Revealed: five British royals who definitely slept with underage girls

...350 or more years ago. Plus: the oil price rollercoaster, the most valuable lost cargoes, and doomed animal rescues

10 January 2015

9:00 AM

10 January 2015

9:00 AM

Teen queens

The Duke of York denied allegations in court papers that he had had sexual relations with a girl in Florida aged 17, below the age of consent there. Some of his ancestors who might now be in trouble:
— King John, who married Isabella of Angoulême in 1200 when she was 12.
— Henry VI, who married Margaret of Anjou in 1445 when she was 15.
— James I, who married Anne of Denmark in 1589 when she was 14.
— Charles I, who married Henrietta Maria of France in 1624 when she was 15.
— William III, who married his cousin Mary in 1677 when she was 15.


Crude estimates

The price of oil fell below $60 a barrel. There is nothing new about volatile oil prices. Some of the peaks and troughs in crude oil, at today’s prices

Jun 1973 $19
Jan 1974 $51
Apr 1980 $115
Jan 1999 $18
Jun 2008 $145
Feb 2009 $44
May 2011 $105
Jan 2015 $51


Sunk costs

A listing cargo ship was beached on a sandbank in the Solent, its £35m cargo of Jaguars, BMWs and JCBs leaning at 52 degrees. Some precious cargos lost:
£130m SS Gairsoppa, torpedoed off the Irish coast in 1941 carrying silver bars.
£4m Value of 14 tonnes of cigarettes which washed up in Devon last February after being washed off the Svendberg Maersk.
£475,000 SS Central America, sank off South Carolina in 1857 carrying gold.


Pet projects

A seal found stranded in a field 20 miles up a Lancashire estuary and taken to a sanctuary in Norfolk was revealed to be close to death from pneumonia. Some more futile attempts to save wayward animals:
— In 2006 a seven-tonne whale swam up the Thames as far as Albert Bridge, where she was lifted by crane onto a barge. Plans to ship her to the Atlantic were abandoned in favour of releasing her off Margate, but she died on the barge.
— In 2011 a young emperor penguin arrived on a beach in New Zealand. It was taken to Wellington zoo and had an operation to remove sand and sticks from its stomach. It was released 400 miles south of New Zealand, but a week later its transmitter stopped working, possibly as a result of the penguin being eaten.

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  • It’s also worth noting that the royals mentioned above all lived in a time where the concept of adolescence had not really emerged. A girl was considered a woman if she was capable of bearing children, and irrespective, were generally treated as privileged property of either their husband or their father anyway. Modern standards of behaviour did not apply to their society, so judging them by our standards is a little disingenuous.

    • Bonkim

      Spot on.

    • Dodgy Geezer

      …A girl was considered a woman if she was capable of bearing children…

      I’m guessing that marriages at these levels were effectively mergers and acquisitions – that the two families involved both brought a lot of land and wealth to the table, and were arranging political moves. There would be no need for the couples to be intimate sexually, or even like each other. That was what mistresses were for…

    • The Masked Marvel

      Presumably you don’t apply the same logic to Rotherham and Rochdale, or Boko Haram, or what ISIS get up to….

    • Samson

      You can take all that into account and still think it wasn’t ok to penetrate a child. Applying archaic ethics to this age can be just as disingenuous as its opposite.

  • Bonkim

    The age of betrothal and marriage in the Middle Ages was puberty. Some were betrothed even before puberty. Church-courts ruled.

  • charles kinbote

    the royals mentioned in your list hardly qualify as ancestors of the Duke of York; none of them are even remotely related to him

    • Ed  

      They are by law.

      • charles kinbote

        OED begs to differ
        ‘One from whom a person is descended, either by the father or mother; a progenitor, a forefather.’

        • Ed  

          Potayto, potahto. Liz and her family are good enough for me. Go split your hairs elsewhere.

          • charles kinbote

            I imagine an American would recommend a rage management course
            btw r u an American?

          • Ed  

            Um, how does your temper enter into this? Or, for that matter, my national origin?

          • charles kinbote

            I find that Americans often prove to be baffled by what, under normal circumstances, should be a civilized exchange. That gratuitous “Um” may be a giveaway: a Yank masquerading as a Brit?

          • Ed  

            I actually find that comment exchanges on the Spectator pack substantially more rhetorical bite than those on National Review. People express themselves with much more flourish and style; not that I’ll claim “style” as a valid title for starting with “um”. I’ve also not seen people called “pillock” over there.

            I’m still going to force you to judge me by the content of my character, not the colour of my skin, though.

          • charles kinbote

            I have not the slightest intention of sitting in judgement on your character (if you have any), and to the best of my knowledge they make Americans in all colours.

          • Ed  

            You have every intention of judging my comments by my national origin. Or you wouldn’t have asked. Be off with you.

          • charles kinbote

            I assure you, some of my best friends are American

    • The_greyhound

      King John and James I are both direct ancestors of the Duke of Pork.

  • Gladiatrix

    Betrothal and consummation are not the same thing; the betrothed fiancée would often live in her fiancé’s house but they would not be allowed to be alone or intimate until she was considered sufficiently mature. Isabella at 12 would not have slept with John nor been allowed to.
    This listicle would have been more accurate if it had stated when Isabella etc arrived at their husbands’ courts.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    I question the word “ancestors”.
    Also the expression “underage”.
    Twinkles need to grasp an obvious reality. Namely, that there is a quid pro quo component to having an older gentleman friend on tap to smooth their passage through life. And enhance career potential.
    Who could put hand on heart and say … Right, guys?

  • Ed  

    If we’re going to prosecute historical figures for underage brides, let’s include mohammed. Aisha was 9.