Monday, February 12, 2007

From Could you claim the throne?

London - Hundreds of hopefuls have stepped forward to claim the throne of England after a worldwide quest by genealogists to find a rightful heir.

After rooting through their family trees, legions of French, Italian, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish and Canadian would-be royals bid for the monarchy.

More than a quarter of all claims came from the United States after English Heritage, an organisation which seeks to protect Britain's historical environment, placed advertisements in newspapers around the world.

The ads, asking people to supply documentary proof on, asked "Can you trace your family tree back to 1066? Might your ancestors have claimed the English throne?"

Dynastic confusion reigned supreme in the 11th century. Edgar Aetheling was named heir apparent by his great uncle King Edward the Confessor but was not crowned when the King died in 1066 because he was too young. Harold II was crowned instead.

William the Conqueror crossed over from Normandy, defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings. The teenage Aetheling later submitted to William.

Genealogist Nick Barratt revealed that researchers were looking for "gateway ancestors" who could trace their lineage back to St Margaret of Scotland. Then they could be in with a chance.

"If people can trace their lineage back to St Margaret, they are well connected to two of the key players," he said.

"A direct descendant of Alfred the Great, she was related to both Edward the Confessor and Edgar the Aetheling," he added.

Floodgates opened

The ads, designed to involve people in history, certainly opened the floodgates when English Heritage explored what might have happened if Harold had not died at Hastings.

"As many of the claimants met the desired criteria, it's fair to suggest England could have suffered something of a power struggle," said a spokesperson for English Heritage which is to put the claims on show at a new battlesite exhibition centre.

"We had a chap from Arizona who tracked himself back to St Margaret. A lady from California could trace herself back to Edgar and William the Conqueror and says she has a pair of handsome sons who would make perfect princes," the spokesperson told Reuters

"One Australian tied himself in with assorted 11th century royal families. A number of Scandinavians claimed Norse and Danish noble ties. We had many English claims from families called Ashling and Avling, suggesting a derivation of Aetheling.

We were exploring a 'What If?' scenario. Queen Elizabeth and the House of Windsor need not feel threatened. The throne is safe with them," the spokesperson added.

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