Mike Hastings, an Australian forklift driver often called the “rightful heir” to the British throne, died June 30 in Jerilderie, Australia.
Hastings was 71. His full name and title was Michael Edward Abney-Hastings, the 14th Earl of Loudoun. Born and raised in England, he moved to Australia in 1960 in search of adventure.
He made headlines in 2004 when Britain’s Channel Four researched the monarchy’s lineage and concluded his ancestors were cheated out of the crown in 1483 on a documentary called “Britain’s Real Monarch.”
Hastings was a descendant of the House of York, which famously battled the House of Lancaster for the rights to the British crown in the 15th century during the War of the Roses.
British historian Michael Jones found documents in France’s Rouen Cathedral that he believed showed King Edward IV, who ruled with a brief interruption from 1461 to 1483, was illegitimate.
Jones based this on evidence that Edward’s father Richard of York was fighting the French at Pontoise when Edward was allegedly conceived, while his mother Cecily was in Rouen romancing another man.
If true, the crown should have passed on to Edward’s younger brother George, from whom Hastings directly descends.
For his part, Hastings showed little interest in pursuing his claim to the monarchy, though friends sometimes called him “Kingsy.” An avowed republican, he refrained from using his title publicly and instead lived out in the small town in New South Wales where he died.
When interviewed by Agence France-Presse in 2005, he joked about the financial benefits of his auspicious ancestry.
“I reckon I might send Lizzie (Queen Elizabeth II) a bill for back rent. The old girl’s family have been living in my bloody castle for the last 500 years,” he said.