Last night Channel 4 broadcast a programme titled Britain’s Real Monarch, in which Tony Robinson (of Time Team and Blackadder fame) presented the theory that the current Queen is not the rightful heir to the throne.
It seems that substantial evidence suggests that Edward IV was illegitimate, and that the crown should have passed instead to his half-brother George, the Duke of Clarence; and subsequently to a completely different family line than those of the Tudors, the House of Hanover and the House of Windsor.
Robinson concluded that the history of Britain might have been very different if the “real” King George I had succeeded to the throne in 1461. Without Henry VIII England might have remained a Catholic country, and the United Kingdom might never have been formed if an independent Scotland had retained its own monarch.
The programme’s web site contains a full family tree that illustrates both the present and alternative royal lines. If you follow the alternative line closely you will see that King Theophilus II should have succeeded to the throne in 1705. In 1728 he married Selina Shirley, aka the Countess of Huntingdon, who converted to Methodism in 1738 and went on to establish many non-conformist chapels and eventually founded her own “connexion” within the Methodist church.
So if Theophilus had been King, Selina would have been Queen, and Methodism might have become the dominant denomination in England. Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, once called the “Queen of Methodists”, would have been Queen of England too.
For more information on Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, see Making History: The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion or The Elect Lady by Gilbert W. Kirby.