Alexander III (r. 1249-1286)

Born in 1241, the only son of Alexander II and his second wife, Marie de Coucy, Alexander became king at the age of seven, on the death of his father.

On Christmas Day 1251, when he was ten, he was knighted at York by Henry III, and the following day he was married to the English monarch's eldest daughter, Princess Margaret.

Alexander proved a strong-willed king who, despite the English influence in his youth, refused to swear homage for his kingdom. He continued his father's efforts to establish Scottish mastery of the Isles. 

In 1263 his army inflicted a notable defeat on Hakon, King of Norway, at the Battle of Largs in Ayrshire. The Norwegians were subsequently forced to concede to him the Western Isles and the Isle of Man, under the treaty of Perth in 1266.

Alexander established good relations with his brother-in-law Edward I. On 19 August 1274, Alexander and Margaret attended the coronation of her brother in Westminster Abbey. Margaret died six months later, leaving three children. 

Within a few years, Alexander suffered a further series of family tragedies. His younger son David died in 1281 at the age of eight; his daughter Margaret, who had married King Eric of Norway, died in childbirth in 1283; and his elder son Alexander died childless in 1284 after a long illness. 

A week after the prince's death, the Scottish Parliament recognised Margaret, the little daughter of Eric and Margaret, as the heir presumptive to the Scottish throne.

Alexander was only 44, and so he decided that the best way to avoid a constitutional crisis was to remarry and have more sons. On 14 October 1285 he therefore took as his wife Yolande, Comtesse de Montfort, daughter of Robert IV, Comte de Dreux. 

Five months later, on 19 March 1286, Alexander's horse stumbled and he fell from a cliff near Kinghorn, Fife. The king was killed, leaving the Scots to mourn an energetic, effective monarch who had brought them peace and prosperity.

Image: Alexander III sits at the right hand of his brother-in-law, Edward I of England. The Royal Arms of Scotland can be seen above Alexander's head.

Related content

Remarks by The King at Presentation of New Colours, Number Nine Company, Second Battalion, The Irish Guards

Every guardsman standing here today is thus the Heir and Successor to the great legacy, the historic customs and fine traditions of your forebears within the Battalion.

10 June 2024

A speech by The King at the D-Day National Commemoration British Normandy Memorial, Ver-sur-Mer, on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

On the beaches of Normandy, in the seas beyond and in the skies overhead, our Armed Forces carried out their duty with a humbling sense of resolve and determination: qualities...

06 June 2024

A speech by The Princess Royal at Bayeux War Cemetery to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

80 years on, let their memory still live on in our hearts.

06 June 2024

A speech by The King at the UK's National Commemorative Event in Portsmouth to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

The stories of courage, resilience and solidarity which we have heard today, and throughout our lives, cannot fail to move us, to inspire us, and to remind us of what we owe...

05 June 2024

A message from The King to the United Nations 4th International Conference on Small Islands Developing States

Your future is our future. Our islands, our oceans, our planet and, ultimately, all of us need bold and determined action.

28 May 2024

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen at the Charleston Festival 2024

Books and gardens are faithful friends to whom we can always turn to. They both have the ability to comfort, to cheer and to connect us with people and nature, reminding us...

16 May 2024
Press release 04 May 2024

Royal Patronages Review

Read more

A speech delivered by The Queen at a Reception to recognise those who support survivors of sexual assault and to relaunch of the Washbags Project

Thank you for sharing your stories, thank you for your kindness, thank you for not remaining strangers to those enduring the darkest of times, and, most of all, thank you for...

01 May 2024

The Queen's speech at a reception to recognise those who support survivors of sexual assault

Your stories and your experiences are vital tools as we seek to bring about change: to forge a world in which people, whoever and wherever they are, do not live in fear of...

01 May 2024
Press release 26 April 2024

The King returns to public-facing duties

Read more
Press release 27 April 2024

State Visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan

Read more

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen on her first visit to The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own), having been appointed as Colonel-in-Chief

My father described the Regiment as a “highly efficient entity, highly skilled, and full of personalities”, I have no doubt that your upcoming deployments will be...

23 April 2024