British history provides several opportunities for alternative claimants to the Crown to arise, and historical scholars have on occasion traced to present times the heirs of those alternative claims.

Throughout this article, the names of "would-have-been" monarchs are in italics.

Abdication of Richard II

Richard II abdicated in favour of Henry Bolingbroke on 29 September 1399. However, Henry was not next in the line to the throne; the heir presumptive was Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March,[1][2][3][4] who descended from Edward III's second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, whereas Henry's father, John of Gaunt, was Edward's third surviving son.

Map of Succession

Edward III
Richard II
Edward IV

Had Edmund inherited instead, the alternative succession would have been short-lived, for it re-united with the historical crown when Edward IV was declared king in 1461.

  1. Edward III of England
  2. Edward, the Black Prince, first son of Edward III
  3. Richard II of England, second son of Edward, the Black Prince
  4. Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, third son (second son to survive infancy) of Edward III
  5. Philippa Plantagenet, 5th Countess of Ulster, only child of Lionel
  6. Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, first son of Philippa
  7. Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, first son of Roger
  8. Anne de Mortimer, first daughter, third line of Roger
  9. Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, only son of Anne
  10. Edward IV of England, first son of Richard

Descendants of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence

This line's claim to the Crown is based upon the argument that Edward IV was not the son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and thus had no legitimate claim to the Crown.[5] Therefore, when Richard was killed at the Battle of Wakefield, his claim passed first to his eldest legitimate son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, who was executed shortly after the battle, and then to George, Duke of Clarence. Supporters of the Clarence claim also draw on the debated validity of Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, which allows them to argue that, even if Edward was legitimate, his children were not. Another point is that Henry VI passed a law in 1470 that should both he and his son Edward of Westminster die without further legitimate issue, the crown was to pass to Clarence, as Henry had placed an attainder upon Edward IV. When Henry died in 1471 (Prince Edward having died in battle shortly before), Clarence (who could claim descent from John of Gaunt, as could his wife Isabella Neville) became the legal heir to Henry VI and the House of Lancaster.[6]

Map of Succession

Edward III
Richard II
Edward IV

The current descendant of this line is Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun. The line of succession is as follows:

  1. George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, third son (second "legitimate" son) of Richard, 3rd Duke of York
  2. Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, first son of George
  3. Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George
  4. Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, first son of Margaret
  5. Henry Pole, second son of Henry
  6. Catherine Hastings, first daughter, third line of Henry, 1st Baron Montagu
  7. Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, first son of Catherine
  8. George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, second son of Catherine
  9. Francis Hastings, first son of George
  10. Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon, only son of Francis
  11. Ferdinando Hastings, 6th Earl of Huntingdon, first son of Henry
  12. Theophilus Hastings, 7th Earl of Huntingdon, only son of Ferdinando
  13. George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, second son of Theophilus
  14. Theophilus Hastings, 9th Earl of Huntingdon, third son of Theophilus
  15. Francis Hastings, 10th Earl of Huntingdon, first son of Theophilus, 9th Earl
  16. Elizabeth Rawdon, 16th Baroness Botreaux, only daughter, second line of Theophilus, 9th Earl
  17. Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, first son of Elizabeth
  18. George Rawdon-Hastings, 2nd Marquess of Hastings, eldest legitimate son of Francis
  19. Paulyn Rawdon-Hastings, 3rd Marquess of Hastings, first son of George
  20. Henry Rawdon-Hastings, 4th Marquess of Hastings, second son of George
  21. Edith Rawdon-Hastings, 10th Countess of Loudoun, first daughter, third line of George
  22. Charles Rawdon-Hastings, 11th Earl of Loudoun, first son of Edith
  23. Paulyn Francis Cuthbert Rawdon-Hastings, second son of Edith
  24. Edith Maud Abney-Hastings, 12th Countess of Loudoun, first daughter, third line of Paulyn
  25. Ian Huddleston Abney-Hastings, Lord Mauchline, only son of Edith
  26. Barbara Abney-Hastings, 13th Countess of Loudoun, first daughter, second line of Edith
  27. Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, eldest son of Barbara
  28. Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun, eldest son of Michael

Descendants of John of Gaunt

The noble Beaufort family are descended in the male line from king Edward III of England via his third son John of Gaunt and the earls (later dukes) of Somerset, marquesses of Worcester and dukes of Beaufort to the present day. John of Gaunt had four illegitimate children with his mistress, Katherine Swynford, later his wife. These children thus were "legitimized" and the eldest of them, John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (1373 – 16 March 1410), is the direct patrilineal ancestor of the current Duke of Beaufort. The Beaufort dynasty are a cadet line of the Lancastrian branch of the House of Plantagenet.

