Famous British Historical Personalities

Great Britain has a long and complicated history that dates back to several millennia. King Henry VII of England, the first monarch of the House of Tudor, played an instrumental role in the vast expansion of the British Empire in the 16th century. Influential writers Richard Hakluyt and John Dee also thrived during the same period. Queen Elizabeth I, counted amongst the most popular Britons ever to have lived, brought a period of relative internal stability to the region. She is associated with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Another famous monarch was Henry VIII, known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Political leader Oliver Cromwell, Commander of the New Model Army during the English Civil War against King Charles I is another significant historical figure. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer are prominent figures in British history as well. Known for its rich legacy in the fields of science and literary, England was also home to geniuses such as William Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous British historical personalities.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II
4
Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: April 21, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British

The Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II is the world's oldest living monarch and longest-reigning current monarch. The first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother , she ascended to the throne in 1952. Despite the press criticism of the royal family, she continues to be a popular figure in UK.

 2 Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria
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Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Birthdate: May 24, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 22, 1901

The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over six decades, Queen Victoria reigned for longer than any of her predecessors. Her rule witnessed the vast expansion of the British Empire and ushered in a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great pomp and show.

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 3 Henry VII of England

Henry VII
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: April 21, 1509

Henry VII of England played an important role in popularizing the House of Tudor by becoming the first monarch of the house; he ruled as the king of England from 1485 until his death in 1509. He is credited with several economic, diplomatic, and administrative initiatives.

 4 Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: July 6, 1553

Edward VI of England served as the King of England and Ireland from 1547 until his death at the age of 15 in 1553. Edward VI, who took interest in religious matters, allowed Protestantism to be established in England during his reign. His reign also witnessed the introduction of written works that formed the basis for practices of the English Church.

 5 Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
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Famous As: Marquess of Pembroke
Birthdate: 1501 AD
Nationality: British
Died: May 19, 1536

The queen of England from 1533 to 1536, Anne Boleyn played an important role in the political and religious upheaval that led to the beginning of the English Reformation. She is widely regarded as the most important and influential queen consort of England. She was charged with adultery, incest, and treason and was executed by beheading in 1536.

 6 Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon
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Famous As: Ambassador
Birthdate: December 16, 1485
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: January 7, 1536

Catherine of Aragon was one of the most popular English royal consorts of all time. A patron of Renaissance humanism, she gained widespread admiration for starting a program for the relief of the poor. A woman who was ahead of her time, Catherine commissioned The Education of a Christian Woman, a controversial book promoting women's right to education.

 7 Charles II

Charles II
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Famous As: King of England, Scotland & Ireland
Birthdate: May 29, 1630
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: February 6, 1685
Charles II, son of King Charles I of England, ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1660 to 1685. He was initially defeated by Oliver Cromwell and forced to go into exile, but returned to England after Cromwell’s death. He introduced the Clarendon Code and later sided with the Tories.
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 8 Mary I of England

Mary I of England
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Famous As: Queen of England and Ireland
Birthdate: February 18, 1516
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: November 17, 1558

Mary I, the queen of England from 1553-1558, is remembered as the ruler who sought to return England to the Catholic Church. She persecuted many Protestants and got nearly 300 of them burned at the stake. Most of them were common citizens. Many also died in prison and hundreds fled the country. This earned her the ignominious nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

 9 Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York
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Famous As: Queen Consort of England
Birthdate: February 11, 1466
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: February 11, 1503
Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and wife of Henry VII of the Tudor Dynasty, was the queen consort of England from 1486 until 1503. She and Henry got married after Henry won at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1486, thus ending the Wars of the Roses

 10 Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard
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Famous As: Queen of England from (1540-1541)
Birthdate: 1523 AD
Nationality: British
Died: February 13, 1542
Catherine Howard, England’s queen consort from 1540 until 1541, was Henry VIII’s fifth wife. She was a cousin of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. In November 1541, Catherine was stripped of the queen’s title and imprisoned. She was later beheaded on charges of adultery with her cousin Thomas Culpeper.

