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Old May 11th, 2013, 04:00 PM
Brainbin Brainbin is offline
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Dieu Et Mon Droit

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The British Royal Family in 1968.
Clockwise from upper left: HRH Princess Anne; HRH The Prince of Wales; HRH Prince Andrew; HM The Queen; HRH Prince Edward; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

At her birth in 1926, the baby girl then known as Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York did not seem terribly likely to ascend to the throne of the British Empire, which was held at the time by her grandfather, George V. The Heir Apparent was his eldest son, and her uncle, Edward, the Prince of Wales. Granted, he was already over 30 by this time, still unmarried, and notorious for his womanizing ways. But surely he would be bound to settle down eventually; and even if he didn’t, the second-in-line, Elizabeth’s father Prince Albert, the Duke of York, could easily have a son, who would displace her in the line of succession. But, as were the purported wishes of George V himself, nothing ever came between “Lilibet” and the throne. For upon his accession as Edward VIII in 1936, the former Prince of Wales scandalized British society by announcing his intention to marry a 40-year-old divorcée, Mrs Wallis Simpson. Parliament was incensed, and the government of the day (the National Government, led by Stanley Baldwin) threatened to resign over the issue, which would have obliterated the carefully-groomed appearance of neutrality in political matters that the monarchy had maintained for the past century. Such an action would shake the moral foundation of the United Kingdom to its very core, in a time of rising tensions and uncertainties throughout Europe, and indeed, the wider world. PM Baldwin led the charge in compelling him to choose between his lady love and his throne – and so he did, abdicating at the end of the first year of his reign. His younger brother Prince Albert became George VI, despite his own strong reservations about assuming the role; Princess Elizabeth then became the Heiress Presumptive. With the steadfast support of his wife (and her mother), Queen Elizabeth, the King led the country through the horrors of World War II, forever endearing him to his subjects, and proving a tremendous success in restoring the dignity of the monarchy. (Meanwhile, his elder brother – who had been created the Duke of Windsor shortly after his abdication – was discovered to be an admirer of fascism and in particular Nazi Germany, leading the King to send him overseas to the Bahamas for the duration of the conflict.)

Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, as she became known upon the accession of her father, was first-in-line to the throne, and it seemed increasingly unlikely that her parents would have any sons to displace her. Her only sibling – a sister, Princess Margaret – had been born in 1930. Given her gender, serving in a combat role during the War was not an option for Princess Elizabeth, even notwithstanding her tender age; however, like many young women, she served on the home front, and also proved (like the rest of the Royal Family) a bulwark for the people. Although London was devastated by German blitz bombings, neither Princess Elizabeth nor her sister intended to leave for the safety of Canada without their mother the Queen, who in turn would not leave without the King, who would simply never leave. It was the future husband of the Princess, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, with whom at this time she was already well-acquainted, who served with distinction in the Royal Navy. The two married soon after the war ended, on November 20, 1947, by which time he had renounced his foreign titles, only to be created the Duke of Edinburgh and given the style His Royal Highness by his father-in-law, George VI. The bride and groom were second cousins once removed, through their common ancestor, Christian IX of Denmark, “the father-in-law of Europe”. They were also third cousins through Queen Victoria, “the grandmother of Europe”. Intermarriage between such relatives had been the standard within European monarchies for many centuries; Elizabeth’s parents had been a rare exception, her father marrying the daughter of an aristocrat (though a powerful Scottish Earl) as opposed to a foreign princess. Upon her marriage, she then became formally styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, which she remained for the rest of her father’s reign, during which time she had two children: a son, Charles, in 1948; and a daughter, Anne, in 1950. As female-line grandchildren of the Sovereign, they would not ordinarily be entitled to be called Prince or Princess, nor to the style of Royal Highness; however, George VI decided to authorize their use by letters patent, as it was plainly evident that any children born to the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh would eventually become Princes and Princesses of the United Kingdom. (This action also had precedent, as the King’s grandfather, Edward VII, had granted a similar privilege to the daughters of his own daughter, Princess Louise). The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh toured the British Commonwealth extensively on behalf of the King, whose health – badly shaken by the strains of the War – was beginning to fail. He would not survive his daughter’s marriage by five years, perishing in early 1952. Per ancient custom, his daughter – who was in Kenya with her husband at the time – immediately succeeded him as the British Sovereign.

