A William and Mary Timeline: For Want Of An Heir

Chapter 1: Manchester

Chapter 1: Manchester



April, 1692



It was cold, even though there was a fire blazing in the hearth. It shouldn’t be this cold. Nowhere should be this cold. London would most definitely not be this cold at this time of year, and yet, Brussels was not London, and so it was terrifyingly cold.



Charles Montagu, Earl of Manchester and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, thought that he should be used to it by now, after all, he’d accompanied the King on his sojourns here since the war had started. Yet, he was not used to it, and he was not sure if he would ever become used to it.



He huffed out a breath and glanced at the man sat to his right. Sir William Ratcliffe was a tall man, with a mop of auburn hair and fiercely bright blue eyes. The man claimed descent from one of Richard III’s closest advisors, how true that descent was, Charles was not sure, but the man was loyal and a friend and that was what mattered.



They had both insisted that the Yeomen accompany the King to Brussels, or at least half of them accompanied the King. They were the oldest guard that the English monarch had, and it was their right. Whatever the 1st Regiment of Foot or Coldstream Guards might say, it was their right to protect the monarch and they would do it. Charles had inherited that tradition and that sense of honour from his predecessors.



The King had agreed, reluctantly, and that too only after a conversation with the Queen. The man preferred the Dutch Guards that he had known since his youth, clearly thinking that they were the most reliable. And yet Charles had made sure that the Yeomen were all loyal to the King and Queen. Anyone with any suspected loyalties to the old Catholic King had been removed.



There was a knock on the door which prompted Charles to glance at Sir William. Who could it be that wanted to talk to the King at this hour? Yes, Portland was in the King’s study, but Portland was always there.



Charles gestured to Sir William and the man got up and opened the door. He stepped to one side, allowing a page to step into the room. The page’s face was flushed and he was breathing heavily.



“What is it?” Charles demanded.



The page bowed and replied. “Two letters have arrived for His Majesty’s viewing, my lord.”



Charles didn’t look at Sir William. There was only one place that these letters could’ve come from. London. Charles knew that the King wanted any letter that the Queen sent to him, handed over immediately, regardless of the day or time. Therefore he held out his hand and the page walked to him and handed over the letters.



“Dismissed.” Charles barked. The page bowed once more before walking out.



Charles glanced at Sir William, the man had taken his seat again. Charles nodded, then turned and walked to the door that led to the King’s study. He knocked thrice to let the King know that it was he who wanted to see him.



“Enter!” Came the command.



Charles waited, and the door was opened, revealing a member of the Yeomen of the Guard. Charles nodded to the man and stepped passed him. He entered the study properly and found the King sat at his table, papers scattered everywhere. Portland, the sly little snake, was sat opposite the King, lounging in his chair.



Charles bowed. “Two letters have arrived, Sire.”



“Hand them over.” The King commanded.



Charles did as he was commanded, he straightened and walked over to the table, he placed them on the solid surface, bowed then stepped away. As Captain of the Yeomen, he could not leave the room until specifically dismissed by the King. His subordinates in the Guard stood in the corners of the room, ever alert.



He watched as the King opened one letter and read through it, something shifted in his face. It was as if some great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Indeed, it seemed as if he was torn between wanting to smile and wanting to cry. That was unnerving.



The King finished reading that letter and placed it to one side, and then opened the second letter.



This time there was no uncertainty in his emotion. The King closed his eyes and took two deep breaths. It was as if he was trying to calm himself. As though he had been exposed to some great horror and was trying to learn how to process it.



When he had calmed down, he put that second letter on the table and looked up.



Nobody said anything for a moment, Charles wanted to ask what the King had read, but he knew that doing so was in poor form and so he waited. Portland also seemed uncertain of how to proceed, which was in of itself notable. Usually, Portland was always in tune with what the King wanted and needed.



The King broke the silence.



He looked from Charles to Portland and back. “Word from Saint Germain. It seems that my father in law has suffered some sort of stroke, he passed away in the early hours two weeks ago.”



Charles nodded, taking the news in, the death of the old King was good, it meant that the real threat of another invasion had been greatly reduced.



“King Louis has not yet declared for the man’s child.” The King continued.



That was also good news, though Charles could not help but ask. “What of the fleet that the French had gathered, Sire?” They had known about that fleet for a few months now and about the invasion plans that the French had as well.



“No word on that matter, but it does seem as though Louis intends to use that fleet for another purpose.” The King said.



Charles nodded, accepting what the King said. If there was a chance in circumstance, they could always adapt to it.



