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 Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 18:06

The 'Succession to the Crown Act', 2013, given Royal Assent on 25 April 2013, has radically changed the current line of succession to the British throne. The two principal points of change are:

1)  In future males no longer precede their elder sisters in the line of succession  (although the relative positions in the line of succession of the currently living members of the immediate royal family remain unchanged).
2)  Marrying a Roman Catholic will no longer disqualify a person from succeeding to the Crown (although the provision of the Act of Settlement (1701), that the monarch be a Protestant, continues).

So what? Who cares? Well .... consider this:

In 1901 when Queen Victoria died the throne passed to her eldest surviving son, Edward, who became Edward VII. But what if the crown had passed not to her eldest son, but to her eldest child? Queen Victoria’s first-born was the Princess Royal, Vicky, still alive when Victoria died on 22 January 1901. If daughters had then been in the line of succession, Princess Vicky would have immediately become queen, Queen Victoria II … albeit rather briefly for she died only six months later on 5 August 1901. The crown would then have passed legitimately to Vicky's own first child, William, a grand-son of old Queen Victoria. William, Wilhelm, Willy, Willikins, is of course better known to posterity as the Kaiser, Wilhelm II. Just think what possibilities, for good or ill, might there have been with the potential unification of the Empires of Great Britain and Germany in late 1901, should the Kaiser of Germany have legitimately ascended to the British throne ?!?!

So what other changes, perhaps quirky, surprising or indeed alarming, might have occurred if the 'Rules for the Line of Succession' had been changed a bit earlier?



 


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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 21:28

Queen Margaret instead of Henry VIII, union of Scots & English crowns under James V & I.
No Henry VIII - no divorce
No divorce - no split with Rome?


Last edited by Gilgamesh of Uruk on Tue 24 Feb 2015, 22:48; edited 1 time in total
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 22:03

@Meles meles wrote:
Queen Victoria’s first-born was the Princess Royal, Vicky, still alive when Victoria died on 22 January 1901. If daughters had then been in the line of succession, Princess Vicky would have immediately become queen, Queen Victoria II … albeit rather briefly for she died only six months later on 5 August 1901.

When you set this question I had thought that Queen Victoria's aunt, Charlotte Princess Royal might have provided interest. She was the elder sister of Queen Victoria's father Edward Duke of Kent. Charlotte gained the title Queen of Wurttemberg in 1806 courtesy of the Emperor Napoleon and was seen as something of a quisling by contemporary Britain. However she had no surviving issue and died before either of her 2 older brothers George IV and William IV. So essentially she draws a blank.

This is a surprisingly tricky task.
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Wed 25 Feb 2015, 11:34

It is interesting how little effect this modern change would have made on the succession for a good 200 years. From Henry VIII onwards until the end of the 18th century the succession would have generally been unaffected, as most British monarchs have either "correctly done their duty" and produced a male as their first child, or completely failed to produce any surviving offspring at all.

Edward VI admittedly jumped ahead of his two older sisters but died without issue and so the crown duly passed in turn to Mary (no issue) and Elizabeth (again no issue) and hence to James. James produced a male as first child, as did Charles, so again there’s no difference. But then Charles II produced no surviving legitimate child at all and with no older sister again there would be no change to James II becoming king. And with catholic James eventually pushed out of the way the crown in any case went to his protestant daughter Mary. William and Mary being childless the succession passed to Mary’s sister, so yet again no difference at all. And with Mary also having no surviving children, whether boys or girls, again the question is irrelevant. With the 1701 Act of Settlement Catholics were barred from being monarch and this condition remains unchanged by the recent 2013 Act, so the crown would still go to George I, Elector of Hannover (who had no older sister who might potentially have taken precedence). And as first child George II would also duly have succeeded in any case.

Now there would be a change.

George II’s first child was male, George Frederick , and was duly made Prince of Wales and heir to the throne. But he predeceased his father and so accordingly on George II’s death the crown passed to George (as George III) the eldest son of Frederick and grandson of George II. But George III had an older sister Augusta, duchess of Brunswick, who if the rules of succession had been different would have become queen on George II’s death in 1760. She died in 1813 by which time her first child, a daughter Augusta, had already died, so the modified succession would have passed to her second child, another daughter, Caroline. But in reality Caroline had already become Queen of Britain by marriage to George III’s son later to become George IV and so there is little practical difference. She was estranged from George IV (who died in 1830) and their only child, Charlotte, had already died aged 21 in 1817 (and had Charlotte survived to outlive George IV she would in reality have become queen in her own right).

But if the succession had followed the new rules, who would have succeeded Queen Caroline on her death in 1821? She had no surviving siblings so I think the line of succession would have had to pick up at George II. It is here that I get lost - but I’m not at all sure we would still have had a Queen Victoria and all her numerous descendants in Britain and across Europe.

PS:
The idea of Queen Caroline, wife of Georgey Porgey, being Queen in her own right made me smile .... that would certainly have put the boot on the other foot. It might even have been George locked out of Westminster Abbey and forbidden to attend her coronation!
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Wed 25 Feb 2015, 12:22

Elizabeth of York was seventeen when her father, Edward IV, died in 1483. She was his eldest child. She had a sister, Cecily of York, who was three years younger (another girl, Mary of York, had died the year before).Then came the two princes of famous memory, Edward and Richard. Getting rid of all four of them - starting this time with Elizabeth - might have proved too tricky even for you-know-who. Would there have been any need for a Protector - and all the consequent terribly interesting brouhaha - had Elizabeth succeeded in her own right as a nearly adult queen in 1483? Her marriage would still have been a problem though. I had hoped to suggest a match with John de la Pole - nearly same age as Liz, good fighter and her Yorkist cousin, but, on checking, discovered he was already married.

She might still have ended up with the Tydder.
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Wed 21 Dec 2016, 00:05

Would Princess Eleanor of Brittany, the daughter of Prince Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, have been able to reign as Queen Regnant?
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PostSubject: Re: Succession to the British throne ... and what might have been   Wed 21 Dec 2016, 15:18

There was no legal basis for blocking her accession, the laws that pertained to the person of the English monarch did not preclude women per se, but it did place a huge amount of argument in favour of any male challenger with reasonable claim and especially one named as heir by a Plantaganet incumbent. She was less the victim of any version of Succession Law than of the law being intentionally vague, thereby rendering John's claim to predominance to be virtually unchallengeable once asserted.

Had the law been different and she had been crowned queen through a principle of primogeniture there is little in her life's history as it played out to suggest she would have been an effective monarch. From early on she had been a rather unfortunate pawn in other people's power plays, with no opportunity or seeming ability to assert herself, and her accession might well have resulted in these factions simply using her as a pretext to engage in a civil war.
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