 11 Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey
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Famous As: Monarch
Birthdate: 1537 AD
Nationality: British
Died: February 12, 1554
Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days' Queen, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 10 to 19, 1553. Jane, a Protestant, was nominated to the Crown, owing to Roman Catholic Mary’s opposition to the Reformed Church of England. However, Jane was deposed, convicted of high treason, and executed.

 12 Alexandra of Denmark

Alexandra of Denmark
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Famous As: Queen of Great Britain (1901-1910)
Birthdate: December 1, 1844
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: November 20, 1925
Alexandra of Denmark was the queen of the U.K. and the empress of India from 1901 to 1910, as the wife of King Edward VII. Her style of dressing inspired English fashion back then. She supported her son George V’s campaign against Germany, with the Allies, during World War I.

 13 Henry VIII of England

Henry VIII of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 28, 1491
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: January 28, 1547

Henry VIII, the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He married six times, leading to differences with the Roman Catholic Church, which prohibited divorce, thus forming the Anglican Church. The "father of the Royal Navy," he was known for his tyranny and extravagance.

 14 Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne, Queen of Great Britain
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Famous As: Queen of Britan
Birthdate: February 6, 1665
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: August 1, 1714

Many biographers consider Anne, the Queen of Great Britain, a weak and irresolute woman. It is said that she lacked political astuteness and was easily influenced by others. Though she was troubled by poor health throughout her life, she became increasingly obese and ill during her 30s and eventually died at the age of 49.

 15 Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville
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Famous As: British Queen (1464-1483)
Birthdate: 1437 AD
Nationality: British
Died: June 8, 1492

Elizabeth Woodville was the queen of England from 1464 until her husband King Edward IV's death in 1483. Elizabeth Woodville remained politically influential even after the demise of her husband. She also played a major role in Henry VII's accession to the throne in 1485. Her life and work have inspired several books, films, and TV series.

 16 Henry IV of England

Henry IV of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 15, 1367
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: March 20, 1413

Henry IV of England reigned over England from 1399 until his death in 1413. Apart from spending much of his reign fighting against rebellions, Henry IV of England also established foreign relations; during his reign, Manuel II Palaiologos visited England, becoming the only Byzantine emperor to do so.

 17 Edward II of England

Edward II of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 25, 1284
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: September 21, 1327
Edward II was the king of England from 1307 till his deposition in 1327. His relationship with Piers Gaveston caused the English barons to revolt against Edward, leading to the passage of the Ordinances of 1311. Edward lost to Robert Bruce at Bannockburn. Edward inspired Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II.

 18 Harold Godwinson

Harold Godwinson
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1022 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 14, 1066
Harold Godwinson, also known as Harold II, was the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, and succeeded Edward the Confessor. He died at the Battle of Hastings, fighting William the Conqueror and his army during the Norman Conquest. Harold was the first English king who was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

 19 Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
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Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0849 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 26, 0899

Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, cemented his place in history as a legendary ruler who led his kingdom to victory in wars that seemed hopeless. He is known for his brilliant strategies and defensive measures. He prevented England from falling to the Danes during his rule from circa 871 to 886. He’s also credited with promoting learning and literacy and curbing corruption.

 20 Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr
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Famous As: Queen of England & Ireland
Birthdate: July 31, 1512
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: September 7, 1548
Catherine Parr, the most-married English queen, was the queen of England and Ireland from 1543 to 1547, as the last wife of King Henry VIII. She influenced the passing of the 1543 Third Succession Act. She was also the first English queen to publish a book using her own name.

 21 Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
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Famous As: Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland
Birthdate: May 19, 1744
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: November 17, 1818
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III, reigned as the queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1761 to 1818, and her reign saw the two kingdoms unite into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. An amateur art lover and botanist, she also expanded the Kew Gardens.

 22 Edward III of England

Edward III of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 13, 1312
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: June 21, 1377
Edward III, or Edward of Windsor, was the King of England and the Lord of Ireland from 1327 to 1377. He took to the throne after his father, Edward II, was deposed by his mother, Isabella, and Roger Mortimer. He strengthened the military and participated in the Hundred Years' War.