Though simply known as Her Majesty The Queen, her full list of titles and styles was simply enormous; she had taken the regnal name of Elizabeth II, becoming the first to reign by that name since the previous Queen Elizabeth, who had acceded to the English throne nearly four centuries earlier (the other half of the Union, Scotland, had never known a Queen regnant by that name). The years which marked the first quarter-century of her reign were (naturally) profoundly eventful ones, though obviously not quite so palpable and immediate as those of World War II. With regards to her personal affairs, she created her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, a British Prince in 1957; the following year, her son, Prince Charles, was created the Prince of Wales, the customary title awarded to the Heir Apparent, at the age of nine. The Queen then had two more sons: Prince Andrew, in 1960, and Prince Edward, in 1964. Her only daughter, Princess Anne, became the first of the children to marry, though not without controversy, when she wed Major Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973, after a lengthy engagement (as the two had been dating since 1970). [1] He was more than a decade her senior, and (far more importantly) Catholic – in fact, he was a descendant on his mother’s side of a notable family which had been recusant from the Protestant Church of England for centuries. On his father’s side, however, he was the descendant of the aristocratic Parkers of Macclesfield. The engagement between Princess Anne and Major Parker-Bowles became the subject of great debate due to the Act of Settlement 1701, which removed anyone who converted to or married a member of the Roman Catholic Church from the line of succession.

At the time of her marriage, Princess Anne had been fourth-in-line to the throne, behind her three brothers (including the two who were younger than her). In some corners, the ancient and discriminatory law which would remove her from the succession had been deemed severely outdated, not least of all by the substantial Catholic population in the United Kingdom. Indeed, by this time, the Queen reigned over her many realms individually, and the laws of succession applied separately to each of them; the Act of Settlement was certainly no more popular in many of these. This was an early impetus for closer diplomatic and economic ties between her Commonwealth realms, thanks in large part to the showing by Canadian Prime Minister Robert Stanfield at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1973, which he hosted in his nation’s capital of Ottawa that August – a few months before Princess Anne and Major Parker-Bowles were due to marry. [2] He suggested an accord which would unite all of the Commonwealth Realms into parallel legislative action on the matter (as required by the Statute of Westminster 1931). However, an overall lack of interest in the plan by those at Whitehall (despite the traditional support of the Labour government by the Catholic electorate) rendered the abortive “Ottawa Accord” moot before it could even get off the ground. But Stanfield had made himself known throughout the Commonwealth, and particularly in Westminster, which would serve him – and his peculiar agenda – well in the coming years.

Princess Anne married that November, being struck from the line of succession in so doing in keeping with the Act, though she had sought (and received) permission from the Sovereign (her mother) to wed in accordance with the Royal Marriages Act 1772. For the Queen, this was a moment of making amends for past misjudgements; she had withheld assent from her sister, Princess Margaret, to marry the man she loved (who, like Mrs Simpson, was divorced), over two decades before (on the advice of her ministers), and the man her sister had then married instead had proven… not so compatible (she would divorce him the year after her niece had married for love). [3] On the morning of the wedding, Princess Anne been given the customary title of Princess Royal (which was granted to the eldest daughter of the Sovereign); her husband-to-be, for his part, was created the Earl of Crewe, the first of the second creation, chosen because of its proximity to his ancestral title of Macclesfield (both settlements being in East Cheshire). [4] The Royal Wedding became a smash success, watched by viewers across the globe (over half a billion people, all told), many of whom were attracted to the romantic story of a couple defying ancient prejudices and marrying for love. [5] (The other Royal who had married for love over tradition – Edward VIII – had passed away by this time, and his widow had not been invited to attend the ceremony.) Catholics, naturally, were particularly drawn to their union; ironically enough, those in the United States were among the most enthralled by the entire narrative, despite that country having blithely cast the British monarchy and patrimony aside some two centuries before. Reinforcing this irony was that a great many American Catholics were, in fact, of Irish extraction. Time, it seemed, truly did heal all wounds. Northern Ireland, which had been the epicentre of sectarian tension for several centuries, responded surprisingly well to this cross-confessional union, though not completely without the occasional quarrelsome rumblings from extremists on both sides of the aisle. [6] All that said, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Crewe agreed to raise their children in the Church of England, in order to ensure their place on the line of succession, though the first of their children (a son, Henry Andrew Parker-Bowles, by courtesy the Viscount Ampleforth) was not born until 1977.

