Medieval definition of a king: the only one who doesn't have shit all over him
Old Babylon tradition that commoner chosen as 'King for the Day' to mark the new year. At the end of the day the mock king was sacrificed to the gods. But one king , after choosing his gardener for the role, died during the celebrations, and the gardener stayed on the throne, and ruled wisely, for 24 years.
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who died yesterday, was the last peer to have inherited his title in the 1920s, observes David Hodgson, a TMS reader. Only three peers have ever been in the job longer than Montagu’s 86 years, while five have survived for less than a week, including Erskine May, the constitution expert, and Frederic Leighton, the Victorian painter. The third Duke of Suffolk died half an hour after inheriting his ermine, while the second Baron Stamp was killed by the same bomb as his father in 1941. Although the order of death could not be determined, he was ruled to have inherited the title ever so briefly, meaning that the family had to pay death duties twice.
Family feud shone light on the eccentric Baths - the son of The Marquess of Bath (who is also Baron Thynne and Viscount Weymouth) married a half-Nigerian beauty, which his mother objected to on basis that it do to 400 years of bloodline (the Marchioness is herself a Hungarian born import). The son barred her from the wedding and they pretend not to know each other, though they all live in the same sprawling house.
The Sunday Times memorably wrote: "The Marquess of Bath is a steaming pile of ancient kaftans and one of our wuffliest and weirdest mad-hatter aristocrats. He is best known for swanning around Longleat, his enormous Elizabethan pad in Wiltshire, entertaining his 75 concubines, or as he calls them, 'wifelets'." The wifelets have included former Bond girls, Sri Lankan teenagers, as well as housewives and according to some, in a couple of unfortunate cases, actual prostitutes. The deal is simple: the wifelets get to hang out with Lord Bath in a jewel of a palace and in return he gets unlimited sex. The Marchioness herself had spent most of last 40 years living in France with a female lover, but returned when her partner died.
Charlemagne's father was only 4' 6" tall, so was, not surprisingly, known as Pepin the Short. But he carried a 6 foot long sword and earned a rep as a mighty warrior
Prince Charles employs 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics: chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets—gentleman’s gentlemen—whose sole responsibility is the care of their royal master’s extensive wardrobe and choosing what he is to wear on any particular day. A serving soldier polishes the prince’s boots and shoes every day—he has 50 handmade pairs each costing over £800 by Lobb of St James’s—and a housemaid washes his underwear as soon as it is discarded. Nothing Charles or Camilla wears is ever allowed near a washing machine. Particular attention is paid to handkerchiefs, which are monogrammed and again all hand-washed, as it was found that when they were sent to a laundry, some would go missing—as souvenirs. HRH’s suits, of which he has 60, cost more than £3,000 each, and his shirts, all handmade, cost £350 a time (he has more than 200), while his collar stiffeners are solid gold or silver. Charles’s valets also iron the laces of his shoes whenever they are taken off.
It would be a shame to lose the linguistic genius of, for example, the pidgin English Bislama language of the Pacific island of Vanuatu, where native speakers talk of the “Nambawan bigfala emi blong Misis Kwin” or “Number one big fellow him belong Mrs Queen”. Which tells you all you need to know about the Duke of Edinburgh.
A few years ago the horse-obsessed princess spent an entire dinner party talking all things equine with a guest. Unfortunately, her other neighbour was completely ignored during the feast, until eventually she turned to him and asked him to pass the sugar. The slighted man put two lumps of sugar on his palm and held it up to her face.
Queen Victoria forbade her sons to smoke, but they all did, a great deal. At Windsor Castle they found a room they could smoke in. To stop their mother including the room on her regular inspections of the castle, they had a "Gents WC" sign affixed to the door
Even by 1st-century BC standards, King Herod the Great of Judaea was willing to go further than any of his rivals in his killing bouts. He married the beautiful Mariamne, a Jewish princess of the royal Maccabee family, and fell in love with her, even though she conspired to overthrow him. When he had her publicly garrotted, he went mad, staggering through his palaces calling for her as if she were alive, and had her embalmed in honey so he could visit her. Yet his madness never, even on his deathbed, interfered with his brilliant ability to rally support and crush dissent: he killed his wife, his mother-in-law, several brothers-in-law and three of his own sons as well as best friends — yet no one made a serious attempt against him in 40 years.
A fortune teller once upset Louis XIV by predicting (correctly) that one of his mistresses would die in 8 days time. King hauled the man before him with guards instructed to throw him out of the window on signal. King demanded of the man "If you know so much, tell me when YOU will die" The fortune teller, well aware of his great danger, replied "3 days before you, sire"
"I cannot contain my indifference" said a man, asked at random in the street, about his views on the marriage of Prince Edward and Sophie
Royal family of Brunei. During 1980's Sultan was probably the richest man on the planet. When his daughter turned 18 he gave her an Airbus. His brother Jefri paid $500,000 for a jewel-encrusted watch which had a pic on its face of a couple bonking. He liked it so much he bought 9 more. (This family seriously inbred - cousins marrying cousins for 6 centuries - not just absolute monarchs - absolutely stupid absolute monarchs)
Cleopatra much the same - she was a Greek, not an Egyptian - Ptolemy, a Greek noble, inherited Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great and established a 3 century long dynasty. They were so rigid about maintaining the right bloodlines that Cleo's parents were brother and sister. She wasn't beautiful - short (1.5m) and fat-necked with a prominent nose. Just very charismatic - irresistible charm of her conversation
In the early 1900s, England's Queen Alexandra contracted rheumatic fever during pregnancy and developed a permanent limp. Ladies of Alexandra's court immediately adopted limps to keep up with the "fashion."
Queen Alexandra's husband, Edward VII, may have started a trend of his own. After too many royal banquets, the portly king couldn't fasten the lowest button of his waistcoat. Before long, leaving the lowest button undone became the mark of a true gentleman.
Charles VIII of France had six toes on one foot. When he assumed the throne in 1484, square-toed shoes mysteriously came into fashion. Pointed toes had been all the rage for decades.
Royal brides wore silver until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert on February 10, 1840. Her bold decision to wear white was immediately embraced by an adoring public, and brides have followed in her footsteps ever since.