The romps and romances of the British mornarchy

LONDON - Whether it's the modern tale of the commoner marrying her prince...

"It's a real love story," said Majesty Magazine editor Ingrid Seward, of the upcoming union of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

...or the old rhyme charting the six brides of Henry VIII.

"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived," said author Leslie Carroll.

Special section: The royal wedding
Pictures: Prince William and Kate Middleton

The romances and romps of the British monarchy helped shape English history, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

"They just keep doing it over and over again," said Carroll.

Carroll has written four books on royal love affairs.

Rarely is it happily ever after, and Carroll agrees.

"No it's not!"

Consider the first meeting of George IV with his bride "to be" Caroline.

"She's this short dumpy thing who is a stranger to tooth powder and washing," said Carroll.

George went on a three day drinking binge that ended when he stumbled down the aisle.

"You did not marry for love -- it was a political alliance," said Carroll.

Queen Mary sobbed uncontrollably as she wed William.

"It was a very inauspicious beginning," said Carroll.

The rotten starts usually were followed by scandal. James I fell in love with the Duke of Buckingham. Edward VII's philandering was so notorious -- he was nicknamed "Edward the Caresser." And Charles II had as many as 19 illegitimate children.

The romances and romps of the British monarchy helped shape English history.

Royal paramours received millions from the nation's treasury.

"They were given jewels, and clothes, and houses, and castles, and titles," said Seward.

But it's been the monarchy's strongest marriages upon which a modern Britain was built.

Queen Victoria and her Prince Albert.

Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Now, a new couple is marrying for love -- not England.

"It's not a fairy tale, it's a proper love story, they're friends," said Seward. "Allies."

A partnership rewriting a millennium of royal marital history.

(Music for this story was performed by Elaine Comparone. For more info go to Harpsichordunlimited.org)
  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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