What completes the line from Shakespeare's 'Henry IV, Part Two': "- - - lies the head that wears a crown"?
The William Shakespeare (1564-1616) quote "uneasy is the head that wears a crown" is from the play 'Henry IV, Part 2' (1600). It is often misquoted as "heavy is the head", which is also the title of an album by grime rapper, Stormzy (born 1993). Both the original and the modern version have become an English idiom for someone who has great responsibilities and is constantly worried, therefore, unable to relax.
In the play, King Henry IV is complaining about his inability to sleep as he worries about the burden of the approaching war. Whilst others rest easy, Henry is aware that, as king, he must take responsibility for the outcome of the coming battle. It is this thought, along with his age and ill-health that keeps him awake at night.
Shakespeare encapsulates the King's insomnia with the phrase "uneasy is the head that wears the crown". The phrase also relates to contemporary situations, such as business and politics, where the leaders need to make decisions that may impact many people's lives, both positively and negatively. Their heads and thoughts may be "uneasy" or "heavy" as they lie in bed, deliberating over what decision to make, subsequently not going to sleep.
'Henry IV, Part 2, is set in the early fifteenth-century during the reign of King Henry IV of England. One of the main characters is Hal, who becomes King Henry V on the death of his father, who passes away after spending the play exhausted and sick from all his troubles.