This is the first in a series of posts backtracking on some conspiracy theories I’ve previously promoted on this blog about the royals, which several people believe.
Alongside King Edward IV of England, whose alleged illegitimacy I recently refuted, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, Empress of India (1819-1901, reigned 1837-1901) is the most popular British monarch to suggest as illegitimate.
First off, some background information. Victoria – whose full name was Alexandrina Victoria, and who was in her lifetime the longest-reigning monarch in British history (although in 2015 she was outdone by her great-great-granddaughter, the current Queen Elizabeth II, making Victoria the second-longest-reigning) – was the only child of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767-1820), a Governor of Gibraltar, and his wife Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Princess of Leiningen and Duchess of Kent and Strathearn (1786-1861). Her father was a younger son of King George III of the United Kingdom and Hanover (1738-1820); however, Edward’s older brothers King George IV, Prince Frederick (Duke of York and Albany) and King William IV were all either childless, or their (legitimate) children had died young, thus sparking a competition to produce an heir (which Edward obviously won). Edward thus had a great shot at the thrones – but died before his father and all 3 of his older brothers. Instead, upon King William IV’s death, the British throne passed to Victoria. (The Hanoverian throne passed to Edward’s younger brother King Ernest Augustus, since Hanover had Salic Law, which forbade women from inheriting the throne.)
So, what is the claimed evidence that Queen Victoria was not the rightful successor? There are two main arguments, both about hereditary diseases:
- The disappearance with Victoria of porphyria, which had previously plagued the Royal Family
- The appearance with Victoria of haemophilia, which had never previously appeared in the Royal Family
Among the Illegitimate Victoria crowd, the most common candidate for her biological father is her mother’s Irish close friend and possible lover Sir John Conroy. A small number of them instead propose German Jewish banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild.
The first and foremost problem with these “evidences” is that the Royal Family was never afflicted with porphyria. THE ONLY PRE-VICTORIAN BRITISH ROYAL TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH PORPHYRIA WAS KING GEORGE III, AND HIS DIAGNOSIS IS NOW GENERALLY BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN WRONG. ADDITIONALLY, AT LEAST TWO OF VICTORIA’S DESCENDANTS HAD PORPHYRIA – SO EVEN IF VICTORIA’S PREDECESSORS CARRIED THE GENE, SHE PASSED IT ON TO HER DESCENDANTS.
The two descendants of Queen Victoria who were diagnosed with porphyria were her granddaughter Princess Charlotte of Prussia, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen and her great-great-grandson Prince William of Gloucester. William did descend from George III through another line (cousin marriage and all), but Charlotte did not.
So, the porphyria narrative is blatantly false, and is NOT evidence of Victoria’s alleged illegitimacy.
What about the haemophilia?
Well, that is true. There was no known haemophilia in the Royal Family before Victoria – in any of her mother’s or father’s ancestors – but she carried the gene, and passed it to her descendants. It became known as the Royal Disease.
However, using this as evidence for illegitimacy does not work unless the biological father had haemophilia, and neither John Conroy nor Nathan Mayer Rothschild nor any of their relatives and descendants have haemophilia.
ADDITIONALLY, spontaneous mutation accounts for about a third of all haemophilia cases, and such spontaneous mutations arise more commonly in older fathers – and Prince Edward was in his 50s when he fathered Victoria.
In short, haemophilia doesn’t really prove anything either.
BUT BY FAR THE BIGGEST BLOW TO THE “VICTORIA WAS ILLEGITIMATE” THEORY IS THAT SHE RESEMBLED HER OFFICIAL FATHER, PRINCE EDWARD!
I think we can be pretty sure that Queen-Empress Victoria was both a Royal and a Hanover, and the legitimate heir to the throne.