Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.
The British royal family has long had an interesting attitude towards divorce, an attitude caused by none other than King Henry VIII (1491-1597). Henry VIII had six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. Catherine of Aragon gave birth to a daughter but not the son that Henry longed for, so he divorced her. Never before in the history of the English monarchy had a king divorced his queen. The divorce was not approved by the Pope but this did not stop Henry, who already had his eye on Anne Boleyn; he simply broke with the Roman Catholic Church, dissolved the monasteries and announced that henceforth the monarch would be head of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith.
When Anne Boleyn also produced a daughter Henry had her executed. He then married Jane Seymour, who gave him the longed-for male heir but died soon afterwards. The prince (Edward VI) was sickly and was not destined to live long. However, Henry did not give up – he went on to marry Anne of Cleves, only to divorce her soon after, before marrying Catherine Howard, whom he had executed later. Only Katherine Parr escaped – she outlived him.
But she was not alone in outliving Henry VIII: the problems he had created by introducing divorce into the royal line lived on too. Who should become queen after the early death of Henry’s son Edward VI? Henry’s daughter by his first (and subsequently divorced) wife, Mary (1516-58) or his daughter by his second (and subsequently beheaded) wife, Elizabeth (1533-1603)? Problems also centred around the fact that Henry had declared England to be Protestant: Elizabeth was Protestant but Mary was Catholic. The situation became so dangerous that at one time Mary had her sister Elizabeth locked up in the Tower of London.
But divorce has caused problems for the British monarchy much more recently than this: Edward VIII was king in 1936 but was never crowned. He had met and fallen in love with a sophisticated American woman called Wallis Simpson. She was everything he wanted in a woman but, unfortunately, she was divorced. The Archbishop of Canterbury informed the king that marriage to a divorcee would be impossible. Edward promptly shocked the nation by abdicating in favour of his brother, George VI. This move created a crisis in the country, known as the "Abdication Crisis", and the monarchy suffered a bitter blow in the popularity stakes. The new king and queen had to work very hard (with their daughters, the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret) to win back public support.
However, the princesses were to face the problem of divorce themselves. First, Princess Margaret, who met and fell in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend – a divorced man. Again the Church of England intervened in the form of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Princess Margaret was persuaded to put duty before love. She renounced the affair and married Anthony Armstrong-Jones instead, some years later. The marriage was reputed to be an unhappy one and, ironically, ended in divorce.
Unable to stop the tide of failed marriages in the royal family, the Queen has watched not only her sister get divorced but also three of her four children. First, her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips in 1992, then, in the same year the Palace announced that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and his wife, Sarah Ferguson, were to separate. They later divorced. But the bitterest blow for the monarchy may well have been the 1996 divorce of the heir to the throne himself, the Prince of Wales, especially as his wife, Diana, was so popular with the public.
Prince Charles has announced his intention to marry the divorced Mrs Parker-Bowles on 8th April 2005 in a civil ceremony in Windsor. The Queen will not be attending the ceremony itself, though she will attend the celebrations afterwards.
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
- 1. __________ VIII shocked the nation by abdicating in favour of his brother, George VI.
2. Henry VIII created problems by introducing divorce into the __________ line.
3. Princess Margaret was persuaded to put __________ before love.
4. The monarchy suffered a bitter __________ due to the "Abdication Crisis".
5. The marriage was reputed to be an unhappy one and, __________ , ended in divorce.