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The Australian "Royal Family"

 

On January 3, 2004, Britain's Channel 4 TV showed a documentary, Britain's Real Monarch, in which Tony Robinson, perhaps best known for playing "Baldrick" in the BBC TV series Blackadder, presented evidence that had been discovered by the historian Michael K. Jones regarding the ancestors of the present British royal family.

On the death of Edward IV, his young son, also called Edward, reigned briefly but was never crowned. He and his brother Richard, Duke of York, were taken to the Tower of London, where their uncle Richard, who was to become Richard III, acted as their Lord Protector. It was then pronounced, on dubious grounds, that the young princes were illegitimate. Shortly afterwards, they disappeared and were never seen again. The accusing finger of history has pointed at Richard III ever since, although there is no conclusive proof of his involvement. However, he is alleged to have had his two young nephews smothered to death and in 1674 two skeletons of boys were found in the Tower and believed to be those of the young princes. The depiction of Richard III as a hunchbacked and evil man is largely the responsibility of Shakespeare and is thought to have originated as Tudor propaganda. For centuries the English King Richard III has been the subject of controversy. Some claim that as he was the last Plantagenet King, he was the last "Grail King" of England. This could explain the propaganda in Tudor times, as both Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I were painfully aware of their comparatively humble ancestry.

The true story, according to Tony Robinson, is quite different. He maintains that Edward IV himself was illegitimate and therefore the crown should have gone to his brother George, Duke of Clarence. The implications for both British and American history are enormous.

The mother of Edward IV was Cecily Neville. She was called "Proud Cis" because of her legendary feisty temper. Dominic Mancici, who was visiting London in 1483, reported that Cecily "fell into a frenzy," making the incredible, self-deprecating accusation that Edward IV was illegitimate and that she would be prepared to swear to that effect before a public enquiry. It was an extraordinary thing for a mother to admit to. There had been a rumor that she had had an affair with an English archer named Blaybourne, who may have been the real father. Edward IV was tall and bore no physical resemblance to either his siblings or his ancestors. He looked, in fact, like a well-built archer. Blaybourne was based in the garrison at Rouen in Normandy, France, which is where Cecily and her husband, Richard, the Duke of York, lived. According to conclusive evidence in the archbishopric records at the cathedral of Rouen, Cecily's husband, Richard, was away fighting at Pontoise in another part of France during the five weeks period in which the future Edward IV would have been conceived.

The future Edward IV therefore appears to have been the result of the relationship that Cecily had with Blaybourne. However the matter was never taken very seriously and historians have said that the incident arose because of two reasons. First, Cecily wanted to blacken Edward's name because she hated his wife, Elizabeth Woodville. Second it is said that she was bullied into the admission by her other son, also called Richard, to enhance his chances of becoming King Richard III.

Edward was born in Rouen on April 28, 1442, and although he was the eldest son, he was not legitimate, and therefore not entitled to inherit the throne. Edward IV had his younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, tried for treason and he is thought to have met his end by drowning in a vat of malmsey wine in order to avoid the shame of execution. This means that Richard was the only true heir and successor to the throne immediately following his brother George's death and it helped clear the way for Richard to come to the throne. His cause was therefore a source of inspiration to his soldiers on the field of battle.

The descendants of George, Duke of Clarence were treated despicably. His daughter, Margaret Pole, who should have been Margaret I of England, was beheaded at the age of 68 during the reign of Henry VIII in 1541, based on trumped-up treason charges. Other members of her family were left to waste away in the Tower of London. Her last words were: "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." At the time, the regular executioner was unavailable. His unskilled deputy was unable to perform the execution properly and cleanly, and so just chopped away at her neck until she was dead.

Despite this unseemly death, her bloodline has continued in a direct line from this point on. Non-regal names such as Edith, Barbara and Ian abound in their family tree and the present "King" of England is, in fact, Michael Hastings, a portly Australian man who voted against the continued British constitutional monarchy in Australia, and for a republic. He was neither fazed nor excited upon Tony Robinson telling him of his illustrious title. He left England in 1960 for Australia at the age of seventeen and joined a stocking station agency that traded in livestock and property. He has lived in Jerilderie, New South Wales, which has a population of 1100, since 1966. These days he works at the Australian Rice Research Institute. He and his wife Noelene have five children and five grandchildren - all, like their father, staunch republicans. Michael's eldest son, Simon, is his heir.

We have to consider and accept the fact that monarchy can exist only as a bloodline in modern times. Otherwise it has no significance whatsoever and certainly no connection with what we understand to be democracy. As if the damaging legacy of the Donation of Constantine were not enough to contemplate, the illegitimacy of Edward IV means that none of the monarchs of Britain have reigned legitimately!

For example, George III, who was the monarch of Britain at the time of the American War of Independence, was in no position to lose the war in his name. However, since previous monarchs had been unable to hold the colony in their name for the same reasons, perhaps the argument is merely academic.

In turn this means that none of the laws that British monarchs have rubber-stamped or endorsed have any legal meaning. The monarchy has a rough ride in the British press at times but nobody has seriously suggested before that their presence is not valid from the point of view of their bloodline! They should perhaps be grateful that the "legal" occupiers of the British throne are, ironically, so anti-monarchist that their position is likely to remain unthreatened.

It would be interesting, perhaps, to see what Dan Brown would make of this story.

   
 
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