Prince Charles has been heir apparent to the British throne since 1952, he is also the longest serving Prince of Wales, and if he does become King he will be oldest to do so.
Throughout our history the first born didn’t always succeed in their birthright, so it passed down the line. These are some of the royals from the last 500 years who never made it to Westminster Abbey to be annointed and crowned Monarch.
Arthur Tudor (1486-1502)
Arthur was Prince of Wales and the heir to King Henry VII. Arthur’s father was the last Monarch to win his crown on the field of battle, when he defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field which brought to an end the Wars of the Roses. Arthur’s birth was viewed as a new hope for the recently established House of Tudor, he was well educated as was befitting a Renaissance prince and in good health being “Strong and able”. Marriage plans were already under way by the time he was just three years old. The aim was to establish an Anglo-Spanish alliance against France. Catherine of Aragon was chosen and Arthur was formally betrothed to her when he was just eleven years old.
They were married in 1501 in London and then went to Ludlow Castle in Wales, but soon afterwards both became unwell with an unknown illness. Catherine would recover but Arthur worsened and died six months short of his sixteenth birthday.
Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth were grief stricken. The alliance that Henry had spent so much time over needed to be salvaged, so the decision was reached to marry off Catherine to the new heir to the throne. The second son was Henry who would become one of the the most recognised monarchs of British history, for he would rule as Henry VIII.
Henry Frederick Stuart (1594-1612)
Henry was born at Stirling Castle in Scotland. His father would ascend the throne as James I uniting the Kingdoms of Scotland and England. Henry showed great promise and was intelligent and athletic. He was very popular in England and often eclipsed his father, for whom the same could not be said. Relations between father and son were often tense, on one occasion, whilst they were hunting near Royston, James was heard to criticize Henry for lacking enthusiasm for the chase, Henry initially moved to strike his father with a cane but thought better of it and rode off, most of the hunting party then followed him.
Henry Stuart died from typhoid fever at the age of 18, though at the time there were rumors of poisoning. His early death was regarded as a great loss to the nation, his body lay in state for four weeks.
It fell to Henry’s brother Charles who became the new heir apparent but he had never been groomed for the job. His firm belief in the “Divine Right of Kings” and his policies regarding taxation gave rise to the English Civil War. Many scholars believe that English history would have been very different had Prince Henry lived to ascend the throne.
James Francis Stuart (1688-1766)
He was the son of James II and his second wife Mary of Modena. Just a few months after his birth, his father was deposed and exiled in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. James Francis was brought up at the Chateau of St-Germain-en-Laye in France which had been provided as a residence by Louis XIV. After his father’s death, the thirteen year old Prince declared himself James III with support from the Catholic monarchies of Spain and France, and the Pope. In 1708 he made an attempt to invade Scotland but his army was prevented from landing by the British fleet.
He spent some time fighting in the French army but in 1714 its forces were defeated, and King Louis XIV had no choice but to accept peace with England and her allies. He signed the Treaty of Utrecht which resulted in humiliating conditions and required him to expel James from France.
In 1715 the Jacobites (supporters of James) instigated a rebellion in Scotland aimed at restoring him to the throne. He set foot on Scottish soil but was disappointed by the strength of the support he found. Instead of carrying through the plans for a coronation at Scone, he returned to France. He wasn’t welcomed back, because his supporter, Louis XIV was dead and the government found him an embarrassment. The Pope Clement XI offered him refuge in Rome, where he lived for the rest of his life.
William Henry Stuart (1689-1700)
William was the only child of Princess Anne and Prince George of Denmark to survive infancy. He was born at Hampton Court Palace on 24th July 1689. By this point Anne had been pregnant six times previously but none of her children had survived. He was viewed as a Protestant champion because his birth cemented the Protestant succession, established in the Glorious Revolution that had deposed his Catholic grandfather James II. When he was three weeks old he became ill with convulsions, he also had an enlarged head possibly as a result of hydrocephalus which his surgeons peirced intermittently to draw off fluid.
