Meet The Bavarian Royals Who Could Have Been The British Royal Family Today

The current members of the House of Wittelsbach

With all the controversies and scandals hounding the British throne in recent times, one could not help but wondered, what if the British royal family is a different set of royals?  

What if the British throne was not given to Prince George of Hanover when Queen Anne died in 1714? What if it was inherited by her nearest relative from the House of Stuart? 

It could have been very different.

The British royal family at Trooping the Colours

The current British royal family directly descended (both the Queen and Prince Philip) from the royal House of Hanover, a royal house that succeeded the House of Stuart when the Parliament drafted an Act that barred all the Catholic descendants of the House of Stuart from mounting the British throne.

The Royal House of Stuart

Once upon a time, the British throne was occupied by the House of Stuart. 

When the last Tudorian monarch, Elizabeth I, died in 1603 without direct heirs, the throne passed to her nearest relative, King James VI of Scotland, a Stuart monarch, son of Mary Queen of Scots. 

He reigned in England as James I. And so began the bloodline of the Stuart in the British royal family. It paved the way for the union of Scotland and England, forming the geographical name of Great Britain.

As succession is determined through bloodline, the Royal House of Stuart continued to occupy the British throne. King James I was succeeded by his son, Charles I.

But as the English Parliament planned to curb the royal prerogatives of the monarch, King Charles I and his ministers in England were in constant disagreement. 

He also made enemies among the religious reformed groups in England, which viewed his religious policies as "too Catholics" and biased to protestants. 

Charles I married a Catholic French princess, Henrietta Maria, daughter of King Henry IV of France and Marie de Medici.

The political tension blew up into chaos that ensued the bloodiest civil war in England since War of the Roses, the English Civil War. The King was fighting against the Scottish and English parliaments.

However, in 1645, the King's soldiers were defeated and he was forced to surrender. He was tried and convicted for High Treason and executed in 1649.

The King's family - his wife and children, went to live in exile in France, then The Netherlands, where his daughter, Princess Mary, married a Dutch royal who became William II, Prince of Orange.

England became a de facto republic and the triumphant military leader, Oliver Cromwell, was assigned by the Parliament as England's Lord Protector, effectively placing the British isles under military rule.

In 1658, Oliver Cromwell died. Prince Charles began his campaign to take back the British throne. And in 1660, after reaching an agreement with the Scottish and English Parliament to transition the kingdom into a constitutional monarchy, he was proclaimed King Charles II.

However, the king had no legitimate children with his wife, Princess Catherine of Braganza. He had 11 children from different mistresses, including the 1st Duke of Grafton and the 1st Duke of Richmond where the respective fathers of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sarah, Duchess of York, descended, but none of them were eligible to succeed the throne.

When he died, his younger brother, the Duke of York, ascended the throne as King James II. However, James II was a Catholic, and he had a second wife, Princess Mary of Modena, who was also a Catholic. 

The Parliament began to worry that the king might have an heir-apparent who would be raised as a Catholic and their fears of religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, which they tried to avoid during the reign of King Charles I, might return.

The catalyst of Stuart's banishment

In the 18th century, religious tolerance made the English ministers wary of Catholic monarchs. They were still traumatized with the bloody reign of Queen Mary I, daughter of King Henry VIII, where many protestants were killed. And the "too Catholic" religious policies of King Charles I that created tension during his reign.

To prevent repeating religious tolerance in the kingdom, the English ministers devised a plan that would force James II to abdicate. He had two children from his first marriage to Lady Anne Hyde - Princesses Mary and Anne, who were raised as protestants. 

In 1688, he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution and was replaced by his eldest daughter, Princess Mary, jointly ruling with her husband, Prince William of Orange (also grandson of King Charles I through his eldest daughter, Princess Mary). 

They reigned in Britain as Mary II and William III. 

James II was expelled out of England and went to live in France, securing the safety of his heir, James Francis Edward, the disinherited Prince of Wales. They were protected by Henrietta Maria's brother, King Louis XIII of France.

However, Queen Mary II and King William III had no children, following their deaths, the British throne was inherited by Mary's younger sister, Princess Anne.

Around this time, the real heir, Prince James Francis Edward, raised an army to seriously challenge the legitimacy of his half-sister's reign, insisting his birthright as the rightful British king.

