If all families have their secrets they’d like kept hidden, imagine how much more true that is when you’re a member of the most famous family of them all: the royal family . When it comes to all things royal, we’re used to a bit of court gossip and scandal. Every so often, however, a story breaks that is so far out of left field it can be described as a total jaw-dropper – and this story, dare we say, is one of those. The theory goes that the actual, true and rightful claimant to the British throne is not Queen Elizabeth, as it appears currently, or even her son, Prince Charles. Instead, advocates of this alternative history believe that person is to be found in Australia, of all places, and is Simon Michael Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun. Conspiracy theory it may be, but let’s look at the possible evidence a little more closely. This is all according to Dr Michael Jones, a scholar from Glasgow University, whose research into the topic formed the basis of the documentary Britain’s Real Monarch . The film focused on Simon’s father, the late Michael Edward Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, a farmer who emigrated down under back in 1960. Michael Hastings, as he preferred to be known, lived in Jerilderie, a small town in New South Wales. Hastings died in 2012. How British royal titles will change when Prince Charles becomes king To understand Jones’ assertion, we must go back to the 15th century. According to Jones’ research, Edward IV, who became king of England in 1461, was illegitimate. Jones presented a historical document reporting that Edward’s parents, Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, were at least 99.42 miles (160km) apart in the period when Edward’s conception took place. Therefore, said Jones, were this to be the case, then Edward and indeed all his descendants would have no claim to the crown by virtue of “ordinary” royal inheritance. In fact, the crown would have passed to Edward’s half-brother, the “legitimate” heir, George, Duke of Clarence. Were this to be accepted, then Jones’ genealogical investigation into George’s line produced the result that Hastings was the true king. And after the broadcast of the documentary, he garnered some impressive support on social media with regards to his claim to the kingship. Not just for royals: now celebrities rock tiaras on the red carpet too But what did Hastings think of this claim? The team making the documentary, which was presented by British star Tony Robinson, tracked him down in Australia and filled him in on his “royal heritage”. To put it in his words: “I thought, bulls***!” Hastings was born in the UK in 1942 and eventually inherited the title, but not the land, of his grandmother, the 12th Countess of Loudoun. He moved to, and settled in, Australia when he was just 18. The price of royalty: new details about Princess Charlene’s health scare revealed Given time to digest the revelation though, it seems that Hastings became ever increasingly convinced that his claim to the British monarchy may, in fact, be more than just a theory. “The more I watch the documentary, the more I’m convinced that they’re right and I probably should be the king of England,” he said. But Queen Elizabeth’s title was in no jeopardy at the time, since, according to Hastings, “I’ve no intention of chasing over there and laying claim to palaces and crown jewels. I believe that Australia should be a republic. I’m not a mad monarchist.” There are many historians who have come out to debunk Jones’ research and his conclusions, but one thing is for certain: family secrets – we all have them. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .