Wednesday, January 10, 2007; 7:40 AM
LONDON (Reuters) - An international quest is being launched for historical heirs to the throne of England.
Advertisements appearing this week in British, U.S., Australian, German and Norwegian newspapers will ask "Can you trace your family tree back to 1066? Might your ancestors have claimed the English throne?"
Edgar Aetheling was named heir apparent by his great-uncle King Edward the Confessor but was not crowned when the King died in 1066 because he was too young. Harold II was crowned instead.
William the Conqueror crossed over from Normandy, defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings. The teenage Aetheling later submitted to William.
English Heritage, which seeks to protect the country's historical environment, asks in its advertisements: "Are you of Edgar the Aetheling's lineage and believe you have a legitimate claim?"
Researching what might have been, genealogists are asking respondents on www.english-heritage.org.uk/hastings to supply documentary proof along with the name of their most likely "gateway ancestor."
"If William had not taken the throne in 1066, the entire course of English history would have been very different," genealogist Nick Barratt said.
"We'd probably be speaking a different language, consider our closest allies to be Scandinavian and have a completely different system of government."