A female monarch of England (now, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). England has had a number of queens:

If we ignore Queen Consorts, that is women who were queens by virtue of their marriage to the reigning king, and focus on Queen Regnants who ruled in their own name, there have only been six women who can properly be titled as Queen of England. Namely;

From the House of Normandy

Matilda (1141)

Otherwise known as the Empress Matilda, who was the recognised heir of Henry I, but was supplanted by Stephen, but is generally, although not universally, recognised as queen on account of her brief period of supremacy over her rival Stephen during the year 1141.

From the House of Tudor

Jane (1553)

Better known as the Lady Jane Grey, whose cause was promoted by her father-in-law John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland who, following the death of Edward VI, wished to set her on the throne in preference to the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor. Jane only lasted nine days and was arguably nothing more than a failed usurprer, but is still often shown as a ruling monarch.

Mary I (1553-1558)

Being Mary Tudor the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon who ruled jointly with her husband Philip, a fact which was conveniently ignored afterwards on account of his being a Spanish Catholic.

Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

Mary's half sister and daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. The 'Virgin Queen', who presided over the defeat of the Spanish Armada and was famously described as "that red-haired Welsh harridan" by the historian Alfred Leslie Rowse.

Note that Jane, Mary and Elizabeth were all also Queens of Ireland following Henry VIII's assumption of that particular regal title in 1541.

From the House of Stuart

Mary II (1689-1694)

The daughter of James II and Anne Hyde, who ruled jointly with her husband William, a fact which was generally celebrated afterwards on account of his being a Dutch Protestant. Mary was also Queen of Scotland following the accession of James VI of Scotland as James I of England in 1603, as well as Queen of Ireland.

Anne (1702-1707)

The second daughter of James II and Anne Hyde who succeeded her brother-in-law William and has the distinction of being was the last Queen of England. She was also of course the last Queen of Scotland as both titles ceased to exist following the Act of Union 1707. (However she continued to be the Queen of Ireland until her death in 1714.)

Neither Victoria or Elizabeth II are 'Queens of England' rather, Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the current monarch Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or, as she is formally styled;

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Of course, people still refer to Elizabeth II as a 'Queen of England', which although technically incorrect, reflects the prevailing underlying attitude that the Act of Union between England and Scotland was a takeover of the former by the latter, rather than a merger of equals. (Which arguably it was, never mind the precise legal form of the union.)

It is the generally accepted practice to assign ordinals to the succeeding monarchs of the United Kingdom (in all its various guises) as if they were the direct successors of the previous monarchs of England, (largely one suspects to avoid becoming confused between William I of the United Kingdom and William I of England) whilst regarding the monarchs of Scotland as having come to an abrupt end in 1707.


Sourced from nowhere in particular other than memory and fact checking done with Charles Arnold Baker's The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)

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