Edward was born in Rouen on April 28, 1442, and although he was the eldest son, he was not legitimate, and therefore not entitled to inherit the throne. Edward IV had his younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, tried for treason and he is thought to have met his end by drowning in a vat of malmsey wine in order to avoid the shame of execution. This means that Richard was the only true heir and succes­sor to the throne immediately following his brother George’s death and it helped clear the way for Richard to come to the throne. His cause was therefore a source of inspiration to his soldiers on the field of battle.

The descendants of George, Duke of Clarence were treated despicably. His daughter, Margaret Pole, who should have been Margaret I of England, was beheaded at the age of 68 during the reign of Henry VIII in 1541, based on trumped­ up treason charges. Other members of her family were left to waste away in the Tower of London. Her last words were: “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” At the time, the regu­lar executioner was unavailable. His unskilled deputy was unable to perform the execution properly and cleanly, and so just chopped away at her neck until she was dead.

Despite this unseemly death, her bloodline has continued in a direct line from this point on. Non-regal names such as Edith, Barbara and Ian abound in their family tree and the present “King” of England is, in fact, Michael Hastings, a portly Australian man who voted against the continued British constitutional monarchy in Australia, and for a repub­
lic. He was neither fazed nor excited upon Tony Robinson telling him of his illustrious title. He left England in 1960 for Australia at the age of seventeen and joined a stocking station agency that traded in livestock and property. He has lived in Jerilderie, New South Wales, which has a population of 1100, since 1966. These days he works at the Australian Rice Research Institute. He and his wife Noelene have five children and five grandchildren -all, like their father, staunch repub­licans. Michael’s eldest son, Simon, is his heir.

We have to consider and accept the fact that monarchy can exist only as a bloodline in modern times. Otherwise it has no significance whatsoever and certainly no connection with what we understand to be democracy. As if the damag­ing legacy of the Donation of Constantine were not enough to contemplate, the illegitimacy of Edward IV means that none of the monarchs of Britain have reigned legitimately!
For example, George III, who was the monarch of Britain at the time of the American War of Independence, was in no position to lose the war in his name. However, since previ­ous monarchs had been unable to hold the colony in their name for the same reasons, perhaps the argument is merely academic.

In turn this means that none of the laws that British monarchs have rubber-stamped or endorsed have any legal meaning. The monarchy has a rough ride in the British press at times but nobody has seriously suggested before that their presence is not valid from the point of view of their bloodline! They should perhaps be grateful that the “legal” occupiers of the British throne are, ironically, so anti-monarchist that their position is likely to remain unthreatened.
It would be interesting, perhaps, to see what Dan Brown would make of this story.