Coat of arms of the Isle of Man “However you throw me, I will stand”
When my wife told me she’d recorded a new program on the grossly misnamed The Learning Channel (TLC) entitled Suddenly Royal about an American who is trying to claim his title as the King of Man, I was appalled. We had lived there for five years and I did my Masters’ thesis about the Isle of Man during the 17th century and read a lot of Manx history. I knew his claim was rubbish, at best. However, we decided to watch it for the scenery of a place that was near and dear to our hearts. Sadly, so far we’ve seen too much of “King” David “Drew” Howe and far too little scenery.
Bonnie Prince Charlie
A Pretender With A Real Claim
So, you may have seen King Ralph and think it’s a similar case, a long-lost relative inherits the throne when everyone else suddenly kicks the bucket. Not so. Drew had his ancestry done and found out that he is the direct line descendant of Lord Thomas Stanley, the last man to hold the title of King of Man. I’m assuming that’s what he found, but no proof of this has ever been provided. I’m reminded of “Prince” Michael Stewart, who I met in 1990. He was a pretender (unproven claimant) to the throne of Scotland, saying that he was descended from an unrecorded, yet legitimate, son of Bonnie Prince Charlie. He refused to show me his proof, saying the Queen didn’t have to prove her claim. Ever hear of him? I thought not. Last I knew, he was still living in a one-room apartment in Edinburgh. Maybe I’ll tell more of his story another time.
Drew was an “auto-service manager” living in Frederick, MD, when he found out about his “royalty.” He posted an official claim to be the King of Man in the London Gazette in 2007 and, because no one protested, it’s official now. Or so he says. “Prince” Michael Stewart did the same thing decades ago. Since he is now universally recognized the King of Scotland, that must work. Right. I’m thinking of posting a notice there that I’m the King of Sky. I mean Skye. Medialife Magazine: One definition of the word “pretender” is “a person who pretends.” Another is “a claimant to a throne.” On the show, he’s a pretender in the first sense. He pretends to believe that his claim isn’t silly and that he’s going to the island not because he’s being paid to by the TV show but because he’s trying to press his claim. He and his wife, Pam, and their 12-year-old daughter, Grace, pretend that the things they do and the things that happen to them aren’t set up for the cameras. Drew says, “A couple days ago, the local paper on the Isle of Man came out attacking me.”
Hmmm. I wonder how’d I’d feel about someone claiming ownership of all of California because of a Spanish land grant?
World Tin Bath Championship, Castletown Photo by BBC News
Drew sets off to win the hearts of the Manx people by entering the Isle of Man Tin Bathtub Race in Castletown. Organizer David Collister described it as, “People just like to have fun and the spectators come because they like to see people get wet and they like to see people sink. It’s two hours of family fun and slapstick entertainment involving household tin baths that your granny will have used in front of the fire.” Drew dresses in a clownish king costume and participates. I guess that, since the Queen did not, that makes him a winner. Or a wiener. Definitely a pretender in the first sense.
If “King” Drew wanted to participate in an event that would gain the respect of the Manx people, he should try the long-running, world-famous TT Motorcycle Road Race. There’s nothing slapstick about it and it takes real cajones to ride in it. Click here to find out why.
However, he is advised on how to be the new “King of Man” by two upstanding members of the British nobility and long term Manx residents: Lady Colin Campbell and Lord Kevin Couling. Well, maybe not. First neither of them live on the Isle of Man. Secondly, there is a matter of character. You be the judge.
In spite of her name, Lady Colin Campbell is not Scottish. Lady Colin Campbell, a.k.a. Lady Poison Pen, was previously Georgia Ziadie. She was born in Jamaica to a Lebanese father and English, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish mother. She had a terrible childhood and her marriage to Lord Colin Campbell, younger brother of the Duke of Argyll, was just as bad. It lasted fourteen months and she divorced him, claiming abuse and that he was a drunken addict. Yet, she continues using his name forty years later. Why? Perhaps because it does give her more credibility as a writer of exposés of the Royals, from whence comes the Lady Poison Pen title.
According to the Daily Mail: We are talking in the wake of a vociferous outcry in the media this week at the salacious and utterly unsubstantiated allegations in her new book The Untold Life Of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
If she doesn’t draw definitive conclusions in the book, she does hold all manner of gossip up to the light for examination.