“The second letter came from the Queen.” The King said.



That prompted Charles to straighten, well, more the tone in which the King had mentioned the Queen.



“Our nephew, the Duke of Gloucester has died.” The King said softly.



Charles blinked, that news was…it was not good. The Duke of Gloucester had carried the hopes of the Kingdom on his small shoulders, especially as the King and Queen as of yet had no children. With him dead, all depended on Princess Anne having more children, which given how things had progressed for her recently, was not positive.



“I am so sorry for your loss, Your Majesty.” Portland said then, which prompted Charles to speak.



“I too am very sorry for your loss, Your Majesty.”



The King nodded. “Thank you, now, unless there was anything else, you may go, Charles.”



“Sire.” Charles replied. He bowed once, then walked away, facing the King. Once the door was open and he was back with Sir William, he sat down and exhaled.



Things were going to get a lot more interesting, was that a good thing?
 
Chapter 2: The Queen

Chapter 2: The Queen



April, 1692



Mary blinked, the candle light was starting to fade. The hour was late, and she desperately wanted to sleep, but she knew she could do no such thing until she had finished reading through the notes that had come from Parliament.



With William, away on the continent, it was her duty to read through the notes that the government ministers made on how things were being discussed in both chambers of Parliament. It made for very dry reading, but it was a necessity, and Mary had never been one to shirk her duty.



The note before her was from the Marquess of Carmarthen, the titular head of the ministry. He was not a man that Mary liked, but he was skilled, of that there could be no doubt. She took a breath and read through what he had written.



The debate of the Place Bill continues.



There is some support from men such as Halifax and Devonshire, as they feel that it could keep members of the Tory party out of the Commons, which would always benefit them.



However, moderates such as Shrewsbury and Pembroke feel that the Place Bill will do nothing but distance Your Majesties and Your Majesties’ ministers from the mood of the Commons and as such, the overwhelming feeling is that should the Place Bill pass in the Commons (not a guarantee!) that it would be in Your Majesties best interest to frustrate the bill in the Lords.




Mary placed her hand in front of her mouth and stifled a yawn. She truly was tired! Carmarthen was right in what he said. She knew that. This Place Bill that had been introduced by the member for Cambridgeshire, was something that she had long suspected they would try and introduce. After all, she remembered the arguments over ministers being in the Commons that had dominated the chaotic years of her uncle’s reign.



She would not allow her ministers to be removed from the Commons. Not so long as she was alive and retained an understanding of the constitution.



She scribbled a note down on Carmarthen’s note.



Instruct Carmarthen to get the Tories to speak against this bill with full force!



Perhaps it was wrong of her to be partial, but the Tories were defending the Crown’s prerogative, and Mary remembered very well the lessons that she had been taught as a girl. When Parliament was allowed unfettered power, it would always try and strip the monarchy of power-as they had done to her grandfather-and that was not something that could be allowed. Not now.



There was more to Carmarthen’s note, which prompted Mary to take a deep breath.



There are murmurs within the Lords about the Succession. The death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester is worrying. Some argue that a new Succession Act must be passed, clearly stating that Sophia of the Palatinate is next in line after Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and any children she might have.



I would advise against this course of action. The Kingdom will not tolerate such a move when Her Royal Highness is still so young, and of course, when Your Majesties are young as you are.




Mary felt as though she had been kicked in the stomach.



She did not think she and William would be able to have children. Something had gone wrong when she had had her pregnancy fourteen years ago, and she had remained without a child ever since.



The thought that she might have a child or could have, always taunted her in her darkest moments. That Anne, her ungrateful sister had had a son, hurt more than anything.



It seemed that Carmarthen had thought of that as well, for his note finished with one final suggestion:



There is one alternative, if I might be so bold to suggest it, Your Majesty.



With the death of King James, the cause of the Jacobites is laying low and buried. There arises an opportunity to perhaps bring about a reconciliation which will only be good for the future of the Kingdoms.



There exists in Saint Germain, a child called the Prince of Wales by your late father’s supporters. He is young and can be moulded to suit the needs of the Kingdom. Should Princess Anne, God forbid pass on before continuing the succession, it would not be wrong to consider bringing him across the water.



It is a suggestion.




Mary closed her eyes and exhaled.



She had harboured doubts from the very beginning regarding the claims about the child her father and step-mother had had. Anne claimed the child was some changeling, smuggled in to replace the child who had died. But the witnesses she had spoken to, including Godolphin and her own uncles, had said the child was most definitely legitimate. Which had provoked a crisis in her.



