Rightful British throne Heirs

As the culmination of the celebration of the 60th year on the British throne of Queen Elizabeth II draws nearer, interest to take a look back at the monarchy's glorious past continues to fascinate people especially royalists. 

This fascination became more intense when The Telegraph UK published an article about the death of the "rightful King of England", Michael Abney-Hastings in Australia.

It was claimed in the news that Abney-Hastings, the 14th Earl of Loudoun, who was born in Sussex, England and migrated to Australia with his family, was a direct descendant of George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence and the brother of King Edward IV of England.

George was supposed to be the rightful heir to the throne because Edward's birth was put into question. His father, Richard, the Duke of York, spent most of his time away from the court of Rouen, where his family lived, and did not have any contact with his wife, Lady Cecille Neville, for many months. 

It was believed that Edward's father was a local archer in Rouen named Blaybourne whom Cecille had befriended while Richard was away in the battlefield. If indeed Edward was illegitimate then the throne should be rightfully occupied by the descendants of George Plantagenet down to the offspring of Michael Abney-Hastings, and not by the descendants of Edward IV.

This controversial history, which was even made into a documentary TV show in Australia entitled "British Real Monarchs", made me to go back to the long-forgotten story of Princess Eleanor, the Fair Maid of Brittany, who was the rightful heiress to the throne of England after the death of her childless paternal uncle, King Richard I, the Lionhearted, who brought her up and her younger brother, Prince Arthur, when her father, Prince Geoffrey, died in 1186.

Eleanor was the eldest child of Prince Geoffrey, the Duke of Brittany and the fourth son of King Henry II of England. Geoffrey died three years before the death of his father, Henry II. During 11th century, England was in trouble. Wars, political tension and claimants to the throne became so common that primogeniture law on succession was not clearly established. 

England follows a primogeniture law on succession, in the event that the eldest brother died, his children would take place in the line of succession ahead of his younger brothers, thus, Prince Arthur would be the next King and Princess Eleanor would be the heiress presumptive before Prince John, the youngest son of King Henry II, could take the throne.

When King Richard I died in 1199, Eleanor was only 15 and Arthur was 12, the power struggle between Arthur and Prince John took place, since the siblings were minors with few supporters, they were defeated and captured by John. He had them imprisoned and were never to be freed again. Days later, Arthur disappeared mysteriously, many believed he was murdered. Eleanor was closely guarded and was not permitted to marry to avoid dispute on the English throne succession. 

There were several attempts from powerful men, including King Philip II of France, to free Eleanor, some even attempted to help her escape but to no avail. When John died, his eldest son, Henry ascended the British throne. Viewing Eleanor as a potential threat to the throne and afraid to gain support from the public, he and his powerful men in the court made sure she could never escape, she was moved to different places and constantly monitored her keepers. 

Princess Eleanor's imprisonment lasted 39 years, she was held prisoner at the age of 18 and died in captivity at the age of 57. She was not able to marry. Such was the sad fate of an innocent woman deprived with her right of succession to the throne. Her only mistake was that she was the rightful heiress to the throne of England. 

Princess Eleanor was not the only woman with a strongest claim to the English throne who was deprived with the crown. Princess Mathilde, the only surviving child of King Henry I was also denied the same fate. Princess Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV was another, but her story was different. Elizabeth's two brothers were imprisoned at the instigation of their uncle, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, and were believed to have murdered in the tower of London.

After the death of her two younger brothers, Elizabeth would have been the next monarch before her uncle, could take the throne. But the unscrupulous Richard won over and reigned in England as Richard III. Though she did not become Queen Regnant, Elizabeth married Henry Tudor, who would become King Henry VII and the one who defeated Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth. Elizabeth became the Queen Consort and the mother of King Henry VIII, thus the grandmother of the first two female monarchs in England, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Here's the list of the rightful monarchs of England. Had they were not denied what was due to them, they would have been England's recognized rulers.

Monarch: Henry I                    
Supposed Successor: Mathilde                      
Relation to the King: Daughter
The one succeeded:  Stephen of Blois
Relation to the King: Nephew
Reason: Fears grew among the powerful barons if a female could really rule a Kingdom, thus Mathilde was not supported by men in the court.

Monarch: Richard I                    
Supposed Successor: Arthur                          
Relation to the King: Nephew
The one succeeded:  John
Relation to the King: youngest brother
Reason: John had Arthur and his sister, Eleanor, imprisoned

Monarch: Richard II                  
Supposed Successor: Lionel of Antwerp                          
Relation to the King: eldest uncle
The one succeeded:  Henry of Lancaster
Relation to the King: youngest uncle
Reason: Battle over succession in the famous "War of the Roses"

Monarch: Edward IV                  
Supposed Successor: Edward, the Prince of Wales                          
Relation to the King: eldest son
The one succeeded:  Richard of Gloucester
Relation to the King: younger brother
Reason: Deceit and betrayal

Monarch: James II            
Supposed Successor: James Stuart                          
Relation to the King: eldest son
The one succeeded:  Mary
Relation to the King: daughter
Reason: James was raised a Catholic and powerful men in the court barred Catholics from ascending the throne. James was exiled and Mary, who was raised a protestant, reigned in England with her husband, William III.

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