Two and a half centuries ago an ugly rumor swept Britain. It damned the royal son just born to Queen Mary and arrogant, Roman Catholic King James II as a changeling, slipped into the royal childbed in a warming pan. The rumor was later proved false, but for a while it served to bolster the claim of James's Protestant daughter Mary to a throne which she and her husband William of Orange soon conquered anyway. Spirited off to France, the traduced infant became "the Old Pretender."

Ever since then, the reigning family of Britain has been careful to have a...

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