She had displaced her father and brother from the throne, under what cause? William would tell her it was to protect the Church and the freedoms of her subjects. But deep down, she knew why it had been done. Because William wanted England’s army for his war against Louis of France.



So, whilst she should be outraged by what Carmarthen had suggested, she found herself not truly angered by it, but rather riddled with uncertainty and guilt.



There was so much she wanted to say, to ask, to do. But she could not. Largely because her father was now dead, and her step-mother would never want to speak to her. Not now, not after everything.



She exhaled. With God’s grace, they would never need to consider this. Anne would have children, lots of children and things would be fine. Surely they would be?



There was a knock on the door, she looked up and nodded at the Countess of Nottingham, who rose and opened the door.



One of the Grooms of the Chamber, Christopher Jeffreys, appeared. He looked grim.



Mary immediately rose. Christopher had been sent to Syon House, to witness Anne’s delivery, if he was here, she must have given birth.



“Well?” Mary demanded, her heart hammering.



Jeffreys bowed and said. “I…I… Her Royal Highness was delivered of a son, who was born dead, Your Majesty.”



Mary wanted to sink into her chair, Oh God!



“And our sister?” Mary asked.



Jeffrey’s voice softened. “She suffered major blood loss, Your Majesty. The Doctors were doing everything they could to aid her when I departed.”



Mary felt as though she’d been struck. “I will go to her.” It did not matter that she and Anne had not spoken for some time. Anne was her sister, and she would not let her be alone in this time.



Just as Jeffreys was about to say something, one of the guards outside announced. “His Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark.”



Mary blinked. George? Why was George here, he should be with Anne!



George entered the room, his face was white as a sheet. He bowed once.



“How is she?” Mary demanded, not wanting to wait for formalities.


George took a shuddering breath, then said. “They could not save her, Your Majesty. Anne is dead.”



Mary did sink back into her chair then. Tears formed in her eyes. Her sister was dead. Her sister….
 
Chapter 3: The Sun

Chapter 3: The Sun



May, 1692


His teeth ached, painfully so. The doctors were not sure what it was that was the cause of the incessant tooth ache that he’d recently started experiencing, and they wanted to have a look at his mouth. Louis knew that he should let them look. After all there was a large possibility that the problem could fester, and with the war raging, he did not want that. But at the same time, the war was raging and he did not want to have to spend weeks or however long it took them to figure out the problem, doing nothing. He hated doing nothing.

Grimacing, he pushed that thought to one side, and looked at Edouard Colbert de Villacerf, the Minister for the Maison du Roi. “You have important information for us.” It was meant as a question, but because of the pain in his mouth, it came out as a command.

Villacerf was a man who had been long in the Royal service though and understood what was being said. His tone was suitably compliant. “I do, Your Most Christian Majesty.”

“Speak it.” Louis commanded, the pain in his mouth was getting worse.

“Since His Majesty King James’ death a few weeks ago, matters in Saint Germain have grown heated.” Villacerf said. Louis gestured for the man to continue, he had feared that this might happen. The people around the court of his departed cousin were far too prone to infighting to be useful.

“Two factions have formed, Sire.” Villacerf said. “One around the Earl of Melfort which wishes to push ahead with plans for an invasion regardless of His Majesty’s death, and wishes to send an emissary to Your Most Christian Majesty to request immediate recognition of His Majesty’s son to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.”

Louis nodded, he had considered issuing a statement declaring that his cousin’s son was the recognised King of England, Scotland and Ireland, as under God’s will, the child was. However, matters of politics had prevented him from issuing an immediate declaration. After all, he was very aware that the Kingdom’s finances were not as they should be, the harvest had not been as it should have been last year, and trade was slowing down.

“And the other faction?” Louis asked.

“The other faction has formed around the former Lord Chamberlain to the late King James, and is arguing that they should first get recognition of the late King’s son from you, Sire, before anything else is done.” Villacerf said. “Admittedly, this faction is being led rather reluctantly by the Lord Chamberlain.”

Louis nodded, he knew his cousin’s former Lord Chamberlain reasonably well, the man was honourable, principled and intelligent. Something that could not be said for the Earl of Melfort, who was a bull-headed fool.

“Has Her Majesty Queen Mary attached herself to any faction?” Louis asked, though he suspected not, his cousin’s wife was smarter by half than her husband and was far too cautious to do such a thing.

“Her Majesty has not, Sire.” Villacerf said. “Her confinement has kept her occupied, and I believe the Countess of Perth has done all she can to spare Her Majesty from such schemes as they exist.”

Louis nodded, just as he had expected. “We shall make no move for the foreseeable future as concerns England. With our cousin dead and his son barely a child, there will not be much we can gain.” He certainly did not want to install a child monarch on the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. Such a child would be seen as nothing more than a puppet, which was not his desire. He wanted a monarch with at least a veneer of independence, such as his cousin Charles had had.

“Sire.” Villacerf replied, bowing his head.

“Write to the Lord Chamberlain and tell him that we wish to meet with him before we depart for the front.” Louis commanded, he wanted to get a measure of the man, or rather, he wanted to know that if he moved forward by backing the man, that he was backing the right horse.

“Yes, Sire.” Villacerf said.

That had turned his attention to the war as it stood, and so he turned to his Secretary of War and asked the man. “You have had word from the front?”

There were three fronts being fought simultaneously, one consisted of an army under his son, the Dauphin. That was the front that was doing reasonably well, but, it was the front being fought in the Spanish Netherlands that most concerned him.

“I do, Sire.” The Secretary replied. “The Irish contingent have successfully joined His Royal Highness’ army on the Rhine.”

Lord Mountcashel was not wrong when he said he could get the Irish army to the Rhine before anyone even knew. Louis had thought Mountcashel had been jesting, but he had clearly been serious.

“Good.” Louis said. “We will hopefully receive more positive news within a few weeks.” With luck they could strike a decisive blow on the Rhine.

“In regards to the Spanish Netherlands, I have received a report from Marshal Luxembourg. The attempt by the Dutch and their allies to retake Mons failed quite concisely, even if the force was a small one. Secondly, he has received word that the Dutch and English are going to attempt to reinforce Namur.” The Secretary said.

Louis nodded, Namur, that was the key. It was a strategically important fortress and taking it could prove useful. “How many men does he have ready to march on Namur?” Louis had already intended to take the fortress, Boufflers and Vauban had their men prepared to march on his command, but Luxembourg being there beforehand could prove useful.

“Thirty thousand men, Sire.” The Secretary replied. “Marshal Vauban and Boufflers both have thirty thousand men with them.”

“Send word to Luxembourg, he is to march for Namur at once. If he draws the English and Dutch, so much the better.” Louis was sure that Luxembourg could defeat the English and Dutch if need be.

“Yes, Sire.” The Secretary replied.

Satisfied, Louis added. “We shall be riding out with Vauban and Boufflers, we shall see Namur fall ourselves.” And then he could bait William of Orange with that.

He was unsure of whether William of Orange would seek to negotiate should Namur fall, but he was confident that the man would know there was no escaping defeat, if Namur fell. That was reassurance enough.

“Your Most Christian Majesty?” A voice asked, breaking into Louis’ thoughts.

Louis looked around and saw the marquis de Pomponne, the Foreign Secretary looking at him, or rather near him. He also saw a servant stepping back into the shadows.

“Yes?”

“My apologies, Sire, but I have received word from Denmark.” Pomponne said.

Denmark? What interest is that little isle to me?

Louis gestured for the man to continue.

“It seems that Crown Prince Frederik has married the daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Gustrow.”

Louis frowned, the Crown Prince of a state such as Denmark marrying a woman from a minor state was surprising, but then the Danes did do things rather differently from everyone else. “Send our heartiest congratulations and good wishes.” Louis commanded. Denmark was staying out of the war for now, and Louis would like that to continue, thus keeping the Danish King happy was not a bad thing. Even if it was a simple message. Pomponne nodded and made a note.
 
Hi everyone, I'm back, and with a new experiment. Always wanted to write something looking at William and Mary, and the alleged rumour around a certain adoption.

This one will be a short timeline.

Look forward to hearing what you all think :)

@King of Danes helped encourage me to get this on here.
 
Chapter 4: The Other Queen

Chapter 4: The Other Queen



May, 1692


Mary huffed. Pregnancy was a strain on one’s system, and one’s mind. It was a strain that had to be born to deliver something so beautiful and healthy. She hoped that the child she carried was a boy, a spare for her son, the new King of England, Scotland and Ireland. She wished that her husband, James, her kind-hearted and devoted, husband, was still alive. That he could be here to share with her the burdens and the fears. But he was not. God had seen fit to lead him to heaven and now she must bear the burden alone.

She took a deep breath and looked at her ladies.

Her Mistress of the Robes, Frances, Duchess of Tyrconnell was reading some book or the other, no doubt concealed within it was a letter from her sister. The Countess of Almond was sewing and chattering away with Lady Sophia Bulkeley. The others were all doing something similar, the only woman who wasn’t, was the one woman who Mary actually quite liked.