John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, was the first of the four illegitimate children of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford, later his wife. Beaufort was born in about 1371 and his surname probably reflects his father's lordship of Beaufort in Champagne, France.[7][8]

In 1396, after his parents' marriage, John and his siblings were legitimated by a papal bull. Early the next year, their legitimation was recognized by an act of Parliament, and then, a few days later, John was created Earl of Somerset (10 February 1397).[7]

In 1485, King Richard III was killed in battle, the House of Plantagenet overthrown and the throne usurped by Henry Tudor, later styled Henry VII of England. Henry was the grandson in the maternal line of the 1st Duke of Somerset, who had no legitimate sons. This alternative succession line tracks the House of Plantagenet after 1485 as it continued to the present day using exclusive primogeniture in the Beaufort dynasty.

  1. Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester (c. 1460–1526), legitimised son of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, grandson of 1st Earl and Joan Hill. Elevated to Earl of Worcester in 1514.
  2. Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester (c. 1495–1548), only legitimate son of the 1st Earl
  3. William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester (d. 1589), eldest son of the 2nd Earl
  4. Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester (1553–1628), only son of the 3rd Earl
  5. Henry Somerset, 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Worcester (1577–1646), eldest son of the 4th Earl, was a noted Cavalier, created Marquess in 1643
  6. Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester (1601–1667), eldest son of the 1st Marquess, was an inventor
  7. Henry Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Worcester (1629–1700) was created Duke of Beaufort in 1682, upon the Restoration
  8. Henry Somerset, 2nd Duke of Beaufort (1684–1714), grandson
  9. Henry Scudamore, 3rd Duke of Beaufort (1707–1745), eldest son of the 2nd Duke, died without issue
  10. Charles Noel Somerset, 4th Duke of Beaufort (1709–1756), second and youngest son of the 2nd Duke
  11. Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort (1744–1803), only son of the 4th Duke
  12. Henry Charles Somerset, 6th Duke of Beaufort (1766–1835), eldest son of the 5th Duke
  13. Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort (1792–1853), eldest son of the 6th Duke
  14. Henry Charles FitzRoy Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort (1824–1899), only son of the 7th Duke
  15. Henry Adelbert Wellington FitzRoy Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort (1847–1924), eldest son of the 8th Duke
  16. Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort (1900–1984), only son of the 9th Duke, died without issue, at which point his two Baronies fell into abeyance.
  17. David Robert Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort (b. 1928–2017), great-grandson of Rt. Hon. Lord Henry Richard Charles Somerset, second son of the 8th Duke.
  18. Henry John FitzRoy Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort (b. 1952), son of the 11th Duke. Present Duke of Beaufort.

Heir apparent: Henry Robert FitzRoy Somerset, Marquess of Worcester (b. 1989), first son of the 12th Duke.

The Marquess of Worcester's heir presumptive: Lord Alexander Lorne Somerset (b. 1993), his brother

Descendants of Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Henry VIII's Third Succession Act granted Henry the right to bequeath the Crown in his Will. His Will specified that, in default of heirs to his children, the throne was to pass to the heirs of his younger sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France, bypassing the line of his elder sister Margaret Tudor, represented by the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. Edward VI confirmed this by letters patent. The legitimate and legal heir of Elizabeth I was therefore Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven (the marriage of Lady Catherine Grey having been annulled, and her children declared illegitimate, by Elizabeth I).[9]

Map of Succession

Henry VII
Henry VIII
Edward VI
Mary I
Elizabeth I

Her succession, under this theory, follows:

