Children of James Edward Stuart (James III): Princes Charles and Henry

Figure 1.--This minature was probably painted about 1730-35. I'm not sure who the artist here. It shows the young princes at about the same age, but Charles was 5 years older than Henry. Henry is on the right with the ribbon and star of the Garter. I am not sure, but they seem to be wearing wigs.

The eldest son of James II was James Edward Stuart, often referred to as the Old Pretender or James III. He and his Catholic Polish wife had two sons, Charles Edward and Henry Benedict Maria Clement. Charles Edward is well known, commonly referred to as Bonnie Prince Charlie. The two princes were very close to each other as boys. James was reportedly especially fond of Henry. Henry is less well known. James' younger son Henry was designated Duke of York. Prince Henry afyer the failure of his brother's military adventures became a cardinal.

Prince Charles (1720-1788)

Charles Edward Stuart, known as the "Young Pretender" was the eldest son of The Jacobites sometimes referred to him as Charles III, although he was never crowned. He was born in exile in Rome. By his supporters and to history today he was also known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie". He actually invaded England from Scotland, having launched the Second Jacobite Revolt, but he was defeated at the decisive battle Culloden in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland, brother of George II. He was high-spirited, adventurous, handsome and well able to inspire enthusiasm and loyalty among his adherents. After his military failure he was able to escape capture, fleeing to France. His drunken behavior alienated many of his staunchest supporters, and he spent the rest of life in exile, dying in Rome.

Prince Henry (1725-1807)

Henry Benedict Maria Clement Stuart, Duke of York (1725-1807), was like his older brother was also born in Rome. Henry was his father's favorite. As boys he looked up to his older brother, The two were very close. He was known among his supporters as "Henry IX". He made an attempt to assist his brother, the Young Pretender, when hopes for a Stuart restoration in England were running high, spending several months at Dunkirk in the expectation of leading French troops in his brother's mission to become King of England, but the attempt failed and he returned to Rome. In 1747 at the age of 22, he was created a cardinal, and after ordination to the priesthood, became archpriest of the Vatican Basilica and afterwards Chamberlain of the Vatican. During the French Revolution he lost his French benefices and was finally reduced to poverty. Old and infirm, he fled to Padua and then to Venice. George III of England granted him an annuity, and he returned to Frascati, Italy, in 1800. He bequeathed to the Prince of Wales, afterwards Geroge IV, the crown jewels of James II. The cardinal is buried in St. Peter's in Rome.


The minature was probably painted about 1730-35. It shows the young princes at about the same age, but Charles was 5 years older than Henry. The boys are dressed very elegantly. Henry is on the right with the ribbon and start of the Garter. Henry is dressed more plainly, but his jacket may have been a bright red. I know Charles wore tartan as there is a painting of him so dressed while still a boy in Italy. I'm not sure how common this was.


I am not sure, but the princes here seem to be wearing wigs. This is a topic we have only begun to research. Wigs were of course common at the time. It was common for artistocratic boys as well as boys from wealthy families to wear them. It does look like they are wearing wigs. I think their own hair may have been cropped so the wigs fit. A HBC reader writes, "Yes, indeed, we do have wigs here--certainly requisite for the upper classes during the 18th century. The French Revolution revolted, among other things, against wigs as also against knee breeches, because of their upper-class associations. But even children wore wigs after they were breeched or at least after the age of about eight." This is interesting. It is certainly the case that wigs were widely worn in the 17th and 18th century. The change began with the French Revolution. We have never fully understood the extent to which children wore them. We have seen many 17th and 18th century paintings in which the children are not wearing wigs. See for example their grandfather James II. James and his brothers and sisters in the 17th century did not wear wigs as children. So there are clearly chronological and age factors involved. I'm unsure about their father James III as a boy. One note. For a wigs to fit, the boys here would have had to have their hair cropped. Thus once they began wearing wigs they would have had to continued to do so. I thought that perhaps the wigs might have just been put on a formal portrait, but think that is unlikely.

Order of the Garter

A HBRC reader writes, "Charles would not be wearing the Star of the Order of the Garter - but the Scottish Order of the Thistle. He would not be wearing the badge of the Order of the Garter as that is only bestowed by the reigning monarch. As he was of Scottish descent and his family were in exile, it would not be possible for him to be a member of this order. Therefor the badge he is wearing is the Scottish equivalent, which is the Order of the Thistle, and which records show he was a member of this order." [Robb] Here we are not at all sure. Prince Charles' father was not the rreigning monarch of Britain, but he claimed to be the righful monrch. Prince Charles is one of the best known Scootish royals because of his role in the Jaconin rebellion of 1745. Even so, he had virtually nothing to do with Scotland. He was not born there are grew up there. His grandfather anf great grandfather had grown up in England. Don't forget that the beginning of Charles I's downfall is when he tried to invade Scotland with an English army. His father had grown up in France and Scotland. His mother was Polish. Look carefully at the star medal that Prince Charles is wearing. You can make out the very English Cross of St. George which is the Order of the Garter. The Order of the Thistle has a star with a thitle at the center.


Robb, Ian. E-mail message, October 19, 2005.


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Created: 5:37 AM 10/18/2005
Last updated: 9:04 PM 10/18/2005