“Isabella.” She said, speaking in the English that she had learned as a young woman. It was important that she continued to speak it, so that her son may know it as well.

Isabella, a sister to the late Lord Waldegrave, whose husband had died fighting for her husband in Ireland, turned and faced her. “Your Majesty?” The woman replied lowering her head in acknowledgement.

Mary hesitated, unsure of what it was exactly she wanted from the other woman. She knew that perhaps she should ask Frances for news outside of the rooms where she was confined, but, she also knew that Isabella, rather than Frances, got on well with the woman who was her son’s governess. And so, she asked. “What news have you of His Majesty the King?”

Isabella’s face lit up, as it always did when she spoke of the King. The King was only three, but he was a delightful child, a quiet child, but one who brought immense joy. Mary was proud of her son.

“He is getting on well, Your Majesty. He is taking to his lessons as studiously as can be, helped by the Countess of Erroll’s firm hand and guidance. He has now started learning some of his numbers.” Isabella said.

Mary nodded, she still thought it too early for her son to learn such things, but her husband had insisted on it, and so, she would stick with what he had wanted.

“He no longer seems quite so afraid of some of the other boys either, Your Majesty.” Isabella added, smiling encouragingly.

Mary smiled as well, she knew who her friend meant. The King, her son, had been scared of boys like James Waldegrave (his nephew), and Edward Drummond, who were taller and bigger than he, and older. He had hidden behind her skirts the first time they had been introduced, but if he was more confident with them, then that was all for the good.

“His Majesty will be a bold young man, Your Majesty.” Frances said then, Mary looked away from Isabella and shifted her focus to Frances. The woman looking at her intently. Frances was a woman who Mary had never felt truly comfortable around. There was something about her that just oozed contempt or was it slitheriness? She was not sure. And yet, Frances remained.

“I am happy to hear that.” Mary replied, keeping the smile on her face, though she would much rather her son be a happy young man, rather than a bold one. Bold men tended to meet death early, whereas happy young men tended to know when to stop.

At that, a reminder came to Mary and she asked Frances. “Did you give the Lord Chamberlain the letters I had given you?”

The Lord Chamberlain, William Herbert Earl of Powis, was a good man, honourable and steadfast. He always did whatever was asked uncomplainingly.

“I did, Your Majesty.” Frances replied. “He informed me that he is going to meet with King Louis as well, before King Louis departs for the Spanish Netherlands.”

“Will King Louis finally give recognition to His Majesty?” The Countess of Almond asked.

Mary frowned at the Countess, the woman was one of her oldest friends, but sometimes she asked questions that were very much out of turn, this was one such question. The Countess did at least have the grace to blush when she realised what she had asked.

“It is for King Louis to decide what he wishes to do in the interests of France.” Mary said simply. She had hoped that he might give formal recognition, but so far there had been nothing. Given the war, she could not blame him.

“If he has heard the news that has come from London, he may well do so.” Frances said.

Mary turned her frown on Frances. “What do you mean?”

Frances took a breath then answered. “I received a letter from my sister in London, Your Majesty.”

Mary leaned forward, she had known Frances’ sister-the woman had been a maid of honour for a time-she was never sure what to make of the woman. “And?” She asked.

“Princess Anne gave birth to a short-lived son.” Frances said.

Mary closed her eyes and said a prayer. Anne may have sided with William of Orange against her husband, but she had always been kind to Mary, and Mary had cared for her as if she was her own daughter. She could imagine the pain her daughter was going through, so soon after losing another child as well.

“She died herself a few hours later.” Frances continued.

Mary opened her eyes and stared at Frances, not quite sure she had heard correctly. “You mean to say that Anne died?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Frances said simply. “Sarah was there when the Princess passed.”

Mary closed her eyes and said a prayer for her daughter, for the girl Anne had been, and for the woman she was. She hoped that Anne found peace with the Lord.

She opened her eyes once more and said. “We must pray.” She would think of the wider consequences later, but for now she would mourn. That the baby within her kicked at that thought was neither here nor there.
 
Chapter 5: Orange

Chapter 5: Orange



May, 1692


William put the letter down. It was not the first time he had done that, nor, as he rubbed his eyes, was it the first time he had done that. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse back in London.

First there had been the death of his nephew, his beloved nephew, and the issues that brought with it. Now there was this. This piece of news that threatened to turn everything upside down and inside out.

