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List of Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain (802 to Present)

Image of a statue of Alfred the Great for a post lsting the kings and queens of England and Great Britain.
The first monarch among the kings and queens of England and Great Britain
to have “the Great” added to their name, King Alfred (reign: 871-899)

Exploring the lineage of kings and queens of England and Great Britain unveils a captivating saga.

From the dawn of sovereign governance in 802 AD to our current era, the monarchy has stood as a pivotal pillar of British heritage, steering not just the destiny of the land but echoing its influence across the globe.

This post endeavors to escort you through a historical voyage, showcasing a fundamental enumeration of the monarchs who have graced the throne alongside their respective dynasties.

It spans from the era of the Saxon kings, who established the early foundations of England, to the contemporary Windsor dynasty, which still seizes the imagination of people worldwide.

Perfect for history enthusiasts, temporal voyagers, or anyone keen on augmenting their knowledge of royal history, this compilation opens a portal to the rich and enduring legacy of one of the planet’s most enduring monarchies.

Note: We have included those who ruled England during the Commonwealth period in this, specifically Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard. This is to account for the gap between Charles I and the eventual restoration of the monarchy with Charles II.

Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain Listed

Image of Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day in 1953.
Queen Elizabeth II following her coronation on June 2, 1953
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For more on historical leaders from England and the United Kingdom, check out our list of British Prime Ministers throughout history!

Image of a painting featuring King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn (seated) and her future ex-husband, King Henry VIII

FAQs: Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain

1. Which eight individuals have been recognized as queens of England and Great Britain, despite historical records officially acknowledging only six of them?

In the annals of English history, six queens regnant are officially recognized for ruling in their own right.


These include Mary I (1553-1558), Elizabeth I (1558-1603), Mary II (1689-1694), Anne (1702-1714), Victoria (1837-1901), and Elizabeth II (1952-2022).


However, the historical narrative is broader when considering disputed reigns, bringing the total to eight.


Two additional figures, often overlooked or contested in the mainstream historical record, are Matilda and Lady Jane Grey.


Matilda, also known as Empress Matilda, was a pivotal figure during the Anarchy (1135-1153), a civil war for the English throne against King Stephen.


She was declared “Lady of the English” in 1141 but never fully secured her reign as queen.


Lady Jane Grey, known as the “Nine Days Queen,” was thrust onto the throne in 1553 through the machinations of power-hungry courtiers, only to be deposed by Mary I’s supporters.


Her reign lasted a mere nine days before she was imprisoned and, later, executed.



These eight women’s stories span the spectrum of English history, from the tumultuous civil wars of the Middle Ages to the establishment of a global empire under the Victorian era, illustrating the complex and often contentious path of succession to the English throne.




2. Which English king was married to six different women?

The English king who was famously married to six different women is Henry VIII.


Reigning from 1509 until his death in 1547, Henry VIII’s marriages were notable not just for their number but also for the dramatic impact they had on English religious and political life.


Here’s a brief overview of his marriages:

Catherine of Aragon (m. 1509 – annulled 1533): Henry’s first wife and the mother of Mary I.

The annulment of their marriage led to England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church and the beginning of the English Reformation.



Anne Boleyn (m. 1533 – executed 1536): The mother of Elizabeth I. Anne’s marriage to Henry prompted the final split with Rome.

She was executed on charges of adultery, incest, and treason.



Jane Seymour (m. 1536 – died 1537): Jane gave birth to Henry’s only male heir, Edward VI, but died shortly after his birth.



Anne of Cleves (m. January 1540 – annulled July 1540): Their marriage was annulled six months later on the grounds of non-consummation and her alleged pre-contract to marry someone else.



Catherine Howard (m. 1540 – executed 1542): A cousin of Anne Boleyn, she was executed for adultery.



Catherine Parr (m. 1543 – Henry’s death 1547): She outlived Henry, making her the longest-lived and most-married Queen of England, having had four husbands.



Henry’s marriages were central to his reign, influencing his political alliances, the line of succession, and England’s religious landscape.


His desperate quest for a male heir and his subsequent marriages significantly altered the course of English history.




3. Which English king stepped down from the throne?

The English king who stepped down from the throne, an event unparalleled in British history, was Edward VIII.


His abdication occurred in 1936, a decision that stunned the nation and the world.


Edward VIII ascended to the throne in January 1936, but his reign was short-lived, lasting less than a year.


The crux of the controversy leading to his abdication was his desire to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was twice divorced.


The marriage was opposed by the British government and the Church of England, which at the time did not permit the remarriage of divorced people if their former spouses were still alive.


Faced with the choice between the crown and his personal happiness, Edward chose to abdicate in favor of his younger brother, George VI.


On December 11, 1936, he formally renounced his rights to the throne, making him the only British monarch to voluntarily abdicate.


In his radio broadcast explaining his decision, Edward famously declared, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”


Following his abdication, Edward was given the title Duke of Windsor and married Wallis Simpson in France in 1937.


His decision to abdicate led to significant changes in the royal family and shaped the future of the British monarchy.




References:

CharlotteDunn. “Kings and Queens from 1066.” The Royal Family, 3 Aug. 2018, www.royal.uk/kings-and-queens-1066.

Ciara.Berry. “Anglo Saxon Kings.” The Royal Family, 12 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/anglo-saxon-kings.

—. “Lady Jane Grey (R. 10-19 July 1553).” The Royal Family, 14 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/lady-jane-grey.

—. “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.” The Royal Family, 11 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/saxe-coburg-gotha.

—. “Stephen and Matilda (R. 1135-1154).” The Royal Family, 12 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/stephen-and-matilda.

—. “The House of Windsor.” The Royal Family, 11 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/house-windsor.

—. “The Normans.” The Royal Family, 12 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/normans.

—. “The Plantagenets.” The Royal Family, 12 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/plantagenets.

—. “The Tudors.” The Royal Family, 14 Jan. 2016, www.royal.uk/tudors.

“Edward VIII.” Westminster Abbey, www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-commemorations/royals/edward-viii.

Johnson, Ben. “Queen Matilda, Empress Maud and the Civil War with King Stephen.” Historic UK, www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Empress-Maud/.

Kat Eschner. “The Tragic Story of England’s Nine-Day Queen.” Smithsonian, Smithsonian.com, 19 July 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tragic-story-englands-nine-day-queen-180964042/.

“Kings and Queens: A Family Tree – National Portrait Gallery.” Www.npg.org.uk, www.npg.org.uk/collections/explore/kings-and-queens-a-family-tree.

Kirsty.Oram. “The Hanoverians.” The Royal Family, 30 Dec. 2015, www.royal.uk/hanoverians.

—. “The Stuarts.” The Royal Family, 30 Dec. 2015, www.royal.uk/stuarts.

—. “United Kingdom Monarchs (1603 – Present).” The Royal Family, 30 Dec. 2015, www.royal.uk/united-kingdom-monarchs-1603-present.

National Army Museum. “Oliver Cromwell: Lord Protector | National Army Museum.” Nam.ac.uk, 2019, www.nam.ac.uk/explore/oliver-cromwell-lord-protector.

Ponti, Crystal. “Who Were the Six Wives of Henry VIII?” HISTORY, A&E Television Networks, 28 Jan. 2020, www.history.com/news/henry-viii-wives.

“Who Were Henry VIII’s Wives?” Www.rmg.co.uk, www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/who-were-henry-viiis-wives.