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British Royal History Facts
Guest post by Lee from www.thebritishmonarchy.co.uk.

Elizabeth I's Education

Elizabeth's governess was Catherine Champernowne, better known by her later, married name of Catherine "Kat" Ashley, was appointed in 1537 & she remained Elizabeth's friend until her death in 1565. Champernowne taught Elizabeth four languages: French, Flemish, Italian & Spanish.

By the time William Grindal became her tutor in 1544, Elizabeth could write English, Latin, & Italian. Under Grindal, a talented & skilful tutor, she also progressed in French & Greek. After Grindal died in 1548, Elizabeth received her education under Roger Ascham, a teacher who believed that learning should be engaging. By the time her formal education ended in 1550, she was one of the most educated women of her generation.

By the end of her life, Elizabeth was also believed to speak Welsh, Cornish, Scottish & Irish in addition to English.

The Venetian ambassador stated in 1603 that she "possessed [these] languages so thoroughly that each appeared to be her native tongue". Historian Mark Stoyle suggests that she was probably taught Cornish by William Killigrew, Groom of the Privy Chamber & later Chamberlain of the Exchequer.

Anne Boleyn's Coronation

Anne was crowned queen in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey with a banquet afterwards. She was the LAST queen consort of England to be crowned separately from her husband. Unlike any other queen consort, Anne was crowned with St Edward's Crown, which had previously been used to crown only a monarch. Historian Alice Hunt suggests that this was done because Anne's pregnancy was visible by then and she was carrying the heir who was presumed to be male.

 On the previous day, Anne had taken part in an elaborate procession through the streets of London seated in a litter of "white cloth of gold" that rested on two palfreys clothed to the ground in white damask, while the barons of the Cinque Ports held a canopy of cloth of gold over her head.

In accordance with tradition she wore white, and on her head a gold coronet beneath which her long dark hair hung down freely. Afterwards, the usual banquet in Westminster Hall took place. Henry stood apart & watched his new queen from a distance, allowing her to be the sole focus of attention.

Did you know? Anne Boleyn is the 8th cousin 13 times removed of Queen Elizabeth II. Their common ancestor is Edward I of England.

Appendicitis delays the Coronation

King Edward VII’s coronation was scheduled for 26 June 1902. But just two days before the 26th he was diagnosed with appendicitis, & needed urgent surgery, that was carried out by Frederick Treves, & assisted by Lord Lister.

Treves decided not to remove the abscess, which was perityphlitis, & inflammation around the appendix which needed draining. With the support of the leading surgical authority, Lister, he performed a then-radical operation of draining the infected appendiceal abscess through a small incision & leaving the appendix intact. Appendicitis was generally not treated operatively at this time & carried a high mortality rate, though developments in anesthesia & antisepsis in the preceding 50 years made life-saving surgery possible. 

The operation was carried out on a table in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. The King initially rejected surgery because of the forthcoming coronation, but Treves insisted, stating that 'if he was not authorised to operate, there would instead be a funeral'. The surgery was carried out & the next day, the king was sitting up in bed, smoking a cigar.

Two weeks later, it was announced that he was out of danger. Treves was honoured with a baronetcy (which the King had arranged before the operation) & appendix surgery entered the medical mainstream in the UK. Edward was finally crowned at Westminster Abbey on 9 August.

King George V was an avid stamp collector

By 1904 the King had acquired both the Penny & Two Pence ‘Post Office’ Mauritius of 1847 – the world’s most prized stamps. The first of these was bought from the Earl of Kintore’s collection, while the second was acquired at auction in 1904 for a then record price of £1,450!

When a courtier asked the Prince if he had seen that ‘some damned fool had paid as much as £1,450 pounds for one stamp’, the reply from the Prince came: ‘I was that damned fool!.’ oops!

When in London, the King would spend three afternoons a week with his stamp collection & was rarely interrupted. As well as collecting, he also took a great interest in stamp designs. Stamp-sized artists’ sketches were submitted for his approval, & then returned to him for inclusion in the collection after the final versions had been printed.

When George died in 1936, the King’s collection consisted of some 250,000 stamps in 328 large red volumes, each of about 60 pages. The strength of the Royal collection lies in its completeness. Regardless of their attractiveness, George V never neglected any stamp issue with good provenance.

Later monarchs added their own albums to the Royal Philatelic Collection, & these include George VI’s Blue Albums & Elizabeth II’s Green Albums.

Powdered Wigs

George IV was responsible for a shift in fashion. After a tax was put on wig powder by political opponents, he stopped wearing them in favour of his natural hair, helping to put an end to wearing powdered wigs.

Wearing wigs became the fashion in the 16th century as a means of compensating for hair loss or improving one's personal appearance. They also served a practical purpose: the unhygienic conditions of the time meant that hair attracted head lice, a problem that could be much reduced if natural hair were shaved & replaced with a more easily de-loused artificial hairpiece. Royal patronage was crucial to the revival of wearing wigs.

Queen Elizabeth I of England wore a red wig, tightly & elaborately curled in a "Roman" style, while among men King Louis XIII of France (1601–1643) started wig-wearing in 1624, due to hair loss. This fashion was largely promoted by his son & successor Louis XIV of France (1638–1715), which contributed to its spread in European & European-influenced countries.

Perukes or periwigs for men were introduced into the English-speaking world with other French styles when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, (in exile he's spent a lot of his time in France). These wigs were shoulder-length or longer, imitating the long hair that had become fashionable among men since the 1620's. Their use quickly became popular in the English court.

With wigs virtually obligatory for men with social rank, wigmakers gained considerable prestige. Wigmaking was a skilled job as 17th century wigs were extremely elaborate, covering the back & shoulders & flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy & often uncomfortable to wear. These wigs were very expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses & goats was often used as a cheaper alternative!

In the 18th century, men's wigs were 'powdered' to give them their distinctive white or off-white colour. Women in the 18th century didn't wear wigs, but wore coiffures supplemented by artificial hair or hair from other sources. Women mainly powdered their hair grey, or blue-ish grey, & from the 1770's onwards never bright white like men. Wig powder was made from finely ground starch that was scented with orange flower, lavender, or orris root. Wig powder sometimes coloured violet, blue, pink or yellow, but was most often off-white.

Powdered wigs (men) & powdered natural hair with supplemental hairpieces (women) became essential for full dress occasions & continued in use until almost the end of the 18th century. This form of wigs worn at the coronation of George III in 1761 was lampooned by William Hogarth in his engraving Five Orders of Periwigs. Powdering wigs & extensions were messy & inconvenient, & the development of the naturally white or off-white powderless wig (made of horsehair) for men made the retention of wigs in everyday court dress a practical possibility.

By the 1780's, young men were setting a fashion trend by lightly powdering their natural hair, as women had already done from the 1770's onwards. After 1790, both wigs & powder were reserved for older, more conservative men, & were in use by ladies being presented at court. After 1790, English women rarely powdered their hair.

In 1795, the British government placed a tax on hair powder of one guinea per year. This tax effectively caused the demise of both the fashion for wigs & powder. George IV stopped wearing them as a result, the fashion thankfully died out! 

What fascinating facts, thanks so much for sharing Lee! Keen to find out more? Read all about the British Royal Family past and present at: www.thebritishmonarchy.co.uk.

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