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Conspiracy theories. There are so many out there and the vast overwhelming  majority of them are pretty laughable. In the US we have people that deny that men landed on the moon and they think it was all fake. Many of the same folk think that Curiosity, the rover currently scouring the planet Mars, is also a fake. They believe hat the real rover is in Are 51 and through special effects these images are being broadcast around the world. There are people who believe that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the US Government. There even is a faction of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who think that there were not any planes that crashed into buildings on 9/11 and that the planes were added to film footage via special effects. Then we have the Birthers who think President Barrak Obama was born in Kenya and not the US. I also cannot forget the small minority of people who still think the Earth is flat and any picture that shows the Earth is round is being duped by NASA and the US Government. Google the Flat Earth Society. Crazy stuff! 

James II-VII of England and Scotland

I have come to learn through the years there have also been conspiracy theories in royal circles. Currently I am reading The Last of the Stuarts by James Lees-Milne. The book was published in 1983 and as I am reading it I discover that there are some conspiracy theories surrounding the last few heirs to the Stuart Dynasty. One of the more well known conspiracy theories is the theory of the “changeling,” that the Prince of Wales, Prince James Francis Stuart, son of King James II-VII of England and Scotland and his second wife Prince Marie-Beatrice of Modena, was smuggled into the palace in place of a still-born son. For centuries after this theory sprung forth an official minister from the government had to be present at the birth of all princes and princess in line for the throne.

England and Scotland were in difficult political times. The king was not popular and his Catholicism almost cost him his throne when he was the heir to his brother, Charles II. It was only the fact that his two surviving Protestant daughters would succeed him which lead to the king being tolerated. When his wife produced a healthy male heir who would undoubtedly be raised Catholic this sent in motion a crisis which lead to James II-VII being deposed. The interesting speculation at the time which added to the conspiracy theory was the thought that the Queen was never pregnant. One of the claims was that the King, who had fathered many children both legitimate and illegitimate, was incapable of fathering another child at the “ripe old age” of 55. Now to the modern ear 55 is not too old. However, in 1688 with health care not being what it is today and life expectancy at a much lower rate, there may have been some truth to this. Another aspect of the theory are the reports that Queen Marie-Beatrice, who had had several miscarriages and had been in poor health in the previous months prior to her becoming pregnant, was too ill and too old herself to conceive. The queen was only 30 at the time but it does raise the question of fertility and childbearing difficulties as women aged in the 17th century. In 1688 was it difficult for a woman in her 30s to conceive?

Queen Marie-Beatrice 

I really do not believe these theories but they are interesting to think about. One of the things punching a whole in this conspiracy theory is the fact that there are many original sources from those at court and ambassadors at other courts who had seen the queen did report that she was indeed pregnant. Also, the claims that the young Prince of Wales was a changeling sounds more like political propaganda espoused by those who were against the king than having any basis in reality.

Even the young Prince of Wales, claiming the throne of England and Scotland as James III-VIII,  had his own conspiracy theory. He was sure that he was the target of assassination by those close to and loyal to King George I of Great Britain.

James Frances, the Old Pretender

I see that conspiracy theories are part of the human condition and even royalty cannot escape this strange and odd phenomenon.

 

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