I must be feeling grumpy this week, because this item has really got under my admittedly sensitive skin. Not that it is fake news, but it certainly falls somewhere between the twin stools of a classic no-news story, and an item to buoy up the gaiety of nations. It could just be sloppy journalism or the papers taking their readers for fools. I even fear they are playing a fantasist for laughs. I just can’t decide.
The press here in Britain and right across the US are full of the tale of Allan V Evans of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, who took out a very large and presumably very expensive advertisement in The Times (of London) stating his claim to the Throne of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other territories and dominions etc, etc. And the press in their droves are giving this load of old guff credence.
Pure Gold just pure unadulterated gold
It seems that Allan, the big fat happy bastard pictured above in his trade mark low key casual untucked shirt so favoured these days by the likes of the Swedish Royals, has decided that he is going to press his claim to be Monarch of Great Britain in thirty days time once his booking into the nearest Premier Inn is confirmed.
For Allan says he has proven a descent from none less than the royal Welsh line of Cunedda Wledig back in the third century AD. Allan believes that the “Truth” has been hidden from his family and the people of Wales. Lucky Wales.
To have reached this apex of the family historian’s craft he must have spent years researching his genealogy and it is no bad feat to get as far back as the sixteenth century, far less the time of William the Conqueror. To get back to 300 AD is little short of astonishing. In fact it is astonishing. Unbelievable even.
But even this will not bear at all on his claim. What Allan, and to be fair other stray genealogists over the years, have failed to realise is that being eligible for the British Throne does not rely on strange obscure descents from Ivar the Flatulent, Charles the fat, the Princes in the Tower or any other genealogical nugget that you think you might have turned up.
The British long since had had quite enough thank you of leaving the decision as to who might be their monarch to chance stray rellies turning up from the outer reaches of the colonies waving antique deeds or certificates. It was all sorted out in the eighteenth century and the formula is written down in two statutes which should have been well known to these newspaper editors (even if they escaped Allan diligent reading). The first was The Bill of Rights 1689 and the second the Act of Settlement 1701 (as amended 2015).
It all goes back to James Stuart (James VI) the son of Mary Queen of Scots and the King of Scotland. He was also the nephew of the childless Elizabeth of England. So, when Elizabeth died in 1603 James also became King of England and first of that name. Hence James VI and I.
James VI and I, had a son who became King Charles I. He was not popular and a poor politician. There was a civil war, once called The English Civil War, but nowadays the term The War of Three Nations is preferred by more trendy historians. Charles as captured, tried and executed in 1649. End of monarchy.
The following period where there was no king (inter-regnum) was called the Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell was the leader of this and he called himself Lord Protector. After his death the by now very unpopular Commonwealth was removed and Charles I’s much jollier son Charles II returned from exile and the glory days of the Restoration began.
Now Charles II was genealogically very prolific but only sired bastards so when he died the crown went to his brother James VII and II. Ok so far? James’s problem was that he was openly a Catholic and Parliament was concerned that should his descent be established to his son also James there would be a return to Civil War. So, Parliament basically took matters into their own hands and gave the Crown jointly to his daughter Mary II and her protestant husband William III of Orange. (He is better known these days to many as King Billy). This usurpation was called the “Glorious Revolution”. Glorious because no one seems to have died, because it went well, and because power was established with Parliament. From here on in Monarchs in Britain would rule by grace of Parliament not by God and ( other Editors please note) certainly not by genealogy. This is all enshrined in the Bill of Rights 1689 mentioned above. You keeping up Allan?
The joint monarchy was a great success except for one thing. There were no surviving children, which meant that by the beginning of the eighteenth century Parliament found itself back at square one. What to do? James II had legitimate children in the form of James (The Old Pretender and father of Bonnie Prince Charlie) who was decidedly Catholic. The fear being that another Catholic monarch might once again start a civil war and more importantly take back some of Parliament’s powers.
Alternatively, there was Sophia, the daughter of Princess Elizabeth Stuart of Bohemia and a grand-daughter of James VI and I. Sophia rejoiced under the term Electress of Hanover and was the daughter of the wonderfully named Winter King. She had retreated into exile following the Battle of the White Mountain proving that British history can sound quite Tolkienesq even late on. Sophia was not the most eligible Stuart, genealogically hardly first in line, but Sophia was wonderfully fertile and was quite pushing the little delights out like sausages. The golden card she also had was that she and her family were staunch Protestants. For Parliament, this meant that if they settled matters on Sophia there would be little chances the lineage would run out and it would stay Protestant. Hence the second statute the Act of Settlement 1701 which boiled down to the monarch can only be a descendant of Sophia and must also be a Protestant.
It’s all quite clear really. Allan has no chance, and never ever did, and the papers by giving him publicity are taking advantage of him and showing him up as a deluded ill-informed fool.
I might feel a twinge of sorrow, had I not also noted that back in 2012 Allan was the litigant and his own representative in a dispute over the ownership of 400 acres of land in Twigg Co Georgia . Allan thought his ancestors owned this and took them all to court. Problem was Allan did not have any evidence and only irritated “His Honor” by claiming that all the relevant papers had gone up in smoke in a fire in 1901. His constant interruptions. and wearing that awful T shirt probably didn’t help either. He was knocked back but undaunted took the matter and his shirt to appeal where it was knocked back again with Prejudice meaning the Court would not entertain any further representations in the matter. A professional deluded ill-informed fool then.
Now I cannot wait for Allan to pop along to the Palace, in that awful shirt, to press his claim.
Copyright David Macadam 2017