When the crown is lowered on the head of King Charles III on Saturday, there will be a man in Westminster Abbey who might think: ‘That should have been me.’
Simon Abney-Hastings, from Wangaratta, 250 km north of Melbourne, has been given the honor of wearing the gold spurs at Charles’ coronation ceremony – a tradition that dates back to Richard the Lionheart’s coronation in 1189.
But there are some historians who believe that it should really be Mr. Abney-Hastings, and not Charles, who sits on the throne.
His family’s claim to be the rightful heir to the English crown only came to light in 2004 after a leading historian found compelling evidence that the current royal family was actually the product of an illegitimate birth more than 500 years ago.
It has been argued that Edward IV, born in 1442, was not actually the real son of the Richard, Duke of York, and that the royal line should instead have been passed through his brother, George, Duke of Clarence – who was Mr. Abney Hastings is. 18th great-grandfather.
But while Mr. Abney-Hastings’ ancestors did not become kings and queens, the family line is still part of the aristocracy.
Some historians believe the 15th Earl of Loudon, Simon Abney-Hastings (pictured, centre), to be the true heir to the English throne
Mr Abney-Hastings has the honor of wearing the gold spurs at Charles’ ceremony on Saturday – a tradition dating back to Richard the Lionheart’s coronation in 1189
The ancient Scottish title of Earl of Loudoun has been passed down through the generations from 1633 to the present day with Mr Abney-Hastings, 48, becoming 15th Earl of Loudoun on the death of his father ten years ago.
The Earl, who runs a logistics haulage company in Wangaratta, is a devoted dog lover and often posts photos of his West Highland White Terrier named Bonnie Michael. He is also a big fan of Elton John and Adele.
He regularly posts on his Facebook page about the Melbourne Highland Games and the Celtic festival, of which he is a patron.
The hypothesis that his family has a claim to the throne was originally aired in a 2004 documentary called Britain’s Real Monarch.
The filmmakers tracked down Mr Abney-Hasting’s father, Michael, to his home in Jerilderie, New South Wales, where he had emigrated from North Yorkshire in the UK in the 1960s.
Mr. Abney-Hastings senior, a former beer-drinking rice farmer and jackaroo, was perplexed when he discovered he could be king.
‘Conflict!’ he exclaimed. “It’s bad enough being a Pomeranian here, never mind having a goddamn title.”
But after the documentary was shown, he changed his mind.
Mr Abney-Hastings (pictured, left) inherited the ancient Scottish title of Earl of Loudoun from his father, a former jackaroo and republican. His private secretary, Terence Guthridge (right), told Daily Mail Australia his son was “the complete opposite” and a “loyal and staunch supporter” of the current monarchy despite his claim to the throne.
The Earl will wear the gold spurs proudly at Saturday’s ceremony
Mr Abney-Hastings is proud of his Scottish heritage and is a patron of the Melbourne Highland Games
“The more I look at it, the more convinced I am that they are right and that I should probably become King of England,” he said.
He reportedly joked, “I think I can send Lizzie (Queen Elizabeth II) a bill for back rent. The old girl’s family has lived in my goddamn castle for 500 years.’
He passed away at the age of 69 in 2012 when his eldest, Simon, automatically inherited the title.
Terence Guthridge, the current private secretary to the Earl of Loudoun, told Daily Mail Australia he was “thrilled” at the chance to wear the gold spurs and had no plans to claim the throne.
“His father was a Republican, but Simon is the complete opposite,” he said.
“He is a monarchist and he has the title he has embraced, but he does not want to be seen by the current king – and certainly not by the previous queen – as someone who wants to claim the throne.
“He is a loyal and staunch supporter of the monarchy, including Charles, and they send each other Christmas cards every year and are on the best of terms.”
The Earl has been in London for the past week going through dress rehearsals and considering whether to wear his kilt or the red coronation robes.
What could have been: if life had turned out differently, Mr. Hastings could have been the boss at Buckingham Palace… instead he lives in a slightly more modest house in Wangaratta, 160 miles north of Melbourne
Their family’s claim to the throne is based on research by Dr Michael Jones, a medieval scholar from the University of Glasgow, who claimed to find evidence that King Edward IV was illegitimate.
Dr. Jones said he found in the archives of Rouen Cathedral a document from the 15th century that, when King Edward was conceived, his supposed parents – Richard, Duke of York, and Lady Cicely Neville – lived more than 100 miles from were separated from each other.
Richard was said to be fighting the French near Paris while his wife was in Rouen, allegedly having an affair with an archer.
If true, this voids Edward’s claim to the throne and any subsequent monarch, including the Windsors.
Instead, the royal line should have descended through Edward’s younger brother, George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence – King Richard III’s brother – all the way to the Earl of Loudoun: one Simon Abney-Hastings.
Dr. Jones told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘I’m delighted that Simon will be attending the coronation. He has every right to be there.
WHO WOULD HAVE ASKED IF IT HAD BEEN FOUND THAT EDWARD IV WAS ILLEGAL?
Edward III of England
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, third son (second son to survive infancy) of Edward III
Philippa Plantagenet, 5th Countess of Ulster, only child of Lionel
Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, first son of Philippa
Anne de Mortimer, first daughter, third line of Roger
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, only son of Anne
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, third son (second ‘legitimate’ son) of Richard
Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, second daughter, fourth line of George
Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, first son of Margaret
Catherine Hastings, first daughter, second line of Henry
George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, second son of Catherine
Francis Hastings, first son of George
Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon, only son of Francis
Ferdinando Hastings, 6th Earl of Huntingdon, eldest son of Henry
Theophilus Hastings, 7th Earl of Huntingdon, only son of Ferdinando
George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, first son of Theophilus
Theophilus Hastings, 9th Earl of Huntingdon, second son of Theophilus
Elizabeth Rawdon, 16th Baroness Botreaux, only daughter, second line of Theophilus, 9th Earl
Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, first son of Elizabeth
George Rawdon-Hastings, 2nd Marquess of Hastings, eldest legitimate son of Francis
Edith Rawdon-Hastings, 10th Countess of Loudoun, 1st daughter, 3rd line of George
Paulyn Francis Cuthbert Rawdon-Hastings, second son of Edith
Edith Maud Abney-Hastings, 12th Countess of Loudoun, first daughter, third line of Paulyn
Barbara Abney-Hastings, 13th Countess of Loudoun, first daughter, second line of Edith
Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, eldest son of Barbara
Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun, eldest son of Michael
Mr Abney-Hasting’s father Mike Hastings joked in 2004 that he might bill Queen Elizabeth for ‘back rent’ after discovering he had a claim to the throne
“If you accept the charge made at the time by some, including some of his family, that Edward IV was illegitimate, the Earl of Loudoun could be king.”
Mr Abney-Hastings is one of two Australians to play an official role in Charles’ coronation at Westminster Abbey.
The other is Sam Kerr, striker for the Chelsea women’s team and captain of the Australian national football team, who will carry the Australian flag.
The Australian Government will be represented at the ceremony by the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, alongside the King’s representative to Australia, the Governor-General, David Hurley, and the governors of the Australian states.
Australia will also be represented by, in the Prime Minister’s words, a group of its ‘outstanding citizens’, including musician Nick Cave and comedian Adam Hills.
The line of the Earl of Loudoun, compiled by his private secretary Terence Guthridge