His sister in law, Princess Anne was dead. The child she had given birth to was dead as well. The succession was in jeopardy. William was a pragmatic man. He knew and had known for some time that he and his wife, his beloved Mary, would never have any children. Something had gone terribly wrong during Mary’s first pregnancy and now she was unable to bear children. No matter how many times they slept together, nothing changed.

William wanted to scream. He looked at the letter in disgust. Everything, everything had been for naught with Anne dead, now the Protestant Succession established in 1689 was finished. Parliament would try and sort things out, as they were wont to do, but he and Mary would need to hold firm. They could not allow Parliament to dictate the succession from here. Not now.

He exhaled, there was nothing to it, he would need to get through this. He looked up at the men gathered in the room with him. The Earl of Portland, his ever faithful advisor, the Earl of Manchester who was entitled to be here as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, Henry Sydney, his main general and the Earl of Devonshire, another advisor.

“I will not flower my words, gentlemen, the news from England is not good. The death of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne has thrown many things into chaos and doubt.” He examined the reactions of the men before him.

Portland did not care a whit for England, William knew that, but he did care for William and therefore he exhaled. Manchester looked stunned. The man had thrown everything he had into 1688, and now for it to be finished like this, was not something he could stomach. Sydney looked shocked, as he should, given his key role in 1688. Devonshire’s expression was neutral.

“Parliament is already discussing a new Succession Act, one which would place the succession in the hands of Sophia of the Palatinate, the Duchess of Brunswick-Luneburg.” William said. He knew Sophia, he had liked her niece quite well, and he found Sophia an amenable woman, and a formidable one.

“We would however, seek your views on this matter, being as you are our regular companions on campaign.” William continued. That and he wanted to know whether anyone had the sense to see the chaos that would come from having Sophia chosen as heiress.

There was a brief pause as everyone digested what he had said, then, the Earl of Devonshire spoke.

“It is my view, Your Majesty that we cannot allow for the succession to move to someone so distant and removed from the throne.” William looked at Devonshire, surprised that the man had said what he had. If anyone would have been for Sophia, he would have thought that that man would be Devonshire. But evidently not.

“Whilst the Duchess is Protestant and has many great qualities, she is not an Englishwoman. She is tied to a land that many of Your Majesty’s subjects have never heard of. Her connection to England is from her late Mother, a woman who many do not remember.” Devonshire finished.

William took in what Devonshire had said, the man spoke truly. Sophia was a foreigner, but so too was he, and his subjects had welcomed him. Though he had the benefit of being a liberator. What would Sophia liberate England from?

“She is a Protestant though.” Henry Sydney said. His voice firm. “And that is what matters.”

“Legitimacy also matters.” Devonshire replied.

Sydney scoffed. “Legitimacy? Legitimacy comes from Parliament, the Revolution of 1688 confirmed that. The succession laid out in the Bill of Rights further confirmed it. If Parliament decides that the Duchess Sophia is the heiress, then she is the heiress.”

William frowned. Sydney was right in a very theoretical sense. Parliament had invited William and his wife to take the throne. And they could theoretically invite someone else to take the throne, once he and Mary were dead, now that Anne was dead. However, that did not sit right with him for two reasons. One of which he gave voice to.

“You are both right. But, as long as James Francis Edward is alive, there will be those who claim that he, not the Duchess is the rightful heir.” William said. Judging by the letter that Mary had sent him, using the coded script they had learnt together, she was one of those people.

“But Sire…. the boy is not legitimate!” Sydney spluttered.

William stared at the man. Did Sydney truly believe that? William had never claimed that the boy who had been born to his uncle and father in law was illegitimate or some sort of warming pan baby. He had carefully avoided any suggestion of that being included in any proclamation.

Sydney continued to sputter about the Revolution and various other things, but William had stopped paying attention to him. Clearly the man had no sense. Instead, he focused on Manchester. The man had remained silent, but as Captain of the Yeomen he had influence.

“Lord Captain Manchester.” William said.

Manchester blinked and exhaled before answering. “Your Majesty is right. The Duchess Sophia would never be recognised as long as James Francis is alive. A significant proportion of those who supported Your Majesty would think it nonsensical not to name him as Your Majesties heir, especially with his father dead.”

“You cannot think that the boy’s mother would be willing to let her son be named heir and allow him to travel to London?!” Sydney exclaimed.

William looked at Sydney then and the man seemed to pale under his gaze. “We will not know unless we make the offer. Furthermore, the woman will do what Louis of France asks of her. And it is within his interest to see the boy returned to England.”

