Part of why the British monarchy is so captivating is that the institution has existed for so long. Royals have been around in the area now known as the British Isles since the 500s, starting with King Cerdic in the newly formed kingdom of Wessex. If you have ever read or seen The Last Kingdom, you may be familiar with Wessex – Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Britain, which was created in 519 and lasted until England was unified by Æthelstan in 927.
Once Æthelstan unified England, there has been an extensive list of English monarchs who reigned from the 10th century all the way to the 18th century – that’s 800 years! After the Acts of Union in 1707, England and Scotland combined to become Great Britain and the ‘English’ monarchs became ‘British’ monarchs… thus the list of monarchs continued from 1707 all the way to the present day, with Queen Elizabeth II reigning since 1952.
The Royal Houses over the centuries
- House of Wessex
- House of Denmark
- House of Godwin
- House of Normandy
- House of Blois
- House of Anjou
- House of Plantagenet
- House of Lancaster
- House of York
- House of Tudor
- House of Stuart
- House of Hanover
- Houses of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
- House of Windsor (present day)
Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest reigning monarch in British history; she recently surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record in 2015. Victoria’s record was 63 years, 216 days – Elizabeth II has currently been ruling for just over 68 years.
The Royals Today
The Royal Family still plays a large role in the society and culture of the United Kingdom. Each year, the principal members of the Royal Family undertake over 2000 official engagements not only in the UK but also across the globe. They are patrons and presidents of over 3000 organizations, many of which are charities.
Did you know you can visit the Royal Households, both past and present? Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen, opens its State Rooms to the public each summer. You can also visit Windsor Castle or the Palace of Holyrood year-round, or Clarence House and Frogmore House at select times of year. The art and items found in each household are part of The Royal Collection, one of the largest and most important art collections in the world. The Royal Collection Trust looks after this collection and promotes the learning and enjoyment of the collection to everyone.
You can also visit Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Hillsborough Castle, and Kew Palace. These extraordinary residences are steeped in history, and in the case of the Tower of London, date back to the 11th century! And remember, students can of course get discounts on admission!
Interested in studying in the UK? You can find out more by contacting one of our advisors!