Princes and Princesses of the Realm refers to the legitimate children of the reigning monarch of England- in this case, King Henry VIII- and sometimes to the monarch's siblings. The heir to the Throne is termed the Prince or Princess of Wales; the next in line is generally termed the Duke or Duchess of York.
It is generally preferable for a monarch to have a son as his legitimate heir (due to England's history of anarchy whenever a woman has been a claimant to the throne) although a Princess of Wales will still be seen as the legitimate heir over an illegitimate son, who may be granted noble titles but CANNOT inherit the throne of England, contrary to what Cardinal Wolsey and Catherine of Aragon say. Henry's obsession with acquiring a legitimate son is a driving force of the series and results in his six tumultuous ,marriages and his Reformation of the Church of England.
Princes and Princesses of the Realm depicted in the series are:
- Princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII Tudor and Queen Elizabeth of York; she is sister to Henry VIII. She married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk without her brother's permission and was banished from court; the marriage later fell apart despite producing children, and Margaret dies of tuberculosis in episode 1.09. She was based on Henry's other sister Princess Mary, but was named after Margaret to avoid confusing her with Henry's daughter Mary. Her granddaughter Lady Jane Gray was declared Queen of England by Parliament for nine days (on instructions from the dying King Edward) before she was overthrown by Mary and Elizabeth Tudor.
- Princess Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII Tudor and Queen Catherine of Aragon; Princess of Wales and Royal Heir until her parents' marriage is annulled in episode 2.03, making her a bastard. Although her legitimacy was never restored, Mary was later restored to the succession after her half-brother by her father; her brother Edward dropped her from the succession on his deathbed because he feared she would reverse his religious reforms, but popular opinion overturned this and she was made Queen Mary I of England. Her fanatical Catholicism and ruthless suppression of Protestantism quickly made her very unpopular (along with her marriage to King Philip of Spain), and she died after only five years on the throne, with no issue.
- Princess Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII Tudor and Queen Anne Boleyn; Princess of Wales and Royal Heir until her parents' marriage is annulled in episode 2.10 and her mother is executed, making her a bastard. Elizabeth later reconciled with her father, and though she was not restored as a Princess of the Realm, she became third-in-line to the throne after her two half-siblings. Elizabeth, a more moderate Protestant than her brother Edward, was suspected of plotting against her Catholic sister Mary, but Mary nonetheless named Elizabeth her successor on her deathbed, making her Queen Elizabeth I. Although the last monarch of House Tudor (she never married or had children) Elizabeth proved a far more effective ruler than her father or siblings, reigning for fourty-four years and establishing England as a prosperous Protestant Kingdom.
- Prince Edward Tudor, son of King Henry VIII Tudor and Queen Jane Seymour; Prince of Wales and Royal Heir until his father's death. The Protestant Edward was crowned King Edward VI while still a minor, meaning most of the actual ruling during his reign was carried out by his uncle, the Lord Protector of the Realm Edward Seymour (until his execution). Edward's seven-year reign was characterized by expensive wars and radical religious reforms. He died without issue at age 16, attempting to drop both his half-sisters from the succession; however, both succeeded him on the throne.
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