Mnemonic verse of monarchs in England
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.
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. The 1991 film King Ralph included a brief section of the mnemonic.
- 1 The verse
- 1.1 Alternatives to last 2 lines (Elizabeth II)
- 1.2 Alternatives to last 6 lines (Edward VII onwards)
- 1.3 Alternative to last 4 lines (Edward VIII onwards)
- 1.4 Alternative as used in Forty Years On (1976 Production)
- 1.5 Another mnemonic on the same subject
- 1.6 Two more alternatives
- 1.7 Mnemonics detailing the Royal Houses of England and Great Britain
- 1.8 Mnemonic used in Horrible Histories show
- 1.9 All the Kings and Queens of England
- 2 See also
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
(Can be sung to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas".)
- Willie, Willie, Harry,[a][b] Stee,[c]
- Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
- One, two, three Neds, Richard two[d]
- Harrys four, five, six... then who?
- Edwards four, five, Dick the bad,
- Harrys twain VII VIII[e] and Ned the Lad;[f]
- [g]Mary, Bessie,[h] James the Vain,[i]
- Charlie,[j] Charlie, James again...
- William[k] and Mary, Anna Gloria,[l]
- Four Georges I II III IV, William and Victoria;[m]
Alternatives to last 2 lines (Elizabeth II)
- And if you've not lost your breath
- Give a cheer for Elizabeth.
Alternatives to last 6 lines (Edward VII onwards)
- 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 Lizzie two, long may she reign!
- 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)
- Ned went when Mrs Simpson beckoned
- Leaving George and Liz the second.
- Now it’s Liz, then we’ll arrive . . .
- At Charlie three, then William five.
Alternative as used in Forty Years On (1976 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.
Another mnemonic on the same subject
(Can be sung to the tune of "William the First was the First of Our Kings".)
- 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.
- 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,
- Whose longest did 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,
- Now God's sent Elizabeth,
- All of us love her.
Some additional verses for the mnemonic given above
- Charles III is the future,
- And William is after,
- Then baby George VII,
- Who fills us with laughter.
- The Royal line is long,
- With its ups and its downs,
- And all, except Cromwell,
- Have worn the Royal Crown.
Two more alternatives
- 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
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.
Mnemonic used in Horrible Histories show
- 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
- Jim, Will, Mary, Anna 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
Comedian and actor John Henry Falle (alias The Story Beast) wrote and performed a "complete"  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.
- or "Henry", throughout
- omitted: Maud (Matilda) (deposed)
- Sources have "Stee" here; "Steve" also fits, but is an inferior rhyme
- or "Edwards One, Two, Three, Dick Two"
- or "Hanks seven and eight"
- or "then Ned" or "then Ed the Lad" or "Ed six the lad"
- omitted: Lady Jane Grey (uncrowned)
- or "Lizzie"
- or "James ye ken" or "James you ken"
- omitted: the English Interregnum; republicans may cough at this point
- or just "Will"
- or "Anne O'Gloria"
- or "Then four Georges, Will, Victoria" or "Four Georges, William and Victoria"
- or "Has the throne, until her death."
- British Monarchs: Kings and Queens of England, Scotland and Wales
- English Monarchs -- Anon
- "Horrible Histories- Rulers Song". YouTube. June 22, 2011.[dead link]
- "All The Kings & Queens Of England". YouTube. July 1, 2014.