Who are the most important British monarchs? (As judged using pub names)

The King's Head, in Chingford, north east London. Image: Ewan Munro/Flickr/creative commons.

Who is the best of all the kings and queens? Since science has not yet provided a way to have them all fight, there is only one true way to find out: see who has the most pubs named after them.

The monarchy has had a long association with the names of boozers. Even back when most of their customers were illiterate and pubs would distinguish themselves by the illustrations on their signs, there was a strong royal influence. The White Hart and The Red Lion have long been two of the most common pub names in Britain, both having been the symbols of British royals (Richard II and James I respectively).

But the true mark of respect is actually having a pub named directly after you: clearly, the more pubs that share your name, the better a monarch you must have been. So, let’s crunch those numbers!


To do this, I counted every pub sharing the name of a monarch on a big list of British pubs (e.g. beerintheevening.com). Sometimes there’s some ambiguity: for example, pubs called “The George” can refer to one of 6 different monarchs, or indeed St George from off of Game of Thrones. So I only counted pubs where it could be clearly determined which monarch is being paid homage to – say, if their face is on the pub’s sign. 

For the same reason, I decided to elimate anything that wasn't a name. Lots of King's Head pubs were renamed from Pope's Head under prominent non-fan of Catholicism, Henry VIII, but not all, for example; and it's not clear if a Royal Oak built in the 19th century is a reference to Charles II, or just a generic pub name. So, all these got excluded. (Readers who disagree with this methodology are encouraged to angrily post about it on social media, so long as they include a link.)

And so:

The Top 5 British Monarchs (according to pub names)

5. George V – 8 pubs

George V was in power during the First World War, so likely benefited from boozers cashing in on a general air of patriotism. Notably, the King George V in the Kentish village of Brompton acquired the name after having all its windows smashed when war broke out in 1914 because it was originally called the King of Prussia.

4. George III – 14 pubs

He may have lost America, but he didn’t lose all the pubs! Somewhat surprising given that what most people remember about him is the going mad. And that he once issued a proclamation condemning excessive drinking (also “profane swearing” and “lewdness”). The most evil kind of boozing of them all, ‘tippling on the Sabbath’, could incur you a fine of 3 shilling and 4 pence. Miserable git.

3. George IV – 15 pubs

George IV was widely hated by just about everyone, apart from pub landlords, apparently. Possible explanations for his popularity with the latter include that he was

a) a massive pisshead;

b) according to Blackadder the Third he was actually the popular comedy character Blackadder (spoilers); and

c) happened to reign at the beginning of the British empire’s biggest period of growth.

The George IV pub in Brixton is now a Tesco, suggesting that any remaining respect is on the wain.

2. William IV – 61 pubs

William IV is a surprising runner-up, seeing as he reigned for less than seven years. But one of the first things he did as king was to sign into law the Beerhouse Act 1830, which enabled anyone who could scrape together two guineas to start selling beer.

The idea behind the law was that, if it was easier to buy beer, people would just have some nice relaxing ales instead of getting smashed up on gin the whole time, and all of Britain’s alcohol-related woes would be solved. Yes. Anyway, lots of the new landlords were so grateful for their new booze-selling opportunities that they named their pubs after him.

1. Queen Victoria – 208 pubs

And at number one, it’s the Empress With The Mostess… Queen Victoria!

Confession: I did not check absolutely every pub called Queen Victoria or The Victoria to make sure it was not e.g. named after Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen consort of Spain from 1906 to 1931, or Victoria, a medical training robot that simulates giving birth. But even if we discount half the pubs on the list, she’s still way in the lead.

Why’s she so popular in pub terms? Well, when she took the throne in 1837, Britain had a population of around 20m. By 1901, the population had reached 40m. No other monarch has reigned over such an expansion of population. And being Britain, those 20m extra people were in need of a lot more pubs: who better to name them after than their (usually) quite popular queen?


English rulers just outside the top five include King Edward VII (of potato fame), King Alfred (of being the first one fame), and Oliver Cromwell (of not being a king fame), all tied on seven pubs. Sorry guys, maybe you should have tried having longer reigns at times when they were building more pubs. Losers.

One monarch in particular stands out as having not one single pub named in her honour: Queen Elizabeth II. Poor old Liz, even Sweyn Forkbeard has a pub named after him, and he only ruled England for about five weeks in 1014.

Unfortunately for the Queen, the number of British pubs has been in decline ever since she got into power, so there just haven’t been as many opportunities to get one named after you. Still, she is getting that new tube line, so cheg on that, Forkbeard!

Ed Jefferson can be found on the internet at @edjeff.

