Yet in one of those contingencies that makes history such a delight, the three most successful monarchs to have ascended to the English and then British throne have all been women.
Elizabeth I only gained the crown because her elder half-sister, Mary – a woman and a Catholic – died young and childless. She in turn had only become the first queen of England because there were no males left in the Tudor line once young Edward VI passed on in 1553. Three centuries later, Victoria, less glamorous but more fertile, was to preside over the high noon of empire. The present incumbent, currently enjoying adulation in the antipodes, personifies dignity and cool judgment. Things could have turned out worse. They could also have turned out better.
The Act of Settlement was passed by parliament and signed on 12 June 1701 by William III, a childless widower pushing 50, in poor health and largely immune to female charm. The question of succession had become desperate owing to the death in July 1700 of the 11-year-old William, Duke of Gloucester, the only surviving son of the heir to the throne, Princess Anne.
The exiled Stuarts may have been the divisive agents of a bloody civil war, and papists to boot, but they had male heirs, and James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, was ready to pounce, with the aid of Louis XIV of France, who acknowledged him as James III. Had English rulers taken a more enlightened view of gender issues they might not have got into such a mess. Charles I, the fount of all the troubles of the 17th century, had an elder sister, Elizabeth, the Winter Queen of Bohemia and heroine of Protestant Europe.
Having endured decades of religious and political turmoil, and fearful for the Protestant succession, it was to the descendants of this Stuart that William III's supporters went in search of a monarch to keep the other Stuarts out. They wanted the young elector George Lewis of Hanover, Elizabeth's grandson. He didn't speak English but was a Protestant and hated the French – qualifications suffice to make him king. George and his Hanoverian successors were never popular and the monarchy was at a low ebb when Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 in the absence of legitimate male candidates. Though the elderly Victoria came to symbolise a dowdy puritanism, the early years of her reign were marked by scandal and assassination attempts. Even her saintly consort Prince Albert only became popular after his premature death. But she made female rule acceptable.
Victoria's eldest child was also female and also named Victoria. She may well have proved a wiser monarch than her younger brother, the corpulent and foolish Edward VII, had she been allowed to succeed in January 1901. His love affair with France (or, at least its women) helped forge the entente cordiale with devastating consequences for Anglo-German relations, until then rather good. Princess Victoria also happened to be the Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia and would have united the crowns of the greatest military and industrial powers of the age. Her son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, would have been King William V, the first and second world wars would never have happened and we would all be driving top-of-the-range Audis and embracing low levels of personal debt.
retirado do The Guardian. sempre adorei saber aquilo que poderia e que não poderia ter acontecido na história, portanto para mim saber que se esta lei tivesse passado à mais tempo iria, o Reino Unido iria controlar a Alemanha e a Prússia parece-me uma ideia genial!