Mnemonic verse of monarchs in England

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A mnemonic verse listing the monarchs ruling in England since William the Conqueror was traditionally used by English schoolchildren in the era when rote learning formed a major part of the curriculum.[1]

The verse omits mentioning any pre-Conquest Saxon kings. The main part of the verse is largely constant, but the stanza from the 20th century has a number of variations. Alan Bennett's staging of the verse in Forty Years On works around the issue by stopping at Victoria.[2] The 1991 film King Ralph included a brief section of the mnemonic.

The verse[edit]

(Can be sung to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas".)

Willie, Willie, Harry,[3][4] Stee,[5]
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
One, two, three Neds, Richard two[6]
Harrys four, five, six... then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad,
Harrys twain VII VIII[7] and Ned the Lad;[8]
[9]Mary, Bessie,[10] James the Vain,[11]
Charlie,[12] Charlie, James again...
William[13] and Mary, Anna Gloria,[14]
Four Georges I II III IV, William and Victoria;[15]
Edward seven next, and then
George the fifth in 1910;
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George the sixth was coronated;
After which Elizabeth
And that's the end until her death.[16]

Alternatives to last 2 lines (Elizabeth II)[edit]

And if you've not lost your breath
Give a cheer for Elizabeth.

Alternatives to last 6 lines (Edward VII onwards)[edit]

Edward seven, George and Ned [or Ted],
George the sixth, now Liz instead.
Eddie, Georgie, Ned the Eighth;
George the sixth, Elizabeth.
Edward, George, and both again,
Now Bessie Two and that's the end.
Edward, George, the same again
And now Elizabeth doth reign
Ned, George, Ned, and George again,
And Bessie two, long may she reign!


Edward, George, then Ned the eighth
Quickly goes and abdicat’th,
Leaving George, then Liz the second,
And with Charlie next it’s reckoned.
Edward seven, Georgie five,
Ed eight, George six, Liz two, alive.
Edward seven, Georgie five,
Edward, George, and Liz alive.
Edward the seventh stands on his own
George, then Ned gave up the throne
George we love, the people say
And Elizabeth the second is Queen today.
Edward, George, then Edward Eight,
George, now Bess is head of state.
Edward seven, George five
Edward eight, George six who
Elizabeth two now does reign
Then we'll have a Charles again!

Alternative to last 4 lines (Edward VIII onwards)[edit]

Ned went when Mrs Simpson beckoned
Leaving George and Liz the second.

2012 update[edit]

Now it’s Liz, then we’ll arrive . . .
At Charlie three, then William five.

Alternative as used in Forty Years On (1976 Production)[edit]

(posted by Colin Jackson - from that production)
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three
One Two Three Neds, Richard Two
Henrys Four Five Six, Eds Two
Dick, then Henrys seven and eight
Ned, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth.
James, two Charlies, James again
William and Mary, Anne the Plain
Four Georges from Hanover
William Four, Victoria.


First William the Norman
Then William his son
Henry, Stephen, Henry
Then Richard and John
Next Henry the Third
Edwards One, Two and Three
And again after Richard
Three Henrys we see
Two Edwards, Third Richard
If rightly I guess
Two Henrys, Sixth Edward
Queen Mary, Queen Bess
Then Jamie the Scotsman
Charles I whom they slew
Yet received after Cromwell
Another Charles II
Next James the Second
Acceded the Throne
Then good William and Mary
Together came on
Not till Anne, Georges Four
And Fourth William all passed
Came the reign of Victoria
And long did it last
Then Edward the Peacemaker
(He was her son)
The fifth of the Georges
Was next in the run
Edward the Eighth
Gave the Crown to his brother
George VI had Elizabeth
All of us love her.

Charles III is the future And William is after Then baby George VII Who fills us with laughter.

The Royal line is long With it's ups and it's downs And all, except Cromwell Have worn the Royal Crown.


Two more alternatives[edit]

Willie willie Harry Steve
Harry Dick John Harry 3.
Edward 1 2 3 Dick two
Harrys 4 5 6 then who?
Edward 4 5 Dick the bad,
Harrys twain and Ned the lad.
Mary Bessie James you ken
Charlie Charlie James again.
William and Mary Anne of Gloria,
Georges (4) Will 4 Victoria.
Edward 7 Georgie 5
Edward George and Liz (alive)
Billy, Billy, Henry, Steve,
Henry, Dick, John, Henry Three,
Three Teds, Richard Two,
Three more Henrys - then what's new?
Two more Teds and Dick the Bad,
Two more Henrys, Ted the Lad,
Mary, Bess and Silly Jim,
Charles (they beheaded him),
One more Charles, Jamie Two,
Bill-and-Mary, Anne: then who?
Four Georges, Billy, then Victoria,
(This little list's not meant to bore ya!)
Ted the Seventh liked his fun,
Georgie was a quiet one,
Ted was an abdicator reckoned,
Then came George and Bess the Second.

Mnemonics detailing the Royal Houses of England and Great Britain[edit]

No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely
Never Play, Letting Your Trousers Slip Half-Way
Neighbours Persuaded Lovely Yvonne To Shut Her Window
(Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor (or Wettin.)

As the Houses of Lancaster and York were really branches of the House of Plantagenet, the first mnemonic can be simplified to No Plan To Study History Wisely. In addition, The House of Windsor was a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which in turn is a branch of the House of Wettin, thus keeping the mnemonic.

Or, to go for the full package, the mnemonic can be extended to No Plan Like Yours To Study Our Saxon History So Wisely: Norman, Plantaganet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Orange, Stuart, Hanover, Saxe-Coburg, Windsor.

Mnemonics used in Rulers Songs[17] in Horrible Histories show[edit]

William, William, Henry, Stephen
Henry, Richard, John, oi!
Henry, Ed, Ed, Ed, Rich two
Then three more Henrys join our song!
Edward, Edward, Rich the third
Henry, Henry, Ed again
Mary one, good Queen Bess
Jimmy, Charles and Charles and then
James, Will, Mary, Anne Gloria
George, George, George, George
Will, Victoria!
Edward, George, Edward, George six
And Queen Liz two completes the mix!

All the Kings and Queens of England[edit]

Comedian and actor John Henry Falle wrote and performed a "complete" [18] version of the poem which begins with the traditional verse, but then extends into the far future through a series of fictitious (and occasionally bizarre) monarchs up to the final dissolution of the monarch through national apathy.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ British Monarchs: Kings and Queens of England, Scotland and Wales
  2. ^ English Monarchs -- Anon
  3. ^ or "Henry", throughout
  4. ^ omitted: Maud (Matilda) (deposed)
  5. ^ Sources have "Stee" here; "Steve" also fits, but is an inferior rhyme
  6. ^ or "Edwards One, Two, Three, Dick Two"
  7. ^ or "Hanks seven and eight"
  8. ^ or "then Ned" or "then Ed the Lad" or "Ed six the lad"
  9. ^ omitted: Lady Jane Grey (uncrowned)
  10. ^ or "Lizzie"
  11. ^ or "James ye ken" or "James you ken"
  12. ^ omitted: the English Interregnum; republicans may cough at this point
  13. ^ or just "Will"
  14. ^ or "Anne O'Gloria"
  15. ^ or "Then four Georges, Will, Victoria" or "Four Georges, William and Victoria"
  16. ^ or "Has the throne, until her death."
  17. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfBRCCUjRC8
  18. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGwj6XbtlPA