As the imminent moment when the UK will be changing monarchs seems to be approaching, those following in the succession line have attracted the interest of the people. Not only, that, Prince Charles, as the first in line, and Prince William following him, are making slight changes to anticipate their future roles, the first one as the next King of the United Kingdom and the latter as the future Prince of Wales.
However, as we know, time is implacable, and although Prince Charles has excellent health and longevity is in his genes, he won’t have a long reign as his mother, Queen Elizabeth had, thus Prince William is also being seen as the future King of the UK in a close future. Well, turns out that, when the time comes, Prince William will make history as probably the King with more British blood in over two centuries! Yes, even more than Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II herself.
How? Well, Prince William, as well as his kin and his brother Prince Harry, are descendants of the Stuart dynasty, the first to rule the two joined kingdoms of England and Scotland for almost two centuries from 1603 to 1714. Why is this relevant? Well, as we’ll see below, after the death of Queen Anne I of Britain (the last Stuart monarch) the throne passed to German families. Hence, why Prince William would become the “most British” king in over three centuries.
You might find this interesting: How are Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family related to European royalty?
The Stuart Dynasty
Let’s start by giving a bit of context on the Stuarts and their big and turbulent reigns. After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, who died childlessly, the Tudor dynasty was gone. Before passing, Elizabeth chose an heir amongst her distant relatives. The crown went to her nephew James VI of Scotland and I of Britain (1603-1625).
James I’s is often remembered as one of the most notable monarchs in British history. He was a reformer, he introduced the Bible that many Anglicans still read today, is considered one of the most important LGBTQ+ monarchs, and many actually remember him for being the target of the infamous Gunpowder plot of November 5.
His son Charles I (1626-1649), succeeded him in what has been one of the most turbulent times in British history. He was the first European monarch to be executed by their people due to an open quarrel he had with Parliament and his not that protestant religious views (or at least that’s what people thought). After his death, the monarchy was abolished establishing a short republic led by the Commonwealth of England.
Eleven years later, the monarchy was restored by Charles’ son, Charles II (1660-1685). He was known as the “Merry Monarch” because it was during his reign that the strict Puritan traditions and norms established by Oliver during the Commonwealth were lifted. Although he faced several religious issues (like the Pope wanting to place Charles’ catholic brother James), he is considered one of the most popular monarchs in British history.
Charles II was succeeded by his Catholic brother James II (1685-1688). Despite his religious affiliations, he took the throne with not much opposition, but the birth of his first heir (a likely Catholic) sparked what was known as the Glorious Revolution. James II had to flee to France and despite his attempts to take back his throne, he failed.
The succession then passed to James II’s daughter Mary II (1688-1694) and her husband William III (1688-1702), best known as William of Orange. Although they had a joined crown, it was William the one in charge of the big decisions as one of the most notable military men of his time. Mary passed at the age of 32 of smallpox and left William on the throne for eight years. After William’s death, and without an heir, the crown passed to Mary’s sister Anne.
Queen Anne I of Britain (1702-1707) was such a character. Also known as a notable LGBTQ+ monarch, Anne is mostly remembered for her relationship with Sarah Churchill, a friendship (or more) that sparked tons of controversy and political quarrels. Anne had 17 pregnancies throughout her life, most of them miscarriages, and had some children though none of them survived childhood. She died childless in 1707 thus ending the Stuart dynasty. The throne then passed to the Hanovers, a German royal house that still survives today with the name of Windsor.
So how is Prince William related to the Stuarts and not his father or grandparents?
Prince William’s Stuart ancestry
When Princess Diana entered the picture, it was often said that she was a commoner, but, in fact, strictly speaking, she had more claim to the British throne than her soon-to-be husband or even the Queen as being a descendant of King Charles II on both sides of her family.
King Charles II, the ‘Merry Monarch,’ had over a dozen of illegitimate children, although he recognized at least 12. One of his children, Henry Fitzroy, the first Duke of Grafton, was Diana’s seventh great-grandfather. Her other ancestor and son to Charles II, is Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond and Lennox. Funny enough, Diana shares this ancestor with another former royal, Sarah Ferguson, former wife of Prince Andrew.
So, going back in the succession line of the Stuarts, whenever Prince William assumes the throne (if he does) he would be the first direct and legitimate descendant of Charles II to become a monarch. That is, it would’ve taken Charles II to see his progeny on the throne over 3 centuries!