Sophia of Hanover Haiku

Britain in crisis!

Papists as heirs! King Will’s fix –

A German granny.

I declare this to be Mothers of Kings Week! We’ll cover women who birthed monarchs of England and Britain without being queens of same. We’ll start with Sophia, Electress of Hanover (1630-1714), who came very close to succeeding to the throne in her own right.

Sophia was the grandkid of James I through her mother, Elizabeth Stuart. (Called the Winter Queen, as her husband’s reign as King of Bohemia lasted one winter.) She married Ernest Augustus, with whom she had seven surviving children. (Her pregancies included two sets of twins. Ouch.)

She and daughter Charlotte were birds of a feather, being witty, intelligent and charming. They numbered Gottfried Leibniz (Isaac Newton’s rival) among their BFFs, documented in their voluminous correspondence. While on his ‘incognito’ tour, Peter the Great went over all shy in front of them and couldn’t speak until they sat on either side of him and drew him out. Sophia was also big into home improvement, her gardens at Herrenhausen being maintained to this day and sprucing up the palace itself.

How did Sophia become the heir presumptive of Great Britain? Simple.

RIGHT. Charles II dies. James II becomes king, but is CATHOLIC. Glorious Revolution! He’s chased out by his nephew/son-in-law, William of Orange. Long live King Will and Queen Mary! But! No kids. Mary dies. Will isn’t keen on remarriage. His heir is Mary’s sister, Anne, who had 17 pregnancies and no kids.

Will goes through the family tree and the closest related Protestant is Sophia, the youngest child of the Winter Queen. Perfect! He strikes out 50 Catholics ahead of her and Parliament’s cool. Tra la la. See? Simple.

There was a good chance that she’d outlive the much younger Anne too, who was wheelchair-bound with gout. But Queen Anne outlived her by two damned months. Had Sophia lasted a little longer, she’d have been queen at 83. Her son became George I instead.

(snaps fingers) So close.

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