"Prince Michael of Albany"

"Prince Michael James Alexander Stewart, 7th Count of Albany, Duc d'Aquitaine, Comte de Blois, Head of the Sacred Kindred of St. Columba, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Patron Grand Officer of the International Society of Commission Officers for the Commonwealth, President of the European Council of Princes," claims descent in the legitimate line from Charles III. The following account of him is based upon Laurence Gardner's Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed (Element, 1996), "Prince Michael"'s The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland (Element, 1998), and the webpage of "Prince Michael" (http://www.mediaquest.co.uk/RHSsite/RHShome.html). My own comments are in italics placed in square brackets.

According to "Prince Michael", on April 3, 1784, Pope Pius VI annulled the marriage of Charles III and his wife Louise of Stolberg-Gedern; the bases for this decree of nullity were purportedly 1. "Louise's inability to produce an heir made her unsuitable for the purpose intended", and 2. "her open involvement with Alfieri rendered her quite unworthy of her marital office."

[Louise seems never to have borne any children; she also clearly was not faithful to her marriage vows. However, anybody familiar with the marriage laws of the Catholic Church will recognise that neither of these would be sufficient cause for a decree of nullity. There is absolutely no evidence for any such annulment ever having been sought or granted. On April 3, 1784, Charles did issue a declaration in which he agreed to his wife Louise maintaining a separate permanent residence. This is altogether different from a divorce, much less an annulment. There are numerous biographies of Louise including at least three in English (by Herbert M. Vaughan, Vernon Lee, and Margaret Crosland); none of these suggest that the marriage of Charles and Louise was annulled.]

The story continues that according to the "Stuart archives in Rome and Brussels" Charles married "Marguerite Marie Therese O'Dea d'Audibert de Lussan, Comtesse de Massillan" in November 1785 in the Church of the Santi Apostoli in Rome.

[There is no collection in Rome called the "Stuart archives". The largest collections of papers of the Stuart kings-in-exile are now in England at Windsor Castle and the British Museum. A number of archival collections in Italy include some papers related to the Stuart kings. Gardner refrains from being any more specific, no doubt because he cannot be.]

[In naming "Marguerite Marie Therese O'Dea d'Audibert de Lussan" as Charles' supposed second wife "Prince Michael" begins a pattern of attributing to people the surnames of their maternal ancestors; Marguerite O'Dea may have been descended in the female line from the families of Audibert and Lussan, but she had no right to use these surnames herself. She was not a member of the great French families of Audibert or Lussan and had no right to the title "comtesse de Massilan".]

As proof of this wedding "Prince Michael" cites a Latin extract purportedly from the marriage registers of the Church of the Santi Apostoli in Rome. On his website and in his book "Prince Michael" reproduces a statement from a Belgian notary confirming the origin of the extract.

[Gardner does not explain how a Belgian notary would be able to authenticate a record supposedly in Rome!]:

Quod Heic XXVI Kal Dec. ANRS MDCCLXXXV Hospes Hospiti Carolus III Rex Mag. Brit. Fran. et Hib. Fid. Def. Porrexerit Dexteram Margaretae Mariae Tereseae Fil. Ferdinandi Dea d'Audibert de Lussan et Francescae d'Audibert de Lussan, Comitessa de Masillan, etc., Eamque, Servatis SRE Ritibus Duxerit in Matrimonium.

[The date of the document proves it to be a total fabrication. In the Roman calendar "XXVI Kal. Dec." would (if it existed) be the 25th (sic) day before the Kalends of December; this is comparable to saying the 39th of March - there is no such date! "Prince Michael" translates "XXVI Kal. Dec." as "December 26th", and thereby shows his lack of familiarity with how the Roman calendar works. "Kal. Dec.", the Kalends of December is December 1st; "II Kal. Dec." is the day before the Kalends of December, i.e. November 30th; "XVIII Kal. Dec." is the seventeenth day before the Kalends of December, i.e. November 14th. There is no "XIX Kal. Dec." (let alone a "XXVI Kal. Dec.") because the day before "XVIII Kal. Dec." is "Id. Nov.", the Ides of November.]

