3 strange examples of unnecessary princes

Prince Harry isn't the first royal to have had to admit that it's not always easy being 'back-up'. History shows that it has often ended in murders, conspiracies and kingdoms…

Prince Harry isn’t the first royal to have had to admit that it’s not always easy being ‘back-up’. History shows that it has often ended in murders, conspiracies and kingdoms that were destroyed. We have compiled three examples of such events.

1. Philip – France

The heir to the throne number two wore women’s clothes

Louis XIV (left) and Philip (right). There was only two years between the two princes, but they had very different upbringings, as the mother dressed Filippus tame in girls’ clothes.

France is the only country in the world that has had an official title for the king’s eldest brother – Monsieur . But there are not many monsieurs who have been as far removed from the throne as Philip, brother of Louis XIV, better known as the Sun King.

Since the brothers’ mother, Anna of Austria, had trained Louis to rule and that his future power was a gift from God, she had other tactics with Philip.

The queen called her son “her little girl” and dressed him in girl’s clothes even when he was a young man. She even encouraged him to go to ballroom dances dressed as a woman.

Philip’s choice of clothing caused gossip at the French court. It was a crime to be gay, but the king’s brother did little to hide his sexuality and slept with a number of young noblemen.

However, for years he had a particularly close relationship with Philip of Lorraine, who at the time was described as a man “completely without morals”.

In 1670, Philip’s wife Henrietta, fed up with his apparent infidelity, convinced Louis XIV to banish Philip from Lorraine to Rome. Philip was furious and moved the whole family far from Paris. Shortly afterwards, Henrietta died suddenly, saying on her deathbed that she had been poisoned.

Louis XIV suspected his brother, but nothing could be proven. For the rest of his life, Philip lived in the shadow of the mighty Sun King, and when he died in 1701, his older brother still reigned.

2. Christopher II of Denmark

Incompetent younger brother mortgaged the land

Christopher II took over the kingdom in a great crisis, but did nothing but add to the crisis.

When the Danish king Erik Klipping was murdered under mysterious circumstances at Finderup Lade in 1286, the throne passed to his eldest son Erik Menved. But little brother Kristófer was convinced that the royal crown would suit him better.

Fortunately for Christopher, the king quickly became unpopular due to his extravagant spending and nearly emptied the treasury, while the inhabitants starved. Soon Kristófer began to draft a conspiracy together with his brother’s numerous enemies. He formed an alliance with Swedish dukes, King Hákon V of Norway and a German count.

But in some incredible way, Eriks Menveda heard about this and so Kristófer had to flee the country in 1315. In 1318 he moved back to Denmark together with the exiled archbishop Esger Juul and other exiles and tried to conquer Scania. It didn’t work out either.


The following year Erik Menved died of natural causes and Kristófer was finally able to sit on the throne. But he took over a state that was bankrupt and heavily mortgaged.

His position was so weak that he was forced to negotiate with his creditors to pay off all his brother’s debts and not raise taxes.

But Christopher II thought the agreement was not that significant so he just ignored it and raised taxes. It was therefore not surprising that there was a rebellion and Christopher II was driven out of the country, but the Danish and German counts then argued about how the pledged Denmark should be divided between them.

3. Richard III – England

A jealous brother killed his cousins

Richard III is often considered one of the worst kings in the history of England.

As the 11th child of the English duke Richard Plantagenet, Richard the Younger was far in power when he was born in 1452. But soon after, the Wars of the Roses broke out as Richard Plantagenet laid claim to the English throne.

Plantagenet was killed in the civil war, but his eldest son, Edward of Mars, proved a brave and influential general who fought on and succeeded to the throne in 1461.

Richard was given control of Northern England by his older brother, but had to stand in the shadow of the hugely popular king. Instead of standing against the king, however, Richard decided to play the loyal and devoted subject, and his relationship with Edward IV remained close even after the king became both crueler and more paranoid in his later years.

It has never been proven that Richard III killed his cousins while they were being held in the Tower of London, but most historians believe the king was guilty of the murders.

When Edward IV died in 1483, his 12-year-old son Edward V assumed the crown. But the king had entrusted his good brother Ríkhard with the role of guardian until the son came of age. He should never have done that.

Ríkhardur finally saw the throne within reach and he immediately made a move and immediately annulled his elder brother’s marriage, i.e. Edward V and his younger brother were now suddenly bastards. They were already placed in the dungeon of The Tower of London and were never seen again. Most historians believe that they were executed by the newly crowned King Richard III.

It was no surprise that the king’s rise to power was a shock to large parts of England, and almost two years later, Richard III was killed in another civil war. With his death, the War of the Roses finally ended.

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