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A Calendar of Queens: January

The royal past is peppered with milestones, those major moments that take on an importance all of their own, and Britain’s queens have provided plenty of history worth talking about. From the reigns that started to the rules that came to an end, from the happy arrivals to the sad farewells, we look at the queenly events that took place in the first month of the year.  A Calendar of Queens starts, as it always had to, in January.

To Crown A Queen

Elizabeth I, second queen regnant of England, was crowned with great ceremony at Westminster Abbey on January 15th 1559. She had taken the throne in November 1558.

Adeliza of Louvain, now largely forgotten, was the first of four consorts of England to be crowned in January. The coronation of the second wife of Henry I took place at Westminster Abbey on January 30th 1121, six days after her marriage to the King.

Just over a century later, the young wife of King Henry III was crowned at Westminster Abbey, too. Eleanor of Provence’s coronation took place on January 20th 1236, within a week of her marriage to the monarch.

In 1382, another newlywed queen had her coronation in January. Anne of Bohemia, first wife of Richard II, was crowned at Westminster Abbey on January 22nd that year, two days after she had wed the King in the same building.

Richard’s second wife, Isabella of Valois, was also crowned on a cold January day. She was just seven-years-old at the time of her coronation on January 8th 1397, having married the much older Richard in October the previous year.

Death of a Queen

Queen Victoria died on January 22nd 1901, bringing to an end what is now the second longest reign in British royal history. Her death, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, was followed by a period of public mourning.

Catherine of Valois, widow of King Henry V and sister of Isabella of Valois, died on January 3rd 1437. The dowager queen was buried with pomp at Westminster Abbey despite having caused a scandal after Henry’s death by marrying a servant called Owen Tudor.

Catherine of Aragon, the much put upon first wife of King Henry VIII, died on January 7th 1536 at Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire. She was still referring to herself as Queen of England, but her former husband ordered her to be buried as a Dowager Princess of Wales. Henry wanted to underline that her first marriage, to his older brother Arthur, was the one that counted and their own union had been invalid from the beginning as a consequence. The funeral took place at Peterborough Cathedral on January 29th that year.

Funeral of a Queen

Philippa of Hainault, consort to Edward III, was buried on a January day in 1370. She had died in August 1369, but her state funeral at Westminster Abbey took place five months later on January 9th 1370.

Starting to Reign

Alexandra of Denmark became queen consort on January 22nd 1901 when her husband succeeded as King Edward VII on the death of his mother, Victoria.

Eighty years earlier, Caroline of Brunswick had seen her own husband ascend the throne on a January day. George IV became king on January 29th 1820, but as the couple had been separated for a quarter of a century, he spent quite a lot of time preventing his wife being crowned.

On January 16th 1556, a change of power in Spain turned England’s first acknowledged female regnant, Mary I, into a queen two times over. Mary’s husband’s accession as Philip II made her consort of Spain as well as regnant of England.

Philippa of Hainault’s tenure as Queen of England began on January 24th 1328 when her marriage to Edward III took place at York Minster. Keeping a beady eye on proceedings was her new husband’s mother who just a year earlier had made a swoop for power.

Isabella of France, consort of Edward II, brought her plans to topple the husband who had rejected and humiliated her to fruition in the early weeks of the year. He abdicated on January 20th, and Isabella saw their son, Edward III, proclaimed King on January 25th 1327, the nineteenth anniversary of her own disastrous marriage.

And on that happy note, that’s all from Calendar of Queens for January – more in February.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.