The Commonwealth, meanwhile, found itself tested in entirely unforeseen ways, wholly unrelated to the succession. Attempts by the United Kingdom to enter the European Economic Community, twice stymied in the past by the since-deceased French President Charles de Gaulle, were at an impasse, due to the inability by the two sides to reach a workable compromise; eventually, both the UK and Ireland (which would not be able to enter the EEC unless Britain did the same, due to the inexorable trade ties between them), were left out of the enlargement of the organization in 1973, with only Denmark entering (and not without some resistance from its populace). The EEC then closed itself off from further overtures after the Oil Crisis forced it to take stock of its infrastructure, leading the UK to re-evaluate their own trade links: with Ireland, with the other states in the European Free Trade Agreement, and with nations in the Commonwealth, primarily Australia and New Zealand. Canada, the eighth-largest economy in the world in the early 1970s (Australia was tenth), had been drifting away from the United Kingdom for the better part of the 1960s, but by 1973, the Dominion had a leader who was more pro-British than any Canadian PM in the last half-century. He had already proved his mettle with his attempts at shepherding an Ottawa Accord, and despite its failure, he was more than willing to negotiate more favourable trade ties with his fellow Commonwealth Realms, not least of all because it allowed Canada to mitigate the immense influence that their southern neighbour, and largest trading partner, the United States of America had over their imports and their exports. Thus were a number of multilateral treaties signed in the ensuing years, which established the Commonwealth Trade Agreement, formally recognized at the Heads of Government Meeting 1975, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Initially, membership was to be open to only the Commonwealth Realms (those which recognized Elizabeth II as their Sovereign); the United Kingdom, along with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – three of the five pre-WWI Dominions – were charter members. Of the remaining two, Newfoundland had joined Canada in 1949, and South Africa (along with Rhodesia, which was still a de jure British colony) had been excluded due to sanctions against that Apartheid Backwards Bloc regime. [7] Although the lowering of trade barriers was the primary objective of the CTA, other, more nebulous concepts (such as facilitating migration, and greater investment into sporting and cultural events) were also discussed. However, the British government (power having been assumed by the more Europhilic Tories) continued to see this new organization as strictly a temporary measure until such time as they could join the EEC. However, as was often the case, it endured, even as their chances (and eventually, their willingness) to integrate with the other major powers of the Continent evaporated. An alternative solution was eventually proposed – bringing the CTA and the EFTA, two looser, more permissive associations than the restrictive EEC – together, and including Ireland (which had reluctantly joined the EFTA as an associate member after being forced to withdraw their bid to join the EEC in 1973). [8] The Republic was an “observer nation” to the CTA, as it had not been a member of the Commonwealth since 1949, and was not likely to rejoin (even though many other republics, including India, had remained despite abolishing their monarchies). Upon the collapse of the Backwards Bloc in 1977, it seemed likely that Portugal (an erstwhile member of the EFTA) would direct its energies into joining the EEC and other “inner” organizations, alongside Spain (and, later, Greece), driving home the need for the EFTA and the CTA to consolidate. [9] However, the vague, uncertain commitments would only crystallize after the major recession of the late 1970s took hold on the global economy.

