10 interesting things you probably didn't know about European kings and queens

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait).jpgQueen Elizabeth I wore makeup that contained lead.

European monarchies have existed for centuries, and over the years, monarchs’ rules have resulted in historic changes, shocking stories, and interesting bits of history.

Here are 10 fascinating facts about European monarchs throughout history.


King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, competed in Wimbledon.

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament currently on the ATP and WTA tours.

Out of all of the four major Grand Slams, Wimbledon is also the only one to have had a member of the British royal family compete in it.

In 1926, paired with Wing Commander Louis Grieg in the men’s doubles tournament, the then-duke George VI became the first member of the prestigious family to compete at Wimbledon.

The pair lost in straight sets:, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.


Queen Margrethe II of Denmark illustrated artwork for the Danish edition of “The Lord of the Rings.”

Elisabetta Villa/Getty ImagesHer sketches appeared in a 1977 version of the book.

Perhaps one of the most iconic trilogies in modern literature, “The Lord of the Rings” boasts many notable fans, including The Beatles. One of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s most admired fans, however, is a member of the Danish monarchy.

According to Culture Trip, Queen Margrethe II sent Tolkien some sketches of scenes from the series in the early 1970s under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. Although he was notoriously difficult to please, Tolkien loved Grathmer’s sketches, especially because they resembled many of his own renditions.

The images eventually appeared in a 1977 Danish release of “The Lord of the Rings.”


English monarchs are not allowed in the House of Commons.

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesNot all of Parliament is open to the queen.

For constitutional reasons, the queen is prohibited to enter the House of Commons, which is the supreme chamber of the British Parliament.

This division, intended to distinctly separate the monarchy and the government, has historic roots.

During the English civil war in 1642, King Charles I entered the House of Commons and attempted to arrest five members of British Parliament.

After the king was defeated, the British monarchy was forbidden from ever entering the House of Commons.


Queen Mary of Scots used to wash her face with wine.

WIkimedia CommonsShe used white wine.

According to History Scotland, Queen Mary of Scots washed her face with white wine because she believed it helped her to retain her alabaster complexion.

According to BBC, she bathed in it, too.


Queen Victoria is responsible for starting a popular wedding trend.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter/Wikimedia CommonsShe didn’t want her wedding guests to wear white.

When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, it was common for brides to walk down the aisle in colourful wedding dresses.

Wishing to highlight the lace embroidery of her dress, the queen requested her gown in white. She also requested that her wedding guests did not wear white to her wedding so they wouldn’t draw attention away from her.

Nearly 180 years after her famous change, many brides are still getting married in white gowns.

But, it will be tough for anyone who wants to replicate Queen Victoria’s gown. According to Vogue, she had the lace pattern for her dress destroyed to prevent anyone from copying the design.

Read More: 10 special ways the royal family celebrates their birthdays


Queen Victoria also survived several assassination attempts.

Alexander Bassano/Wikimedia CommonsShe eventually carried a chain mail-lined parasol with her.

During her reign, a reported eight assassination attempts were targeted at Queen Victoria. The first attempt came in 1840, when Edward Oxford fired two shots 100 feet away from the queen and her husband, Prince Albert, just as they were leaving Buckingham Palace for a carriage ride through London’s Hyde Park.

Because her security became a growing concern during her dynasty, she was eventually provided with a chain mail-lined parasol that she carried with her on official engagements.


King Henry VIII became the first English monarch to be called “Your Majesty.”

Wikimedia CommonsHe used to be referred to as ‘Your Highness.’

Prior to his rule, English kings were addressed as “Your Grace” or the more common “Your Highness.”

Known for his arrogant demeanour, Henry VIII adopted “Your Majesty” after he caught word that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V also referred to himself in that regard.


Queen Elizabeth I wore a thick coating of white makeup that contained lead.

Wikimedia CommonsShe wore thick, white makeup.

In 1562, Queen Elizabeth contracted a minor case of small pox. Consequently, it left her with visible facial scars. To maintain her porcelain-skinned appearance, the queen wore thick, white makeup, which contained trace amounts of white lead and vinegar.

Although the makeup probably helped maintain Queen Elizabeth’s illusion of elegance, it was considered poisonous, according to Elizabethan Era UK.


King Louis XIV ruled without a chief minister and christened himself the “Sun King.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Louis_XIV_of_France.jpgHe spent some of his regime without a prime minister.

French King Louis XIV’s close confidant Cardinal Jules Mazarin passed away during his regime in 1661, leaving him without a chief minister.

The leader didn’t replace him and he opted to forgo tradition by ruling without a prime minister. The king regarded himself as a direct representative of God, enshrined with a heavenly right to assume complete control of the French monarchy.

To personify his prestige, he selected the sun as his emblem and cultivated the image of an omniscient and authoritative “Roi-Soleil” (“Sun King”), where everything revolved around him.


King Louis XIV was also revered for his fashion, revolutionising France as a leading producer of luxury textile.

Wikimedia CommonsHis reign helped France become known for fashion.

When King Louis XIV ascended to the throne in 1643, Madrid reigned supreme as the fashion capital of the world. When it came to fabrics and furniture, France simply could not compete with Spanish or Belgian goods.

Moreover, the country’s political, economic and cultural deficiencies prevented France from being a definitive voice in fashion.

Desperate to change that reputation, King Louis XIV implemented businesses in the clothing, jewellery, and furniture industries, providing jobs for his one-third of Parisian citizens in the process.

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