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Anniversary of a prince whose name lives on
November will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of a young prince whose name lives on in Otley.
King James I granted a Royal Charter for the foundation of an school in the town – to be named after his eldest son Prince Henry – in 1607.
Intelligent and an adept swordsman, Henry was expected to become the next king, but died of typhoid on November 6, 1612, aged just 18.
Noting that his 400th anniversary was approaching, Otley resident Dave Welbourne, of West Busk Lane, was inspired to produce his own account of the young royal’s life, entitled Who Was Prince Henry?
The article tells how Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of King James I (James VI of Scotland) and Anne of Denmark, and was born in Stirling Castle on February 19, 1594. The prince moved to England with the rest of the family after James became King of England following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.
Mr Welbourne writes: “He was very intelligent and well read.
“He was popular, witty, with an outgoing personality and a keen interest in sport, excelling in swordsmanship.
“He was outstanding in mathematics and science, and interested in military and naval affairs, exploration and national issues. He often disagreed with his father over policies and the running of the court.
“He admired Sir Walter Raleigh and his tales of expeditions to the Americas. Henry was more popular than his father, and this led to jealousies. His character and interest in leadership prompted many people to believe he would become an excellent future king.”
Following his death, Henry’s body lay in state at St James’s Palace for four weeks, and more than 1,00 people walked in a mile-long cortege to Westminster Abbey, where he was buried on December 7, 1612.
Mr Welbourne said: “A two-hour sermon was delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The nation mourned. A naked lunatic even ran through the mourners, claiming he was Henry’s ghost. Poems were written about him, including one by John Donne.
“Henry’s untimely death may have altered the course of British and European history. He could have averted a clash between the monarchy and Parliament, which led to civil war under his brother, Charles I.”
Remarking that history is “littered with ironies and tragedies”, he notes that: “Today, Prince Henry’s Grammar School is in Farnley Lane, near to Farnley Hall, the home of the Fawkes family, whose ancestor, Guy Fawkes, was in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to assassinate Henry’s father, James I.”