But the backdrop of financial uncertainty which gripped the 1970s did not diminish the popularity of the Royal Family. The monarchical revival which was taking place in much of Europe had indeed spread across the Channel, and the year of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee, 1977, was one of great celebration throughout the Commonwealth, and especially in the United Kingdom, which the Queen toured extensively over a three-month period, visiting over three dozen different counties. This followed a brief trip to New Zealand and a nearly month-long visit to Australia in March. In late September, the Queen proceeded to Canada, where in addition to her husband, she was joined by the Prince of Wales, and they toured the length and breadth of that geographically massive Dominion for several weeks. [10] This was the second major visit of the Queen to the Great White North in as many years, following the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. She returned to that city to observe the progress being made on the Montreal-to-Mirabel Rocket line, noting in so doing that Canada was ahead of even the rail-dominated United Kingdom on the high-speed curve. Just as she had started her tour of Australia with a State Opening of Parliament in Canberra, so too did she end her tour of Canada with the same, in Ottawa, before proceeding to the Caribbean. The Jubilee year, which also saw yet another Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, this time in the capital at London (hosted by Prime Minister Willie Whitelaw), also (as previously noted) was blessed with the birth of the Queen’s first grandchild, The Hon. Henry Andrew Parker-Bowles, Viscount Ampleforth. Her Majesty came to regard 1977 as an annus mirabilis of her reign.

The question of when the Prince of Wales would finally settle down was one which dominated the headlines of the era; Prince Charles had reached the age of 30 in late 1978, at which time he still had not married, and had no serious attachments. Many in the Royal Family were uneasy. The previous Prince of Wales, the man who would one day become Edward VIII, had enjoyed a lengthy bachelorhood, acceding to the crown unmarried and… the rest, unfortunately, was history. It was the Earl Mountbatten, the younger brother of the Prince’s paternal grandmother, who had a suggestion for the ideal royal bride: his very own granddaughter, the Hon. Amanda Knatchbull. His matchmaking skills were irrefutable; some years before, the Earl had arranged a meeting between his nephew and the Princess Elizabeth, which had resulted in (among other things) the birth of Prince Charles. Amanda had been born in 1957, making her nine years younger than the Prince of Wales; their romance, therefore, did not begin in earnest until she was 21, in 1978. Their courtship, though amicable, was certainly not inflamed with passion, but he was a royal and she was an aristocrat; they were both well-accustomed to that state of affairs. In September, 1979, Prince Charles proposed marriage to Amanda, and she accepted. [11] The couple were second cousins, both descended from their mutual great-grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg. They were to be married in the spring of 1980, on the 30th of April, which was proclaimed a national holiday.

Royals and heads of state from all over Europe (and the world) came to bear witness to the union. Constantine II, King of the Hellenes, attended the wedding in his first foreign visit since being restored to the Greek throne in the previous year. The architects of the Iberian Sunrise, Juan Carlos I of Spain and Duarte III of Portugal, were also among the foreign monarchs who observed the nuptials, thus completing the rehabilitation of the three former Backwards Bloc states into vibrant, active members of the First World. [12] All three Kings had, of course, seen their monarchies restored in the previous decade – much to the envy of the many rulers-in-exile who attended, such as the Kings of Romania and Bulgaria, and the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, not to mention all the minor German princes who constituted the extended family of the groom. The President of Ireland had agreed to attend, though not without some misgivings and isolated protests from certain corners of the Republic. [13] Also present was the one-time Hollywood starlet, Grace Kelly, in her capacity as Princess of Monaco. The principal supporter of Prince Charles was his first cousin once removed, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, who served in that capacity alongside his brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. [14] Numerous children and adolescents, relatives of both the bride and the groom, served as attendants. The pair were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury at St. Paul’s Cathedral (as opposed to Westminster Abbey, as the cathedral was much larger and could therefore seat many more guests). The ceremony began shortly after 11 o’clock in the morning, and was conducted largely in the traditional style. [15] An estimated billion people worldwide viewed the event on television; the most-watched broadcast since the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. The Hon. Amanda Knatchbull, at the conclusion of the ceremony, became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales, though the press (particularly outside of the UK) often (incorrectly) described her as “Princess Amanda”.

