5 royal births that rocked a nation

Victoria was born into a family that rather resented her, and her cousin Charlotte was the product of a failed three-day marriage. Meanwhile the future Edward VI was feted purely on the grounds that he wasn't a girl. As Kate Williams demonstrates, the British royal family's quest to produce successors has been nothing if not eventful

In 1926, a time of social and political strife, the country unified in celebrating the birth of Princess Elizabeth. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
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Edward V begins life “like a poor man’s child”

The first son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Edward V of England was born in a turbulent time. His parents had married secretly in 1464, much to the horror of the court, for Elizabeth was a Lancastrian of common blood. A few years after her coronation, her father and brother were captured in battle and executed by relatives of the king.

By 1470, Edward was deposed – and Elizabeth was pregnant. She took sanctuary in Westminster, and there on 2 November gave birth to a son, Edward, in privation and insecurity. Instead of the blaring of trumpets and rejoicing across the land, his birth was received quietly and he was baptised in the abbey “like a poor man’s child”.

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