Tuesday, 22 May 2007
King Michael of Australia?
It appears that a group of republicans have latched on to the following 2004 story and are trying to make mischief:
BBC NEWS STORY: "Aussie is 'Heir to the Crown'" (first reported 5 January 2004).
A forklift truck driver in a remote Australian town is the rightful King of England, a historian has claimed
"Dr Michael Jones says Queen Elizabeth's claim to the throne is false because her distant ancestor, Edward IV, was illegitimate. He concludes that the crown should have passed instead through another royal line which today ends at British-born Michael Abney-Hastings, 62.
"King Michael" said he was shocked by the news - but remained a republican.
He said it was "unlikely" that he would go to Buckingham Palace to claim the crown.
Dr Jones' thesis, explored in a recent television documentary, suggests that Edward IV, who reigned from 1461 to 1483, was conceived when his parents were 160 kilometres apart.
His "father", Richard Duke of York, was fighting the French at Pontoise, near Paris, while his mother, Lady Cicely Neville, was at court in Rouen. She was said to be spending much of her time in the company of a local archer with whom she was rumoured to be having an affair.
Dr Jones said Edward IV's alleged illegitimacy means the crown should instead have been passed down the Plantagenet line - ending at Mr Abney-Hastings. The unlikely heir lives in Jerilderie, a small town 640km southwest of Sydney, in New South Wales, where he moved from the UK as a teenager.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet," he said.
The farm forklift truck driver said he had already known he was descendant of the Plantagenet family - and 14th Earl of Loudon in Scotland - but never guessed he could be a contender to the throne.
"I'm definitely a republican," he said.
"As much as I love England, I honestly feel in this day and age Australia should be standing on its own feet in everything, and that means we have to be a republic. In the last referendum we had on it, I actually voted to become a republic."
He said it was "very unlikely" he would go to London and demand entry at Buckingham Palace. But he quipped, "I'll hedge my bets."
Mr Abney-Hastings, who is widowed, said he was treated the same as ever by friends and family - except on Christmas Day, when he was welcomed to dinner with a rendition of God Save the King.
He said his eldest son had not mentioned inheriting his crown, and warned: "He'll have to wait. It's not available till I go."
Buckingham Palace, meanwhile, refused to respond specifically to the claims, saying any conclusions reached in the television documentary were "a matter for the programme makers". STORY ENDS
Buckingham Palace may have wisely chosen to remain silent on this issue but this Monarchist is not fettered by the same constraints.
Dr. Michael Jones and his cohorts and, indeed, all who have advocated this theory, appear to have a very poor grasp of history, biology and the constitution.
It is easiest to rebut the story in point form:
1. The programme host and historian contend that during the period in which Edward IV was supposed to have been conceived, his father, The Duke of York, was at war in Pontoise. The Duke of York was away from his wife (who was in Rouen) for 2.5 weeks either side of the alleged point of conception. The programme failed to consider the possibility of a late pregnancy and unfairly dismissed the concept of a premature birth. It is quite ridiculous for a serious scholar to dismiss either possiblity in such a cavalier manner. If one takes into account the very real possibilty of either a premature or a delayed birth it is entirely plausible that Edward IV was conceived whilst the Duke of York was in England.
2. Even if we accept that Edward IV was a bastard it is of no great concern since his father accepted him as his legitimate issue. The significance of such recognition appears to have been lost upon all who have reported this story. Legitimacy is a legal concept. ****Edward IV was legitimate in law.**** End of story.
3. Those advocating for this theory place far too much emphasis on the notion of primogeniture as the all-important factor for deciding who would reign in this period. In Medieval England primogeniture was not as important as it would later become. If it were we would not have had a King John.
Similarly, the programme and subsequent articles fail to consider the impact of the Tudors (or the Hanoverians for that matter). Henry VII became king by the ancient concept of the "Mandate of Heaven", having defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485. Henry VII was not the rightful genealogical successor; he became King by right of battle and later secured his position through marriage to Edward IV's daughter.
Whether or not Edward IV was legitimate, the Wars of the Roses would most likely still have been fought and Henry VII may still have become King.
4. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 also appears to have been forgotten. Parliament invited William of Orange to come to Britain -- causing King James II to flee. Mary was not next in the line of succession (that was James "III", the Old Pretender) and so again we have an example of primogeniture taking secondary position.
5. Most important of all, the programme (and articles) completely ignores the critical fact that our Sovereign, HM The Queen, reigns not by virtue of her Plantagenet descent but because of the ACT OF SETTLEMENT!
In 1701 Parliament decided that the Hanoverians should reign and, in choosing a king, passed over many persons who had a better genealogical claim than George I; the Electress Sophia became the person from whom descent was to be traced, not Edward IV! Parliament has decided the matter. Conclusion: The whole issue of Edward IV's illegitimacy is completey irrelevant. Arrant nonsense!