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Fit to Rule

How royal illness changed UK history.

Royal expert Lucy Worsley, explores how the medical health of the UK’s past monarchs has shaped the history of the nation. From Henry VIII to Edward VIII in 1936, this three-part series re-introduces our past royals not just as powerful potentates, but as human beings, each with their own very personal problems of biology and psychology. Lucy examines royal clothes, medical records, personal letters and diaries to gain a unique insight into the intimate mental and physical worlds of the real men and women who lie behind the regal portraits. Assessing them against their regal job description, she uncovers how kings and queens have had to deal with infertility, religious extremism, depression, bisexuality and culture shock. But could these medical issues provide a new explanation for the enduring power of the British monarchy? Between Henry VIII’s reign and Edward VIII’s abdication, successive monarchs gradually lost political power. And yet, the British monarchy still survives - unlike its equivalents which have collapsed all over Europe. Lucy reaches the surprising conclusion that monarchy isn’t about the survival of the fittest.  Against all the odds, a weak or inadequate king or queen can help the monarchy, by forcing it to adapt - and survive.