Britain's Real Monarch
By Peter Meyer
This is the title of a TV documentary by Tony Robinson shown on Britain's Channel 4 on January 3, 2004, and again on November 20, 2004. This documentary presented persuasive evidence that the present Queen of England does not have a valid claim to the throne that she has occupied since 1952.
A legitimate claimant to the English throne must be descended from Henry II (reigned 1154-1189) in an unbroken line of descent in which all members were born legitimately, that is, their parents were married at the time of their birth. If a line of descent passes through someone who was born out of wedlock then no descendant of that person has a legitimate claim to the throne of England.
Now let us examine the validity of the claim of the present Queen of England to the throne. This is most easily done by inspection of the family tree of Henry II given at http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/i-m/monarchtree.html. Here we see that Queen Elizabeth II traces her descent back through Victoria (reigned 1837-1901), James I (reigned 1603-1624) and Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) to Henry's father Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509).
Henry VII was descended from John of Gaunt (lived 1340-1399) who was descended from Henry II. Unfortunately for the legitimacy of Henry VII's claim to the throne, his descent from John of Gaunt was by way of the latter's mistress (later wife) Katherine through her son John Beaufort. Since John Beaufort was born out of wedlock, this descent could not be used to legitimate Henry VII's claim to the throne (though John and the other three children of John of Gaunt and Katherine, all born out of wedlock, were legitimized retrospectively by an act of parliament in 1397).
In order to support the claims of Henry VII's future offspring and descendants (and for the purpose of ending the civil war between the Houses of York and Lancaster), in 1486 Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, who claimed to be descended from Edward III (the father of John of Gaunt) and thus from Henry II. It is from the union of Henry VII and Elizabeth that all modern kings and queens of England are descended. But if Edward IV was illegitimate then none of his descendants (and thus none of Henry VII's descendants) had or have a valid claim to the throne of England.
Edward IV's mother, Cecily Neville (herself descended from Edward III) was married to Richard, Duke of York. On the Channel 4 website we read:
According to Dominic Mancini, an Italian visitor to London in 1464, Cecily 'fell into a frenzy' at news of the marriage of her eldest surviving son Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville and, in her rage, made the astounding accusation that he was a bastard, adding that she would be prepared to testify before a public enquiry that this was indeed the case.
At the time of Edward's birth it was rumored that his natural father was an English archer. In fact Edward was tall and (unlike his younger brother Richard III) did not resemble his father in physical appearance.
Although later known for her piety as well as her pride, it is rumoured that, in the summer of 1441, she [Cecily] had an affair with an English archer named Blaybourne based in the Rouen garrison in Normandy while her husband was elsewhere in France fighting. The future Edward IV is said to have been the result of this liaison.
According to documents discovered by Dr Michael Jones in Rouen Cathedral there was a 5-week period when Richard was 100 miles away from his wife, leading a military campaign against the French, during which Edward was conceived, so Richard could not have been Edward's father, and so Edward's parents were not married at the time of his birth. Thus Edward IV had no legitimate claim to the English throne, and so none of his descendants have had either, nor does the present Queen of England, her son Charles and her grandson William.
Tony Robinson asked the question: If the succession of kings and queens from Edward IV to Elizabeth II is illegitimate, is there an alternative, legitimate line of descent? And if so, has it persisted to the present day?
The answer to both questions is Yes. Again consulting http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/i-m/monarchtree.html we see that after the birth of Edward there were two sons born to Cecily and Richard. The youngest, Richard, became King Richard III in 1483 but died childless in the Battle of Bosworth (1485). The second son was George, Duke of Clarence, who was executed in 1478. His daughter Margaret (lived 1473-1541) had five children and among her present-day descendants is Michael Hastings (born 1942), who emigrated to Australia in 1960, married, fathered five children, and currently lives in Jerilderie, New South Wales. Since the line of descent from Henry II to Michael Hastings is legitimate, and the line of descent from Henry II to Elizabeth II is not legitimate, it follows that Michael Hastings is Britain's legitimate king, and the present occupant of Buckingham Palace has no valid claim to be Queen of England.
For a very detailed family tree beginning with George, Duke of Clarence, see Alan Freer's Descendants of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence. Michael Hastings appears on the first page of this family tree as Michael Edward Lord, eldest son of Barbara Huddleston Abney-Hastings. See also Tim Midgley's The True English Monarch?.
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