 23 Boudica

Boudica
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Famous As: Queen of the Iceni Tribe
Birthdate: 0030 AD
Nationality: British
Died: 0061 AD

Boudica served as a queen of the Iceni tribe. She is regarded as a British folk hero for leading an uprising against the Roman Empire, which wanted to conquer her land. She has remained a prominent cultural symbol in the UK. A bronze statue named Boadicea and Her Daughters is located in London, facing the Palace of Westminster.

 24 Henry VI of England

Henry VI of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: December 6, 1421
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: May 21, 1471

The only child of Henry V, Henry VI of England served as the king of England for almost 40 years. He also served as the disputed king of France between 1422 and 1453, becoming the only English monarch to serve as the king of France. He founded educational institutions like Eton College, All Souls College, Oxford, and King's College, Cambridge.

 25 Mary II of England

Mary II of England
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Famous As: Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland
Birthdate: April 30, 1662
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: December 28, 1694

Mary II of England was Queen of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 to 1694. Although she co-reigned along with her husband William III of England, she also took major decisions by herself whenever William was abroad. Mary has been portrayed in films, such as Orlando and England, My England.

 26 James II of England

James II Of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 14, 1633
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: September 16, 1701

James II of England reigned as the king of Ireland, Scotland, and England from 1685 to 1688. His deposition as king, caused by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, ended a century of civil and political strife by establishing the principle that Parliament would be preferred over the Crown as opposed to the principles of divine right of kings and absolutism.

 27 Empress Matilda

Empress Matilda
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Famous As: Queen of Germany
Birthdate: February 7, 1102
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German, British
Died: September 10, 1167

Empress Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England and one of the claimants to the throne of England during the 'Anarchy'. Her participation in the civil war and tales of bravery have been the subject of historical fiction. She has also been depicted in films, stage shows, and TV series.

 28 George IV of the United Kingdom

George IV of the United Kingdom
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Famous As: King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Birthdate: August 12, 1762
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: June 26, 1830

Regarded as the first gentleman of England, King George IV of the United Kingdom saw his empire consolidating its position as the global hegemon, particularly after the Napoleonic Wars. His regency during the illness of his father and then his 10-year reign were marked by royal extravagance. 

 29 Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I
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Birthdate: September 7, 1533
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: March 24, 1603

 30 Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
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Famous As: King Consort of Scotland (1565-1567)
Birthdate: December 7, 1545
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: February 10, 1567
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the great-grandson of King Henry VII of England. As the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, he reigned as the king of Scotland from 1565 till his murder in 1567. His son ruled as King James VI of Scotland and I of England.

 31 George III of the United Kingdom

George III of the United Kingdom
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: June 4, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 29, 1820

The King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for almost six decades, George III had a reign that was longer than those of any of his predecessors. His reign was marked by a series of military conflicts. He suffered from mental illness in his later years.

 32 Henry III of England

Henry III of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 1, 1207
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: November 16, 1272
Henry III, or Henry of Winchester, son of King John, took over as the king of England at age 9 and ruled from 1216 to 1272. He was the first British king to reign for more than 50 years. He imposed the Statute of Jewry, forcing Jews to wear badges. 

 33 Victoria, Princess Royal

Victoria, Princess Royal
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Famous As: Empress of Germany
Birthdate: November 21, 1840
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: August 5, 1901

Victoria, Princess Royal was the Queen of Prussia and German Empress from 9 March 1888 to 15 June 1888. Victoria, Princess Royal had an opportunity to influence the German Empire's policy, but the death of her husband German Emperor Frederick III, just 99 days after his accession, ruined her opportunity. Victoria has been portrayed in several movies and TV series.

 34 Henry I of England

Henry I of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1068 AD
Nationality: British
Died: December 1, 1135
Henry I, fourth son of William the Conqueror, seized the throne of England after his brother William II’s death, and ruled as the King of England from 1100 to 1135. He was strict but efficient, and is known for his conquest of Normandy following the Battle of Tinchebray.

