So, there’s more news and more debate on Richard III’s remains, two years after they were discovered. It seems his story, as well as his bones, cannot be laid to rest. At least I welcome the first of these two things.
We are now to be 99.999% certain that the remains found under the Leicester car park are Richard’s. We can also be quite confident that he had blue eyes and that, at least as a child, he had blonde hair. I have to confess that this changes my mental picture of him a little, but it’s at least news.
The fact that there are two breaks in the paternal line is also news. Of a sort. Someone, somewhere (well, okay, two people), in the course of four centuries was unfaithful. I’m not sure that’s really news. That rate is beaten on a daily basis on Jeremy Kyle. It’s interesting, but the report can’t point to which branch of the family has the break, whether it was before or after Richard III, and it could run into the 18th century as easily as date back to the 14th.
What does this mean for the current royal family? Nothing.
What does it mean for previous monarchs? Nothing.
What does it mean for the Tudor’s legitimacy? Nothing.
It’s no more questionable than before!
What is being overlooked at every step is that no monarch has ever been illegitimate. The current Queen is selected and ratified by Parliament, not by her father or the blood in her veins. This has been true for several hundred years now.
More importantly, the coronation ceremony, in which the monarch is anointed with holy oil, appointed before God and swears their oath, corrects any flaw in a monarchs title. If I was anointed King, it would be beyond doubt that I would be the rightful king. The action of anointing has created a monarch for centuries.
Henry Tudor claimed the throne of England thanks to his defeating of the reigning king. His blood meant nothing. The same was true of Edward IV, who deposed an anointed king. And Henry IV, who was the first to break the Plantagenet line of descent. Even William the Conqueror became king in this manner, yet we doubt none of them as monarchs. In each case, the coronation ceremony corrected any flaw in their right, title or blood.
Had Richard III decided to allow his nephew Edward V to be crowned and anointed, he would, in the eyes of canon and common law, have been the legitimate king. The marking of the cross on his forehead with holy oil would have driven any fault and any doubt away.
The same is true of the Queen today. It is sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake to question this.
There have been several rumours about illegitimate medieval royals. John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III used to fly into rages at the contemporary rumour that he was a butcher’s son. The fact that Edward III did not attend his birth is cited as evidence that something was amiss.
Edward IV was rumoured in the French court, and later in England, to have been the son of an archer named Bleyborne, a huge man whose frame matched that of the tallest king in English and British history. Edward’s father’s departure on campaign eleven months before his birth is also suspicious, if no chance of his return were possible. Edward was christened in a quite ceremony in a side chapel. Yet Edward’s coronation corrected any flaw that may have existed. That is probably part of the reason Richard III switched his allegations from questioning Edward’s paternity to challenging the legitimacy of his children. Edward IV had been anointed. Edward V had not. His flaw was raw, uncorrected.
What does this mean?
At the most, it suggests that every castle had a tradesman’s entrance.
What does it mean for the Queen’s position?
Nothing at all.