King Charles and Queen Camilla visit Blythefield Primary School
Britain’s sovereigns over the past century, from Queen Elizabeth II to Queen Victoria, have died from ill health or old age, as is often expected in a person’s later years.
Looking back at history, however, it seems that several monarchs died in very unusual circumstances.
Take Edward II. The medieval king was murdered in 1327, famously “slain with a hot spit put into his body”, a gruesome death depicted in one of Christopher Marlowe’s play.
And Edmund I — who died on May 26, 946 — found his fate sealed after becoming involved in a brawl, something unimaginable for a modern-day monarch.
Here, Express.co.uk takes a look at some of the strangest monarch deaths Britain has seen over the past few centuries.
Death by Brawl
Edmund I took to the throne when he was just 18 years old and kept it for just six years after his attendance at the Feast of St Augustine in May 946 ended in tragedy.
He was stabbed to death in a brawl in Pucklechurch, Gloucester, trying to “rescue” his steward from a “most wicked thief” named Leofa, according to the chronicler John of Worcester.
The monk wrote: “In seeking to rescue his steward from Leofa, a most wicked thief, lest he be killed, was himself killed by the same man on the feast of St Augustine, teacher of the English, on Tuesday, 26 May, in the fourth indiction, having completed five years and seven months of his reign.”
Terminated on the Throne
It seems Edmund Ironside — who became king in April 1016 — has a fate tragically similar to the unlikely figure of Elvis Presley. Just six months into his reign, he died while using the toilet.
While some have claimed he died from battle wounds or disease, historian Henry of Huntingdon claimed Edmund was stabbed multiple times while doing his business in November 1016.
He writes that an assassin burst into the room and stabbed him to death. Another historian recorded a similar tale, although they claimed a crossbow was used instead.
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A Fishy Fate
Henry I, who sat on the throne for 35 years from 1100, was a big fan of lampreys, nasty-looking fish which taste like beef. The ancient creature resembles an eel with a round, sucker mouth.
Although his doctors warned against him indulging in the gooey fish, he ignored the advice and continued eating them. According to the chronicler Matthew Paris he “ate voraciously of a lamprey” before falling into a fever and dying.
It is thought a toxin inside the fish caused his death, as it was said that the man who examined the King’s brain after his death, became ill and died, too.
Some doubt has been cast on the story, however. Dr Edmund King, a medieval history professor at the University of Sheffield, told Salon earlier this year: “That the king was fond of lampreys is perfectly likely. Whether they killed him is another matter. A lot of fish was consumed in the middle ages, in part because of the prohibition of the eating of meat by the church at certain times.”
It is most likely that he died from food poisoning having eaten a “surfeit” of the fish due to the way the fish, which has existed since the time of dinosaurs, was prepared.
Lampreys are part of a century-old royal tradition with the city of Gloucester sending pies containing the fish to the newly crowned Monarch since the 12th century. Although eels are often used instead as lamprey numbers in the UK have dwindled, the pie sent to King Charles this year contained pork.
The death of Alexander III, the King of Scotland, in 1286, was significant in more ways than one as it triggered the first War of Scottish Independence.
It is said that the King’s death was indirectly caused by his drinking a bottle of his favourite wine, Bordeaux.
The King was found lying at the bottom of a cliff with a broken neck along the route he had taken back to Kinghorn Castle.
Sources believe that he had been riding erratically down the dangerous coastal path because he was drunk. His steed then lost its footing and they both tumbled to their death.
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