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How can we stop city breaks killing our cities?

This couple may look happy, but they’re destroying Barcelona. Image: Getty.

Can’t wait to pack your bags and head off on holiday again? It used to be that people would look forward to a long break in summer – but now tourists have got used to regular short breaks through the year. We love to jet off to the world’s glittering cities, even if only for a day or two. The trouble is, binge travelling may be killing the places we visit.

You may even have seen some “tourists go home” graffiti on your last trip, and it’s not hard to see why. Barcelona is a good example of how a city can groan under the weight of its popularity. It now has the busiest cruise port, and the second fastest growing airport in Europe. Walking through the Barcelona streets at peak season (which now never seems to end) flings you into a relentless stream of tourists. They fill the city’s hot spots in search of “authentic” tapas and sangria, and a bit of culture under the sun. The mayor has echoed residents’ concerns over the impact of tourism; a strategic plan has been put in place.

It is true though, that cities tend to start managing the impact of tourism only when it is already too late. It creeps up on them. Unlike visitors to purpose-built beach destinations and national parks, city-break tourists use the same infrastructure as the locals: existing systems start slowly to stretch at the seams. Business travellers, stag parties and museum visitors will all use existing leisure facilities.

‘Meet the friendly locals’, they said. Image: Sterling Ely/Flickrcreative commons.

Barcelona may only be the 59th largest city in the world, but it is the 12th most popular with international visitors. Compared to London or Paris, it is small, and tourism has spiked sharply since the 1992 Olympics rather than grown steadily as in other European favourites like Rome.

Growth is relentless. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) even speaks about tourism as a right for all citizens, and citizens are increasingly exercising that right: from 1bn international travellers today, we will grow to 1.8bn by 2030, according to UNWTO forecasts.

Faced with this gathering storm, just who is tourism supposed to benefit? Travellers, cities, residents or the tourism industry?

Market forces

Managing the impact of tourism starts by changing the way destinations market themselves: once the tourists arrive, it’s too late. Tourism authorities need to understand that they are accountable to the city, not to the tourism industry. When the city of Barcelona commissioned the University of Surrey to look into how it might best promote sustainable development, we found a series of techniques which have been incorporated, at least in part, into the city’s 2020 Tourism Strategy.

In the simplest terms, the trick is to cajole tourists into city breaks which are far less of a burden on the urban infrastructure. In other words, normalising the consumption of sustainable tourism products and services. In Copenhagen, 70 per cent of the hotels are certified as sustainable and the municipal authority demands sustainability from its suppliers.

Higher than the sun. A primal scream from the world’s cities? Image: Josep Tomàs/Flickr/creative commons.

Destinations must also be accountable for the transport impact of their visitors. The marketing department might prefer a Japanese tourist to Barcelona because on average they will spend €40 more than a French tourist – according to unpublished data from the Barcelona Tourist Board – but the carbon footprint we collectively pay for is not taken into account.

Crucially, for the kind of city breaks we might enjoy in Barcelona, most of the carbon footprint from your holiday is from your transport. Short breaks therefore pollute more per night, and so destinations ought to be fighting tooth and nail to get you to stay longer. It seems like a win for tourists too: a few extra days in the Spanish sun, a more relaxing break, and all accompanied by the warm glow of self-satisfaction and a gold star for sustainability.


Destinations can also target customers that behave the most like locals. Japanese first-time visitors to Barcelona will crowd the Sagrada Familia cathedral, while most French tourists are repeat visitors that will spread out to lesser-known parts of the city. Reducing seasonality by emphasising activities that can be done in winter or at less crowded times, and geographically spreading tourism by improving less popular areas and communicating their particular charms can also help reduce pressure on hot spots, much like Amsterdam is doing.

Turnover is vanity, and profit margins are sanity. No city should smugly crow about the sheer volume of visitors through its gates. If tourism is here to stay, then the least cities can do is to sell products that will have the greatest benefit for society. Whether it’s Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna or Bognor, there should be a focus on locally and ethically produced products and services which residents are proud to sell. Tourist boards should work with small businesses that offer creative and original things to do and places to stay, adding breadth to the city’s offering.

The ConversationWhether Barcelona will introduce these ideas will depend on the bravery of politicians and buy-in from the powerful businesses which are happily making short-term profits at the expense of residents and the planet. It is possible to do things differently, and for everyone to benefit more. It may be that the tipping point lies in the age-old mechanics of supply and demand: bear that in mind next time you’re booking a quick city break that looks like it’s only adding to the problem.

Xavier Font is professor of marketing at the University of Surrey.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.