Harry’s claim Henry VI is his ‘ancestor’ torn apart as ‘jarring’ error

Prince Harry says Queen was ‘sad’ about him stepping down

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Spare officially hit shelves on Tuesday and, according to its publisher, has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever. Penguin Random House promised an “intimate and heartfelt” memoir written “with raw, unflinching honesty”, and Prince Harry has arguably delivered — revealing unprecedented insight into his life as a schoolboy, royal and soldier. However, the Duke of Sussex has been slammed for inconsistencies in his retelling of royal history, with some questioning the level of factual accuracy.

Kate Malby, columnist and cultural historian, called out the Prince for his apparent lack of fact-checking. Taking to Twitter, she wrote: “…It’s jarring to find Harry (or his ghostwriter) claim that Henry VI was his ‘great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’. Henry VI’s only child was killed. In a little thing called the Wars of the Roses.”

“There’s a whole thing in Spare about how Harry doesn’t like history, and he resents his Ludgrove teacher, ‘Mr Hughes-Games’ for expecting him to have any particular knowledge of royal history,” she continued. “Fair enough. But some basic respect for fact-checking would be nice.”

Another user added: “I’m really curious whether he (or the ghostwriter) got Henry VI confused with Edward IV or else thought Margaret Beaufort was his daughter instead of his SIL,” to which Ms Malby replied: “Indeed. And it’s generally a bad idea to start resting too much on the paternity of Henry VI’s son.”

In his book, Harry describes King Henry VI, who reigned as King of England from 1422 to 1461 and from 1470 to 1471, as his “ancestor” and later his “great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather”.

However, as Ms Malby pointed out, Henry VI’s only son was killed in the Wars of the Roses — a series of civil wars, between 1455 and 1487, fought over control over the English throne.

Fought between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions, Richard, Duke of York, was the main figure on the Yorkist side, but Margaret, Henry’s Queen, took charge of the Lancastrian cause.

In 1460, the Duke of York was killed but his son — Edward, Prince of Wales — took up fight, defeating the Lancastrians in 1961 and crowning himself Edward IV.

Henry and his family fled to Scotland, returning to England in 1464 to support an unsuccessful Lancastrian rising. He was ultimately captured in Lancashire and imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1465.

A dispute between Edward IV and Richard Neville, Earl of Warick, in October 1470 saw a plan devised to restore Henry to the throne. But having fled abroad, Edward returned, defeated and killed the Earl, and destroyed Margaret’s forces at the Tewkesbury — the battle that saw the death of her and Henry’s only son.

Edward of Westminster was just 17 when he died. The tragedy sealed the fate of Henry VI, who was murdered shortly afterwards.

However, Henry VI’s bloodline did continue throughout later generations of the Royal Family. Henry VII, who was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1485 and 1509, was the son of Henry VI’s half-brother.

In 1485, he defeated Edward IV’s brother Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field — the culmination of the War of Roses — and became the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV.

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