Through the chronicles of their lives, the most historic royals of the ages have collectively bequeathed to the world a rich anthology of stories and legends. Over the many centuries, since the world’s monarchies began to evolve, people from all walks of life have delighted in the tales of valiant kings and powerful queens, honorable princes and beautiful princesses. The role these individuals played in society has often given rise to theater and drama that the masses have delighted in following, discussing or debating.
Yet some royals have left legacies even greater than the tantalizing stories of their own love affairs, conquests or lavish lifestyles. Many of history’s monarchs, sovereigns and their families have used their power, prestige, prosperity and privilege to make a positive difference in the lives of others, creating an inspiring legacy that endures even after their individual stories have long been forgotten.
Here are just a couple of the royals who left the greatest legacies, from the entrepreneurial queen who founded an industry that prospered her nation, to the controversial king who founded a religion that still uplifts the hearts and souls of millions in the modern world.
Queen Juliana Maria Of Denmark – Royal Danish Porcelain
Queen Juliana Maria was a Danish duchess who became the second wife of King Frederick V of Denmark, after his first wife, Louise of Great Britain, died at the age of 27.
The new queen was herself to know the sorrow of losing a spouse, becoming a widow just over a decade after her marriage, when King Frederick also died at a young age, though a little older than his first wife, aged 42.
It may have been the premature death of her husband that led to Queen Juliana Maria’s enduring place in history, however. As she went on to assume the role of Queen Regent, she became the de facto monarch of the nation, acting in the name of her son, the Prince Regent, yet widely regarded as the true power behind the throne.
After her dramatic ascension to the role as Queen of Denmark, Juliana Maria would go on to leave a lasting and powerful legacy to her nation in the form of an entire industry, one that would serve the Danish people and their national economy for generations to follow, as well as securing the place of Denmark within the eyes of the world.
Queen Juliana Maria’s greatest legacy was to establish the famous Royal Danish Porcelain enterprise. This bold entrepreneurial endeavor would serve to improve the lives of so many of her fellow countrymen and women through the commercial success of the industry. Royal Danish Porcelain flourished to become one of the most eminent gifts in royal and aristocratic circles during the 18th century and beyond.
In an ironic twist, it’s even believed that Lord Nelson gifted his mistress a piece of Royal Danish Porcelain after his victory in the Battle of Copenhagen.
While the Danish monarchy and royal fortunes may have wavered in the generations to follow, Queen Juliana Maria’s legacy went from strength to strength. Though she may not have been the most popular queen during her own lifetime, as the force behind the founding of the porcelain industry in Denmark, securing both economic health and national identity, this enterprising queen undoubtedly left one of the greatest royal legacies.
King Henry VIII Of England – The Church Of England
King Henry VIII, with his controversial reign and multiple marriages, may be one of the most legendary monarchs of all time. His story is certainly one of the most popular tales from the Tudor period, and his life and actions alone provide a great canon of history that has captivated scholars and lay folk alike, both during his reign and over the centuries since.
The popular image of King Henry VIII is a scandalous one. He is, after all, best known for his momentous marital decisions that transformed not only the monarchy in Great Britain, but also rocked the mighty Roman Catholic Church, initiating a reformation of religion that exists to this day and reached all around the world.
The fallout from King Henry’s break with the Catholic Church sparked a series of events that would have repercussions for generations, and split in two the loyalties of his own subjects. There were certainly dark days that followed the seemingly simple decision to divorce his first wife, and many lives were lost or irrevocably altered as the battles waged on both sides of the divide.
After the centuries of conflict and turmoil, however, there is one significant and enormously positive outcome of King Henry’s break with Rome – the establishment of one of the world’s most popular and beloved Christian churches.
King Henry VIII’s greatest legacy is undoubtedly the Church of England, the new religion he founded when he declared himself head of the faith of his kingdom. While it may have its foundations in the turmoil of the 16th century and the turbulent evolution in the centuries that followed, today the Church of England and its derivatives has endured as one of the core religious authorities in the world.
It’s a thriving community and a deeply-held faith for many millions of people, and despite its history and some challenging times, the Church of England looks set to enjoy a bright future, as it continues its beneficial work around the world, as well as providing solace and comfort to the British subjects who choose this faith as their own.
These powerful monarchs may have been controversial characters during their own lifetimes, and the history books may paint a range of unflattering pictures of their lives and works, yet there’s no debate over the undoubted legacies that these pioneering royals left to their people.
Like many of the great legends of history, the individuals involved were complex personalities, characters that were not always understood or not as popular as they might have liked. Yet despite any character flaws or personal failings, they used their unique positions in history to create great legacies that would serve the world long after their own lifetimes.