But the British parliament proclaimed its loyalty to Queen Anne. In 1701, the English parliament established the Act of Settlement of 1701 to prevent all Catholic descendants of the Stuart to inherit the British throne, and proclaimed that the next heirs would be the protestant descendants of Princess Sophia, cousin of Queen Anne who married the Prince of Hanover.

Queen Anne died without surviving children and the British throne was inherited by Princess Sophia's eldest son, George. He reigned as King George I and began the bloodline of Hanoverian royals in Britain.

What if the Stuart descendants were not barred?

But what if the Act of Settlement of 1701 was not established and the British throne was inherited by the House of Stuart and not by the Prince of Hanover? 

Then the reigning British monarch would not have been Queen Elizabeth II, who descended from the Hanoverian line, but Franz, the Duke of Bavaria, a direct descendant of Princess Henrietta, youngest sister of King Charles II, and could have been the next monarch after James Francis Edward's line became extinct.

HRH The Duke of Bavaria, Prince Franz

Prince Franz is currently the senior-male living descendant of King Charles I and the titular head of the House of Stuart, the legitimate claimant to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. 

He is also the head of the Royal House of Wittelsbach, the ruling family of the now defunct Kingdom of Bavaria in Germany.

He could have been the British king today had the Stuart descendants not deprived of their birth rights to succeed the British throne in the 18th century.

The Jacobite supporters (the name of group that supported the restoration of the British throne to the House of Stuart. Jacobite means supporters of King James II) still recognized him as King Francis II of England, Scotland and Ireland.

However, the Duke of Bavaria has not taken it seriously and never actually entertained any idea of pressing his ancestry into the British monarchy. 

He is living comfortably in Germany in magnificent castles and palaces, the properties he inherited from his ancestors, the Kings of Bavaria. He is also an avid art collector.

They could have been the British royals

But what if things were different in the 18th century? And King Francis II is the reigning British monarch? Will the British throne is running smoothly today?

With all the recent controversies happening in the British throne, it's very tempting to think of an alternative universe where history is different.

HRH Franz, Duke of Bavaria

Prince Franz and his family are relatively scandal-free. He currently lived in the splendid palace in Munich, the Nymphenburg. The historic castle in the Berg lake where King Ludwig II of Bavaria was believed to have been murdered, is his country home.

He did not marry, so his heir-presumptive is his younger brother, Prince Max who married Countess Elisabeth Douglas of the Swedish aristocracy, is heir to the headship of the House of Stuart and the Jacobite succession.

Prince Max and his wife, Countess Elisabeth Douglas

Countess Elisabeth is the sister of Rosita Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, the third wife of the 11th Duke of Marlborough, John Spencer-Churchill, a relative of British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

Prince Max and Countess Elisabeth have five daughters and all married into European aristocracy. Their eldest daughter, Duchess Sophie is now the Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein as the wife of Prince Alois, the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein.

Prince Alois and Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein

Their second daughter, Duchess Marie-Caroline, married Prince Philipp of Wurttemberg, their eldest daughter, Duchess Sophie Anastasia married in September 2018 to a French nobleman, Count Maximilien d'Andigne. 

Duchess Sophie of Wurttemberg and Count Maximilien d'Andigne

While their youngest, Duchess Maria Ana, married secondly to a German Baron, member to an old German nobility family.

Prince Max and Countess Elisabeth lived at Wildenwart Castle in Germany and at the Tegernsee estates, managing a large property including a brewery factory.

Prince Max's eldest daughter, Duchess Sophie, married the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein, Prince Alois, in 1994 and have four children. Their eldest son, Prince Joseph Wenzel, slowly rising to prominence as one of Europe's most important heirs.

Princess Sophie and Prince Alois. 
32oAQ09She could have been second in line to the British throne today if not for the Act of Settlement of 1701

Though the Bavarian kingdom ceased to exist following World War I, the House of Wittelsbach still recognized as a royal house and all its members bear the courtesy style of Their Royal Highnesses.

Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein

Franz, Duke of Bavaria is an honorary trustee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His private art collections are on permanent loan to the Pinakothek de Moderne art museum in Munich, Germany.

Public obsession over the British royals

The British royals are not the only royalty in the world, however, the public and the press are only obsessed with the House of Windsor, maybe because of the wide audience it has reached and the fascination it generated since Princess Diana's days.

As a result of this wide interest, they are always in the forefront of intrigues, agonizing with an obsessive press coverage, a slight mishap always landed them in the front pages, followed by months of public discussion.

