Monday, 20 April 2009

King Bill

By way of light relief to the discussions about the world economy, we might give some thought to another current news item, the prospect of amending the 1701 Act which bans Catholics from marrying into the royal family. Gordon Brown is said to be in favour of this and of the proposal to amend the primogeniture rules, which state that the first-born son of the monarch takes precedence in the succession over older sisters. Both these ideas are likely to evoke a great wave of indifference in the British public, but it is the second which is the more interesting, not because it is likely to have any effect for many years, but because one can speculate what would have happened if it had become law during Victoria's reign.

For a start, her eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, would have inherited the throne in 1901. She was the dowager Empress of Germany at the time and died only seven months later. Her son Kaiser Wilhelm II would then have succeeded her and although his upbringing had made him less than enthusiastic about the British he might after a few years have got to like us better and prevented his two realms from going to war in 1914. He might even have changed his family name to, say, Hohenzollern-Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Balmoral (he liked the Scottish castle: the photo shows him and his father Frederick III there, heavily be-kilted*, in 1862).

The Kaiser-King-Emperor lived on until 1941, and his son Frederick would then have reigned over the vast Anglo-German Empire until he died in 1951, to be succeeded by Princess Marie-C├ęcile (or Louis-Ferdinand? I've lost track). It is possible that all this would have been worse than keeping the Windsors, though of course not having two world wars wouldn't have been altogether a bad thing.

*mit der Schottenrock

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