Last update: April 30, 2023, 2:22 p.m. HST
As the son of a farmhand in outback Australia, Simon Abney-Hastings could be an unlikely choice to receive an invitation to King Charles III’s coronation.
But when he takes his place in Westminster Abbey next week, he will be the only person other than those in the line of succession who could actually claim the throne.
As unlikely as it may seem, the storyline is based on the research of British medieval historian Michael Jones.
Two decades ago, he discovered a document in Rouen Cathedral in France which he says is proof that King Edward IV was illegitimate.
During the five weeks that Edward could have been conceived, according to Jones, his father Richard of York was actually 160 kilometers (100 miles) from his wife Cecily Neville, Duchess of York.
As a result, argued Jones, Edward was not the rightful heir to the throne and the succession should instead have passed through Edward’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, who is a direct ancestor of Abney-Hastings. .
Although the family does not own any land or stately homes in the UK, by virtue of their line they have inherited the ancient Scottish title of Earl of Loudoun.
Abney-Hastings’ father, Michael, emigrated from the UK to Australia in 1960.
Michael inherited the title from his mother, the 13th Countess of Loudoun, in 2002 and he passed it on her death in 2012 to Simon, who is the 15th Earl.
In recognition of the family’s legacy, Simon Abney-Hastings, 48, is one of 13 people to take on ceremonial roles in large part because they managed to prove their ancestors played a part especially in previous coronations.
The current Earl said on Twitter that he was “delighted and truly honoured” to be asked to play the same role as his ancestors on May 6.
The counts of Loudon have traditionally been the wearers of gold spurs since the 12th century.
In previous centuries, spurs – signifying the monarch’s role as head of the armed forces – were attached to the feet of the new ruler.
More recently, they ceremonially touch the heels of the monarch before being placed on the altar.
‘King Michael I’
The startling implications of the discovery of Rouen Cathedral came as a shock to the Abney-Hastings family almost 20 years ago.
A British documentary crew visited an unsuspecting Michael Abney-Hastings at his home in Australia for the 2004 program “Britain’s Real Monarch”.
Much to the amusement of his family, they were told that new research indicated that Edward IV was illegitimate, which “means you are the rightful king of England”.
Abney-Hastings replied that he was aware of a “remote” connection to the royal Plantagenet dynasty, but confessed that the news that he could have been King Michael I was “a bit of a shock”.
Australian, Simon lives in Wangaratta, in the south-east of the state of Victoria, and does not seem to have the intention of asserting his rights.
His lawyer and private secretary, Terence Guthridge, told AFP that although historians may believe he has a right to inherit the throne, the 15th Earl “never shared that view”.
In fact, he has always been a “loyal and strong supporter” of Queen Elizabeth II and her son, he said.
“Indeed, they exchange birthday or Christmas cards every year,” he added.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)