James II had 27 children by two wives and two mistresses. The only one we need to mention is James Francis Edward Stuart, also known as the “Old Pretender”. He was born in 1688, shortly before his father was deposed in the Glorious Revolution, lived in France and assumed the title James III (or VIII of Scotland) on the death of his father in 1701.
In 1714, with Queen Anne nearing the end of her life, he was offered the throne if he would convert to the Protestant religion. He refused, and landed in Scotland in 1715 in an attempt to depose George I. Unable to secure military success he left for the continent a lived in Rome for the rest of his life. When he died in 1766 his “reign” had lasted 64 years, 3 months and 16 days, compared to 63 years, seven months and two days for Queen Victoria. Only the current Queen has reigned longer.
Next in this line is Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender. He tried to take the throne in 1745, coming as far south as Derby, before retreating to Scotland, where the Battle of Culloden became the last battle fought on British soil.
His brother Henry, a cardinal, became Henry IX of England and I of Scotland and was, in his later days, supported financially (to the tune of £4,000 a year) by George III. He died in 1807 and was the last Jacobite to claim the throne.
Frederick, Prince of Wales, was the son of George II; when the family left for England, he was left in Hanover and did not see his parents for 14 years. This may be why he was a difficult child and opposed his father in most things, even going so far as to secure the release of Flora MacDonald from the Tower after she was imprisoned for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape after the 1745 Rebellion.
He was a great cricket fan and supported the game financially as well as playing for the county of Surrey. In the 1733 season he presented a silver cup to the Surrey and Middlesex team that beat Kent – the first recorded cricket trophy. He died in 1751, probably from a pulmonary embolism, though some sources say it was a lung abcess caused by a blow from a cricket ball.
Fredericksburg, Virginia, Prince Frederick, Maryland , Fort Frederick, Maine, Fort Frederick, South Carolina, Fort Frederick, New York, Fort Frederica, Georgia, Fort Frederick, Maryland, Point Frederick, Ontario, Fort Frederick, Ontario and Fort Frederick, New Brunswick are all named after him.
We can only speculate what would have happened if he had lived to succeed his father, some historians suggest that the future of America might have been very different. Well, the place names certainly would be. However, he didn’t, and his son eventually became George III. George III was suceeded by two of his sons – George IV and William IV. William had no legitimate children but ex-Prime Minister David Cameron is descended from one of the illegitimate ones.
That brings us in orderly fashion to Queen Victoria and then Edward VII. Edward nearly became a King we didn’t have, suffering from typhoid (the disease that killed his father) whilst staying near Scarborough in 1871, being shot at by a Belgian student in 1900 and finally going down with appendicitis in 1902 just two days before the Coronation. He survived (and made surgery for appendicitis more popular – until that point they just tried to nurse people through it).
The oldest son of Edward, Prince Albert Victor was at the centre of many stories concerning him contracting embarrassing diseases, fathering illegitimate children and even being Jack the Ripper. He was also rumoured to be a visitor to a homosexual brothel. Despite all the accusations nothing was ever proved. In fact the Ripper allegations can be absolutely disproved by a record of his movements and engagements. He could even count the German Royal Family amongst people able to provide an alibi.
He died from influenza in 1892, though there were even rumours about this. His bride to be, Princess Mary of Teck, was recycled by his family and married his brother, the future George V. (Not the first time we’ve heard this during this series of posts).
Really that’s the end of the story. It’s tempting to add Edward VIII to the list but as he became King, even if it was just for a short while, he doesn’t really count. The Abdication, to be honest, was a good thing, as a King who supported the Nazis would not have been an asset in wartime.