“Majesty?” Sydney asked sounding shocked.

William bit back a sigh, there was too much of this feeling amongst his subjects that King Louis was a man who did things purely because of his religion. William did not think so, he knew Louis harboured territorial ambitions and that was why he was fighting this war, to stop Louis from getting those ambitions met. But if there was a chance to get Louis away from causing trouble using the boy, then he would seize it.

“We all know how fractured Saint Germain is. King Louis is paying for that, for all that drama that produces no result. He has moved the fleet he was gathering away from the Channel and has sent 12,000 Irishmen to the Rhine, because he knows that there will be no united Jacobite cause until the boy is an adult. That is far away. Right now, he has other concerns.” William said.

William saw the men take in what he had said and decided to drive the point home. “Why would he wait for that time, why pay all that money, when he can be rid of the problem there and then. He hands over the boy, the boy becomes our heir, he has achieved in a manner, what King James wanted, and he has also ridden himself of the courtiers of Saint Germain.” William did not know whether all those courtiers would return, some definitely would, but others he was not so sure.

There was a long silence as the others took in what he had said. He could tell that Devonshire-ever the pragmatist-was happy to go for what had been proposed. Manchester also seemed willing. Portland would go for whatever William wanted. Sydney however was still not convinced.

“He will demand something to go along with returning the boy. Something that will make everything we are doing here look foolish.” Sydney said.

William took a breath. “Perhaps, but we can always force him to change his mind on that matter. That is why we must negotiate. If we do not, we set the stage for future fights.” And those were fights he was sure he would be blamed for.

Sydney opened his mouth to protest, but before he could get a word out, the Earl of Manchester spoke. “You are right, Your Majesty. The safety of the Kingdom must come before all else, and if this is the best way to ensure that, then that is what must be done.”

“I agree with the Lord Captain, Your Majesty.” Devonshire said. “The Kingdom must be kept at peace.”

“Yes, peace above all else.” Portland said, speaking for the first time.

William nodded, then looked at Sydney. The man looked shocked, his mouth opened and closed several times before he finally spoke, and when he did so, it sounded as if he were speaking with great reluctance. “If that is Your Majesty’s wish, then it must be so.”

Satisfied, William smiled and said. “Good, then we shall plan for what happens when we meet the French at Namur.”

“Namur, Sire?” Sydney asked then.

“Oh yes.” William said. “The French are heading for Namur, and we are going to be there to meet them.”
 
Chapter 6: Bolded

Chapter 6: Bolded



May, 1692


“We cannot allow someone so far removed from the throne to become heir. It is simply inconceivable.” Thundered the Earl of Nottingham.

“The other claimants are all Catholic, and if my lord has forgotten, we removed the last King because he was a Catholic.” Richard Hampden, Chancellor of the Exchequer said, his voice grating.

“That was different, King James was threatening the liberties and the consciousness of England.” Nottingham thundered, his face turning red.

“And you think these other Catholics won’t?” Hampden asked, an eyebrow quirked. “If you think they won’t you are a fool.”

Before Nottingham could bellow out that he was not a fool-that seemed all the man was good for-Mary spoke. “Gentlemen, please, enough. We would hear other views.” Views that weren’t likely to give her a headache and make her think of the hypocrisy of these men.

She focused on the Lord President of the Council the Marquess of Carmarthen, and asked. “What do you believe, my Lord Carmarthen? Shall we allow the proposal to name Sophia of the Palatinate as heir to myself and my husband to stand, or shall we remove it completely?”

That was what this whole meeting was about after all. Since Anne had died, the succession had been thrown into chaos. Some member of the Commons had introduced a Bill that would place the succession clearly into the hands of Sophia of the Palatinate, Duchess of Brunswick Luneburg. Mary had never met the woman, nor had she met the woman’s son-who Anne had hated so passionately. She was not sure what to make of the Bill, other than it was a vast over-stepping of Parliament’s powers. Yes, they had outlined the succession in 1689, but that succession was dead and now things had to revert to some normalcy.

Mary was convinced that the tragedies that had befallen her and William, including their nephew’s death were because the true path had not been followed. Now they had to right it as quickly as possible. Especially now that her father was dead.

Carmarthen, one of the main instigators of the plot that had deposed her father, took a deep breath. The man looked visibly aged by his time in government.

“I believe, Your Majesty, that every effort must be made to frustrate this Bill. If it were allowed to pass both houses, then it would cause an uncertainty the like of which we have not seen.”