At the age of eleven he celebrated his birthday at Windsor Castle, but later on he complained of a sudden fatigue which he thought was due to his excesive dancing. By nightfall he was suffering from chills and a sore throat, followed by a severe headache and by the next day he had a fever.
A physician arrived 3 days later at which point William was immediately bled. His condition further deteriorated and he died in the early hours on the 30th July 1700 with his parents beside him. His mother Anne, who became Queen would never produce an heir and after her death in 1714 the crown passed over to the House of Hanover.
Frederick Louis (1707-1751)
‘Fred’ as he was known within the family was born in Hanover in Germany. He is best remembered for the strained relationship with father and mother. It was hardly surprising as the young prince probably felt abandoned by his parents, when they left him behind at the age of 7 take up their new roles in Britain’s Royal Family. He would not see his parents for 14 years and when he was finally called to England the long separation had damaged his relationship with them, they were effectively estranged.
After Frederick was invested as Prince of Wales in 1729, he made a point of opposing them in everything. The strained relationship came to a head in 1737 when Frederick’s wife, Princess Augusta, went into labour in the middle of the night at Hampton Court. The whole family had gathered to witness the birth.
To spite his parents, Frederick bundled the princess into a carriage to drive the 16 bumpy miles to London. His excuse? That St James’s Palace was the ‘traditional’ birthplace of English monarchs.
He died suddenly at the age of 44 from what is now believed to be a pulmonary embolism. Frederick’s eldest son, the 12 year-old Prince George, became heir apparent. Because of the king’s dislike of Fredrick, he had taken little interest in his grandchildren, but he now took an interest in little George and made him Prince of Wales. When George II died suddenly in 1760, his grandson succeeded him as George III.
Princess Charlotte Augusta (1796-1817)
The only child of George, Prince of Wales and Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte was a very spirited girl and her grandfather George III was very fond of her and believed that, as his only legitimate grandchild, she would one day rule as Queen.
She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1816 and she quickly fell pregnant. but suffered a miscarriage. By 1817 she was pregnant again. Her contractions began on the 3rd November but by the 5th it was clear that there were complications. She finally gave birth to a large stillborn son and efforts to revive him were in vain. The exhausted Charlotte took the news quite calmly, but shortly after midnight she started to vomit, had difficulty breathing and complained of pains in her abdomen. She died in the early hours aged 21.
The whole kingdom went into deep morning, so much so that linen drapers ran out of black cloth. Shops closed for two weeks and even the gambling dens closed their doors on the day of the funeral as a mark of respect.
Her death left George III without any legitimate grandchildren. The newspapers urged the King’s unmarried sons towards matrimony and the production of an heir. The challenge was accepted by the King’s fourth son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent who was living in Brussels with his mistress. Edward dismissed his mistress and proposed to Leopold’s sister Victoria. Their daughter, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, would eventually (in 1837) succeed to the throne as Queen Victoria.
Prince Albert Victor (1864-1892)
He was the eldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and also Queen Victoria’s grandson. ‘Eddy’ as he was known was not a great academic even though he went to Trinity College in Cambridge where he was tutored privately. His Grandmother wasn’t just a Queen, she was a matchmaker. Eddy had fallen in love with his cousin Princess Alix of Hesse.
She was a great beauty but his proposal of mariage was rejected. She would go on to marry Nicholas Romanov, the last Tsar of Russia. He became romatically involved with a Roman Catholic, Princess Helene of Orleans but members of the British Royal family weren’t permitted to marry Catholics. Eddy even appealed to Victoria and the Pope but to no avail, even considering giving up his right to the throne in order to marry her.
Eventually a good protestant Princess was found, she was Mary of Teck although rather impoverished she fitted the requirements. Unfortunately the wedding never took place, as just six weeks after the engagement was announced Eddy became ill during an influenza pandemic and died at the age of 28. His younger brother George and Mary would console each other in their grief, they would go on to marry each other and rule as King George V and Queen Mary.