical system might be needed instead – Elizabeth II would be AAAADAABBA and the late Prince Philip AAAADAFCCA.

On a related note, I have been keeping tabs on Judiciary UK for some months looking at new judgements as they come out. My main interest was Bell v Tavistock, but the day before that was resolved my eye was caught by the decision of Sir Andrew McFarlane (President of the Family Division) not to publish the Duke of Edinburgh’s will. Sir Andrew spoke at length about official etiquette regarding the royal family, and shed some light on that term’s definition. For Wikipedians, academics, press and others, there has always been a little confusion as to when membership of the family ends**. Is it the top X in line to the throne? Everyone descended from the current monarch? All descendants in the male line from George V? From Victoria? Everyone styled Royal Highness? Everyone on the balcony at Trooping the Colour? Then there are the gradations – often the headlines talk of “minor royals”, usually meaning the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent but sometimes including the Prince of Wales’s siblings and niblings, while mentions of “senior royals” are even more nebulous. One reason for this difficulty is that there are really three separate types of rank within group – precedence is determined by one’s relationship to the incumbent monarch, style and title by generations’ removal from any monarch and succession by primogeniture of descent from Sophia. McFarlane, in his judgement, may have given some more substance on which to build at least the latter’s definition.

From paragraph 15: This Court has been informed that in recent times the definition of the members of the Royal Family whose executors might,as a matter of course,apply to have the will sealed up has been limited to the children of the Sovereign or a former Sovereign, the Consort of the Sovereign or former Sovereign, and a member of the Royal Family who at the time of death was first or second in line of succession to the throne or the child of such a person. In addition, the wills of other, less senior, members of the Royal Family may have been sealed for specific reasons, or, as the list of names suggests, a wider definition of “Royal Family” may have been applied in this context in earlier times.

From paragraph 23: The confidential note that was disclosed and is attached to Charles J’s judgment contains an interesting account of the development of the practice of sealing Royal wills during the last century. That note provided that, in particular,the practice of applying to the Family Division applied, as a matter of course,to ‘senior members of the Royal Family’ who were defined as:

•The Consort of a Sovereign or former Sovereign;

•The child of a Sovereign or former Sovereign;and

•A member of the Royal Family who, at the time of His/or Her death, is first or second in line of succession to the throne or the child of such a person.

This means that, for judges’ purposes “senior royal” essentially means monarchs themselves, their consorts and their children (not necessarily children-in-law), as well as the first two in line to the throne and their children. Monarchs’ children are easy enough to spot from the rest, with the definitive article in their princely styles and their coronets of crosses interspersed with fleur-de-lys, but the latter category could be unstable – Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret of York would have been senior by this definition during their grandfather’s reign but would have lost that status had Edward VIII sired children of his own.

Applying it to the current situation, then, we can see that the seniors of the present royal family are:

  • HM The Queen
  • HRH The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
  • HRH The Prince Andrew, Duke of York
  • HRH The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
  • HRH The Princess Anne, Princess Royal
  • HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
  • HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex
  • HRH Prince George of Cambridge
  • HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
  • HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge

There is one part of the judgement with which I take issue – paragraph 13 says It is understood that the first member of the Royal Family whose will was sealed on the direction of the President of the Probate, Admiralty and Divorce Division was His Serene Highness Prince Francis of Teck. Prince Francis was the younger brother of Princess Mary of Teck who, upon her marriage to King George V, became Queen Mary in 1910. Later that same year, at the age of 40 years, Prince Francis died. An application was made for the will to be sealed and not published. The application was granted. This is a little misleading, as Mary married Prince George, Duke of York in 1893 and became Queen on his accession in 1910. The judge’s text implies that she didn’t marry him until he was already King.

*Some in the press have claimed that as her father is an Italian count, the baby will be a countess, but the title is not recognised by the Italian republic or by the United Kingdom. Most likely she will be Miss [[Firstname]] Mapelli Mozzi.
**Of course, any family can present this difficulty as few are consciously defined by any formal rules.

UPDATE (1st October)

Princess Beatrice’s baby is named Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi.