It’s become one of the most popular history shows on British TV, helping its young viewers to learn all about the past while enjoying themselves. And one of the ways that ‘Horrible Histories’ manages that is by its clever use of music. Here, Royal Central looks at ten of the best songs with a royal theme on ‘Horrible Histories’.
King Henry VII: The Original Tu-Tu-Tudor
Parody of: ‘The Sweet’
Featured on: Series 5, Episode 9
About: ‘The Original Tu-Tu-Tudor’ details how King Henry VII is often forgotten in history despite becoming the first Tudor monarch after his victory at the War of the Roses. The song also explains what happened during his reign, from his marriage to Elizabeth of York, to the various challenges his throne faced by those claiming to be the lost Princes of the Tower, all whilst set to a catchy 1970’s glam rock soundtrack.
Queen Mary I: Mary the First
Parody of: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush
Featured on: Series 4, Episode 10
About: This brilliant song is both informative and comical. The former queen is painted as evil and slightly unstable as she recounts how she’d tie 300 people to a stake before burning them. The song also describes her short-lived marriage to King Philip II of Spain, changing the English faith from Protestant to Catholic, and the opposition to her throne by Lady Jane Grey.
Richard III: The Truth About Richard III
Featured on: Series 3, Episode 6
About: It has long been believed that King Richard III has his two young nephews killed at the Tower of London in order to take the throne for himself. This song acts to discredit all such rumours against him, such as that he didn’t drown his brother in a vat of wine or have a hunchback- as depicted in William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Richard III’.
King George I, II, III, IV: The 4 Georges: Born 2 Rule
Featured on: Series 1, Episode 1
About: The first song ever featured in Horrible Histories looked at the four consecutive kings named George. In the style of a traditional boyband, the four kings sit on stools under spotlights in traditional Georgian clothing and wigs whilst singing about their difficult reigns. Notably, it reveals how German-native King George I could barely speak English and that King George II died on the toilet.
Queen Victoria and Albert: Victoria & Albert: A Love Ballad
Featured on: Series 4, Episode 6
About: A surprisingly heart-wrenching song about the love between Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It describes everything the couple did during their 21-year marriage, from starting traditions, such as having Christmas trees indoors, to supporting The Great Exhibition and having nine children.
Scottish Monarchs: We’ve Got the Blue-Blooded Blues
Parody of: ‘Sleeping on the Sidewalk’ by Queen
Featured on: Series 4, Episode 7
About: This song is all about the awful luck of the Stuart dynasty. Starting with King Robert III of Scotland, it explains how he fell off his horse and ended up with a limp. We then learn about the next five kings called James, who all were all murdered. After Mary, Queen of Scots- who was beheaded by Elizabeth I- we hear about the first British King James VI & I (monarch when England and Scotland joined together) who was the subject of Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot. The Stuart luck didn’t change though. His son, King Charles I was decapitated, and royalty was briefly killed off under Oliver Cromwell’s Republican Commonwealth.
Queen Victoria: British Things
Featured on: Series 1, Episode 11
About: An upbeat, educational song on the difficulties the world faced whilst the British Empire was expanding with Queen Victoria at the helm. It depicts a disgruntled, elderly monarch asking for her British items, such as tea and sugar, before being corrected by her footman who explains about slavery and wars. Such a serious topic to explain, but the song wouldn’t be complete without the queen dancing and having sugar poured over her head.
King Henry VIII: Divorced, Beheaded & Died
Featured on: Series 1, Episode 2
About: Since the song was released in 2009, it has become a classroom staple in teaching children about King Henry VIII and his six marriages. Yet, over a decade on, it is still as popular.
King Charles II: King of Bling
Parody of: ‘My Name Is’, by Eminem
Featured on: Series 2, Episode 2
About: One of the most famous Horrible Histories songs is, without a doubt, ‘King of Bling’ about the party-loving monarch, King Charles II. Based on a rap by Eminem, the song expertly navigates several events, from The Great Fire of London, to the restoration of the monarchy, following the Puritan takeover, as well as the king’s numerous extra-marital affairs.
All English Kings and Queens: The Monarchs’ Song
Parody of: Chas and Dave
Featured on: Series 3, Episode 2
About: Last but by no means least is a catchy rhyme set to a traditional Chas and Dave single to help people learn the timeline of British monarchs. The challenge is to learn the order, here it is below:
William, William, Henry, Stephen, Henry, Richard, John, Henry, Edward, Edward, Edward, Richard, Henry, Henry, Henry, Edward, Edward, Richard, Henry, Henry, Edward, Mary, Elizabeth, James, Charles, Charles, James, Mary, William, Anne, George, George, George, George, William, Victoria, Edward, George, Edward, George, Elizabeth.
And that’s our top ten royal songs on ‘Horrible Histories’.