Fit to rule : how royal illness changed medical history. Part 3. Happy Families: Hanoverians to Windsors.

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About this work


The third and final programme in a trilogy of programmes presented by the historian Lucy Worsley which studies the medical problems of monarchs with the premise that by looking at their belongings and letters we can tell their intimate secrets - and these are what defined their actions. The programme starts with the tragic story of Princess Charlotte who died in childbirth. She was attended by Sir Richard Croft, a leading male midwife who left a minute by minute account of the birth. Meconium was detected and her son was stillborn 50 hours after labour had started. They tried to revive the baby. Charlotte later haemhorraged and died. William IV died ignominiously after 7 years rule and the throne went to Victoria. Victoria was kept under lock and key with all her movements and contacts controlled; her mother called 'the Kensington System'. Before she became queen she had a serious illness which may have been typhoid or possibly stress. In any case, her personality was willful and imperious. Her eldest son, Bertie (Prince Albert), was at 8 years old considered to be a bit slow. A leading phrenologist was engaged and expressed concerns about the shape of his head which was thought to influence intelligence. There was speculation that George III's unfavourable heredity (his 'madness') had been passed on. The queen's husband, Albert contracted typhoid at 42 and died leading to Victoria withdrawing from state affairs in an extreme form of grief and what is now thought to be clinical depression. Dr Jenner, her physician, published anonymous excuses for her health in the medical journal 'The Lancet'. The programme then looks at the roots of the modern royal family in the twentieth century.


UK : BBC 2, 2013.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL.


Copyright note

Silver River Productions 2013.


Broadcast 22nd April 2013.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Eleanor Soames. Silver River for BBC.



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