Three-hundred-some years ago, Parliament decided to stiff the rightful Catholic heirs and recognize some German – and Protestant – princeling instead. That guy would come to be known as King George I.
Given the terrible history of Catholic-Protestant relations at the time, this all made a fair amount of sense. What would the monarchy have looked like, though, if the rightful heir had ascended the throne – whatever their religion?
James III (1701-1766)
James’ father, James II, was actually King from 1685 to 1688. A staunch Catholic, he would be deposed in the “Glorious Revolution.” This was basically a coup by the Dutch William of Orange, who had married Mary, James’s Protestant daughter. James II would live until 1701, dying in France. He would lead one abortive attempt to recover his throne, landing in Ireland.
The man who would have been James III was born in 1688, in London. Raised in France, he would later live in Avignon and Rome, both as a guest of the Pope. Like his father, James III would try his hand at reclaiming the throne – this time landing in Scotland. James would die in 1766, and be buried in St. Peter’s, in Rome (as would his two sons). He would come to be known as “The Old Pretender.”
NOTE: Supporters of the Catholic succession are known as “Jacobites,” from the Latin form of “James.”
Charles III (1766-1788)
James III’s eldest son, who would have been Charles III, was born in 1720, in Rome. His mother was a Polish princess, Maria Clementina Sobieska.
Charles would grow up in Italy, but soon move to France, where he would scheme to invade Britain once again. On his second try, he would actually be fairly successful, taking over Scotland and marching as far as the Midlands. He would suffer a crushing defeat, however, at the Battle of Culloden, with his subsequent escape back to the Continent becoming the stuff of legend.
Charles would return to Britain once more, but this time incognito. The French would also support an additional invasion, during the Seven Years’ War, but would end up being defeated soundly at sea.
Back in France, Charles would spend the rest of his life drinking and consorting with a number of mistresses. Though he produced several royal bastards, he would not produce a legitimate heir with his wife, Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern.
Charles III would come to be known as a man of many nicknames – The Young Pretender, The Young Chevalier, and Bonny Prince Charlie. He is undoubtedly the most romantic of the Jacobite figures.
Henry IX (1788-1807)
The second son of James III, Henry would outlive his brother by almost 20 years. Like his brother, Henry was born and raised in Rome. He would also follow Charles to France, to help him plan his invasion.
Afterwards, though, Henry’s life would take a very different turn. He would return to Rome, become a priest, and then a cardinal. As befitting a man of the cloth, he would show no further interest in invasions or intrigues. Needless to say, he did not produce any heirs either.
The House of Savoy
At this point, the Stuart dynasty runs out. There were no remaining male heirs.
Jacobites would have to go back over a hundred years, all the way back to a sister of James II, to find their next monarch.
That sister, Henrietta Anne (1644-1670), had married Phillipe, a member of the French royal family, producing two daughters. The surviving daughter, Anna Maria (1689-1728), would subsequently marry Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia. They in turn would have a son, Charles Emmanuel III (1701-1773), who would in turn have a son himself, Victor Amadeus III (1726-1796).
Only at this point would Henrietta Anne’s line finally catch up with the Stuarts.
Charles IV (1807-1819)
As the eldest son of Victor Amadeus III, Charles would also become Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia (as Charles Emmanuel IV). When Henry IX died in 1807, Charles should also have become King of England – as Charles IV.
Charles was born in 1751, his mother being the Spanish Princess Maria Antonia. He would in turn marry a French Princess, one Marie Clotilde. They would not, however, have any children.
Charles was something of a bust. He inherited his throne in 1796, right in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. As a result, he was deposed in Savoy and fled to Sardinia. When Clotilde died in 1802, Charles decided to abdicate in favor of his brother, Victor Emmanuel. He would eventually retire to the Jesuit novitiate in Rome, passing away in 1819. Interestingly, he and Henry IX were actually friends.
Personally, Charles may have been the victim of too much inbreeding. Small and sickly, he was also most likely epileptic. He and his wife were both extremely religious.