The entire affair was certainly a most auspicious debut to the new decade, as far as the Royal Family were concerned, in particular Her Majesty The Queen. Elizabeth II was hopeful that soon, her eldest son would have a child of his own, further cementing the future succession. This child would likely become Sovereign, whilst being born as a grandchild of the present Sovereign – identical circumstances to those under which Her Majesty had herself been born, 54 years before. Monarchy, after all, was tradition…


[1] Major Parker-Bowles and Princess Anne did indeed date briefly in 1970 IOTL, after which time he reconciled with an old girlfriend (Miss Camilla Shand, who in the interim had dated the Prince of Wales) and married her, raising their children together in the Catholic faith. Princess Anne, meanwhile, married Captain Mark Phillips, whom she met through their mutual interest in equestrianism. Both marriages ended in divorce, with the second marriages of Princess Anne, now-Brigadier Parker-Bowles, and (of course) the former Mrs Parker-Bowles all proving a good deal more successful than their firsts. Brigadier Parker-Bowles and Princess Anne remain close friends to this day, IOTL.

[2] Discussions to amend the succession did not begin in earnest IOTL until after the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton, when lawmakers became aware that their first child stood an excellent (about 50 percent) chance of being born female, and given the preponderance of absolute primogeniture succession having been implemented the various other European monarchies (starting with Sweden, in 1980). The Act of Settlement 1701 (barring the marriage of Catholics) and the Royal Marriages Act 1772 (preventing any descendant of George II who lives in Britain from marrying legitimately, without permission from the Sovereign) were also superseded at this time. The various bills (one must be passed by each Commonwealth realm) usually take the name Succession to the Crown Act, or similar, and were drafted as a result of the Perth Agreement, which was made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting 2011, in the eponymous city. As of this writing, Royal Assent has been granted to those Acts in the United Kingdom, as well as Canada, with other legislation pending (a bill has been tabled in New Zealand, which has yet to pass through Parliament).

[3] The marriage between Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon, did not end until 1978 IOTL. She never remarried in the remaining quarter-century of her life, though he did (almost immediately after his divorce, in fact); his second marriage would also end in divorce.

[4] Princess Anne was not granted the title of Princess Royal until 1986 IOTL, at which time her marriage to Captain Phillips was rapidly falling apart. The Queen could have granted her daughter the title (which is held for life) at any time after the death of its previous holder (her aunt, George V’s daughter, Princess Mary), in 1965. It’s very likely that she did not receive the title upon or soon after her wedding because her husband chose to remain a commoner – Parker-Bowles, on the other hand, is as blue-blood as they come, descended on both sides from the aristocracy and the landed gentry, going back for generations. I think he would accept a title – Crewe is the nearest town to Macclesfield, and it’s been used before (though not by royals). Ampleforth is a reference to the prominent (Catholic) school which he attended in his youth.

[5] The wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips was said to attract approximately 500 million viewers, IOTL. The more symbolically significant nuptials of the Princess Royal and the Earl of Crewe attract a commensurately larger audience ITTL, particularly in the United States and, yes, in Ireland (as in, the entire island).

[6] There are no Troubles ITTL, and therefore all involved parties are willing to go ahead with a wedding. IOTL, in the early 1970s (the very height of the Troubles) it is difficult to imagine a Protestant Princess being married to a “Papist” going over well at all in Ulster. But ITTL, although not everyone is thrilled, nothing goes too far beyond words. Many in Northern Ireland are quite moved by this crossing of sectarian lines, and believe that it represents hope for the future.