For one thing, she suggests that the Queen Mother — as well as her younger brother David — was the natural child of her father and the family cook, Marguerite Rodiere, because her mother was too fragile to have another baby after a nervous breakdown following the death of one of her older children.
The second bombshell is that the present Queen and her late sister Princess Margaret were conceived by artificial insemination, because their mother didn’t like sex . . . .
She points out in her book that the artificial insemination story has been doing the rounds as a rumour in some circles for years (which is certainly true) and that she had it ‘from several sources’.
Which, naturally, doesn’t mean it’s true. And, happily for her, since all the players are now dead, no one can prove the point one way or the other.
There is no doubt that she loves to shock and can be horribly poisonous. Indeed, much of what Lady Colin says should, I suspect, be taken with a large pinch of salt.
No doubt, she sees “KIng” Drew as a way to get more publicity for her books, as well as a paycheck from TLC. But surely the soft-spoken Lord Kevin Couling, who Drew said, “works with a lot of royal families,” is far better. Right? I’ll let the press describe him and his companion. Mrs. Victoria Ayling.
According to the Mail on Sunday: Victoria Ayling, a high-profile ‘trusted ally’ of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, joined the openly racist party and attended its rallies as a student, according to her former husband, a friend and even her own mother.
A Mail on Sunday investigation has also discovered Mrs Ayling is being investigated by police after allegedly making abusive comments about her former husband – who is a transvestite.
The Mail on Sunday can also reveal that Mrs Ayling and her new partner, Lord Kevin Couling – who purchased his title, the 64th Lord of Little Neasden (my emphasis)– are also being investigated by police for an alleged hate crime against Mr Ayling.
But does “Lord” Kevin agree with Mrs. Ayling’s politics? Spiegel online quotes him:
“Nowadays, you almost have to be ashamed to be British,” says her (Mrs Ayling) partner, Kevin Couling. In school, children learn a great deal about the Holocaust and the women’s suffrage movement, he says, but not much about the country’s history. “They can’t even name the British kings.” Besides, says Couling, Polish and Latvian immigrants are taking away jobs in the asparagus fields.
I feel sorry for all those native-born British who lost their asparagus-picking jobs to a bunch of Slavs. But Kevin came to England from New Zealand, bought his title, and is taking a paycheck from TLC that could have gone to a native-born British lord, so maybe he shouldn’t speak. According to The Armorial Register Limited, “Lord” Kevin is “Kevin Derek Couling, Lord of the Manor of Little Neston,” a title tied to the estate rather than hereditary. Don’t look for famous lords and ladies in that registry, they’re not there. Furthermore, Kevin registered his coat of arms in Serbia! Cheaper, I’m sure, and maybe he got a few Serbs in to help pick his asparagus.
Finally, here is a caveat posted on the Armorial Registry website that should tell you who registers their arms there: The Armorial Register Limited is aware that at the present time proving the validity of the ownership of a manor and its associated right to be known as “Lord of the Manor of” is fraught with difficulty. There are an ever growing number of businesses on the Internet only too willing to satisfy a seemingly endless consumer demand for “titles” and it seems that Manors and the right of their owners to be known as Lords have become the easiest target for less than scrupulous dealers. Our best advice is Caveat emptor “Let the buyer beware”.
Now that you have the cut of “King” Drew’s advisers, what about any validity of his claim? Could he be king? No. In spite of what was said on the show, the Stanleys were the LAST kings of Mann, not the first. Haraldr Óláfsson termed himself King of Mann and the Isles in 1237 and at least six other rulers after that held that title before the Stanleys. Thomas Stanley made the ruler of Man the Lord of Mann instead of the King of Mann in 1504. That cannot be changed. The Isle of Man was sold to the Crown by the Duke of Atholl in 1765. It doesn’t matter who anyone is descended from, the Queen is also the Lord of Man now. Any Manx schoolchild knows this. Of course, you have to be bright enough to read a little history.
House of Keys Logo
Lastly, notice that “King” Drew pushes his claim with no one who has authority on the Isle. To date, no MHK (Member of the House of Keys, the Manx parliament) has been on the show. No Deemster, or judge, has chatted with him. His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood has not received him at Government House (as I was received by His Excellency Sir Timothy Daunt while I lived there). Instead, he tries to push his claim with a few locals in pubs and with people who do not have any authority. When the “King” met with the Curreys, grandmother Heather, son Richard and grandson Cosmo, they gave him the go-ahead to pursue his claim. “King” Drew acted like they were his only possible rivals. I was puzzled. Who were they? The short answer: no one who had any say in the matter. The long answer is below, but feel free to skip it. Unless you are really into history. I’d love it if you read it, since it took a lot to dig all this up. I will understand if you don’t.