Victor would have inherited the throne of Great Britain on the death of his childless brother, in 1819. Unfortunately, he would not have reigned long, passing away himself seven years later, at the age of 64.
Much like his brother, Victor (as Victor Emmanuel I) would abdicate the throne of Sardinia, with Victor doing so in 1821. (A famous reactionary, he would be chased out by more liberal forces.) Victor would then retire to Nice – at that time, part of Savoy. Dying in 1824, he would be buried in Turin, resting beside his brother.
I’m afraid I couldn’t find that much about Victor as a person. It sounds like he may have been healthier than his brother, as well as less religious.
It was Victor who was on the throne when Savoy was finally restored, by the way. Interestingly, though, the next Jacobite monarch would lose both Savoy and Sardinia.
A Royal Separation
The House of Savoy is a Salic dynasty. That means that only a male can inherit the throne.
Great Britain, however, is not. Hence the current monarch, as well as such major figures as Elizabeth I and Victoria, along with such lesser ones as Anne and Mary.
Now, here’s where things get interesting …
Victor Emmanuel I actually happened to be quite prolific, having no less than four children who lived to maturity. Unfortunately, they all happened to be daughters. So, though that may have been a total non-issue with the British, the Savoyards had to look elsewhere for their next monarch.
In fact, they would have to go back to a great-great-great-great grandfather before they could trace a male line forward again to their next king. That king, Charles Felix, would inherit Savoy and Sardinia, but not Great Britain.
Mary II (1824-1840)
Victor Emmanuel’s oldest daughter – and, thus, rightful heir to the British crown – was one Maria Beatrice, born in 1792. Her mother was Maria Theresa, an Austrian and Hapsburg princess.
Maria Beatrice would marry Francis IV, Duke of Modena, who also just so happened to be her maternal uncle. Somehow or other, they would manage to have four healthy children. Maria Beatrice died at the fairly young age of 47, of a heart condition, and was buried in Modena. I’m afraid I couldn’t find much about her personality-wise.
The House of Hapsburg
Though Mary II was of the House of Savoy, she would also be the end of the line. Subsequent heirs would be of the House of Hapsburg, the line of her husband. These heirs would also be Dukes of Modena as well.
Imagine that – a little piece of Italian territory flying the Union Jack. Unfortunately, that would only last until 1860, when Modena would become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Francis I (1840-1876)
The eldest son of Mary and Francis would be another Francis, born in 1819. He would rule Modena, as Francis V, until 1860, when the Duchy was dissolved.
Francis would marry a princess of the Kingdom of Bavaria with the rather unusual name of Adelgunde. They would have a daughter, but the poor little thing would live for only a year.
Without a throne, Francis would retire to Vienna, where he would later die (in 1876) and be buried. Interestingly he would leave most of his estate to his cousin Franz Ferdinand – yup, the same Franz Ferdinand whose assassination would spark World War I.
On the personal side, Francis seemed to be a decent chap, kind and sensitive. As a ruler, he was popular and had a common touch, but also seemed to be rather weak and indecisive.
Who knows how he would have fared as King of Great Britain. He certainly would have been on the throne for awhile, from 1840 to 1876, a full 36 years.
Mary III (1876-1919)
As Francis would die childless, the Jacobite line would have to go back up the family tree to find the next heir. Though Francis’s brother Ferdinand was not a contender (he passed away in 1849), he did leave a daughter, one Maria Theresa (her mother, Elizabeth Franziska, was an Austrian Archduchess). Born in the year of her father’s death, Maria Teresa would survive until 1919.
As Queen of Great Britain, she would have lasted even longer than her uncle Francis. On the throne for 43 years, her reign would have extended from 1876 to 1919.
As it turns out, Maria Teresa actually did become a queen, though of the much smaller Kingdom of Bavaria. She and her king, Ludwig III, would have a happy marriage, producing no less than 13 children, ten of whom would live to maturity.