  1. Henry VIII of England
  2. Edward VI of England, only son of Henry
  3. Mary I of England, eldest daughter of Henry
  4. Elizabeth I of England, second daughter of Henry
  5. Mary Tudor, Queen of France, third daughter, sixth line of Henry VII
  6. Lady Eleanor Brandon, second daughter, third line of Mary
  7. Lady Margaret Clifford, only daughter, third line of Eleanor
  8. Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, first son of Margaret
  9. Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven, first daughter, first line of Ferdinando
  10. George Brydges, 6th Baron Chandos, first son of Anne
  11. Margaret Brydges, first daughter, first line of George
  12. George Brydges Skipwith, first son of Margaret
  13. Elizabeth Brownlow, first daughter, second line of Margaret
  14. George Brownlow Doughty, first son of Elizabeth
  15. Henry Doughty, only child of George
  16. Henry Doughty, only son of Henry
  17. Elizabeth Doughty, only daughter of Henry Snr

Since Lady Anne Stanley's line is thought to have become extinct with the death of Elizabeth Doughty, the line then passes to the descendants of Lady Anne's sister, Lady Frances Stanley:

  1. Lady Frances Stanley, second daughter, second line of Ferdinando
  2. John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater, first son of Frances
  3. John Egerton, 3rd Earl of Bridgewater, first son of John
  4. Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater, third son of John, 3rd Earl
  5. Lady Anne Egerton, first daughter, fifth line of Scroop
  6. George Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey, only child of Anne
  7. George Child Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey, first son of George, 4th Earl
  8. George Child Villiers, 6th Earl of Jersey, first son of George, 5th Earl
  9. Victor Child Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey, only son of George, 6th Earl
  10. George Child Villiers, 8th Earl of Jersey, first son of Victor
  11. George Child Villiers, 9th Earl of Jersey, first son of George
  12. Lady Caroline Child Villiers, only child of George's first marriage

Lady Caroline's heir-apparent is her son Timothy Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 7th Earl of Minto.

Although the 9th Earl of Jersey had sons from a third marriage, he had been divorced from his first wife, who was still alive when he married his third. Under a strict adherence to the succession laws and customs as they existed in 1603, it is argued that no laws passed by Parliament since 1603 are legitimate, as the heirs did not summon those Parliaments, nor did those laws receive the royal assent to become law. Under the law as it stood in 1603, the 9th Earl of Jersey's divorce was not valid, and therefore both his remarriage during his ex-wife's lifetime was null and void, and the children of his third marriage illegitimate. Consequently, the current holder of the Stanley claim to the throne of England is the only child of the 9th Earl's first marriage, Lady Caroline Ogilvy (née Child Villiers).[10] By a twist of fate her husband's family are themselves highly ranked in the (accepted) line of succession to the British throne, with Lady Caroline's nephew James Ogilvy being fortieth in line.

There is doubt of the legitimacy of Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp. Certainly James I regarded the Seymour line as legitimate, and based his own succession on his right by primogeniture, ignoring the Will of Henry VIII. However, the Seymours were placed ahead of the Stanleys in James's line of succession. The recent death of one of Seymour's descendants had her, rather than Frances Stanley's descendants, listed as the heir to the Mary Tudor claim.[11][12][13]

Her succession follows:

  1. Henry VIII of England
  2. Edward VI of England, only son of Henry
  3. Mary I of England, eldest daughter of Henry
  4. Elizabeth I of England, second daughter of Henry
  5. Mary Tudor, Queen of France, third daughter, sixth line of Henry
  6. Lady Frances Brandon, first daughter, second line of Mary
  7. Lady Catherine Grey, second daughter, second line of Frances
  8. Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, first son of Catherine
  9. William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, second son of Edward
  10. Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp, third son of William
  11. Lady Elizabeth Seymour, only daughter, second line of Henry
  12. Charles Bruce, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury, second son of Elizabeth
  13. Lady Mary Bruce, first daughter, third line on Charles
  14. James Brydges, 3rd Duke of Chandos, only son of Mary
  15. Lady Anne Elizabeth Brydges, only child of James
  16. Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, first son of Anne
  17. Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, only son of Richard
  18. Mary Morgan-Grenville, 11th Lady Kinloss, first daughter of Richard
  19. Luis Chandos Francis Temple Morgan-Grenville, second son of Mary
  20. Mary Freeman-Grenville, 12th Lady Kinloss, first daughter of Luis
  21. Teresa Freeman-Grenville, 13th Lady Kinloss, first daughter, second line of Mary

Lady Kinloss's heir-presumptive is her sister Hester Josephine Anne Freeman-Grenville, who is married to Peter Haworth and has three sons.[14]

Continuation of the House of Stuart

The Jacobite and Hanoverian/Windsor successions

James I
Charles I
Charles II
James II
Mary II
William III
George I
George II
George III
George IV
William IV
Edward VII
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II

The Catholic heirs of the deposed James II of England were passed over by the Act of Settlement 1701.

