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One aspect of the British Monarchy is hereditary succession. However, that is not the only rule governing the succession to the crown. There are laws controlling who can legally inherit the throne.

I often will see people claim that some descendant of either a King of England or a scion of the royal family is the rightful monarch of England or the United Kingdom due to hereditary succession. These claims mistakenly believe that hereditary descent is the main issue controlling the succession to the crown.

His Majesty, the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

In the beginning of the monarchy, in the times of the Anglo-Saxon period prior to the Norman Conquest, the throne was elective. Succession was governed by the Witan.

The Witan (lit. ’wise men’) was the king’s council in Anglo-Saxon England from before the seventh century until the 11th century. It was composed of the leading magnates, both ecclesiastic and secular, and meetings of the council were sometimes called the Witenagemot.

Its primary function was to advise the king on subjects such as promulgation of laws, judicial judgments, approval of charters transferring land, settlement of disputes, election of archbishops and bishops and other matters of major national importance. The witan also had to elect and approve the appointment of a new king. Its membership was composed of the most important noblemen, including ealdormen, thegns, and senior clergy.

After the Witan was abolished by William the Conqueror succession was at first in the hands of the sovereign but eventually evolved into hereditary succession. Even when the succession became hereditary laws governing the succession also evolved.

Crown of St Edward

This leads me to the next series I will examine. Where they a usurper? There were monarchs of England that may not have actually held the throne legally and were therefore usurpers to the crown.

Below are listed 9 people that claimed the throne and I will examine whether or not they were legally on the throne or were they a usurper?

William I the Conqueror, King of the English and Duke of Normandy

Stephen, King of the English, Count of Blois

John, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Henry IV, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Edward IV, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Richard III, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Lady Jane Grey

William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland