Weird History

The Different Physical Sizes Of British Monarchs 

Setareh Janda
Updated November 21, 2019 25.9k views 13 items

How tall is the royal family of the United Kingdom? Historically, the physical sizes and features of British monarchs have varied considerably. Whether tall or short, thin or stout, kings and queens in England and Scotland have come in all shapes and sizes.

As members of a complex, overgrown family tree, British monarchs have exhibited a range of larger-than-life physical attributes. The origins of these attributes have often depended on many different factors, including genetics, diet, level of activity, and even the presence of disease.

Monarchs have reacted to their physical sizes in different ways, as well. Many of them believed that their physical bodies symbolized their royal authority. The royal body was thus bound up in politics, and many kings and queens were celebrated or mocked for their physical shape.

Henry VIII of England is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Different Physical Sizes Of British Monarchs
Photo:  Hans Holbein/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Height: 6'2"

Weight: Over 300 pounds

Reign: 1509-1547

As a young man, Henry VIII - who, like his grandfather Edward IV, had always been tall - enjoyed an active lifestyle. But a painful leg injury from a jousting tournament in 1536 curtailed his athletic endeavors.

Consequently, Henry's waistline expanded. At the time of his passing in 1547 at the age of 55, Henry weighed well over 300 pounds.

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Edward IV of England is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Different Physical Sizes Of British Monarchs
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Height: Around 6'3"

Reign: 1461-1470, 1471-1483

Edward is historically described as a robust, imposing ruler. This was confirmed in 1789 when his remains were exhumed from their resting place in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Edward's skeleton was over 6 feet long. While clad in armor, Edward would have stood even taller than his official height. 

Edward wasn't just one of the tallest British kings - he may have been one of the best-looking monarchs, too. One of Edward's contemporaries even admitted, "I do not remember having seen a more handsome prince." 

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Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Different Physical Sizes Of British Monarchs
Photo:  National Science and Media Museum UK/Wikimedia Commons/No Restrictions

Height: 5'1" - 5'4"

Shoe size: 6.5 (US)

Reign: 1952-present

As is normal for someone in her 90s, Queen Elizabeth II has lost some inches over the course of her adulthood. At the time of her coronation in 1953, she was 5 feet 4 inches. In 2019, she is estimated to stand at 5 feet 1 inches.

One of the perks of being queen: Elizabeth doesn't have to deal with the blisters that come from breaking in a new pair of shoes; she has a servant break them in for her. As Angela Kelly, her former dresser, recalls, "The Queen has very little time to herself and not time to wear in her own shoes, and as we share the same shoe size it makes the most sense this way."

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Charles I of England is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Different Physical Sizes Of British Monarchs
Photo:  Anthony van Dyck/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Height: 5'4"

Reign: 1625-1649

Charles I's average height was a sore spot for him most of his life. He thought that kings should be physically tall to reflect their status as divinely ordained rulers.

Consequently, Charles became obsessed with shaping his image. His official portraits made him look taller than he actually was. Charles even preferred to wear boots that had heels - no doubt as a way to add some height to his royal figure.

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