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The Complicated, Controversial Lives of British Royal Consorts

Evening Program

Noon Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2099
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson on holiday in Yugoslavia, 1936 (Daily Herald Archive)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
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What happens when there’s a power struggle within a power couple? Especially a royal pair that shares the throne? Join Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger as she explores the stories behind some of Britain’s most famous royal couples and the challenges they faced in the struggle to maintain happy marriages while successfully ruling a kingdom.

Discover the ways Eleanor of Aquitaine tried to end the reign of husband Henry II and learn how he got his revenge. Examine why Marguerite of Anjou’s efforts to secure the reign of Henry VI made her one of the most-hated royal consorts, and then consider which of Henry VIII’s wives gave him the most trouble. Learn how Henrietta Maria’s religion and lifestyle contributed to the trial and execution of Charles I. And why did the Prince Regent refuse to allow his wife to attend his coronation?

It’s not all about wives. Meet the men who attempted to play the dual role of husband and subject of a reigning queen: Philip of Spain with Queen Mary I and Prince Albert with Queen Victoria. The evening concludes with a look at consorts in the modern age, including the impact of Wallis Simpson on the reign of Edward VIII and the tricky situations that Prince Philip created for Queen Elizabeth II.

Lloyd-Stanger is the former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

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