Royal Marriage through the Centuries

The 20th November 2017 is the 70th wedding anniversary of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

To celebrate, we have prepared some interesting statistics about royal marriages, in England and Scotland from the 1050s to 1600 and in Great Britain or the United Kingdom thereafter. The statistics exclude The Queen and The Duke.

The average length of monarchs’ marriages was 15 and a half years in England, just under 14 in Scotland and 27 and a half years since the Union of the Crowns.

Longest Marriages


Henry II (1135 – 1189) and Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1122 – 1204) – 37 years, from 18 May 1152 to his death on 6 July 1189.


David II (1324 – 1371) and Joan of England (1321 - 1361) – 34 years from 12 July 1328 to her death on 7 September 1162 – although he had tried to have the marriage annulled previously.

Robert III (1337 – 1406) and Anabella Drummond (1350 – 1401) also with 34 years from 1367 to her death. 

Since the Union of the Crowns in 1603

George III (1738 – 1820) and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744 – 1814) who managed an impressive 53 years from 1761 until her death.

Shortest Marriages


Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) and Anne of Cleves (1515 – 1557) only managed six months from 6 January to 9 July of 1540, before the marriage was annulled.


James V (1512 – 1542) and Madeleine of France (1520 – 1537) had an even shorter union (by a few days) – 1 January 1537 to 7 July 1537. Madeleine died of tuberculosis.

Since the Union of the Crowns in 1603

James II’s (1633 – 1701) first marriage, to Anne Hyde (1631 – 1671) was before he became king and lasted 11 years.

For marriages that included a period of monarchy, the shortest was William III (1650 – 1702) and Mary II (1662 – 1694), who clocked up 17 years before she died of smallpox.

Most Fruitful

Elizabeth Woodville (Wydeville)

The most pregnancies must surely fall to Queen Anne (1665 – 1714) and her husband, Prince George of Denmark (1653 – 1708), who went through the pain of 19 pregnancies, with only one child surviving, who died aged ten.

The highest number of adult children was the fifteen produced by George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Happy Ever After?

Some marriages were very successful. Malcolm ‘Cenn Mhor’ of Scotland and his wife, Margaret of Wessex, were reputed to be devoted to each other, as were Edward I and Eleanor of Castile and Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville married for love, and also had a numerous family. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine were famous for a love turned sour – she spent sixteen years under house arrest on Henry's orders.

The unhappiest marriage was probably that of George I and Sophia-Dorothea of Celle. They disliked each other from the first – he was unfaithful, but when he suspected her of taking a lover, he tried to strangle her with his bare hands. Not content with divorcing her, he kept her imprisoned for 32 years.  Compared with that, the misery of George IV and Caroline of Brunswick (he had the doors of Westminster Abbey barred against her, so she could not be crowned) pales into insignificance.

Other Royal Marriages in November

1st  Edward I and Eleanor of Castile (1254)

4th William III and Mary II (1677)

7th Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Katherine Woodville (1485)

8th Edward I and Marguerite of France (1299)

8th Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Agnes Tilney (1497)

12th Philip II of Spain and Marie Manuela of Portugal (1543)

22nd George I and Sophia Dorothea of Celle (1682)

23rd James VI & I and Anne of Denmark (1589)

23rd James II and Mary Beatrice of Modena (1673)

30th Philip III ‘the Good’ of Burgundy and Bonne of Artois (1424)

Titles are final ones held, not necessarily those held at the time of the marriage.