[The rest of the Latin, however, is accurate - for the reason that it has been copied (with only the names changed) from the inscription recording Charles' marriage to Louise of Stolberg in the Palazzo Marefoschi in Macerata. It is for that reason that the passage begins "Quod heic" (here on account of the fact that). Such an expression makes perfect sense in a monumental inscription, but is meaningless in what purports to be an entry in a marriage register.]

To continue with the story put forward by "Prince Michael": the following November (1786) Marguerite "gave birth to a son, Edouard Jacques Stuardo (Edward James Stuart), who became known as 'Count Stuarton'".

[The mixing of languages in the names and titles (Edouard Jacques - French; Stuardo - Italian; Stuarton - German) seems merely to be a ploy to appear aristocratic and mysterious.]

Gardner says that while the existence of the marriage and birth were "suppressed by the Hanoverian government" and "concealed from the British public", they were "no secret in Europe".

[Gardner provides no evidence of this European knowledge of a second marriage. There are numerous French and German biographies of Charles; none of these mention any second marriage, let alone the birth of a son. Nor is Gardner able to cite any evidence for a European knowledge of anyone entitled "Count Stuarton". The only contemporary evidence of an individual with such a title is to be found not in any European source, but in an English one (and therefore under the influence of the Hanoverian government in Britain).]

[In it's 1807 obituary for the Cardinal called Duke of York, the monthly journal "The Gentleman's Magazine" reports that, "In his will, made in January 1789, he [i.e. the Cardinal called Duke of York] had left the latter [i.e. his library] to his relation Count Stuarton." The obituary does not elaborate on who this "Count Stuarton" was. In fact the obituary in "The Gentleman's Magazine" is totally wrong about any such bequest. In his will the Cardinal called Duke of York left his entire property including his library to Monsignor Angelo Cesarini. It was Cesarini who later distributed the property and gave the library to the Archiepiscopal Seminary in Frascati. In 1944 the books were removed to the Biblioteca Apostolica in the Vatican in order to protect them from the Allied bombing of Frascati (which in fact did destroy the Seminary). Today the books remain in the Vatican.]

[The majority of the obituary in "The Gentleman's Magazine" is given over to the financial difficulties of the Cardinal called Duke of York after 1796 and to the generosity shown by the Elector of Hanover in correcting this situation. The writer is clearly at pains to exalt the House of Hanover and to deny any continued rights to the Jacobite heirs. The final sentence of the obituary is, "The statements in the French Papers, concerning Cardinal York's bequests to the King of Sardinia, are void of all truth," - when in fact they were entirely accurate. In mentioning a "Count Stuarton", either the writer of the obituary is mistaken (as he is in a number of other details) or he is purposefully fabricating a story to make people doubt the fact that the heir of the Cardinal called Duke of York was Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia. One searches in vain in both British and European sources for any other contemporary reference to a "Count Stuarton".]

As proof of the birth of "Prince Edward James", "Prince Michael" cites a Latin extract again purportedly from the registers of the Church of the Santi Apostoli in Rome:

Eduardo Jacobi, Dux Kintyriis et Kendalae, Scot., Angl., Franc., Hib., et Pol. Princeps, Fil. Carolus III Stuartus Fid. Def. et Margarita de Masaillanas, Mag. Brit. Franc., et Hibernia Rex et Regina, natus XV Kal. Oct. Anno MDCCLXXXVI.

[There are so many signs that this extract is a forgery:]

[First, Charles is never called "Charles III" or "king" (Rex) by any except his most devoted Jacobite supporters. Charles certainly would not be referred to as king in a baptismal register in the city of Rome where the pope was insistent that he must use an alias; in 1767 the Rectors of the English, Scots, and Irish Colleges had each been dismissed by the pope for publicly praying for Charles as king.]

[Second, the person who created this supposed baptismal record had extremely poor knowledge of Latin grammar and spelling; he was most certainly not a Catholic priest of the eighteenth century. Eduardo Jacobi is in the dative or ablative case, while the titles of duke (Dux) and prince (Princeps) and the word born (natus) are in the nominative case. No legitimate son of Charles would be a prince of Poland (Pol. Princeps); this is another example of "Prince Michael" attaching to persons titles or names held by their maternal ancestors. Edward James is described as the son of Charles and Margaret (Fil. Carolus . . . et Margarita) - but then the names Carolus and Margarita should be in the genitive case and not the nominative case.]

