The Bogus Kinglet of the Asturias: 1908


Child of Servant Given “Risk” of Spanish Royalty.

A curious story is told to illustrate the devices adopted in Spain to secure the safety of the members of the Royal Family. It is said that when the King and Queen determined to pay their recent visit to England, they wanted to take their baby son, the only successor in the male line to the throne of Spain, with them.

Accordingly a council was held between the King and Queen and various high officials, and it was decided—so the story goes—to substitute another baby for him. The child of a servant of the palace, born within a few days of the King’s son, and bearing a strong resemblance to him, was chosen for this purpose.

When the King and Queen left the Royal palace at Madrid there was, of course, a cortege of carriages to convey them and their suite to the station. The start was made early in the morning. In the first carriage rode the King and Queen. After them came the Countess del Puerto, the lady-in-waiting who usually has charge of the Prince of the Asturias, as the Royal baby is called. She carried the baby in her arms, and was accompanied by two regular nurses. All of them entered the second Royal carriage. The Countess displayed the baby freely to the people.

When the station was reached the King and Queen entered first. After them came the Countess del Puerto with the Royal baby, whom she displayed with the same ostentation as during the whole procession. Before entering the station she held up the baby once more and the people cried: “Long live the Prince of the Asturias!”
The bogus baby was taken on board the special train and began the journey with the King and Queen. It is said that on the way to the French frontier the substitute baby was replaced by a life-size doll baby, which made a good enough appearance during their brief trips between boats and trains and gave less trouble than the live one. The useful, substitute baby was quietly returned to his parents in Madrid.

When darkness had fallen on the day of the Royal departure from Madrid another party set out from the palace. It consisted of another lady of the court, a baby and two nurses. They rode in a very unpretentious closed carriage. The baby they carried was the Prince of the Asturias. No soldiers lined the route, no cheering crowd greeted him, but he made the journey in perfect safety. The small party reached the station without attracting any attention, and there they entered, not a special train, but just a special car, and started on their journey to England. It was only towards the end of the journey that the two parties joined hands. 

Daily People [New York, NY] 5 June 1908: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The King was Alfonso XIII, the Queen was Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, also known as “Ena,” and the Infant was Alfonso, Prince of Asturias. One understands their concerns about security: on their wedding day, an anarchist attacked the bridal procession with an explosive device, intending to kill the King and his new bride. Several bystanders were killed or injured. The couple who volunteered their child for this potentially dangerous mission must have been loyal subjects, indeed. Tragically, young Alfonso was a haemophiliac, as was one of his younger brothers. He renounced the throne to marry a commoner and died in a car crash, age 31.

Thinking of bogus young royals, Mrs Daffodil was amused to note that the Russians have, in the wake of the photo-gravures of the new infant Princess Charlotte, made some extraordinary claims: 1) that the Princess was actually born several days before the stated birth-date and 2) that the Princess had, in fact, been carried by a surrogate, rather than the Duchess of Cambridge, who (the Russian gutter press stated) could not possibly look that chic only ten hours after giving birth. There was also some loose talk about a false belly—quite the stuff of a Ruritanian novel!

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s