Five Unpleasant (And Disgusting) Facts About British Kings and Queens

Horrible histories from Britain’s past

Jacob Wilkins
Lessons from History


A painting of Queen Anne by John Closterman, c. 1702 (Wikimedia Commons)

The history of British royalty is loaded with terrific tales, ranging from military triumphs to scandalous affairs and political spats. It’s a fascinating series of events that forms the backbone of school history lessons in modern Britain.

Yet there are certain details — particularly the unpleasant ones — that don’t come up very often in the classroom. While none of these facts are essential for understanding the history of Britain, they will provide you with some delightfully unpleasant nuggets of information.

1. William the Conqueror’s Coffin Exploded

A depiction of William the Conqueror by Matthew Paris, c. 1255 (Wikimedia Commons)

William the Conqueror is best remembered for defeating Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

But as William grew older, he neglected his physical health and became extremely overweight, especially during his final years on the throne. He grew to be a fat king who looked completely different from the man who sailed across the Channel to defeat the English.