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London's Royal Legacy
London's Royal Legacy Don't know your House of York from your Houses of Parliament? Here's the lowdown (or high-up) to the most famous kings and queens that have influenced London, and where you can still see their mark.
Queen Mary I
"Bloody Mary" (r. 1553–58, House of Tudor), the Roman Catholic daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, persecuted Protestants in an attempt to reverse the Reformation and return England to Catholicism. She imprisoned her half-sister, Elizabeth—daughter of Anne Boleyn—in the Tower, suspecting her of a plot against her, but there was no evidence and Elizabeth came to the throne after her death.
Edward the Confessor
Edward (r. 1042-66) came to the throne in 1042 and ordered the construction of the original Westminster Abbey, which was consecrated in 1065, just a week before he died.
William the Conqueror
The Battle of 1066 was won by William (r. 1066-87, House of Normandy) when he shot the then-king Harold through the eye with an arrow at the battle of Hastings. He is credited with starting the building of the White Tower in the Tower of London, though it wasn't completed until after his death.
Queen Elizabeth I
The "Virgin Queen" (r. 1558–1603, House of Tudor) never married—perhaps because she thought that any man would try to wrest control from her (though she did move Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, into rooms close to her own at Hampton Court). She oversaw and supported a golden age of playwriting and poetry and famously inspired her troops as they prepared to battle the Spanish Armada.
A true Renaissance man, Henry (r. 1509–47, House of Tudor) was keen to bring new ideas to the Royal Court. All of Henry's six wives lived at Hampton Court Palace. Henry was desperate for a male heir—the main reason for having two of his wives executed: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
His frequent bouts of irrational behavior led to the nickname "The Mad One," but George (r. 1760-1820, House of Hanover) is now thought to have suffered from an inherited metabolic illness and often secluded himself at Kew Palace. With the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he lost the American colonies. One of the most cultured monarchs, George donated 65,000 of his books to the British Museum.
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
It's exciting to catch the Windsors on a royal walkabout—so go to www.royal.gov.uk and search for the Diary of Events to catch Prince William and his new wife at a public event.
"The Martyr" (r. 1625–49, House of Stuart) is famous for losing the English Civil War, and was beheaded at Banqueting House—a twist of fate as Charles had commissioned the palace to be decorated with paintings showing a monarch being received into heaven.
Famous for the longest reign so far in British history, 63 years, Victoria (r. 1837-1901, House of Hanover) was born in, and spent her childhood at, Kensington Palace, where she learned she would become queen. The Albert memorial is a monument to her beloved husband and the British Empire.
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