  1. Charles I of England
  2. James II of England, second son of Charles I
  3. James Francis Edward Stuart, only son of James II
  4. Charles Edward Stuart, elder son of James Francis. He had no legitimate issue by his wife. He had an illegitimate daughter who has descendants, but they have no succession rights.
  5. Henry Benedict Stuart, younger son of James Francis. He was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and had no children.

At Henry's death the claim passed to his second cousin twice removed, Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia, and then to his brother Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia. Charles Emmanuel and Victor Emmanuel were great-great-great-grandsons of King Charles I.[15]

  1. Charles I of England
  2. Henrietta Anne Stuart, youngest daughter, final line of Charles
  3. Anne Marie d'Orléans, second daughter, third line of Henrietta Anne
  4. Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia, second son of Anne Marie
  5. Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, second son of Charles Emmanuel
  6. Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia, eldest son of Victor Amadeus
  7. Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia, second son of Victor Amadeus
  8. Maria Beatrice of Savoy, eldest daughter, second line of Victor Emmanuel
  9. Francis V, Duke of Modena, elder son of Maria Beatrice
  10. Archduke Ferdinand Karl Viktor of Austria-Este, younger son of Maria Beatrice
  11. Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, only child of Ferdinand
  12. Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, eldest son of Maria Theresia
  13. Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, second son of Rupprecht
  14. Franz, Duke of Bavaria, elder son of Albrecht

When Franz dies, his claim on the English and Scottish crowns[16] will pass to his younger brother Max. And after Max's death, this possible claim most likely will be inherited by the Prince of Liechtenstein through the Hereditary Princess.

A final claim comes from Peter Pininski[17] who claims descent from the legitimised descendants of Charles Edward Stuart alias "the Young Pretender", through the Rohan or Roehenstadt family. However, his claim is disputed by scholars who point out that the Rohans were a large family and it is easy to confuse its many members.[18] "Marie Victoire Adelaide" may be confused with another member of the family called Marie Victoire, who is not descended from the Stuarts.[19]

  1. Charles I of England.
  2. James II of England, third son of Charles I.
  3. James Francis Edward Stuart, only son of James II, "the Old Pretender".
  4. Charles Edward Stuart, eldest son of James Francis, "the Young Pretender".
  5. Charlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany, only surviving daughter with his mistress Clementina Walkinshaw. Legitimised in 1784.
  6. Charles Edward Stuart, Count Roehenstart, illegitimate son of Charlotte, raised in secret but later claimed legitimacy and the throne as an adult.[20]
  7. Marie Victoire Adelaide, illegitimate daughter of Charlotte, raised in secrecy.
  8. Antime, son of Marie Victoire and Paul Anthony Louis Bertrand de Nikorowicz.[21]
  9. Charles, son of Antime.
  10. Julia-Thérèse, sister of Charles and married Baron Pininski.
  11. Stanislas Pininski, elder son of Julia-Thérèse.
  12. Leon Pininski, second son of Julia-Thérèse.
  13. Ladislas Pininski, elder nephew of Stanilas and Leon.
  14. Stanislas Pininski, nephew of Ladislas.
  15. Peter Pininski, son of Stanislas (extant).

Absolute primogeniture

On 28 October 2011, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Western Australia, it was announced that British Prime Minister David Cameron's proposed changes to the royal succession laws in the 16 Commonwealth realms had received unanimous support of the other realms' prime ministers. The alterations replace male preference primogeniture — under which sons take precedence over daughters in the lines of succession — with absolute primogeniture for descendants of the current Prince of Wales; end the ban on marriage of dynasts to Catholics; and limit the requirement for those in line to the throne to acquire permission of the sovereign to marry. However, the requirement for the sovereign to be in communion with the Church of England remains.

