In this programme, leading historian David Starkey takes a look at the very modern marriage between Prince William and the girl he met at university. He shows that from the Middle Ages to the Abdication Crisis there is plenty of precedent for commoners marrying royalty and English princes have often married for love rather than political or dynastic reasons.
In fact, William himself is descended from Katherine Swynford, the daughter of a royal servant who married her boss.
It was Henry VIII’s desire for a love match that caused the English Reformation, and his daughter Elizabeth I’s aversion to an arranged marriage that ended the Tudor line and led to rule by foreign dynasties, first Scottish, then Dutch, then German.
But the marriage rules imported with George I of Hanover stipulated that the only fit bride for a prince was a princess. This custom had the effect of keeping Britain’s royal family German for 200 years.
By putting William and Kate’s marriage in its historical context, David Starkey reveals it as the logical next step in a century-long struggle to return our monarchy to its native roots, preserving it as a focus of national identity.
Kate and William: Romance and the Royals visited Penshurst Placefor some filming.