James Stanley- 10th Earl Of Derby
Under the Stanleys, the title Lord Strange (an English title) was given to the son of the Earl of Derby until he inherited the earldom. When James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby, died in 1736 “without issue,” the title of Lord Strange and its barony, along with the Isle of Man, went to John Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, through the Stanley female line. Since the earldom had to go only through the male line, it went to a distant cousin. At the death of the 9th Duke of Atholl and 14th Baron (or Lord) Strange, James Thomas Stewart-Murray, in 1957, the title of Lord Strange and the Barony of Strange went into abeyance. Charlotte Murray, the third oldest daughter of the 4th Duke married Admiral Sir Alan Drummond. They had a son, John. John had a son, Malcolm. Malcolm had a son, John, who petitioned to regain and received the title of 15th Lord Strange from the Queen in 1965, but no land came with the title. The title of 17th Lord Strange is currently held by Adam Drummond, who is one of five children and has two healthy children of his own. Interestingly enough, he lives in a small cottage next to the castle that his mother, Baroness Strange, left with all her money to his youngest sister. That’s a story that would be interesting to pursue, but not here. The 15th Lord Strange’s second daughter is Heather, who married Lt. Andrew Currey. Her son is Robert. His son is Cosmo. The chances of Cosmo becoming Lord Strange are little better than mine of winning the lottery. And I never buy any tickets. None of them have any claim on the kingship, lordship or any other title regarding the Isle of Man.
What is the opinion of the Manx about their “King?” According to The Guardian: On Isle of Man websites, residents’ comments range from bewilderment to genuine concern. Mick, from Douglas, wrote: “What started out as an interesting and amusing story of a seemingly self-delusional American has now turned into something quite serious, as the monetary amounts stated are huge. Surely the authorities must intervene.” Kim wrote: “King David- get over yourself! You are NOT our King – you will never be our King. If you’ve got any respect at all you will give up this silly claim.”
So why has “King” Drew continued on this idiotic quest for seven years? He claims it’s for his daughter, but the kid seems bright enough not to really believe his delusions. So, is he deluded, a raving lunatic or something else? It wasn’t until TLC started pumping money into this that he flew to the Isle. Shrewd. He and his family are only there for six weeks. Wise. Then, according to Medialife Magazine, “This may all seem harmless, but that same Telegraph story alleges that Drew was involved with a company that was selling supposed noble titles for as much as 90,000 British pounds (my emphasis). This isn’t mentioned in the premiere.” He’s been doing this since 2007. According to IOM Today:. . . Noble Titles company’s website has been altered to include King David’s title and photograph. Among titles available are a dukedom for 90,000 or you can become a marquess for 80,000. The title of count will set you back 70,000 a countess 60,000 and 50,000 to become a viscount. The website states all proceeds will go to the Malawi Missions Project Charity by instruction of the King of Mann, excluding ‘investiture, regalia and administration costs’. Uh, greedy? As backers of Hollywood movies have often learned, “costs” can eat up every invested dollar. Or pound. So what exactly is King Ralph . .. uh, Drew . . . uh, David? I’ll let you be the judge. If you can stomach the show enough to watch it for the spectacular scenery. And if it survives. Again, according to Medialife Magazine, “The true story behind ‘Suddenly Royal’ might be funny, or dramatic, or tawdry, but the creators of the show seem to have neither the talent nor the intention to tell it.”
In closing, why do I care enough to write this? Because I love the Isle of Man and had many friends there who thought Americans were decent people. If any of the Manx watch Suddenly Royal, their opinion of us will be that we are rude, crude and ignorant. “King” Drew slurping his soup from his spoon and tucking his napkin under his chin? Sure, I know it was orchestrated, with a slim, attractive wife accepting the behavior of her tub-of-lard husband, but “King” Drew went right along with it. The Isle of Man can’t hate the publicity they’re getting from the show, but they also can’t have gained any respect for Americans. We are buffoons of our own making. Thank you, Drew, and TLC for harming the image of Americans in the eyes of the Manx, the British and the European viewers. Your show is truly un-American. As Kim on the Isle of Man said so well, my message to Drew is, “If you’ve got any respect at all you will give up this silly claim.”