Maria Teresa would pass away in 1919, not quite 70 years old. She’s buried in Munich.
On the personal side, Maria Teresa appeared to be unassuming, charitable, and patriotic. She also had a gift for languages, speaking German, Hungarian, Czech, French, and Italian.
The House of Wittelsbach
The Jacobite line would now enter its fourth dynasty. Mary’s husband was a Wittelsbach. Thus, their future children – and all future claimants to the British throne – would share the odd Germanic name as well.
Note, though, that they would not add Bavaria to the British Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria would, in fact, come to an end with Germany’s losing World War II and becoming a republic.
The eldest of Mary’s 13 children, Robert (Rupprecht, in German) was born in 1869. He would, thus, have ascended the British throne at the fairly advanced age of 50. Incredibly, though, he would have reigned for another 36 years, passing away at the very ripe old age of 86.
Robert was known primarily as a soldier. During WWI, he would be made Field Marshall, controlling a good number of the German soldiers on the Western Front.
Robert would marry twice. His first wife (and second cousin), Marie Gabrielle, would provide one surviving heir, but die at the very young age of 34. After WWI, Robert would marry Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, 30 years his junior. They would have six children.
Robert and Antonia were strong anti-Nazis, and Antonia and the children were actually imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. The experience would break Antonia’s health, and she would die a year before Rupert, at the fairly young age of 54.
Robert was a very popular figure among Bavarians. I’m convinced he would have made an excellent king of Great Britain as well.
Albert (German Albrecht) would also be long-lived, reigning for 41 years and passing away in 1996 at the extremely ripe old age of 91. (He would be buried in Munich, like his father before him.)
Born in 1905, Albert would see all but a few years of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, this included seeing his family deposed, fleeing the Nazis, and being imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau.
His marriage to Countess Maria Draskovich de Trakostjan was somewhat controversial dynastically, with some Wittelsbachs arguing that a countess was, basically, not good enough for their Albrecht. His father ruled otherwise, and the Jacobite line would proceed unimpeded.
Albert was a famous hunter, slaughtering almost 3,500 poor, defenseless animals, as well as authoring a couple of books on the “habits of deer.” I really don’t know what he was like personality-wise. I do know, though, that he looked surprisingly like the colonel on the Fawlty Towers TV show.
Francis II (1996 – current)
So, here he is – the rightful King of Great Britain. He seems like a pleasant chap and would, I’m sure, make a fine monarch.
Born in 1933, Francis would have inherited the throne at the rather advanced age of 63. He’s still going strong, though, at 82.
Growing up, Francis would – like his father, mother, and siblings – spend time in Nazi concentration camps. After the war, he would study at the University of Munich. He would also become an avid collector of modern art. A gifted linguist, Francis speaks German, French, Hungarian and … English! He divides his time amongst several Bavarian palaces and castles.
Interestingly, there has been some talk about Francis becoming the king of an independent Scotland. Both the failure of the referendum on independence, as well as the refusal of Francis to even consider the idea, have effectively squashed those plans.
The Jacobite Succession
Because Francis never married, his heir is his brother Max. As Max, at age 78, is only a few years younger than his brother, chances are the next monarch might well be from among Max’s children (I also have a very hard time imagining a King Max).
Interestingly, he and his wife, The Swedish Countess Elisabeth Douglas, have – once again – produced plenty of children, but all daughters (and five of them, no less). The eldest is Sophie, born in 1967. She married Alois, the heir to the Principality of Liechtenstein, in 1993.
They managed to produce a male heir, Joseph, who was born in 1996. Thus, Joseph will eventually become Prince of Liechtenstein ... as well as (Jacobite at least) King of Great Britain. He was actually the first Jacobite heir to be born in the UK since the 17th Century. He would also be the first Jacobite heir to become an actual head of state since Francis, who was Duke of Modena. Finally, he would also be the first of another new dynasty, that of the House of Liechtenstein.