Obit of the Day: The Man Who Should Be King
Edward IV was a bastard. Well, according to the research done by medievalist Michael Jones, he was. Edward, who ruled England from 1461 until his death in 1483 - with a brief interruption in 1470 - was the son of Richard Plantangenet, Duke of York and Cecily Neville. But according to Professor Jones, when Edward was conceived, in the summer of 1441, the Duke and his Duchess were 99 miles apart. This would lead one to wonder how the Duchess became pregnant. (William Shakespeare did as well, writing about the king’s suspicious paternity in Richard III.)
This piece of historical minutiae is of little consequence, except if you are Michael Abney-Hastings. Mr. Abney-Hastings became the 14th Earl of Loudon in 2002 upon the death of his mother. However, he had long ago cast off any royal trappings having left for Australia at the age of 18 with only £50 in his pocket. Over the next fifty-one years, Mr. Abney-Hastings would find himself taking on a variety of roles including as a hired hand, farm apprentice (called a “jackaroo” in Australia), a rice farmer, a town councillor, and a member of the local football club.
In 2002, Mr. Abney-Hastings was contacted by the BBC who wanted to speak to him about Professor Jones’ research. If Edward IV was, in fact, illegitimate, his brother George would have been the true heir. Following that blood line, the true king of England would be the rice farmer from Australia, Michael Abney-Hastings.
Although Mr. Abney-Hastings believed the information was true, he made no attempt to exert his claim to the throne. However his friends and neighbors, enjoyed the twist of fate and would sometimes welcome him to events by singing “God Save the King.” Mr. Abney-Hastings died at the age of 69.
You can watch the entire BBC documentary, Britain’s Real Monarch, here.
(Image of Edward IV is courtesy of wikimedia.org)
Additional sources: Wikipedia.org and BBC