Hampden snorted. “The succession has been decided by Parliament before, it can be done so again. Indeed, I would argue that it must be!”

Mary stopped herself from snapping at Hampden-truly, she did not understand why he was a member of the ministry, when William returned, they would have words about this man-instead she waited for Carmarthen to respond, which he did.

“That was a special occasion, nothing was clear at the time. And nothing is clear now, but a clear solution is there if Your Majesties are willing to grasp it.”

“Saint Germain.” Mary said. She had prayed on the matter and even spoken about her worries with her former governor and the Dean of the Chapel Royal, Henry Compton Bishop of London. The Bishop had told her that her doubts were perfectly normal, and that she must pray and reflect and discuss with her husband.

She had written a letter, in the code that she and William had created a long time ago, expressing her thoughts. She just hoped he shared her view, otherwise things would be very awkward.

Carmarthen spoke and broke into her thoughts. “Yes, Your Majesty. I believe Saint Germain provides a realistic solution to the issue of succession. The boy who resides there is considered by many to be the true heir to Your Majesty’s father, his supporters are numerous in the church and across the three Kingdoms. Naming him heir would reconcile these supporters to Your Majesties and prevent a future threat. Especially if he is raised here in London.”

Mary nodded, she agreed with that assessment. She thought that if only she could write to Saint Germain and to her step-mother she could get things to be as they should be.

“That would be the most foolish course to pursue, Your Majesty.” Hampden said, his voice full of contempt. “King Louis will never agree to that, let alone the former Queen.”

Mary was starting to get very annoyed with Hampden, he seemed deliberately to be frustrating every effort. “So, what would you propose?” She asked, fixing him with a firm gaze.

Hampden took a breath before answering. “I would allow things to play their natural course. Should the bill pass, then it will be up to Your Majesties to decide whether to veto it or not. Any action taken before then would be premature.”

Mary could see the sense in what Hampden was saying, at the same time, she also knew that vetoing anything it had passed both houses would cause concern. Especially given how the veto had been used in the past. Still, perhaps it was not all bad.

She would write another letter to William and get his view on the matter before taking any decisive action. They worked best as a team after all.

“Very well, let us leave that for the moment.” She said. “What of this Place Bill?” The Place Bill that sought to ensure no member of the government could sit in the Commons, and thus prevent the Crown from manipulating the Commons. A bill that had been floated during her uncle’s time before being removed. She wanted this bill removed as well.

Here, it seemed that there was good news and surprisingly it was delivered by Richard Hampden.

“I have the pleasure of informing Your Majesty that the Place Bill will be defeated in the next reading in the Commons. I have shown my colleagues in the Commons the error of their ways.” Hampden said.

Mary was under no illusion as to how Hampden as Chancellor of the Exchequer had done that, but if it meant such a foolish Bill was removed, then so be it. “Good, and the member who introduced the bill?”

“He has agreed to recant in a speech before the House tomorrow, Your Majesty.” Hampden said. “He admits that he was far too enthusiastic.”

Mary smiled at Hampden, perhaps he was good for something after all. “Very good, thank you, Richard.”

Hampden smiled a wide smile at her, as if he was some sort of child who had been praised. It was endearing in its own way.

“Now, is there aught else?” She asked. Military matters would be sent onto William she knew, but if there was anything to do with home, she wanted to know now.

Carmarthen looked around the room as did she, and when nobody spoke, he said. “Nothing more, Your Majesty.”

Mary rose then, prompting the others to do so also. “Very well, thank you all, gentlemen. We shall reconvene next week.” With that she turned and walked out of the room. She would need to write that letter to William and perhaps also meet with Sarah Churchill. Maybe the time for reconciliation was approaching.
 
Little James could make for a very interesting house guest. If he thinks of himself as King, then he's not going to be pleased to be demoted to heir...

But this promises to be very intriguing indeed. Good to see you back writing again!
 
Little James could make for a very interesting house guest. If he thinks of himself as King, then he's not going to be pleased to be demoted to heir...

But this promises to be very intriguing indeed. Good to see you back writing again!
Oh for sure, it’s going to bring a lot of intriguing possibilities.

thanks :)
 
Glad to see you’re doing another TL but you have to forgive me if I don’t know what this is about which William and Mary is this

These two :) They were husband and wife co-monarchs of Britain in the 1690s - They became rulers after deposing Mary's father, James II. Sadly they had no heirs and Mary died in 1694 of smallpox while William died in 1702 after being thrown from his horse. The throne then went to Mary's sister, Anne, and after her death without heirs to the Hannoverians
 
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