An Australian forklift driver who some historians argued was the true heir to the British throne has died in the small New South Wales town he called home, his local newspaper reported Thursday.
Mike Hastings, 71, was a real-life aristocrat, born the 14th earl of Loudoun, who moved to Australia in 1960 in search of adventure.
He made international headlines in 2004 when a documentary team from Britain’s Channel Four conducted extensive research into the monarchy and concluded his ancestors were cheated out of the crown in the 15th century.
Hastings, an avowed republican, died on June 30 and was buried Thursday in Jerilderie, about 750 kilometres (465 miles) southwest of Sydney, the local Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser reported.
Hastings was a descendant of England’s House of York, whose dynastic struggle with the House of Lancaster became known as the Wars of the Roses and was dramatised by William Shakespeare.
The British documentary’s historian Michael Jones found documents in France’s Rouen Cathedral that he believed showed King Edward IV, who ruled with a brief interruption from 1461 to 1483, was illegitimate.
Jones believes that Edward’s father Richard of York was fighting the French at Pontoise when he was conceived, while his mother Cecily was 200 kilometres (125 miles) away at Rouen, allegedly in the amorous arms of an English archer.
If true, the crown should have passed on to Edward’s younger brother George, the duke of Clarence, who was a direct ancestor to Hastings.
Hastings showed little interest in pursuing his claim to the monarchy when interviewed by AFP in 2005, citing the intense public scrutiny endured by the royals.
However, he joked that his claim to the crown could prove lucrative if confirmed.
“I reckon I might send Lizzie (Queen Elizabeth II) a bill for back rent. The old girl’s family have been living in my bloody castle for the last 500 years,” he said.
His son Simon, who now becomes the 15th earl of Loudoun, also appears in no hurry to try to seize the throne.
“It’s something that I’ll have to look into in the near future,” he told the Advertiser ahead of his father’s funeral.
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