What are the Qualifications to be Queen of the United Kingdom? By Gregory Hilton

For the last three years Kate Middleton has spent Christmas with the royal family at Sandringham, but apparently she is not being invited this year. The British press is always filled with speculation concerning the possibility of Kate’s engagement to Prince William, an RAF search and rescue pilot. The pair met while both were studying art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They became friends while sharing housing with other students in 2001, and began dating publicly in 2003.
Kate will turn 28 on January 9th, and has never had a job. She has been with William for six years and they have lived together for the past two, which is not unprecedented. Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, lived in St James’s Palace for two years before she married the Queen’s son, Prince Edward. The royal family provided Kate with full time security protection in 2006 when an engagement appeared imminent.
Kate has a middle class background and her grandfather was a blue collar worker. At one time a royal prince was not allowed to marry a commoner. The late Queen Mother and Princess Diana were both considered commoners even though they were daughters of upper class British Earls.
Prince William is free to marry whoever he wants. Under current law, if he marries a Roman Catholic, he will no longer be eligible to inherit the throne. Otherwise there are no requirements, except that William was not allowed to get married before age 25 without the Queen’s permission.
Nothing would happen to William if he lost his place in the line of succession. He would still be a member of the royal family, but he would not be allowed to become King. The Act of Settlement which was passed in 1701 is still in effect. The British monarch is head of the Church of England and “Defender of the Faith.” William’s father, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the throne, has discussed changing this to “Defender of all Faiths,” but Parliament is not likely to act on the suggestion.
I am not going to speculate on Kate and William’s plans or his requirements in a future wife. Kate is stunning and similar to the late Shah of Iran, William must place considerable emphasis on physical appearance. The Shah picked his second wife, an 18 year old beauty named Soraya, from a collection of photos, and proposed on the first date. His third wife, Farah Diba, was a 21 year old student who always turned heads.
One of the most successful marriages in the history of the British monarchy was between King George III and Queen Charlotte. George reigned from 1760 to 1820, and this was the last time an unmarried monarch assumed the British throne. In addition to being King of England he was also Elector (King) of Hanover, and was required to marry into a princely house. He said the principle qualities he desired in a bride were “a pleasant disposition, a good understanding and the ability to bear children.” He did not ask for physical beauty.
Several women from royal households met this criteria, and a list was presented to the 25 year old King. The King did not have the benefit of Match.com so emissaries were sent to various courts to prepare reports.
The top candidate appeared to be the Princess of Saxe Gotha but she was rejected for being too intellectual. The King was concerned that she would meddle in party politics. He crossed out another candidate who was being eagerly promoted by his mother, and the Princess of Denmark appeared desirable but she was already promised to another suitor.
A scandal was connected to the Princess of Brandenburg’s grandfather, and there were questions about the health of Princess Frederica. Princess Philippina was described as difficult to get along with, and “lacks the ability to compromise.” After a while every woman on the list was rejected. All of this took considerable time and the King was impatient.
Another list had to be prepared, and one by one the candidates were examined. There was enthusiasm at first for Princess Caroline of Alsace who seemed the most likely candidate for the golden apple. Then the report came back which said “She is stubborn and ill-tempered to the greatest degree.”
Every name on the second list had been crossed out with the exception of 17 year old Charlotte of Mecklenburg–Strelitz. She was at the bottom because her court was thought too small to qualify, she was a Lutheran, and was not considered attractive. However, the report about her character and disposition was excellent.
The King had never met Charlotte but a formal demand for her hand in marriage was made and accepted. She arrived at St. James’s Palace at 3 pm on September 7, 1761 and was married at 9 pm that evening. She was Queen of England but spoke no English. She had changed her religion from the Lutheran faith, was taking English lessons, but no one at court spoke highly of her appearance.
The only exception was her husband, and by all reports it was very successful marriage. Most people fall in love and get married, but George and Charlotte got married and then fell in love. Queen Charlotte was the mother of 15 children (13 of whom lived to adulthood), and North Carolina’s largest city is named in her honor. George and Charlotte were America’s last King and Queen.

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