The question of who is King Henry The 9th (King Henry IX) is one that I often see on the internet.
In fact, in an average month, there are over 1000 Google searches on that question.
But there is a problem.
There has never been a King Henry IX of England. The last Henry to occupy the throne of England was over five hundred years ago in the unmistakable form of Henry VIII.
I know what you are thinking now…maybe the search is for King Henry the 9th of France?
No. Because the last Henry (or Henri) to be King of France was Henry IV from 1589 to 1610.
So who is Henry the 9th people are searching for?
European Henry IX’s
There were some actual Henry IX’s knocking about Europe. But they were all Dukes, not Kings.
Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria, was sometimes called Henry The Black. However, he certainly never claimed a Kingdom.
Henry IX of Lubin was a Duke of a region of modern-day Poland. He was Duke of Lubin between 9th January 1419 and 10th July 1420
Henry IX Starkszy ruled over a range of Dukedoms in modern-day Poland. Possibly he could be the man closest described as a king.
But with the greatest respect to all of the gentlemen above, I doubt any of them would be promoting that level of internet searches.
Henry VIII’s male children that could have become Henry IX
Henry VIII did have two “Henrys” that may have become Henry IX of England if they have lived.
The first was Henry, Duke of Cornwall, the first child of Catherine of Aragon. We have a comprehensive article on him here. However, this often forgotten child of Henry VIII died when he was just a few months old.
The second was Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Henry VIII openly acknowledged him and made him Duke of Richmond and Somerset. When Anne Boylen gave birth to Elizabeth, Henry began making moves to introduce a Bill in Parliament that would have allowed the illegitimate Fitzroy to inherit the throne on his father’s death and therefore become Henry IX. However, Henry Fitzroy died a few months after his father’s marriage to Jane Seymour.
Was Henry Benedict Stuart the true Henry IX?
It could be argued that there was a Henry IX of England.
Henry Benedict Stuart was the fourth and final Jacobite heir to publicly claim the thrones of England, Scotland, France and Ireland.
This would have meant he was King Henry IX of England.
However, despite his public claim, he made no attempt to gain the throne.
His father was James Francis Edward Stuart – “The Old Pretender”, and therefore he was the grandson of James II of England. Henry was born in Rome, and he spent his life in the Papal States. He rose to become a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. He was an elector in the conclaves of 1758, 1769, 1174-75 and 1799-1800 but was never a serious contender for Pope.
He never gave up hope on his claims for the crown and even signed his own will in the style of kings with “Henry R.”
Might there be a Henry the 9th in the future?
We don’t know what future kings or queens might name their children.
The closest Henry in the current line of succession is the Duke of Sussex. The Duke is commonly known as Prince Harry. However, Harry is purely a nickname, and Henry is his official name. However, it would take an extraordinary turn of events for Prince Harry to ever become king.
There is one final tantalising prospect for a Henry the 9th. There is no requirement for an incoming monarch to use their first name. They can choose the name under which they rule.
It has been suggested that Prince Charles might decide to call himself King George VII when he becomes king. The reason has been suggested that would be in tribute to his grandfather. But this could be because the elder brother of Henry Benedict Stuart, Charles Edward Stuart – “the Young Pretender” or “Bonnie Prince Charlie” had already claimed the title “Charles III.”
We have no idea if this is Prince Charles’ plan or not.
However, if he decided to discard “Charles” and didn’t fancy “George”, then why not rule as Henry IX?