Royal Babies: Those That Have Been Forgotten

by AlexandriaIngham

History is full of royal babies who have been forgotten about. Here I cover just a handful of them.

The most recent royal baby was born July 22, 2013 and it was big news for a few days. It didn’t take long for him to be named, Prince George Alexander Louis, or for some satire pieces to say “take that Anne Boleyn”. However, the news seems to have died down. His Christening is booked for October 23, 2013 but there is very little else in the news about it.

He definitely won’t be one of the forgotten royal babies, though, especially when it comes to those who were supposed to be heirs to the throne. There are some that I want to point out who are interesting and really could have changed history.

The Princes in the Tower: Edward and Richard

Despite there being so much surrounding them now, you likely know very little of Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury.

The poor Princes in the TowerMost people have heard of the Princes in the Tower but do you actually know who they were. JoHarrington has written some excellent pieces on the two boys (one a king and the other a prince!) who mysteriously went missing in 1483, around the same time that Richard, Duke of Gloucester became King Richard III of England.

I won't go into detail but you can read more about the two boys in the articles below. They are all links to JoHarrington's excellent pieces and cover the boys and conspiracies in depth.

The two boys seems to have been forgotten about until most recently with the BBC adaption of Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series.

The Other Edwards of the 15th Century

Edward was a very popular name for heirs and boys in the 15th century. There are two others that are commonly forgotten about.

There are other Edwards from the 15th century who are commonly discarded and forgotten about. One of those is Edward of Westminster, who was the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. It took eight years for the couple of have a child and many feared that the French Queen of England was barren. However, it is worth pointing out that Henry VI was an only child. It wouldn’t have been that much of a problem had it not been for the Battle of Tewkesbury.

Edward of Westminster was married to Anne Neville, the daughter of the Kingmaker, in 1470. It was a marriage for political gain. The Kingmaker, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, wanted to be the King’s right-hand man again. He had been cast aside by King Edward IV, had failed to put George, Duke of Clarence on the throne and had now decided to switch to the Lancastrian cause. Margaret needed Warwick’s help to put her husband back on the throne, so her son would be the Prince of Wales again. It temporarily worked but Edward IV soon came back with a vengeance. Edward of Westminster was killed at Tewkesbury, leaving a 16-year-old widow and heartbroken mother.

Anne Neville’s name pops up for the next Edward of the 15th century. She married Richard, Duke of Gloucester shortly after the death of her husband and they had one child: Edward of Middleham. When Richard III became king in 1483, his son became his heir but it was short-lived (and not because of Richard’s death!). Edward of Middleham died in 1484 (between March 31 and April 9 depending on the source) when he was just 10 years old. Very little is recorded about the young prince but his death is suspected as being tuberculosis. Incidentally, TB was the cause of death for a later Edward, Edward VI!

Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon Did Have a Son

Did you know that there could have been a Henry IX?

Henry VIII tore the country apart to get an heir to the throneYou’d be forgiven believing that Henry VIII only had one legitimate son. The truth is he only had one legitimate son who survived infancy. Edward VI was not the first boy to be born to the infamous tyrant King of England and there was at least one from Catherine of Aragon. Prince Henry was born on New Year’s Day, 1511.

There were many celebrations all around the country and this royal baby was even christened. All was well until 56 days later when the prince died. It was common during the 16th century but didn’t stop the disappointment. This wasn’t the reason for Henry VIII to start looking for a divorce! He and Catherine were still young and they did try for more children. They had other boys but they were all stillborn and very little has been mentioned about them. Prince Henry would have become Henry XI had he outlived his father and it would have changed everything about the Tudor period. Imagine no Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I, no Mary I (or Bloody Mary!) and possibly no Jane Seymour and the other of Henry VIII’s six wives.

Unfortunately, there is no recorded cause of death. I often wonder whether it was actually cot death (SIDS) but something that was never really understood or known about back then. Very few cause of deaths for infants was recorded, though, which makes it difficult.

James Francis Edward Stuart: The Old Pretender

You will know all about James I and James II of England but what about James III? This is another not-quite forgotten about royal babies but not for the right reasons!

James Francis Edward Stuart is also less commonly known as James III of England to the Jacobites.Have you ever heard of James III of England? I hadn’t until I started doing extensive research into this part of history. When it comes to the Stuart dynasty, my history lessons taught me about James I, Charles I and II, James II, William of Orange and Queen Mary and Queen Anne. So where does James III fit in?

James Francis Edward Stuart was the only legitimate son of James II of England, through his second wife, Mary of Modena. Despite England and Scotland both being Protestant countries by this point, James II was Catholic. He had been raised with Protestant views but gained Catholic ones while living in France. His two daughters from his first marriage, Mary and Anne, had both been raised Protestant and away from James but the same could not be said for his son.


The English people saw that there was a possibility of moving back to the Catholic ways. While nobody would have remember the atrocities of Mary I by this time, the stories would have still been heard. They knew about the 300 Protestants who were burned at the stake for heresy. To prevent this from ever happening again, there was a move to place Princess Mary on the throne with her Protestant husband, William of Orange. It worked and James II was sent into exile in France with his son.

While in France, James Francis Edward was seen as the true heir to the throne by Charles XIV and when James II died in 1701, his son declared himself as king—something that Charles XIV also recognised. There were even people who recognised him as king, including many of the Roman Catholic states, and the Jacobite movement began. However, on March 2, 1702, he was attained for treason and lost all his titles.

James did outlive his half-sisters and Anne’s death without issue in 1714 seemed like the perfect time for him to become King of Great Britain and be recognised by all countries. It may have been possible had he converted to Protestantism. He refused to do that and it led to King George I of Great Britain, a German king and descendent of King James I of England. It didn’t stop the Jacobites and they attempted to make James the King of Scotland.

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James did have two sons and one of those is known as Charles III by the Jacobites. However, like his father, he wasn’t recognised by the people of Great Britain.

History is full of royal babies who have been forgotten about. This has just focused on a few male heirs from the 14th to the 18th centuries but there are many more. Their lives were all planned out for them but nothing quite worked out. For Prince George Alexander Louis it is a different time and the plans are likely to work out just as expected.

Updated: 05/07/2015, AlexandriaIngham
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AlexandriaIngham on 05/06/2015

Hallie, you're right. A mistake on my part. However it wouldn't have mattered as most if not all his siblings had died by the time Edward of Westminster died.

Hallie on 05/06/2015

The article has at least one fact wrong: Henry V was not a only son. He had five younger siblings.

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