This change has now been enacted as the Succession to the Crown Act 2013; but it does not apply retroactively.

If this system of primogeniture had been applied on the death of Victoria (whose actual successor was her second child and first son Edward VII), then Princess Victoria, Princess Royal would have become queen and the throne would have been inherited by her eldest child, and so on.[22][23][24]

  1. Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India
  2. Victoria, German Empress and Queen of Prussia, eldest child of Queen Victoria
  3. Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia, eldest child of Princess Victoria
  4. William, German Crown Prince, eldest child of Kaiser Wilhelm II
  5. Princess Felicitas of Prussia, eldest child of Prince Wilhelm, Crown Prince William's eldest son, who died before his father
  6. Friederike Thyra Marion Wilhelmine Dorothea von der Osten, eldest child of Princess Felicitas

Friederike is not considered a pretender to the British throne, as this alternative line of succession is completely hypothetical. Next in line would be her eldest child, Felicitas Catharini Malina Johanna von Reiche.


  1. ^ Lehman, H. E. (2005). Lives of England's Monarchs: The Story of Our American English Heritage. AuthorHouse. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4184-9692-0. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "Edward IV, king of England". The Penny Cyclopedia. Vol. IX: Dionysius–Erne. 1837. p. 294. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Willis, Browne (1755). The History and Antiquities of the Town, Hundred, and Deanry of Buckingham: Containing a Description of the Towns, Villages, Hamlets, Monasteries, Churches ... etc. p. 328. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Sargeant, Carol (December 2011). Love, Honour and Royal Blood: Book Three: Rose Red, Royal Blue Lancaster. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4575-0763-2. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  5. ^ "Britain's Real Monarch". Channel4. 2004. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Rowse, A. L. (1966). Bosworth Field and the Wars of the Roses. Macmillan. p. 166. 
  7. ^ a b " Pollard, Albert Frederick (1901). "Beaufort, John (1373?-1410)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 158–159. 
  8. ^ Armitage-Smith, Sydney (1904). John of Gaunt, King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln, and Leicester, Seneschal of England. London: Constable. pp. 196–199. 
  9. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Descendants of Anne, Countess of Castlehaven". wargs.com. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "The Henrician succession to the Throne of England". wargs.com. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "Obituary: Lady Kinloss". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  12. ^ "Lady Kinloss was Tudor claimant to the throne". Vancouver Sun. 2012. 
  13. ^ "Lady Kinloss". The Herald. Glasgow. 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  14. ^ Freer, Alan G. (2013). "Conqueror 41: Elizabeth Wyndham". The Descendants of William the Conqueror. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  15. ^ Aronson, Theo (1979). Kings Over the Water. London: Cassell. p. 229. 
  16. ^ The Jacobite claim is to the thrones held and claimed by James II and VII; as king of England, Scotland, France (claimed by English monarchs since the Hundred Years' War), and Ireland. The Acts of Union that created Great Britain and the United Kingdom are considered invalid by those who believe that the monarchs who gave the Acts the Royal Assent were not the legitimate occupants of the throne. Cf. The Legitimist Kalendar for the Year of Our Lord 1895 (London: Henry, 1895), p.22.
  17. ^ Pininski, Peter (April 2002). The Stuarts' Last Secret. Tuckwell Press Ltd. ISBN 1-86232-199-X. 
  18. ^ Lyon, Ann (2003). "Book review: The Stuarts' Last Secret" (PDF). The Baronage. Retrieved 17 December 2007. 
  19. ^ "The marriages of the granddaughter of Bonnie Prince Charlie". Genealogists' Magazine: Journal of the Society of Genealogists. 31 (2): 45–49. June 2013. 
  20. ^ Skeet, Francis John Angus (1932). The life and letters of H. R. H. Charlotte Stuart: duchess of Albany, only child of Charles III, king of Great Britain, Scotland, France and Ireland. p. 160. 
  21. ^ Spanton, Tim (29 October 2011). "Our Queen would be German housewife called Friederike..." The Sun. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  22. ^ Hall, Allan (3 November 2011). "Von to reign over us". The Sun. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  23. ^ Rojas, John-Paul Ford (31 October 2011). "Friederike I, the woman who would be Queen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2016.