Who’s the Rightful Queen, Anyway?

Or, a call to restore Mary I and Catherine of Aragon

Hey! I’m not dead. I swear, still healthy and alive over here. Or, at least alive. Coping with a global pandemic kind of takes the piss out of life. But, I’m back! So, let’s get on with the geneaology!

How do you determine who the rightful monarch of a country is? Is it by picking the eldest child of the current monarch? Or is it when you pay some people to kill the current monarch and all his heirs (like Henry VII or William the Bastard)? Or when you get pissed off at your older brother (like George, Duke of Clarence)? Or what about when you cut out entire chunks of your family tree and pick a distant cousin simply because she’s not Catholic (like Anne Stuart)? Or is it potentially when the current king is a tyrant so you crown yourself to spare the country further pain, like Henry IV or Richard, Duke of York?

I mean, it’s probably the first one, where you pick the eldest child of the current monarch. But I’d like to put forth a new metric. You pick someone who’s descended from the semi-legendary first kings of all of the countries making up your country. And in that case, I’d like to put forward my friend. For privacy’s sake, I’m going to keep her anonymous and nickname her Queeny McQueenface. I’ve also removed a few generations.

I am, of course, talking about the four countries that make up Great Britain: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. And by the semi-legendary first kings, I’m talking about England’s Cerdic of Wessex, Scotland’s Kenneth I, Wales’ Llywelyn Fawr (technically not a king, technically not semi-legendary, and technically not “first,” but bear with me), and Ireland’s Brian Boru.

Also, technically, yes. Elizabeth II can claim the same descent. So can probably 10% of the world’s population. But if my friend, Lady McQueenface, becomes queen of England, I’m pretty sure she’ll let me play with the Crown Jewels and rebuild the tomb housing Mary I’s remains+, so I’m going to put my support firmly in her camp instead of Elizabeth’s.

Author’s Note: All of my genealogical work up until now has been done through Wikipedia. I figured that enough professional genealogists have been through that data enough times that it is verified data I can rely on. The data for my friend, however, relies on work largely completed by her mother and is not as easily verified. I relied on a website called wikitree.com. It is entirely possible that some of this data is incorrect. In fact, while working with another source my friend provided, I found several points that did not match up with wikitree. I have chosen to trust wikitree, but this essay should be taken with a grain of salt. Actually, everything I write should be taken with a grain of salt as I am not a professional historian. But this essay more so than most. I still hope you enjoy it.

In order to prove that Lady McQueenface is descended from each of these semihistorical figures, I proved that she is descended from two individuals – Richard FitzAlan, 3/10 (tenth upon first creation, 3rd upon second creation) Earl of Arundel, and his wife, Eleanor Plantagenet. That line is as follows:

The star on the left of the name will continue to be used to represent Richard FitzAlan, 3/10 Earl of Arundel, and the circle on the right of the name for Eleanor Plantagenet.

To give a good starting point, I have traced the descent from William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, to Eleanor Plantagenet. It is shown below.


In the 6th century, the Island of Great Britain was split into several smaller countries. One of these countries was Wessex. Wessex would eventually form alliances and defeat the other countries, eventually forming what we now know as England. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle lists Cerdic as a leader of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Wessex and its first king. While his existence is up for debate, the existence of his supposed descendant, Alfred the Great, is not. I have shown a proposed line of descent from Cerdic to Alfred the Great, and two proven lines of descent from Alfred the Great to Eleanor Plantagenet.


Kenneth MacAlpin was a king of the Picts who, according to national myth, was the first king of Scots. He fought the Vikings and other Scottish tribes and a bunch of historians have been arguing about the historical accuracy of his life for a while now. Who the fuck knows. Eleanor Plantagenet was descended from him, too.


Another semi-historical guy, Brian Boru was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Neĺll. Which was another Irish tribe. Also there were Vikings. I mean, we’re talking about 10th century Britannia. Throw in some Gaels, Vikings, and Saxons, and you’ve basically described the entire area. Brian is actually mentioned in several Norse Sagas, like Brjáns Saga, Njáls Saga, and Þorsteins Saga. Turns out Richard FitzAlan was descended from Brian.


Llwelyn Fawr was one badass dude. With no Vikings around to fight, he kicked fellow Welsh ass and consolidated power before negotiating a tentative peace with England. He was the last undisputed native Prince of Wales and held on to independent power for the rest of his life. He was also particularly devoted to his wife Joan, a natural daughter of King John (the bad guy from Robin Hood). Richard FitzAlan was descended from Llwelyn in several ways. I showed one line in the previous chart; below I show that same line of descent. It’s unknown if Llwelyn’s daughter Gwladys was the daughter of his mistress (from before he was married) or his wife Joan.


As a bonus, Lady McQueenface is also descended from John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, whose love story is a real life fairy tale. First a beloved mistress and then a cherished wife, John and Katherine’s love shocked and scandalized the English court. But with the backing of the king and the Pope, Katherine went from being a simple knight’s daughter to the most powerful woman in England. Through a separate line, Lady McQueenface is descended from John and Katherine. However, the line shown below does include Richard FitzAlan, 3/10 Earl Arundel and Eleanor Plantagenet. I started this line of descent at Henry III rather than all the way back at William the Conqueror. That line of descent is shown in a previous chart.

And yes, as I mentioned, Elizabeth II is also descended from Richard FitzAlan and Eleanor Plantagenet. Thousands, perhaps millions, of other people are as well.

This chart doesn’t show how closely related the Tudors and the Yorks were. The following chart shows Margaret Tudor’s triple descent from Edward III (from Lionel, Duke of Clarence; Edmund, Duke of York; and John, Duke of Lancaster).

+As I have previously mentioned, Mary I got a raw deal and I have a soft spot for her. She requested that, upon her death, she be buried with her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was buried in Peterborough Cathedral in a rather paltry tomb. That tomb was refurbished during Queen Victoria’s reign and has regularly been visited by well-wishers in the modern age, so it’s quite well maintained now. But when Mary I died, she was buried in Westminster Abbey. Upon Elizabeth I’s death, the two sisters were placed in the same tomb, under a large effigy of Elizabeth. This is a giant slap in the face to Mary, who had an extremely difficult relationship with her younger sister. If I had my way, I’d have Catherine moved to Westminster and place her and Mary under a dual effigy of mother and daughter, crowned as Queen Consort and Queen Regnant.

Or we could just let the Vikings come back and smash everything. They’re really good at doing that.

Questions? Comments? Let me know below. I can also be reached on Twitter @Rhydnara.

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