April 17th, 2013 at 8:08 am (12. Windsor)
In 1936, a very different character came to the throne in the shape of Edward VIII. He was handsome, charismatic and a modern man with modern interests. Unfortunately, he was also in love with a twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson, at a time when the Church of England would not tolerate re-marriage while the former spouse(s) was still alive. At odds with his Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, and Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, Edward abdicated after less than a year on the throne, the only monarch to do so voluntarily, and married Wallis. Edward's reign may have been short, but this is one of the most (in)famous stories in royal history and his later association with Nazism has only increased his notoriety, but does this mean he can't win the Rex Factor, or will his star quality and famous life win through?
March 17th, 2013 at 10:45 am (12. Windsor)
George V came to the throne in 1910 in the midst of a constitutional crisis and from that point on things didn't really get any easier. As monarch, George faced hung Parliaments, social upheaval, the Great Depression and the horrors of the First World War - arguably one of the toughest in-trays for any British monarch. For a man who was rather averse to change and preferred the quiet life of a country squire, this represented something of a challenge and that the monarchy was left still standing by the end of his reign, rebranded as the House of Windsor, was no mean feat - but will it be enough to earn him the Rex Factor?
January 14th, 2013 at 12:02 am (11. Saxe-Coburg Gotha)
After the epic reign of Victoria, Edward VII (known as Bertie) had a lot to live up to. Lacking in academic rigour, romping and making scandal like his Hanoverian forefathers, Bertie was a source of anxiety for both his parents and the country at large. However, after a nearly 60-year wait, Bertie became King Edward VII in 1901 and proved surprisingly good at kinging. His natural charm and laid-back indulgence was a breath of fresh air and characterised the Edwardian age. Edward found himself at the centre of international diplomacy and, with David Lloyd George's 1909 "People's" Budget, at the heart of the biggest political crisis since 1832. But will he save the day and earn himself a place on the Rex Factor mountain?
December 13th, 2012 at 9:29 am (10. Hanoverians)
After four episodes, we finally review Queen Victoria in full. From the spirited young girl who resisted Conroy's Kensington System to the dumpy old lady celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, Victoria had her fair show of up's and downs. Some would criticise her for an often partisan and stubborn approach to politics, while her never-ending mourning for Prince Albert got so tiresome that republicanism even started to raise its head. However, Victoria's resume can also boast the British Empire, major advancements in electoral and social reform and a record-breaking stint on the throne. So when it's all put together, will Queen Victoria be worthy of the Rex Factor?
November 29th, 2012 at 10:00 pm (10. Hanoverians)
This week we look at Victoria's Prime Ministers following the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865. Victoria was heavily into mourning Prince Albert, but the efforts of Lord John Russell and the Earl of Derby to introduce electoral reform started to coax her back into national affairs. However, it was the rivalry of the two great politicians of the age - the charming Benjamin Disraeli and the severe William Gladstone - saw her re-emerge as a dominant figure. To Victoria's great distress, Gladstone proved to be the candle that wouldn't blow out, replacing her favoured Disraeli and Salisbury before finally retiring and allowing the reluctant Rosebery to become her final (new) PM.
November 18th, 2012 at 12:07 am (10. Hanoverians)
Having looked at Victoria's personal life, we now look at the events of her reign through her Prime Ministers. In this first of two episodes, we encounter the first six of her ten leaders. Her first PM, Melbourne, was an old-school Whig with a penchant for anecdotes and little work, while Sir Robert Peel's efforts to modernise the Conservative party saw a split that threw politics into confusion for the next ten years. Lord John Russell (Whig) and the Earl of Derby (Conservative) both struggled to hold their respective governments together, while the Earl of Aberdeen's talented coalition was brought down by the Crimean War. Victoria had positive relationships with all five, but it was the roguish, charming, womanising, unpredictable Lord Palmerston who came to dominate, winning the support of the public and overseeing the formation of the Liberal Party.
October 12th, 2012 at 8:16 am (10. Hanoverians)
Following the death of her beloved husband, Albert, Victoria plunged into mourning, wearing black for the rest of her life and refusing to perform her duties in public. Her reclusive habits saw her popularity plunge and the spectre of republicanism being discussed even in Parliament. However, the efforts of two prime ministers, Gladstone and Disraeli, to coax her back into public life, plus the support of a Scottish ghillie, John Brown, started to have some effect. The turning point proved to be the illness and recovery of her eldest son, Bertie, after which Victoria once again became a figure of popular sympathy. From the 1870s, Victoria was a symbol of British imperial expansion and was once more at the heart of national and international affairs. But eventually, time would catch up with her and the Victorian sun would set...
September 28th, 2012 at 8:24 am (10. Hanoverians)
In the first of five podcasts we look at the life and reign of Queen Victoria, beginning in 1817 with the death of the Prince Regent's only legitimate child, Princess Charlotte, and the race among George III's sons to produce a legitimate heir. The Duke of Kent was the winner, but he did not have long to enjoy it, leaving Victoria under the thumb of Sir John Conroy and her mother in the Kensington System, keeping her under strict control. In this episode, we follow her stand against Conroy, her early years as queen with the genial PM Lord Melbourne, and finally her marriage to Prince Albert. This is a very different Victoria from the popular memory: young, spirited, laughing and sensual - but the tragedy of 1861 would change everything...
August 11th, 2012 at 10:26 am (10. Hanoverians)
Sandwiched between the Georgians and Queen Victoria, poor old William IV is perhaps the most forgotten of monarchs. Little was expected of William IV as a young man - an excitable character sent off to the navy by George III, he lived the typical life of a sailor and came home with rough habits and bad language. When he came to the throne in 1830 he proved hard-working, conscientious and arguably Britain's first truly constitutional monarch and oversaw the passing of the 1832 Reform Act which proved a major step forward in parliamentary democracy. His final challenge was to survive long enough to ensure that his niece, Victoria, would not face the regency of her mother. Could he ensure a stable legacy for Victoria? Could he be the first Hanoverian Rex Factor?
(Parental Advice: There's one instance of censored bad language by the Sailor King!)
July 16th, 2012 at 9:58 pm (10. Hanoverians)
When George III descended into his final madness in 1811 his eldest son became the Prince Regent, finally becoming George IV in 1820. Unlike his sober and dutiful father, George IV was a drinking, gambling, womanising figure of huge controversy who was extremely unpopular in a difficult period of economic and political strife. However, he was also one of the monarchy's most entertaining characters, surprisingly kind in person and in his cultural patronage left a glorious legacy still enjoyed today. Some would call him one of the worst monarchs, but could this be his chance for redemption?