February 8th, 2010


Hypothetical London industry and royal (dis)inheritance

Setting: An AU version of London, circa approx. 1880
Research done: Exhaustive Google and Wikipedia cross-searches for "victorian london industries, london factory locations, great london fire, christopher wren's plans for london, clerkenwell, whitehall, whitehall fire, christopher wren whitehall, historical london boroughs, royal inheritance, age of majority england, coming of age england, royal commoner marriage" and several unlikely combinations thereof, as well as londonancestor(dot)com, oldlondonmaps(dot)com and victorianlondon(dot)org.

I'm writing a steampunk and magic AU, where history kind-of-sort-of paralleled ours, to a point. The critical difference in this one, at least, is that Queen Elizabeth I pretty much told everyone else to bugger off and did have children, the descendents of which still rule the UK. I can extrapolate reasonably well that it would upset the political geography all over Europe to a massive degree, but what I'm looking for are changes to London's physical geography. I'm assuming the the Great Fire of 1666 still happened, and the royals decided to go with Christopher Wren's plans for rebuilding London, and later, Whitehall.

Here is where I need help. In all my searches, I've not actually been able to figure out where centers of industry and other factories sprang up in the actual Industrial Revolution, much less in an alternate reality. I was able to ascertain that Clerkenwell was well-known for watchmaking and other small cottage industries back in the day, but I've been trying to think of a location to plant my homegrown Factory Garden. It is a steampunk work, mind, so all things clockwork and steam-driven (possibly including a city-central rail center) would probably cluster in one place, but I have no idea where that place might be, especially given I would like to at least have one street in this area dedicated to shopping and the retail sale of clockwork knickknacks and other trinkets.

I'm not a Londoner, obviously, nor can I claim any sort of Britishness, so I'm kind of stumped. In real life, the Great Fire mostly stayed inside the rebuilt Roman Wall of London, and just outside to the west, but it's not unreasonable to assume that in a rapidly industrialized and growing area that the surrounding parts of the city developed in a different fashion than they actually did. Given this is AU, I could just use the mid-seventeenth century maps and fudge from there, but I'd like to stick reasonably close to reality.

As for the second matter, I have a prince, who may or may not be sole heir to the crown (haven't decided yet), who has been waiting a while to propose marriage to a commoner. Given there's no Queen Victoria in this world, the social rules would of course be quite different, but I can't quite get behind the idea of a royal family (official bastard line or no) getting behind the marriage of their only prince to someone who is decidely not the blueblooded royalty of Somewhere Else Important. I've found very little on the topic save for the fallout of Edward VIII's marriage, which is not quite the same thing, and a bit of Spanish legislation called the Royal Pragmatic on Marriage, which would be awesome if it weren't Spanish(!!)

So the question here is this: given that there are only so many candidates who can ascend usually to the throne, would it be widely thought a disinheritable offense to go against the wishes of the current (still-living) monarch and marry elsewhere? It doesn't matter whether it is truly that serious, just if it were thought to be. Queen Victoria set up marriages for all her children and many grandchildren, so what would have happened if someone said no? Additionally, would it be feasible for there to be a certain age threshold in this less-traditionally-minded reality after which children would be emancipated of their parents' wills? Methinks this prince is going to attempt to justify this plan by means of a bylaw which does not traditionally apply to royals, and I'm trying to work out how to make it work.

Any other suggestions or conjectures for more feasible world-building would also be immensely appreciated. Thanks in advance!