Tom Petty sang that “it’s good to be king,” and throughout history, ascending to the throne as royalty meant that you were guaranteed an easy path in life. But things don’t always go the way of the crown. Wars, political strife, manipulation, bankruptcy and moral decay have a manner of catching up even to those who wield a scepter. What do you know about the history and drama of famous royalty?
In the 1400s, Henry V found himself at the helm of England during an era of great peace and stability. He even got a shoutout from none other than William Shakespeare. Do you know the other competent royal leaders of major nations?
Who could ever forget Princess Diana — or just “Di” — the luminous blonde of the ‘80s and ‘90s? She lived what seemed like a storybook life, marrying into a powerful family and producing two handsome sons for her very own Prince Charming. Then, her personal soap opera devolved into mental illness, heartbreak, divorce and death. How about that for a royal life?
In the late 1200s, King Edward I was a powerful king that no one dared to mess with. But he was a brilliant man, too, one who helped foster modern concepts of government. He also waged savage wars against his enemies. Do you know any other iconic royal leaders?
From Henry VIII to George III, history is full of imposing — or wilting — royal families. Take this kingly quiz now and see if you really know famous royalty!
Cleopatra was a ruler of Egypt, one who got caught up in major power struggles. After losing her throne, she committed suicide along with her Roman lover, Mark Anthony.
Formally known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton is part of the British royal family. She married Prince William in 2011.
In the early 19th century, Napoleon was the powerful emperor of France. But at the Battle of Waterloo, his previously indomitable army was defeated - and he wound up in exile.
In England, Elizabeth I was queen from 1558 to 1603, and she never married. She was the Virgin Queen, and she’s regarded as a fairly good ruler in English history.
The Reformation was in full swing during Henry VIII’s reign, and he was all the happier for it. He did his best to minimize the Catholic Church’s influence.
William the Conqueror was the leader of the Norman conquest of England. After seizing control in 1066, he conveniently installed himself as king.
Grace Kelly was an actress who gave up a flourishing career at just 26 to marry Prince Rainier III. In doing so, she became Princess of Monaco in 1956.
Richard I was king of England starting in 1189, and his bravery was never questioned. He was Richard the Lionheart.
In the 1770s, some rebellious colonists in the New World opposed King George’s various oppressions, including taxation without representation. They presented him with a documented called the Declaration of Independence, and things got crazy.
Henry VIII was a colorful personality, one who engaged in all of life’s excesses - including warfare. His constant warmongering caused problems with the crown’s finances.
After years of dodging conflict, Elizabeth I took England to war against France. Her navy defeated the Spanish Armada in one of the most unexpected victories in English history.
George III was livid at the insolence of his prized colonies. He responded with death threats — and then sent his armies to subdue the rebels.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was in a long-term relationship with Prince Charles that spanned his marriage to Princess Diana. The drama attracted tabloid attention all over the world.
Henry VIII was no shrinking violet. When people opposed him politically, he often simply had them executed without trial.
No, there was no Lance. But William and Harry, born in the 1980s, became instant worldwide celebrities.
As a son of King Henry II, Richard had great power in England. He was just 16 years old when he got his first army. Better than a PlayStation, I reckon.
George III was a dual-threat king — the master of both England and Ireland. In 1801, the two nations were joined and he was king of just one dumb nation. Boring.
Diana struggled with depression. During her first pregnancy, she threw herself down a flight of stairs — on purpose — because she was despondent. The fetus was unharmed.
The Tudor period spanned the 1500s and Henry VIII was king starting in 1509. He oversaw major changes — and wars — during his time on the throne.
Isabella II was the Queen of Spain in the mid-19th century. In 1868, the Glorious Revolution kicked her from the throne, but just a few years later, her son became king.
In 1982, at age 52, Kelly suffered a stroke while she was driving. The injuries she sustained in the resulting accident killed her the following day.
By the end of his life, George III’s intermittent (and unexplained) mental illness became permanent. He eventually went insane and died virtually alone.
After Isabella II was exiled, her exit contributed to the Franco-Prussian War. Why? The French didn’t want a Prussian-supported candidate replacing her on the throne.
She’s one of the most famous rulers in human history - and no one know knows where Cleopatra is buried. Historians guess that her body is somewhere in Egypt.
Elizabeth is a tough old woman. She served in World War II and has been queen for about a million years — she’s the longest-reigning British monarch in history.
Not once, but twice. Napoleon escaped exile once, took control of France again, and then wound up exiled once more. He died on a remote island in the South Pacific.
Kelly, the Princess of Monaco, worked frequently with horror master Alfred Hitchcock. She appeared in "To Catch a Thief," "Rear Window" and "Dial M for Murder."
In 31 BC, the Battle of Actium was a battle in which a Roman general defeated Cleopatra’s navy. It spelled her doom.
In 1981, Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and became Princess Diana. She was killed in a high-speed car crash in 1997, and her driver was under the influence of substances at the time.
Anne Boleyn schemed her way into the crown and then failed to produce a male heir. So Henry VIII took matters into his own hands — he had her executed. Never mind that a child's gender is determined by the father, not the mother!