The press put too much focus on them which made them more popular among royal fans, eclipsing other royals in Europe. This obsession eventually turned them into commodities instead of royalty doing serious business in the realms.

But if we only try to take a look of other royals in the world, who are also worthy of attention and fascination, maybe the British royal family is not that overrated attracting headlines.

In the alternate universe

So what if the British throne was inherited by the House of Stuart instead by the House of Hanover in 18th century? Will there be any difference on public perception and interest about the British monarchy? 

The current House of Wittelsbach has not involved in any controversies and their marriages are not messy. Currently, Prince Charles is the first-in-line of succession to the British throne, while his eldest son, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

In the Jacobite succession of the House of Stuart, it's Prince Max who is first-in-line and his eldest daughter, Sophie, the Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein, is the second-in-line. 

Duchess Marie-Caroline, younger sister of Princess Sophie, who married Prince Philipp of Wurttemberg, could have been Prince Harry.

Duchess Marie-Caroline is happily married with Prince Philipp and they have four children, the eldest being Duchess Sophie who married a French nobleman, Count Maximilien.

Life could have been easier and peaceful for the British royal family. However, things sometimes do not happen the way we want it to be, certain things need to occur to give us a different story of fairytale, and see its dark side.

The Act Born Out of Hatred

Royal historians viewed The Act of Settlement of 1701 as an Act of Parliament born out of hatred to deprive the Stuart descendants of their rights to claim the British throne.

Many have expected it to be overturned at the start of the new millennium because of its archaic provisions and discriminatory implication on religion. 

However, in 2013, the Act of Settlement of 1701 and Bill of Rights were amended through The Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. But the discrimination on religion was not lifted.

Under the Act of Settlement, a papist British monarch is still considered non-existent, meaning any royals who are in communion with Vatican are still barred from succeeding the British throne. 

This is due to the fact that a British monarch is the Supreme head of the Church of England, which is a protestant church.

Nonetheless, some royalists expressed disgust on this snobbery and, despite the British monarchy's support of fair choices on religion, the institution still considered discriminatory for shutting its door on Catholic royals.

The old wounds of religion division in the British monarchy is not yet healed. And because of this provision, a number of Queen's relatives are removed from the line of succession due to this provision, mostly on Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent's family.

His younger son, Lord Nicholas Windsor, and two grandchildren, Edward Windsor (Lord Downpatrick) and Lady Marina Windsor are removed from the line of succession due to their Catholic faith.

However, many believed, the refusal to lift the ban on Catholics is due to the effect of the legislation in the line of succession. 

It might be unintentionally legitimized the succession rights of the Stuart descendants.

Scottish Independence Referendum

For years now, the Scottish government expressed its interest to break away from the United Kingdom and become an independent nation once again.

In 2014 however, during the first Scottish Independence Referendum election, most Scots voted No to the proposal.

This year, the second referendum has been drafted and election is set this coming May. The referendum however did not specify if Scotland will revive the monarchy or change to republic should they voted for Yes to independence.

New Scottish royal family?

Should the Scottish government revive the monarchy after Scotland formalized its separation from the United Kingdom, the Stuart descendants will be back on the throne. 

The parliament of Scotland does not support the exclusion of the Catholic Stuart descendants from mounting the throne, therefore Prince Franz and his brother, Prince Max, are eligible to become Scottish kings.

The Hereditary Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein's family:
From left: Prince Georg, Prince Joseph Wenzel, Princess Sophie, Prince Alois, Princess Marie-Caroline and Prince Nikolaus 

Next in line is Princess Sophie, but she might not be eligible to succeed because she is the wife of the future Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein, nor her eldest son, Prince Joseph Wenzel, as he is his father's heir-apparent to the principality of Liechtenstein.

Prince Max's successor would be Princess Sophie's younger children. If Scotland will adopt the Absolute Primogeniture succession, then Princess Sophie's second child and only daughter, Princess Marie-Caroline, will be the heir-apparent. 

If male-preference primogeniture will be followed, then her second son and third child, Prince Georg, will most likely inherit the Scottish throne.

Until then, the future of the British monarchy partly relies on the outcome of the Second Scottish Independence Referendum election this May 2021.

Then and only then we could determine if there's a new royal family to watch for, and put an end to our obsession towards the British royals.

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