Wessex claim to the throne of England

In 1065 Harold Godwinsson was the Earl of Wessex and overlord of most all of England save Mercia. As one of the chief advisors to King Edward, he was in a perfect position to sway the King's mind. In reality, the royal banner, the Golden Dragon of Wessex, followed Harold wherever he traveled, and most Englishmen viewed the Earl of Wessex as the ruler of England during the declining years of Edward the Confessor. In fact, he had attained the titles Dux Anglorum, Leader of the English, and was considered subregulus, or underking to Edward. As a strong leader and true Englishman, Harold might well have been a favorite for the succession among the people of England. As the grandson of a simple farmer, however, he was only a commoner by birth.

Would Harold Godwinsson really have had an ambition to take the throne of England? Even his father, the great Godwin, had known the Earl of Wessex would always be the power behind the throne, never sitting on it himself. Why didn't Harold just expect to be regent under Edgar the Aetheling until the boy was old enough to be King? After all, Edgar must have been about fifteen years old in 1066; old enough to be considered a man and thus not too young to be in line for the throne. Harold had all but worn the crown of England under Edward as his father had before him; surely Harold would have expected to maintain that power under a young King Edgar. As depicted in Godiva and the Golden Dragon, Harold of England may well have simply found himself caught up in events that were out of his control.

Aelfgar's ties with Wales did lead Harold and Tostig Godwinsson to invade Wales in 1063. The history seems to show that they were there to subjugate the strong Welsh king, but in fact the Welsh people themselves did probably present the head of King Gruffydd of Wales to Harold. Did Harold Godwinsson undertake a treacherous winter campaign against the Welsh simply to impress King Edward as some would believe? Godiva and the Golden Dragon presents a different reason for Harold's trek into Wales, as he attempts to find Godiva who has fled from England.