LETTER: The royal precedent

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From Mr Nicolas Walter

Sir: If Niall Ferguson ("Off With Her Talking Head", 20 November) teaches history at Jesus College, Oxford, he should know better than to say that Henry VIII got a divorce from Catherine of Aragon or that the Church of England was invented to let him do so. What he got was an annulment, like that from Anne of Cleves nine years later; and what happened to the Church of England in the 1530s was not that it was invented, since it had existed for several centuries, but that it was separated from Rome. Nor is George IV a good precedent for the divorce of a monarch, since his marriage to Caroline of Brunswick was bigamous. A better precedent is George I, who divorced (and imprisoned) Sophia Dorothea of Celle 20 years before he became king.

Niall Ferguson reminds us that in the old days Diana would face execution for her public conduct. So would he, for his public discussion of it!

Yours faithfully,

Nicolas Walter

London, N1

20 November