In a stunning turn of events, an Australian man is discovered to be the rightful King of England.
It may sound like the plot of an implausible Hollywood comedy, but there’s some compelling evidence to suggest a resident of Victoria should be in line for the throne.
In 2004, prominent historian Doctor Michael Jones claimed to have discovered the first evidence to substantiate rumours that Edward IV, who reigned from 1461 to 1483, was illegitimate.
The document, found in the archives of Rouen Cathedral, suggests King Edward IV’s supposed parents, Lady Cecily Neville and Richard, Duke of York, were miles apart when he was conceived, with Richard fighting the French in Paris while Lady Cecily remained in Rouen.
Other records show Edward’s christening wasn’t the huge public celebration of a royal birth that one would expect and took place in a small side chapel, not the large cathedral.
Portrait of King Edward IV, whose legitimacy has been called into question [Creative Commons]
Dr Jones believes Edward may have been the product of an affair between the Queen and a French archer named Blaybourne.
The implications here are huge. Should this theory hold true, the validity of every Monarch since is thrown into doubt, including key figures like Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII and the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
But if Queen Elizabeth II isn’t the rightful heir to the throne, then who is? The trail leads to the most unlikely of people – a textiles worker living in country Victoria.
If Edward were illegitimate, the royal line should have descended to his brother George, the Duke of Clarence, and down the Plantagenet line, leading to Australian man Simon Abney-Hastings.
Simon Abney-Hastings at his home in Victoria [Alex Copel/Newspix]
Abney-Hastings’ father, Michael Hastings, was the 14th Earl of Loudon and immigrated to Australia in 1960.
Hastings only heard of the royalty claims when a documentary crew presented him with the evidence at his small weatherboard home in Jerilderie, New South Wales.
While Hastings was disbelieving at first, he later told a reporter, “The more I watch the documentary, the more I’m convinced I probably should be the King of England.”
Upon his father’s death in 2012, Abney-Hastings inherited the title of Earl of Loudon, and the enduring controversy it entails.
But when it comes to taking the throne, Abney-Hastings isn’t sure that’s something he wants, telling The Telegraph, “I have always known about this – I have lived it. It does make you think about how things could be different.”
“I am quite happy with how things have turned out. I have made my own life.”