Monarchy in FictionOctober 31, 2014

Elizabeth II is on her 61th year as the Queen of the United Kingdom. It won't be long before she becomes the longest-reigning British monarch.

Upon her ascenscion on the throne on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of Australia. She faced republican sentiments, but support for the monarchy would remain high. Not even the severe press criticism of the royal family affected her popularity. At 88 years of age, she shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, tourists passing by her Balmoral estate last summer were treated to the sight of the queen enjoying her early morning horse ride. One of her friends said if she were not a sovereign, she would be happy living in the coutryside surrounded by dogs and horses.

In print

The monarchy never ceases to fascinate the public. They are blue-blooded celebrities, way before reality television is coined. Even artists with high-brow taste find it hard to ignore these people. Shakespeare should've known that, as many of his plays are tragic tales of rulers in Britain. How about the others? Don't be surprised if the Bard's are included. Here are some notable titles:

Anna and the King (1944) by Margaret Landon. In the early 1860s, Anna Leonowens was invited by King Mongkut of Siam to teach his wives and children the English language. The kingdom, now known as Thailand, was isolated from the rest of the world. The king was aware of the British Empire and its sphere of influence, so he was hoping that Leonowens, a widow with two young children, would introduce British customs. Her five-year stint became the basis for two memoirs, namely "The English Governess at the Siamese Court" (1870) and "Romance of the Harem" (1872). The books were adapted to a play, "The King and I".

Antony and Cleopatra (1607) by William Shakespeare. Cleopatra VII was the last active pharaoh of Egypt. She was also a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled the ancient kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra and her family only spoke Greek, but she also learned to speak Egyptian. (She represented herself as the reincarnation of Isis.) Her relationship with Julius Caesar kept her grip on the thone, but it was her affair with Mark Antony that was romanticised and retold. Records revealed Cleopatra wasn't good looking at all, but she had a way of alluring men. This tragedy would show.

Queen Margot (1845) by Alexandre Dumas. The French Wars of Religion involved disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, some who were French Catholics and others Huguenots. St. Bartholomew's Day massacre was the most notorious incident associated with this period, instigated by Catherine de' Medici, wife of King Henry II. It happened five days after the marriage of Margaret of Valois, her daughter, to Henry III of Navarre, who would be the future Henry IV of France. Dumas depicted the Queen Mother as a power-hungry woman who favoured King Charles IX, her eldest son. Some couldn't helped but wonder if there was an incestuous relationship. Keep in mind that this is fiction.

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