There has been much speculation in the press recently, (well a lot in the Daily Mail and the Guardian this week) that the Queen’s ancestry has been called into question. It seems that those marvellous archaeologists who dug up Richard III (above) from underneath what had become a Leicester car park have run some DNA tests. And it seems that they do not match some other royal figures.
It seems that old Dick has one sort of Y chromosome and others who claim ancestry from the Plantagenet line have another. The dark suspicion (in the minds of Daily Mail readers is that The Queen is illegitimate and they might just might be in line to be discovered as the rightful kin or queen of Britain) Provided that is a Queen long ago in the past did the dirty with a filthy commoner and sired a line of upstarts. Oh whom the Queen (Gor bless her) might be one. The best guess is that John of Gaunt is that bastard, in which case its real bad news for middle class genalogists.
A nation trembles.
All of which rather saddens one interested in history and Constitutional Law. In Great Britain ones right, or chance, of being Head of State does not require a descent from a Plantagenet such as Edward I (think of Charles Dance in Game of Thrones), or any Tudor or William the Conqueror, or Cnut. or Edmund Backsides, Cerdic or even Ivar the Flatulent.
It was all sorted out a long while back and is neatly and succulently covered by a dull statute called ” The Act of Settlement 1701” sitting quietly ready to be read by anyone not distracted by the Daily Mail.
You see it was like this. After the dreadful conflict of the English Civil War of the 1640’s and the following Commonwealth, when Parliament regained control and were able to establish Charles II as King they were determined never to fall back into that chaos again. The bloodless “Glorious Revolution” let Parliament destroy forever the notion of Divine Right and established instead Parliament as the arbiter of who is King.
At the end of century the two main figures, William III of England and II of Scotland, and Anne were neither likely to produce an heir. So what was Parliament to do, and what to avoid any chance of a further religious civil war? They sought a descendent of James I and VI who was a) Protestant, b) a person with a lot of children who could provide a slew of heirs and spares for all time coming.
They lighted on Sophia, the Electress of Hanover a great grand-daughter of James VI. You may remember her as the daughter of the Winter King who had fled into exile after the Battle of the White Mountain. And yes it does all sound like the Hobbit. That’s European History for you.
In The Act of Settlement 1701, any child or descendant of hers may be eligible to be monarch (just not the ones born Catholic, or married to Catholics). There are now some 5,000 of these. Her son became George I, and the rest as they say, is journalism.
But whatever, whoever, is monarch has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with a bloodline to Edward I or II any other bloody Stuart or Stewart or William the Conquer, or whoever.
Dont you just wish Journalism would inform as much as blogs?
Copyright David Macadam 2014.