From Edward to Elizabeth: The British Monarchy since 1901


The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

This course explores the fascinating stories of the British monarchs who have ruled Britain since 1901.

The monarchy has faced many challenges. Its reputation has ebbed and flowed, as the crown has changed hands from that of a cosmopolitan king, Edward VII, to one who was steadfast and conscientious, George V. From Edward VIII, the ill-fated “People’s King”, to his brother George VI for whom duty was unquestionable. The longevity of its current queen, Elizabeth II, has ensured that the monarchy had remained a highly respected institution. We will investigate the lives of these five monarchs and their families and seek to evaluate the impact they have had on Britain during the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.

Edward VII: 1901- 1910. After 60 years as heir apparent, Bertie, eldest son of Victoria and Albert, became king. We will explore his strict upbringing and his struggles to adhere to his parents’ high moral standards. As a young prince, he gained a reputation as a philanderer who enjoyed all the pleasures of a rich social life. Yet as king, Bertie gave the monarchy a more modern image, rejecting many of the conservative prejudices often held by his contemporaries.

George V: 1910 – 1936. George unexpectedly became heir after the death of his older brother Albert. In 1910 he inherited the throne. His reign faced many challenges: the 1910 constitutional crisis of the House of Lords, the First World War, rebellion in Ireland, the changing landscape of the British Empire, as well as the rise of Labour and a severe economic crisis. Across Europe monarchies tumbled, yet under George V the British monarchy survived.

Edward VIII: January 1936 – December 1936. We will investigate the controversial figure of Edward VIII who, as Prince of Wales, was a popular royal, undertaking tours abroad and visiting areas of Britain affected by the economic depression. Despite his wide appeal, by the time he became king, questions were being asked about his suitability to rule. Ultimately this led to the Abdication crisis, as Edward refused to give up the woman he loved, Wallace Simpson.

George VI: 1936 – 1952. As a young man George endured painful shyness and a stammer. Forced unexpectedly into the limelight in 1936, George applied a strong sense of duty to his role, helped by his marriage to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. In wartime, they symbolised the nation’s determination to resist the Nazis. Post-war he oversaw the break-up of the British Empire and the transition to the Commonwealth. Under his kingship the popularity of the monarchy was restored.

Elizabeth II: 1952 -. From an early age, Elizabeth was instilled with her father’s sense of duty and since becoming queen at the age of 26, has endeavoured to carry on his legacy. We will conclude our week by analysing her reign, examining her many achievements as well as some of the events which have challenged the monarchy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Finally, we will ask, what is the future of the monarchy in Britain?


Description Costs
Programme fee (no accom–incl.lunch and dinner) £1070.00
Programme fee (with single en-suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom and meals) £1380.00


Mrs Annette Mayer


Annette Mayer is a Senior Associate Tutor in History at OUDCE. She teaches modern British History and is the author of two books, The Growth of Democracy in Britain, and Women in Britain 1900 – 2000 published by Hodder & Stoughton

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Friday, 1 May 2020 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

The fee stated includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available*.

There is also a limited number of standard rooms available, which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but shared bath and toilet facilities. Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room)*.

*If you wish to book a twin en-suite room or a standard twin set room each person should complete an application form and email it to us at as these rooms cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems. Students should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.


If accommodation is unavailable in a particular week, we also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

If you wish to enrol on a non-residential basis please complete an application form and email it to us at as this option cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)