 35 Athelstan

Athelstan
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 0894 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 27, 0939
Æthelstan, or Athelstan, son of Edward the Elder, was an Anglo-Saxon king who ruled from 924 to 927. He was also the King of the English from 927 to 939. Æthelstan is known for his victory at the Battle of Brunanburh and for his significant contribution to European politics. 

 36 Edward the Elder

Edward the Elder
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Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0874 AD
Nationality: British
Died: July 17, 0924

Edward the Elder, the Anglo-Saxon ruler of Wessex from circa 899 to 924, is known as the king who extended his authority over almost all of England by conquering the areas previously held by the Danish invaders. Though he is said to have been largely ignored by historians until the late 20th century, he is held in high regard now.

 37 Princess Alice of the United Kingdom

Princess Alice of the United Kingdom
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Famous As: Princess of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: April 25, 1843
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: December 14, 1878
Princess Alice was the third child of England’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her organization Princess Alice Women's Guild oversaw military hospitals during the Austro-Prussian War. She became the Grand Duchy of Hesse by virtue of her marriage to German Prince Louis. She eventually died due to diptheria.

 38 Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: 1003 AD
Nationality: British
Died: January 5, 1066
Edward the Confessor, son of Æthelred the Unready, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon rulers of England and reigned from 1042 to 1066. He restored the rule of the House of Wessex after the reign of Danish king Cnut. He was considered a national saint till Saint George replaced him.

 39 Anne Neville

Anne Neville
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Famous As: Queen of England
Birthdate: June 11, 1456
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: March 16, 1485
Anne Neville was the younger daughter of Richard Neville. She was the Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and the Queen of England, as the wife of King Richard III. Her marriage to Edward was a political alliance to end the Wars of the Roses.

 40 Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva
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Famous As: 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Nationality: British
Died: 1067 AD

Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. A 13th-century legend stated how she rode naked through Coventry to reverse an oppressive tax imposed by Leofric. Everybody stayed indoors, except a tailor named Thomas, who watched her, giving rise to the name Peeping Tom associated with voyeurs.

 41 Edward V of England

Edward V of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 2, 1470
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: 1483 AD

Edward V of England was King of England and Lord of Ireland for a few months in 1483. He was never crowned and he didn’t hold any real power during his short reign. He was deposed and possibly killed by his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, who went on to reign as King Richard III.  

 42 Ethelred the Unready

Ethelred the Unready
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0968 AD
Nationality: British
Died: April 23, 1016

 43 Arthur, Prince of Wales

Arthur, Prince of Wales
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Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: September 20, 1486
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: April 2, 1502

 44 Stephen of England

Stephen of England
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: 1092 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 25, 1154

 45 Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
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Famous As: Close Friend of Queen Anne
Birthdate: June 5, 1660
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: October 18, 1744

 46 Catherine of Valois

Catherine of Valois
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Famous As: Queen Consort of England
Birthdate: October 27, 1401
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: January 3, 1437
Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France, was the queen of England from 1420 to 1422, as the wife of Henry V of England. Her marriage to Henry V was supposed to be a political stance to end the Hundred Years' War, but it was not successful.

 47 Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom

Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
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Famous As: Youngest Child of Queen Victoria
Birthdate: April 14, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: October 26, 1944
Princess Beatrice of the U.K. was the fifth daughter and the youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She stayed with her mother long after all her siblings married and left. She eventually married Prince Henry of Battenberg, and she and her husband continued to live with the Queen. 

 48 Duke of Windsor

Duke of Windsor
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Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: May 28, 1972

 49 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
5
Famous As: British Queen
Birthdate: August 4, 1900
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: March 30, 2002
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, better known as The Queen Mother, was King George VI’s wife and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. She ruled England as the Queen from 1936 to 1952, after which her daughter Elizabeth II took over. She was also the last empress of India.

 50 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
2
Famous As: The Duchess of Cambridge
Birthdate: January 9, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British

Catherine “Kate” Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge after her marriage to Prince William in 2011. Associated with countless charities, Kate and William started a mental-health campaign named Heads Together. Kate also gave rise to the “Kate Middleton effect" in the fashion world and was named to Time 100.