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Literature / Young Royals

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Young Royals is a series of novels for children by Carolyn Meyer, based on the lives of historical royalty. It began with The House of Tudor but has been expanded to other countries and time periods. As of 2013, there are nine books in the series:

  • Mary, Bloody Mary (1999), about Mary I of England
  • Beware Princess Elizabeth (2001), about Mary's half-sister Elizabeth I
  • Doomed Queen Anne (2002), about Elizabeth's mother Anne Boleyn
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  • Patience, Princess Catherine (2004), about Mary's mother Catherine of Aragon
  • Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de Medici (2007)
  • The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (2010)
  • Cleopatra Confesses (2011), about the last Ptolemaic pharaoh
  • The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots (2012)
  • Victoria Rebels (2013), about Queen Victoria

Each book features inside looks at what the lives of each girl would have been like, including daily routine, protocol, out-of-the-ordinary experiences, and first-hand views of the lives of the people surrounding each of them. The portrayal of each royal is biased according to the position of the observing royal and it provides an interesting window into the life of royalty.


Tropes present in these books include:

  • Arranged Marriage: As was the case in her Real Life, Mary in Mary, Bloody Mary has a number of marriages arranged for her throughout her childhood.
  • Break the Cutie: Ye gods, Mary is put through this in spades after Anne Boleyn seduces her father, who divorces her Catholic mother. Mary is then put in Cinderella Circumstances in having to serve as a nursemaid to her baby sister and then unclean confinement, not even allowed to see her mother when the latter is dying.
  • Break the Haughty: Before Anne Boleyn, Mary was quite certain of her position in life and love for her father. By the end of it he gives her a pittance of an allowance when she signs the confessions of being a bastard child that won't even cover her wardrobe and plans to put her in an Arranged Marriage.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Mary no longer sees her father as a strong man after he executes Anne and marries Lady Jane Seymour. It doesn't help that he doesn't acknowledge that what he allowed to happen to her was essentially physical and emotional abuse once she gives into his demands.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: One of the possibilities batted about for poor Mary is to marry her to Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond - who is her father's son by one of his mistresses. To her deep relief, this one never gets beyond the rumor stage.
  • Cain and Abel: Mary is warned that her baby sister Elizabeth will become her rival. Mary can't believe this as a child, but it became true in real life.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Every one of the girls who become queen eventually suffer this. Mary is warned at the end of her novel to look out for Elizabeth as her rival for this reason, and she has to later violently oppress Jane Grey's rebellion.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Truth in Television for the earlier Tudor novels, right up until Henry VIII wants his divorce and creates the Church of England.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Seen in The Wild Queen. When Mary marries the Dauphin of France, her French uncles (her mother's brothers) think they can use her marriage to gain political influence.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: In Patience, Princess Catherine, newlyweds Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor use goats' blood as proof of consummation so they don't have the pressure of having to consummate the night of their wedding for the bedding ceremony. They never actually have sex together, but the "proof" (along with some cuddle sessions in the same chambers) causes problems when Arthur dies and Catherine wants to marry his brother Henry, as a church doctrine prohibits the marriage of a widow to the brother of her deceased husband if the marriage was legal and had been consummated.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mary nearly crosses it after her mother dies, she isn't allowed the see the latter or attend the funeral and is pressured to sign confessions renouncing her birthright. Just as she's contemplating Dying Alone in confinement since it's what her mother would have wanted, she thinks God speaks to her and tells her that she will be queen.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Mary earned her nickname due to executing many "heretics," the afterword to her novel points out that she never did beheading because her nanny on charges of treason got executed with an axe-man who had no skill and thus hacked her to death.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Antonia's beautiful gown of cloth of silver shimmers in the candlelight and makes her feel very elegant, from head to toe a princess.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!:
    • Everybody hates Anne Boleyn in Doomed Queen Anne, claiming that she has magic powers and that she is wicked because of her sixth finger and the mole on her neck.
    • Mary received this reputation in life, though her novel points out that she was no more gruesome than other monarchs; the difference was that Elizabeth Tudor took the throne afterward, and wasn't kind to her sister's reputation.
  • Guile Hero: Mary through delay tactics manages to avoid the Arranged Marriages that await her.
  • Heroic Bastard: What Mary has to admit that she is in the confessions while in confinement, though it's not true.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mary after her mother dies and she receives the latter's last letter.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Mary earned her nickname "bloody Mary" from her crusade to restore Catholicism to England, thus burning many supporters of the Church of England. The afterward points out that it wasn't so different from what other monarchs did.
  • Hollywood History: In Mary, Bloody Mary, the titular princess is named Princess of Wales at the age of nine. This never happened in Real Life; although Mary was invested with the arms and seal of the Prince of Wales, allowed to live in the official seat at Ludlow, and regarded by her contemporaries as effectively being Princess of Wales, she was never given that title.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Mary has to sign the confessions when she realizes that her father will very much let her die alone if she doesn't, and at least if she's alive she can still be queen.
  • Mission from God: Mary believes, at the end of Mary, Bloody Mary, that she has been given one. She is described as having a vision in which she hears a voice from heaven urging her to live and become Queen of England, so that she can return her country to the Catholic faith.
  • Modest Royalty: Austrian ladies never wore anything like the French gowns, with the enormous skirts draped over gigantic panniers (hoops) tied on either side of the hip.
  • No Name Given: In Mary, Bloody Mary, the titular princess eavesdrops on a conversation between three ladies of the court; we never learn their names and Mary refers to them by what they're wearing - Yellow Satin, Green Silk and Midnight Blue.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: In The Bad Queen, when Antonia receives the French gowns. she sees that they are laden with lace, ribbons, flowers, feathers, beads, and fringe, and they sparkle with jewels.
  • Princess in Rags: Catherine of Aragon in Patience, Princess Catherine chooses to live in poverty rather than going home to Spain, in hopes of marrying her late husband's brother, who will soon be crowned King of England.
    • In Mary, Bloody Mary both mother and daughter choose solitary poverty, instead of conceding to Henry VIII's demands. Devout Catholics, they refuse to accept him as head of the Church of England - nor will they accept the notion that Henry's marriage to Catherine was illegitimate, and that they have been reduced in title to "Dowager Princess of Wales" and "The Lady Mary, the King's daughter." Historians have noted that Catherine might have accepted her own loss of status, except that doing so would have cast aspersions on Mary's position as her father's heir.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Part and parcel of the Tudor stories. Mary, in particular, finds her claims to the throne pitted against those of first her bastard half-brother Henry, Earl of Richmond, and later her half-sister Princess Elizabeth.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Mary, Bloody Mary paints Anne Boleyn in this light. Anne is repeatedly cruel to Mary, taking away her servants and forcing her to act as a servant herself. Worst of all (in Mary's opinion), she creates a huge wedge between Mary and the father she idolizes. How much of this is Truth in Television will never really be known, but the real Mary definitely hated the real Anne, seeing her as the reason for her parents' marital problems. The real Anne was not overly fond of the real Mary, either; she once famously remarked that "I am her death, and she is mine."
    • By stark contrast, the end of the story sees Henry VIII married to Jane Seymour, who was a kindly stepmother to both Mary and Elizabeth, and persuaded Henry to allow his daughters to return to court. Mary in particular was very fond of her and even served as chief mourner when Jane died after the birth of Edward VII.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Marie Antoinette in The Bad Queen wants the people to see her in a splendid new gown. After the people ignore and insult her, she puts on a brave face because she doesn't want to let them see how much they have hurt her.


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