Always thought the Royal Family were bastards....
A KNOCKABOUT Collingwood fan could challenge Prince Charles to become the next king of England.
Wangaratta man Simon Abney-Hastings is considered by some historians the rightful heir to the English throne.
But the textile worker says he is more at home in his three-bedroom weatherboard than he would be in the 1000-room Windsor Castle.
And he prefers a bourbon and coke and a barbie to tea and scones served on a silver tray.
The 37-year-old son of a "Ten Pound Pom" is the new 15th Earl of Loudoun, who happens to be related to Queen Elizabeth.
And, in what would be a right royal controversy, he's wondering whether to knock on the door at Buckingham Palace to ask for the realm to be returned to his side of the family.
With the funeral of his father, Michael, in NSW last week, Mr Abney-Hastings can lay claim to be next in line to the throne.
The happy bachelor is a direct descendant of England's House of York, whose squabbles with the House of Lancaster became known as the Wars of the Roses and were dramatised by William Shakespeare.A few years ago, noted historian Dr Michael Jones claimed the Abney-Hastings family should occupy the throne instead of Queen Elizabeth, because the alleged illegitimate birth of Edward IV made void the legitimacy of his descendants.
Mr Abney-Hastings takes the status of his newly inherited honorary title and links to royalty very seriously, even though mates take the mickey out of him by addressing him as "Your Lordship".
He calls himself a "reluctant royal", prefers a cap on his head to a crown, and fiercely protects his privacy.
But he hasn't ruled out staking a claim to the monarchy.
His father, Michael, was mates with Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla's first husband, yet turned his back on his homeland at 18 to sail to Australia as a "Ten-Pound Pom" and become a farmer.
"The family motto is 'I Byde My Tyme' and, given the Abney-Hastings have had to wait six centuries to stake any claim, a little longer won't make much difference," the new earl told the Herald Sun.
His family history is steeped in prestige and royal connections and boasts priceless paintings of ancestors, while the Queen, in some cases, has to make do with replicas.
Mr Abney-Hastings saw the sad side of life as a royal while a visitor to England, when he joined tens of thousands of mourners who gathered for Princess Diana's funeral procession.
"I cut my trip short after experiencing such an outpouring of public grief. I became very homesick and I came straight home.
THE KING OF ENGLAND
* Edward IV (1461-83) is said by some historians to have been fathered by someone other than George Plantagenet, nullifying the legitimacy of his descendants
* Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun, a Wangaratta textiles worker, is a direct descendant of George Platagenet and, experts say, rightful heir to the throne.
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