The story continues that in 1788 at the death of Charles, the Hanoverian government and the Cardinal called Duke of York connived to hide the existence of a will recognising as heir "Prince Edward James, Count Stuarton". Similar intrigues followed with Henry's own will. All of this was purportedly done with the support of the pope and Cardinal Consalvi.

[There is of course no evidence for the existence of these other wills of Charles and Henry; one searches in vain for any mention of them before Gardner and "Prince Michael". The Jacobites had no greater hope than for a legitimate son to be born to Charles. It is preposterous to suggest that if such a child had been born, his birth would not have been publicly celebrated. The intrigue of various papal officials and the Hanoverian government make the story very exciting, but do not lend any credence to it.]

"Prince Edward James" died in 1845 and was succeeded by his son, "Prince Henry Edward Benedict", who died in 1869 and was succeeded by his son, "Prince Charles Benedict James". In 1888 Charles Benedict "was scheduled to attend a grand Stuart Exhibition at the New Gallery, London. But the Exhibition was wholly undermined by Hanoverian agents, and "Prince Charles Benedict" was found dead (presumably murdered) in Italy."

["Prince Michael" names all of these supposed ancestors, but does not provide any evidence for their existence. The Stuart Exhibition organised in London in 1888 under the presidency of Lord Ashburnham is a well-known historical event. There is no evidence for any proposed visit by "Prince Charles Benedict", or for that gentleman's death.]

"Prince Charles Benedict" died in 1887 and was succeeded by his son, "Prince Julius Anthony Henry"; the latter died in 1941 and was succeeded by his son, "Prince Anthony James". "Prince Anthony James" died without issue in 1963. His brother, "Prince Julius Joseph James" married "Germaine Elixa Segers de la Tour d'Auvergne, Princess of Sedan", by whom he had a daughter, "Princess Renee Julienne, Princess Royal of Strathearn, Lady Derneley"; this lady is the mother of "Prince Michael".

[It is always possible that a certain Germaine Seger may have been descended in the female line from the de la Tour d'Auvergne family - although there is no evidence for any such descent. The legitimate male line of that family became extinct in the 1790's. Certainly Germaine Seger had no right to use the surname of de la Tour d'Auvergne nor the title of Princess of Sedan.]

"Prince Julius" died in 1985. According to the website of "Prince Michael", in April 1993 "he celebrated his 30th year as Head of his House".

[No explanation is given as to why "Prince Anthony James" was succeeded in 1963 by his then five year old great nephew "Prince Michael" instead of by his brother "Prince Julius" or by his niece "Princess Renee Julienne" who seems still to be alive.]

"Prince Michael" claims to be "President of the European Council of Princes (Le Conseil Europeen des Princes) - Un Organe Consultatif Constitutionel". He says that this organisation was founded in 1946 (as the "International Council of Government") with Archduke Otto of Austria as its President until 1992 (when "Prince Michael" succeeded). He also says that the heads of all the major European royal houses belong with the exception of the House of Windsor.

[The existence of this body before 1990 cannot be verified. It is not mentioned in any of the biographies of Archduke Otto, nor in the entries about him in any of a number of biographical dictionaries. In 1996 Archduke Otto in correspondence with the noted royal genealogist Daniel Willis (author of "The Descendants of Louis XIII") denied that he had ever been a member or president of any such body - or indeed even heard of it. I have been unable to discover the names of any other purported members of the council. The council is not mentioned in the biographies or in the biographical dictionary entries for any head of a European royal house. The only people who might be members are people who claim legitimate descent from long extinct houses such as Hohenstaufen (i.e. charlatans). "Prince Michael" claims to have connections with many European royal houses; he is, however, never seen at any of their celebrations marking baptisms, marriages, birthdays, or funerals.]

In spite of the fact that the claims of "Prince Michael of Albany" cannot be supported by any historical evidence and that they fly in the face of reason, the "prince" nevertheless has a few adherents who are happy to support someone who makes a public and active claim to the throne. His supporters seem unconcerned that he cannot provide any evidence for his claims.

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This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated November 9, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 1998-2003.