[7] The symbolism of a “vacant seat” represents attempts by the Commonwealth to shame the South African apartheid regime, in addition to the obligatory trade sanctions (of the Commonwealth Trade Agreement, in addition to other sanctions imposed by other bodies).

[8] Ireland was not a party to the EFTA prior to joining the EEC in 1973 IOTL.

[9] IOTL, Greece joined the EEC in 1981. Spain and Portugal both followed in 1986. Of course, the UK and Ireland had already joined.

[10] The Queen’s visit to Canada lasted for only five days IOTL, very likely because she had just been to Canada for the Summer Olympics the year before. Nonetheless, PM Stanfield requests that she devote as much of her time to touring Canada as possible – she had never ventured west of the Ottawa River during her 1976 tour, remaining largely in Montreal, with occasional sojourns to Quebec City and to the Maritime provinces. ITTL, she arrives in Canada on September 21, remaining until October 19, for a stay of exactly four weeks; IOTL, she arrived on October 14. (In both cases, she conducted the State Opening of Parliament on October 18 – a Wednesday).

[11] IOTL, on August 27, 1979, Earl Mountbatten was assassinated in a bombing by the IRA, which also killed and maimed several members of his family (the Hon. Amanda Knatchbull – who upon the accession of her mother to the Earldom became Lady Amanda Knatchbull was not among them). Against this backdrop, Prince Charles departed for India, then proposing to Lady Amanda upon his return. Devastated at the loss of so many family members (including her younger brother), she turned him down, understandably wary of becoming attached to the Royal Family. ITTL, on the other hand, with Earl Mountbatten alive and well, she accepts his proposal. By no means is it a love match, but at least Prince Charles isn’t fixated on anyone else during their marriage, as he never did meet his brother-in-law’s ex-girlfriend ITTL.

[12] The King and Queen of the Hellenes (and their children) attended the wedding IOTL, as well, though (obviously) in exile. Though Duarte Pio (as he was known IOTL) was largely uncontested as the pretender to the throne of Portugal, he strangely did not attend the royal wedding. And the only one of our three ex-Backwards Bloc monarchs who was also King IOTL, Juan Carlos I, did not attend because the couple was planning to stop over in disputed Gibraltar en route to their Mediterranean honeymoon. ITTL, Charles and Amanda will be honeymooning in the Caribbean instead. This wedding can certainly be regarded as the very apex of the monarchical revival ITTL.

[13] The President of Ireland did not attend IOTL because of – you guessed it! – the Troubles.

[14] Prince William of Gloucester (who died in 1972 IOTL) does not die in a plane crash ITTL, thus becoming the Duke of Gloucester (as opposed to his younger brother, the ominously named Richard, who remains, simply, HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester). Though he’s diagnosed with porphyria as IOTL, it is kept under control with relative ease.

[15] Which, yes, includes Amanda vowing to “obey” Charles, contrary to his OTL wife deciding against doing so.


Thanks to Thande for his helpful advice in the making of this update!

And so, we have our first two pairings of the royal children ITTL! Princess Anne and Major Andrew Parker-Bowles! And Prince Charles and the Hon. Amanda Knatchbull! Some of you may be asking: what will become of the OTL bride of the Prince of Wales? I’m might just take the “overseas quagmire” approach with her, considering the oppressive and incessant overexposure with which we’ve all been inundated for the past 15 years or so. Much like with the quagmire, a certain portion of the collective psyche seems utterly unable to move on from this individual. This is why I knew I wasn’t going to marry them ITTL. For those of you who are curious, this is what the future Queen looks like in the present day IOTL – on the attractiveness scale, definitely somewhere between his first and second wives. This is claimed to be an image of her as a younger woman, though it’s undated (it’s labelled with her married name, however, which means it’s likely from after 1987). I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse at monarchical machinations! I found it great fun to write, and you can consider it my tribute to the Before 1900 section of this forum, where these kinds of updates are very much par for the course.
The Turtledove Award-Winning That Wacky Redhead: Big Dreams Have Big Consequences!

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