If you think that British royals marrying commoners started with Crown Prince William, the son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who married Kate Middleton in 2011, you are not even close to being correct. One of the most scandalous marriages in the history of British royals was the marriage between King Edward IV and a commoner widow named Elizabeth Woodville in 1464.
Love at First Sight
Elizabeth and the king’s first meeting was born from necessity. After her husband died, Elizabeth’s properties were taken from her, so he set out early in 1464 and waited under an oak tree where she knew King Edward IV would soon pass. She intended to beg and plead before the king to give her lands back. Apparently, when the king laid eyes on her, he was completely captivated by her beauty.
As a condition before giving her lands back, King Edward IV asked that she be his mistress. Elizabeth refused the proposal, but the king couldn’t let go of his feelings that he eventually proposed marriage. Elizabeth accepted, and they were secretly married in the same year they met.
Together Until Death
Nobody knew about the marriage until Lord Warwick, the powerful Earl who helped Edward ascend to the throne, negotiated a foreign marriage to Edward. Edward had no choice but to admit to Warwick that he and Elizabeth were already married. Warwick was humiliated and furious that he was left out of the marriage decision, so he aligned himself to George, Edward’s brother who was plotting a revolt against the king.
Once their marriage became public, many rumors circulated against Elizabeth but the relationship of the couple continued to blossom apart from it. Elizabeth and Edward had two sons and five daughters. They stayed together amidst all the controversies but as soon as King Edward IV died, his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, took the throne from his son. King Richard III was even believed to have ordered the murder of Edward’s two sons. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was forced to live in a convent where she died a couple of years later.